Thursday, 7 March 2013

travelling doula to the anarchist edges!

Extremes in Birth Assisting

As a Birthing Assistant to the Travelling Pastoral Tribes of Europe my time on his planet has been far from dull. Over  the past 14 years there have been many births in many varying places. The mothers and families have been from all social classes many different backgrounds but all had a resounding belief of their own ability to give birth how they wish to and a confidence in their own bodies to get the job done.

At this time I am relaxing after a month of extremes. The beginning of june saw me support my bestfriend as she gave birth to her very special baby. The father ( also my best friend) had died from a head injury 3 weeks before, so not only was I birth assistant I was also embodiment of father! Added to this we were both obviously grieving and so were supporting each other in fits and starts.

Even though the mother had asked for no scan she had been scanned anyway and informed that her baby had some developmental problems and that her brain my be terminally damaged! On top of all of this the hospital then decided that she would have to give birth in hospital! At this my long time anarchist friend really dug her heels in! there was no way she was trusting herself to people who had already proved that they didnt listen to her or respect her decisions. She actively took back her birth plans and fought and won the right to birth at home for as long as she wanted!

The birth was an emotional roller coaster with joyous extatic birthing noises mixed with grieving and tears. My friend evolved through her birth process at her own rate making all her own decisions empowering herself at every stage to be a totally competant mother. she was completely in contact with her body and felt each stage progress and adapted her self to deal with the changes of each stage.

At fully dilated after some pushing and resting the amazing mother went for a walk by the river and hung from a hawthorn tree. She looked up and said, " Something isnt right, I need to go to hospital and have a C section". She did and as the baby was lifted out it was clear why this baby wasnt coming down, she was tangled in her cord around her neck arm and leg!

Special baby that she is she needed some extra oxygen and care in the special baby unit. While mums mum cared for her I was the care for baby and stayed with her never leaving for the first couple of hours of her life. It was amazing, there she was the baby that had no chance to live , that had been advised to terminate 3 times and there she was! Alive!

And there I was too! All dressed in ER blue with my silly hat and mask on . 'Angel ER' is what they called us and even though I mostly am on the team of less washing today I was the cleanest Lara ever whilst my tiniest baby sister clung to my spotless finger!

Fast forward one month and I am in a yurt under an oak tree with some horse drawn friends. A visit to just give moral support and some hot chocolate has evolved into me being at the buisness end while a third time mother births her baby girl into the world! Im not phased in the moment as there is no need , however a day later I feel really tired and a bit in shock!

We called the midwives in plenty of time ( believing hat they would arrive within an hour) and were supporting the birth with much dancing laughing story telling and chocolate drinking. we fully believed that the midwives would arrive in time and that they would catch the baby. Not so! when we called as her noises began to change we were informed that the midwife would be at least 2 hours!

Silently in my head gears began to change and I let myself see that I was the person catching this baby in this yurt. A small look under the mothers dress  showed that the head was crowning, this baby was definately coming! The father was needing focussed attention as he was freaking out because lat time the midwives had been late and he had to call an ambulance to save him from having to catch his baby!

 Time slowed and everything was focussed on the mothers breath, "It stings " she said. " Just breathe and relax and your baby will just slide out " I said. Another quick look now showed the babys head  eyebrows, the other assistant passed me a towel and I got ready to catch. I was waiting for the head to fully appear, when it did there was an extra bonus, the little darling had her hand up against her cheek , no wonder it stung! Keeping my voice as calm as possible I just advised her to just breathe and let her body do the rest. The babe appeared to her neck and to my joy and relief just kept coming! In 2 more seconds she was caught in the clean towel and in her loving families arms wriggling and looking pink and having a little cry! the mum was not bleeding heavily so all was good in my 'emergency checklist' in my head.

We leaned mum back and covered mum dad and baby in a duvet , stoked the burner and got out of there! Brilliant! everyone alive and now all they needed to do was love each other! The placenta arrived with the midwife about an hour and a half later all easy and everyone was very happy.

So from ER special care to the grass verge under an Oak tree, sterile medical to muddy natural in one month! Did I feel at home in both settings? YES! I am happy to be a bridge between cultures and I am glad that I am blessed with the calling to assist the travelling tribes as they give birth to a new generation.

I believe that everyone has the right to give birth the way that they choose with the assistance that they choose when and where they choose and that they have the right to culturally appropriate assistance to respect them and their cultural needs.

The English Travelling community is such a mixed bunch from horse drawn hard core  hedge dwellers, to truck living sound system massives, from bender dwellers and yurt makers to  anarchist squatters and tree house protesters, they live in more differing dwellings than one can count and they are guarunteed to all have a differing opinion about something.

However they do rally together with the same belief as do I, that freedom is ours, our birthright and just because we are not in the mainstream of society that does not mean that we are any less and that we desrve any less respect or attention to our wishes. We are the alternative and we will continue to birth our babies the way we choose and at the moment our birth statistics show that with a 2%   C csection rate we are the healthiest people in our society with the best births! Long may we continue and may our children be healthy and happier because of their parents unending belief in freedom! Big big fairy love LARAXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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