Childbirth has always been, and will always be, a significant rite of passage that transforms a woman from the maiden into the mother. However, modern maternity care has failed many women and families with outdated practices focusing on the needs of institutions rather than finding an individual approach to assist each birthing mother the way that she needs it.
In the last 1,5 years of living with the Covid pandemic, more and more women around the world have decided to give birth at home rather than in a hospital or birthing centre due to fears of infection, visiting restrictions, limitations of support people and distressing hospital rules like having to wear a mask during delivery.
In Australia, a country with one of the highest birth intervention rates in the world and an extremely low home birth rate of approximately 0,3%, home birth midwives are sparse, expensive and booked out many months in advance. This led to an increased amount of women deciding to free birth at home with no medical care provider present during birth.
One of these women was me and I would like to share with you my experience, the pros, the cons and everything you need for a successful freebirth.
“Freebirth” - what exactly does that mean? It is also called unassisted birth and it usually happens in the home of the birthing mother without the assistance of a medical birth attendant like a midwife or a doctor. However, many free births do have other birth professionals like a doula or a traditional, non-medical birth assistant in attendance.
A birth outside the system with no interventions, no cervical checks, no heart rate monitoring, no pain relief - a scary thought for many, a liberating, freeing decision for others.
A step back in time into feminine sovereignty and motherly intuition before the patriarchic medical system took over.
Many women who choose to free birth also consider a wild pregnancy - one without regular doctor visits, scans and the various offered tests like for example the ones for gestational diabetes and down syndrome.
I did see doctors and midwives at the hospital up until 32 weeks when I decided that I do not want to give birth there and stopped going to my appointments.
As an international student I was extremely confused by the Australian medical system, I didn’t understand why I wouldn’t see an OBGYN for my appointments like I would in Germany and seeing a different doctor or midwife for every appointment, I felt like nobody actually cared for me or my baby.
I never wanted to give birth in the hospital, I had already made that decision years before falling pregnant after watching the move “The business of being born” and reading Jean Liedloffs “Continuum concept”.
But my student insurance wouldn’t cover any pregnancy related costs and my partner and me couldn’t afford a private midwife.
I left every hospital appointment disappointed and in tears until I finally decided “F* it I am not giving birth here and I don’t need a midwife!”
Now this is not to say that giving birth in a hospital is generally a bad idea or a negative experience, it just wasn’t for me, it wasn’t how I wanted my birth to be.
I knew instinctively that birthing at home was how my little Eliah should arrive earth side and so I decided to find myself a doula that would support me in my wish to freebirth.
And in a spark of fate I found Treza, a mother of 4 and grandmother to 15 wonderful children. She had assisted several freebirths before and was confident that it was the right decision for me.
She prepared me perfectly by sending me lots and lots of important information, getting a homeopathic pregnancy and birthing kit for me, showing me exercises to do each day to prep my pelvis and bub for birth and supporting me mentally to get ready for my big day.
Apart from my doula’s amazing support I had also booked the Hypnobubs online course. Which, I have to admit, I only finished half way and I only listened to the hypnobirthing tracks a couple of times and didn’t use them during my homebirth.
Apart from all the exercises, which I did religiously, I also listened to positive birthing affirmations from the Freebirth Society almost every morning, ate six dates and drank two cups of of our Mama Luna Pregnancy and Postpartum tea each day.
Stay tuned for part two where I will talk about turning my transverse baby, my freebirth experience at home and explain in detail all the exercises, remedies and tools I’ve used in pregnancy, labour and postpartum.