Unassisted seabirth in Thailand

My unassisted seabirth

My hands feel the fine, rough sand, the cool water envelops me and I lean my cheek against the large rock that juts out of the sea directly in front of me in the small bay. As the next wave of birth rolls in, my gaze wanders to the beach, the tall palm trees that seem to sway slightly, and the blue sky. The situation is surreal and for a moment I feel transported back a good nine months, to a warm summer day in June, which I spent at the outdoor pool with a friend.

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I am 29 years old, have two children and do not allow myself to consciously have a childwish. I've just had a very emotional time and am in the middle of preparing for an online summit. The newly renovated house is at least formally sold, the notary appointment has finally taken place. There are moving boxes everywhere and all sorts of people come every day to pick up all the boxes that I have posted on Ebay locational to give away. My son and daughter, 4 and 2 years old at the time, are many times looked after by my younger sister so that I can conduct interviews for the event. My guilty conscience couldn't be greater because I've had the feeling for weeks that I can't devote enough attention to the children.

But then, in the greatest chaos, I unexpectedly and literally get pregnant out of the blue. Maybe because, since I had two little siblings myself, I've always wished for three children and luckily for me this unconscious wish has now simply taken on a life of its own.

A few days later I'm lying in the open air pool with my friend. For once, our four children play happily next to us and while I look at her already large baby bump with the third child, I have the thought of a water birth for the first time.

Neither during my first nor my second pregnancy and birth did I feel the need to get into the water. The large birthing pool when my son was born was full and comfortably warm, but I felt uncomfortable and was quickly out again. I didn't even want a relaxing bath with my daughter.

But this third pregnancy is different. When I think of birth, I think of water.

I live through the next few weeks in a fog of completely unfamiliar nausea and exhaustion and again a few crazy weeks later a used mobile home is in front of the door. Almost everything is now sold, the rest is stored and I pack our last bags to start a new life on an unlimited world tour.

After the emotional ups and downs of the last few months, my pregnancy hormones now feel downright comfortable. I let myself go and experience a wonderfully relaxed time in which I can fully engage with the children.

Autumn in Sardinia brings me back into balance and in November we fly quite spontaneously to Thailand as backpackers. On the way to the airport, I make a short stopover at my gynecologist's because I've decided to have the detailed diagnosis done in the 23rd week. If, contrary to my feelings, my baby is ill and needs special help during the birth, I would rearrange accordingly.

But there are no abnormalities and so nothing stands in the way of the trip.

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I have my maternity pass with me, but apart from the first three check-ups in Germany, it remains empty. The warm sun, the relaxation, the extended time with the children, the solidarity of the many families in our resort and the distance from the fears that were imposed on me from all sides in Germany let me get in deep contact with my baby. Without medical cornerstone appointments during pregnancy, I can empathize more intensively with my body and strengthen my intuition. Thanks to my changed life and work rhythm, I also have the opportunity to rest a bit during the day.

In order to be prepared for possible complications, I visit a hospital on the beautiful island of Koh Phangan, from which I no longer want to leave, so that in an emergency I have a contact person who already knows me. But I feel strong and healthy, my baby is growing, moving and responding when I want to contact it.

In the 37th week, I unexpectedly feel crazy tired of being pregnant for a few days. It's hotter than usual and I get a lot of water in my legs. To distract myself, I take a little trip to the first resort we visited when we arrived on Phangan. While the children are happily splashing around in the unusually clean pool, I walk along the short beach, circle the adjacent large rock and suddenly find myself in a small, hidden bay.

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A sea birth was my unspoken, most secret dream and in this moment it becomes tangible. If in the ocean, then here, between the big rocks, protected from the waves by the stone wall 200m away and separated from the main beach by a not-so-narrow river.

Over the next few weeks, I keep worrying that my baby might arrive at a time when a sea birth wouldn't work. For example at night, when it's swarming with crabs and it's way too dark anyway, or when there are people on the beach and I couldn't be undisturbed, or when my girlfriend who visits us will no longer be here. Until at some point I have the thought that this child obviously wants to be born in water and that it will then choose the right time. With this realization I can finally relax and even get through the passing due date without being further worried.

On the third day after due date I feel the first strong birth wave in the morning. I'm starting to adjust mentally and anticipate a quick labor of about 2.5 hours like last time. But our child has other plans. Although the birth waves are strong, they are short and only come about every 25 minutes. I keep spending the day in the sea or in the pool and prefer to switch to the other resort in the afternoon to be closer to the bay. As evening approaches, I'm a bit disappointed - it's probably not going to happen with a sea birth.

For the night I build myself a small camp on the bed. A thick blanket as a base and the large gymnastics ball on which I breathe the waves with my arms supported on top. Although I've had contractions all day, I'm relatively fit. The long breaks ensure the appropriate rest and I fall asleep again and again at night. Nothing changes in the wave frequency and the cervix opens slowly but steadily.

