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13. so proud!
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There is nothing unusual about the sense of elation experienced by a mother as she cradles her fresh, pink newborn to her breast. The woman who, minutes before, was engaging her whole body in the most powerful effort she has ever known. And before that this woman was totally turned in on herself, knowing only her need to stay in touch with her body. This is normal - one of the miracles of birthing.

The woman who I write about today was elated, and so proud.

As second midwife I do not know her well. I am there to work with Annie, and provide whatever assistance is needed. I had met the woman and her family about a month previously, at her homebirth planning evening. Her man and their two little boys were the only others with us in the house at the time of the birth.

Labour progressed well. Soon after Annie and I arrived the woman entered her transition, as if she had been waiting for us before beginning the most intense phase. The spa bath had been filled, but the woman chose to stand in her bedroom. The blind on the window was closed, blocking out the bright sunny day outside. The only sounds were her own.

As the woman began bearing down she held onto Annie. She seemed to want her man to be free to be with the boys, and he had the camera ready to capture the moment of birth. He seemed happy to remain on the edge of the birthing circle. Soon I offered to change places with Annie, who I could see was having to brace herself strongly against the woman's downward pull.

The strength of a woman giving birth is quite amazing. We talk about 'empowerment' as if it is something like a strong will. Empowerment of the mind is an important part, but the sheer physical energy and power of childbirth, the focusing of strength under the guidance of intuitive forces from within - that's empowerment.

The woman faced me, holding around my shoulders, and I braced my back to support her. Soon her head was snuggled deep between my arm and my breast. Another strong wave, and Annie was receiving the little one.

A precious time followed; getting to know the newcomer, showing her to her brothers, watching her indicate her readiness to seek the breast, birthing the placenta, and finally cutting the cord ~ each small piece fitting well into the bigger picture.

The woman spent some time in the bath with her daughter, then quietly took her to bed. The glow of pride, inner satisfaction, was evident in everything that she said and did. The woman compared this birth with her previous experiences in hospital. The intimacy and quietness of her own bedroom, the consistent personal care of her own midwives, the space which allowed her man and her children to choose their own places in the birthing process - all aspects of homebirth which restore to the woman her own authority for this major event in her life.

newborn
used with permission

The mother, so proud!. And so she should be. As the wise one said about 2000 years ago: "When the babe is born the mother will rightly say 'We did it ourselves'." (from 'You are a midwife', attributed to Tao Te Ching.)

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