Who Needs A Destination Wedding? I Got My Destination Birth!
(Saman had the birth of her dreams, even though an intervention was required.)
In her own words...
"I remember when I was a little kid and anyone would ask me what I wanted to become when I grow old, my answer almost inadvertently would be - a mother. I want to become a mother when I grow up..
My fascination for pregnancy only grew as I came of age. A professor at College asked me once where my mind was when the lecture was going on, and I unhesitatingly asked her how she took a turn while sleeping with such a big belly. I was clearly fascinated by pregnancy and couldn’t wait to experience what I thought was the biggest miracle of life - to have a life inside of you.
Karan and I fell in love instantly. It never occurred to me that we came from very different backgrounds (religion, cities, education) but felt a connect so deep that it was difficult to comprehend or explain. We went with the flow, no questions asked. We both believed in not planning but living life intuitively and things always took the most beautiful turn, reasserting our faith that not only things are destined, but also that we create our own reality by being aware and making conscious choices.
One fine Tuesday we decided to get married and by Friday we tied the knot at my house, in the august company of all the people close to me. When I look back it all seems so unreal - how everything worked out just fine and we knew that this was just the beginning of the most amazing journey of our lives.
The moment we found out that we were expecting, our happiness knew no bounds. Suddenly everything became so clear in our heads and we geared up to experience it in its purity. And that's when life took a new turn. I read a book called ‘Spiritual Midwifery’ by Ina May Gaskin and I saw it as a sign that I must ensure that this child comes to this world in the ‘right’ way. The child had chosen us as parents, our first task was to ensure that the baby enters the world healthy and happy.
During a workshop on Quantum Physics, I came across a person who introduced me to the idea of Lotus Birth - where you don't cut off the umbilical cord of the baby to detach it from the Placenta which has nurtured it for all this while inside the womb. This sudden disconnect is traumatic for the child. Instead, you wait for it to come off on its own which may take 3-10 days. This also has many physical and spiritual benefits. When I tried looking up for institutions which facilitated lotus and water birth in India, I came across only a few names on the internet but the idea at first seemed too far fetched. I lived in Delhi - the capital of the country, with grand institutions and all kinds of medical facilities and if I told anyone that I wanted to move to another city to birth, I would've been ridiculed and the idea condemned. So I started looking hard for an alternative in the city itself.
Over the course of my entire pregnancy, I met more than a dozen doctors. In fact, every time I went to a new doctor and I tried all sectors - private clinics, government hospitals, Christian hospitals but none of it 'felt’ right. But at every step of the way, I kept wondering why the most natural thing in the world had been made to look like the most complicated and difficult one to accomplish. My father was the youngest of twelve siblings and they were ALL born at home. Then how come within a span of thirty odd years everything had changed so much. I decided that I would have my baby at home but wasn't sure how. I started looking for a midwife desperately and found only one who was 75 years old and lived in a small slum of the city. Karan and I went to meet her at home where she lived in a tiny little room. She didn't have a phone and lived with only the basics. If we were to call her during labour someone will have to actually go to her house and bring her over as there was no other way of communication. She had worked in a hospital as a nurse but worked as a midwife informally and had delivered hundreds of babies over a span of forty years. We liked her. She spoke with much enthusiasm and I would've liked to have her assist me in my delivery at home rather than going to a hospital. But there were some flipsides. For one, no one in my family was supportive of this idea. My father agreed with me in spirit but he too thought it was impractical and involved too much risk. Also, the midwife said if there's any complication during the delivery we will have to go to some hospital. So again, where would we go? And the traffic and chaos of Delhi would only add to our troubles. Also, the midwife was slightly patriarchal in her views and kept wishing that I had a boy. She would also not allow Karan to be around while I'm birthing as 'whats a man gotta do there?’, and warned me not to 'get too close’ with my husband - now all these things were not up to my heart's content so I continued to pray to the Almighty to show me the way. Then I came across a spiritual gynaecologist who was more aligned with my thinking and it felt she could just be the perfect person to facilitate this. We then tried to bring together the resources and put our heads together to find a place where I could birth. But to no avail. Another problem was that she was to travel abroad around the same time as my expected date of delivery.
Now what? The clock was ticking and as much as I didn't want to panic I was being told that I need to decide on a doctor fast and get myself registered as they wouldn't take a 'patient’ at the last minute.
And so I finally wrote to Birth village. They asked me to send all my reports so far and my diet chart and I was asked to fix up an appointment with Priyanka on Skype. At the assigned time of appointment, Priyanka was in Germany where she was invited by Midwifery Today to receive a lifetime achievement for her 'service to mother and baby’. Even though she was travelling she took out the time to be on a call with me and explained everything to me in detail and patiently answered all my questions. Since I was quite advanced in my pregnancy when I got in touch with her she asked me to send an ultrasound of the baby as they would take me in at this stage only if it was an ‘uncomplicated pregnancy’. So I did send her the reports within the next two days after which she asked me to fly down to Cochin immediately.
I spoke to my parents and surprisingly they agreed without much ado. My mother and a cousin accompanied me and my husband to Kerala where my father joined us after a few days. We found a nice place on rent which was some 15 minutes away from the birth centre and walking distance from the workout classes.
As soon as I entered Birthvillage it felt like a small, intimate place where I could feel safe. As soon as we walked in we saw all the walls adorned with the photographs of the many babies who were born there. Everyone greeted me with warmth and a smile, and received me in a way that I felt that they were waiting for me, I felt wanted and cared for from the start. As if it was not just about me. They were as thrilled about this baby as I was! Anyway, I was a little nervous as I thought I'd lost precious time and that I may not be able to prepare adequately before actual birth but my midwife said something that helped me regain my confidence - that I should not worry about the past and take it from here, where we are. I attended all of my Lamaze classes. We covered different topics such as the different stages of labour, the comfort positions I could explore with my partner when I would be in labour, breastfeeding, postpartum - everything that helped me regain my confidence and believes that I could not only just pull it off but actually do it well. Every time they would touch my belly they would seek my consent. They would ask me about my dream birth plan, how I'd like it to be and that they will ensure that it goes the way I hope and expect it to go and only better.
All my emotional upheavals were beautifully addressed. My midwife's touch was special. It felt like the baby responded to her as soon as she would place her hand on my womb. I knew it right away that I'd come to the right place.
Then started the most exciting part of my pregnancy - Donna's workout classes. I can't explain how enthused I was to break a leg at those morning sessions. Dancing was something I thoroughly enjoyed but had missed all this while. Grooving to the tunes, I could be in a place of sheer bliss. I was most active in the last month of my pregnancy and have the fondest memories of it. I'd go for walks and it was just so refreshing to be so close to nature. While at first the idea of moving to another state only to birth seemed foolish, I'd say it was THE best decision of my life. I would tell my friends that people have a destination wedding while I was here to have my destination delivery.
I was hoping for the baby to come sooner than my EDD and as I was nearing the date I started panicking a bit. When I shared my apprehensions with my midwife, she told me a few things very categorically - 1. It's the baby that will decide when s/he wants to come out. 2. I'll be a mother for the rest of my life but these nine months will never come again and so instead of just waiting impatiently for the baby to come I should do fun things, explore the city et al. 3. I may not get a time like this with my husband again so I should make the most of it - 'remember, what gets the baby in, is what gets the baby out’. Laugh. Love. Live. To the fullest and that's the best thing you could do for your baby right now.
And thus began another wonderful phase of our relationship. And I wouldn't hesitate in saying that that one week before we had our baby was one of the most beautiful and fun time I enjoyed with my husband that laid a solid foundation for the rest of our journey ahead.
I took my midwife's advice so seriously that on my expected due date we were on our way to the hills of Munnar! Once
we passed the 40-week mark we were duly informed about the possibilities and implications of waiting beyond the due date. Normally institutions in India will not wait it out and would induce labour but we decided to wait. And exactly after a week at midnight, I started getting my contractions. During the workout, we were told that in between every contraction we should learn to relax, rest and sleep. Karan had mastered the skill and through the night with every contraction I had him rubbing my back and in between snoring away to glory! Around 5 in the morning we went to the birth village. My midwife checked how much I'd dilated and this was my first physical exam and I used to be scared of the ‘moment when someone puts their hand inside my vagina’ but I have to admit that when she checked me, it was so smooth that it was over before I knew it. 4 cm, she said. 6 more to go. She asked me to go back home and wait till it becomes unbearable - contractions every five minutes lasting for a minute. At around 9 am I felt the need to come back to the village. This time when she checked I had dilated 7 cm. And then started the active workout. I was climbing the stairs, doing squats, lunges, using the rope to push, trying on the bed, trying different positions. In a couple of hours, I expressed my desire to get into the pool. My midwife said we should wait till the moment I have an urge to push. I insisted. She then asked me to do some more exercises before I did.
Around 2 o'clock I went inside the pool. I was already tired by then and labouring in the water came as much-needed relief. The span between contractions increased to about 15 minutes and in between both I and Karan were able to catch on some sleep. All through my labour Ani was there to look out for me. She would keep giving me water and dry nuts to stay hydrated and maintain the stamina. I was listening to Surah Rehman from the Qur'an and being inside felt surreal and peaceful. Certain weightlessness that felt rejuvenating. After three odd hours, it was time to come out of the water. When we checked this time, I was all 10 cm dilated at around 5 pm. Now the baby could come out at any moment. But it wasn't able to. It took us another couple of hours to realise what the problem could be. Apparently, I have an extremely strong perineal muscle that the baby was not able to push it's way out. Now the next task was to loosen up the muscle and so we tried many new different manoeuvres. My midwives never left my side and very patiently were working with me to help through the birthing process. Karan was there to hold my back through every contraction. I wasn't in labour alone. All four of us were doing it together, we worked as a team. They poured some hot water on my belly for relief, kept my spirits alive and Karan comforted me every second. I sought help and strength from the Almighty. At around 11 pm I started losing the contractions. To be able to push I needed them to last at least a minute but it would end in 40 seconds. I was so tired that I needed to be finally put on IV (glucose alone without epidural or any other medicine). They rubbed oil on my belly. We could see the baby's curls, crowning had begun but the muscle was still preventing the baby to make a move. Baby's heartbeat was being monitored at every step of the way and it felt good. Even though I was losing strength, it seemed that the baby was determined to come out and was not in stress. It was already past midnight. I remember that I didn't cry or shout during the entire period but I was in a very different headspace. I was completely zoned out. And it's then that I saw my midwife lean over me and explain a situation. She said the muscle is so strong that we're left with only two choices - either go for an episiotomy (where they would make a small cut to help the baby come out) or I'd need to be taken to a hospital nearby where the doctors would use forceps to pull the baby out. She asked me what is it that I wanted. (What's amazing is that even in such a situation I was at the center of it all, it was my choice - empowerment through every sense of the word). I told her “ We have chosen you. We trust you. Do as you deem fit.” And so the decision was taken. They were going to perform an episiotomy.
Within a few minutes, all the tools were brought in and the cut was made and whoosh came out the baby! Wow. It cried. They laid the baby on top of me. Another ten minutes and I pushed the placenta out. Meanwhile, as they were stitching me up I was holding my baby. We still didn't know if it was a boy or a girl and I kept asking my midwife - to which she casually said 'pick the baby up and see for yourself’. We'd already decided on the names, it would be Kabir for a boy and Kaira for a girl. Although all along I intuitively knew it was going to be a girl. Karan and I were the first ones to see that Kaira had finally arrived in our lives. They gave me a glass of hot chocolate to drink and I lay there with Kaira on top of me and Karan next to me on the bed and were left to be in that moment uninterrupted for the rest of the night. I nursed Kaira and Karan slept like a baby after 25 hours of hardcore labour which we undertook together.
Next morning I had a nice cup of coffee with some fresh idli. Chechi helped me with a bath. Bincy came and wiped clean the baby, noted down the weight, height, head circumference and other details, helped us prepare the placenta (lotus birth) where Karan used many essential oils and rock salt to wrap it up. My midwife came to meet us and bonded with the baby. To my surprise she sounded apologetic and said “I'm really sorry Saman, you didn't have a birth of your dreams” and I was like 'what?! This was better than anything I'd ever imagined!' Sure, I thought I'd have a water birth but it's the baby who decides how and where and when it wants to come out. I wasn't upset about the episiotomy either. It's not like Karan and I was against medical intervention. It's just that we wanted to be in a place where we felt safe that these tools will only be used when absolutely necessary. What mattered to me the most was that in spite of being in the most vulnerable situation I was made to feel that the freedom and power to make a choice was still with me. There was some strike and we were unable to book a cab so my midwife sent her own car to drop us home.
Bincy then would come home to check up on me and the baby over the next few days. Chechi came to give me the most amazing massages and give the baby the first ceremonial bath once the umbilical cord came off on its own on the 7th day.
We were in Kerala for another three weeks before we flew back down to Delhi.
Kaira is four months now and I have a few things to share. She was an alert baby from the moment she was born. She had her eyes wide open from the first day itself. Her neck became fairly stable by the first week and she never suffered any jaundice or loss of weight, she rarely cries, there's something so calm about her demeanour, she can lie down quietly for hours together, she's a happy social baby, goes to everyone, she even responds to her name already and if you were to play the “who blinks first game” with her you're bound to lose. She could look at you straight in the eye with a look that makes her appear wiser much much beyond her age. A pleasant surprise to anyone she meets. Most certainly the way a child enters this world has a significant, and lasting impact on their lives. We can't thank Allah enough for this blessing and to our families who stood by us even if it meant we did something against their preferences and of course to the whole Birthvillage team, for existing as a space, an alternative to the crazy medicalization of the birthing process.