But shortly before sunrise I have a total emotional low. I'm sitting crying in the bathroom, where I've only just felt the cervix at about 4-5 cm and I don't know how I can hold out any longer.

But then I remember my pregnancy playlist, put on headphones, and immerse myself in the bliss of anticipation for my baby I've relived countless times whenever I've listened to the familiar songs over the past few months. I calm down and relax, gaining confidence and checking my bag again. Inside are several towels, a waterproof pad, and a bag for the placenta. Since complications usually develop during the birth and I don't notice any abnormalities, but can reliably feel my baby's movements, I don't feel the need to drive to the hospital.

Around eleven in the morning I let my girlfriend know. The cervix is ​​now 6 cm dilated and although I still only have about 10 waves an hour, I notice increasing pressure and need significantly more concentration to visualize my "birth picture".

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The fact that during this pregnancy I dealt a lot with pain-free birth, deep relaxation, affirmations ("My waves can't be stronger than me, because they come from me.") and visualizations helps me a lot. When I feel a new wave coming, I imagine my uterus, the longitudinal muscles of which are pulled upwards by light-colored bands in order to gently open the cervix. The elemental force of my body sometimes almost takes my breath away and I have an idea of ​​how much the waves could hurt if I wouldn’t be so relaxed.

I feel most comfortable in the crystal-clear pool water and while the children are playing with their little cars and my girlfriend arrives with her two children (5 and 3 years old), I do my laps. For the birth waves, I swim to the poolside overlooking the ocean and consciously breathe through the short, hard contractions. Nobody but us is there and the resort with the many bungalows lies quietly behind me.

Suddenly I have such a strong wave that I can no longer grasp my birth picture, which reliably accompanied me through the entire opening phase. I am literally overwhelmed and immediately feel severe pain.

I give my girlfriend a sign and we make our way to the sea. During the little meters I have several waves in a row, notice how I am getting more and more tense and I am glad when I reach the cool sea water. It's cloudy today, which is unusual and good for me. It's half past twelve and usually around noon it's almost unbearable.

I get in touch with my child, who, as always, responds immediately with a little kick. Now the waves come every 5 minutes and I vacillate between feelings of excitement and desperation. I forgot my visualization and instead hypnotize the fishing boats passing behind the stone wall.

I'm totally taken by the birth and can't keep my originally chosen place among some smaller rocks, because of course the gravity doesn't work like on land and I can't find a stable footing. So I slide forward a bit to be able to hold on to a rock. My attempt to handle a wave on a rock better than in the water fails miserably. I absolutely cannot stand the contraction on land and am quickly back in the water.

My five-year-old son and his friend choose a rock near me and watch each other from a safe distance with great interest. The situation is too exciting for my daughter and she prefers to stay on the beach with her best friend and my friend, who is a close relative of hers.

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The fact that my girlfriend is there gives me a wonderful feeling of security. She believes in me and doesn't doubt for a second that I will master the birth. There is no one around to influence me in any way, scare me or interfere with my inner interaction with my baby. I don't have a permanent heartbeat recorder on my stomach to distract my child and everyone present, and my feeling tells me very reliably that I'm in the middle of the final phase of the birth.

With the next wave comes the urge to press, which I can't stop despite all my attempts to relax. The pressure is so great that I can't help but scream out loud. I try to push along, but it doesn't work. I have the strange feeling that I push but nothing arrives. The wave itself is so strong that my physical strength is probably not needed.

And as with the other two births, I find it just crazy at this moment how normal I still feel during the breaks - as if I was doing nothing but swimming in the sea.

During the next contraction, however, I feel a bit panicky and recall my midwifery knowledge of the transition period describing this moment as a possible key point in the soon birth of the head. More consciously than ever before, I feel my child's head stepping lower and I always have one hand between my legs. With the other, I cling to the rock and dig my feet into the rough sand.

Now the amniotic sac is bursting and I clearly feel a lot of hair. The small cushion of amniotic fluid in front of the head has disappeared and the pressure is at its maximum. The next wave puts the head around the corner and now it doesn't slip back at the break either. I know that my baby will be born with the next wave and I have the unconsoling thought that it's just me who can now master this birth.

No one in the world can help me at this moment of maximum stretching. Although an epidural could take away the possible pain caused by stretching, it unfortunately often also takes away the contact with the baby. And from my professional experience, I know that interventions and manipulations on the child's head or cervix can often lead to traumatic experiences for mother and child.

 So I wait for the coming seconds and gather my strength.

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The wave rolls on and I process the immense pressure again by involuntarily screaming with my mouth open. My attempts to channel this elemental force in a different way don't work, but that's not a bad thing. Nobody tells me to be quiet.

My baby's head pops through and suddenly fills my hand. My son climbed down from his rock and is suddenly standing in the water next to me. I hear him say "Look mom, there's the head!".

An incomparable feeling of happiness floods through me and I sit on my knees, agitated, waiting for the babys head to turn by itself and its shoulders to be born. My baby seems to be trying to turn its head both ways several times and I take my hands away so as not to disturb it.

