Last week when I wrote about choosing unassisted homebirth as my defining parenting moment it made me recall all the questions people would usually ask me when first learning about my unconventional decision. I think answering questions such as these are important as it demystifys unassisted birth as something that is simply fringe, crazy, and/or irresponsible. Far from being irresponsible, most women who choose unassisted homebirth take it upon themselves to learn much more about birth than the average person. It absolutely does take a great amount of trust to do birth this way ~ trust in your body, trust in your baby, trust in the birth process, and trust that your intuition will guide you in all the ways needed.
Many don’t even know that unassisted homebirth is a viable option (and in some states it’s actually not) but for those who want to know more about it, here are some questions answered:
Question (and this one is asked far more than any other): “How did you cut the cord?”
Answer: We cut the cord with a pair of scissors bought from Walmart. Ha! It’s the truth! I still clearly remember the trip my husband and I made there specifically for this purpose. I was very pregnant and this pair of scissors was our only purchase. We giggled as we waited in line tempting each other to tell the cashier and other customers what we were going to do with our scissors. In any case, the day of the birth we boiled the scissors. We waited about an hour an a half after our baby was born and the cord had stopped pulsing. Then we quietly asked our baby if he was okay with us cutting the cord. We both felt an energetic “yes” from him, so we cut it. It was an easy job and not the big deal that many seem to believe. We didn’t “tie it off” first, we just simply cut it about an inch from the belly button. It healed beautifully. For our second son we didn’t even cut the cord, instead we chose an lotus birth, which brings me to my next question.
Question: “What is a lotus birth?”
Answer: A lotus birth is where you don’t cut the cord, instead you keep the umbilical cord intact and attached to the placenta (perhaps this is fringe, huh?). Why did I do this? I don’t really remember! Some say there are benefits to letting the cord fall off on it’s own accord ~ that it’s more in tune with the natural flow. Mary Ceallaigh, a midwife, said in an interview to the Huffington Post that “leaving the umbilical cord attached to the baby longer is a healthier choice. There’s no wound created at the umbilical site, which lessens the chance of infection. It allows a complete transfer of placental/cord blood into the baby at a time when the baby needs that nourishment the most. … Not disrupting the baby’s blood volume at that time helps prevent future disease.” I can’t say those are the reasons the backed up my choice, however. For me, I felt my second son needed more energetic support coming in and that a lotus birth would lend itself to that energetic support. It wasn’t the most convenient choice. I had to cart around the placenta when moving my baby around. We also had to season the placenta with fresh rosemary a couple of times a day to keep it preserved (doesn’t that sound delish?). No one else really held the baby except me because it was difficult to maneuver around the cord. I remember feeling very happy when the cord finally fell off 5 days later. (I was also quite happy that my third baby didn’t make any energetic requests for a lotus birth.)
Question: “How did you get the birth certificate?”
Answer: Before the birth my husband and I went to our local Town Hall and asked for the papers for a Home-birth Certificate. We filled out most of the information and our midwife filled out the rest. For the first birth, our midwife still remained supportive, even though we stopped seeing her at 20 weeks. She came and did the newborn exam and filled out her part on the birth certificate. This part is actually the trickiest ~ finding a healthcare provider who will do the newborn exam without worrying about the liability that could be involved for assisting someone who chose unassisted homebirth. Thankfully we found someone each time to perform the newborn exam for all three of our sons, even if it was few days later and not on the day of the birth. The paperwork is really the most hassle for me, but we did what we had to do.
Question: “What did you do with the placenta?”
Answer: You don’t want to know. (I’m totally making myself laugh here, but it’s true. I’m not going to unveil my whole freak-show in this post.) What I will share is that we kept them in our freezer until they could be buried in our yard. Each boy has a tree that their placenta was buried under. My first two boys each have a cherry tree and my third son has a peach tree. And let me tell you, these trees are THRIVING! I also have to give some props to my husband here, who had to go fishing for the placenta in our bath-tub after our second birth. It takes a real man to tackle that kind of job!
There have been many more questions, but this post is long enough. Like I said in my previous post, I don’t advocate unassisted homebirth for everyone, but I do believe everyone should know that it’s a very viable, responsible, and beautiful option.