Believe you can, and you Will!
A Birth That Erased The Memory Of The First One!
Surekha shares her birth story of her second baby:
When my hubby and I found that we were pregnant the second time, it was totally unexpected and I was really depressed since I had delivered my first son just one year previously, in Coimbatore.
My first experience of birth – with my oldest, I didn’t like the way I delivered him. So I actually wanted to try homebirth for the second one but my husband dint like the idea. Then I heard of BV and shared this information with my husband. He said ‘ok’, but I could see that there was still hesitation in him. After a while, he somehow accepted it and told me to book an appointment – and after he meets them, if he is ok with the process there, then we would continue.
It was with some amount of hesitation that we went to BV. But then we met Ginju, who welcomed us with a big smile and explained the methods followed. We met the senior midwife, and it all went well. My hubby was totally ok with their processes and how they approached birth and said that if I am ok to continue with them, then we would continue with BV.
Next came the stage of explaining this to the elders in our family. My father in law being a doctor didn’t like the idea of natural birth, they said it wasn’t safe and were quite scared about the whole issue. But my husband was supportive of me till the end. For the next appointment, we were told that Priyanka would meet us in Coimbatore itself since they had prenatal appointments starting in our city. At each and every visit, she cleared all our doubts and was so patient in explaining everything to us. When it came to Lamaze and workout sessions I couldn't attend any ánd thought I would attend these classes when I reached Cochin.
At last, the day came for us to shift to Cochin on Nov 27th. We reached there, and on the next day had an appointment. My midwife was a little disappointed that we hadn’t attended any classes and she told me that she would take the class whenever she has time. On the following Sunday, I had my workout class.
On Friday, my husband had to leave to Coimbatore as he had work, and I said ‘ what if the baby comes out when you are away?’ He consoled me and left, promising to be back on Sunday. On Saturday 2 pm my water broke. I informed my midwife and she told me not to worry, to wait till I had contractions that last for one full minute and repeated itself in five minutes regularly. She said, ‘We’ll see who’ll arrive first – Baby or baby’s dad’.
My little one waited until his dad arrived. We informed our in-laws. My father in law told me to go to the hospital or else I would get infections, as water had broken. When I told my hubby about this, he told me to switch off my phone. I wanted to divert my mind, and so went shopping with my mom and my older one. I had irregular contractions but I didn’t mind it. My hubby arrived at 9 pm, and after that, my contractions started to become regular. My midwife was in touch with me the whole time.
After 2 am the pain was getting intense and my husband helped me with every contraction. At 5.30 am, I called my midwife and said I was coming to the centre. At home, everyone was sleeping, and I woke my brother up to drive us there. I needed my husband to help me with the contractions. When we reached BV, my midwife welcomed us with a smile even though they hadn’t slept the whole night. My pains were getting so intense...and once I felt like pushing, they got me to get inside the pool of warm water. That made me so much more comfortable. Since I hadn’t got a chance to attend any of the classes, my midwife instructed me and helped me with changing positions and the pushing. But I became so tired in pushing...and it was then that I got a hot cup of coffee. I drank that, and soon, my little champ was out at 6:30 a.m.
Neither my baby nor my hubby was separated from me. As soon as we shifted to the bed, I started breastfeeding and then we had delayed cord cutting done by my husband, with trembling hands. The hot chocolate that I got was soo refreshing! After a tiring birth, I had no strength ...after all that pushing, but that drink cheered me! At 12 pm I was given a bath by chechi, which made me refreshed totally. But from then till now, we both have skin to skin at least once a day. And my hubby and I totally love and remember each and every moment of this birth! I don’t even remember what the first birth was like now...
From Bed Rest To Power Birth!
Here is Padma Priya's powerful narrative of her pregnancy and natural birth.
One of the most medicalised natural phenomena in the modern world is that of human pregnancy.
Prior to Birth Village
"I have always known myself to be a healthy individual and strongly believe in the fact that “You are what you eat and how you move”.
So when I got pregnant, and was told by an institutional care provider to be on bedrest and not to move except to the restroom, given a progesterone injection once a week, for the reasons that I have had a previous miscarriage and a sub-chorionic bleed, being pregnant was becoming so much less enjoyable and I was gaining weight rapidly. The
care provider was not willing to answer/ explain many of our questions around pregnancy either.
I changed to another care provider, who disregarded
the sub-chorionic bleed, said that I could travel, but given the first miscarriage, was enforcing a very expensive genetics test - even though my previous genetics tests were all normal. I was extremely frustrated with my experience with hospitals. To add to all this, there is a
whole lot of pregnancy myths that your relatives carry around. Having already heard about Birthvillage from my friends, I had an appointment there in my fifth month.
With Birth Village.
I had prepared myself for the appointment with all the questions that I had and shared all the medical tests etc. My first consultation was over skype with Priyanka. I was listened to carefully and my questions were all answered patiently. After affirming that my tests were all normal, and explaining why I don’t need to be on progesterone just
because my first pregnancy was a missed abortion, we started working on my diet and exercise to keep my glucose levels under check. I ate the right food, did a minimum 30 mins of walking and 200 steps a day.
And every time I connected with my midwife, the first thing she made sure of was that I ate the right food and exercised consistently and rightly so. I also attended the Lamaze classes with my partner, and we were provided with very useful information that was very valuable
throughout pregnancy and labour.
At around 36 weeks, I moved to Cochin and started attending Donna’s workout classes. Until then I had worked out using online sources, but Donna’s workout was of a whole different league. After 1.5 hours of dancing, squatting, yoga and meditation, you would forget all your pregnancy aches and stiffness and feel so good. The fun part was working out with my mom for the first time ever in one of those sessions. So after around 3 weeks, of workouts, appointments and walking around Cochin, we couldn’t wait to have the little one. At around 39 weeks, I was having a little intense Braxton Hicks contractions while on my regular walks. On 13th Feb, at around 12:30
a.m. I started having contractions, sort of like stomach pain with a bowel movement. I had an urge to pass stools and I did.
This sensation was regular and I started timing it. It started out at 5-7 mins apart for around 30 seconds. Meanwhile, I had messaged my midwife, and the pain was gradually increasing in intensity. I just lay down with music in my ears and was definitely not able to sleep. I then moved out of the bed and was on the ball for a while. My mom who was next to me realised I wasn’t sleeping and woke up. I didn’t want to tell her I’m in labour until I was absolutely sure I was in active labour. But she figured out and gave me some milk to drink.
At around 5:30 the contractions were stronger. I wasn’t able to bear them. My mom poured some hot water on my back and we placed hot water compress on the back during the contractions. I was talking pretty normally in-between contractions. My midwife had messaged me to ensure that I could feel baby’s movements which I did and asked me to come to Birthvillage anytime I felt the contractions were not manageable.
My husband was just then reaching Cochin. When he reached at around 7:00 am in the morning, the pain had intensified further and was persisting longer - for around 60 seconds. My mom and husband made sure I was fed and hydrated regularly with tender coconut water and nuts. We took out the comfort measures sheet and tried different positions during contractions to ease the pain. Being on my hands and knees worked for me. At some point, my mom suggested I put my hand on her shoulder during the contractions. They were so intense that I cried aloud on my mom’s shoulders. My mom knew it was time to go and my husband messaged the midwife that we were coming. Thereafter I was vocalising my pain during every contraction.
My husband insisted that I eat and fed me a dosa, as he knew very well from the classes that I needed energy for later in my labour. My brother, husband and mother quickly had breakfast and we left to Birthvillage. I dreaded managing contractions during the 15 min drive to birth village. I made my husband play my favourite track
in loop during the drive to keep myself distracted and was holding his hand very tight.
Once we reached Birthvillage at around 9:00 am, the birth room was ready. I was on my knees on the floor and my hands and head on the cot. My pressure was checked and the baby’s heartbeat was monitored frequently and they were both good. By now, I started having an urge
to push during every contraction. I passed urine and probably some stools in one of those pushes. A couple of contractions later I heard a loud gush and my water broke. (Later my midwife told me there was some meconium in the water) We proceeded as the baby and I was doing fine from the checks (This would not have been possible in a hospital). I then got into the pool with warm water. My husband held me from under my hands and during contractions, I was pushing in a low wide squat.
My midwife was encouraging me all the while saying I was doing good and the baby was also happy inside.I n between the contractions, I was relaxing and doing high marches to help the baby descend downwards. The head was visible in a couple of pushes though I couldn’t really identify it when asked to feel with my hands. I asked the midwife, how many more pushes to go
Finally in one single last push at 10:09 am my baby was out fully. She was so beautiful and was put on my chest. Hugging her in my hands, I heard myself saying, “Oh my baby, you are so tiny, so cute, you look like me”. That moment of ecstasy is simply hard to explain and is like nothing else and my husband was looking at the both of us in joy. Oh, how at that moment we became a family of three. We then shifted to the cot, did skin to skin with the baby during the golden hour and tried feeding her the colostrum. I delivered the placenta in around 15 - 20 mins after birth and had a sweep to remove blood clots in my uterus. My tear was examined and I had a single stitch. We spent the rest of the day on the cot with the baby on us.
My labour was relatively quick, I was completely aware of and prepared for what was happening to me during
the whole process.
Post-baby, Bincy made sure we were doing well with respect to breastfeeding and postpartum healing. Breastfeeding was not easy for me and her immediate support (on everything related to postpartum) over the phone at any time during the first few weeks have been incredible and invaluable.
When we left Birthvillage, I told my amazing midwife, “I would not have had my birth any other way or anywhere else”. I completely enjoyed my last few days of pregnancy and labour. The overall experience is unparalleled majorly because of the personal connection you are able to establish with everyone at Birthvillage and also with the families coming in for the workout and delivery.
And I strongly think every woman should be given an opportunity to experience the power of birth, equipped with all the right knowledge around it and without being confined to the bed or put on unnecessary medications.
Many thanks to Priyanka, Donna, Bincy, Ani, Ginju and the whole team at Birthvillage for an amazing birthing experience."
Padma Priya Srinivasan
Sandeep Ravi Jakathe
- Happy Birthday, Suvedh!!!
Prema recounts her story from exactly a year ago - and shares how even though her circumstances called for difficult situations to be made, and even not being able to share with her mother that she was pregnant - were things that she journeyed through purely because of the focus that she had about what kind of a Birth she wanted. Here is a lady who did things that many would have been unable to. Hats off to your initiative and resolve Prema! May you be an inspiration and support to many!
"My journey towards BirthVillage for the delivery of my baby started five years back. After marriage, I was considering options for birth control and was suggested to take pills by a gynecologist whom we met. But she told I should take it only for two years and that I should plan to have a baby soon as I was already quite old (I was 28 years old then). I had to relocate to Kuala Lumpur as my husband got an onsite opportunity there. I left my job and joined him to stay there. Before taking the pills I wanted to just google the side effects if any. And to my surprise, I read only negative reviews everywhere. I decided not to take them and compromise my reproductive health, as I didn’t want to suffer later. I returned them to the chemist at my next visit to India.
In the meanwhile, I read a lot about natural family planning methods and while reading more about the topic, came across natural birthing pages. I immediately recalled watching a natural birthing scene in the movie Wanderlust and immediately thought that it was the best way to birth – without any unnecessary interventions. I searched about natural birthing centres in India and I found one in Goa. I thought whenever we decide to have a child, this is the place I would choose for birthing. I read a lot about midwifery and was happy that there was an option available in India to exercise my choice.
Fast Forward 5 years, I found out I was pregnant through a home test. I immediately did a beta HCG test to check if it was a false positive. We searched the best available care providers in the vicinity and scheduled an appointment. I found out I was around 7 weeks pregnant and the care provider was not happy with me asking her so many questions. She said we - the internet generation, google too much and that’s the reason for my questions. I did not like the fact that she didn’t take my questions and reacted in such an unexpected way. My questions were left unanswered.
By this time, I had started searching for natural birthing centres in India and found two viable options. One was The Sanctum in Hyderabad and the other BirthVillage in Cochin. The Goa centre was closed. Somehow, the birth stories on BV page inspired me a lot and I contacted them through email. I got a very friendly response from Ginju, who heads the administrative unit in BV. She scheduled an appointment with Priyanka, the co-founder and midwife at BV. She talked to me and my husband over Skype and cleared all our doubts regarding us being outstation clients and how things would be. She was very polite, understanding and didn’t ever consider any of our doubts ‘silly’. She had the patience to handle all our questions without any hesitation. She asked me to be in touch with a careprovider in Bangalore for time being, till I move to Cochin.
I found another careprovider, who had good reviews on Practo. After going there, I told her about the gastric problem I was facing and slight nausea which was troubling me in the evenings. Immediately she wrote a prescription for Pan-D to be taken every morning along with a very high dose of Folic acid tablets. She did a scan to confirm whether the pregnancy was viable or not. All was well, but I was not happy with taking those tablets which she prescribed as I had done my blood work before going to her and my folate levels were good enough. I didn’t want to take supplements if they were not required. When I mentioned this to my midwife she told me none of those tablets were required and gave simple home and lifestyle remedies to cope with the gastric issue. Diet guidelines were given and asked to be strictly followed. After that, we had Skype appointments every month to discuss the ongoing pregnancy and any issues I faced. She gave me confidence and comfort, which was much needed during those times of initial months.
