A SKIP, A HOP AND A SCOOTER RIDE LATER...
A doctor chooses midwifery, and relates all of the nuances it brings to a woman in pregnancy, labour, birth and postpartum - that are incomparable to any other system that exists for birth!
One of the core concepts of woman empowerment is giving her a choice in matters that pertain to her. Birthvillage and their amazing team seeks to establish this concept in pregnancy and childbirth which are no doubt important phases in any woman’s life. This was what attracted me to BV, an attraction whose roots were deepened by my very first meeting with midwife extraordinaire Priyanka Idicula.
While my first birth in a conventional set up wasn’t exactly dissatisfactory, I was left with a lingering feeling that things could have been done differently had I been given more information, more choice. Later, as a training physician when I got to be part of births there were elements of it, I wished would be different. One of the major points that I wished existed in our conventional set up was the presence of companionship during labour. Only a handful of major hospitals offer this choice and the option itself is explained at the very end. This and a lot of other factors led me to choose BV, the second time around.
From the get go, I knew that I had a choice even in the matter of wanting to stay with BV team or opting for other institutional care.. While the tests, scans etc. remain the same, the BV team adds another element – a very important element- to their consultation ... asking about your feelings. Mental health during and after pregnancy is not talked about enough. In BV the midwives start with the question “How are you?” and that makes a world of difference. The BV midwives keep things very real. Birth is not easy or painless but a woman who has been given the right guidance, information and support can get through it, she is strong enough to do that. Through their Lamaze classes they cover all the major doubts that are bound to rise up regarding childbirth in both the mother and the partner’s (father/whoever else is chosen by the woman) mind. Lamaze classes prepare the partner to be the ideal support during labour and afterwards.
I had a healthy very low risk pregnancy and was doing exercises - though not as much as I should have done perhaps. I wasn’t enjoying being pregnant much and wanted to meet the baby soon. I wanted my husband to be there with me this time as he had missed out on our elder one’s birth. It was always a point of anxiety for me as he works abroad. My midwives did their best to ease my worry and after each appointment I used to feel easy at least for a few days before my brain went back to beating the same track.
Initially I had a feeling that I would deliver at around 36 weeks. We knew that a healthy pregnancy can go up to 42 weeks but what with me wanting to feel less like a whale, stop having acid reflux and those around saying that second pregnancies tend to end sooner, I guess I convinced myself that I am going into labour by the end of September. My husband had scheduled to be here by that time as well. A week before his arrival I felt very mild pain in my lower belly. After a back and forth with myself, I decided to call my midwife even though there were no other signs of labour onset. We are free to contact our midwives regarding our doubts any time of the day. She told me to rest, keep myself hydrated and watch how it goes. As this was how I had felt on the day before I delivered my first son, I discussed with my husband and we decided that he would come a week early. The pain receded by the next morning by which time my husband arrived. Since he was here, we had two classes on partner support during which I shared all my fears with my midwife and my husband.
I was always worried for my older one. That I was not caring for him enough, about how he would be after the baby comes (all of which proved unnecessary later). She told us to take this time to be with each other and enjoy being a family. To try and get over my fear that my husband may not be there for the delivery. Things will happen as it’s destined to happen. The next few weeks went by with occasional mild pain which tapered off. As God would have it, my husband had to return back on 13th of October. This did sadden me and caused some anxiety in the household. All of us were worried about whether we would get to the centre on time despite my midwife’s repeated assurances that things will be okay.
My older one was prone to occasional tantrums. On the morning of 16th October, he was adamant that I should drop him to school after missing his bus. As we were getting late, I decided to risk riding the scooter and dropping him off.
So, there I was, 40 weeks pregnant belly, my backpack slung towards the front and my son placed in front of the scooter as well (surely a sight to behold). After that eventful morning, I had my 40 weeks consultation. Since my pain had been on and off, I didn’t pay much attention to the pain I was having that day. I informed my midwife that the pain was different in nature, but still bearable. She in turn told me that I wouldn’t mistake true labour pain for anything else and that perhaps my labour was yet to come because my body needed to heal (my Hb was on the lower side and I had a cough and cold to add). She was as eager as me to see the baby and asked me to wait a bit more as she was leaving for a conference the next day. My mother who was with me also soothed me with her words and presence. I joked that since my mum was here and my midwife was leaving, labour should perhaps happen this night. We went home on that happy note and my mother was to stay that night with me. I was still getting intense constriction like pain but they were bearable. The day went by in usual activities. As the pain was bearable, I did not bother timing them.
After dinner me, my mom and my son headed for bed. I noted that the pain was more intense now but decided to try sleeping instead of calling the centre. No sleep would come my way though. The pain began increasing in intensity and I kept going back and forth between bathroom and room, with sensation of wanting defecate. Finally, I decided to time the contractions and saw that they were 3-4 minutes apart. All through the pain I remembered to breathe, as I had been advised. After timing for about an hour and half, I decided to call Priyanka. The moment I told her, she asked me to come to the centre. Just as she said labour contractions cannot be mistaken for anything else. It will not let you eat, sleep or sit still. I messaged my husband, kissed my sleeping older one and walked downstairs. My mother picked up my long-packed bags and was accompanying me along with my father in law, my mum in law provided me nourishment in the form of mutton soup (I give that soup credit for the strength I had while labouring) and strength in the form of prayer. A bumpy ride later, I was at the centre.
As decided earlier, I wanted no one but my midwives with me at the birth. As many before me has said, the doors to the centre were opened with a smile and I was led in. My midwife met me at the foot of the stairs and guided me to the birth room (a room smelling like home) above, after assuring my mother that all will be taken care of. She encouraged me to go with the flow. I told her I felt like defecating and she told me to do what I felt like doing. I went down on my hands and knees and began pushing with each contraction. The baby’s heart beat was checked and found to be normal. My husband came on video call and stayed with me. When you have the right tribe of people with you and God’s blessing as well, you can pretty much do anything. I continued pushing on hands and knees, with constant encouragement from my midwives.
As the labour progressed with speed, my other midwife guided me to assume a position that would ease my baby down. I reached the centre at 1:07 am and by 1:27 am, we (husband still on video call) got to meet our second baby boy. He was placed in my arms and I placed him on my chest. The team helped me onto the bed with my baby still on my chest. Within an hour I was breastfeeding my little one and spent the next few hours enjoying skin to skin with him. My tear was sutured while I continued having skin to skin with him and enjoyed food and drink as well. I received a very refreshing bath by chechi before being discharged. It was a real, raw and beautiful experience, which has now taken on a surreal quality.
Every woman deserves a dignified birth experience. She has the right to know about her options and right to be asked permission before her body is subject to any examination or test. That’s what BV is to me – a place of informed choice. I fully accept that it won’t be the ideal place or model of care for everyone for multiple reasons and no matter where or how you birth, you are still the best mother your child can have. Nonetheless, BV and midwifery model of care is one of the choices any and every woman deserves.
Another Blessed Day...
Teena and Rijo's story of how they had their firstborn at BV.
Being on the shorter side 4"8", Teena talks about how her height would have been considered a preventive factor from mainstream careproviders supporting her to have a vaginal/normal birth.
This is another reminder that it is not the shape or size of the woman that determines the birth - it is the state of health in mind, body and spirit, and the support she receives.
"Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God. (Isaiah 66:9)," The Bible
In a world where birth is seen as a medical emergency (both mama and baby as a patient) rather than a normal physiological process, it took us some time to educate ourselves that birth is normal and a healthy mother can give birth naturally (with no medical interventions). We did some research around it and were awed by its benefits.
How did we know about BirthVillage?
Teena: I came to know about BV when I was in college... don’t remember exactly when, probably around 2010. I was just pondering over a C-Sec my cousin went through, though she was tall enough, had physical stamina, she had an emergency c-sec as she failed to progress and baby’s heart rate went down. While visiting my neighbor I heard Priyanka Idicula on TV talking about natural birth and its outcomes and why C-sec rates are rising alarmingly. I am not sure whether that was a debate there were others also in the panel. Her talk got registered in my mind, the wonderful presentation, lively words, made me to research about BV then itself, found the website but there was nothing much in it and I left it there. When I got married and we were planning for a baby, I remembered all these and ‘googled’ about this, now the website had more information, read many birth stories, visited website and I badly wanted to get there and discuss about the process BV follow (An elaborate answer just for you all to know that none of your works are in vain. There is some impact).
Rijo: One of my coworkers birthed here, talking to him gave me more confidence.
Like every other first timers we approached BV with lots of questions and confusion. Height was a big factor not to try natural birth as we usually hear that it is. But Teena's decision was firm that she would give birth to our child only at BV. For that reason we dropped the plan to relocate to Trivandrum where our parents are staying.
We had always heard that petite women (as Teenas height stands exactly at 4"8" )cannot deliver naturally and are always advised C-Sec.
In the first meeting with our midwife we got almost all our questions answered. We felt like there is a flow of genuinity and gentleness in the words and dealings of the entire BV team especially our midwives. I was advised not to exceed a weight limit, which I was able to maintain. The diet plan, exercises to be followed (you can do whatever you want was something new to me though I had seen prenatal workouts on youtube it was not common in Kerala that pregnant women do exercise in the initial phase) were discussed. As I was doing a desk job, I was asked to do some kind of movement every 20 min. I used to stand up, do a pelvic tilt back and forth, 3 squats (sometimes I used to drop something down and pick up ), walk to the pantry, drink water and come back to my seat.
It took a great deal to convince parents from both sides to accept the midwifery model of care in this “super-specialty” world; for that reason till 20th week we were having a parallel consultation with another mainstream care provider. Adding to it I was admitted to an institutionl thrice due to hyperemesis; all natural remedies seemed to fail. Thankfully soon after 20th week I was feeling better and morning sickness (in my case it was throughout the day on most days) subsided. Though I was not able to exercise much till my 20th week I climbed the office stairs whenever I can, went out during breaks to get some sun. I began going to Reba and Donna’s workout class other than my daily exercises, attending them during Saturdays - as I was working.
Meanwhile, we started attending the Lamaze class which helped both of us in alleviating a lot of fear. The knowledge we gained through the classes gave us a freedom, we started enjoying the pregnancy period.
Sometime before 28 week my Hb level dropped (probably due to my hyperemesis). I had some blood tests and consultation with mainstream care provider to weigh the next steps. With diet adjustments and supplementation, my body did a wonderful job and I was out of risk within a couple of weeks.
The final scan at 36th week showed that the baby weight was on the higher side. I was asked to double my movement and adjust the diet. By this time I started my maternity leave and I was able to attend all the workout classes. Apart from that I was doing daily walks, climbing stairs, squats and prenatal exercises. We were staying on the 7th floor, whenever I could, climbed all the stairs at least twice daily. During this time I started experiencing mild contractions at night, which continued till 40th week - after which I started feeling contractions during day as well for short periods of time, but these did not qualify for a center visit.
Just another Blessed Day
On 40week + 3 days, afternoon around 3 PM contractions started with a pattern. We waited for 2 hrs. to make sure it was not false contractions. Around 6 PM we informed our midwives. The advice was to stay until the contractions follow 1-5 patterns. After 8 PM we were asked to come to the Centre. Our birth team welcomed us, Priyanka, Ani and Donna. After the initial examination I was 7 cm dilated. We were asked to move around and climb the stairs. That night was full of movements, squatting, eating, drinking and taking rest in between. I threw up in between as well (part of labour). I was progressing, but slowly. As time passed by my temperature was rising, I did not bother as even when I was on periods my body temperature used to rise a little, I felt only such a discomfort. Midwives were monitoring baby’s heart rate and my vitals. At around 6 am temperature rose above 100F. This was when the birth team intervened, gave me IV glucose and medication to bring my temperature down. There was a discussion of transferring to mainstream care if the birth wouldn't happen in next couple of hours. That was the last thing I wanted. I was not drained of energy but I felt I was not able to manage the pain. With constant encouragement from birth team and my husband I was able to push the baby and progress. As my midwife would say, don’t check out, be present. For the final push, the midwives gave me fundal support and I birthed my little one earthside by 8.40 AM. The placenta was birthed 20 minutes later.
It was a blessed experience for my husband to do the cord clamping. After doing the stitches on the natural tear, we were left alone to enjoy our day. Both of us did skin to skin with our baby. A delicious hot chocolate energized me soon after birth followed by kanji. I got a hot water bath by chechi. Bincy explained about placenta and showed it to me, that was interesting. By evening the newborn assessment was done, and we were ready to go home!
A word about Lamaze classes
The classes were very informative it gave us an opportunity to learn and unlearn. They were about nutrition, benefits of natural birthing, medical interventions that might be required, stages of labour, comfort measures. All these equipped us to prepare for the birth and instilled confidence. The postpartum class covered even the basic things like how to hold a baby, how to folding a langot, breastfeeding, what is normal and when to seek medical attention. As first timers we found these immensely helpful.
Bincy visited us during our immediate postpartum time. We loved her visits, asking about our wellbeing, clarifying our doubts, checking baby’s vitals and mine.
The massage- Awesome!!! Rema chechi gave her whole heart to massage and also her attitude, way of calling ‘mone’ was so soothing (so sweet of her). I really loved all the products used; organic face cream, massage oil, the hair oil, scrubber made of ‘ramacham’ and the bath powder.
We had two of our final visits at the center which included checking our vitals and chit chatting with midwives.
What makes the difference?
The personalized care.
-- The appointments were 1 hour long inquiring about our wellbeing, that warm smile and how are you! Discussing how we are feeling, how were the days after last visit, our diet, exercise, clarifying doubts. We would be in the same room where we will be birthing. Helps to bond with the midwives, so we are not timid when they are examining, even a PV was so gentle! To hear our baby’s heart beat were all awesome experiences (husbands don’t get this opportunity in the other institutions).When midwives feel the baby; it is so nice to understand where is baby’s head, hands, feet etc.
-- Informed consent
I never knew I had so many rights as a mama before coming to BV. I felt so respected and the feeling of taking you into consideration is remarkable!
-- Treating you as mama and baby, not as patients
--The natural birth and its benefits
-- The natural birth and its benefits
-- Golden hour and immediate initiation of breastfeeding
-- The midwives never told me I couldn’t do it. They said you just need to work a little more which instilled confidence to work out more. As Reba said in one class it’s comparable to a 12 mile hike and whatever you do for that needs to be done for birth as well (preparation,water,food,stamina!....)
Midwives are not scared of anything that comes out from the body, poop, vomit…. no body shaming.
Midwives are superheroes, and they are also skilled buddies ☺
How did we prepare before getting pregnant
-- Researched about the maternity care, created an exercise routine, learnt swimming (as it’s a wonderful exercise).
-- Took supplementation for some nutrients
Any advice for people reading this?
-- Don’t reveal your EDD. You can probably say an extended date .You will get calls even from unknown people asking about the baby, which might add mental stress.(little exaggerating!!It will be annoying even if it didn’t add to mental stress)!!.
-- Natural birth is not for everyone, medical interventions are necessary for some births (high risk pregnancies). But everyone can learn about it and be informed about what is happening to our body and how the baby is growing.
-- Attend Lamaze classes, which is open for all.
-- If you are healthy and no medical issues, if I can, everybody can go for this!!
What did we do on EDD?
We went to Lulu mall with my mom, climbing stairs (the security guys staring and asking to take stairs), shopping, had a wonderful lunch☺ .
Teena K Baby
We thank our birth team( Priyanka, Donna, Annie,Bincy,Reba,Jinju,Smija,Subhadra,Rema chechi,Usha chechi , the entire team) from the bottom of our hearts for the care and love extended towards us. We can never thank you enough.
Grateful that I could work till 36th week.
Grateful for my family ☺
Let’s Do The Mall Walk Again!
Harini’s story –
Our second pregnancy started with surprises and joy.We decided for natural birthing and had our antenatal checkups at Coimbatore with Priyanka. I had a few requests from my side. Although my first experience of birth was a natural birth I had long, painful labor which actually pushed me into fear of labour.
The second time around, I had planned to undergo hypnobirthing classes but couldn't do it. As the days were nearing I was planning how to manage contractions during labour. I practised some yoga techniques and deep breathing regularly. Also, I decided to distract myself during contractions by talking with my friends virtually. When I disclosed this idea to my midwife she said: " we respect to mother's wish during labour but I'm not sure how you can do this if your labour happens in midnight ...what would be the possibilities of social networking during labour at that hour?". So I began preparing my mind to accept whatever happens. My other request was bonding with the baby for 1st one hour – which was already part of the usual practice at the birth centre – so that was a huge relief.
We went to Cochin by 36 weeks. I attended the Active Mamma sessions regularly and we enjoyed the classes. It kept us refreshed. After attending comfort measure classes, and getting to know more details about labour and how to deal with early labour - I started to focus on how to work with my oxytocin (happy hormone). I and my husband did everything that we love to do. I felt the days were golden days. I didn't get much stressed when I crossed 40weeks. We trusted our baby... and were in good, capable hands with the BV team – who were monitoring regularly to make sure that all was ok with me and the baby.
