Free Birthing Torin
This is my story of my journey to free birthing Torin, our third child and first unassisted pregnancy and birth. Although for me this was the best way to go, I know that unassisted birth or free birthing is not for everyone. I share my story with you to not only bring you our joy and our pride in this moment but to share in the hopes that I can bring you the confidence that you might need if this is something you want to do too.
After our positive pregnancy test we were so happy and relaxed, I knew I wanted things to go differently than they had for my girls, but hadn’t uncovered where my boundaries fell at that point.
I roughly worked my dates out and didn’t end up booking in with my GP until I was about 11wks. I was disappointed to find out my normal GP was overseas, I had only really seen her when I discovered I was pregnant three years ago so we didn’t have a close relationship anyway. But I went along to see the new Dr, it was really just a booking in process to me, she scheduled my ultrasounds and faxed the local public hospital to arrange my booking in appointment there and I was done. I felt unseen. What was the point of that?
I got my dating scan the next week, Jarryd was relieved no multiples and I was relieved we had a heartbeat, that was all I needed to keep me going.
I didn’t worry about booking any other prenatal appointments from there. My self managed prenatal care involved listening to my body, eating nourishing foods, limiting stress and commitments in my life, visiting my naturopath for prenatal supplements and herbs, meditation and at home yoga sessions. I knew my signs for low/high blood pressure and checked my own bp twice when I was curious and kept an eye on swelling which had been an issue my first pregnancy.
This pregnancy I had hardly any “problems”, my morning sickness was minimal as I knew my limits and wouldn’t rush my body, I avoided the headaches that rattled me with both my girls and didn’t have any issues with swelling.
I went along to my hospital appointment at about 15weeks. Prepared to discuss my desires for a natural birth with as little intervention as possible. But I was thoroughly disappointed that I was sat down while they told me all my risks based on stats unrelated to me as an individual and how it was regulation that I needed to be on a drip throughout labour and tested multiple times in pregnancy for gestational diabetes. They were on script and my interruptions were not welcomed for fear that I may throw them off course. But they were so lovely, how could I blame them or get angry? I sat quietly and didn’t disagree anymore. I can see how someone with less self confidence would go along with their plans - that used to be me and it left me feeling powerless. They spoke at length on the benefits of breastfeeding, twice, even though I had marked down I was an advocate of extended breastfeeding and half of the appointment was questions based on mental health and domestic violence, questioning my relationship and presumptively making assumptions on my husband. That’s all great that they want to make sure that women are safe. But I felt unheard and the reason for my being there felt confused and completely unsupported. I left, I cried, I said I’m never going back there.
I didn’t do their tests. I didn’t go to my next appointments. No one checked in or called to ask why. I still had the forms to schedule my 20 week scan and I put it off until the last minute then decided at 22weeks I would go. I wanted to know where my placenta was positioned and that my baby was doing ok. Everything was great and we asked to not be told the sex. And that was the last appointment I had.
From there I immersed myself in traditional birth knowledge. I read everything that I could get my hands on. Ina May Gaskins guide to childbirth was my bible. I listened to podcasts and joined the Free Birth Society Facebook group which surrounded me with strong women and support to trust my body and know my baby, for them I’ll forever be grateful. I acknowledged any fears that would rise and I would research them until they no longer scared me but I was confident enough to know when I was in danger and how to manage or when to call in help.
I have to give a massive shoutout to Jarryd here for trusting me to know my body and supporting me to follow my intuition. I know he was shit scared but he really put it all aside to hold me through this journey. His faith in me really set in stone my love for him and all we can accomplish together. I don’t have enough words to communicate how grateful I am to have him by my side.
As my pregnancy continued my body was tired and my ligaments remembered all too well how to stretch and accommodate my third babe. I suffered with SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) separation of the ligament that holds the two parts of the pelvis together. I struggled to walk even the shortest distances and then after over doing it I pulled my round ligament and was forced to rest until I could move again. Hard stuff when I’m having to chase after my girls as well. Again thanks Jarryd you’ve been amazing!
At about 37 weeks I started getting menstrual type cramps at night and thought I must be close... but no it dragged out for weeks getting stronger and stronger. I would have a random painful contraction here and there but it would stop as soon as I would rest. As I reached 40 weeks and beyond I started getting stronger surges through the night to the point where I would get up in the middle of the night and silently clean, do Yoga or bounce on my ball... meditation, visualisation and asking for support to bring my baby to me. I was exhausting myself trying to bring on labour. I decided I didn’t want to spend these last moments in disappointment and frustration and chose to try go back to sleep at night and trust that my baby knows it’s birthday best. I continued on my days as normal as I could, I made it ritual to draw a Goddess Oracle card each morning and invoke that energy throughout my day. It got me through!
