I call this an unusual story because it is not the typical hospital style birth that dominates our culture.
Ever since Laurentine and I first met at college at 1999 (yes we're college sweethearts!) we would joke about starting a family and having lots of kids running around. We did however feel deep down inside that there was some important work calling us before we did so which is indeed what happened.
That work was to become the FOOD MATTERS film which helped heal my father from chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and anxiety plus free him from the pharmaceutical drug bandwagon. Then more recently HUNGRY FOR CHANGE which chronicled our experience with helping my father keep his weight off and covers many of the challenges that most people face when trying detoxes and fad diets. This has cemented our belief in the innate healing capacity of the human body and has influenced our opinions on health, life and birth in a deep and lasting way.
The Mind and The Body Need To Be Ready For ConceptionLate last year we knew it was time for us to start a family so we prepared our bodies (both of us, you can't get away with this guys!) most importantly focusing on detoxification and rejuvenating our bodies plus balancing our hormones (testosterone, progesterone and oestrogen in particular). We first tried to conceive in Amsterdam when we were there on a 6 week trip writing the Hungry For Change book and visiting Laurentine's European family. Even though we had our bodies in order it didn't happen right away.
After we returned to the US and settled into our new home in Santa Monica Laurentine and I felt that much more 'nested' and conception happened immediately. There was obviously a part of us that needed to feel like we were home (or had a home base) before her body wished to conceive. I have no scientific data on this but can imagine that you might understand why this could be so.
"We had our inner biological terrain ready but we needed to have our mind's dialed in."
During the gestation period we were eating well and supporting the baby's development as best we knew how (there is a lot of info on this which we can save for another time). In preparation for the birth we consulted many of the experts from the films plus other leading experts and we developed some interesting rituals to help welcome this baby into the world. One of the more interesting ones we loved was making baby feel welcomed, expected and accepted.
You Are Welcomed, You Are Loved, You Are Accepted!We would say this on a daily basis to baby as we knew this was important in making baby feel welcomed and loved, to develop a strong connection to our voices (which they can connect with from the 3rd trimester onwards) and to aid in a speedy postpartum connection. This work is backed by Bruce Lipton (author of Biology Of Belief) and helps connect with the baby's subconscious mind in early life.
As for the actual birth and labour process Laurentine and I held the very strong belief that...
Birth Is A Natural Process And Not A Medical EmergencyWe of course appreciate that there is no place like a hospital when the safety of mom and baby is compromised and you need emergency critical care however we believed that everything should be allowed to progress as naturally as possible for as long as possible before any intervention (if at all).
This being the case we opted for a home birth with two midwives and a doula. We worked with the famous birth centre in Los Angeles, California as featured in Ricki Lake's documentaries 'The Business of Being Born' and 'More Business of Being Born'. This clinic resonated with our beliefs about how birth should be and it had the professionals to back them up.
We did a lot of preparation and education leading up to the birth, so that we would understand as much about the birth process and postpartum period as we could as this was OUR birth and we knew that we were the ones playing a big part in this.
Laurentine's Water Broke At 7am on Sunday the 7th of the 7thI'm not one for numerology but this is certainly interesting :) The team was called in and they came to the house setting up a birthing pool (blow up jacuzzi) and with all their midwife medical accoutrements. Laurentine's contractions were getting stronger and stronger and she quickly dilated to 7cm in a few hours.
Part of our team and planning was to have a hypnotherapist as our doula at the birth.
She Was In A Hypnotic Trance For Most Of The BirthIn between contractions we would count her down into hypnosis (which we had been training for over a few months) which brought the pain down dramatically and increased the pleasure of the early stages of labor before the transition and pushing stages.
As the labor progressed, baby had turned and was not in an ideal position facing head towards her left leg and slightly upwards (posterior) despite the fact he had been in a perfect backwards facing (anterior) position for months leading up to the birth. Typically this is a much more painful birth as the back of the baby's head (hard part) is rubbing against the mothers lower spine (ouch!) and in a traditional hospital environment would call for an episiotomy (slicing the mother's vagina to anus to make more room) and sucking the baby out with a vacuum or a caesarian section.
Given that we wanted to do all we could naturally we had some other options up our sleeve.
We Called A Chiropractor In Mid-Labor To Turn The Baby!Our midwives made a call to a local chiropractor who was a specialist in pre-natal care. It was Sunday at around 2pm and he made the trip out to Santa Monica from Hollywood just for us!
He was a 6 foot something giant of a man and a welcomed sight :) He began deep tissue massage around the hips, back and spine and although Laurentine was mid-labor and fully dilated she was in total ecstasy for 2 hours as he worked on her and baby.
He worked with her through contractions helping her to surrender and allow baby to fully relax. He also adjusted her hips (sounded like an AK-47 firing rounds on first twist!) and literally massaged baby and then he flipped! He turned into a near perfect anterior (face backwards) position (although still a little facing left). It was an amazing thing to witness and experience and after he was done you could see the baby in her belly lined up straight like a marching soldier ready to visit us!
Baby Turned And Was Ready For TransitionTransition and pushing took a while as he came closer to this world and the team worked with her to guide her through certain positions until we found ourselves on the birthing stool (like a chair with no bottom) in the meditation room overlooking the ocean ready for him to come (don't tell our landlord, apparently they didn't even let the last owners have a cat! haha).
