A Woman Knows Her Own Body Better Than Anyone Else
A woman can birth her baby with an experience of empowerment and deep connection to herself and her baby - something I have seen many times. The power of a woman birthing her own baby can take place at home, in the hospital or in a birth center. It can take place in the care of a midwife or a doctor.
But what must be present, regardless of the training of the care provider or the location of birth, is the understanding that a woman knows her own body better than anyone else, that in order to birth in an empowered way, the first, biggest and loudest voice in the room should be that of the mother. There must always be room for a woman’s voice, there must always be room for her to say when, where and how she gives birth. Without this, the orientation of the birthing power rapidly shifts away from the mother herself.
My friend and fellow doula and childbirth educator, Jennifer Haas, gave me permission to use these exquisite photos, taken by her mother-in-law Mary Beth Haas, of the birth of her third baby, Greta.
What I love so much about these photos is the obvious female power in Jennifer - standing on her own feet as she pushes her daughter into the world and into her own hand. A process that is normal and natural and does not obstruct any need for intervention that might arise.
In the first photo you see the moment the baby’s head is out with her body still inside Jennifer, Greta’s head resting in Jennifer’s hands. Most, though not all, babies will have a natural pause at this point as she prepares to rotate her body allowing her shoulders to emerge, first one, then another. The blue color you see in baby Greta’s face is normal and healthy. Her color will quickly change after she is born as the umbilical cord pumps oxygenated blood into her body and she takes her first breaths of air.
In this photo you see that Jennifer is doing this. No one is “delivering” this baby. Jennifer is birthing her baby.
In the second photo we see Jennifer’s husband Ash kneeling down to help “catch” his daughter. Jennifer’s position makes it difficult for her to catch the full body. Understanding the birth process is helped by knowing that, Ash was holding his hands there as Greta emerged into them, not doing anything. Jennifer says she kept repeating to Ash, “Catch don’t pull.”
And the third photo here shows the moment just after Ash passed Greta through Jennifer’s legs and into Jennifer’s arms, with the umbilical cord still attached. Jennifer embracing her daughter for the first time.
A birthing woman can be in a position of power, the one who births her own baby, into her hands and arms. A woman can feel empowered and exhilarated by her body’s wisdom.