We visited Cochin in the fifth month of my pregnancy just to get comfortable with the Cochin environment. We made a small holiday plan and visited Vypin Island before visiting BV. Donna welcomed us with her warm smile and spoke to us about BirthVillage, explained in detail about their policies, showed us the birthing rooms.. yeah they were called birthing rooms and not as wards. I also liked the fact that unlike Bangalore clinics and hospitals they don’t use the word 'Patient' for the mother. I really wonder why everywhere they make us fill ‘patient name’ when we go for pregnancy checkups. We are not a diseased bunch of people. Motherhood is a fairly normal part of women’s lives and it should not be treated like any illness.
Priyanka made me stay up to date with the checkups in Bangalore and never made me take up any unnecessary scans. Even the Amma Scan centre which they refer in Cochin has a very humble doctor. He is to the point when it comes to scan, doesn’t scare us with unnecessary thoughts like they do here in most major institutions. In my 36th week scan, there was one loop of cord around baby’s neck. He never made an issue out of it and told me all is normal. In Bangalore, that would have resulted in a c-section. By the way, when baby was born, the loop of cord was not present.
I moved to Cochin around my 34th week of pregnancy. It was quite an adventure getting into the train. I reached train station five minutes before the departure of train. The porters whom I asked which platform is the Kanyakumari express departing from, scolded me that am still holding a discussion while the train is about to leave. Three of them immediately carried my luggage and ran towards the train.. I was running behind them trying to keep up pace with their speed sporting a pregnant belly. It was like Jab We Met scene.. Only difference was they made me get into train first and then they brought in all my luggage. The train started a minute later after I got in. My husband was all angry on me for being late while I was bursting into laughter thinking about how we had almost missed the train. Upon that he teased me for carrying a guitar in that situation. Later he relaxed and we slipped into sleep. I don’t know whether it was due to running that fast or the sleeplessness, I had period-like contractions the entire night. I was praying it would stop soon as BirthVillage would only allow me to birth there if I was beyond 36 weeks. Luckily the contractions stopped as soon as we stepped in for the Lamaze class. Priyanka, Donna, and Reba took sessions alternately and made us gain so much knowledge about the birthing process, potential complications and their solutions. My husband helped me get settled in the homestay and he left to Bangalore after two days.
I stayed by myself at the homestay whose owner kept wondering how I was going to manage things alone in an unknown city. But my midwife had instilled so much confidence in me, it hardly mattered to me when someone commented on how crazy I am taking such a decision. I chose to stay in Fort Kochi area as I loved to go to the beach and walk there every day. It was quite far from the city centre and I commuted using auto, bus, and cab to visit BV and to attend the Active Mamma classes. Donna’s workout classes were amazingly different from what I had thought. We were made to crawl, dance, walk like a duck, and what-not. It was all opposite of what usually people do elsewhere in the ninth month of pregnancy. She also made us meditate after the sweating sessions and it used to be so relaxing that I used to drift off to sleep sometimes. I used to feel so refreshed and energized after workouts, I used to often ask my midwife during checkup - why isn’t the workout scheduled every day? She used to tell me the days in between are for rest and instead of workout, she asked me to engage in other activities and keep myself engaged. She shared with me many possible places where I could go and learn something like a baking course at Eva’s Healthy Bakes and many other events happening in Kochi at that time. She made sure I was mentally occupied and not stressing about the oncoming birth. My midwives kept me healthy physically and made sure I was mentally sane during that crucial time.
My contractions started around a week before the actual birth. I didn’t want my husband to miss on the birthing of our baby so I called him to start from Bangalore. He reached Kochi on February 11th midnight. But to my surprise, after he came, the contractions stopped. His leaves were getting over and he was anxious about when the baby will arrive. He kept telling me that I have to give birth within that week and I used to ask him to have a conversation with the baby and make the request himself. By 16th February, 3 am, regular contractions started and I managed to rest for a while before telling my husband about it. I got fresh, made breakfast and by 11 am when the contractions were 5 mins apart decided to call BV. I was asked to come down if the same pattern continued for about an hour. I waited till 2 pm and when I thought it was getting pretty intense, I called in Bincy and told her that we are heading to BV. When we reached BV, my midwife was waiting for us with a warm smile and immediately I felt I am in safe hands now. She checked me for dilation and was told that I was about 5-6 cm dilated at that time. Funny thing about the dilation check was that I thought it will be done using a torch, that she would just glance across with the torch and tell me how dilated I was. My husband and my midwife started laughing when I mentioned that. The internal check was so easy, my midwife told me beforehand what she was doing, took my permission every time before touching me. It put me at ease and I felt no pain whatsoever. It was my first experience with an internal check and I did not feel any kind of discomfort. Such is the expertise of the midwife.
I was asked to take stairs, two at a time and look forward towards breaking my water bag or getting a pooping kind of pressure. I had neither happened any time soon and was pretty tired by around 10 pm. I was served with warm rice and moong dal porridge and I gulped it all down for energy. By this time another staff member at BV, kept giving me good massages at the back whenever there was a contraction and she heated the water for my hot water bag an endless number of times. When I was tired with the stairs, my midwife asked me to use the birthing ball for a few contractions. She asked me to get into the water pool for pain relief and I spent a good 2-3 hours in it and had almost dozed off. That was the only time I could relax a bit as I could sleep in between the contractions. By around 1 am, I got out of the pool and was again checked for dilation and told me I was around 7-8 cm dilated. I felt a bit disappointed but my midwife told me that was not of any concern. I was in too much pain, all hazy and I kept blabbering a lot. I don’t remember what all I talked, but remember my husband asking me why I was talking so much. I kept begging my midwife to break my waters so that labour would progress. She told me if the water is not breaking, it must be for a reason and refused to intervene unnecessarily. I was even begging for an epidural. She kept her cool and kept reminding me why I had come all over to Kochi for an unmedicated birth and told me that I was doing great so far. I was more concerned about them all being up without sleep for me and wanted to get the baby out soon. My birth team made me try various positions for contractions so that my water would break naturally.
At around 4.15 am my midwife again did a dilation check and told me I was a good 10 cm dilated. She even made me drink a black coffee around that time, and gave me a pep talk so that I would charge up mentally. After the coffee, with the very next contraction, my water broke with a loud pop as I was squatting using a birthing stool. I even pooped at that moment due to the intense pressure and no one present there looked at me with disgust. They just asked me to keep going with what my body feels like doing. I entered the pushing phase and started bleeding a little bit. My midwife worked to keep the bleeding minimal using the best possible positions. After every contraction, the baby’s heartbeat was monitored. So it was a combination of both for my midwife - keeping the baby’s heart rate at a good level and minimizing any damage I could be having, she was working really hard towards it. I would hug her when the contractions came and she would comfort me so lovingly. I can’t recall how many times I hugged her, but I do remember that she was always positive in spite of her loss of sleep. She kept smiling and listening to my long long stories. At some point, I got exhausted and ran out of energy and I was given IV fluids. Immediately I felt a surge in my energy levels and contractions became more intense. I was using the birth rope this time and was squatting down with every urge and my husband was behind, holding me and giving me physical support to bear down. Bincy was massaging me with essential oils and my midwife monitoring baby’s heartbeat. At some point she made me reach down and I felt baby’s hair and I was so much scared that my nails would hurt the baby, I touched it gently. I was not making any sounds till now - but my midwife asked me to do a grunting sound and explained to me how to push in the right way. After the baby’s head crowned, she asked me to bend forward and get into hands and knees position and within one next push, our baby was out! My midwife caught him and passed him under me to the other midwife’s hand so that it would be me who saw baby’s face first.
My baby filled the room with a loud cry as soon as he was out and he was made to lie on my skin to skin for the golden hour. After the cord stopped pulsing, my husband cut the cord and a few minutes later the placenta was out. My husband had an hour with the baby now in another room while I was being stitched for the natural tears I had. I was fed all the while on the bed- chocolate milk immediately following delivery, yummy idlis for breakfast and rice, sambar and beetroot curry for lunch. I was wanting to sleep so badly, but the adrenaline kept me up and I kept gazing at baby’s face often.. I was given a herbal bath by chechi and was discharged by evening.
Their service didn’t end here. We had home visits by Bincy for the third, fifth and seventh day. Me and my husband were overwhelmed with sleepless nights and were almost depressed. Her visits helped us a lot. She would counsel us on the pattern of the baby, tell us that it will be better soon and checked for baby’s wellbeing every time - his feeding patterns, his weight, heart rate and respiration. She made sure to address my emotional turbulence as I was feeling like crying everytime I saw my husband doing so much work for me. It was not easy for Ranju, he had never done it before and he had to study for his Diploma as well. All were taking a toll on him and it was making me feel really emotional inside. We had food delivered home everyday after spending months in finding a maid around fort kochi. The nearby Farmer’s Cafe owner was very friendly and they helped us a lot with the food during the next three weeks.
I wanted to mention one thing - I had read a review on the BV page previously where the person mentioned they were made to wait in BV for their first appointment and hence decided not to choose baby. I wonder how you would feel when you are in labour and the midwife leaves you and goes to meet another client for their due appointment. Their policy is very clear. Appointment can be cancelled or postponed if there is an ongoing labour. When a mom is in labour, it’s the most important priority for the BV team to be with her. So before judging, please do put yourself in other’s shoes and then comment. They do ask us to be on time for the appointments for the same reason. As they cannot predict when someone will go into labour.
My pregnancy had such a beautiful ending...thank you to Priyanka, Donna, Bincy, Ginju and all of the BV team.
Another thing I would like to mention - I chose to birth and have only my husband’s support during my Kochi stay. I had not informed my mother about my pregnancy as she is a Schizophrenic patient and had been recently rehabilitated and doing well after twenty years of suffering. Due to my particular circumstance, being on my own while my husband was in Bangalore during weekdays, was the only choice I had. But I understood that it was required if I wanted to have the birth of my choice, and therefore it did not faze me at all.
To my husband Ranju,
Thank you for being supportive of my choices, traveling to Kochi so often just because I was crazy enough to stay alone there and you were always worried about me and our baby. You were juggling between hectic office work, additional diploma study, and our pregnancy all at the same time. And yet you managed to sacrifice your precious gaming time on weekends and attended the Lamaze classes with me. I really appreciate how you changed your priorities just for our little baby. I so wanted you to be there for the entire duration of labour and BV made it possible for us. Thank you for tolerating 27 hours of labour and keeping me sane during that time. I remember you instructing me to breathe through the contractions and encouraging me during the pushing phase. Thanks for not giving up on me when I had given up on myself. You were there as my primary support during the first three weeks after birth, went out everyday to get lunch for the postpartum mother, took care of both me and the baby so well. I still remember how overwhelmed you were. I had never imagined in my life that you will work so hard for anyone, yet you did and proved me wrong. I had always called you as my prince charming who would never take up any petty work and there you were, washing baby’s clothes everyday by hand, making my hair, cooking jowar porridge for me every night. I still cant forget the initial days where you fed me food on the bed because baby wouldn’t leave me for a minute and I would be crazily hungry. I owe you this lifetime and many more for what you have done for me. Thank you for being there and fulfilling all my crazy and sometimes ridiculous demands.
Shubhra & Tarsh, thank you so much for giving me company at breakfast on my birthday. Sowbhakya, I really cherished the lunch at your home your father made. You are so blessed to have such a caring and loving father. Kiran, you were so full of energy at Donna’s classes. We used to miss you so much when you would not turn up for the class. I really miss working out with you awesome mommies! You guys are my extended family now..
As I complete this story, I realise it’s exactly one year back my labour was in progress and our little bundle of joy was on the way.. Our cutie pie Suvedh is completing one year on 17th February.
Prema S Rathod
Saying thank you to the BV team wouldn’t be enough. You guys gave me a lifetime of memories, a small little naughty monkey(I fondly call him my goojie bear) and a huge new family of BV moms. It’s such a great thing to have, to be connected with like minded people and empowering each other through the journey of motherhood."
Anvitha Pillai And Naveen Yadav Birth Story.
My tryst with BirthVillage started in April 2017 with our first appointment with Priyanka,
and I knew immediately I was in the right place when my husband and I walked into a little unassuming lane, into a beautiful traditional home, where the chechis would open the door with a warm smile and welcome you into a cozy dimly lit space that was radiating with positivity and warmth of newborn photographs, incense, a brass Villaku and a tall jar of cucumber infused water. Ginju, who ran administration would make sure we didn't have to wait more than a few minutes to meet our midwife. This was important for us because we knew how even the best hospitals would treat us as token numbers and make us wait for hours amid hundreds of dreary faces and and a vile aroma of disinfectant wafting out of their corridors.
