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SOVEREIGN BIRTH STORIES: RHIANNON

THIRD TIME MAMA, 39+6, FREE BIRTH

Third-time mama, Rhiannon, shares the story of her healing freebirth following two births within the system. Here she tells us of her reasons for choosing to opt out of the system for her third pregnancy and birth, and how this wonderful sovereign experience has imprinted onto her children, paving the way for generations to come.

“I am glad to have had the wonderful birth keeper Sophia, tell me that it’s a good idea to write up the story of my freebirth and take this time to reflect on it on a deeper level. Thank you for that.

On the 28th December on a dark and ferociously windy and stormy evening, my beautiful, little son Sonny was born free, outside of the medical system. 

Me? Can I do this, really? I know it sounded right, I know it’s how it should be, but would I manage it? I told myself every day that I could. Of course I could. Birthing babies is ancient. Only massive corporations, money and power made us all believe it wasn’t possible; I knew all of that. I read some incredible books that I picked up along the way, for example ‘Reclaiming Birth as a Rite of Passage’ by Dr Rachel Reed & ‘Ten Moons’ by Jane Hardwick Collins. I also followed inspirational women on Instagram. Our bodies are made for this. I surrounded myself with positive women, wonderful birth keeper, Mia of Village Birth and yoga.

MY PREVIOUS BIRTHS

Sonny is my third baby. My first freebirth and first home birth. My first baby was born in hospital; a failed water birth, pulled out, crying before she was even born fully. An episiotomy, without my knowledge. Who knows, it was an ’emergency’ wasn’t it? Even though at all times her heart rate was fine. Was I informed of the risks? Was it necessary? Hell… I don’t know. She was born all within the day, but there were shift changes. I think they just thought; “young 23 year old, first time baby, let’s get this over with now, it’s nearly 12am”. 

Theres lots I have to process about this birth, and how my sweet sensitive girl was affected by all of this. I wish I knew, I wish all mothers knew, what was possible in birth. Not going into it blind, trusting all ‘professionals’, like I did. 

For my second birth, my first son, I found a doula. He was born within the hour in hospital in a birthing pool. I still handed myself over, made them catch my baby, and got on with life so, so quickly after. I wish, looking back, that I had found trust in myself and again, knowledge, to do this all at home. How much more peaceful that would have been. Instead, on a late June day, I sat sweltering in a hospital with a sweet boy, waiting for doctors to check us over for hours and hours before we could leave and go home. We weren’t discharged until a pointless check was done. I wish I’d walked. My sweet toddler, home all day and night with her daddy. Now it feels wrong that we were all apart. 

How I wish things had been different, but trusting this, perhaps my story can help others to now change the way we see birth. Certainly for my children it will do. Especially my daughter, of course. 

CHOOSING WILD PREGNANCY

I chose to do this pregnancy completely out of the system. According to the doctors when I tried to register my son, ‘You didn’t tell us you were pregnant.’ No, I didn’t go there to be honest. I emailed the head midwife of the area to say what I would be doing, they replied to tell me all of the other options, but I politely declined and told her I knew where to go if needed anything. I was well, very well.  

Not one person told me ‘your iron is low’ or ‘your urine is showing this’, ‘you are measuring small’, ‘you are measuring too big’, ‘your blood pressure says this’. I trusted the entire process of my baby and my body. 

Someone told me that when a baby knows it’s going to be free birthed, it shows up more inside. This baby constantly showed me reminders that he was strong and healthy. He was such a wriggler, and we had this deep, deep connection and trust that I’d never gained before. Previously, I’d let random people tell me what my body was doing and how my baby was acting/growing/measuring inside of me. It’s like I didn’t know before, until a scan told me what was going on, or a tape measure, or the hands of a random stranger. This time I had the space to connect and be intuitive.

PREPARING MY OLDER CHILDREN

Nine months of preparing my space.. and guiding my two older ones through the process. My daughter who was 7 and my son 6, only see birth as non-medicalised; a natural process, no checks to be had, no testing needed, and in a safe environment wherever you wish. We read some wonderful stories (Australian authors only, why!?), and they saw no other way than that I would bring this baby into the world in my bedroom upstairs in a pool, with my birthkeeper and their daddy by my side. They were free to be doing whatever they wanted. My mum came and sat with them when I was in the depths of labour that early evening. 

NOTICING THE FIRST LABOUR SENSATIONS

Never had I felt so deeply and slowly what was happening to my body. I had the exact same thing happen at the beginning of this labour as my previous births; waking up for my first toilet trip of the day, waters trickling out, labour begins.. the rest is history.

This 4am ish start, one morning, after a week of bodily clear outs (!!) on the toilet, I was woken to the feeling of stronger movements and different feelings across my stomach. It was such a deep, dark December morning. Everyone asleep, exhausted after the Christmas filled days prior. Would it really happen today? The other two were out within a day, but this time felt so different. So much slower in the days previously, plus my waters hadn’t released which shocked me… when would they break?! Well, they never did to my knowledge! 

I had surges in the bath every hour.. I took two baths that day, maybe three. It was the only thing that made my body weightless and reminded me to breathe so deep and close my eyes. Water really was a healer to me. I spent the day downstairs with the children and my partner. I ate good food, drank herbal teas and took more baths. 