When I was 40+2 days (November 12th), in the evening, slowly I could feel mild surges and by 2.30am I could feel the surges were 10mins apart and lasted for 20secs. Intermittently I fed my 22months old little one. (She also helped me to intensify the surges)!
I messaged my midwife about the surges and she replied me to inform if surges become intense and to come to BV at any time when I want. I continued to labour at home, supported by my husband. By 8 am the mucus plug came out but still the surges remained in the same interval – showing that I was still not in active labour - till evening. Evening by 4 pm we got ready, but since the intensity of surges was tolerable, we went to Lulu mall.
There we walked, climbed stairs and I visited the restrooms on all the floor🤪 Then by 8 pm I could feel the surges were getting intense. I called my midwife and informed her about this and she asked as to come to BV. We reached to BV by 9 pm. The whole team was there - fully ready for my labour. But when we reached BV the intensity of the surges started to reduce. So, we were asked to go have dinner and return back. We went out again, finished our dinner and came back to BV but surges were still the same – with less intensity. So, after a short while, they asked as to go back home and come back to the centre if the intensity increases. We returned home and by 12 o clock the surges were 3-5mins apart and lasted for 1min. When I called my midwife, she asked us to come back. She asked me to rest as much as possible. She guided me to do deep breathing during the surges. I felt her voice as magical and my mind just wanted to do what she says.
I had always wondered how mothers could sleep during active labour, as I had read some of them saying in the birth stories. but I did it too! Yes, I could feel the surges but I was completely in a relaxed state. I dozed between surges. I changed positions, walked a few times, climbed stairs. My hubby came near me and asked: "are you getting the pain as you felt for our first baby?" He wanted to make sure which stage of labour I'm in.. I said I could feel the pain but I'm able to manage it. He thought labour process will take at least till afternoon. He gave me pelvic massage during the surges. Slowly I started to feel a heaviness at my lower back. After some time my midwife asked me to push if I feel that urge. I was wondering how I can push this early..!! I thought I would be only 6-7cm dilated. But within a minute I feel like pushing. My midwife encouraged me continuously. I pushed in a standing position and amniotic fluid came out. Then I was asked to try pushing on the birth stool. I sat on birthstool and tried pushing but I couldn't do it with full effort. Then she asked me to reverse the position. I held my hubby's thighs for support, and was in hands and knees position and started pushing. With 4-5pushes the baby's head came out and with the next push, I delivered my little prince. We couldn't believe how easily we made it... But definitely, the fear of birthing was not there in my mind during labour. I was able to manage all the phases I went through with confidence. Through the entire labour process, I could remember every single moment since I was completely focused and could track the changes in my body.
I always felt that postpartum care is equally important as birthing.
I was not mentally ready to go with suturing of my natural tear since I have a needle phobia. My midwife treated me like a kid while that phase was happening... she pampered me, she sat next to me and talked to me while my other midwife Ani was suturing the tear.
In the whole process, I felt, "I was treated like Princess, pampered like a kid... "
All our wishes for this labour were fulfilled by the BV team. We were completely satisfied with our birthing and postpartum care. Since I have experienced birth this way, I firmly believe today that every woman deserves midwifery care.
A Father's Powerful Birth Narrative.
Anu Mohan shares his experience of his firstborn's birth, with Maheswari.
Birth. A far greater thing than i had ever considered it to be till now. With deepest respects I bow to my my mother and grandmothers, and all the mother in this world who have given birth.
I must start last June, while the shooting of Malalayalam film ‘Velikku Velupaankaalam’ was going on. One day, when I got home after the shoot, I received it. Her 4-year-old nephew handed me a pregnancy test kit. At first I didn’t get it. Then, everyone who was hiding and waiting for my reaction gathered round and told me to look closely at what I was holding. I looked at it again – a pregnancy test kit with two lines on it. Hmmm...Two lines. But why were they giving it to me? I was still perplexed.
I looked at Her. In that one glance, I felt like my entire body froze, and I plopped down on the sofa. I must confess, I did wish to act like you see in the movies – the character realizes his wife is pregnant and is completely overcome with happiness, dances around with joy, lifts her up and does a happy turnaround. But I think the happiness that was rising inside me was far greater than what I could express, and I sat there on that sofa for some time, just taking it all in. I had never felt this feeling before. I have experienced many shades of happiness, but this particular one – this was the very first time.
My father was an artist who lived his life in a very down to earth way, without any artifice. He was a person who loved Nature, little children and old people very much. From childhood onwards, what my Father showed us through his actions was that Life and Nature was filled with many, many different aspects. His outlook to Life that I had been raised with, is probably why - as soon as I heard She was pregnant, I wished that She could have a natural birth. And so for the first time I started to search for more information on pregnancy. Right from the start, all of the information was brand new – things I had never heard about before, and I was at a bit of a loss. All that I understood finally were the things that my mother, her mother and her sister explained to me. She began to be taken care of as a pregnant woman. Most of the things we encountered were do’s and don’t – and we heard more on the 'don’t' than information on what we should ‘do’.
Her wish, and mine was that I should be with her at the birth. But I said that will not be possible in our state, especially in her city. ‘So I won’t take you anywhere else to give birth, let’s have it at home’ I would joke with her. After all, that was how it used to be in our parents’ times....
And allowing a husband in a labour room is unheard of here. But at the same time a faint memory arose in my head... of a newspaper article I had read a long time ago. And so I began searching for more details on that.
Although we travelled through the C-section oriented institutions for the first 3 months, our discomfort with what we experienced, finally made us leave and finally arrive at the place that we wished to be. Birthvillage – the natural Birthing Centre. A place that makes you feel at home. A place that had none of the ‘institution’ atmosphere – just as we desired. And even though it was a joke when I said we would have a home birth, in a way it was like it was coming true.
We entered the room for our first consultation, and that’s when we met Priyanka (our super lady). We didn’t feel like we were strangers to her and spoke for a very long time. The first thing she told us was to get that thought of being a ‘patient’ out of our minds - that the three months of interacting with institutions had given us. That this is not the way to approach such a happy and wonderful time in our life. She gave us permission to ‘do’ many of the ‘don’ts’ that the institution had listed out to us, and clearly outlined to us the things we really should be actively doing. After that she said - ‘let’s listen to the baby’, and helped us hear that heartbeat that was beating inside his mother’s womb. And for the first time, She and I listened to it to our heart’s content.
The next 6 months were filled with happiness. We travelled a lot, watched loads of movies. Contrary to the first few months when the institution had instructed Her to not even climb the steps inside our home, now She began to target any stairs that came into sight! She would do her dance practice daily. She strictly followed the diet and exercise instructions she was given by the midwife. My friends, relatives and myself used to tease her saying we’d never seen such a pregnant tomboy! We really enjoyed the pregnancy phase.
We got great confidence and inspiration from the BV Lamaze classes. Everything we learnt was new information for us. Initially our focus was the institution – the medicines and the test reports, but now...our attention was on the little one growing inside Her. The BV midwife team was instrumental in helping Her to connect to, and understand all of the little changes happening inside as the baby was growing – just as every living being does in Nature. In each of our happy or sad moments, those movements always responded to us. So 6 months passed – filled with our BV visits, meetings and gatherings with friends, music, dance – filled with love and fun.
The BV midwives do not focus on one ‘due date’ as the institution or scan centres do. Natural labour can begin at any time between week 36-42. On Week 35, when we got a chance, we went on a trip to Ooty, even though some folks at home had a concern about this. When we returned, we had a check-up scheduled at BV. Our midwife told us that the little one was reallly doing good, very active. We checked blood pressure as always. Her readings had been normal throughout pregnancy – but this time was high, at 140/100. Maybe it was due to the travel, we were asked to stay at the centre for some time and check again. Recheck happened – but it was still on 140/100. We check the next day. Still the same. Our midwife met with us. What happened all of a sudden? Was it the tension of labour getting closer? She asked my wife. I didn’t feel she was tense about any of it. Since everything else was fine, She was asked to rest well for 2-3 days and come and check again. Still, the BP readings stayed the same. Our midwife told us that high BP readings could mean that we may not be able to have a natural birth as we expected. Our midwife began to work towards what could be done best in this situation and so we did blood tests, and urine tests. All of the results were normal. How could this much of a shift happen in BP when everything else was perfectly fine? My wife could just not think about induced labour in an institution. As per our midwife’s instruction, we went to see another care provider for a second opinion. When we were there, BP reading was 150/100. The careprovider advised us that in this situation the best thing to do was to not proceed with the pregnancy indefinitely – get admitted right away and have the baby that same day. Our wish all along was that she should not have to experience induced pain, and that was especially what she had desired. The care provider said - ‘I made my opinion clear...this is not a situation where we can wait for natural pain or labour to start on its own, but the decision is yours.’We also decided to go forward with antihypertensives at this point.
I saw Her eyes welling up with tears. I stood for a few minutes, not knowing what to do...but then, since she had no other health issues, with utmost respect to the doctor and his advice, I replied that we would like to wait for a few days more and then decide. She was of the same opinion. I informed the midwife of our decision. From that moment on, our midwife was constantly in touch with us through phone calls, messages and in person. Since Her BP was borderline now, the best way to go forward was to try all we could do, to make labour start naturally – as soon as possible! The midwife gave us instructions on movement and exercise to initiate labour and to bring baby further into a better position as it was posterior to begin with. I would check Her BP every four hours. We both kept talking to the baby, urging him to come out soon. And, he was clear in his response – every time the midwife checked, he kept steadily descending lower and lower. With each passing day, She began to feel early labour pains that progressed.
January 17th. She told me early in the morning that the pain was unbearable...let’s go to BV. When I called the centre, everyone was ready, waiting for our call. We reached the centre, and the midwife checked Her and told us that it was very early yet....when it is real labour pains, you will not come to the centre this calmly... we were told. We returned home. Till afternoon, the pains stayed in the same kind of intensity. She ate some food, but vomited it all out. Our midwife had told us that by afternoon, you will feel the pain intensifying more – and that is exactly what happened. I called the midwife, and she asked me how many minutes apart the contractions were happening. About 10 minutes apart, I said. ‘That time will decrease to contractions coming about 3 minutes apart, come to the centre when that happens’, I was told. With every hour, the contractions intensified and by about 4.30 p.m we went to the centre. The midwife examined her, and told she was in active labour. My wife wasn’t paying attention to any of the details...but even in that unbearable pain, she followed each of the instructions that the midwife was giving. Three hours passed like this, and finally – with no assistance or interventions from any of mankind’s great discoveries or inventions of technology...very naturally, so innocently and purely, He arrived into our welcoming hands.
One cannot describe in words the state of being one experiences in that moment. We watched him in silence and in wonder for many long minutes. As our little one was immediately enveloped in the warmth of his mother’s chest, and while I was overcome with emotion as I cut the umbilical cord a few minutes later...in some small, now forgotten corner of the bed, that BP checking machine was smiling at us.
Thankful to God.
Our BV team – Priyanka, Donna, Ani, Bincy and eveyone at the centre will always live deeply with us in our hearts.
Dedicated to all of the mothers and fathers who birthed us, and raised us.
This happy go lucky uncomplicated young couple was simply a treat and blessing to work along with.
One of the unexpected stumbling blocks that was faced was mild gestational hypertension which was brought under control with diet, exercise and medicines.
We also owe a special thanks to medical care provider who offered his expertise and guidance and respected individual autonomy and choices
This mamma has worked hard and was willing to surrender with gratitude and love to whatever the plan laid threadbare was.
The dad offers three rounds of applause for commitment, love and unwavering support that he offered.
Congratulations guys , well done!!
Anu Mohan K
Hang On, Baby - Let Me Just Finish This Meal!
An honest and delightful account of Sajitha’s birth with BV.
"I am the classic unhealthy type. Sedentary work and life, very little activity, sleeping in on weekends and eating habits that am not proud of. After lots of changes to the above ‘getting nowhere’ lifestyle and months of crying over just 'one' pink line, I finally saw two pink lines on my home pregnancy test. I couldn’t stop with one, so I took few more tests just to relive those moments.
As expected, my husband Zakkiria and I went to a nearby institution and careprovider, they did an internal scan and confirmed that my baby was 7 weeks old. I was and still am, overweight - but the doctor asked me to stop doing physical activity, not to climb stairs, not to lift anything heavy and cut out few food items like pineapple, sesame ladoos etc. That same day I read a post by my dear friend Lakshmi Shree, where she had shared her experience about Birthvillage and natural birthing.
GETTING THE BIRTH TEAM ON BOARD
I did not know anything about birthing - natural or otherwise. The only thing which drew my interest was the part where our partners were fully involved in all aspects of pregnancy and labour. I shared this write-up with Zakkiria and my parents. Well, it was clearly not the reaction I wanted. I checked out their website and started reading more of BV stories. I couldn’t help but get more and more interested in natural birthing. Zakkiria understood that I wanted to have a natural birth and started searching for options in and around our city, Chennai.
TESTING THE WATERS
We contacted BV admin Ginju, who scheduled a Skype appointment with Priyanka and we spoke for about an hour. My midwife had a look through my blood tests, scans and pointed out that I had to get physically active and watch my eating habits in such a way that I must not put on more than 3-4 kilos for the entire pregnancy. I was asked to keep my pregnancy in the low risk category IF I wanted to birth at Birthvillage.
I like a good challenge, so I couldn’t resist this. Also my midwife patiently answered many of our questions. For example, my other careprovider had prescribed me few medicines and my midwife explained what is the purpose of each medicine and whether it is really necessary for me or not. Eventually I ended up making informed choices.
I found a big difference in attitude among both my care providers. In a conventional institution my pregnancy was treated with queues, 10 minute consultations, routine scans and medicines, but in BV my pregnancy was celebrated with the same thrill and excitement that I felt when I saw the two little pink lines.
My midwife had suggested that we attend the birth Education classes that were conducted at BV after which we can decide what to choose. After attending the classes there is no going back, you are in it for good. My mom was fully on board too, but my dad - not so much. He wanted us to look at few other institutions before we decide.
In this visit to Ernakulam, we attended Donna’s 2 hour Active Mamma couples’ workout classes and we were sore for few days after. It was soooooo demanding, refreshing, exciting and tiring. She said, ‘So this is what I expect out of you'.
Now we were back in Chennai, where I started going for regular yoga classes, cycling to and from station, taking all the stairs, eating healthy, basically keeping myself in the low risk zone. Zakkiria accompanied me in all the above activities, cycled right behind me yelling to watch out, claimed all stairs with me and pushed me to take two stairs at a time, kept me in check when I tried to sneak in some junk food, cooked meals with me and practiced birthing positions with me.
We also had our regular Skype appointments with the midwife. She would always start like 'So talk to me, tell me how are you, how is everything with the baby, is food and exercise on track? Has your dad come around?' She remembers every detail. Our calls would last 30-45 minutes.
THE LAST FEW WEEKS
We arrived in Cochin in the last few weeks of the pregnancy. My mom and Zakkiria stayed with me. We were asked not to wait for labour to happen, as it will happen when my body and baby is ready, so we made a vacation out of it. We visited many malls, parks, museums, art shows, markets, beaches, etc.
We had our weekly checkup at BV, where my midwife would just touch by belly and tell me, 'I feel a foot here, the hand around here, head is down.’ She would listen to the baby’s heartbeat and give a big smile assuring us that the baby is very happy and well. She would discuss my exercise, food and water intake. We also attended all of the workout classes.
At 39 weeks and 3 days I had a bloody show with slight cramping. I tried to ignore it and sleep. The next day morning, I was all fine, no pain, no bloody show. So we went to Lulu mall and did some shopping. I kept my midwife informed and she said in a calm voice, ‘All is fine we will wait'. So we went to the park that evening, and there was no sign of labour that night too.
The next day we went to Cherai beach, it was 25 kms from our house. The road was bumpy so I had slight pain when our car had driven over them. We took a long walk on the beach, I was having mild pain at random intervals. As we were taight, I ignored this pain as false labour pains and kept on walking. On the way back the pain was little more intense when the car hit the bumps. We stopped at a restaurant for dinner and we ordered many of my favorite food items. Now the pain was still random but more intense when I sat down. Now the baby in me was practicing it’s exit strategy, but the foodie in me wanted to eat. So I did the most sensible thing, I sat down and completed my dinner. I convinced myself that if I could still think and make this decision, probably I’m not in labour yet.
At 39 weeks and 6 days, the pain started becoming regular. However the intensity was bearable. In the morning I called and informed our midwife, she asked me to keep her informed and let’s wait to see how the labour progresses. We were taught the different stages of labour, how to identify one from the other and at which stage should we go to the center.