Since then, every pre-natal appointment I've had with either of the midwives (Priyanka, Donna or Amy) were filled with a certain kind of ease, an ease of talking to your elder sister rather than a medical practitioner/healthcare provider. Every time I met Priyanka, she mustered up in me a deep sense of self and courage about my pregnancy. There were never any do's or don'ts listed. Just a general sense of joie de vivre prevailed during my entire pregnancy because of how wonderfully these women formed my state of mind. I could confide in her and voice any fear I had. It was here where I learnt that decided to have a baby without medical interventions meant it was important to embrace this time period with a certain kind of conviction that you were not a patient and nobody at BV will treat you that way. Because of this, I had a fairly comfortable 9 months without any kind of discomfort and I was encouraged to continue working till the every end. I even travelled by flight week after week for my shoots up till the 34th week, gallavanting through the streets of fort Cochin every sunday, took a trip with my girlfriends to Goa, even played basketball with wild abandon in my 9th month. All this while carefully maintaining a healthy diet which was of paramount importance. (of course, I had my occasional cheat day where I would tuck into a large pizza or cake).
What Priyanka did for me mentally Donna did for us physically with her absolutely smashing workout classes where we danced, stretched, yoga and generally released large amounts of endorphins for the baby and ourselves. These classes took place every alternate day and it flummoxed quite a few of my neighbors when they would see me walk back into my apartment in a sweat and workout clothing skimming my growing belly.
I also have to mention the lamaze classes which were a complete eye opener and made us question the status quo about the medical system, the prevalent trends and how one can amalgamate the best of traditional wisdom with the latest evidence based research. Having my husband part of every single class and appointment made me feel like we are having this baby together, it brought us closer and cemented our bond even further. He was so committed in taking care of my every need and he felt calm and confident about D-day because of how well he was prepped by these sessions.
Fast forward to exactly 40 weeks later, It was a Tuesday, which meant me waking up to Donna's workout class and it felt like just another regular day. No sign of an impending birth. I was feeling energetic post my class, but extremely heavy so I pretty much pottered around the home the rest of the day, reading copiously and busy making plans for where we should go for breakfast the next day. As I was falling off asleep at 10pm, I was rudely awaken by a strange sensation at 1am, which felt like a contraction, but the skeptic in me was trying to ignore it as just false labour. But then again, it came back like an unwanted visitor, and that's when I woke up my husband, Naveen and told him, this is a new feeling, and exactly like I was told, it was taking place in regular intervals of 15 minutes each with 45-60 seconds of pain. I wouldn't say it was particularly painful, but it was very much manageable. So I tried to go back to bed. After that, it got a little more intense and regular and that's when I decided I should call Priyanka and keep her informed. She picked up the phone immediately and carefully guided us on what to do next. Throughout our sessions, we were advised to labour at home as much as possible and come only when we cannot hold a conversation anymore. I took this advise seriously and told my husband that I didn't want to rush to the centre in the middle of the night. I wanted to see how long I could bear it by trying some of the breathing techniques and moves that were taught to us in our classes. Between all that swaying of my hips, breathing, and several trips to the rest room, the sun rose and it was 9am before I realized an entire night had passed. I told Naveen, the contractions are now one of top of each other and I think its time we leave.
We had a our suitcase packed in advance, and I remember telling Naveen that I wanted him to drive as calmly as possible and not get tensed. I breathed through them in the car and by the time I reached the centre, Priyanka and Donna met me with an easy smile, quickly checked how much I was dilated, (it was about 6cm) and then poof, I heard a sound, my water broke and that's when I entered into a state of some kind of trance, where I only remember how sleepy I was feeling and I was asked to jump into the pool and to start pushing. Now that was something I wasn't prepared for, as I visualized I had several hours before I could reach the pushing phase, so I was mentally not ready to meet my baby this quickly.
But as soon as I understood the midwives meant business when they were kept saying I was very close to the end, I decided that okay, I can rather fight the pain and extend my labour till tomorrow or embrace it and push my baby out in the next hour. The pool felt heavenly with the heated water comforting my back and muscles and I knew this is the place where I wanted to birth my baby no matter what.
When I decided to commit to the pushing, very quickly, the head of my baby started crowning. I was in disbelief when it happened. Priyanka asked me to put my hand down there and feel the head and I was shocked and in awe that I could already feel our kiddo transitioning to this new realm already. I pushed and pushed, and for a brief time, all I could see was some vernix and tissue coming out. This is when I my husband fed me an entire glass of black coffee and some coconut water and I was feeling a bit more vigor. These last few pushes were definitely one of the most physically challenging feats I've done in my life, but the only difference is that with every push, I felt more stronger and invincible. I felt I was crossing a rite of passage with every push. My husband tightened my grip over my arms while I was alternating between squeezing Priyanka's hand and Donna's and I was closing my eyes tightly, with my chin pressed downwards and roared the deepest, guttural sound I have heard out of myself and then sprang my baby into our arms. Priyanka caught the baby exactly in time and pressed him towards me and I was transfixed for a moment and Naveen who was holding me from the back just stared and we were rendered speechless. It took a while for us to process this gift of life we just received and at the moment. Our baby boy met my eyes with a complete calm in his and didn't make a single wail of help or cry, like I presumed. He looked content to finally meet his father and mother. That 15 seconds will go down to be the most sacred of our life, there is no photo or video of it but it is for us to treasure, and I can imagine Naveen and I gushing over that time fifty years down the line, when we are old and aged and still swoon over our little private moment.
A few minutes later, Donna gave me a cup of hot chocolate and my placenta was expelled while chugging it down. I still smile whenever I think of that warm cup of cocoa. Naveen cut the cord himself in 45 minutes. My baby's vitals were checked, I was checked for any dizziness and natural tear.
My baby was born at 12.55in the afternoon, three hours after I reached the centre and I was allowed to go home that very night with this little cherub along with his placenta which we have now buried in my grandmother's garden and soon, going to plant a sapling over it, so we always remember this tree of life.
As I sit down to write this on my 6th day since birthing my son, the wonder women at birth village continue to provide me with their amazing postpartum service, where Bincy, another lovely staff make home visits and constantly checking up on me, the baby and any kind of lactation support for us.
My midwives, especially Priyanka were and will continue to be my angels. My soul sisters. They are now just divine in my eyes and I still cannot understand how to thank them, as it seems too simple a word for what and more importantly how they made me achieve the most satisfying birthing experience I could ask for.
The Marigold Company
My story with birth village began almost 2.5 yrs back when Priyanka came to my workplace for an awareness session.
At the time I was just married and not thinking about having a child. But as a person allergic to almost all common painkillers and a bunch of other medicines, I was always worried about this event happening in life. I didn't know how to manage the pain if I had to go through a c-sec. And avoiding unnecessary medicines were a requirement for me. So decided to just hear out the session and explore the possibilities. I must say, I was impressed. She knew exactly what she was talking about. There was no beating around the bush and no false hopes. She told clearly how birth is a psychological and social event rather than a mere physical event and how each and everything we do or feel affects the birth of our child. She also talked about how BV helps the mother prepare herself for birth and how things are going to be under our control rather than a third person.
When I conceived, we were very clear on whom we wanted as our care provider. As soon as I reached 15th week, we called birth Village and scheduled our first appointment. The phase two of our journey started there.
In the first appointment, I mentioned about having tonnes of supplements. She suggested to have more iron-rich diet, this changed a lot how my day went. My husband and I went for every appointment together and attended every Lamaze together as suggested by BV. We went for workouts and couple workouts which used to fill some magical energy inside both of us and helped us feel that we can do this. Donna's energy during each workout kept us motivated and focused. We were very much happy with how everything was discussed with us and our decision was important. By the end of each Lamaze class, we both knew so much about pregnancy and birth, which we would have never known otherwise.
Everything was moving well and smooth, but suddenly something unfortunate happened in my family and drained all the positive energy from me. I should mention the special mental support my midwives gave me at this time. I went into a zone of doubts and fears and it was clearly visible in my appointments. They talked me through it step by step and gave me the strength to face it and kept reminding me how my mental well being is the most important thing for the little life growing inside of me. For every small doubt I had, she would call me and explain the details and support me thoroughly. I finally overcame the grief with the incredible support from them and my husband.
Everything moved well from that moment. I continued to work until my 38th week. I crossed my expected due date without even feeling so much as a pinch. In my appointment at 39th week, Donna had confidently told me I could go up to a week over my due date and it was fine as things were moving as expected.
Finally at 40 weeks and 3 days, as we were driving home after an enjoyable drumming circle event at BV. I started feeling mild contractions, but I dismissed them as my 'feeling' as I was in total disbelief that it had started. Throughout the night I felt the contractions which reached 10 min apart for 40-45 secs. I thought 'ok this is it' but wanted to wait for an interval to reduce further and I decided to try and sleep. By 6.30 in the morning I dozed off and I woke up at 8 am only to find that my contractions were gone. I was not feeling any pain anymore, but just some minor discomfort at large, irregular intervals. I decided to message my midwives and check anyways. She said it was completely normal and my body was preparing for labour.
That evening we were in the mood for a drive and me and my hubby decided to go on a drive by 6.30. Midway through our calm drive, the discomfort got intense and changed to contractions and climbed to 15 min interval- 40 sec contraction in no time.
We reached back home in half an hour and called up Our midwife . She told to wait till the contractions were 7 minutes apart and call her back. I called her back in another hour and she asked us to start to BV. We reached BV in another hour. Our midwives was already there, welcoming me with a smile, asking me how I was feeling at the moment.
She took my permission before a vaginal exam and assured me it wudnt hurt... As promised, it did not hurt at all. I was six cm dilated. She asked me to take half an hour to walk around and climb the stairs a few times, which I did. This made my contractions more intense. We started trying different positions and both my midwives were there, waiting patiently through each contraction. Helping me through the pain, asking me how each one felt. They kept moving me around, suggesting different positions and holding my hands through the pain.
After almost 4 hours , They told me to push harder and push down. She understood that I was stopping the pushing midway and kept asking me to go all the way down, same time not forcing me to do something I cannot. When each contraction passed, she told me how well I was doing and that kept me confident that I could do this. I have to say that at some point of other I doubted myself and it was my husband and My midwives who kept me going with their words and confidence.
Finally by early morning 4.35 am, my little girl slid all the way down and in one final push, she was out.
I was so happy I chose BV, when my lil angel was given in my hand the moment she was born. As soon as she was out my excited husband asked "boy or gal"" and My midwife said " see urself". That moment was priceless for us. She was on my skin for two hours and then she latched on with perfect ease. She was happy and healthy and so were we.
After giving me sufficient rest, my midwives talked to me for some time, making sure I was ok.
The bond we had with the midwives was the most helpful thing throughout my pregnancy. It never felt like I have to think twice before asking a silly question. It was not just my physical well being that concerned them. They also made sure I was emotionally well and prepared. The various activities and Lamaze classes were all stepping stones to the final day. I cannot thank BV and My midwives enough
Also special thanks to each and every member in BV. Special Thanks to Bincy who took care of me and waited on me whole day while I was resting.
Thanks a lot BV for making me special day even more special.
This mamma would often discuss about pain in labor and how she would handle it , she completly took a turnaround when she was super calm went mall through all her early stages of labor
Her husband a soft spoken man was the perfect labor companion as he knew what works best for her and was supportive from A to Z
She was able to open her darkest fears and able to let go and in the process emerged victorious herself .
Well done and congrats !
What Kind Of Work Do You Do In Your Pregnancy? Singing And Farming……
This is an answer that we rarely get on our forms and such a delight to learn on how this small yet fiercelystrong woman who traveled to us from Wayanad managed her pregnancy in a very unique way that probably mirrors what our grandmothers of yesteryear's did.
So many women talk about physical discomforts in pregnancy. Here’s someone who swam 45 minutes in the river every day all the way to her 9 months. Has never eaten anything other than what grew in her back yard. (This probably explains why she had a quick efficient labor and a very healthy postpartum)
Supported by a very quiet partner, as time drew close to have her baby, she was totally uninhibited. She hummed…. moaned and very gently birthed her baby. Despite hard moments, she surrendered to the flow with her man who ever so gently rubbed her belly during contractions and whispered to stay strong.
This birth wouldn't be complete by mentioning the hands-on strong support that her sister provided throughout her birth. We think you are amazing..!
And she went on have her son with the complete knowledge that her body knew what it was doing. True to their spirit, they also requested the placenta to be handed over to them so that they may honor it by planting it in their garden with a fig tree over it.
We bow down with respect and thank you for teaching us so much….
21 Hoops And An Angel
Strength, inner courage - this mum and dad has it all.Travelling from Chennai, this mum has proved her mettle in more ways than one. Happy to wait for labor to begin on its own, early labor with mild contractions saw this awesome couple play cards and then move into mall and window shop hand in hand She played her favorite sport at the video arcade ( shot 21 basketball hoops). With dosa, dahi vada and McDonalds veggie burger in, and back home andsettled in early to bed, only to wake with broken waters and active labor setting in at 2:30 am.Her doting husband without a wink of sleep massaged her back and throughout kept her morale up and gave her tonnes of much needed affection while Ludovico Einaudi was playing in the background. Close to noon, a pretty angel was born who looked around straight at her mum and dad as if to say “I am finally here"!!
This mum has clearly proven the following:
That age is not a criterion for having a natural birth. Waters with slight meconium wasn't dangerous, as her heart tones was steady throughout birth and she cried lustily at birth. Neither was a tight cord baby was born easily with it. A loud roar for trust and confidence that will take this family far.....
Vidhya and Arun Kumar
From Can I? To I Can!
