The Challenge of Mutual Growth

In the months building up to the birth, the body of the mother-to-be goes through massive physical changes. The abdomen expands, the hips widen, the breasts swell, and she might even put on some weight in other areas.

On top of these more obvious physical changes, she’s also going through some drastic internal changes. In pregnancy, the amount of blood in her body increases by about one third. Her blood pressure changes. The Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (HCG) hormone comes into the mix, and she experiences an increase in oestrogen and progesterone hormone levels. Basically, the whole hormone balance shifts to prepare for the upcoming birth.

The external changes to her body often make a woman feel unsure about her looks, and this has an impact on her spirit. Combined with the internal hormonal changes, it makes her very vulnerable to moods. It is also known that in men, the hormone levels change during this time. I wouldn’t know though if this would help the situation or rather make it worse!

For me as a man, the months before the birth of both of our children where always a time of letting go. Letting go of personal desires, needs, space and time. As difficult as this was sometimes, it was easier than trying to resist the change. Once the decision was made to have the baby, there was no turning back. I felt deep within that there was a bigger force working, and resistance would be futile.

Giving birth is a massive act of transformation for the mother, father and of course, the baby. During childbirth, the mother shows her innermost self and reveals who she really is. During the ‘trance’ of the contractions, she can show a side of herself that is very different from the usual way her man perceives her. Paula and I felt that this transformation was very profound, and that it was crucial to go through this experience without drugs during our second birth.

The time of pregnancy is not only necessary to prepare for the birth, but also prepares the couple for parenthood; the letting go of personal desires doesn’t stop after the birth.

And it is like this with every skill; the better you learn the foundation, the easier it is to advance to the next stages. If you try to avoid the lessons during the early stage, it will get harder and harder over time.

Having a baby is a massive personal challenge for the parents, as probably every parent would agree. For me this wasn’t really clear until i had my first child. I learned that having a child was not just another addition to my life, but would turn everything upside down and shake it through until nothing was quite in the same spot anymore.

Childbirth is a journey of personal growth as well as an opportunity for growth in the relationship between the mother and her partner. It is an incredible opportunity if you let yourself go into it completely.

It would be great to hear if you too have experienced childbirth in a similar way, or entirely differently. What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment below if you feel like sharing.

New Opportunities Through Homebirth Law

Opportunity through Homebirth LawIn July 2010, the new legal requirement for all midwives to have liability insurance in order to be registered, made it very difficult to have a midwife attend a homebirth in Australia. After initially being upset about the government’s decision, my wife and i took back our power and decided to have our daughter, unassisted, at home.

This opened up new possibilities in our thinking, and brought different kinds of information to our attention. Free Birth, Orgasmic Birth, the role of Oxytocin, and much more. We started researching and learned about the actual advantages of giving birth to a baby only in the loving presence of its parents. This was crucial to our learning and our new understanding of the incredible experience childbirth could be if we let nature take its course.

One of the people we came across during our research was Laura Shanley. She gave birth to four children, all of whom were all born at home without the help of doctors or midwives.

Birthing doesn’t have to mean suffering, it doesn’t have to be frightening, or an annoying interruption to our well-structured life. It can be an initiation into adulthood, into another exciting stage of our lives. It can be a joyful and uplifting, even ecstatic experience…without drugs and with a fully conscious mind.

Our own experience with Unassisted Homebirth

For Paula, the experience wasn’t without pain. But the pain she felt didn’t overwhelm her. She understood that it was part of the driving force behind childbirth. This knowledge helped us stay in the moment and get into the same space, in slowly increasing waves. Like in a trance, we forgot about the world around us, both of our focus on opening up, letting go, on trust, and love. Brought up to those heights, the actual birth simply felt like a small step along the way. Driven by instinct, prepared to accept anything that would happen, trusting into the inner guide, common sense, and the knowledge we had gathered from other people’s experiences. The baby came out with little help, and mother and baby where both in a state of relaxation. Watching our birth video again the next day, we were surprised at how calmly Noah was born. And we laughed at how we sounded like we were on a complete high after the birth. This must have been due to the wonderful Oxytocin that filled the air that night. We spoke ecstatically, irrationally, and very emotionally. High on our bodies’ own natural endorphins.

For us, the new law turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to us. And what we learned from others during our research, helped us to have the most wonderful birth experience.

How about you? Have you had an unassisted homebirth? Would you consider having one? What do you think about the situation of the midwives in Australia? Please leave your comments below.

The Role of Intimacy During Childbirth

The role of intimacy during childbirthThe baby is made in the very presence of the man. He is an essential part in a natural conception. He gives his partner confidence during the time of pregnancy, when she goes through massive physical, mental and spiritual changes. He is part of decision making towards the birth. And just as important as he is in all these areas, he is even more important during the time of birth. As the only one who really knows his woman’s intimate needs, he is essential for assisting in the communication between her and the medical staff or the midwife. He knows how to read her signals better than anybody else. But there is even more than that.

Intimacy and sexuality

In a loving relationship, a woman learns to let herself go completely. She opens herself up to her man, spiritually, mentally and also physically. She lets him in, which prepares the soil for conception. During this act of love, both bodies are (usually) filled with joy, and, on a chemical level, Oxytocin.

Biochemistry

Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, is released in the body during kissing, sex and other forms of intimacy. It increases the feelings of trust,  contentment, calmness and security. It reduces anxiety and fear. It goes hand in hand with the idea of opening up.

On the contrary, adrenaline has all the attributes that are related to closing down, self-protection and fight. It can be described with the same attributes as oxytocin, but in the opposite way. Both these hormones are like oil and water, they don’t go well together. If there is adrenaline in the system, it prevents oxytocin from taking effect.

If we look at a ‘normal’ hospital birth, it mostly reflects the attributes of adrenaline; Fear, anxiety, stress, worry and insecurity.

The role of the man during childbirth?

Just as much as making the baby is an act of intimacy and love, so too is giving birth. In order for a woman to feel joyful and secure during birth, she needs an environment that makes her feel this way. And, if she wishes, a partner that makes her feel this way. There are many things a man can do to make his partner feel joy during labour. Kissing, touching, or anything else that makes her feel great pleasure. By maintaining this during the process of birth, oxytocin will constantly flood her (and his) system, bringing with it all its desirable effects.

When we learned about this, it was really hard for Paula and I to imagine that we could do all these naughty things in front of hospital staff. So after a long time of consideration and research, we decided to have an unassisted homebirth for our second baby. We had a wonderful experience, and it was incredible for us to see what we’re capable of, given the right mindset. Our experience reflected both our personalities, but might not be the right thing for everyone. If you’re a person who doesn’t mind someone watching you being intimate with your partner, there are midwives and doulas out there that don’t mind being part of an intimate ‘lovebirth’. Unfortunately, there was a new law passed in Australia in 2009 that prevents professional midwives from attending homebirths. But there are many experienced doulas that still do homebirths, it’s just a matter of finding someone that makes you as couple feel comfortable enough to be intimate in front of.

Birth is an act of love, and not an act of fear. If it is treated with love and openness, it can be a transformational act for both mother and father. Just as much as we give ourselves into a sexual act, we need to give ourselves into birth. And just as hard as it would be for most couples to have sex in front of strangers, so it is for most women to bare their bodies in a hospital to strangers. As the phrase “Giving Birth” already implies, it is a time of giving. If we are afraid, we don’t give.