As the day progressed the intervals were shortening and contractions were steadily increasing in intensity. We did most of the comfort measures we were taught including hot water bag, sitting on birth ball, listening to hypnobirthing audios, back massages, I had even slept off twice on my birth ball from all the hot water packs. I tried to eat some lunch and few snacks in-between. Towards the evening my contractions started to get stronger and closer, I was in a side lying position, crushing my mom’s and Zakkiria’s hands and screaming when the contractions hit. My midwife asked me to switch position and stand up, she said, 'your contractions are lasting only 25-30 seconds, you still have a long way to go'. She reminded me to breathe through my contractions and assured me that I can do it. When I switched positions I was able to manage pain better, Zakkiria supported my shoulders and did the breathing with me through every contraction, encouraging me and smiling at me after every contraction all the way long. He and my mom were so calm and supportive and I did not fear my contractions, I just faced it.By now we were at the center.
Labour progressed quickly and in 3 hours my water broke, I was still standing and walking around the room, leaning over Zakkiria for support. Now the contractions were really very intense with lots of pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. Zakkiria suggested that I change into something more comfortable, so I took few steps forward and I felt something so heavy and about to drop, like a strong bowel movement. I tried to hold it in, but the counter pressure was very high. I was holding on to Zakkiria’s shoulders for support and I told him I feel something heavy is going to fall, he said '’Oh Is it” and cupped his hands together near my knees. In just a blink, our baby was born!
Now I became all calm and smiling and he became all panicky, terrified and speechless. I tried to console him, but he was caught up in the moment. I threw out my arms asking to hold our baby, it took a few minutes for him to recover from the shock of it all, and then i held our baby for th very first time. With a big happy smile, I whispered to him, 'It is a Girl!!'. She let out a small cry and then smiled at me. I kissed her cheeks. . She then gave her back to me.
Through all this I was still standing with our daughter in my arms until my midwife reminded me to sit down. I tried to feed my baby, but she was not interested. My placenta came out 45 minutes later, we waited until the cord turned white and then my midwife clipped and cut the cord. She checked me for any tear and said I was slightly bruised so I got one stitch. I wanted an intervention free birth and this was the only really necessary intervention I got. I was fed with juice, nuts, dates and curd rice. Our daughter was kept skin to skin on me and we fell asleep.
The next day chechi gave me a nice bath and my daughter was weighed, and had a few other tests. I checked my weight before leaving BV and I was a few kilos less than my pre-pregnancy weight. I had 3 home visits by the postnatal midwife, to check on me and the baby.
Now Zakkiria proudly tells this story of him catching our daughter every time he gets a chance!
At BV we were made to feel like we owned the moments of our child's birth, that those moments are only ours to be cherished, recollected over and over again with awe and gratitude.
Thanks a ton to BV team for this empowering childbirth experience!!
Mohammed Zakkira A
A BV Birth Was A Marital Precondition!
One of the first conditions my husband placed before me soon after our marriage got fixed was that – our children should be born at Birthvillage! It was through him that I first heard about such a place. He was very impressed by his, and now our friend Thaniya’s birth experience at BV.
It was many months later after we found out that I was expecting a baby, that the magnitude of my decision struck me. It was quite nerve-wracking and confusing to even think of an alternate space for birth – other than a normal hospital. This was a concept that neither I, nor both our families were familiar with, and to be able to convince them was the most difficult task we faced. Our friend Thaniya played a great role in dispelling our misconceptions and enlightening us by sharing details of her experience at B.V. For me, to be able to have my husband Joseph’s support throughout the phases of delivery was the biggest comfort, when I thought about it. So we decided to go ahead with our plan.
On our first visit we met with Priyanka, she explained how the midwifery system functions and gave us an overall clear picture of what to expect there. Later, we began attending classes that included Lamaze birth education sessions - classes on all the facets of pregnancy like delivery, prenatal, post natal care, diet, psychology and parenting, and also the Active Mamma workouts – which were exercise and fun zumba prenatal workouts with Donna Mitchell.
Finally, on August 13th my labour pains began and we reached BV early in the morning. My birth team – midwives and clinical staff - and my husband were present all day long. Their presence was very comforting and provided me with much needed relief. Around 6:45 p.m., we were blessed to meet our little Ivan Eapen Joseph and hold him in our arms!
Even after we went back home, we received excellent post natal care, which was provided by Bincy, who also kept in touch with us frequently through periodical check-up.
Our experience at B.V was truly a memorable one. The sincere dedication and support provided by each of the staff involved has won our hearts and respect. The opportunity to share these intimate and sacred moments with my husband has only brought us more closer as a couple and we’re now enjoying this phase of parenthood.
Thank you B.V and your wonderful talented team for making our experience there so precious!
This mamma makes her birth story sound super easy but in reality it was a relentless hard labor where she had contractions/strong surges which started off with a bang of coming in every 3 minutes lasting a minute right from the start of her early labor which pursued throughout the whole day and night in the same manner . But when ably suppprted by a strong and committed partner nothing is impossible . You guys were amazing!!! Congratulations once again
" Looking back at the birth of my first child,
I see how unprepared and ignorant I was then. It was a regular institutional birth. Though I had a vaginal birth, It was completely induced and had all kinds of interventions. It can make one think that babies wouldn't come out if we don't bring them out. The actual birthing experience ended up being way out my control.
But for the second time around, I wanted to have a natural birth- to trust my body and to let my body and baby decide what to do. Though I was fascinated by home births, I was sceptical to encounter that myself. I came to know about Birthvillage and had a Skype appointment with Priyanka when I was 25 weeks pregnant. She was very much detailed and patiently listens and gets to know the client personally. I just knew after talking to her that I'd found my team.
I reached Cochin at 35 weeks. The prenatal care they provided was very personal, rejuvenating and excellent. They were absolutely sensitive and respectful of my needs. I always felt they gave me an option and care specific to my beliefs. The Lamaze classes were a great eye opener and gave more courage and confidence to have this birth.
I was 40 weeks and 3 days when my water broke. It happened early in the morning and I felt mild surges and tightening across my belly every 3 to10 mins, lasting for about 40 to 60 seconds. At this point I let Priyanka know what was going on and since the baby was moving well, I planned to go once the contractions become stronger. But they remained with the same intensity until evening and about 6 pm, suddenly I could feel more intense contractions that were unmanageable and out of my control. So I called Priyanka and started to Birthvillage.
With each contraction becoming more and more stronger, the journey to Birthvillage seemed forever, and halfway in the car, I started to feel the baby pushing down. As soon as we reached Birthvillage, I couldn't bear anymore and as Priyanka came out smiling, I lost control and started to scream in pain, Priyanka and my husband managed to get me inside and I immediately started pushing. They tried to get me upstairs but I couldn't make it and started birthing our daughter in the stairway. All happened in 40 minutes after reaching BV. In the end, I got exactly the birth I wanted- no induction, zero intervention (not even a vaginal exam), all natural positive birthing experience.
We thank the BV team for being part of our daughter's birth! It's a memory we will always treasure!."
S. Boopathi Raja
Sharjah Cement Factory
Twice The Joy Around ....
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:13-14)
It fills our hearts with joy as we cherish this wonderful gift from God, our second child 'Niyesvi Sanjesh'. Thank you, Priyanka, Amy, Bincy, Donna and all at Birth Village (BV).
We had our first baby Sneyasvi birthed at BV. After experiencing excellent care and support here, it was always in our hearts to be here when we have our second child, although we wanted to seek God’s guidance before we decided. We contacted BV in the first few weeks of pregnancy. As usual, they were so supportive in helping us draw a plan for this birth. With a 2-year-old daughter with us, it was not going to be easy to manage consultations, moving to Kochi (from Bangalore) towards the end of pregnancy and so on. But all worked out well, some things just in time. We did come for our consultations to Kochi, our moms taking care of Sneyasvi back home. As usual, our midwives were there to monitor, support and answer our queries.
Knowing that Sneyasvi was born at 35 weeks we had to be careful. Throughout the pregnancy, we had our queries and concerns attended to by P on the phone or during consultations. I had pains in the 27th week and we were worried. Priyanka was in Toronto, Canada that time attending ICM Triennial Congress (International Midwives Association). Even from there with the time-zone differences, she as guiding us on phone We consulted a gynaec in Bangalore. We were worried for the next few days. I had been advised to rest it out by complete opposite of what I was supposed to do till then. In my first pregnancy, I had exercised, walked, taken flights of stairs and so on, though lesser than what I would have wanted to. But still, I had exercised. This time, I was worried if my body would be ready for labor without this preparation. And yes I could start exercise after the 36th week, and that was some consolation. We planned to move to Kochi at about 35th week, but I wanted to get there earlier. Finally, we moved in the 34th week. We came for the consultations and were so happy and relieved to be here. My rest time still had to continue, so I was confined to being indoors most of the time.
After crossing 36th week, I was planning to slowly get into the exercise mode, starting with a short walk.
In the 37th week, my waters broke after about midnight. We called out midwife immediately and she asked us to monitor. The contractions started. Being in touch every once in a while, sometime around 2:30 at night she asked us to come to the centre in the morning. And they were there, ready for us. The midwives asked me to move around, walk etc. But the contractions were taking time to pick up. Having lost sleep the previous night, They suggested that we can take a nap. They came and monitored us regularly, while we got some sleep that would help us to be ready when contractions pick up.
The whole day passed by. At about 6:30 p.m, we thought it would be a good idea to go and eat out, which They agreed. We wanted to wait for a short time more before deciding whether to go back home and continue at the centre. It was a nice time to hang out, and we called the midwives from there and said that we would go and come back later. We headed home, had dinner and went to sleep. Late night, at about midnight, the contractions were stronger. We immediately informed Our team and started for the centre. The midwives got only a short time of rest at their homes, and yet they were there back at the centre before we reached.
We were into business wasting no time, and I tried different positions for the labor to proceed.
I tried the birth stool with my husband pressing and massaging my back. I was sometimes lying down. The midwives suggested me to catch hold of the ropes. I was holding onto the ropes for some time, and then I wanted to go on to the floor, and catch hold of my husband for support. So he was there towards my front holding me, and the midwives on the other side. Within a few contractions, our little one was out, onto Priyanka’s hands. We broke into tears and thanked Jesus. The baby was onto my chest immediately, and we latched her shortly after.
My husband cut the umbilical cord and took care of the baby while we tried to birth the placenta. It took longer this time. Bincy also arrived in the meanwhile helping us thereafter.
We had our post-partum care as house visits and consultation at the centre. As we left Kochi, we missed Birthvillage, and still do so. We want to thank God for this wonderful place. Thank you once again, Birthvillage.
We remember conversations about pre-term labor and how strong and determined this couple was that they would make it to 36 weeks.
It's not easy when it came to travelling from Bangalore with pre-term pains and a 2-year-old but such is their commitment towards the birth of their choice that they braved all odds.
And there you go you get what you seek wholeheartedly.
Such an honour to serve you and your family.
Senior Technical Manager,
A “Wonder Woman” And A “Wonder Girl”.
My husband, Krishnan and I live in Lagos, Nigeria and we have been married for more than two years now. I am architect by profession and had taken a break from work after marriage.Krishnan is the Managing Director at his family run construction company in Lagos, Nigeria.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Our baby was a totally unplanned gift from the gods. We always knew we wanted kids and I would always tell Krishnan I wanted three. We would share many a lighter moments discussing about it, and then it just happened, although at the time I had no clue that I was pregnant.
After spending some time in Nigeria, I was ready to go home for a vacation and I left for Kochi, India.
At the time, I was having a slight thyroid issue, and in previous months, I had irregular cycles. So when I didn’t get my period for more than two months, I did not panic. Moreover, I had travelled with my mum to Kuwait to spend a month with my dad.
As usual, from Kuwait, I was feeling uneasy and had slight head aches and then finally, I developed a fever and started profusely vomiting for a week. Even at this time, I didn’t suspect that I was pregnant and we all thought I had gotten a viral fever especially since my mum had also had similar symptoms.
The vomiting still persisted and then we went to see a doctor. The Doctor confirmed that I was two months pregnant with child. I was a bit shaken at first, I couldn’t believe it, I was so happy and at the same time scared and then I had one thought full of clarity “I had to call my husband”.
Krishnan’s reaction was worth a million bucks when I told him, he just couldn’t believe it. he was thinking I was playing a prank on him. I wanted to smash his head at that moment, I mean, why would I joke about something like this? Finally, it was my mom who convinced him the news was true and gave the phone back to me. What happened next was the best, Krishnan was ecstatic, excited, all the positive happy emotions that one could express came out through his conversation with me.
His reaction made me so happy and then I realized “I am going to become a mother, how cool is that?”
I was so excited after this and Krishnan and I had long conversations about how we wanted our kid to grow up and all the regular stuff that new first time parents talk about.
It was at this time that both our excitement levels reached a fever pitch.
We had, over this period, passed on the great news to Krishnan’s parents who were over the moon. Krishnan’s mum and mine were, in particular, so excited.
My dad has always been my pillar of strength throughout my life and he was also so excited that seeing his happy face made me even more happier.
The news quickly spread and on my return to Kochi, India in the next month, the news quickly spread among the family members and everyone was particularly excited.
All my aunts and uncles came over to shower their blessings on me. I was the center of attention and I gradually realized that I have a life growing inside of me.
The mornings were particularly difficult with the morning sickness. The vomiting persisted for about three weeks and then it was time for my husband to meet me for the first time after “The News”.
We all went as a family to pick him up from the airport and he kept touching my stomach on the way home from the airport.
At the time, I felt that maybe he couldn’t believe his eyes - how big I had gotten!!
But, as soon as we got bit of privacy, we sat there holding each other in silence and that was an awesome moment worth remembering.
After a short trip, my husband subsequently returned back to Nigeria and I wanted to kill him for being in a place so far away from me. But, I knew what his work meant to him and I had a great respect for him because of that and decided to spare him.
The passing months were easy. I was on full energy mode. I did everything what the normal me would do on a daily basis. I joined for art classes. I would drive all the time (till the day before my delivery), be by myself, go shopping, go for walks etc.
I was consulting in a nearby hospital and also at Birthvillage. The long waiting and lack of personal attention in hospital made me even more confident in choosing Birthvillage for my birth. I joined all their classes, one which I found particularly useful was their “Mommies workout classes”, which was a great help throughout the pregnancy period. “Yes, I did it till my 9th
Month of pregnancy”. At BV I got the chance to embrace and celebrate my pregnancy by having a mehendi art done on my belly .Each time the artist drew, we both could see the baby and my belly move. It was fun and the day's cherry on top was Donna's - sound healing meditation. I loved that day!
When ever I tried to sell the BIRTH VILLAGE birth idea to my husband he would always be against it and each time I felt if he was near me I would punch him in the face. All his arguments where baseless and it was tough for us to find middle ground as he was too much for the birth to take place in a nearby hospital. We had many discussions and arguments and then he decided to do a Skype call with one of the midwives at Birth Village. It was during this skype call that my husband opened up to the nouvelle idea of a Birth Village birth.
My Husband came back for the birth of our baby one month prior to the birth and we spent quality time doing “Couple things”.
We also attended the couple workout class .I took my mom too, as I wanted both of them to see what I was doing for 6 months in class. We had loads of fun and enjoyed each other’s company and were so excited about the future.
My due date was on 13th
June 2017 as per our scan. My husband and I were getting a bit tensed when I entered the last week, as my husband had to get back to Lagos. There was added pressure from everyone, with people calling and asking, enquiring on the status of the pregnancy. It was as though everyone was thinking there was some switch one should press and the kid would pop out. I couldn’t help but feel anxious as was natural. I had my first “Braxton and Hicks contractions” and Mucus plug discharge on Saturday 10th
June 2017. I called up my midwife and informed her (I was excited to see that something was actually happening), so she told me there is nothing to worry and to come in for a checkup, just to see if everything is fine. And it was. Also she asked us to go out and have some fun. We went to watch “Wonder Woman” and had a great time with slight cramps in between, but I did not find them hard at all.
We came back after watching the movie. My husband and I were amused that maybe our little one could be a “Wonder woman Fan”.
On Sunday 11th
June 2017, by evening, the contractions started coming in strong every 2-3 minutes. Krishnan was always there at my back massaging me. It felt soo good. After some time, contractions were becoming tough to bear and so we decided to go to the “Birth Village”. I told my mom and Krishnan not to freak out and that, maybe, if I'm not 6cm dilated we might have to return home and it started raining heavily.
I was afraid if my husband would run away because he would be scared, but he stuck by my side and we got dropped in “Birth Village”. My midwife received us with a very pleasant smile. The moment I saw her I knew I was safe and she checked me up and so “YES, I WAS 5cm dilated” (HURAAY!).
The contractions were coming in thick and fast. It was difficult and I was finding it difficult to stand or sit. It would be an understatement to say that it was uncomfortable.
The Midwives at Birthvillage were extremely co-operative and helpful.
My husband was my pillar of strength. Throughout the procedure, he stayed by my side, held my hand and assured that “I am there with you, you can do this”. It was assuring and I was happy that he was there at that very moment with me to share the birth of our first child.