Over the last few weeks I started taking the herbal tinctures that I had made with Red Raspberry Leaf, a uterine tonic that would strengthen my uterine contractions and Motherwort, a heart tonic and anti anxiety herb that I took daily from about 38 weeks. I had made a tincture from RRL, black cohosh and blue cohosh combined for a natural alternative to induction. Knowing that it wouldn’t work if my body wasn’t ready I took a low dose every second or third day after 40 weeks but when it didn’t work I went back to trusting that my body would know the best time and surrendered to the process. I had also made flower essence blends for confidence in the birthing process that both Jarryd and I took each day and an energy spray I made for blessed birthing that I sprayed over myself along with ‘protection’ Goddess energy mist from spirit of woman essences. Cleansing my space with protection mist and smudging with sage daily helped me keep my center along with retreating from social events and even social media. I needed to remain positive and confident and had no space for other people’s fear of me passing my ‘due date’
On the Tuesday morning, the 15th, I awoke with my cramps still present. Usually they have disappeared through the night. The girls went off with Jarryd that morning to spend the day with their Grammy. Going to the bathroom after waking up I discovered my bloody show, after checking with my online support group I knew I was close now and planned to have a day of rest and building my oxytocin levels by listening to my favorite songs, eating chocolates and really just relaxing into myself. Everything else I had planned for my child free day had to wait as self care was prioritised!
That day my surges were strong but randomly placed throughout the day, by 5pm they were more regular. I tried to time them but kept getting distracted and messing up the timer... I wasn’t worried. By the time I was ready for bed surges were 10 mins apart. I said to Jarryd he should set up the birthing pool just in case baby comes in the middle of the night. I went to bed and got some broken sleep.
By 3am I was no longer able to sleep with my surges, they were strong, I paced, I rocked. At 4.30am I woke Jarryd up and said I needed him to come get stuff ready and we watched ‘the office’ out in the lounge room as I rocked and breathed. We called his mum Sherry to come at 5.30am so she could be there as the girls wake up, as she arrived Jarryd was filling the pool up and I was rocking away breathing through surges every 2mins.
With the arrival of Sherry and as the girls woke up and joined us in the lounge room my surges slowed down and spaced out again. I knew I needed time for my body to feel safe to continue, I very slowly ate a piece of toast and half a banana. The kids went outside to play and my body began to surge again as my contractions were strong I decided to hop in the pool. The relief was immediate, floating with my belly supported by water was so relaxing. A massive shout out to Sherry for buying us the pool, it gave me some time to recoup, especially needed since I was so tired and sore. I was able to rest. But Jarryd and I both knowing it was stalling the surges decided I should jump out for a bit and try the pool again a bit later.
Now out of the water again my surges were strong and I was leaning over the kitchen bench with each wave and holding onto Jarryd for support as whilst standing I could feel my surges closer and closer I paced and stopped and yelled for him to come hold me as I would surge. I rocked on the ball, I couldn’t find relief so it was time to get back in the water.
I focused on my breathing, breathing in I open, breathing down I release. Jarryd held my shoulders and I pressed a cold flannel into my forehead as I pushed my head into the side of the pool with each surge. I allowed my voice to move through me freely, by the end my throat was so sore I was apparently growling through my surges. I kept a bowl close as I wanted to vomit with the force, nothing but fluid came though.
I never checked my dilation, but as my surges progressed I could feel my baby moving down with my breath until I felt the natural urge to push that began to increase with my surges. I didn’t try force it I just allowed my body to decide how much. I remember asking for something hot on my back and Jarryd had hot water flowing from the hose pouring over my back through each surge, it was amazing. Jarryd could see a bulging from the front and knew the head was there, he tried to look but I was flipping from my back to being on all fours finding the best position. He reached behind as I was on all fours and felt the head crowning, he guided me that it was ok to allow the pushing. I could feel the bulge of a head and I felt the burn and knew we were there. Putting my hand down I felt my babies head and felt his ear. With the next surge I felt my fingers gently push the cervix back and his head popped out. I couldn’t believe it. “My baby my baby!” I could hear myself saying in joy. There was a rush of excitement around me and the weirdest sensation of the baby moving half in and half out, I remember roaring “don’t touch me” to everyone. In the next surge i heard The Doors playing, “hello I love you won’t you tell me your name” I roared him out with a gush of my waters and he spiraled into the water.
I scooped him up. The cord was wrapped twice around his neck. He was pink. I calmly unwound him and put him to my chest. He was quiet his eyes closed. Jarryd said call him in. I started talking to him, he opened one eye and started screaming we were elated to say the least. While checking him over we saw we had a boy, I felt I had known this all along.
As I offered him his first breast I felt the contractions keep coming as we waited for the placenta to be birthed. The water was feeling cold by now and I didn’t want the baby to get cold so I stood up and tried to get out of the pool. Standing up, my cord was short and it made it hard to hold him with the placenta still inside. I gave a light tug on the cord but nothing. With the next contraction I gave a short push and it fell out into the pool. I scooped it up with a bowl and carried it out of the pool with the baby wrapped up warm.
We covered the couch in blueys and that’s were I stayed for the next few hours. I took the Shepherds Purse herbal tincture that I had made as a precaution against postpartum haemorrhage. We breastfed and cuddled and took photos and called family. After Jarryd and Sherry had cleaned up. Thanks guys you’re so amazing. We all joined together to do the cord burning ceremony to separate baby from placenta. We’ve put the placenta in the freezer for now, I think I will plant it with a special tree.
Welcome earthside baby Torin Aaron Foster. Free born at home on 16th of May 2018 at about 12.30pm weighing 4kg, 56cm. Caught by his Mumma, supported by his Daddy, Grammy Sherry and his big sisters 😍😍 We’re all doing really well.
** I mention that I made the herbal tinctures that I used throughout my journey. This is because I have intensely studied these herbs and how to make tinctures as apart of my degree to be a naturopath along with additional research based on my individual conditions.