One of the biggest queries of this mother prenatally was “How to manage pain in labor?”Little did she realize how strong she was in spirit and her body.She often would question before hand the use of all interventions, pros and cons and wanted to give birth naturally despite all worries. And one by one, each of these nagging thoughts left her by the time she entered her third trimester armed with information through Lamaze and well led prenatal appointments. A diligent professional at Info Park she continued working all the way up to the day she had her baby.
She woke up with a smile on her face, as she realized she had mild contractions. As she gushed on the phone “I feel so happy that this has begun". Not one to stop in her tracks, she continued cooking breakfast and went about her day, shopping, napping and then craving traditional kappa and meen. (Tapioca and fish curry)Her husband did not loose any time to buy fish and she proceeded to cook and have it with relish. Dinnerwas done and she was ready for bed. However, she went on to pass the next few hours all through midnight till day break with active contractions. Realizing that her waters were broken, she starts moving to the center. Shechanged so well toany positions that felt right to her.As she entered the birth pool she said, “This feels so much better."She felt strong urges to push her baby and each time she felt to do so, she would look at her midwives as we cheered and encouraged her all the way through.
With chants of “I Can, I Can” and “my baby is coming”...a small bite of Mysore pak from Sri Krishna sweets and ....“Surprise, Surprise” for someone with a small belly, a strappy young boy of 3.7 kg was born both with hard work and good efforts by mother.Her husband a man of few words, kept her well-nourished during pregnancy while she scuttled to office, as he meticulously packed two boxes with chopped fruits and nuts. A strong shoulder to lean on, he kept her up whenever the chips were down.
Equally impressive was her postpartum where she was hands-on with her baby straight away!!
Well done!!! 10 stars straightaway!!
IT Analyst, Tata Consultancy Services, Kochi
Senior Network Engineer, Amphenol FCI, Kochi
A New Family Is Born Again.
This mamma is super intuitive, and had her baby with us early in 2011.Though quiet by nature, she knows exactly what she wants and moves in the best possible way, the way she wishes, when it's time to birth her baby. A woman who births on her own terms!
Forwarding 5 years, she wore the exact same outfit she wore the first time around. Strangely enough, she used the exact same tools and positions she did previously. Hands and knees ... Birth rope and finally the water again!
Mamma do you need juice? She rubs her mothers back and clasps her Amma’s hands during a contraction….And she is, visibly, very excited to welcome her little sibling. As her whopping brother is born at 4.1 kg, she claps her hands in glee.
As mamma births placenta, her parents explain to her that the placenta is the twin of the baby and that it has nourished the baby inside. It makes such a difference when the family welcomes their baby together and it all comes down to preparation of the older one as time comes closer. A job well done!!!
Dad got down to providing skin-to-skin care with his older girl.
A new family is born again. Enjoy!!
Electrical Design Engineer, Power Wings,Athani
Structural Engineer, Vellapally Engineers and Consultancy, Mamangalam
My Birth Story Part 1 ...and A Baby That Would Not Latch And How I Worked It Out Part 2.
Birth experience was the most ironic one of my life. Watching a birth video of water birth was the biggest turning point in this journey of birth. That led to googling the possibility of water birthing in Kerala, with the sole goal of achieving a "painless" delivery without epidurals. Giving birth alone in a scary, hostile atmosphere hooked to medications had become a nightmare for me by then, and I somehow wanted to escape it. When Birthvillage came as an answer to our quest, there was a bonus of giving birth with hands-on support by your partner. The countless testimonials in the site gave us huge confidence and we ended up making an appointment on a Tuesday morning. That 'frank' talk with the midwives there, confirmed that my goals didn't match with the concept of 'natural birthing'. I realized that there was no way of escaping the pain but only embracing it, but in a warm atmosphere filled with care and lots of encouragement. Finally, it was after many days of scrutinizing my confidence level that we finally decided to go for this not-so-common option.
The workout classes that I attended in my last minute preparation for birth(it was already week 36 by then!!) was an energy booster which inspired me to make the prescribed 45 minutes walk, 40 sit-ups and 200 steps, a daily routine. Combined with the strict diet, it gave awesome results as the baby descended in record time and I was in labor by week 38! As the water broke, with a shiver and heartbeats that kept rising ...surprisingly not in fear as I had suspected; but in uncontrollable excitement was a testimony of my boosted confidence in such a short span. The progress of labor was fast and furious and within 5 hours I delivered a chubby little boy who weighed 3.5kgs! The decision to wait at home till the onset of active labor was really helpful as my body was fully ready for this experience by the time we reached the centre. From there it was a laborious journey made so easy for me by my quick boy in belly, loving husband and supporting and limitlessly encouraging midwives. They made this the most beautiful experience of my life which was why I was beaming, as our little boy took his first breath in this world!!
Here is where, my journey really began.....
Greatly relieved that the biggest challenge was over, we drifted off to excited naps on that night – onewith our little darling. Little did we know then, that this journey had unexpected hurdles in store for us!! On the day of delivery, we were helped with the latching and our baby boy slept sound mostly utilizing his energy in store from the womb.
Day 2 started with him not being ready to latch on his own and that resulted in him being fussy because of the hunger. Suddenly, we felt so helpless seeing our baby cry without a break. That whole day and night, we were supported by the midwives,giving us articlesto read about how to express milk and effectively breastfeed. It took us all our patience to get the milk expressed (it was really painful too!) and to feed it to the little one in a sterilized spoon. With little progress with the latching, we started to use a breast pump when she came in for the day 3 home visit and we were familiarized with the manual pump. That day passed with pumping and spoon feeding with again zero progress in breastfeeding, despite continued effort. On day 4, we were back at the centre getting help and support with the latching issue. We all waited till the baby woke up from sleep by himself and again tried latching, alternating between sitting and lying down positions. We also got a nipple shield and a syringe by the time we left and that night we switched from spoon feeding to syringe feeding. It also helped us effectively track the quantity of milk that was fed during each feed. That night we started feeding by keeping the nipple shield in baby's mouth and using the syringe to fill it with the pumped milk. Then we tried latching by keeping the shield on the nipple with some milk sprinkled on it. After many attempts, he started sucking. Still it didn't work all the time and we alternated it with the shield-syringe combo. The next day we were advised to cut down the syringe feed by half and luckily it worked out. And the next day on day 5, we completely cut off the assisted feeding and finally our boy did latch on happily and quenched his hunger on his own! It was an incredible moment when he latched on by himself and proved to us that our effort didn't go in vain. We felt so proud that we didn't give up and that we didn't turn to formula and bottle-feeding. It was one of the most satisfying milestones in the birth journey; it even felt as a bigger accomplishment than the birth!! This remarkable achievement could not have happened without the patient and supporting effort taken by our birth team and we are deeply touched!! Now that tough times are over, we relive those days once in a while remembering our midwives with lots of gratitude and feeling proud of ourselves to have successfully crossed the first step of parenting...
Ramitha R. Kammath and Navaneeth Baliga
We Are 42 Weeks And Just Fine Thank You!
This smart, organized mum walked into our center as early as 6 weeks for prenatal care along with her soft spoken husband.Wishing to stay on top of her game and to give quality time to herself for a year, she took time out for classes and work outs and kept herself fit and healthy to the utmost capacity.As she wished to have a baby after 39 weeks, her wish was more than granted as we crossed, Week 40, Week 41and Week 41 and 5 days, pre-labor for 3 days and then the magic of labor begins as it slowly unfolded over 36 hours.
So confident were this couple in their choices thatthey never once turned back and willed on hard despite external pressure. As labor stormed in after 4 pm and contractions came in stronger we worked hard on birth positions which worked in baby descent along with awesome support and back massages from her amazing husband.
After using the pool for comfort, amma moved to land-birth her chubby princess,holding our birth rope for support. An overwhelmed husband couldn't just stop his tears from flowing.Waiting for labor to begin on its own and understanding well that it's normal to go from 36 weeks to 42 weeks is a well-documented fact as part of evidence based care .Having said that, it takes a lot of commitment to have it in you to keep going when it's not the norm outside the four walls of one’s home and this couple clearly proved it they were made of much sterner stuff."I cannot remember my stress or my pain or my worry as it was all for her and I wouldn't have it another way". A new family is born!! You guys have just blown us away.
Born With A Veil
A big shout out to this VBAC mamma, who travelled from Coimbatore to have her baby,despite many naysayers who said she couldn't do it.
A few days past her expected due date, she goes into labor, spends the day laboring at her pace at her home-stay, along with her husband.After one check-in with us in the morning, she turns to her husband and says "There is still time, we are still early."
She clearly knows her stuff and surprises by coming in fully dilated hours later in the evening and baby was born in the caul into the water 3 hours later.(Born in the caul is defined as when the amniotic sac remains intact and the baby is born in the bag). In this case, probably double water. This VBAC baby was much bigger than his brother, and was born on his chosen birth date amongst the first lightning storm this year at Cochin
Thanks to the amazing friend who spoke about Birthvillage to this VBAC mamma who enabled her to find her inner voice.All, this mamma could say was “I hope I did not trouble you too much". And we say "We are impressed"!!
Aashiga Cyril and Cyril Antony
82 Hours Later And A Baby!!!
She came in at 36 weeks from Hyderabad but knew exactly what she wanted,super clear about following what she believed in, with regards to Ayurveda and Homeopathic medicines.
When folks complain about snarling traffic block, she would wait patiently every day to make her way to the birth center which is one hour away from her home for all her classes and appointments.
Finally, her water broke and the long wait begins....Contractions kicked in on the third day ....challenging moments followed but her husband stood like a rock. "There is only one way and you are doing this", is what he said.
Intense pushing for three hours, and a beautiful baby boy was born.
Everyone was overwhelmed with the patience that little one had and the miraclous nature of birth.
This has been such a beautiful journey. So proud of you guys!!
Sri Lakshmi and Anand Kumar
Unexpected Experience Of Birth On Her Terms With Baby No. 5
Here's a mum, who has had 4 babies – 3of them in India and one in Africa.Birthvillage – thenatural birthing center had just opened up in the neighborhood that she lives in,at a time when she was not thinking about whether she would have another baby, a couple of years later, at the center.Though a seasoned mum, everything seemed new and different this time around.But, she did everything on her terms with her midwives and a very supportive mum and husband, who were her pillars all the way through.And she amazed us with her quiet strength and tranquility as she birthed her daughter in the water.
The most exciting part was when all the four children came bouncing up the stairs to see their new siblingand their mum. It is lovely to see how all her kids took care of her by bringing her food and water and allowing her to rest and relax.
Though it's hard to imagine for many people to think about more than two kids, it's wonderful to see how this family has grown in faith and love and continues to abound in all paths.
Baby Arrives Before Daddy Does!
“Am I strong enough for this?” “What about epidurals?”, all this and much more from this mum who came in from Bangalore at 36 weeks.Lamaze classes over the weekend with her husband, who would come in at the weekend (a strong yet calm supporter especially in the fact that she could do this as naturally as possible),education about all options coupled with exercise classes to get the baby in good position and we saw her grow both in spirit and in her physical fitness. Into her 39thweek, she woke up with her waters broken and mild contractions ensued, “Could this be labor?” She called husband who plans to leave Bangalore by the morning flight.We decide that this mum may need more support and asked her to come in to the center.She wowed us as she coped beautifully. She was on hands and knees as she instinctively knew what to do. “Are u feelinggood?” we ask her. “I know you guys and I trust my body well and so I do not fear”.We dial her husband and put him on call so that he could speak to her and hear her and be with her in spirit as we told him that she is progressing well and not to worry.
As a circle of women we took deep breaths, encouraged when we got to tough spaces, held her space and as she entered the water she pushed as per her body's instincts went and her son was born just in time while her husband landed at the Cochin airport.
As we settle down on bed, hubby comes in, we guess, shocked and happy at the same time. Relaxed and happy this little family knows exactly how they would like to lead their life forward with the right priorities.
All we can say is,“Well done!!!!”
Simi and Sreekumar
A Baby On My Birthday
Most often than not, women do want their men by their side at birth.But what do you do, when your spouse has an important interview in another state?
Here's a birth fable that's truly about letting go. Hubby leaves town on urgent work. Baby decides it's time. Mum gets up in the morning to contractions on her birthday. She calls us to let us know that contractions have started, sends her older children to school, hails a taxi and quietly comes in all by herself.
An hour later, gently births her baby in water with no fuss or fanfare sans tears.
So proud of you, and your family should be too...In an age and time, when being in a zone with no expectations is the hardest, she puts it to practice with no words said. Incredible and amazing!!! We are honored to have served you.
Solutions Engineer Manager. Baker Huges
Christmas Babies !!!
2014 was very kind for us.It helped us grow a lot and had us mature over the past few several months. It gave us strength and courage to face whatever could come our way. But it also gave us 2 gifts that we’re sure to cherish for the rest of our lives. The first was “Birthvillage” and the second was just today, with the birth of our baby girl.
Early today, on Christmas day, at 4:30AM sharp, before we could start with any of our usual celebrations - with no prior warning, water broke. At this point, for the past 38weeks and 4days, there was no point of a false contraction ever. This did take us by surprise for a bit, but we were able to take control of the situation. Of course, we were taught and trained by the best, brightest and the most experienced in the industry. Birthvillage has been a blessing from day one and there is no denying it.