From there on started all the different stunts - climbing stairs, squatting, wall leaning, birth ball etc.
Midwives had always told us during Lamaze and workout classes "you will need your thigh and arm muscles to be strong” - and I followed that advice religiously. But unless I went into labor I did not know the intensity in which I'm going to use my muscles. MUST SAY - I was impressed by my own strength and also my midwife’s (I was all the time holding onto her, throughout my pushes and squats.)
The midwives suggested me to get into the pool, so that it could help me deal with the pain better.
The warm water did help me in a great deal and felt a bit light in there. Now, the next step was my water to break. Priyanka kept telling me to change positions to help the water break. Then, as she told me to keep my back close to the wall of pool - GUSH - there was a force and pop, and yes, there goes my water- YES!
From there I went to the rope.
I remember very clearly though, that, at one point I thought I couldn't do it anymore. (My Exact words – I’M DONE.)
But MY MIDWIVES and KRISHNAN reminded me that I'm the only person who can bring this baby out. They kept telling me how good I was doing after every push. Krishnan kept whispering into my ears -" you can do it Devu!"
Towards the end I could feel something down there and I was asked to touch and OMG!!! I could feel my baby's head. WOW!
My husband did surprise me and everyone there with his calmness as he was not fazed by the bloody nature of the birth.
The moment of magic arrived at 4:35 am on 12th
June 2017, early morning after about 7 hours of labor.
But, that one moment wiped out all the pain and I got emotional, I lost my control and burst out crying kissing my baby girl for the very first time welcoming into the world. My husband for the first time through the whole ordeal was also not anymore an epitome of composure, he was stunned, surprised and more than anything on top of the world.
Our bundle of joy, our baby girl had arrived. She was ours, ours only. We stayed there in an embrace, looking at her for a moment. We chanted a silent prayer for welcoming her into this world.
My husband was then asked to cut the baby’s cord, which he did without any hesitation.
The midwives where all around us and we were so grateful for their help and their patience.
They laid her to rest on my chest and I held my baby and we fell asleep for a little while. In between when I opened my eyes I could see Krishnan holding our baby girl and them both looking deep into each other - what a beautiful sight that was. I'm sure that is and will be the favorite memory of my life time.
My mum then arrived in an hour’s time and she was so excited to be a grandmother. It was amazing seeing her so happy and holding the baby with utmost care. It was at this moment that I understood what it meant to be a parent, “To never stop caring for your child”. I wanted to be that person for my daughter, there for all her trials and tribulations in life telling her “Darling, it will be ok”.
I was discharged on 12th
June 2017, from the center later in the day at 4pm.
Before leaving, the Chechis at BV gave me a good herbal bath - that was soo relaxing, felt really good.
My sister, cousins and my granny were all eagerly waiting for us at home to see the new addition to our family.
Over the next few days we were visited by our relatives, Krishnan’s parents and my dad. Everyone was happy to see the new addition to the family.
Krishnan enjoyed holding the baby and he was surprisingly more confident in holding and moving with the baby about. I was extremely happy seeing him holding our little bundle of joy and walking about with such a big smile on his face. That was a moment of utter bliss.
My Baby girl was indeed an unexpected, unplanned gift and that is why she is so special to us. She is a gift from the gods when we were least expecting it.
I know that my husband and I will raise our baby girl to be a strong independent, confident, well educated and beautiful woman, a true “Wonder Woman”.
I guess this is all we can all hope for.
Devika Mohan P
A Strong Survivor
Unsure. Frightened. Sara stepped into her prenatal with fear written large in her dark eyes. When asked about why she skipped eating dinner for the past few months, she said that would be the way for her baby not to grow or for her to look smaller. She had reported feeling dizzy and unwell.
Healthy food choices, exercise, regular prenatal care, counsel and lots of love helped her to grow physically as well as mentally. She started talking to her baby asking her/him to help her when the time comes. Being a book lover she read voraciously about labor and birth and declared to us "I would like to use water for my labor". We agreed.
At the end of an exercise class, we asked “Is there something special that you would like to eat?" to which she replied,"Chinese food and noodles". We said, “Great!!! Let’s go....”We tucked in till we could burst, while she had mild cramps on and off.
Later that night, the first phone call came in at 10:00 pm with her cramps coming every fifteen to ten minutes. She smiled through them and said she would like to wait some more. (Her maturity struck us from deep within in an era where women are nervous at the mere mention of the word PAIN). She came in a little close to midnight with Cristelle who massaged and helped her with her needs all throughout labor.
It was amazing to see how she stood tall and would then bend forward and sway with contractions as she were performing the lead as a warrior princess in a Zulu dance.
She birthed – with courage and dignity, with loving hands supporting her – a beautiful little girl in the early hours of the morning.(Who continues today to be cared for at a foster welfare home) A few hours later, she asked, "Chechi, Can I have a ladoo"?
Sara was no longer the girl whom we first met a few months ago when she was emotionally distraught of her pregnancy via rape at 15, but is a survivor who was strong and sturdy and ready to deal with the world. She looks forward to getting back to school soon.
My Fairytale Birth Story
I had a wonderful time in labor!! Really??
Can labor be wonderful? It can be; when you are surrounded by people you love and who love you and your unborn child with all their heart and soul. The birth of my second son was in this cozy haven called Birthvillage, witnessed by George my husband, and Priyanka and Donna, my lovely midwives. It was quiet, peaceful and just right. Was it just about the labor? Definitely not. All the yoga, meditation and Lamaze classes and diet counseling sessions paved way to an easy and stress free labor. Priyanka would patiently explain and re-explain the innumerable doubts we threw at her. During the prenatal checkups, Priyanka and Donna would be so excited to feel the baby and hear his heartbeat... the excitement was contagious. Donna’s workout sessions were amazing. It totally dispelled my assumption that pregnant women should do only light exercises. After each session I would be fit and raring to go.My labor was for a total of 3 hrs.
At 38 weeks and 5 days, a Wednesday, I started feeling slight pressure on and off at 6 in the evening .I didn’t take it seriously thinking it was Braxton Hicks, since I hadn’t experienced it at all during this pregnancy. We had decided to go for some shopping and I started getting ready. It was then that I realized that the pressure sensations had deepened and were closer together. So I downloaded an app to time them and lo, behold they were 4-5 minutes apart!! Called up Priyanka, who told me to come when I felt it was the real deal.Even when the contractions came in, it was bearable. We reached at 7.15pm to a quiet Birthvillage. Though the pain was least bothersome, I was really vocalizing through each contraction and even when George made fun of me, I couldn’t stop it. An hour went by walking around; leaning against the wall with Priyanka and George giving fantastic massages and even some slow dancing with hubby dearest!! When the pain notched up a little, I got into the pool which was pure bliss! In between, I was thinking that it’s gonna take some time coz Priyanka hadn’t even examined me once! And then I started pushing!!! After 3-4 pushes, my water broke and in another 3, the baby crowned! That was the only time I felt severe pain and was a little scared. Later, I was told the pain was because his hand was at the side of his head, which Priyanka had deftly maneuvered. The head was born after a huge push and 4 minutes later, he slid out. He was immediately placed on my chest. For a whole hour, I was in la la land, holding my bundle of joy close to my heart. How relaxed and content we both were!! George did ‘delayed cord clamping.’
No amount of words can describe my admiration for the work Priyanka and Donna do every single day, without rest and sleep... love u both from the bottom of my heart. I want to thank Bincy and Smija for the excellent support you provide to these warrior babes! One day, Kevin will know he was birthed into gentle hands, open hearts and lotsa lotsa love... that his mother was happy and fearless!!
Side note: The instincts of a woman are diligently and systematically trivialized and scorned upon by our society in general; to the point that women themselves have stopped believing in them. Priyanka put that faith in me from the beginning; and my instincts helped me know what to do when along the course of the labor.
Deepti and George
Dentists, All for Roots, Kochi
Love, Commitment, And Faith
My thresholds for taking pain is lower than low.Nagged with hyper emesis in the first 7 months, I, like a minority of the mothers in this world, wasn’t looking forward to the birthing process or anything at all. That changed, the day I walked into Birth Village – from the homely ambience, to the spirited midwives. I started to look forward to this birth. One thing I learnt was, no one wants to listen to a pregnant woman’s ailing issues. It is considered to be part of the drill. It is not something to whine about, be it from nausea that comes up every two minutes, to endless sleepless nights. But here, you had an awesome set of women who empathized with you, held your hand, encouraged you, and egged you on to finish the race. Every appointment was educative, supportive and fun. I was actually looking forward to every month. I crossed my EDD, which was in the first week of January 2014. This baby of mine was in no hurry. I was in a state of mixed emotions, where one side of me wanted this baby to come out when he was ready and the other part of me was exhausted.
Then came the 23rd of January, 2014. I remember feeling a warm and much awaited contraction around two in the morning. I went back to sleep. These warm-up contractions didn't alarm me anymore, because I've been experiencing them from as late as November. As I was drifting off, I could feel the contractions falling into a pattern. I went back to sleep feeling happy.
I was up by 5am. I timed my contractions. They were a perfect 5 minutes apart. I was ecstatic. We reached Birth Village at around 7am. We found out all was going well, by the grace of god. All that remained was, we needed to walk this baby out. So we walked to this nearby place to have a lazy Thursday morning breakfast, took a couple of selfies, made bets if it was going to be a boy or a girl and then got back to the centre. I kept walking. I was able to laugh and converse through every contraction, it felt good. Since we had all the time in the world, and nowhere to go, Priyanka got me to narrate the ‘how I met Deepak story’. And yes, instantly, I was more occupied reminiscing while narrating, occasionally being interrupted by my contractions. At around 11am, it got to a point I couldn’t chat no more. Deepak was busy playing DJ trying to calm me with music. Donna got the birthing pool room lit up and ready, with lights. Amy kept a hot water bag in the small of my back for relief. Priyanka was there holding my hand, talking me through and administering the best back rubs ever. It was an overwhelming moment to see my support system enthusiastic and going all out for me. It picked me up, even though I was exhausted.
During my 41st week scan, I had got to know that my baby was going to be way above four kilos. But not for one moment, did I doubt that I would have trouble birthing this baby. This was what Birth Village instilled in me – that I was strong enough to birth and this was a natural process. I can never thank my team enough for the constant support and encouragement that was given to me all the way from my diets and exercises, and then through my contractions. The difference was like day and night for me, in comparison to my hospital birth with my first child 6 years ago, where I was splayed helplessly on a table surrounded by pretty nurses that I got to see for the very first time, since the doctor makes a guest appearance only at the end of the show. And then, there was the endless drugs that were being pumped in, first to induce the pain and then to calm it. The irony! Whereas here, I was being spoken to, explained to, supported, encouraged, and led to do things that were comfortable for me. They cried and laughed along with me every step of the way, and all this absolutely drug free.
Birthvillage was a blessing I gave myself. At a lovely time of 2.45pm, my champ decided to give his mother a break. I won’t say this experience was painless and fun, because it definitely wasn’t the case. The highlight of this birth was, I got to take back home the love and priceless support that I got from these awesome women and yes, a whopping 4.4 baby who till date doesn’t give me any trouble at all. Deepak, I know blood, pain and tears is not your thing. But you stood by me. I’m so proud of you. Amy, I got to know, you were having a rough day, that day, and yet you put it aside and you were there. Donna for making it look so easy and effortless. Love you both. Rohini, for babysitting Benjamin, and also for getting us ladies all dolled up to walk the ramp, with our bumps, love you. Bincy and Smija, for the texts and appointments that were so flawlessly handled, thank you. And finally Priyanka, for empathizing and supporting me till the very end. I don’t know how to say thank you.
The work that you do is larger than life. God bless the work of your hands!
A Rockstar Is Born
“Appangal chuta ammayi” never takes no for an answer. Super determined, strong and bold supported by a circle of women that were there with her every step of the way – this birth rocked with vibrant female energy, the way it was supposed to be.
“I Will Stand For Myself. I Will Not Bow Down. I Will Be Bold.
He pinned me down on my injured leg and there was nothing I could do.....
This shy soft spoken young girl came to us in her mid-pregnancy. Repeated threats of hurting her siblings forced to keep quiet amidst continued abuse from her “mamman”. “She is mentally deranged. She is talking about the wrong person. I have just hugged her that’s all.” But what she says is,
“I can make him out even in pitch darkness. “Yes she does have learning disabilities and it is disgusting how, in our society we label dyslexia as being mentally deranged/challenged and how that it is used as a cover for gains.As we talked about options for birth, she said, “I am worried about the pain but I know if I have hands to hold on and hug and I am encouraged, I can do this.”Her mum said “You can’t handle pain. Why don’t you just go for an elective C-section” to which she replies, “No, that’s the easy way out and it’s not good for me or for baby unless there is a real issue”.
As she called us in the early hours of the morning, we were surprised that she hadn’t called us earlier, as she had labored through the night and when asked why she hadn’t called us, she replied “I must do what I can without bringing down the roof, besides I would like you all to sleep and be rested in the morning for me”. Hours later, a beautiful little girl was born as she held on strong.I did it! I did it I am so happy!!!!!She was ecstatic!
On our drive back home, she just kept repeating, “I will stand for myself. I will not bow down. I will be bold.” She just kept repeating over and over again like a mantra.
Post 6 weeks, while we chatted yesterday……as she gets ready to leave, she is strong in her resolve to work, earn, and move on for her family and siblings.
“Thank you for everything. It’s hard for me to leave Tejus Home. I have made friends for the first time, laughed and enjoyed like never before and I am not scared anymore nor will I be bullied by anyone. Most importantly I have learnt to say no. I also know that my baby will reach a home where there will be wonderful parents to take care of her and give her life and education and things that I cannot do now and I am truly grateful to whoever they are. I may not ever know them but they are my angels – people that I shall always pray for…….
A Brand New Start
I would not want to first give a graphic narrative of the ordeal of my 49 hour labor and its various stages,as anybody who has been following up with the Facebook page of Birthvillage or the process of Natural Birthing would know the drill. Not that I want the intricacies of my labor to remain a personal affair. I would certainly want the world to know that I am a strong woman who held on for 2 – exciting and painful – days to see that iridescent face of my little one. But readers have already gone through a lot of such stories of women who showed such courage and determination.
So I would rather start by painting a slightly different picture of my birth, a picture that shows how Birthvillage changed me and my perceptions of life itself.
It all started in my 17th week, when I decided it’s not going to be my Ob.gyn in Coimbatore, but these lovely ladies at Birthvillage who will be taking me up to the D-day. Priyanka and Donna – I would want to address them as angels, really. Coz, when you experience changes that you never thought would happen, it’s natural to see divinity in the ones that caused them.
The first angel Priyanka – she did a major diet modification to which I am so thankful, coz I had piled up in 16 weeks, more than half of what I should be weighing at the end of my pregnancy and that really freaked her out during our first meeting. :) Though it was very tough to follow (cutting down rice, sugar, eating raw beets and all, lol), it did bring down my IBS and made me gain wait steadily till the end. Happy me!
My second angel, Donna made me further work on my health through her highly motivating exercise sessions. She is one live-wire, always full of energy and I used to look forward to every class. I remember in my first ever exercise session at 17 weeks, I met a lady who was in her 36th week who seemed to be far more flexible than me. (I felt like a total nut, unable to move even with my smaller tummy). That night, while massaging my aching legs, I wondered whether I would be able to do all that yoga till the very end. And now that brings me a smile when I think of the days I went to exercise even in my 40th week, and once even with contractions on. I can’t thank Donna enough, coz for the first time; I am incorporating into my life, all of what she taught me.
Hubby and I kept travelling down to Cochin for consultations, classes and pre-natal work out and it was totally worth it. These midwives amazed me every time with their passion and dedication to support mothers and babies. Compared to the grossly bitter experiences we have had at one of the top Ob.gyn back home, each consultation sessions at Birthvillage were fun and educative mainly because you can never ask such a lot of questions and actually expect answers from a medical practitioner.
The long discussions on the importance of doing household chores (mopping and scrubbing floors on all fours became my favorite pastime at home, lol!); the Lamaze classes on labor, infant care, and breastfeeding; the open houses that made us learn from couples who actually went through rough times; the happiness I felt when they said baby has engaged in the 32nd week; the excitement I felt when they feel my baby and say that the baby is doing great, the motivation I felt after every meditation session – I can keep going on and on about every little pregnancy milestone I crossed with the angels constantly by my side.
My experiences with Birthvillage also proved to be psychologically enriching as I could delve into unknown areas of my own psyche and discover a lot of untapped mental potential in me. Sorry I have to say such complicated things, but being a psychologist by profession, these changes did impact me a lot. What I meant are the tough paths I had to tread by the time it was 38 weeks. Your folks at home and your friends and relatives start asking about your due date and whether the baby has arrived. After a point, saying “No, we are waiting too” just doesn't work out as they all start doubting whether the baby has started to rot in the womb. Those last few weeks is when your patience is put to test and being assertive to people around you makes you sound rude and ruthless.
