Regardless of whatever law may be applied to the surface of women’s lives, homebirth is a right.
Many women in Bermuda are having to go to great lengths to exercise this right. Some are even planning to ‘free birth’ or birth unassisted, as the current system is not serving their needs.
Seven years ago, birth Doulas made their appearance on the island, and as a result women have more choices than ever in the one-to-one care that Doulas provide.
Doulas specialize in physical, emotional and spiritual support, which is vital to good birth outcomes.
Having a Doula has been scientifically proven to make the hospital birthing experience significantly better. For women who prefer to birth in the hospital this is fantastic.
However, many women are becoming unhappy with what seems to be the only supported birth option — with an obstetrician, in the hospital, and with the proliferation of intervention that goes with modern healthcare.
Homebirth has been the natural mode of delivery since the beginning of humankind.
It has only been in the last century that out-of-home birthing became the norm, a change engineered by ambitious men during a time when it was believed to be best to bring the natural world under control.
What resulted in the birthing world was a surge into the hospital. It started with a fad, developed into a sign of prestige, and then became pervasive when fear took over.
With it came the inevitable spiral of cause and effect: The more intervention was introduced, the more it was needed, until birth was no longer recognizable as a natural process in human experience.
Instead it had been orchestrated into an assembly line procedure, complete with time constraints, indifferent workers, loss of individual rights and autonomy.
Numerous side effects resulted, among them a woman’s ability to endure labour without drugs or direction.
Over time the prevailing attitude developed that women did not have the power or ability to birth a baby naturally.
Man’s technology, it seemed, was better than nature’s perfection.
The truth is that a woman’s body is designed to procreate and give birth.
It produces hormones that act as pain relievers, contractions that come and go at intervals offering respite, and many other perfect physiological responses that ensure a normal birth.
Pregnancy and birth are the ultimate state of health.
In a home birth situation, conscious parents accept responsibility and help create the standards and protocols that frame the birth experience.
This prepares the family and their midwife for a natural, uneventful birth. Birth is a time to feel secure and safe.
When a woman births at home she is in her own nest and is surrounded by colours, textures, lighting, sounds and smells that she loves.
Her own bed, where she finds solace in rest and sleep, is available for birthing. She may even choose to have a water birth. She is in the place she will soon share with her baby.
What better place is there to relax in the total way she needs to in order to give way to the birth process?
The holistic way to give birth is to let it happen.
At home a woman has her hand-selected team who monitor the progress of her labour and wellbeing of both her and her baby.
Providing calm, watchful and intimate care, the team is there for the entire duration of labour and birth.
The birthing woman knows this, depends on it and it helps her feel more secure. She may also have her partner and family with her as they know what soothes her best.
In most homebirth cases, birth will simply occur. In most cases of hospital births, the birth will be tampered with to some degree.
The fact is that hospital practitioners are trained to perform. At home the belief is when all is well, let it be. Moving forward, the ever-expanding homebirth community must educate the public, promote homebirth, inform one woman at a time and confront the media and public speakers when they get it wrong.
We must enhance the homebirth choice and preserve its place in our society. Keeping birth normal while using technology wisely is becoming a true art.
Rightfully, considerate care for all women can set the pace for better birth outcomes, a more peaceful community and healthier generations to come.
Sophia Cannonier is a mother to three home and water-birthed children. She is a certified midwife assistant and birth Doula CD(Dona). She is also a Birthing from Within mentor, pilates and yoga teacher-trainer, Feldenkrais practitioner, and is studying to be a Certified Professional Midwife. Ms Cannonier is director and founder of The Bermuda Integrative Health Co-op Ltd and LOTUS: Mind. Body Spirit Wellness Centre. She also runs the homebirth advocacy group Conscious Birth Bermuda. For more information e-mail Sophiafirstname.lastname@example.org or call 296-5900.
By Amanda Dale
As an advocate for homebirth, Doula Sophia Cannonier aims to spread her message across Bermuda and beyond.
This month she appears in the film documentary Five Countries, Six Births, Seven Babies: Mother Nature’s Design for Birth, produced by California midwife Diana Paul, the executive director of home birthing organization Love Delivers Inc.
The documentary DVD films families going through homebirths, to show “how simple, safe and sacred it can be”.
In a statement, Ms Paul said: “The birthing community is so fortunate to have compassionate women like Sophia Cannonier, and understanding fathers like her husband, Michael Watson, to guide us.
“Experience taught them what is needed for a safe and satisfying birth — a loving home and the ability to change scared into sacred.
“In this wonderful film Sophia, Michael and five other families share their most intimate moments of birth so others can benefit from their experience.
“The common ingredient in all six homebirths is an absence of fear and a willingness to embrace and surrender to the process.”
It includes two births in a house in Guatemala without running water or electricity.
The film also shows a waterbirth in Costa Rica and the homebirth of twins in California.
“For all species on earth, birth is a very private event,” said Ms Paul.
“To observe it is to change it. That women like Sophia have allowed a camera in this sacred space is an extraordinarily loving and selfless gift.
“Their strong stand for pure birth is a good example and a likely solution for many of the problems surrounding birth as practised in our culture.”
For more information on the DVD go to www.lovedelivers.org.
Oh Baby 2012!