ENTERING THE BIRTH PORTAL

Around 5pm, I messaged my birth keeper to say that my surges were now half an hour apart. Although they didn’t last long, before I knew it, they really did. I was on all fours on my bedroom floor breathing deep and listening to my spotify birth playlist. My partner was in and out, as were our two dogs, sorting out our other children. I really felt I could just be completely alone and do this. 

I was roaring so much, my kids tell me I sounded like a lion! 

My birth keeper arrived and reminded me that yes, now is the time to fill up the pool. My birth altar had a beeswax candle lit, and birth affirmations stuck to the wall above that my older two put up. I also had some beautiful postcards from Myriad Toys on there too. My older two had spent the last few weeks helping me dress the little table with a silk, little plant, and lots of crystals for labour. I had my salt lamp on in my bedroom also to give that beautiful warm glow. Looking back, there is nothing I’d have added to that space. A totally different picture from the last two places I’d birthed babies.

When I was in the pool around 7pm, I was weightless. In this beautiful squishy birth pool I had hired from Gentle Births Birthing Pools. I remember saying so so many times ‘I can’t do this. I can’t do this anymore,’ however this was the end.. already. Suddenly I was so so close. No one in the birth room could believe it when I said ‘the head is out.’ I was roaring so much, my kids tell me I sounded like a lion! 

SONNY’S ARRIVAL

Suddenly with another surge, I was silent. I couldn’t even make the sounds any more. I caught this perfect baby in my arms and lifted him up to me thinking; my baby is beautiful, he’s healthy and strong and well…. I’ve just birthed a baby, entirely away from the system on my own. I’ve caught my baby. No one’s hands have touched me or my baby. 

His cord was wrapped twice around his neck, yet he cried just beautifully and my birth keeper untied it whilst I just stared at him. She said he had the most beautiful deep colour and it was unusual in water births for them to just be so present and bright this soon after. 

There was barely any blood loss in the pool. My previous births were full of blood after… full. I could not believe that I had birthed a baby that was untouched, unmeasured throughout and just how a baby would have come into the world so many years ago. I am glad for him, and my body. 

It was like tying up threads on the most incredible healing journey. 

After my placenta was birthed, it was like a gate closing. It really was. I barely bled in the days after as I had done before. Weeks of heavy blood and endless pads. I feel like there was just no trauma to my body, and my body was so appreciative that it could just get on with its job, and close everything up for good. It was like tying up threads on the most incredible healing journey. 

I got into bed, thanks to my wonderful birth keeper, making my bed all beautiful, so I could just slide in. She ensured I had complete comfort, a pair of knickers on and then went on her way. 

POSTPARTUM JOY

We didn’t leave the house for three weeks, and even then it was a walk for 10 minutes. My wonderful, wonderful other half made me placenta smoothies every single day for roughly 10 days. He used the recipe from the book First Forty Days by Heng Ou; full of coconut oil, nut butter, cacao.. Oh so healing and welcome. He brought it to my bedside every day, and took care of everything downstairs. How I wish and pray that every mother could be held in this way. I count my blessings for what he did for us all, very often. I will make sure that my two sons are aware of how a mother birthing their child should be treated and cared for. And to my daughter, how she should be resting without judgement and given time to reflect and connect, and to be nourished and looked after. 

My sweet Sonny boy went from the birth pool to bed in the same room. There was no touching of his body except this family. My 7 year old daughter cut his cord after an hour of him being born. They are 7 days apart in their birthdays, the same star sign Earth children. I believe my first and last will always share a deep soul connection. I have learnt so much since her birth to my final one. They both have taken me from the depths, and up again.  

Well unsurprisingly, Sonny is my most chilled, content baby of all. He even sleeps on his back, relaxed as can be like a starfish. He just knew he was safe; he knew not to fear anything. This is something I pray for for each baby. Imagine how we could change the world if babies were born to mothers who weren’t afraid, in spaces meant for birth, in low lighting, touched by no one but their mothers. Not ‘checked’ by checklists, amongst crying babies in wards, bright lights, fear, people rushing, fast energy. Oh hell, no. 

INSPIRING OTHERS

If only I had known. I hope my story helps just one other woman, to trust herself and pave the way for beautiful entrances to the world. Healed and powerful mothers and confident, happy children. Let’s give a fat finger up to medicalised, rushed births. Obstetricians with zero connection to the mothers, only a connection to timeframes and charts where you’re seen as just a number. You only have to go on Kemi Johnson’s instagram for a minute to see the horror stories of what goes on behind the scenes. Please, stay away if you can. 

Thank you for reading.. It took me time to get here. 

9 months now, and I have enjoyed (nearly!) every day. My beautiful placenta still sits in my freezer, awaiting the time it is planted back to the earth under a gorgeous tree where it will be thanked deeply for what it did so beautifully for my baby and for me. It has been used to make smoothies, homeopathic remedies for baby and I, and a tincture to take me well into menopause. 

Flora Westbrook Photography

I wish everyone ecstatic births. Trust yourself, it is within all of us to birth babies like this. It really is. 

Love Rhiannon x”

@schooling_mama_