When my lady angels suggested about the tolerance I will need to build up to face this scenario, I never imagined it to be such a heavy load to bear. And I am sure women who read this will also not get it completely unless you reach this stage yourself. (I do have my deepest respects for a couple that I met during one of the open houses who waited for 18 days past due date. Those guys rock..! )
During those days of emotional mayhem, my husband was the only person who understood what I was going through and though I didn't mention till now (ok hubby, if it’s you who’s reading this, don't be mad at me for acknowledging you at the end, lol), he has always been my guardian angel, my strength and my support. He gave me the toughness to hold on and handle pressures from outside and within. (Thank you, sweetheart). And him being a real softie, I never imagined he could endure seeing me go through a tough labor, thereby proving that my better half had a heart stronger than I thought. :)
As with my pregnancy, apart from the usual discomforts, I had to go through a bad upper body itch for a couple of weeks and I had sleeping issues right from month 6. But I never vomited even once and that made me hungry all the time during my first trimester and all thanks to Donna, the yoga and exercises made sure I never got a back ache or muscle cramp throughout. And thanks to Priyanka, I did travel extensively during this pregnancy, including taking a break in the hills in my 7th month. All of which, otherwise, I wouldn't have done. I have never heard any of my friends talk positive about their pregnancies, but just because I trusted Birthvillage, I feel I indeed had a very happy pregnancy.
All this and nothing about my long labor, would make you all feel cheated, so here goes. I had contractions on two occasions, during my 38th and 39th week which made hubby come down to Cochin and go back in a couple of days as they reduced in intensity and came down to nothing at all. The third time, I experienced contractions in my 40th week, one day after my due date, on July 21. I was doubtful whether to call him at all. Lol. But Priyanka suggested he come and after he arrived, they started coming down. I didn’t lose heart as I was ready to wait till week 42 if necessary. My thoughts were on hubby going back immediately as I didn’t want him to miss out on work. He stayed back the following day and on the night of July 22, I started having contractions. At 1.55 am, my water broke and Priyanka asked us to time the contractions and come over to Birthvillage when they were 5 minutes apart. She asked me to try to sleep, but that wasn’t happening in between contractions. By 5 am they got close and we reached Birthvillage. Everything was ready and set and Priyanka was making me relax during the contractions.
Then again, my baby decided to play around a bit and by 9 am my contractions came down. We had been sleepless so we slept at Birthvillage till 11, had breakfast, and then went out for a walk. We even went out to a lone coffee shop to spend some time. I had a brownie with ice cream, hubby clicked some pics of extremely tired and sleepy me and I even went through a couple of contractions sitting there (I guess the waiter did wonder, ‘what in devil’s name was this guy doing here with a fully pregnant woman , that too when she’s going through some sort of pain’..hehe) The contractions weren’t getting closer so we decided to go home for lunch. I had to make a call to mom saying we were on our way for lunch and the moment she took the call I was like, “Ok, don’t get excited, I still didn’t have the baby”. Lol! ;)
After lunch, I tried to sleep again but I couldn’t and by evening I finally felt them getting closer. Again at 9 pm we set out to Birthvillage, and Donna checked me to find out that I was 8 cm dilated. Then, to get things going, I started walking around like a mad woman and I was doing lunges and squats until I could do no more. The contractions got real close together and I did try the birth pool first only to find myself drifting off to sleep and unable to focus on the contractions. Then I was out of the pool and kept on pushing. Hubby darling was constantly saying something (sounded like jibber-jabber but I knew he meant well, lol) in my ears to ease me out and Priyanka was motivating me so well and making me push stronger and harder. Donna was checking with the baby’s progress. What followed next was a huge blur. And then after travelling into unknown territories and undergoing pain that I never dreamt I could tolerate, finally I had my princess with me. We have named her Maya. :)
Though birth being the primary focus of one’s birth story, i wanted to shed light on what other areas of one’s life one change can and modify at Birth Village. There is immense scope for lifestyle modification and I genuinely feel that if you have the resolve to adapt them and the determination to follow everything that the angels at Birthvillage propose, every woman that gets into this temple of birth can step out as a changed individual, stronger personality and a better mother.
Miracles Do Happen
Modern medical practice is technology driven. Hospitals are equipped with a variety of devices and tools which are a boon to diagnostics and treatment - provided they are used judiciously.The problem comes up because of their improper use, mostly motivated by financial considerations.
Human beings, or for that matter all living creatures have been giving birth to little ones since the beginning of time. There was never any felt need for multi-specialty hospitals with their expensive gadgetry. As we enter a phase where we are rediscovering the innate greatness and effectiveness of traditional systems in every walk of life, there is relevance in looking at traditional options in the area of pregnancy and child birth also. In this context, I have some personal experiences to narrate.
The journey of my son into this world started in Chennai where I was employed at the time of my marriage. 3 weeks after my wife, Sharmila, had tested positive to a pregnancy test, we noticed some blood spotting and rushed to a leading multi-specialty hospital in Chennai. After 4 hours of wait, an ultra sound scan was done. We were informed that the fetal heartbeat was low and she has to be admitted for monitoring and treatment. Since we felt that things were not on the right track, we came away deciding to take a second opinion. The second opinion given by a senior gynecologist of a super specialty hospital was diametrically the opposite. This got us thinking. We shifted care to Cochin. However, we were dissatisfied with all our options, with so many questions unanswered , difficult experiences, the most difficult being told over and over again that Sharmila was too small to birth normally (pre pregnancy weight 39 kg)
Meanwhile, our Ayurvedic doctor had mentioned about this place called 'Birthvillage' where they encourage natural birth. Since we were totally out of options we decided to go and try this last resort. We went to Birthvillage and met Priyanka and she patiently listened to all our “wonderful” experiences that we faced elsewhere. Then she gave us a brief about Birthvillage and what all they do to encourage natural birth. Then she told us to take our own time and decide what exactly we wanted. Hence, we were impressed by the entire concept and decided to convince our families and go ahead with Birthvillage. Then the actual journey starts...
By then, Sharmila was 31 weeks. We went for our first prenatal checkup at Birthvillage. This experience was really different from what we had experienced earlier. They palpate bellies and feel the baby inside and they also tell you the position of the baby, listened to heart tones and check maternal vital signs. Our appointments were an hour long. All our doubts were addressed immediately with proper explanations by our midwives. Sharmila was not treated like a patient; she was indeed treated like a mother and me as a father, with equal responsibilities.
The Lamaze classes were very informative. We came to know about various aspects of birth. The due date for my wife as per her LMP was September 14th. On September 16th at 3:00am, my wife started getting her contractions but it was not active. We immediately activated the contraction timer and the gap between each contraction was 10 mins. I called up Priyanka at 4am. She told me to bring Sharmila for a checkup at 9am. When we went there at 9am, Priyanka did a vaginal exam and Sharmila was 4cms dilated already. Now, that was a shock. Priyanka asked us to go home by walk since the child's head had to come down a little more and with the pain, Sharmila and I walked back. At around 12 pm, the active contractions started and we waited till 2pm at home. Then we again went to Birthvillage, keeping our minds clear that today evening we are having the baby.
She shifted around, walked, and finally assumed a squat position and powerfully birthed our baby with dignity and support.
Hurray!!! We did it!!!! At 6.30pm, we welcomed our little prince into this world. 3 miracles took place upon his birth
1. Sharmila is generally thin by nature and our friends and relatives kept telling that the baby will be underweight and won't cross 3kgs. But our little prince was 3.4 kg.
2. No vaginal tears and stitches.
3. Baby was born with the cord around his neck but experienced no difficulties during the birth
So with this a new life has started. A new journey has begun....
Sharmila and Suraj
Birthing With Courage
This tale is a strong one. However, it would be incomplete without her history and upbringing.This young girl came in demure and quiet with a shy smile .We began prenatal appointments counseling her on nutrition, exercise and birth choices. However, she hardly spoke much, and often we could glimpse the hard life she had led, through her eyes. Though she hardly mentioned any difficulties or animosity towards her family or to her so called husband to whom she was married off at the age of 13,at around 30 weeks when we had a birthday celebration at Tejus Home, as we placed a piece of cake in her mouth , she choked with tears. When asked later on she replied “No one has ever smiled and given me food out of love and I have no idea that cakes were cut and shared on birthdays”.
As weeks flew by, she started showing signs of warming up and she becomes stronger in her resolve to birth her baby in the best possible way.She would now and again, complain of headaches which we frequently checked to rule out, hypertension or preeclampsia. But at some time later, she told us it was only when the tube lights were switched ON did she feel them as all her years she lived sans electricity and she was accustomed to the darkness. Hence, when the lights are switched on, they appeared strong to her.
As she went in to labor one fine night, she chose to bear the early signs throughout the night as quietly as possible by herself without talking to anyone else (though we had mentioned that she could call us or wake up the warden at any time). In a time and age when women panic with the first contraction or when our Whatsapp on our mobiles jam with messages in early labor, this does come as a different experience for us.
She birthed her girl as gently as possible without any tears and held her in her arms; (again this was a change for us as quite often mums who got pregnant through abuse often do not wish to see their babies.)She said “I would like to hold her and feed her throughout the night. Please help me do so as this maybe the only thing I can do for her”. And that night when we bonded over the baby, she finally broke down and opened up.This young girl has been working since the age of 9 for no wages, with the initial promise she could work, go to school and then return back to work. Eventually, the promise by the school went to thin air.She was also raped around the same time by man who had children older than herself.Her family often shifted homes around. She would watch the early mornings around tea shops eagerly as people sipped tea as her own stomach cried out in hunger.
A few years down the line, her parents decided to get her married off as they felt there would be more security for her. Though initially her husband of 45 years of age appeared nice as he bought her milk and fruits, she realized she was just another one of his countless desires.Pregnant soon after, when she found her way to Tejus home, is when she realized children should be in school and not working and that girls do not get married off or have babies so young. At Tejus Home, she blossomed with other girls, with laughter and play just like a teen should.As the sun crept up and we watched as to how she rocked her baby with tears streaming down her face quietly, she said “My baby must be safe and secure, she must live well, and I can’t offer her that right now. The only request I have is when you take her, please don’t ask me to say good bye to her. Life may never be the same for me; there is part of me that can never be put back”. We quietly nodded as we took the baby and left and closed the door to muffled cries in the pillow, and as we held the baby tightly and handed her over to a beautiful warm shelter home for children where they welcomed her in with open hearts and service, and our minds rested.Tejus Home is a safe shelter home for pregnant teens, as we strive to provide for them excellent prenatal care and free birth and postnatal services.
Naturopathy, Natural Birth – Why And How It Worked For Me!
A while after my first son was born, which was in a hospital and the labor was induced,I got introduced to Naturopathy and it was a turning point in my life. I got to know more about my own body, how diseases are caused, how I need to trust body's natural processes, healing and others, and most important of all, how modern medicine with its most modern contraptions and medications more often than not hinder body's natural processes rather than helping them. I also learned that anything that is not natural in pregnancy and birthing is not good for the baby and the mother. I had also heard about birthing at home itself with your loved ones around, without any medical interventions.
Despite knowing all this, when I found out I'm pregnant the second time, we consulted a care provider which was often the set choice for most women. But I didn't take any supplements that the doctor prescribed me. Instead, I took care to include foods in my diet which would give me iron, calcium and other nutrients naturally. Although I wanted to birth at home, it seemed impossible because my husband and my mother were not comfortable, in case there was an emergency. Then out of sheer luck, I heard about Birthvillage from one of my friends and I checked out their webpage. Then, I called Priyanka and we discussed everything about my pregnancy so far. From that conversation I got convinced that she knows what she is doing and after informing my husband (he was out of station) I decided to go to Birthvillage and see Priyanka.
Thus, my mother and I went there and it was the most wonderful first-time meeting any pregnant woman can hope for with her care provider. It was my 8th month and since I was consulting another care provider, I had gone for monthly checkups which was always waiting for 1 hour plus and consultation for 5, maximum 10 minutes. If you ask any questions the doctor treats you like 'you don't know anything so better leave all these to us, you just do as we say and we will 'make' you deliver safely'. I'm not implying all doctors are like this, but this was my impression whenever I consulted mine. May be it was because they really don't have the time to explain everything to each pregnant woman. It was not at all like this in Birthvillage. Each consultation would be really fun, relaxing and you can ask anything related to pregnancy. Priyanka encouraged me to trust my own body and also the baby inside. Then, there were classes conducted by her for both pregnant ladies and their husbands, in which she showed us all the birthing positions we can take while in labor and how husbands can help us relax.
She had told us not to come immediately after pain started since there is a chance that it could be false labor. So one night throughout, I had mildly painful contractions and I chose to wait and see how it was progressing. The next morning it was gone and when I called Priyanka she said that my body might be getting ready for the labor. That evening contractions started again and this time it was gradually increasing in intensity and frequency. I called Priyanka and she said I can come down. Thus, we went around 10pm and our midwives were right there.
One thing I didn't like at all during my first delivery was, the doctor and then the nurse checking frequently for dilation, it was really painful and uncomfortable. So I was really happy this time in Birthvillage that when asked whether I wanted to be checked for dilation, I had the choice to say no if I didn't want it. Another important aspect of delivering in Birthvillage was that I was not forced to lie down on the bed throughout my entire labor. I was free to choose whichever position I found comfortable. Another thing I didn't like in my first delivery was that when I reached full dilation, the nurse was instructing me to push and when I pushed she was telling me I was doing it wrong. How could I push the right way when I didn't even feel like pushing?
I had opted for water birth (that was my wish with my first pregnancy but didn't happen), so when I felt an urge to push I told Priyanka, she made the pool ready. I got in and within 10 minutes, I pushed my baby out into the water. The whole labor was around 6 hours with around 1 hour of intense pain. My midwife caught my baby and took him out from the water and kept him on my bosom. Ah! That feeling, bliss! Later, after the cord stopped pulsating, it was cut. I needed stitches and this too was because the first time I had undergone episiotomy which in Birthvillage they say is unnecessary unless absolutely required. I was home that night itself. The next day Priyanka came to check on the baby and me, and helped me with breastfeeding him.
The overall experience in Birthvillage was kind of magical and I would never forget how they made me feel in my most vulnerable moments. It was with compassion, love and understanding as opposed to an impatient, sometimes rude, 'Oh! For god's sake, don't cry' kind of attitude that a birthing woman most of the time gets in a hospital birth! Whenever I doubted my body's ability to withstand the pain, Priyanka supported and encouraged me with a 'yes, you can'. She said it with so much confidence that I trusted her. I would recommend this 'Birthvillage experience' to all women who would like to have a natural birthing experience.
Finally We Meet
When we finally decided to have a baby after six years of marriage,we were pretty sure of many things like – how he was going to be born, where and how he is to be taken care of. We have done every bit of research into it and thus we came to know about Birthvillage from a TV chat show. Right from the start, we knew that this was the place. We wanted him to be natural, pure as Mother Nature intended him to be - RAW!!
Now this was also the time to put into test our Vedic principles. We actually tried to have a baby on the 16th day of her period. As per the Vedas this day was meant for a boy with wisdom and scholarly nature, not that we did not want a girl. Actually, I had hoped for a princess like Kavita! But boy /girl we were happy, the only thing was, he/she should be natural and healthy. Hey, but you wont believe this. Kavitha told me the next day itself that she was feeling butterflies in her underbelly and for me the skeptic in me was holding me back from believing it!(she doesn’t know this coz I pretended to be happy, supporting her thoughts) and then came this magic wand which showed two RED LINES!! I was wonder struck, happy in ecstasy. As we follow mostly naturopathic principles, we never took any medicines .After six weeks of pregnancy we reached Birthvillage and had a chat with our midwives. The ambiance and the mood were right. We were shown the appointment room and the birthing pool. We were so amazed that it was so silent and blissful here! We knew we found the right place, perfect as God wanted it to be!
We had regular classes and appointments from then on. One thing we faced was the hectic travelling from Kollam to Kochi and back, but Birthvillage was worth it. We were told that we should be ready and packed from the 36th week, if everything is fine! We rented a house for a month and moved in by the 36th week. Meanwhile, we both never (me, sometimes) failed to do the regular yoga sessions which I believe was the key to her delivery. By then, we had only one ultrasound scan done in the sixth month, we were even reluctant for that but our careproviders pressed hard and the results were all healthy and fine. By the 39th week, we had our final class and appointment and I have to mention that we felt like a family there with other expecting families – Kapila, Jyothi and all...We love them all. The only concern was the Hb level which came down to the lower limit of normal, and Priyanka was pleading all the time to Kavita about her iron intake, but Kavitha was stern on no medicines!! But finally, we decided to take some Ayurvedic medicines and some Homeopathic tonics for iron build up. That was the only medicine we took until the 40th week.
