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Sacred Space - are modern homebirthers missing out?

I was in the shower today thinking how much I feel like I'm having a baby for the first time again. When I had Erik 9 years ago I really had no idea what to expect. I'd seen birth as portrayed on tv and in movies, in docos and in books. I knew it wasn't glamourous or necessarily quick. I was naive in experience, but not completely naive in information. So, I could imagine birthing, but I really just didn't know what to expect.

And so, here I am again, and again, I can imagine having this baby at home, but I don't know what that's going to be like, because so many things will be different - the space will be different.

I have to admit that part of me is mourning the "special space" that is going to hospital. This may seem very strange to others who have chosen homebirth as so many choose to birth at home because that IS their special space, and the hospital is a foreign space...

But anyway, I'm going to ramble through some thoughts here...

Ok, I believe humans seek out the sacred. We seek out forms of initiation, of tradition, and of spirituality.

Initiation is about right of passage, of proving oneself. It often entails a degree of risk, or at least perceived risk, and often takes place under traditional circumstances or in sacred places away from every day living.

In cultures around the world, before women gave birth in hospitals, these spaces were found or created. Often women went away from their communities to give birth, or their home space became a sacred space in the time leading up or after the birth, where the woman was confined, and normal daily activities were not something she partook of. The woman would not go out into society, would not work, often would not bathe. People came to her in her sacred space, and worked around her.

In a way, I can see that going to hospital BECAME the new sacred space. Also, in a society that seeks to be painfree, and risk free, giving birth became a new form of initation. While much of birth CAN be painfree these days, the RISKS of giving birth have be exasserbated - almost as a remedy to the new deficiency of pain... Birth is still an initiation rite in today's modern, Western society. The woman is still being taken to a "sacred space" - the hospital. This doesn't mean she is taken away for a beautiful experience - remember initiation is about proving oneself...

So, ok, here I am planning my homebirth, and part of me is wondering how to make this space at home a sacred space. Here at home, I can do everything. I can work from here, I can shop from here, I clean and cook here. Like so many of my homebirthing peers, I have friends and doulas who will help out, but unlike women 100 years ago, I will still need to get out of bed, probably in the first day or so, and "go back to normal life".

Being in hospital, I'd have an excuse for not doing that. I simply would not be at home.

Being at home may not mean having a sacred space at all... It might mean living life as ever, then having a baby one night, and then going right back to the same old, same old - cooking, cleaning, wiping snotty noses, thinking about work, shopping and all that other stuff that little by little eats away at the sacredness of producing new life from my own body...

I wonder if other modern homebirthers ever feel this way...

Comments

Stitch Sista said…
You definitely have to make a bigger effort to *not* go back to normal life if you birth at home. And have your support network set up that way.

It can be hard to achieve though for sure. Although in my recent hospital experience (all 12 hours of it after N's birth), it wasn't much fun babymooning in a ward with a couple of other mums either yk? So I think if you were to have your own room in hospital it might be ok, but if you have to share then not so much...
katef said…
Hmm interesting thoughts...

I don't have any issues with home birth but I have personal issues with 'birthing in my home'... and I struggle to sort out exactly why, but I think this is part of it.

Going to 'hospital' is kind of 'special' because it is different, out of the ordinary, you get treated as 'special'.... even in the lead up, visiting my OB made me feel 'special' in a way I guess.

I'm not so worried about things getting back to normal... that was one thing that I didn't like so much about hospital last time - that afterwards I wasn't in my own bed at home with my girls... but then we stayed one night (no including the night he was born) and then went home and it was ok.... hmm.. interesting... you've got me be thinking now LOL
Baby Keeper said…
Hey, showers (water)seem to be a sacred space ... shower and tub, that is a place where I also often have these ah-ha moments.

I gave birth four times in hospitals and I am an advocate of homebirths. I am a fierce advocate for the baby and I see that very people in our society even consider that birth is sacred at all. The medicalization of our bodies have robbed us of that from birth to death.

What came to me reading your post is that your WOMB is the sacred place -- your baby is a soul coming into this world through YOU and your partner -- you are both sacred, but big-time, wow, your WOMB is sacred. In healing birth trauma and other traumas, women often have a lot of healing to do around the womb -- honoring her womb and the heart and uterus connection. You are the sacred vessel through which this soul comes ... home or hospital.
Being in the hospital makes it hard, if not impossible, to remember that ....

Start from the inside out in creating your sacred space .... baby will guide you, too, I believe.
Sif said…
Thanks for the replies :).

Rach, you made a good point about being on the ward vs. having a room to yourself in hospital. I've never been on a ward with my babies. I do go public, but because of my sight, I've always wangled myself a single bed room - so I don't have to negotiate my way around other people and their stuff with my baby.

Though, saying that, even now I'm remember that I could not WAIT to get home after Bryn's birth because all the noises and goings on in other rooms broke into my headspace all the time...

But Kate, I do know what you mean about "specialness". This might sound a bit childish, but I haven't felt very special this pregnancy, because everything is so, so private and "at home" - gosh, that sounds terrible... I feel like people sometimes forget I'm pregnant because no one "in a white coat" calls me into a foreign room and tries to convince me their way is better than mine...

Maybe I'm suffering from, I'm going to have a baby and no one will even notice...

Doesn't help that my parents are planning a holiday when I'm due, and Dave's parents don't even know I'm having a baby. Oh, now where did THAT pity party come from??? Rofl, no wonder I'm not really connecting with all of this, I'm still too focused on external recognition, and I only really have fleeting glimpses of the sacredness of my womb and the inner experience...
cesca said…
Interesting! I've never had a hospital birth, so I can't really see that point of view, but I do know that for both of my homebirths I gave myself a full two weeks of being pampered like a queen!

It was very easy for me to do this, as I'm an innately lazy person who loves to loll about in bed anyway, but I truly didn't get out of bed for two weeks following both of my babies' births. My husband and mother did all the cooking and cleaning and they looked after the older child when I had my second. I just luxuriated.

So maybe you have to MAKE your own rules then? :-)
Sif said…
LOL, cesca, that sounds divine. Unfortunately, Dh can't go to work and be at home to entertain Bryn - aka, destructo boy (as off today, there's a whole new post in that, haha)... With two school aged kids, and a three year old, and Dh having to keep working, while I'll be taking it as easy as I can, and I know I'll have some practical support from my doulas where they can (they also have two and three children at a variety of different ages), two days might be doable, but not two weeks...

But I probably need to think laterally and see what I can do to otherwise minimise dependency on me...
Oh Sif I completely get where you're coming from here. If we do move to Adrlaide and I birth at home I know I will really grieve that amazing bubble time at the hospital where you have nothing to do but cuddle the bub and decide whether or not to have another cuppa. I LOVE all of that, and I know just wrt who I am and some of my hangups I will feel uncomfortable about doing that at home. I'll get up cook and do laundry immediately after the baby arrives- coz it is my space to do that stuff and UI don't like anyone messing about in MY space. It is a huge thing I'm going to have to examine and plan around.

Love and hugs Sif. It will all come together. :D

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