As he came closer I moved from behind Laurentine to the front so that I could catch the baby as this was what we had wanted. His head came out and cleared to his neck as I cupped his head in my hands and whispered to him: you are welcomed, loved and accepted... upon hearing my voice he immediately opened his eyes and it was the most divine experience I have ever had in my entire life (now's the time to cry if you feel so inclined...)
His body then quickly emerged and I caught him in my hands and it was a BOY!
I held him briefly before passing him to Laurentine to place on her chest and connect the parental bond and help to kick in the oxytocin (love hormone). The birth happened at 7:54pm on Sunday the 7th of the 7th and the placenta was birthed at 8pm. He was named Hugo Colquhoun shortly thereafter.
We Kept The Placenta Connected For About 3 HoursThis is because there is approximately 600ml of blood still in the placenta at birth which continues to be pumped to the baby helping to support his transition and immunity. Most hospitals clamp immediately after birth and then cut the cord however only after about 3 hours did we eventually clamp and then I also got to cut the cord (it's a unique rubber texture for those wondering).
We had the clinics OBGYN visit the house todo a final check. Dr Stewart Fischbein is a renegade OB who after years in the medical profession is fighting women's rights to VBAC's - vaginal birth after c-section and is one of the last remaining docs who delivers breached babies and twins vaginally. He is the author of the book 'Fearless Pregnancy' and is featured in 'More Business of Being Born'.
Everyone eventually left the house at around 1am and we proceeded to get some sleep (2-3 hours) before I had to wake up and stick to a commitment I made to a national TV show which had been booked months in advance. I got up at 5am and headed to the burbank studios of Access Hollywood for a segment on Hungry For Change where...
I Announced The Birth To My Parents On National Television!
After this set I drove straight home and bubba was still making his transition into the world and slowly learning to suckle and feed. We called our lactation consultant (Kimberly The Amazing!) and she helped but recommended some cranial-sacral therapy to help dial in the baby's spine and nervous system and bring him more into his body.
Baby Had Cranial-Sacral Body Work Done Within The First 48 Hours!It was amazing to see the results after his muscles, bones and nerves were gently helped into optimal positioning. You could see his eyes, mouth and suckling reflexes come in fast and he really found his way after this simple and effective treatment. He went straight on the boob and has been sucking like a champion since. There is no doubt he would have developed this over time however this really did help to speed things up and allow his body to come into natural alignment after the birth faster.
After 3 days baby was looking strong but as the oxytocin high (remember the love hormone I mentioned earlier) started wearing off we were so lucky that...
We Decided To Encapsulate The Placenta To Supplement After BirthDid you know that most mammals eat their placenta after birth (minus dolphins of course as it gets lost in the water... bummer!) and that this natural process is thought to help to tell the body that the baby is out and to contract the uterus, increase milk supply and balance the mom's hormones.
One of the midwives took the placenta after birth, dehydrated it then blended it into a powder and encapsulated it. On day 3 after the birth when I first started noticing the symptoms of postpartum moodiness or depression at its infancy the capsules arrived and almost immediately after taking them Laurentine was on high for hours and feeling like superwoman!
She has been in incredible spirits ever since and very present for the connection with baby in these early days and especially her traditional Eastern postpartum treatment of...
Uterus Massage And Belly BindingIn Ayurvedic and Eastern traditions the belly becomes cold after birth as there has been a big transition from the heat of having a baby in there. These traditions suggest warming Ayurvedic foods, rest, massage and belly binding to help contract the uterus and bring the organs back into position as safely and quickly as possible. There is a local lady (called Princess none the less) who visits us every two days for twenty days to assist in this process along with a healing meditation during the massage.
On top of all of this there is one other important thing we don't do...
We Don't Clean Our BabyIn the first week (and we'll likely continue for up to a month) we are not using any soaps or products on his body (except for a little coconut oil on his bum to stop his poo sticking). This is because the vernix (protective coating) and other healthy bacteria (if the mom's ecology is in tact during pregnancy and birth - see Donna Gates' Body Ecology Diet for more info on this) are protective to his immune system and overall health. We think of this process along with colostrum, breast milk, sunlight exposure, and vaginal fluid from birth inoculating the baby's stomach all make part of his very own unique immunization and healthy start to this world.
We when speak to family, friends and any media about our birth experience they are often a little shocked to hear about how unorthodox it all was. But in hearing about the success we had (and the comparable birth this would have been in a hospital environment) they feel such options should be at least made available to all women giving birth.
We Believe Our Unconventional Birth Story Should Be The Norm! Do You?Thank you all for your support over the past years (since 2007) with the Food Matters and Hungry For Change films and the movement we have made together to open up options for health and healing outside of the mainstream medical paradigm. We felt your support with us during this birth and look forward to continuing to share all that we discover over the coming months and years with more films, books and articles. We love what we do and we love helping share these important lifesaving messages with the world.
Please share with us below your thoughts on our story, any comments you might have or questions that are coming up in reading this. We love hearing from you.
Additionally we wish to acknowledge that every family's birth experience can vary dramatically however we believe that any style of birth can be a miraculous and and spiritual experience.
To be continued...
In good health,
James and Laurentine