Due date rolled on. Friends and relatives kept checking anxiously. Then, by the 40th week, I put all the phones to silent. No more calls!!! We both were happy and Priyanka told we will wait, even till the 42nd week if everything’s going fine. Kavitha and the baby were monitored every alternative day and both were fine. So, we decided to wait. On Dec 4th, Kavitha (41 weeks and 3 days) was scheduled for an internal examination, but on that day, Priyanka refused to do it with a smile on her face and told us that she will do it the next day. Later on, she revealed to us that she had an intuition about having the birth the next day, not because of anything but she simply felt so. By the evening, we went for a walk beside the lake near to our home. We noticed that it was nearly full moon and the next day was Karthika. According to Hindu calendar, the day after the full moon was due. The water which used to be knee deep was now shallow and we could feel the pull of the moon on the fluids on earth. It was nearly seven thirty in the night and we were still beside the lake enjoying the moon and suddenly Kavitha complained of a contraction with pain in her lower belly. She used to have contractions from the 36th week, but none was with pain. She started having regular contractions and it never stopped. It went on and on. I used the app on my phone to time her contractions and it really helped to keep track. I rang up Priyanka by two thirty in the morning. She told me to give a ring as soon as we start to Birthvillage so that she and Amy could reach there and get things ready for us. We reached Birthvillage by 3:30 am and our midwives were with all smiles and welcoming us. For one hour, they left us in the room to have some rest and sleep. But the contractions never stopped from where it started. It got stronger and stronger. By 4:15am, everything started in full swing from then on. After keeping our midwives and me, tensed for almost 6 hours we could see the baby’s head. We all encouraged Kavitha to push harder with every contraction. Kavitha was leaning on my knees in the squatting position for almost 6 hours!! My legs were trembling with pressure but there is a limit to everything. Finally, when I felt done, I don’t know from where the energy came. I was fresh again. I also experienced power from within. My midwives and myself broke down with tears when Kavitha gave birth to Rudra at exactly 10:26 am. It was really a heartbreaking and passionate experience for both of us. I bet Priyanka and Amy were also in bliss!!! At the same time, to our surprise, we had named him Rudra from the time we conceived him – meaning lord of fire /dispeller of fear/one who drives away ignorance and lights up knowledge. May be he waited all this long, to come out on Trikkartika which according to Hindu belief was the lord of Agni/fire, dispeller of ignorance that is awesome and surprising for us!!! We will never forget these Goddesses – our dear midwives, and Rudra was the connecting chain. I like to believe that Rudra was born for us to discover this loving friendship between our midwives, Kavitha and Me, oooops! Sorry add mee too... says Rudra .
Lots of love and hugs to our midwives from all three of us
Muaaah from Rudra to Priyanka and Amy.
Thanks team Birthvillage (Smija and Donna too) for presenting us with this wonderful life changing opportunity to rediscover ourselves and our friendship.
Penned by a very proud dad, Renjith Kanakarajan(father to Rudra and husband to Kavita)
Kavitha and Renjith
Yoga Teachers, Shivananda Yoga Centre, Kollam
Good Things Come In Small Packages
5 ft mamma, 3.8 kilo baby..
Amazing dad who supported and spent months, seeing that she ate and exercised well. Jet speed birth !!!
They say good things come in small packages. We say, “Yes, Yes, Yes !!!!”
Assistant Manager, ELE Tours,Kochi
A True Striker-Hartal Babies
Kerala is infamous for how life comes to a standstill when hartals are declared but babies come when they have to....This mamma worked extra hard with her man, who kept saying, “There is no need to rush; you have all the time in the world". And this baby was a true striker as she came out shining (she would have made any political party proud) with a nuchal arm (left arm outstretched along with her head) as she was being born and a nuchal cord (cord around the neck) with a full goodness of 4.3 kg.
What more can we say other than, “Jai, baby!!!”
Naan Late Aah Vanthal Aaum Latest Aah Varuven
Late to Birthvillage prenatal care at 36 weeks, this couple from Angamaly,went through many ups and down to come to a point with respect to their decision as to where to have their baby. They say there is a reason when the baby drives us to make certain choices. The baby kept them waiting and waiting as it stayed comfortably inside it's mum till 41 weeks and 4 days before deciding it's time to make it's appearance.
The dad was always cool and composed, and quite confident in waiting beyond the so-called expected date as he felt strongly that babies would be born in their own time which is also backed by scientific evidence to wait patiently up to 42 weeks. Finally on the D day, in the early hours of the morning, this mum held her husband for support and birthed their son who weighed a good 3.75 kg amidst laughter delight and tears.
The support that this husband offered was mind-blowing as he watched her diet, kept her on her toes with her exercise and stayed vigil the whole night while she labored, kept massaging and encouraging her throughout it all.
Congrats!! You guys rocked!!!
Proprietor, Earth Ball Organic Store
Age Is Just A Number
How old are you?This super first time ma proves that she is not out at 38. It was an awesome natural birth, again in the caul, with a healthy baby boy who was an embodiment of peace, despite choosing to be born on a hartal day.
Though told over again and again that age would be a deterrent in the process, she kept her faith in herself and maintained high fitness levels in pregnancy. Unfortunately, her man had to be out of the country during this time. She trusted in her and her body that she would be able to cope well as and when the situation arose. She birthed so well in the best possible manner. We missed you Jason!!And Chintan you have won our hearts. Special mention is required of Mahesh, the landlord of Marigold home-stay, who drove back and forth, to help this mamma during this special day.
Organic Jackfruit Chocolates, A Fiery Little Girl And A Midwife's Intuition
This soft spoken mum and dad from Calicut, though based in Bangalore found their way to us from a discussion over coffee with a colleague...And they pondered about whether this would be best gift to give to their little one. This dad would probably research 10 times over on any fact presented to him. And the mum though quiet by nature, was clear about having a private holistic birth experience.
During their third trimester, as they made plans to shift to Cochin, and we sat discussing options, we felt by the gut feel that this couple should come in to Cochin a bit more early than what was routine for our outstation clients.They nodded and arrived a week earlier than planned.
They had amazing ideas, as to where they would celebrate every single day while in Cochin; waiting for their baby, but of course, the little queen inside had different ideas.
As waters broke and the surges began in the lower belly and back, we inched towards active labor bit by bit.Her husband was ever so calm and supportive and he hugged her with each and every contraction.
She had watermelon and lovely organic jackfruit chocolates for strength (and they do taste absolutely yum!!). And, in no time she birthed in supported squat, leaning back against her man for support.This little warrior child came out, squealing in with full gusto.
"She is probably the next best gift we received, after accepting Christ in our lives along with an experience that I can never forget" said the elated dad.Breastfeeding again had its fair share of challenges, but they continue to beat each and every one of them beautifully. (That would be an inspiring separate post all together).
So very proud of you guys!! You have worked very hard for this. Enjoy time in your found love... Your family!
Senior Technical Manager,
Hair Donation In Pregnancy, Marathon Labors And Posterior Babies
This mum came to us from Singapore. Interestingly, being a nurse, she was quite clear about choosing birth without interventions and about having her husband there for her in labor, unconditionally right from the start. Plans aside, she is also blessed with every Malayalee girls dream ... waist length hair something that in laws will always boast about and our grandmothers will treasure.
She decided that pregnancy would be the best time to gift her locks for wigs to cancer inflicted women/men with the simple reason “hair can always grow back". With meticulous agendas on hand, her husband arrives and plans to be in Cochin till few days beyond her estimated date, gets round to Lamaze classes and is completely ready for the birthday party to begin .
But as fate would have it, due dates come and due dates go... As she sets in to prelabor, with contractions on and off every 15 minutes, the contractions are strong enough to keep her awake at night and it spreads over 3 days. At 40 weeks and 5 days, with a heavy heart, she convinces her husband that it is alright, and that he should leave for an unavoidable company project to Norway and that she will be absolutely fine....
Another twist sets in ... as the day he left she goes into active laborwhich spanned over the next 41 hours.... The key highlight being, very slow descent of a posterior positioned baby which then shifted to asynclitism and finally to right occipital anterior again – one of the least favored positions for having a baby. It would take another 17 hours, after she was fully dilated to push this prince onto earth. She worked hard with optimal fetal positions, climbed steps, did squats and followed all instructions to T, even with very painful back labor that never left her till the end.
When the chips were down, there was much-needed encouragement and motivation given, which brought her back into focus with “I am doing this". And just before the dad-to-be boarded from the airport they chatted via Skype. She voiced her concerns, about whether the positions would cause an issue. He replied with “Just trust and go ahead, you will not be the first one to experience it this way, you will birth the way it is intended".
As she birthed her son boldly on the birth stool she was in such awe of her power that she fell silent.
So much felt, but only so much can be penned.... Woman power is such an amazing thing and to her dear husband though you were not physically present we knew you were with us in spirit.
Thank you so much for making our weekend so joyful and our lives so meaningful.
Clinical Instructor, Asian Institute of Medical Sciences, Singapore
Commercial Repair Engineer, Alfa Laval, Singapore
A Real Smile Through Happy Tears
Love and tears..This close-knit couple had jotted down their birth wish to come to Birthvillage, around 5 years before they decided to have their baby in 2010. Ever educated and wanting to give the best gift to their baby, they travelled for all their classes and appointments from Tiruvalla. There was nothing that this mamma said no to – be it exercises, be it her diet or even her 30 odd hours of labor!! So graceful was she in birth, and so giving were they to each other that apart from our clinicals, we had nothing to do but quietly support them.The Pappa was so nurturing to his woman as he kept her going with tons of affection and we have to admit that each time after a contraction, when he said "I love you” to his lovely wife, he kept winning our hearts. A real man!
Pushing was probably the most challenging phase which took a good 3 hours, but not once did this mamma flinch! As mamma cradled her son in awe, pappa could not stop his tears in awe of the transformative experience.
Congratulations!!!! You have done an amazing job!!! Salute! Salute! Salute!
Aswathy Thomas and Thomas T. Mathew
Teachers,Believer’s Church Seminary,
An Empowered Birth With A Dash Of Orange Juice
“I am a first time mom”. “Want to have a natural birth.” “I have had a C- Section, I definitely want to have a natural second time around.”As a midwife, I have been there, supporting so many women through the above journeys...
But, what about this? “I have had two normal births but this time I really want a birth without interventions...I would like to feel how it is to birth my baby the way nature has intended…I wish to be supported by husband all the way through…I do not want interventions and have specific beliefs with regards to my diet...” This Malapparum mum has amazed us with her resilience as she would travel to us for all her appointments, from her home town, which is a good 4 hours away.
She herself, being a special educator for children, would travel between 3 different locations, all of which, would be spaced in 3 hours away from home (throughout her pregnancy) all in a single day and not to mention two naughty boys at home.
Many would perhaps ask, “Don't you already do enough?”
“Why travel for birth third time?”, “Why trouble your husband?” But such was her single minded wish and desire. She was also clear about not being in the dark and to be supported by a team that knew precisely what she was working towards.
Interestingly, her labor was very different this time around. Pre-labor lasted a week and finally, as her contractions came in full swing, she worked hard and birthed leaning against her husband for support to another beautiful boy third time around.
Her husband, supportive as he was, had only one main focus which was...after birth how to get his woman a glass of orange juice which was freshly squeezed.
In fact, he often would say “you take care of the birth. I will take care of the juice"
What probably made it even more enjoyable was that he was using the Manual juice machine for the first time. (On a side note, we have seen another couple use the same one and it is awesome. A must buy!)And juice ready. Tadaah!! And the husband can finally rest. Mamma super happy with very quick healing post unlike her earlier birth and feeling totally empowered heads back home to her ever bustling family and life.
We are saluting your never-die spirit, despite your hands being full!!!
When this couple came forward in their second trimester, what impressed us the most was their interest to unlearn, learn and learn again.Their interest in healthy eating and nutrition best sourced from their backyard farms, have been very commendable.
Running on a hectic schedule as they both were stationed in two different work locations, time was always a constraint for this mother. However, they always made it to their classes /appts despite all odds. We could see this mum grow, as she began to leave behind all her professional hats and just move into motherhood very subtly. Her chatter and her excitement no longer reflected her profession but, simply, one of a mother longing to meet her child. Towards the fag end, as they moved to Cochin, they had for the very first time, time just for themselves as a couple.
They holidayed across Fort Cochin, Jewish synagogue, and even swept the grounds as per tradition at the ever famous Vallarpadam Church (a pilgrim centre for childbearing mothers). A few days after her due date, she enters labor and comes to the center, a good 15 hours later, nice and active. Her husband supported her beautifully with massages, encouraged her to walk and climb stairs while she was in labor land. We all encouraged her to stand bold, with nothing to fear and to go ahead to which she said, “Yes I am!!” And as she birthed her baby (who had a tight Nuchal cord) and held her son, she laughed and cried with joy while her husband was all smiles and overwhelmed by the beauty of it all.
For some strange reason (a faux pas from our end), this couple was listed as dentists on our form. Only after the birth, did we discover that they were medical doctors in government service which explained the shuttle between medical colleges.
Such was their simplicity and humbleness, that they never ever mentioned it or ever brought it up claiming extra privileges, all throughout their journey at the birth center.
To end this birth tale in the new dad’s words: "Though we both are medical doctors, the approach to care during pregnancy, labor and child birth at this centre was really new to us (with enough supportive evidence that it is being followed in various countries as per the W.H.O guidelines for uncomplicated pregnancy and normal vaginal delivery).
We feel really blessed that our search for natural birthing experience with no medications and minimal interventions became fruitful here. We are really grateful to our midwives who helped us make this happen with their expertise. I must comment their passion in the profession which is reflected in the inspiring classes and the encouraging and empowering experience they provide, which any lady wishes for herself during the phases of pregnancy, childbirth and post birth child care.
In short, the privilege to take an informed decision, the great ambience they provide during the labour with individual attention, the freedom to assume different postures which aid in easy progress of labour, the privilege of an expecting husband to be an active participant in the birthing and the detailed lessons in breast feeding are unmatchable. As a husband I am grateful that I could provide my beloved a dignified birth experience which helped her feel empowered, something that can last a life time. Above all, thanking God in Jesus' name.
Doctor, Community Health Centre,Kottayam
Quiet Mamma Who Had A Tigress Birth
This soft spoken young mamma along with her husband – an Ayurvedic doctor – made her way to us from Palghat early on in pregnancy.A woman of few words, she was never really worried about pain or whether she could do it or any doubts about her ability to birth. Her biggest USP was her quiet confidence and her husband with constant support and encouragement. As luck would have it, her husband decided to stay back in Kochi, as an All India strike was declared. This little baby decided that he would get to work when everyone else would stay away...This mamma intuitively knew the right position for her, found her power and embraced her contractions with strength and with very good vocal prowess (we must say!!)
As they chanted “OM” before their baby was born it quickly turned into squeals of joy now that she was actually holding their baby!
Job well done!!!Congrats!!!
Stand Up And Deliver (In The Caul)
Starring Nanditha , Sanal and KuttappiA bright sunny day saw this mum wake up to early labor. She goes on to spend her day unwinding with her parents and grandparents. Evening saw her stroll to BTH for dosa and a good walk at Durbar Hall ground. Interestingly, though she had good contractions she felt it just wasn’t labor and would rate her pain below 5. And just as any solid mum, she felt that this was totally normal and nothing to ring bells about.
By around 7pm, contractions came in more frequently. With her man having to finish up a busy office day, she just continued peacefully at home, playing with her nephew and cooked dinner for her family.As night fell, and moving to second phase, she felt them growing in intensity and came to the center and was checked to find that labor was still very early on. Now, unlike most mums who would panic, this mum completely relaxed and slept well for a couple of hours at the birth center with full knowledge that she had still long road to walk and there was no point in wasting energy. We then advised her to go off the contraction app which was making labor mechanical and to tune in to her body and balance the rest of the day with rest and activity.She and her husband went back home at day break, only to come back with much more stronger intense contractions, post lunch time. Husband, ever strong with massages and solid encouragement – and we have to add good peppy jokes – kept this birth fresh, light hearted and even playful. This mum, later on, went to say she was in the center of her circle and that only she could do the job, whereas everyone else including her husband was in the circumference.As she slowly felt the urge to push on the birth stool, is where we have a dramatic twist.As this mum got up and walked towards the birth pool she felt her best position intuitively was to have the baby standing and that’s how this princess makes her grand entry while mum leans against one midwife for support, while the other midwife catches the baby.
For someone who thought labor would always proceed in text book fashion, this baby was born in the caul (born in the bag of waters) with cord gently wrapped around her leg and arm. As mamma stood strong, midwife unwrapped baby, dad watched on in his unused swimming trunks.As mum reaches down for her baby the princess lets out a wail to let everyone know that she has arrived in her own unique way.Baby latched on in 20 minutes. Warm cuddles saw the new family sleep well into the night except for the early morning melodious cries to let her parents know what she wanted.