The last wave of this birth arrives and in the next moment my little girl is born.

My mermaid opens her eyes underwater and looks directly at us. An experience that moves me deeply. I clasp her stomach with both hands, hold her carefully and lift her out of the sea - my child, born through me right into my hands.

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I will never forget this moment and this feeling. Everyone joins us in the water and we marvel at this little baby. She looks at us with wide eyes and is very calm.

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Up to this point I had not lost any blood. Now there is a small surge and because I have the feeling that the sea is a bit too cold for my second daughter, despite the tropical sun, I go ashore with her, still connected by the umbilical cord.

There I sit down on a large soft towel and put her on my chest for the first time. As if she had never done anything else, she starts to suckle, quickly turns pink all over and about 20 minutes later the placenta comes off too. I give birth to it on my beach towel that I received for my birthday in Sardinia many years ago. A little clotted blood comes with it and is caught by the waterproof pad. I'm on a hormone high and feel wide awake and energetic.

We stay on the beach for half an hour, then I get dressed and put the placenta in the prepared bag. I have decided not to cut the umbilical cord for the time being in order not to interrupt the natural blood flow immediately after the birth, not to risk an infection in the warm temperatures and to maintain my child's special connection to this impressive organ. Together we make our way to our bungalow and I step into the most beautiful postpartum bed I could have imagined. Surrounded by my three children, dear friends and countless shady palm trees.

There is enough space and time to discuss the birth with the older siblings, to breastfeed and to cut the dried umbilical cord a good 24 hours later, which is a wonderful experience for all of us. My son and my older daughter can get to know their little sister from the first second, know exactly how she came to us and spend a lot of time in bed with me.

My mermaid sleeps most of the time on my stomach, in a sling or in a backpack carrier. I periodically hold her over a potty and nurse her day and night as needed.

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Almost six years have passed since then. I remember at that time not once did I have to get up in the night with my baby. I breastfed her in the family bed and held her potty there as well. She didn't have the nocturnal screaming attacks I knew from her siblings. I felt like there was just nothing for her to cry about; no frequent ultrasound scans, strange hands, premature cord cutting, separation from me or blood tests - she seemed full of basic trust that nothing would happen to her and that all her needs would be seen and met.

When I think about my births, I find the opening stages of all my children to be appropriate to their characters. Children are simply not passive bodies at birth and are in close interaction with the mother's feelings. An experienced midwife once told me that children are the way they are born - for me it applies to all four births that I have experienced in the meantime.

How my second daughter finally came into my life will forever remain one of my most treasured memories. I felt that my whole long journey and the many inner and outer changes I had gone through in the previous years centered on her birth. Ultimately, all of my experiences led me there, to this beach.

If true happiness exists, I felt it that day.

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For a long time I thought about whether I wanted to share my third birth experience at all, since a home birth or a unassisted birth is of course a very polarizing topic and I wanted to protect my family. I finally decided to do it when she was about 4 months old because my third motherhood up until then had been a reflection of her undisturbed childbirth and I hoped my story would show women that we are still capable of being just as naturally today give birth like our ancestors.

Midwife help during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding is absolutely valuable, gives support and is very important. The fact that I had my child without help, although I am a midwife myself, is my very own path, which I took due to my long history, the reliable connection to my baby and the absence of any abnormalities.

I wasn't afraid that my baby might not be well during the birth because the child's movements were always clearly noticeable. I don't see my pain negatively, despite intensive preoccupation with pain-free birth at the end of the expulsion phase. It wasn't traumatic, it was purposeful and guided me to keep changing positions and moving my pelvis. I walked out of this experience completely transformed inside.

Giving birth is a deeply natural, evolutionary and also very disruptive process. Receiving my child without fear and surrounded by loving people was and is the best gift I could have wished for my daughter and her siblings.

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Paradoxical as it may sound, the greatest realization I had during my sea birth was that we mothers with our bodies are the true birthplace of our children.

It doesn't matter where we give birth to our babies. It is crucial that we feel ourselves, understand that our body is always working with us and never against us, that the baby is actively involved physically and emotionally in the birth process and that the perception of this deepest bond with the child in our womb is of incomparable importance and valuable for the natural birth.

In principle, I do not advise any woman on a specific place of birth because, like every woman, she has the right to choose freely and it is a very personal decision. I have decided to have two unassisted births until now because I had gotten to know my body from the birth of my first two children and had a strong gut feeling and connection to my children.

For healthy women with healthy children and a normal pregnancy, there is no higher mortality rate for home births than for hospital births.

I still find it most important to strengthen women's body awareness, self-determination and their connection to the children during childbirth, to promote their independence in obstetric decisions and a natural, undisturbed birth process and thus to avoid traumatic birth experiences.

Our children need us, also and above all during birth and we as mothers can and may have a say in how our babies are born.