Today’s experience was a bit different though. Unlike with the initial false contractions, that slowly builds its way consistently to very persistent true ones – ours was different. It all just came about like a tidal wave, and took only 2.5 hrs to build all the way up. But one way of looking at it is, we’ve been blessed to have our labor progress at this rate – there weren’t any delays. We leisurely drove over to Birthvillage and finally water-birthed our baby girl by noon today. The experience was simply out-of-this-world.Truly, words don’t describe it well enough. From having the opportunity to touch our baby right when it was born, to that of cutting the cord ourselves – it’s simply magical.
We can’t thank Priyanka and Dona enough for all their help today. Especially with Priyanka having to drive back all the way from Coimbatore today. You guys are simply the best. The personal bonding we’ve experienced put us at ease through the whole process. And we’re sure by today’s events, that god is by our sides, to have sent us Angels to take care of us.
Happy Christmas everyone!!
IT professional,Business,RHEOCON Internet Pvt Ltd.
A Musical Birth Story
No meditative mantras here ...here comes Remi George and Vimal Benny Ayyemkeril who birthed her baby in water to the tune of,‘Pista suma kiraya’ . It's an amazing feel, when the first song they played on their playlist was the very same one they had for their son who was born in 2010. Birthvillage is proud to see this amazing couple grow over the years. Rock on!!!!
Technical Product Manager,IBS Software services,Ernakulam
Senior Delivery Manager,Experion Technologies,Ernakulam
How My Birth Healed Me Inside Out.....
Many had it special at Birthvillage, but mine was special-er.This place and its people have made the classic happy climax of my long, not-so-happy story.
In 2007, I had conceived a child on the day I broke up with my then boyfriend. I was depressed, even to realize after 5 months and 3 weeks that I had conceived– many things including my directionlessness had broken my heart. Everyone, including those who loved me, was confused about the situation and everything together made the pregnancy a nightmare. It all ended in an‘eclampsia’, a condition which kills many women. I took years to come out of the physical and mental trauma, but one thing good about it was that it made me take myself seriously, and it made me a strong woman. From then on, I, slowly but definitely, made sure I wouldn't let wrong decisions take control of my life. Thankfully, I got the best partner in the world who made the best (and the worst: D) of me, and after about six years, we decided to have a baby. As I conceived this time, everything was going fine, but the only thing still scary was the hospital scene - I was in a huge labor room during the previous delivery with many women crying from pain. I remember feeling totally lost and lonely when I could really do with some emotional support. And I had no confidence to say let’s deliver at home this time. And this time around, I was a much happier person, much healthier, exercised and ate right compared to my previous pregnancy.
When I was about seven months, a good and kind friend told me about her sister’s birthing at Birthvillage. Till then, even though we were familiar with the name, we were not sure about if and how they would handle my case after my special condition, but our friend said, why don’t you just talk to them. I had already sent in my reports on the eclampsia, etc before our first meeting at Birthvillage. Surprisingly, although I had met many care providers and such during and before pregnancy, no one ever asked me how this happened. They perceived it as an isolated physical condition which I knew it was not.
On my first appointment they asked this very question of ‘How come?’ which I had wished to be asked, by someone who would accompany me to my labor room. They were ready to take ‘stress’ for an answer. It was like taking a bag off my back and was very reassuring and kind. After that, I knew this was the way I wanted to get things done. In the 36th week, I moved to Ernakulam, and Latheesh joined soon. We went to the classes enthusiastically and I was very excited about the whole thing.
My water broke on 24thSeptember in the night at 2 am, and I went to labour at Birthvillage the next to next night. (Evidence based care states that it is perfectly safe to wait for 24 hours after waters are broken for labor to progress without intervening but the rule of the thumb is that no vaginal exams should be done as this increases the chance of infection-and Ihadn’t even received one)The lovely welcome smiles on my midwives’ faces felt like homecoming. Then, everything progressed soon. From lying on the bed, I quickly moved to laboring on the birthing ball and then to the pool where I saw my lovely boy Kabir for the first time. The whole time while I was in labor, I was encouraged to eat and we talked about every other thing in the world.
I can never forget Priyanka’s kind hug and Donna’s encouraging words during the process. Many things would have prompted a C-section at any hospital, such as the water breaking and the cord winding on Kabir’s head, and I can thankfully say I was spared. With the two amazing midwifes and Latheesh’s wonderful presence of mind, the delivery was my dream come true. And with the whole of my heart, I can say that this experience has made me a person calmly confident about my body and self, and it has erased the years of unspent hurt from my being.
Birth Raw And Pure!(With A Hint Of Salmon, Orange And Coffee)
I came to Birth Village in April when we found out that we were surprisingly pregnant with our second baby.Having done the hospital route and not happy with our outcome, we sought a more holistic approach. And that's exactly what we found and more. Nothing and no one could have been more encouraging and knowledgeable than the lovely midwives we met that day. We live in Kodaikanal but we were determined to work out the logistics to have our baby at Birthvillage.
We came to Kochi in our 37th week, prepared that the baby could come in at any time. But at 41 weeks, the baby had decided it was going to be a late check out.
On November 13th, which was a Friday, it was a quiet day at home. I had taken an afternoon nap and then suddenly woke up to some mild contractions. As I had had a series of odd cramps through the week, I waited till late evening to see if they were holding on. Yes, it was happening, the baby was getting ready to arrive. I decided that it was definitely time to have a dinner out as this would be the last for a while. I ordered a salmon salad and a veg lasagna, followed by a bite of bread pudding at Cocoa tree.
I messaged my midwives from the restaurant to let them know that the contractions were starting. She advised to have dinner and go straight to bed and maybe have a glass of wine to relax and unwind. I had mild contractions through dinner, every 5 minutes. I came home and as I lay down, the contractions eventually eased off and I was able to sleep through till morning.
At 6:30 the contractions started back up again. Slowly at first, but it really quickened pace speeding up to every 5 minutes. I messaged again and then she asked me to call and wait till they got stronger. But before I knew it, in the next 30 minutes they became so strong and were coming in every 3 minutes. My husband called again and was told to come in to the center in the next 20 minutes.
We arrived at the birth center at about 9:20 where my birth team greeted me with so much warmth and I felt so much support radiating from the room. It really made me comfortable and gave me a strength I didn't know I would have.
The next 45 minutes were simply unbelievable. I had strong contractions while sitting on the ball followed by stronger contractions in the birth pool. Before I knew it, I was pushing, actually pushing the baby out. At 10.09 I pushed my baby girl (3.9 kg of goodness) out into the world. That was it! There was my little angel all wrapped up in vernix. I was amazed to see the vernix had just absorbed into her skin a few hours later.
I didn't think I could do this, but with the tremendous support from Birthvillage, I felt so empowered and so proud that I did it!! I will always remember those last few minutes. With tremendous pain came the most beautiful little thing!! There were no machines, no drugs but just the rawness of my baby and me.
I'm so grateful to everyone especially my husband who was a constant support, silently and patiently watching and listening. I couldn't have done it without him. -Maya Cariappa lovely mom to 2 sparkly babies
Samuel The Champ
Being a first time father is all delight and excitement but when you are expecting your second, the attention required for the first, kind of diminishes the focus on the second bump.My elder one is nearly 3 and highly demanding in terms of his energy levels and his constant desire to slay dragons of all colors and hues. So getting up as usual for an early session of Squash at 5 am has become a bit of task these last few years and this was like any other day. Except I suddenly hear the better half moaning in her sleep. Or at least I thought she was asleep. It turned out that her labor had started in earnest and I wasn’t sure if this was another false alarm (as her ‘water’ burst a few days ago and nothing transpired soon after). So we quickly started timing the contractions and the intervals, only to realize that is was quite erratic and not at all consistent. Considering this to be a Braxton Hicks moment I had half a mind to tell her to go back to sleep but she insisted on calling the midwives at Birthvillage. That’s when I knew things were changing rapidly. My initial days of training kicked in and remained calm through the process while she spoke over the phone. Lucky for us they were up as well, having just finished delivering two babies back to back over the last couple of days and one, just a few hours before.
So it was all well coordinated. I was rubbing my wife’s back while a close watch was kept on her contractions and the baby’s heartbeat, by one midwife while the other midwife was busy preparing the ‘wading tub’ for a water birth. We missed that the last time as my wife grew a bit uncomfortable sitting in the tub for a long time while the water slowly went cold. Considering that it took us 13 hrs last time to get to the end result, I was hoping this one would be quick. And quick it was! I believe she was in the water for just under an hour before the second coming, as they say. Before I knew it, I was looking at this tiny bundle of joy being cradled in her arms, hardly making a sound and looking as peaceful as he would be if he were still in the womb. And once again it was all due to the lovely caregivers at Birthvillage that our faith in the natural process has been rekindled, stronger than ever. And we were back home by 4 in the evening! And here is the interesting part: I must say that he was way different from how my first was born. For starters he was half the size and secondly he was so calm and cool that for a moment I was not sure how they would relate as brothers. But then again one must never expect the same would apply to every child. Every child is different and going by his initial temperament, Samuel(yes, that’s the name) seems to have a very different personality to Joshua(my first born). And that’s a relief. With Joshua wanting to slay dragons and using my stomach every evening as his battleground, having a calmer soul next to me would be a welcome relief. Perhaps he would like to just hear the part about the princess that needed to be rescued.
Creative Director,Thought Factory/ViaKerala, Kochi
Managing Director,Muthoot Leisure and Hospitality Services,Kochi
Wild And Uninhibited- The Way Birth Should Be
It all started with my wife (Rama) reading a book called "Child Rearing" where she learnt about the importance of natural birth.I was very skeptical as it was something very new to me and I have only seen hospital births before in my life but after reading the pregnancy part of “Child Rearing”. I too was convinced it has to be a natural birth. Rama started to do her research, hoping something would be available in India. She came across the Birthvillage Facebook page while she was doing the research and she instantly wanted to birth there on reading the great birth natural birth stories. At this point of time, we still had our doubts.
But the moment we were on a call with Birthvillage, our entire perspective began to change. We had answers to all our questions and we were confident that we were with the right person at the right time. We made a visit to Kochi to visit Birth Village and met the midwives there in person. It was a beautiful place (home) and we instantly decided this is the place where our baby is going to be born. There was resistance all around from family and friends with respect to our choice but our decision had already been made.
We attended the Lamaze classes organized by Birthvillage regularly, where the myths associated with child birth were shattered and we felt extremely confident about natural birth. We exactly knew what would happen on the day of delivery because of the classes and it removed all our fear and safety concerns. I also met a couple from Chennai who had their natural birth two weeks back and it really instilled more faith in the whole natural birthing process.
We came to Kochi 25 days before our due date and started to attend classes and the Active Momma exercise routines. We were eagerly awaiting the arrival of our baby on December 25th, but God had other plans for us and Rama started to get her labor contractions on December 17thearly in the morning. It wasn't the active labor we had learnt and we were asked to wait till it got stronger. The contractions got very intense at 9 am and we were asked to come in. The journey from our rented apartment to Birthvillage in our ALTO was wild as Rama was getting contractions every 3 minutes now. We went to Birthvillage at 10.20 am with Rama in so much pain. Rama was taken to and given great encouragement and motivation by the birth team present to push the baby out using her voice and energy (read natural). She kept working hard for 30 minutes in the squat position to push the baby out.
We then opted for the water birth at the last minute as she had earlier in the morning felt good during a hot water bath during the intensive contractions. At 11.13 am within an hour of coming into Birth Village, we had our baby girl come out into the water and then into Rama's arms. It was a beautiful moment we will cherish for our lifetime. I don't think there can be a more empowering moment for a woman in her life than a natural birth. As an entrepreneur, I knew this is how creation is made (amidst wildness, Pain and Blood). But with a team as supportive as the one at Birth Village, you have someone with you throughout the process.
The baby started to breastfeed immediately after the birth and we had to stay there for a day for Rama to recover. Birthvillage doesn't stop there. They visited our home in the next two weeks to make sure that the breastfeeding is going good and Rama is recovering well. We had massage sessions for Rama to recover faster from a trained Ayurvedic therapist. One thing that stood out in the whole process was that, they were readily available to answer any questions we had at anytime via phone and messages.
Our chosen midwives have years of experience in natural birth and we trusted them fully and blindly for our child birth and they really "delivered" on the trust we had. Their commitment to the midwifery profession and their expertise in knowing the ins and outs of natural birth makes them and Birthvillage the best place for your child birth if you want to go the natural way.
Our Journey From Carefree Boyfriend/girlfriend To Responsible Father And Mother
We both have always lived a carefree life.I was always apprehensive of becoming a parent as I always felt I was not that mature to be a father. I was sure it was going to be a difficult phase and big step for me. Lakshmi was reading online and decided that she wanted to opt for natural birth instead of a hospital delivery. I was petrified to the core. On one side, I was scared that she might not be able to handle the pain and on the other hand I was scared that I might actually faint during the process. (I remembered how I had fainted upon seeing blood when I took my father to the doctor for a single stitch to his injured head.)
Lakshmi found out about Birthvillage while looking online for water birth options. We visited Birthvillage for our initial appointment and it was a huge sigh of relief to see confidence in explaining the entire process to us by the lead midwives there.
The whole process was a blessing for both of us. Attending Lamaze classes not only helped us understand the process of pregnancy but also helped us mature as responsible parents. The exercise classes helped her develop the strength needed for those final intense moments. Each and every appointment kept us on our toes with regards to her fitness, diet and general health.
