Unassisted Birth — A Fathers Perspective
What I learned from helping my partner deliver our baby in the bathtub!
As an intro to this article, I want to honour all Mothers, no matter how they have birthed their children. This is a different perspective, which is the subjective opinion of the parents of a beautiful baby who made the conscious choice to birth in a non medicalised way.
Our daughter Rose is 4 weeks old today and we birthed her in somewhat unusual circumstances, although for reasons I will share momentarily, we hope this becomes more common in time. We had what is called a “free lotus birth”. A free birth is an unassisted birth, without the aid of medical intervention. A lotus birth is when you leave the placenta attached to the baby until it falls off naturally which usually takes 3–10 days. The placenta is that which provides all the nutrients to a baby while in the womb.
Our reasons for this are as follows.
We feel birth is natural and standardizing medical intervention prevents many natural processes for Mothers and babies.
We trust in a divine force, which has consistently provided a safe passage for whatever choices we make.
The observation and energy of those around you changes the atmosphere, and given the sacredness of birth we wanted to remain in our own energy space for the experience.
After researching, we concluded that (for us) a hospitalized birth did not suite our needs. Not just for the moment of birth, but for the future of the baby. For example, the psychological distress of bright lights, not being placed on the mother skin to skin straight away and the fact that women are often encouraged to have invasive medical procedures that are often unnecessary. This includes being induced, medicated and told how to push against the Mothers instincts.
We wanted to take responsibility for the process of bringing Rose into the world in the most loving, peaceful and easeful way.
30% of the baby’s blood is in the placenta after birth. It is a living organ that provides nutrients and comfort for the baby beyond birth. Leaving it attached felt like the least invasive approach to removing it.
We believe that birth is an initiation into a higher way of being and the pain many experience is can actually be a conditioned world view. This may sound alarming, as most believe birth to be an experience of suffering, yet many women with the right setting and preparation experience orgasmic and pleasurable births (as we did). See orgasmic Birth.
These reasons are our own, and we also believe that everyone should have the right to birth however they feel most comfortable. We are sure in some cases medical intervention is helpful, but there are too many variables including physical, psychological and spiritual effects to both the Mother and Child to broadly define what is deemed as safe. Meaning the short term safely of the hospital, could potentially cause a long term problem that is hard to link back to the birth itself. For a more in depth understanding of the individual and societal effects of birth trauma listen to the audio book The Transpersonal Vision by Stanislav Grof Ph.D.
To prepare for birth, Mum chose to trust her bodily instincts, Dad’s ability to hold a safe and loving space and that Rose intuitively knew how to be birthed. We read a few books, such as
Active Birth (For Dad)
The Continuum Concept (for both of us), although this is more related to raising children
The Birth Keepers and Spiritual Midwifery (For Mum)
Alongside this we connected with others who’d had similar experiences, and read free birth stories. Mum also attended a natural birthing antenatal course from a company called Village Birth.
Most of the preparation was psychological and spiritual, but also physical due to the demands on the body during birth.
There are many more reasons why, and this could indeed fill up many pages, but the most simple way to say it is- we felt this was the best way for Rose to be brought into this world.
Before I go any further, I am Dad and this is written from my perspective (which is quite uncommon), but we decided it would be good for those considering Free Birth to hear how it was from a masculine perspective, and from the start we decided that we would both be playing an active role in this birth.
The night before the birth we decided to go on an adventure, up until this moment there had been a few times we had thought Bhavinie was going into labour, but we felt pretty sure Rose was comfortable enough and we jumped in the car and drove for about an hour without a destination. Eventually we arrived at a spot that felt right and exited the car for a short walk in a field. We were greeted by a beautiful loving horse that spent a transcendental moment with us affectionately nuzzling into the 3 of us. It was short and very surreal, and after this moment Bhavinie looked at me and said “the horse just told me she is coming”. For me it felt like there were a few more days until Rose would be joining us, being big into numerology, I thought 20/11/2020 or the 22/11/2020 were the two frontrunners for the birthday. I was wrong and (unknown to me) the contractions started this evening as I slept. I awoke in the morning to a sleepy, but excited Mum giving me the news that Rose’s birth day was upon us. Part of me thought this could have been a false alarm again, but Bhavinie assured me this time was the real deal.
