Leah had a water birth during the COVID-19 pandemic and shares her experience with us.
Where & how was your baby born? Was it as you expected and did you have any support / tools?
I laboured at home with family, friends and our Doula. I arrived at our local birth centre 10cm dilated and had a water birth. At home I embraced birth & surges using essential oil massage, movement, breathwork, chanting, toning, hot showers/baths, my fave reggae and R&B music playlist (I realised quite quickly that relaxing whale sounds wouldn’t work for me!), a tennis ball, which I squeezed…. oh and a fan to keep my Yoni cool!
Although I wanted a homebirth and was considering a ‘Free Birth’ I had let go of expectations in the third trimester as things were quite unclear due to the pandemic – I felt centred in trusting baby and I would know what to do for the best when the time came. The birth center was great too, midwives did everything they could to honour my wishes to birth undisturbed.
What are your top tips for others going through birth?
Follow your inner voice – find ways to speak your truth…and don’t shrink yourself to please or suit others…your intuition & feelings are valid…explore what makes you feel safe – express this regularly to your loved ones and professionals so that they can truly support you.
Trust in divine timing – your baby will know when it’s ready to arrive – create affirmations and visualisations to support this.
Stay as active as you can – I attended Birth Preparation Yoga and sued most of the movements for the class during birth.
Prepare for postpartum as much as you can – I made padsicles, got myself a peri bidet bottle (it was great for washing during the first week!), herbal salt baths and herbal teas – birth is a major energy shift to the body you need space for selfcare during the 4th trimester where possible. Remember…as you nourish yourself you nourish your baby!
What aspects of your journey are you most proud of and / or did you enjoy?
Trusting in myself and Jett led to a happy healthy pregnancy & birth despite the uncertainty the pandemic created.
The most amazing part was feeling the urge the push, then his head, and then his body landing in my hands in the water.
If you could do anything differently what would it be?
I would have opted for home birth if I had the option and also really wanted an extra birth partner – having Jett at home would have meant I could have been closer to love ones throughout.
What helped you?
From personal experience, I had always felt healthcare can be biased and insensitive to diverse needs – reading the MBRRACE report sadly offered the evidence to support my feelings. It took me a while to be open and trust or accept support from services.
Making use of research, advice and information I gathered from organisations such as AIMs, Birthing in Colour, Every Mother Matters and Real Birth Project changed my perspective on how we shift the narrative that surrounds birth especially improving outcomes for black women like myself.
I was fully able to commit to a positive birth using my voice to advocate for things I wanted knowing my rights surrounding choice and consent. This approach helped me become assertive as well as surrender to feelings of fragility and vulnerability in order to transcend labour & birth.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Allow yourself to just be, let go of fixed plans. Birth was a profound transformative experience…in the end nothing really mattered except holding him in my arms, finally feeling his skin against mine.