On the 6th of January (5 days after our expected due date), we finally went into labor. I say “WE” because that’s what it actually felt like. It was a tedious process and a long labor, but they all stood with us patiently working with us. Delivering our baby together has changed our world forever. We have both formed a bond that has sealed our relationship forever. We are closer than we have ever been. Our baby boy is blessed to have 3 Godmothers in the form of three midwives who stood through thick and thin. Being a part of labor has helped me mature from a boy to a responsible man and a father. Experiencing the labor along with her has not only helped me appreciate her for her strength but also given me a new perspective and new respect for each and every woman. Thanks a lot for changing our lives forever!!!
New Year Gift From Above
At around 5.30 pm On 31st Dec 2015,I was about to start from office, thinking that I and Nikhila will be spending the dawn of this new year separately, since Nikhila was at my home town and me at my work place which was 170 km away. It was then I received a call from her saying that she has lost her mucus plug. She sounded very calm and pleasant; thanks to the Lamaze Classes we attended at Birthvillage.
We knew that we had enough time to get prepared and this was only a sign that the labor might start within another 24 to 48 hours. I packed the essentials, and started my 4-hour journey at around 11.45 pm. I continued the drive while there were fireworks, decorative lights and stars all along the way, welcoming the New Year and I never knew what awaited me the next day.
I reached home at 3.30 am and found Nikhila was sound asleep, while my parents were in a state of panic with my mom going and checking Nikhila frequently.I tried to calm them down, but in vain.
On New Year’s day Nikhila woke up with mild cramps and contractions. We decided to wait until the contractions became regular. Between 11 am and 12 pm, the contractions became regular and we knew it was the right time to make a call to Birthvillage to our lead midwife, who instructed me to observe and note down the intervals between the contractions. We had a quick lunch and as the contractions became intense, I made a call again and informed that we will be starting from home within another 15 minutes. She spoke with Nikhila and understood that she can’t hold on much longer at home.
We started the drive towards Birthvillage which was 40 km away. Off we went on the highway with the hazard lights turned on. After 45 minutes, we were at Birthvillage and were welcomed by our midwives. It was the knowledge gained through the Lamaze Couple Classes at Birthvillage which helped me to be calm and relaxed throughout the drive.
The room was all set and was lit up with scented candles. With the contractions becoming more and more intense, the labor progressed into an advanced stage. Nikhila was encouraged to try different positions –marching and relaxation in birth pool, sitting on birth stool and holding birthing rope, squatting etc. while taking turns in massaging, offering water & honey to her. All three of them were very patient and provided excellent support and encouragement to us.
At 9.02 pm our bundle of joy, our daughter arrived when Nikhila gave one final push by sitting on birth stool and hanging on to birthing rope for support. We were given enough time to bond with the baby before I was asked to cut the umbilical cord. We were lucky to spend the New Year night – our first night as a family - in Birthvillage itself within an hour after the delivery and what a night it was! It felt as if the entire world was celebrating our daughter’s birth.
We thank the entire crew of Birthvillage for the informative classes and fun-filled work-out sessions which gave us the much needed courage and confidence to do this together. We are so happy that the 2016 success journey of Birthvillage started with our daughter. Once again we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all at Birthvillage and we wish them all success.
Nikhila Sreejith and Sreejith Harshakumar
A Journey Of Trust
Our baby Nayara has just tuned one month old and as I recap in my mind her birth and run through the 9 months of my pregnancy,I am only filled with gratitude. When my husband and I first learnt that I was expecting our first baby, it was indeed an unexpected piece of great news to both of us! As with every couple, we wanted to do our best to make sure that we could have a good pregnancy and birth experience. It began with first deciding whom to consult. As the majority does, we did get in touch with a popular gynecologist in the city. My husband, then, had heard of Birth Village through a cousin and we decided to visit the place. We were approached with such warmth and I instantly took a liking to the place. On reading up about midwifery, natural birth and its principles, we decided to continue our consultations at Birthvillage, convinced that I truly wanted it and I was willing to go through the grind to have it.
The nine months of my prenatal period were most exciting. Contrary to all that I had heard about pregnancy and the “struggles that mark it”, I felt great at every stage. Thanks to Birthvillage’s rigorous schedules. My monthly hour to two hour long consultations with my midwives was encouraging and informative. We talked, laughed, got our queries clarified with evidence based information and my husband and I always left them,refueled with hope and good expectations for birth. They would feel the baby for its position & heart rate; check my BP, pulse, weight and hydration levels as well, at every visit. Birthvillage also encourages scans at 3rd and 5th months.
The workout sessions twice a week were absolutely enlivening. Donna, the midwife who led the workouts would get us to move and shake, that would leave the world open mouthed with shock at such big- tummied women shaking their legs to lady Gaga! I had a fearless and free pregnancy allowing my body to do its job and only helping it by staying fit and eating right. At Birthvillage, one of the non-negotiable factors is diet and fitness throughout the nine months. With all the sugars, chocs and chips out, I found myself full of energy, driving around, working out, swimming, travelling and carrying on with almost everything I did pre pregnancy workouts even hours before I went into labor. The couple Lamaze classes helped my husband and I make informed choices. We learnt everything that we needed to know about pregnancy, child birth, labor, breastfeeding, postpartum care, etc. These classes only made us jointly responsible along with our midwives to ensure that we did everything to have a good birth experience. At Birthvillage, we learnt that ball is often in our court and seldom in the hands of the doc or the midwife. What we did in the 9 months was going to determine what will happen on the D-Day (with of course a few exceptions!)
Well, on 19th October, at 40 weeks, as we were counting days, labor began at midnight. As we both timed my contractions, we knew this was real and not just a warm up. Our midwife was continuously in touch with us over mobile as we updated her on the progress I was making. Well, with our bags packed almost a month back, we set out for Birthvillage at 10:30 am. Contractions became more and more intense. I just completely surrendered to the urges of my body and used every labor position that I was taught during class to help Nayara make her way out. I stepped into the water with my husband supporting me all the while and encouraging me and my midwives watching for baby heart beat, giving me my drinks often, massaging my back and directing me. At 5:15 just after stepping out of the water, I had my most intense contraction and out came Nayara! Birthvillage practices delayed cord clamping and Nayara was handed over to us seconds after her birth.
My husband says that for him, Birthvillage gave him the opportunity to be a part of the entire prenatal, birth and post natal period like he never imagined. He says that he has grown to respect women (me!) more having witnessed the grills of pregnancy, labor and birth. I am such a proud wife right now. Manoj was with me for every consultation, he handled the family members with such wisdom and ease.He held our baby within seconds of her birth, cut her umbilical cord, carried her through her first night in this world; put her to sleep on his chest through the night while I recovered from my fatigue. Even to this day, Nayara responds to him better than she responds to me!
Amongst all other things, Birth Village respected our space and adopted a non-judgmental approach to our choices and decisions. They offered us personalized care to the extent that they understood even my personality so well and gave me suggestions keeping in mind my own limitations. Our midwives are not mere talking dolls with pleasant demeanors but women with grit, courage, passion, real skills and knowledge. Their genuine interest to help us have a good birthexperience was evident all through my consultations.
A new mother is often at a very vulnerable place. Her body is going through crazy changes, she is trying to grapple with the needs of her new born and her own fatigue and weakness after rigorous labour and birth, her mind is thrown open to a whole new set of voices – not all very encouraging.Breastfeeding is not a science she has been trained in and as she tries to figure all of this and still hold her ground, she can be very vulnerable. At this juncture, the post natal visits by the midwives were so encouraging and helped me cope so well. I would look forward to having them home and would often find reasons to have them stay longer. This service is absolutely essential and a very small percentage of new mothers have access to this. Nayara had mild jaundice and unlike hospitals where babies are separated form their mothers for phototherapy, we were asked to expose Nayara to the sun everyday and within 10 days she was fine.
Birthvillage is not an anti – hospital centre. It is a centre that offers women the choice to birth naturally. It may not be for everyone and Birthvillage recognizes that. We made our choice to birth at Birthvillage not because it was an easy option or because we were ignorant of the choices we had or because we were too foolish and naive to go to a centre like this but because of our inherent desire to give Nayara an entry into this world that was free from unwanted interventions and pressure and because of our trust in the way God has created us to birth. Birthing naturally is not a “new fad” as many around say but really speaking it is going back to the basics. Going back to our grandmothers’ and great grandmothers’ time where birthing was a part of life and not a special condition which needed slavish dependence to interventions unwarranted for. We wanted Nayara to birth at her pace when she was fully ready.
If not for Birthvillage I would not have had a birth story. Nayara’s birth was special, different, and natural and what we wanted for her and I owe it to Birthvillage and our wonderful midwives. All through my nine months of pregnancy, delivery and post partum period, ours was a journey of trust. We began and ended with trust and all that saw us through, was trust. Trust in the Lord, Trust in each other, trust in my body, trust in my midwives and even trusting Nayara to make her way out into this world. It was all so worth it! A big thanks to our parents who respected our decision and gave us the space we needed. Thanks to our wonderful midwives Priyanka, Donna and Amy. You will never be forgotten by us ever! God bless Birth Village!!!
Dominic Tharakan Alias Manoj
Birthing With My Heart
Empowering, connected and amazing is how I’d describe the experience I had delivering most precious little person laying on my chest fast asleep while I type my birth story on my phone.My birth was far from what I had imagined – yet the whole experience was utterly amazing. I thought I was planning for something calm but instead it was powerful, intense and very loud!
When I became pregnant, I was just 23-year-old, just as nervous about giving birth as the next mom-to-be. I didn't stand firmly in either the natural-birth or the epidural camp. My excitement really didn’t give me enough space to think and analyze the whole process well in advance. I didn't know what I was up against, so how could I commit to one way or the other? As I thought about it, I realized that my highest priority was to have the safest birth possible. It seemed so illogical to avoid drugs (even over-the-counter ones) during pregnancy as of what my society around me had made me up of. And frankly, I didn't trust a stranger, no matter how educated, to be my mid-wife, having told that of my consumption of ideas on labor. But if the pain was as unbearable as everyone said, how could I make it through labor without drugs? And that was strong and loud deep inside always .Initially we moved 150 km away from home to be at one of the leading and foremost center for pregnancy. There was detailed attention from the doctors and periodically checkups were all fine except the fact that we were always kept in dark as on how my labor is expected. Though I was fit and had no complications, slowly my visits made me feel like a patient. Meanwhile having all my iron and calcium pills regularly, I made every effort to make sure that I am fit to have my baby on normal delivery. I was adamant and determined on my routine on exercise and diet but the medical atmosphere and lack of knowledge on what to do or to expect really didn’t help on my progress psychologically. The health care facility made sure that I understand that normal delivery is more of my fortune rather the commitment that the hospital and we both may have. End of my seven months were all my anticipation turned to be my anxiety while my fortitude and audacity turned to muddle. Now more concern were on way on my own safety as well as of the baby. Equally all online information I were surfing made me go even more fanatical and alarmed. That’s when I came to know about Birthvillage and I and my husband did travel all the way to Cochin to study the atmosphere and to know how well the midwife is at the center. On our first visit we had as little as thousand questions to ask, where we were truly mesmerized at our midwives depth of knowledge and experience on labor and her answers gave me light to my confidence and excitement. We were shocked and surprised to know how far we were ambiguous at our earlier health care provider. Though our visit was very useful we were still in a state of confusion to choose, as we were bound to convince the family on our idea. With all that, my husband made every effort to contact some of the parents who were at birth village earlier and he made couple of trips to Cochin on his own to meet them in person. After all that, we were completely confident in our decision that we didn’t even bother convincing others. We arrived at Cochin on the first day of my 36th week and it’sfrom there the travel to heaven really was. A few days later, we gathered with five other couples for our two-hour class. There was a lot of ground to cover, and with our first quiz, I discovered how little I knew about biology and childbirth. Honestly I realized that I knew only 10% on my whole 36 weeks term. Through class discussion, we learned new terms as well as every detail about what to expect during labor. It truly amazed me how so many body parts worked instinctively and in unison to deliver the baby. With each new thing I learned, I gained confidence that I could deliver our baby naturally. Now, my view on childbirth was taken to whole new level where excitement and happiness were only few I had on my mind. We had no fright of any sort as we were complete on information on what to expect throughout, where my husband realized his commitment was from 2% to 200 now. Toward the end of our class, we worked on our birth plan. We knew we could not control every aspect of the birth, but Birthvillage made sure that they understood what was most important to us. Assuming we would have a normal birth, we outlined our priorities: We were assured to be together during labor and delivery; freedom to move around; assurance that there will be no attempt to induce or augment labor; no routine internal exams; and no electronic fetal monitoring, an IV, or an episiotomy. And these were the highest priorities of Birthvillage too. We'd done everything we could to prepare; now we had to wait and see what nature had in store for us. As my due date got closer, my pre-labor jitters got worse. I even read up on some drug options and their side effects, just in case I needed them. But I was assured by my birth team that I could handle labor pains and that he would be there for me. Through all her conversation she made me mentally prepared and made me feel very confident on what I am up to do. On the due date, 31stDecember 2015, we started receiving calls from our relatives asking if I had delivered. But I hadn’t..... Our midwives just asked us to relax and enjoy the New Year’s Eve. We decided to give our baby enough time.........