This mum has been very solid and meticulous in following her diet, exercises and has worked very hard along with her husband who made every effort ever since she choose the birth center to have her baby. We also have to give credit to supportive grandparents (including a neonatologist) who were very open to their children making birth choices. It makes such a difference when there is trust, honesty and good communication, which make a wonderful environment for great birth and beyond.
Research scholar, School of Legal Studies, CUSAT, Kochi
Advocate, High Court of Kerala, Kochi
From Orkut To DOughnut To UnnidOO.
This couple has a romantic story dating through Orkut. In fact they are super in sync with each other as they complemented their strengths and weakness beautifully.As pregnancy progressed it was interesting how this mum a self-confessed book worm found herself connecting with her body much more than ever especially more towards the end.
Despite working through busy schedules at Infopark she made time for her exercise class to time herself and work out good pelvic exercises. Her man with a very firm commitment to natural birth would always reaffirm at every appointment on what needed to be worked out better and would ensure that everything was crossed off the checklist be it walks, reducing sugar, or even as simple as drinking beetroot juice.
Due dates came and went with no signs of labor. Baby decides to get engaged at 41 weeks. They spent the following days at Hill Palace and Fort Cochin ensuring that mum walked and exercise well. Mum sets about her daily routine of 50 squats 40 lunges and a trip to Lulu mall. While doing all the stairs, craves for her favorite chocolate doughnut from Donut Factory, satiated, heads back home and calls her midwives to say that hopefully she would be meeting us soon!( A mother always knows)
And finally at 41 weeks and 5 days (13 days past the said date) a little after midnight the little one inside who was affectionately called Unnidoo decides to gear into action. A few hours later in active labor, saw dad actively supporting new mamma-to-be with Coconut water, cucumber and massages. After laboring in water for comfort, the mamma finally greeted her son while birthing him upright on the birth stool leaning against her husband’s arms. Smiles and a gentle quietness fell across the room while the new family welcomed their son with wonder and amazement
When asked what the motivation was behind their wait, despite discouragement from all corners the answers were as follows. She wanted to give the child the best gift possible – something that money cannot buy – which is the best entry to Earth side. Both of them were confident and knew the pros and cons of all procedures and was informed and educated enough prenatally to make decisions on their own. Above all, the mum trusted herself and the universe to show her the way. Courage and commitment probably are two words what this couple is about and more so what their son is born into!
IT Analyst,Tata Consultancy Services,Kochi
Founder, CEO,Kings Lab,Kochi
A Prince Is Born
A Prince is born at Palace number 17, Tripunithura.
This mum is a meticulous planner, makes a check list for the check list and a go-getter. Besides all that, she is a top notch designer. She was very particular about her fitness and nutrition right from her first prenatal appointment at 7 weeks. A strong regular at prenatal exercise classes at Birthvillage for the mamma coupled with Lamaze for evidence based information helped this solid couple to have their facts down to the T.
Mum hits her regular workout exercise at 8:45am, closes her class at 10:45, and heads out with her parents who have specially come down from Switzerland to be her rock. She does a bit of shopping and sight-seeing in Tripunithura with her Dad. Afterwards, the ladies at home decide that a girl can never shop enough and head to Lulu mall where they swoop in all their favorite stores. They travel back home and she cooks dinner of Ratatouille and bread for the family.
She hits the pillow close to ten only to be awakened with strong contractions by 11.30 pm. With stronger surges building in, she makes her way to the center along with her husband; they leave their home quietly without even awakening their parents! The parents were very respectful of their space. When they noticed the couple had left, they didn't call the couple, the birth center or notify the family about the birth until the couple asked them to do so.
While at the center she moves along with the groove of her labor with squats, birth stool, and even the birthing rope. The Royal baby descended beautifully and mamma exclaimed, "You are a nice baby! I know that we were going to do it!"
The dad - ever supportive – stood by his woman and helped in so many ways, massaging, responsive to her needs and giving her space when she needed it.
She roared this Thampuran (king) earth side with strong power and courage that has all of us in awe! This was all under 7 hours, due to the fact that she was active, healthy and educated through her entire pregnancy.
Well done guys!! A standing ovation from all of us.
Vanessa Meister Varma
Director, Trumpet by Meister
Ganapathy And Babies!
Ganapathy and babies! As my pregnancy was pre-planned, I researched for a place where I can have my hubby along with me during the birth of my child, a place where he could support me whole-heartedly without standing in a corner. To my surprise, I found a place where I was offered with 2 gifts. First gift which was I can have my hubby along with me during labor plus another gift to birth naturally without any interventions!!!
To birth this way was a dream for me as I have never been hospitalized in my life and couldn't imagine a better way to birth with complete freedom. After I got pregnant, I went straight to Birthvillage with family. We had our first session with the midwives. My family was a bit skeptical in the beginning, but after the session they were fine and so my journey to Birthvillage started with great hope and a steady mind.
As my pregnancy was pre-planned, I researched for a place where I can have my hubby along with me during the birth of my child, a place where he could support me whole-heartedly without standing in a corner. To my surprise, I found a place where I was offered with 2 gifts. First gift which was I can have my hubby along with me during labor plus another gift to birth naturally without any interventions!!!
To birth this way was a dream for me as I have never been hospitalized in my life and couldn't imagine a better way to birth with complete freedom. After I got pregnant, I went straight to Birthvillage with family. We had our first session with the midwives. My family was a bit skeptical in the beginning, but after the session they were fine and so my journey to Birthvillage started with great hope and a steady mind.
For every single class and appointment I headed to Birthvillage from Ranny where I and my hubby lived. Each Lamaze class pooled us with lot of evidence based knowledge which made our journey even smoother. As I moved into Ernakulam during my 5th month I got a wonderful opportunity to join Birthvillage exercise classes which was my favorite part and I also got super cool momma friends there.
Luckily on Oct 17th i.e. exactly a month before my Prince Charming was born my hubby got transferred to Ernakulam, which added more joy to life.
And finally the most awaited day checked in on November 17th midnight around 2:30 am with mild pains in my lower belly. I tried to get into bed but soon after 3:30, mild contractions started. My husband who is my pillar gave me the strength and massaged me throughout. When the sun rose I informed my midwives about the pain. She asked me to walk around and to have lots of coconut water. The contraction eventually went up and down just like waves washing on a shore. After 9:00 am contraction came every 20 minutes. Then it came down to 10 minutes by 10:30 and by 11:30 the interval reduced to 5 minutes. We informed our midwives and started from home with already packed baby bag and with fruits & coconut water.
My midwives welcomed me with lots of love and support as soon as I entered into Birthvillage. My hubby and I entered the birth room (the room that I grew in strength with every prenatal) where our God's gift is about to come. There was a point when I was requested to be examined. However, I declined the vaginal exam which they accepted (I am not sure how many places this would have been accepted without any ego).
With the long lasting support, powerful encouragements, massages from the angels out there and from my love gave me lot of courage to bear the pain. I tried sitting on the ball, standing, walking and sitting on the birth stool. By 2:00pm, my water broke like Woosh!!! After that contraction followed even more strongly and we tried different positions – birth stool, squatting, and standing. My little one who was with a steady mind started heading down. I slowly felt strong surges and I started pushing him down and finally at 4:07 pm as I chanted Ganapathy!!! My little Prince Charming was born. He came with the umbilical cord wound around his neck not once but twice he even had his hand tucked very closely to his head on his way out. My midwife unwound him slowly and handed me my baby straight to my chest; skin to skin – The most wonderful moment in my life. Then my hubby cut the cord, the moment which will be treasured forever in our heart. Not once did he leave my side.
One thing I realized is the power of a woman to give birth. Yes, nothing is impossible for a woman. The contractions are intense but to birth on one’s own terms with position of one’s choice is indescribable.
There were moments when I was quiet and some when I was in high spirits and at times I worked with full energy using my sound and all powers within. And more than anything else I could just be Me. Did I forget to mention that I am just 21(If I can do it so can you)?
Devi Sree Sanjeev
Sanjeev Kumar Ganesh
Assistant Manager,Union Bank,Kochi
Kannezhudhi Pottum Thottu
Kannezhudhi pottum thottu..This late care mamma came as a bag of surprises as she was already on the search for where she could birth with gravity and was quite informed to begin with. She was a bit unsure in the beginning about whether she would have support during her labor and we clarified everyone starts out on a blank note and every couple strengthens immensely through the Lamaze classes at Birthvillage. As weeks progressed she became a regular at exercise classes. However, a few days down the road she was saddled with a bad sprain.However, she still kept her spirits up, came to classes travelling from her maternal home in Kolenchery or from her husband’s place in Chertala.On a bright Monday as she awoke to strong surges. She felt in her heart that this could be the day that her baby would be born. A lot of work on birth ball...and then she chose to relax herself really well in warm soak with rock salt as she continued visualizing her baby coming further down and her contractions as mere waves where she enjoyed each and every one of the sensations that nature was bringing in.
Prior to coming to the center, she was determined to be fresh and ready for her baby. With dark kohl in her eyes and black bindi in place this dusky mum took our breath away as she truly looked ethereal. Being pranic healers, it was but natural that they would have spiritual chants playing in the back ground. With deep Oms she leaned against her partner and birthed her son standing. Her husband has come a long way in such a short time in being a quiet supportive anchor for her in her time of need.This mum literally enjoyed every bit of her labor and still can't believe that her son was in her arms. We are wishing them an awesome parenting journey filled with confidence, love and good health.
Ashwathy P. Krishnan and Vishnu Vellapally
Well Worth The Effort
It was a day like no other, when mum wakes up to hubby’s insistence... swept the entire courtyard, washed all her clothes on the traditional washing stone.Took a nap in the afternoon...and then decided to head out to Oberon mall where she did her marathon 175 steps multiplied 3 times (basement level -2 to level 5),then tripped all the way and shopped at Reliance stores. It shouldn't be a wonder as to why this mum had a labor right from start to finish in less than 3 hours. Hard work pays!!
With minimal classes it was amazing to see how her husband stepped in to his support role straight away after coming from Dubai a few days ago.Another interesting tidbit in this birth post is that this dad himself was born at home and the legacy of birth without interventions continues.....Job well done!!
Software Engineer (Housewife)
Mechanical Engineer, Dubai
Cool As A Cucumber
This dad’s relationship with Birthvillage goes way back and deeper (literally) as he takes care of all our maintenance work, be it air conditioning and electrical works at the center.A very soft spoken man, he would also ask us during his visits about natural birth, its benefits and how it could make a difference. He decided to give it his best shot when he became a father second time over along with his lovely wife who is also quite a famous singer on the telly. At appointments and prenatal care, this couple was really relaxed and super cool...This dad was so relaxed that even when labor hit he first came to the center, tended to a bit of repairs that needed to be done, and then head back home to be near his wife. As they came in labor (as we are often used to see him work as professional), it was so endearing to see how well he stood by his wife and cared for her through every step of the way. Finally she birthed using the birthing rope. He was simply amazed by the beauty and simplicity of it all to the point where he said."This is great, we can have 5 more!!!" Celebrations continued as he cut the cord...and they spent quite time together as a new family.
It is amazing to see how birth rejuvenates a family and gives back immense power and that its cuts across communities, class and society.
Krishay Nerimbodath–My Birth My Way.
5 pushes and a blissful baby!!!
To start my story, I have had the best and the most amazing days of my life throughout my pregnancy. I came to know we are pregnant (myself and Chan) when I was doing the advance meditation course at Art of Living, Bangalore ashram. I enjoyed being at my inner peace, loved all my meditation, yoga, & breathing exercises. Thanks to these, I believe I was made strong right from the beginning. Once I was back home, as all expectant MOMS-TO-BE do, I started researching all options on having a healthy and a normal birth. I met Birthvillage via Facebook. I started going through each of the Birthvillage stories and was simply amazed by the genuineness and uniqueness of each of them. I was so inspired by each of the proud moms that it made me ponder in my mind, “Why couldn’t I create such a story for myself?” It was after my first trimester, I informed Chan (my husband) about my wish. As expected, he undoubtedly rejected the plan and asked me to remove such a notion from my head. I was shattered; however it did not stop me from following the Birthvillage page. While we continued our appointments in the hospital, I kept track of all Birthvillage updates in a parallel manner. Finally I managed to convince Chan to attend an appointment with Birthvillage. We did our first appointment while I was in my 28th week. The appointment turned out to be a real eye-opener for us. Chan was convinced soon after the appointment. Thanks to our midwives for being so well composed, well informed and highly patient, answering all our queries & clearing all our apprehensions and fear from our mind. I now knew that Birth Village was inevitably going to be my home during pregnancy. Thus on the verge of my 28th week, I started my Birthvillage journey. It was indeed an awesome experience. Each and every session, be it the informative prenatal appointments or the toiling fitness work out sessions were well executed. Hats off to both of you, beautiful ladies!!! I knew I had to do my part, and I made sure I was doing my quota of 45 minutes’ walk, stairs & lunges on a regular basis. I was supplementing my body with a healthy diet, avoided junk food, ensuring that I was feeding all adequate nutrients. I managed to chip in some time for swimming, and even ventured out for a 2 hour trekking to Ponmudi Meenmutty waterfalls during my 7th month. I should say it was all because of the courage, the knowledge, the guidance and support that I got from Birthvillage. I remember quite well on Jan 15th how I sat in my last Lamaze class as we practiced good positions for labor, got my husband to run through on how best to support me in labor and finally ended with meditation. We were told that we needed to climb stairs as much as possible and try to head to a space, specifically a mall, where we could achieve it and that’s exactly what we did! Finally, coming to the day that kicked us! On Jan 16th, my water broke around 11pm. I believe it was the laborious 600 steps that we had climbed inside Nucleus Mall that triggered the whole process. Chan soon came rushing from his place to hitch-hike with me on my labor journey. By 11:15 I realized that I had started my first stage contractions. As told in the sessions, we tried to sleep off and conserve our energy, assuming that the next day would be our D-DAY and would probably need all of our energy. However, the intensity and frequency of my contractions were soon picking up, and they were not letting me doze off. By 5 AM, I knew I had to make it to Birthvillage. We soon informed our midwives and told them that we were on our way. We reached Birthvillage at 5:40 AM and a little before it clocked 6, Krishay Nerimbodath marked his entry into our life. It all happened in a flash, He was right there after my fifth push. A blissful moment! What can I say, “COMETH THE HOUR, COMETH THE BABY”. An interesting note that I would like to add is that, my baby never really engaged in the pelvis prior to labor. Often, a cause of concern among many mothers is that natural birth may not be possible but I have clearly proved that theory wrong. Not only did it not matter ... my labor was super short and was never an issue at all. I also strongly believe that my take home point from my Lamaze classes was to relax and to flow with labor rather than to fight it which helped me to open up when nature called me to do so.
