Our baby Nayara has just turned one month old and as I recap in my mind her birth and run through the 9 months of my pregnancy, I am only filled with gratitude. When my husband and I first learnt that I was expecting our first baby, it was indeed an unexpected piece of great news to both of us! As with every couple, we wanted to do our best to make sure that we could have a good pregnancy and birth experience. It began with first deciding whom to consult. As the majority does, we did get in touch with a popular gynec in the city. My husband then had heard of BirthVillage through a cousin and we decided to visit the place. We were approached with such warmth and I instantly took a liking to the place. On reading up about midwifery, natural birth and its principles, we decided to continue our consultations at BV convinced that I truly wanted it and I was willing to go through the grind to have it. The nine months of my prenatal period were most exciting. Contrary to all that I had heard about pregnancy and the “struggles that mark it”, I felt great at every stage. Thanks to BV’s rigorous schedules. My monthly hour to two hour-long consultations with my midwives was encouraging, informative. We talked, laughed, got our queries clarified with evidence-based information and my husband and I always left them refuelled with hope and good expectations for birth. They would feel the baby for its position & heart rate, check my BP, pulse, weight and hydration levels as well at every visit. BV also encourages scans at the 3rd and 5th months. The workout sessions twice a week were absolutely enlivening. Donna, the midwife who led the workouts would get us to move and shake that would leave the world open-mouthed with shock at such big- tummied women shaking their legs to Lady Gaga! I had a fearless and free pregnancy allowing my body to do its job and only helping it by staying fit, eating right. At BV, one of the non-negotiables is diet and fitness throughout the nine months. With all the sugars, chocs and chips out, I found myself full of energy, driving around, working out, swimming, travelling and carrying on with almost everything I did pre-pregnancy even hours before I went into labour. The couple Lamaze classes helped my husband and me make informed choices. We learnt everything that we needed to know about pregnancy, childbirth, labour, breastfeeding, postpartum care etc. These classes only made us jointly responsible along with our midwives to ensure that we did everything to have a good birth experience. At BV, we learnt that ball is often in our court and seldom in the hands of the doc or the midwife. What we did the 9 months was going to determine what will happen on the D-Day (with of course a few exceptions!) Well, on 19th October, at 40 weeks, as we were counting days, labour began at midnight. As we both timed my contractions, we knew this was real and not just a warm-up. Our midwife was continuously in touch with us over mobile as we updated her on the progress I was making. Well, with our bags packed almost a month back, we set out for BV at 10:30 am. Contractions became more and more intense. I just completely surrendered to the urges of my body and used every labour position that I was taught during class to help Nayara make her way out. I stepped into the water with my husband supporting me all the while and encouraging me and my midwives watching for the baby heartbeat, giving me my drinks often, massaging my back and directing me. At 5:15 just after stepping out of the water, I had my most intense contraction and out came Nayara! BV practices delayed cord clamping and Nayara was handed over to us seconds after her birth. My husband says that for him, BV gave him the opportunity to be a part of the entire prenatal, birth and postnatal period like he never imagined. He says that he has grown to respect women (me!) more having witnessed the grills of pregnancy, labour and birth. I am such a proud wife right now. Manoj was with me for every consultation, he handled the family members with such wisdom and ease, he held our baby within seconds of her birth, cut her umbilical cord, carried her through her first night in this world, put her to sleep on his chest through the night while I recovered from my fatigue. Even to this day, Nayara responds to him better than she responds to me! Amongst all other things, BirthVillage respected our space and adopted a non-judgemental approach to our choices and decisions. They offered us personalised care to the extent that they understood even my personality so well and gave me suggestions keeping in mind my own limitations. Our midwives are not mere talking dolls with pleasant demeanours but women with grit, courage, passion, real skills and knowledge. Their genuine interest to help us have a good birth experience was evident all through my consultations. A new mother is often in a very vulnerable place. One her body is going through crazy changes, she is trying to grapple with the needs of her newborn and her own fatigue and weakness after rigorous labour and birth, her mind is thrown open to a whole new set of voices – not all very encouraging, breastfeeding is not a science she has been trained in and as she tries to figure all of this and still hold her ground, she can be very vulnerable. At this juncture, the postnatal visits by the midwives were so encouraging and helped me cope so well. I would look forward to having them home and would often find reasons to have them stay longer. This service is absolutely essential and a very small percentage of new mothers have access to this. Nayara had mild jaundice and unlike hospitals where babies are separated from their mothers for phototherapy, we were asked to expose Nayara to the sun every day and within 10 days she was fine. Birth Village is not an anti – hospital centre. It is a centre that offers women the choice to birth naturally. It may not be for everyone and BV recognizes that. We made our choice to birth at BV not because it was an easy option or because we were ignorant of the choices we had or because we were too foolish and naive to go to a centre like this but because of our inherent desire to give Nayara an entry into this world that was free from unwanted interventions and pressure and because of our trust in the way God has created us to birth. Birthing naturally is not a “new fad” as many around say but really speaking it is going back to the basics. Going back to our grandmother and great grandmothers time where birthing was a part of life and not a special condition that needed slavish dependence on interventions unwarranted. We wanted Nayara to birth at her pace when she was fully ready. If not for Birth village I would not have had a birth story. Nayara’s birth was special, different, natural and what we wanted for her and I owe it to Birthvillage and our wonderful midwives. All through my nine months of pregnancy, delivery and the postpartum period, ours was a journey of trust. We began and ended with trust and all that saw us through was trust. Trust in the Lord, Trust in each other, trust in my body, trust in my midwives and even trusting Nayara to make her way out into this world. It was all so worth it! A big thanks to our parents who respected our decision and gave us the space we needed. Thanks to our wonderful midwives Priyanka, Donna and Amy. You will never be forgotten by us ever! God bless BirthVillage.