Home Birth: My Favorites in Pregnancy

Let me just say I love being pregnant.  I feel voluptuous, sexy, full of purpose.  There’s this moving being within me, depending on me and shaping me.  For all my worries about the conception and survival of the baby, it’s out of my hands.  I am undeservedly inhabited by life, and it feels utterly sacred.  So, if there is any excuse to celebrate this hope-filled season, I want to find it.

On the other hand, birthing at home, in the way that I experienced it, could not have happened without some serious preparation during pregnancy.  I’m not saying it could not have happened at all, or even that it could not have been a fulfilling experience.  However, I do believe the absorption of reliable information, good nutrition, and healthy activities played a huge part in how birth played out for our family.

So whether it’s for the purpose of celebrating life or cultivating life through educated choices, pregnancy deserves special attention.  It’s an excuse to live life differently — more fully, more beautifully.

I won’t write you an exhaustive list, but here are some of my favorite ways to do just that:

Read books (and watch movies)

  • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin — Half birth stories and half information from one of the most seasoned midwives around, this book is a great, safe place to start exploring home birth.
  • Birthing From Within, by Pam England, CNM and Rob Horowitz, PhD — Wandering from the common how-to guide, the authors help mamas (and dads) prepare for birth through art, journaling, meditation, and other creative means.
  • Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, by Sarah J. Buckley, MD — Written by an Australian OB who chose to have her own children at home, this research-loaded volume is priceless.

Documentaries:

  • The Business of Being Born — This documentary exploring the dichotomy between America’s birthing styles started my journey in thinking about home birth, and was significant in opening Kyle’s mind to it, too.
  • Orgasmic Birth — I enjoyed this inspiring look into how birth can be an enjoyable and fulfilling experience, rather than a notoriously agonizing one.

Drink red raspberry leaf tea

Red raspberry leaf tea strengthens and tones the uterus for labor, so by the third trimester, I was drinking a quart a day.  It’s so refreshing over ice — my summertime pregnancy staple.  I ordered a whole pound of the loose-leaf tea from the Bulk Herb Store.

(In general, food was my medicine during pregnancy, so much so that I ditched prenatal vitamins.  I listened to my cravings for protein and calcium in particular and felt whole and healthy as I approached birth.)

Take time for life-giving activities

  • Nature walks — We have this wonderful wooded area in Manhattan that I call The Stone Tables, as it’s scattered with nearly century-old slabs of stone set up for tables and benches.  This forest was the place I went to talk to God and inhale His grace during my pregnancy.  I recommend finding a favorite outdoor place and making it into a temple or retreat.
  • Prenatal yoga — Yoga stretched and balanced my body and made me feel lovely, even into to the last week of my pregnancy.
  • Birth art — Whether I was visualizing and illustrating the birth itself or processing heart issues, birth art became so helpful to my inner life during pregnancy.  It doesn’t have to be good; it’s just amazing what comes out of a pencil or paintbrush when you give yourself a creative means by which to express it.
  • Meditation — This was a new one to me, so I just started simply — closing my eyes and focusing on the thought “Jesus loves me” or something similar.  Meditation gave me quietness in which to hear God and also gave me an appreciation for the calmness in between labor contractions.

Get henna tattoos on your belly!

A week before Ray was born, some of my favorite people came to my home, spoke gracious words of vision over me, and helped paint my ripe and pregnant belly with henna.  We were inspired by these amazing henna designs.  It was so fun and beautiful — no ceremony or huge agenda.  The henna belly party was really just an expression of all the ways I had hoped to celebrate pregnancy and honor God for the ways He was working in my life during that season.  It was a party with wonderful, nurturing people; there was a spread of perfect food and good music; and I pulled out my big round belly pulsing with baby kicks from a little boy about to see the light of day.

Now it’s your turn:

What are your favorite ways to celebrate pregnancy and prepare for childbirth?

_____________________________________________________________________________

This post is part of a series on my experience with home birth.  You’re welcome to check out my other posts:

When life happens, hold it closely.

Home Birth: Some Natural, Everyday Miracles (Part 1)

Home Birth: Some Natural, Everyday Miracles (Part 2)

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  1. October 6th, 2011

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