We filled up the bathtub and spent an hour or so relaxing together as the contractions started to become more and more regular. Both of us were entranced by the experience, and we spent this time moving from moments of silence, to music and chanting Sanskrit mantras and light language. Light language is a language of pure emotion which is beyond symbols and intellectual word. Yet it has a meaning to those who can move beyond intellectualisation.
Bhavinie was very calm during the whole process, and moved between moments of bliss and intensity. I, on the other hand, had to leave the room a few times and take a few deep breaths to center myself. It was a dual feeling of knowing we had prepared to the best of our abilities, yet on the other hand feeling that you cannot actually fully prepare for something so intense and unknown, so surrender was the order of the day. I had also taken on the role of Bhavinie’s motivational cheerleader during labour, so between my waves of emotion and her screaming in bliss, reverence and power, I made sure I showered her with positive affirmations and reminded her that she is a Goddess.
During this time, there was no breaking of the waters, but there was some blood and mucus that showed at times. After some relaxation time, the bath was getting a little cold, and we made the decision to go down stairs and continue the process in our ceremonial room. In the months prior, we had named this room the “blissful birthing sphere”. It is our conservatory, a beautiful room with an altar where we recite mantras, practice yoga, meditate, burn incense, connect to the divine and occasionally eat vegan pizza.
We set up a space of blankets and towels and continued as the contractions intensified. Bhavinie needed little coaching on the whole birthing process, I did offer suggestions from time to time. But she is so instinctive that she knew what to do and when to do it. We had been practicing optimal positions for birth and prior to the birth felt that the full squat was the best position. This obviously comes with one drawback, the full squat can quickly become a stress position, but this was helped by Bhavinie placing her arms around my neck which made it more comfortable for her, but quite the workout for me. We had been practicing leading up to the birth and as long as you have a strong back and keep your neck and back straight, it works fine.
As a side note which I am yet to touch upon, we did not time contractions, nor did I examine Bhavinie to see how dilated she was. The whole process was intuitive and instinctive. Bhavinie expressed to me that she felt that birth was imminent and we returned to the bath. The contractions got shorter and more closely spaced together, as she entered into her warrior priestess mode, and after entering the bath she assumed the full squat position which she pretty much held for the next hour.
The contractions intensified and when there was a short, but consistent flow of blood a little panic set in. There was a moment in which we discussed the potential of phoning for an ambulance, and instead opted to phone 2 friends, one who is a midwife, and the other a birth doula (who has also freebirthed). Neither answered and we quickly realised we were on our own, and had to make the sovereign decision of what to do next. This was when we took 7 deep breaths, a technique we had been practicing leading up to the birth for finding our center. After we did this we both looked at each other, had a little laugh and realised that we had momentarily entered into fear mode. We knew that Bhavinie was fine as was Rose and commenced with the Free Lotus Birth, as we had originally planned.
There were a few moments between contractions in which I burst into tears observing this miraculous process. At one point I cuddled up to Bhavinie, with her still in full squat sobbing in gratitude to the commitment she had made to our family to birth our child. The event of labour is obviously a big one, but it is also the morning sickness (that can take place all day) as the body purifies for 9 months, the adjustments that are needed to accommodate a baby inside of the womb, and then the major initiatory process of birthing. Once this takes place a mother must heal from an experience that is deeply traumatic to the body. The organs which have made room for the baby to grow, must return to their usual place and the body can bleed for weeks after the process. This is accompanied by feeding and providing guardianship to a baby that is 100% reliant on you. The Mother is the primary caregiver also, and if you breastfeed on demand (as we choose to), this is incredibly physically taxing on the body. If you do not give yourself the adequate care it can be very difficult. This is then followed by having a child (in most cases) for the rest of your life. I could not have articulated this in the moment of tears, but something like this was bubbling up in my heart when I burst into tears of gratitude.
