I was squatting for four hours in what I consider "hard labour." Suddenly something gave way. A curly little head burst into the water and I looked down to gently stroke the tiny tranquil face. With a sigh of relief, I gave one last push and my son's body gracefully emerged into the full tub of warm water.
I was squatting for four hours in what I consider "hard labour." Suddenly something gave way. A curly little head burst into the water and I looked down to gently stroke the tiny tranquil face. With a sigh of relief, I gave one last push and my son's body gracefully emerged into the full tub of warm water. No part of his skin was exposed to trigger the breath reflex.
According to research, a "water baby" may not even realize it's been born and can continue a peaceful existence underwater for up to 10 minutes. I had planned to embrace such a moment, but excitement overwhelmed me. I scooped my baby up and held him in my arms as he cried with all the strength he had. My mother (a licensed practical nurse) and sister-in-law, the only two present, were both in tears as we stared at this wondrous gift of life. He quickly settled, nestled softly in my arms Kyro Alexander!
After my mother and I checked for normal colour and reflexes, I gave my son his first pellet of homeopathic Arnica 30X (and decided to take a dose myself). This would rapidly alleviate any bruising and muscle strain that may have occurred during the labour and birth. I checked the cord, which was still vibrating with life-giving blood, then carefully reclined back in the tub with my new son relaxing peacefully on my chest. My mom put his little cap on, lay a light receiving blanket over us, and turned down the lights.
Thinking back, the many years of optimal nutrition and the aid of herbs and homeopathy throughout pre-conception, pregnancy and birth were well worth it.
My story began while I was living and working in Kenya. The rewards involved with teaching children made me realize the emptiness in my own life: I was 31 years old with an incredible career life nothing more, nothing less. My partner was a Kenyan man who knew how much I wanted a child. I had been preparing myself unknowingly for over a decade. Health does not simply begin at conception and end at birth. It's a lifelong process.
Preparing the Body
I had heard of an excellent herbal doctor in Kenya's coastal town of Mombasa who was accustomed to treating both natives and foreigners. At 18 weeks after conception, he prescribed two decoctions prepared weekly; a bitter one with over 12 local herbs to help enhance and normalize my hormonal system; and a very sweet tonic rich in minerals to strengthen my organs and enrich my blood. This further enhanced the typical native diet I had become accustomed to, one that had proven empowering to my health.
A cup of chai, hot fermented porridge and an array of fresh tropical fruits for breakfast, along with hearty cooked dishes heaping with beans, grains, dark greens and root vegetables (not to mention the two condiments I craved: fresh garlic and limes!), was quite different from the primarily raw vegan diet I had become accustomed to in Vancouver. Fortunately, the radical adjustment was clear: this diet was what both of us needed to flourish.
Along with my regular early morning and evening walks with friends, I spent hours during the day in a secluded place overlooking the vast Indian Ocean, practising my daily exercises, journaling, reading inspirational books and singing or speaking to my son. It was what I've always loved to do. Now I was enjoying more of it.
I arrived back in Canada eight months pregnant. For the weeks that followed I went back and forth to the library for books and videos on pregnancy and birth. I was hungry for as much information as I could get my hands on. Also, being back in my homeland meant I was familiar with the herbs, supplements and homeopathic remedies available.
To help prepare for the birth, I took bioflavonoids, spirulina and acidophilus daily, along with a quart of a vitamin-rich herb tea made with raspberry leaves, nettle, oatstraw, alfalfa, rose hips, red clover and spearmint leaves. I also enjoyed a daily glass of brewed burdock, dandelion and yellow dock roots to purify the blood, promote strength and uterine tone and balance hormones.
I massaged my belly with extra-virgin olive oil to keep the skin lubricated and prevent stretch marks and began massaging the perineum at 35 weeks with a blend of clary sage, geranium and lavender oils to prepare for birth. I chose to avoid soy, dairy and irritating grains such as wheat, corn, rye, oats and white rice, along with (of course) all sugar and processed foods. Both my son and myself were able to move toward the birth joyously, safely and in optimal health.
In all my research, the pure simplicity of the birthing process became incredibly obvious. What I didn't realize was that I was creating an in-depth program for myself: a clear picture of how my child was to be born and where. Having a water birth was something I had always envisioned. But birthing my own son with only my mother's help was a decision made only a week before I was due. The warmth and comfort of the bathroom tub in my family home, the loving heart and hands that only a mother can give her daughter, and therefore a daughter give her unborn child, seemed almost too perfect to imagine.
"Lauren, it's been half an hour."
The time came to take another dose of Arnica 30X and cut the cord. My mother was given the honours. She tied it with a sterilized string, snipped it and carefully dropped echinacea tincture on the stump. I delivered the placenta and handed my precious little newborn over to his elated grandma. She and grandpa, who was eagerly awaiting outside the door, took over for a while.
Pregnancy and birth is something that needs to be prepared for, nurtured, supported and celebrated. It's not a time for sickness, abnormal fatigue, toxemia and erratic, unhealthy cravings. Women need to listen to their intuition and tap into their own strength and that of their families. This can only come with a lifestyle geared to optimal health and well-being. Our children deserve it.