What is freebirth?
Freebirth, or unassisted birth, is when you choose to birth your baby without medical or midwifery assistance. Usually, the baby is born at home. Although some people choose to have their baby at a location with special significance to them. (Cited: pregnancy birth & baby)
August 27th 2023, at around 10 pm, I started to feel contractions. I had experienced the practice labor sensations a couple of times during my pregnancy, but those felt more like intense period cramps, so I knew these were different! However, I still thought maybe they were practice sensations that I was feeling more intensely too, so I just moaned and groaned a little and went back to sleep. I woke up every couple of hours after that and felt similar sensations. I would moan and groan and continue to fall back asleep.
At 8 am the next day, on August 28th, I woke up to yet another contraction. I asked my partner to run to the laundromat to do laundry and get me a little something to eat from the store. I told him that if these contractions don’t settle down, then baby is coming this afternoon or tonight. He left and a bit later contractions started intensifying. Really I don’t know how long they lasted or how far apart from each other they were because I wasn’t timing them. In between the contractions, for those few hours he was gone, I was trying to tidy up as much as I could before another wave would hit me – doing dishes, getting baby stuff ready, etc.
My body and spirit knew baby was coming soon
Around 10am is when I began to yell through my contractions. Luckily we live on a 24 acre property on the big island of Hawai’i.Only the forest and our friends who own the property could hear me. I was naked in the yard walking around and the honest feeling I had was like I had to poop during those contractions. Luckily I was able to poop a couple times before it got even more intense.
Our friends and owners of the property we live on came to check in on me. They could totally hear me yelling during contractions. Still naked in the yard, I told them that I was good and just needed my space. They were collectively so calm, cool, sweet and excited and totally knew and trusted what was about to happen. In between contractions I felt totally in control and like I had steady energy levels. My body and spirit knew baby was coming soon.
Working through contractions
During the contractions, I would release control and let my body do its work. I didn’t have any thoughts and didn’t feel emotional. I was fully present. Fear did not exist in my body; only love, wonder and patience flowed through me. I continued to let the mystery of life unfold within me as I followed the cues of my body.
It was around 11 am when my partner returned and it was really nice to see him again, however, the few hours he was gone allowed me to be one with the wilderness of myself, in a peaceful, natural setting. By this time I was on my hands and knees on my bed mattress. I told my partner the mattress was too soft for these laboring positions and I needed to be on our futon so I could let these contractions pass through me on something more solid. He set up the towels on our special Japanese futon (that we also had conceived our little girl on) and made me a tuna sandwich. He wanted to take a smoke break really quickly and I said I was good and to go, but don’t be gone for too long!
Active labor and water broke
My partner walked over to our friend’s place (same property) to have a smoke and during that time I had maybe a few more contractions. Knowing he was around was fine with me and I KNEW he could hear me from afar. One of these contractions felt a liiiiittle bit different… I felt like I had to give a little push and that was the contraction that broke my water. It wasn’t a huge splash but enough to know my water had just been broken.
I knew I needed to eat a little something so I nibbled away at my tuna sandwich. Then threw some of it up. I then quickly thought to myself: women tend to throw up during the transition period… The last part of active labor — often referred to as transition — can be particularly intense and painful. Contractions will come close together and can last 60 to 90 seconds. You’ll experience pressure in your lower back and rectum. (Cited: Mayo Clinic)
During my water-breaking-holler, our friend turned to my partner and said “that scream was different… you better get back there!” My partner came running back.
I updated him that my water broke. And the next set of contractions that continued felt similar to the water breaking contraction (the most intense set). My partner stayed right by my side and gently followed my cues. Our primary communication was through body language. We were both pretty much silent aside from my hollering during the contractions. He did ask me once if I wanted to go to the hospital. I said NO!!! He accepted that and trusted my process.
I felt her head with my hand
About 1.5 -2 hours (I want to say?) after my water broke I felt her head trying to emerge! For some reason, it was a complete surprise to me. I was still letting the mystery of life unfold, no expectations, just staying present and living in the wonder of it all.
I said to my partner, am I pooping? I knew her head was there, yes, but I definitely thought the biggest poop of my life was emerging too. My partner said nope! He said, ”she’s not breech”. I said, “ok….” Breech positioning didn’t alarm me so I just let that statement pass. Then he said, “I see her head” so I felt her head with my hand. I just thought to myself, cool. Knowing she was RIGHT THERE, I mustered up my spirit for the next contraction with a deep knowing that cute little head was going to make its full appearance.
So, after she peeped her head out on that first contraction, it went back in a little. I knew this was normal in birth. I knew how the fundus worked physiologically, but on a deeper level knew that all I had to do was fully open myself up to her. I felt that she was the one pushing, and I was just enhancing her push in a sense.