Technology Analyst, Infosys, Trivandrum
Our Familys First Warm Hug Began At Birth
A new dad’s pride and love.......Our Birthing experience at Birth Village will be always one of the most pleasant experiences. Instead of just waiting outside a labor room and some strange people handing me my first child, I had the best experience of being completely involved throughout the labor. My wife’s labor pain started around 4P.M when we just returned from her native place Thrissur(to celebrate her mom’s birthday). We waited for around one hour to make sure it is not false labour. Surprisingly (to our self) though, both of us didn’t panic, we simply felt this is what we have been practicing for and we are ready. We were always in touch with our midwives and were given prompt advice which helped to keep us calm. By around 11pm her pain started radiating to lower back from lower abdomen, and we left to Birth Village by around 11.30P.M. Birth @ Birthvillage. We reached Birth Village by 12.00 midnight. By that time, contractions were almost every 5 minutes. Our midwives were well prepared and totally ready. Contractions were not bad as we had feared and Birthvillage workout sessions and climbing stairs really helped. Jyo was simply amazing in following every instruction given by our midwives and me. She relaxed really well took deep breaths during every contractions, got up and walked whenever she was asked to. She had went into a real trance state (later she told me that she can’t remember much from the labor except she really enjoyed it). As the time to give birth came in closer, instinctively Jyo went to the rope, caught it and sat in the squatting position with me behind her supporting and massaging her back. By 1.02A.M with almost three pushes our little angel was in our midwives hand with her beautiful big eyes looking around in amazement. Can’t really explain that moment of joy for both of us when my baby girl was placed on my Jyo’s warm hands, and I will never forget my Rhithu’s first cry in our first warm hug with her as a new family. I was a bit scared that Jyo would pass out during labor as she neither had any solids nor liquids since morning because of cough and throwing up, even though she fell back on me after each push because of tiredness. To my surprise she gathered all the energy, followed each and every instructions and encouragement given by our birth team. To be honest, I used to be reluctant when she used to ask me to massage her leg or any other care before her labor, but after seeing what she went through and realizing that I could never be as strong as she was during the labor, I now feel whatever I do for her will never be enough. She was amazingly strong and confident during labor just as her midwives used to say how she would be. I strongly feel I would have lost a lot if I took her through regular, conventional and stressful regular labor in some health care facility by rote just like everyone else. It has been a fabulous experience right from the start to the end. Love Bose and Jyothi
Jyothi K. V. and Azad Bose
Nethaji Institute of Nature Care and Yoga
Going Against The Grain
Better late than never....4 months after marriage, we got to know that I am pregnant. The self-test shows positive result and as all first timers we double checked to make sure that we were not wrong. We were super excited as well as a bit tensed. We decided to go to the nearby hospital, where many of our colleagues had their babies First trimester was a bit lousy and I lost about 3 kg during this period. During the second trimester the appetite kick started. As both I and my husband are foodies, we went to buffets and had whatever we wanted. Then I steadily gained weight and the little bump showed up. Then there was the fluttering feeling inside the tummy. Later, it changed to kicks and somersaults. The powerful kicks made us believe that it was a boy! The pregnancy period was good with no diabetes, swelling or any other discomfort. We were going to office as usual till 37th week. Then during the casual checkup in the 37th week, the doctor did PV. I was very scared of it as many of friends forewarned that it was painful. But the PV was OK to me and immediately doctor asked to get admitted the next day. We were worried what happened and they told that if you get pain during the next 24 hours come ASAP. So we thought the baby is all ready to be born .So we got admitted next day and we asked the nurses what the plan was. They told that they will take me to induce next day morning. So we came to know that, this is what happens in that hospital. No one passes 37th week. They have a schedule that all 36th week people get admitted on that Sunday evening. Induce on Monday and if no pain, then repeat it on Tuesday and still no pain, will ask to wait for a day and then do the Cesarean on Thursday. Take rest for 2 days and they will leave this batch on Saturday or Sunday and then the next batch is admitted on Sunday evening. So we asked why they were planning induction. The true reasons for induction are either the baby passed 41 weeks or if there are any complications. For our case, the baby weight is normal and no other complications. So we asked the duty doctor about the reason and she said it’s all about the convenience. So we asked for discharge and left the hospital. We were so sad and depressed to know that this was the common protocol. My husband reminded me about Birthvillage were they assist in births, not just normal but in natural way. With heavy heart we went to Birthvillage. The attitude and the way they dealt with us was very different from that of the hospital. In hospitals, we are patients and here we are moms to be. They patiently listened to us even after an exhausting 24 hours delivery they had in the previous day. And everyone at Birthvillage kept that smiling happy face. At 37th week we were too late to be admitted under the Birthvillage list of clients. But we convinced them as how serious were and why it was important to us that they accept us and we enrolled for the classes and prenatal exercises. We did our best during this last period. We followed the diet they gave and never skipped the exercises and daily walk. My husband too followed the same diet and daily exercises. On 17th early morning my mucus plug was released and yet I did my daily exercises and went for Lamaze classes. On 18th I had started the feeling of contractions and entered the time and duration on contraction timer app. The contractions were not consistent and we were waiting for that 5 minute interval contractions. But the contraction duration increased next day. So we were back to our routine but still with the contractions in between. We went to the Lamaze class on that day. But I couldn’t sit there for long time. So I attended the classes walking around. That evening when we went for walking I felt much stronger contractions and during contractions I would stand still for some time and then walk. Also I climbed a lot of stairs. That night, around 10 PM we messaged that we are having stronger contractions and they said when you feel ready come over. So we waited for 2 more hours and left after calling them. The gates were opened and they welcomed with a smiling face. By that time the contractions were stronger with an interval of less than 5 minutes. We were settled and around 2PM the dilation was 8-9 cm. But the pain also started to kick in. By 5 AM the pain became stronger and I started pushing with a pause in between and by 7 AM the full strength pushing started and by 20th April 8:30 AM I became a mother with a cute little little princess in my hand. And I was in my husband’s arms. He pulled me up while I was having contractions and pushing. My husband cut the cord and the most emotional moment we had ended up with no induction, no epidural, no episiotomy and not even an IV My baby was born just a few days away from its 40th week and nowhere close to 37 weeks. I had contractions on and off for 3 days peaking at night and my husband supported me beautifully, my midwives encouraged different positions. It was incredible. Thank you, Birthvillage, for hearing us, for admitting us, for the exercise classes, teaching the breathing techniques and Lamaze classes. We love you so much. You guys are the most patient humans in the world. Moreover, thank you for helping us to give birth to our beautiful princess, Susan.
Febi Mathew and Mathew Rajan
Teddy Bear Hugs At 41 Weeks Plus And And "Stop That Song!"
26 th April – The day we became a complete family (Our little bundle of joy - Raksha, Abhay(Elder son), Shalini (Wife) & Karthik Nath (Myself).Yes, this was my wife’s second pregnancy yet there was nothing similar between the two. We had our first kid way back in 2008 and it was a normal hospitalized delivery. The sudden realization that our elder one was feeling lonely made us go for the second kid. This was a proper planned pregnancy viz. right from the ovulation date, everything was calculated but nothing went as per our calculations. It was the first Scan, in the month of August, and the radiologist did not turn up for 2 hours, got cancelled. Then the scan was done at another hospital on 1st Sep and they said everything is fine EXCEPT that the cervix is open (according to them-high risk of miscarriage -age factor, DMC etc) and medicines were prescribed with all warnings (can’t climb stairs, no physical activity etc). My wife works with a bank which doesn’t have a lift (all that we could do was lead life with worries). Both of us like to make informed decisions and that was not to our advantage this time. Through friends, she learnt Triple Marker test was something that a pregnant woman of her age should not avoid. Result, the test was positive (high risk for TRISOMY 21) and the doctor wanted us to go for amniocentesis (confirmatory test) which is an invasive test and the risks were never told. At this moment, I just paused for a moment and felt, “four months and two hospitals there is something that we need to take charge of”. Googled all the details about amniocentesis, triple marker etc. only to learn that triple marker was just a probability based test and amniocentesis has a miscarriage risk. I was against doing this and searched for an alternative. Yes, NIPT (Non-Invasive Test) at the same cost was available (money was not an issue, at least through NIPT one can avoid the miscarriage risk associated with amniocentesis test). All these days I was away at Chennai on an assignment and my wife had to go through this mental struggle all alone. Now, she went to a third hospital (for second opinion) where they again suggested amniocentesis and the test had to be done in a fourth hospital which was famous for such tests. The results came on 4th January and the baby was absolutely healthy and fine. This reinstated my belief about the S.O.P’s followed and how pregnant women too were tagged as patients. My wife is an athlete, the first pregnancy was normal and I had no doubts about the mode of second delivery. My only concern was Where and Who provides such care in Cochin...there was only one such organization and it was Birth Village! In fact I had fixed for a Birthvillage appointment way back in October (I always admire the power of nature, and natural birth was so close to my heart) but couldn’t make it then, but destiny had its way!! After going through four hospitals, we were at the doorsteps of Birthvillage. My wife was tired and felt hopeless. The very first meeting with our midwives was enough to regain the lost confidence. They carefully went through and assessed all our reports (some 50+ pages). In one of the GTT reports, the sugar level were slightly above normal and this was a concern for Birthvillage as they do not take diabetics. We were advised to make changes to the diet (include fruits, nuts, veggies etc), before the next appointment. One month passed and the GTT result showed the sugar levels to be way below the cut off. We were like, Wow! Again goes to prove that nature is the best remedy!! From then on we were able to reduce all the negative energies and just focus on positive energies viz. attending workout sessions, Lamaze sessions(was really en eye opener for all the myths about pregnancy, especially for MEN) and meditation. Now, our only focus was on the D- day. We had our first kid 17 days before the due date. She took her maternity leave from 19th of March. We were expecting the baby by the 31 st . My wife had a huge belly and right from the 5th month everybody felt pity at her state. Now, each night was getting difficult and things were getting on her nerve. So from our experience, please forget the due date. Natural birth does not work that way and never reveal the real date to anybody, even your parents (their concern can trouble you). During the last month we did literally everything viz. climbing two 13 storey apartments (439 steps one way) every alternate day, brisk walk for 40 minutes every alternate day, workout sessions, movies, parks etc. Nothing happened, no signs of labor at all. The due date was 23 rd April and it passed off silently. Now, the only answer my wife was looking for to was, “Will this baby ever come out?” What our midwives underwent is a separate story?!! It was 00:38 on the 26th when she had her first contractions. There were five regular contractions. We informed our midwife and by 01: 50 hrs we were at Birthvillage (7 minutes drive from our home) We were welcomed with a smiling face and we were getting ready for water birth. I had Ilayaraja songs in my Pen Drive. Unfortunately, the first song was a romantic number and my wife yelled, “Karthik, STOP that song!” My wife had a short labor, viz. around 3:30 mucous plug was blown, by 4:40 water broke and by 5:17 the head was visible and 5:27 the placenta was out. No time to think of water birth at all. My wife’s only repeated question after birth was, “Is it a boy or girl?” I couldn’t get a clear view for some 2 minutes and she was about to cry if it was a boy. We both wanted a girl and I was the first one to know the gender....told my wife with dull expressions “It’s a Boy...couple of seconds of silence and I cheered...Itz a GIRL GIRL GIRL!!! Shalini said, “You are MEAN”...and "I was in Bliss!" Oh, Yes! The umbilical cord was cut by me! We were back home by 6 in the evening. During the beginning of labor, she puked, was very tired...all along she was holding on to me like a bear (FULLY GROWN NOT THE TEDDY KIND). She delivered our little princess upright and standing on foot like a queen My pointers for the men! Every man should experience this at least once! It really helps in better bonding as a family, the trust earned will work wonders throughout. This simple act will go a long way in gender sensitization! You will realize what a woman goes through in making a man! For the WOMEN: Of all the women I met at Birthvillage, there are few things that were common among them: Courage Determination Progressive thinking Commitment Sacrifice Patience Perseverance Clarity of thought Never say DIE attitude I can now vouch that they are not the ones you get to meet quite often (wish they become a MAJORITY soon). Hats OFF to all the Birthvillage Mommas!!! Re-quoting Olga, “Natural birth is NOT for the FAINT-HEARTED”! For the PARENTS: We had our baby on the 41 st week. So nature (baby) decides the time. There is not much data available of full/post term births. Whatever data that is available on the internet is based on a small sample size and it may not be true / applicable in your case. Stop worrying and consult your mid-wife before making any decision. We have experienced the power of nature and please try and avoid medical interventions unless absolutely necessary and indicated, particularly when you are healthy and when you want your progeny to be healthy. After changing 4 hospitals and going through all this, we had a healthy baby as a result of proper care, guidance and support of Birthvillage. Birthvillage was the only place that gave a commitment for normal delivery which is never heard of. At Birthvillage, it is we who make the decisions and they just assist us in making informed decisions which makes us very comfortable. During our consultations, they use to say we will not touch you during labor especially second time mommas, I didn’t believe it until I assisted my wife (so men – be ready for the role play). The labor and birth as it is something that should be experienced and I have mine imprinted in my heart! We owe this experience to midwives and they will be in our memories for life! Ma’m – you ROCK!!! One of the very few people, who put their customers interest FIRST. We have never seen them say No / talk negative even in toughest of situations. Whatever question you pose, you will get a precise explanation backed by research and data. Justwith a gentle touch they tell things happening in the womb which a scan report can never explain. Our midwives = wholesome combination and without them we would have easily got lost! Our heartfelt thanks to each and every member of Birthvillage in making our script memorable! All’s well that ends well!
Manager, RBI, Chennai
Search And Ye Shall Receive
Once upon a time, on a Saturday…..We were in real heaven, when we heard our cutie pie’s first cry. Ours had been a very dramatic journey to this magical place called Birthvillage (BV).During my pregnancy, I was in Chennai for an official training. Without me knowing, my hubby had enquired about natural birthing centers and found two of them – one of them being in Kerala which is Birthvillage in Vyttila. Also, my friend Gopika Mohanan, who had given birth at Birthvillage, insisted that I get an appointment with them. We were very impressed by their approach to the birthing process and their personalized care and support at the very first prenatal visit. I joined their workout classes which were very refreshing and relieved me of my stress. The sessions and made me active and I thoroughly enjoyed my pregnancy. I also attended Lamaze classes which helped me a lot to answer all the questions I had in my mind regarding natural birth and why we should follow evidence based practices. On the other hand, I wasn’t fully sure of natural birthing for me as I doubted my own strength and capacity to choose such a bold step. I decided that I will attend Lamaze classes and birth in a favorable hospital, applying all the knowledge that I gained. I went ahead and booked appointments with different hospitals to find a care provider who would comply with our suggestions and choice of labor. (In fact, I can write a separate thesis on hospitals as I visited four highly reputed hospitals – all recommended by Google, friends on Facebook, and what not!!!) But after each consultation, I realized that I was actually unaware of the practices going on in hospitals and that none of my plans were going to work in a hospital. I do not want to criticize hospitals but it was a moment of self-realization. Something that works for others doesn’t work in the same way for me. My path was different. I realized that my plans and wishes would work out only in one place, and that place was Birthvillage. But I was too late. The birth slots at Birthvillage were full. Initially itself, they were quite clear about working with a specific number of births per month so that they can focus and offer full care and support. And rightfully so, as who would want to be in an assembly line to give birth. I was unlucky. I really felt a deep sense of loss. I didn’t know what to do. It even affected my confidence in a normal birth. Keeping my hopes high, I informed Birthvillage to let me know if any slot becomes available. As I mentioned before, I had consulted 4 different hospitals in Kochi, during my pregnancy and all of them treated me like a patient. Pregnancy is not a disease, it is a natural process. Whatever may be the outcome, I just have to face it boldly. This courage and confidence that developed in me was a result of the Lamaze classes at Birthvillage. One of these hospitals advised me to get admitted for labor on 21.05.2016 which was exactly one month before my due date. I was just 36 weeks. They told me that I have gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, when none of my medical reports said so. My GTT results were negative and my blood pressure readings were always normal. On hearing this, I decided to go to another hospital where the doc told us that the baby’s head is too big and so they have medically induce pain and deliver baby immediately. With the knowledge we got from Lamaze classes, we knew that baby’s head size is not at all a reason for medical induction. We convinced the doc to wait for natural pain to occur. But she was not ready to extend the wait beyond 38 weeks. I agreed hoping that I would get natural pains before the D-date which doc had fixed according to their convenience. On June 4th, a Saturday, I was feeling quite tired. My husband suggested taking rest. But since it was my last workout class, I decided to go. After the workout, one of my midwives called me and asked me about my commitment to birth in Birthvillage. They also told me that since there were consecutively 3 births at the center, there was a slot available for that particular time period. Immediately, a ray of hope popped in my heart. I told them I was still waiting for that slot. She asked me if I was 100% committed to take an appointment. As I had to get admitted the next day, I managed to get an appointment that evening. During that appointment, I explained to my midwives of I was fed up with the various hospitals, their smart ways to trick us into c-section and how much I wanted to escape from them and birth here. My slot at Birthvillage was confirmed and I finally felt at peace. Just as I was about to leave, one of the midwives said; “Now you will relax and will be able to sleep well tonight”. She was absolutely right. I was no longer under any pressure. I completely relaxed and let go. I was in the best hands. The very same day, at 11:30 pm, my water broke and my contractions started with a bang. A couple of hours later, I was ready to move to the center with contractions every 5 minutes and lasting a full 60 seconds. Even though I dilated quite fast, my baby wasn’t descending down. I tried all positions for labor – squatting, sitting on a birthing stool, pulling down a birth rope, hands and knees – and finally I held onto the midwife’s arms in front of me, with my husband holding me from behind till the final hour of birth. He was my pillar and rock throughout. Never once did he doubt me or my strength. After the 6 hours of tug-of-war, my precious little one came out at 7:15 am on the 5th of June – my happy Sunday. I am grateful for that Saturday, my final workout class, which made all this possible. By God’s grace and destiny, my wish came true, instead of lying flat on my back with pain induced at the 37th week for others’ convenience and ending up in a c-section. During my pregnancy, I and my hubby used to fight guessing the gender of the baby, but when he came out, we both were in tears. We didn’t bother to check the gender until after. I gave birth to a solid, chubby 3.5kg boy which was considered big by lot of care providers by their standards. Later, we two had a good sleep with our baby at Birthvillage. The love and the care we received at Birthvillage after the birth, made us realize that choosing Birthvillage was a blessing for us. My final notes: Eat healthy and exercise right from the beginning. Good prenatal care is important and yes, it is different in the centre that I chose. Do attend the Lamaze classes at Birthvillage with your partner. Do your researches early on, even the unconventional ones – it pays well. You can’t birth with fancy wall paper around you. You need to check whether your policies match with theirs, what you want for your birth. Birthing upright in the position of your choice matters. I know that better than anybody else, I would say. You also might be thinking if you can give birth while standing. Trust me. Yes!! My midwives followed me everywhere, where I stood and knelt. Believe in yourself, trust your baby. In the end, that’s what matters the most.
Assistant Manager, Indian Bank, Mavelikara