Have you ever considered what it would be like to give birth as intimately as possible? This certainly may look different for different people. For example—for me, giving birth as intimately as possible meant having just my husband and best friend/apprentice in the room with me for the majority of my labor, with the rest of my birth team filing in at the very end. For Shayla and others, this means giving birth completely alone—with just their family at home. Many people call this unassisted childbirth, or freebirth. Although I personally love and respect midwifery and the comfort of having a Certified Professional Midwife attend my births, it’s important to acknowledge and recognize that that’s not the only way people choose to give birth at home. I also find it important to not that unassisted childbirth is legal in all 50 states—whereas the legality for CPMs to attend homebirths varies from state to state. Annoying? Yes. But true.
Today we speak with Shayla, who has experienced a vast array when it comes to childbirth. From giving birth at her mother-in-law’s house (a feat in and of itself) to a hospital, to home alone, she’s done it all (and with grace, I might add!).
In the beginning (you’ll get this pun later), Shayla decided to have a homebirth with her first child. She did this because she didn’t want to deal with the pressures and protocols of the hospital. Shayla knew she wanted to give birth naturally, and she felt that hospital staff would make her labor more difficult. She found a student midwife to act as her care provider.
At that time, Shayla knew no one who was giving birth at home. She’d become more natural in many ways—from learning how to cure a toothache, to fertility support, and now in relation to homebirth.
She went on to have her second baby at home, too, though home had moved from Mississippi to Phoenix, Arizona.
With her third baby, Shayla ended up using a Certified Nurse Midwife in the hospital. She discusses the lack of African American midwives, and how finding one can be very difficult. We discussed the fact that Sistamidwife has a directory for these providers.
Although she was able to give birth naturally in the hospital, Shayla acknowledges the difficulty she experienced. With so many people coming in and out, it was difficult for her to get into the groove of labor. She found it frustrating that she’d have to have “tiny arguments” with the staff about what she knew she needed for her body.
With her fourth child, she maintained relationship with her CNM. She went to prenatals regularly, though all the while she planned to give birth to her baby alone with her family at home, assuming she remained healthy. Fortunately, Shayla did remain healthy and confident.
She gave birth to baby #4 on the floor in her front room after her children had gone to bed. She said that once she began pushing, baby came so fast that her husband almost missed catching him! Speaking of her husband, Shayla discusses how supportive he was, and how he has always thought she’d be a great candidate for a “freebirth”.
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Sista Girl Midwifery (North Charleston, SC
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