Bhavinie then told me she had an overwhelming feeling that she needed to poo, and I gathered myself and reminded her that this is a sign that the baby was coming. In the next contraction there was no baby, but a little poo came out in the bathtub that I swiftly scooped up with a metal colander. This continued for a few contractions before Bhavinie felt the head of Rose with her hand. She began to cry and her hands moved in an interesting manner as she weaved geometry in the air in a cosmic dance, with her face was doing what I would describe as face yoga, contorting in ways I did not know possible. All this took place while still in a full squat alternating between hanging from my neck and supporting herself. Bhavinie looked in a different dimension in this moment, still with her body as needed for birth, but part of her in the ethers connecting with something beyond this reality. The next contraction produced a loud splashing sound of the waters breaking and the head of Rose emerging. Bhavinie caught Rose and started to cry. I told her to just remain calm and breathe, half speaking to myself and half to her. I said that in the next contraction Rose would be here and by this time Bhavinie had come out of the full squat and was standing. The next push produced our beautiful Goddess and we were both overwhelmed with joyous emotions as I helped Bhavinie untangle the umbilical cord from Rose’s neck and place her belly to belly on Bhavinie. Rose let out the fully expressive emotional cry that only a baby can produce, and in a literal blood bath, she made her way to Bhavinies breast for her first feed.
We had a moment of embrace, but the bath water was getting a little cold so we decided to make our way down to the blissful birthing sphere to birth the placenta. As a side note: The placenta is the baby’s genetic double, it is the organ that grows alongside the baby and produces all the nutrients the baby needs for its growth and development.
Making it downstairs was actually a little more dramatic than it may sound. Bhavinie was naked with Rose in her arms, with the placenta still inside of her. There was a fair amount of blood, and she had just pushed a baby out of her vagina. So I took a bowl to catch the blood and provided a shoulder for Bhavinie to lean on while we slowly made our way down the stairs. After a laborious stair decent, we entered the room and Bhavinie laid down with Rose, and I covered them up with a warm blanket. I observed as the 2 of them embraced in serenity and after about 20 minutes, Bhavinie told me she was ready to birth the placenta, which she did in one simple push.
We did it! After 9 months of carrying this small Goddess, we birthed her in the most beautiful of ways. After 3 days, the placenta fell off by itself and Rose had her very first rebirth.
This is the story of Rose’s birth, although it is hard to encapsulate all that happened in such a short space. Some additions to the article are on parenting. We have decided on the baby in arms approach, this means most of the time one of us (usually Bhavinie) is holding Rose. Occasionally we put her down to let her explore, but intuitively it feels like babies should be held. We also feed on demand and respond to her needs as she communicates them. Crying is not the only way a baby communicates and from our experience so far, it feels like a last resort from Rose. We lean towards an attitude that our baby and all babies are inherently good, and she will only ask for what she wants and needs. Currently she is 100% reliant on us, and this reliance in not just physical, but emotional, mental and spiritual. We believe from intuition and following the work of people like Gabor Mate and Jean Liedloff that babies and children are healthy if they have their needs met, and a healthy independence is formed by providing for their emotional needs in the early stages of their development and continuing to provide this support until they are ready to step into young adulthood.
It can be all too easy to think of ourselves as our children’s teachers, but it is the other way around. They are so connected to unconditional love and purity, and if we take a moment to listen to their silent whispers, we will learn far more from them, than we could ever teach them.
Thank you so much for reading. I like to use the magic of words to help people like yourself connect to your life purpose. If this sounds like something that excites you, join my free three day course called Words that Speak to the Soul here.