The next contraction came and I felt the point at which her head emerged during the first, previous contraction, and then it went beyond that. I knew we would go further during this contraction, so I let that happen. I let myself completely open up for her whole head to be birthed. I would not consider this pushing because I felt like she was pushing her way through me and like I mentioned, I was just allowing her to do so.
I experienced what some refer to as the “ring of fire” during the birth of her whole head on that second contraction. It was the only real “pain” I experienced during my birth, but was SO QUICK I wouldn’t even consider it to be painful. I have endured much worse physical pain than that in my lifetime, so that was a pleasant surprise. The birth of her head felt like a relieving “POP”. And my insides felt like aahhhhh how nice that was!
I had been on my hands and knees this whole time, and still was. After the birth of my baby girl’s head, my partner said “she’s blue.” This didn’t alarm me because I knew she was just oxygenated. I said, “let’s stay present and birth this baby.” At this point he proceeded to suck the boogers out of baby’s nose with his mouth and said “I just sucked the golos out of her nose.” I guess he instinctively felt that he needed to do that and I was totally fine with him doing that.
I knew after her head was born, the body would feel like nothing.
I also knew the body would be out right away on the next contraction based on how quickly her head was out and the energetic build up in my body. So I mustered up my spirit again and let the next contraction pulse through me. I experienced FER a.k.a. fetal ejection reflex. Like the birth of her head, I didn’t force any pushing. It was her pushing herself out of me, and me allowing it to happen.
She’s a girl!
She basically flew out into my partner’s arms! He checked her sex and said “she’s a girl.” We were so happy… we really wanted to have a little girl. I said “pass her to me.”
After she was in my arms, she gave out a little short cry and then was so calm; we were all so calm. It was beautiful. She was beautiful. There was nothing about her that intuitively alarmed me. I didn’t cry, I didn’t feel any sort of high or low emotion. I just felt like my family was finally complete in that moment in time and that I was complete. I was present. We stared at each other for a bit and then I put her onto my boob. I wanted to see if she was hungry and how breastfeeding would be. I pressed my areola almost smushing it to her mouth and she latched right away.
The peaceful hours after her birth
I really enjoyed the peaceful hours after her birth. I enjoyed even cleaning up her first meconium doodoo. It was fascinating to me. I was really curious how dark the poop was going to be! It looked like laulau leaf color. She didn’t have much vernix, blood or meconium stuck to her.
Our friends who own the property we live on came by (the dad & 9 year old daughter) to check on us before I even birthed our placenta. They were ecstatic! And in disbelief!
They left and we chilled for a bit more. 2.5 hours went by before I birthed my placenta. I really wanted to just relax after my birth and not feel rushed. As I breastfed, I felt placental contractions and we decided we should probably facilitate the birth of our placenta because I wanted to complete our birthing process.
Birthing my placenta, 2.5 hours after my daughter was born
My partner went behind me and I was back on all fours again. He pressed on my uterus and I told him he needed to do it more gently, and to also press on the lower right side of my uterus because I could feel that was where my placenta was hiding. We waited for another contraction and when it came he gently pressed the area I told him to press on and gently pulled on the umbilical cord. The placenta slid right out with that contraction.
“A Lotus Birth”
We decided to keep the placenta attached to baby girl for the first 24 hours. We sanitized a bowl and put the placenta in it covered with dried flowers, dried herbs and salt. The salt was to dehydrate the placenta and the herbs and flowers were to cover the smell. This is known as a lotus birth.
I wanted to keep the placenta attached until the umbilical naturally fell off, but it was too hot in my house to keep it attached and we needed to have more mobility, so my partner suggested we cut the cord.
The cord was cut and we were officially free
I cried a big cry. I wasn’t ready to let go of what I knew as my baby’s lifeline… The placenta has a lot of loving, spiritual meaning to me because I knew that it grew my baby and kept growing my baby in times during my pregnancy where I felt extremely doubtful of my own ability to grow my baby due to the heavy emotional depression I experienced. I gathered my emotions and realized it was the right thing to do for baby girl. The cord was cut and we were officially free.
I want to mention, I definitely felt INTENSE pressure during contractions, but when the surges were gone, I felt fine, calm, present. I realized right away during the early hours of my labor there was a big difference between pressure and pain. This was a conscious connection that helped carry me through my birthing process.
Personal experience as a doula and why I decided to freebirth
If you want to learn more about my journey as a birth doula, how and why I decided to free birth, and a peak into my natural based lifestyle here in Hawai’i you can follow me on Instagram @bigislandbirthkeeper. I’ll be sharing lots of truthful and beautiful knowledge designed to empower women to open up their mind, body and soul for what may be the most transformative event they get to experience in their whole entire life.