On 2nd Jan, when we were on the way to Lulu mall, I felt the first contraction. I wasn't so sure whether it was a contraction in the first place. I got mild contractions which were around four minutes apart but still very manageable. We were asked to stay at home and get to the centre when contractions got intense. On 3rd Jan, the contractions slowed down. I tried hot packs and cold packs, continued walking, took stairs to my home which was on the twelfth floor, went to Lulu mall, and walked around. I started feeling intense contractions on 3rdJan night and we were asked to come to the center. My cervix had dilated 6cms. I was actually happy that I was gonna meet the baby soon. I kept walking, keeping myself hydrated, did lunges but then I got tired because of the two consecutive sleepless nights. We got back home to rest for a while as the pace of the contractions seemed to slow down plus a change/rest and further walks would help me even better. By evening, my contractions came back again and we went back to the centre.
My birth team was all ready ready for me.....My cervix had now dilated to 8 cm.
After few minutes, I decided to enter the pool. . The pain was intense but more than the pain there was an excitement that I am gonna meet my baby soon. I just surrendered completely to my midwives’ suggestions and let myself go....Just feel the pain. She said "This pain is good and that it is taking you one step closer to the baby. (I can truly never forget the impact of these words at that time) I embraced the pain and went with the contractions. I started pushing the baby out when I felt like I wanna do. Nobody insisted to do so. She made me listen to what my body said.
At last, my princess arrived. It was magical. I was on the top of the world. No words could explain how I felt at that moment. I settled down with my baby, was fed…while my husband who was my rock was giving my baby skin to skin care... (These are priceless moments – onesthat I will always cherish till the very end of time. It was totally worth every step of the way.The hardship of moving from Palani to Cochin and the birth place of my child will always have a special place in my heart.......
My final pointers: It took me a long time to move from early labor to active labor and further an additional twelve hours to move just 2 cm. Labor takes time and patience. You need evidence based birth education and a solid team to back you up...I had complete confidence in my birth team. Not once did I let go or have doubts. Both of us were very committed till the end. I had so many questions as to how I would handle pain, and I realized at the end of it there is no point in trying to look for ways to manage pain. Rather, the key lies in gearing up and facing it rather than trying to run away from it and if one is truly supported by people they trust there is nothing to fear!!
Wishing all the mothers-to-be an awesome birthing experience no matter whatever is the outcome!!
Why I Loved Laboring At Home
I have always believed that childbirth is the most natural process in human life and had since several years made up my mind that if ever I were to have a baby I would birth it at home, naturally and never at a hospital.
However, when Thulasi and I first found out that we were expecting a baby, we found ourselves at a hospital consulting a gynecologist and came home with all these supplements feeling uncomfortable and insecure and were constantly under the feeling that pregnancy is a “risky affair” and almost every other person we knew ended up having a c-section for some reason or the other. After a while, we decided that it was far safer for us to just have a home birth.However, our parents just could not handle the stress and my mother heard from somebody about Birthvillage and insisted that we go and check it out.
From our first appointment at Birthvillage, Thulasi and I were totally convinced that we had finally found the right place. We were given so much information and all our questions were answered and we felt very comfortable. The Lamaze classes by Priyanka were eye opening and freed us from so many misconceptions that we were bombarded with from all sides. It also helped a great deal in strengthening the bond between us as a couple and we really became equally involved in the whole process. I was encouraged to dance, sing, exercise, walk and stay well and happy. Donna’s high energy workouts not only kept me fit but gave me lots of confidence about my body’s stamina and capability during pregnancy. The other great thing was that both Priyanka and Donna were very strict about diet and we meticulously followed their advice and therefore we could avoid all artificial supplements and had weight gain under control.
When my water finally broke early in the morning, on the 6th of November, Thulasi and I stayed at home until the contractions became strong enough. Laboring at home was also a very beautiful experience because the two of us could stay calm and enjoy the process. Our midwives kept checking on us every hour, from the moment we reached Birthvillage until we left with our baby. They took such good care of us that it was far more that what we expected. They held my hand through each contraction and stayed by my side soothing and encouraging me. And when it was time to push I must say I could not have done it without their support. They are such angels!
Thulasi and I feel just absolutely lucky to have ended up in Birthvillage at the right time to have our baby. The whole process was natural and gentle without any unnecessary interventions whatsoever. We had the freedom to labor at our body’s own pace. The birthing room was so beautiful and warm and we could bond with our little one from the moment he came out. He was never separated from us. Breastfeeding was initiated immediately. And we could go home in a few hours. What more could we ask for. We love our birthing experience and wish midwifery gets much more support and respect in our country.
An Original And A Sequel
Sequels are seldom better than the original. Superman II, Conan the Destroyer, etc. are great examples of poor sequels to a great first movie.Of course there are a few exceptions to the rule. Batman - The Dark Knight, The Godfather Part II, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, all incredibly successful sequels that stood up to and even went beyond expectations. So what makes a great sequel, you ask? Well, here's my take on it.
Firstly, retain the same cast and crew (as far as possible). But, if you can't do that, at least make sure that the new members to the team are on board with the original idea and are passionate about the direction the script should take. Secondly, don't get pressurized by external influences. Initial success of a franchise can actually have a negative impact on the creative process. Audience expectations, studio's expectations, budget, etc. can all bear down on the team and result in poor decision making. Thirdly, add a new character or two, who can enhance the value of the franchise. Finally, ensure that every member of the team is fully prepared for their role and the lead players continue to put in the hard work that resulted in the first movies success. Wondering why our birth story starts with references to movie franchises with great sequels, read on to find out.
Our story and association with Birth Village started way back in 2012, when Aditi was pregnant with Eku. From the moment we knew that Aditi was pregnant, I knew that our script wasn't going to be entirely conventional. Though it took me a while to warm up to the idea of natural birthing at Birthvillage, once there, I knew that there wasn't going to be any looking back. After all, our midwives were ready to listen to our concerns, talk to us like adults and educate us on Aditi's pregnancy. With Eku, we started our appointments are Birthvillage only by the 20th week of Aditi's pregnancy, but straight away, we got very involved, attending Lamaze Classes and birth story sessions. Aditi was very active from the beginning and practiced prenatal Yoga and exercised profusely. She was also super strict with her diet, without compromising on the joy of eating. Safe to say, we were as prepared as two people could be for the birth of our first child. Under the expert guidance at Birthvillage, Aditi managed to deliver Eku after 18 hours of labor. It was an emotional experience for us, and one that I can never forget. Holding my son for the first time, I remember how worried I was that I would hurt him, just by touching him. But with encouragement and with practice, carrying Eku became second nature and I took on the role of consoling him and putting him to sleep whenever I was around. I am proud of the way Aditi and I have put in every effort to raise Eku into the child that he is today and look forward to all the adventures and experiences that lie ahead for him.
Hold on, the story is only half over. After all I started off talking about sequels. Around the time Eku turned two, Aditi and I started talking about the prospects of having another baby, and as luck would have it we soon found out that she was expecting our second child. This time around, we had the amazing opportunity of doing an even better job. We started working with Birthvillage from the 8th week of Aditi's pregnancy. With a slight change in members, our birth-team made us feel at home right away. Not once did we feel any difference from the first time. But, because Aditi was busy raising Eku for two years, she never got her fitness back, so it was clear that she had to work on strengthening and aligning her body to ensure that this pregnancy was going to be as smooth as the last one. Prenatal Yoga cum dance classes thrice a week was perfect to get her back in shape and it was super fun seeing her practice some of the moves at home on days that the classes couldn't happen. As the weeks progressed, it was clear that the strict diet and frequent exercise was paying off, as Aditi was super healthy and the baby was developing beautifully. 37 weeks in, we knew that the baby was due anytime, there was even a refresher class for us on the 18th of February, just to remind us of what to expect during the pregnancy and how it might progress. Good thing too, because barely 24 hrs later Aditi's contractions started.
The second time around we knew that the delivery was going to be shorter and faster But little did we know how fast. Far as I can tell her contractions started at around 4:30 pm on the 19th of Feb and we were in Birthvillage by 7:35 pm. By 8:00 pm, Aditi was in the birthing pool and her contractions were full on. Would you believe it, by 8:07 pm little Rishi Zacharias was born!! Keeping with the true Birthvillage spirit, the first priority was to ensure that the baby and mother bonded. But soon enough we had to get Aditi out of the pool to birth the placenta. This took a litle longer than expected and even required a bit of coaxing, but finally by 8:35 pm, Aditi was happily feeding Rishi and all was well. And yes this time around we sustained zero tear hence no suturing was required and blood loss which was very minimal. Our midwives were superb throughout and gave us ample time to rest and recover. After an hour of relaxing, they checked Aditi and Rishi to make sure that everything was normal and informed us that we could go back home after a few hours. Aditi was given a bath, which really rejuvenated her. We desperately wanted to get back home with Rishi .The journey back was slow and gave us the opportunity to introspect on the past 9 months, and we both came to same conclusion. It was time to let our hair down, forget about our diets and just eat ICE CREAM. So, new born baby in toe, we headed to the nearest Ice Cream Parlor that was open to celebrate in the wee hours of the morning..
I know we aren't perfect and I know I have made a lot of mistakes along the way, but I hope that Aditi and I can be great parents to Rishi and help Eku be a great brother too. We are super excited to start this all new journey and can't thank the Birth Village team for helping us have such a wonderful pregnancy.
Before I sign off, I want to also thank my immediate family and close friends who have been our strength from day one. Reggie, Amma, Shubhra and Tarsh for taking care of Eku and giving Vincent a wonderful second home. Appa, Amma and Thoma for unconditional love. Jujitsu Mama, for teaching us how to Party Tonight.
By Sebastian Zacharias (Proud dad to Eku and Rishi) and even prouder partner to Aditi.
Artist and Homemaker Sebastian Zacharias
Managing Director, CINZAC, Kochi
Fish curry meals, Action Hero Biju (while labor hopping at Lulu and Central Mall in between).I got to know that I was pregnant when I was in Germany. We consulted a gynecologist there and was told that my pregnancy was perfectly normal. I was encouraged to be physically active and was given the impression that life could go on as usual. Since this was my first pregnancy and I had taken a break from work I thought it would be a good idea to continue the rest of my term in India.Within days of landing I became a nervous wreck and was made to feel like my being pregnant was something pathological. Not only was I put on bed rest, it was also made abundantly clear that my age, the fact that I had waited so long to conceive, my height, my weight everything was an issue. One week I was doing five flights of stairs everyday and hiking with my friends and the next I was confined to my bed except for my daily meals. I knew that I could not continue the rest of my pregnancy like this. I had to go back to Germany or find another way to continue in India. That is exactly when I heard of Birthvillage. The initial plan was just to attend yoga/dance classes and find a peer group of pregnant women with whom I could share my concerns. However, the growing realization that the difference between various medical establishments here, was merely a matter of degree and not approach, led me to book my first consultation with the midwives there. The consultation lasted a full hour and answered several of my concerns regarding my pregnancy. It was clear that my age, my reproductive decisions so far, my height; my weight had nothing to do with my ability to have a healthy pregnancy. My midwives never sugarcoated anything. It was clearly my responsibility to eat well, exercise, and maintain reasonable levels of stress. And I was totally okay with this. Lamaze classes helped me understand the changes my body would undergo and how I could cope with them better. Their insistence in involving Sandeep, allowed him to be an active participant and experience something that would not have been possible in a more conventional setup.
Labor and birth
I woke up at 4 in the morning with what is referred to in the pregnancy community as bloody show. I went to Birthvillage and was told that I was 2 cm dilated and 60% effaced. The baby's head had not yet completely engaged but my midwife wisely refrained from telling me how far it really was. She just encouraged me to do lots of stairs and enjoy my day. We went up and down the stairs at Center Square Mall, grabbed our favorite fish curry meals at The Grand and then headed down to Lulu mall, where I did more stairs and finally settled down for a movie, Nivin Pauly's Action Hero Biju, which was pretty decent by the way.
My contractions had started early in the day but all the activity helped to keep me distracted. I clearly remember that once I got home, I could feel the contractions more intensely. I tried to get some sleep after watching another movie. But the contractions kept me awake for most of the night. I threw up several times and was up by 4 in the morning. At this point the contractions seemed to be 5 minutes apart and super intense. We timed a few just to be sure and made our call to our midwife. She then asked me if I would prefer to come down at this point. We headed towards Birthvillage around 6am. My midwives were there to greet us. At this point I was 6 cm dilated and extremely exhausted. I had to sleep for a while through the contractions to regain some energy. My midwives gave me honey and I tried munching on dried fruits and drinking tender coconut water. At some point, we went to the pool where my water broke. However, the water relaxed me so well that I could actually snooze off. I used the birthing stool and the rope to make my way through the rest of the labor. I remember feeling my baby’s head at some point and before I knew it I was holding Malavika in my arms. I kept cooing and babbling while Sandeep cut the cord and I birthed out the placenta in a couple of minutes. I was then checked for any tears down there. I had a warm bath and spent the next few hours nesting with my new family. My labor lasted for over 32 hours and I could not believe it. The most powerful thing I took back from the experience was the knowledge that my body was capable of doing this!!
It is true when they say that the labor is not the hard part.It is everything that happens after. As a new family, even with the help and support of our parents, it was difficult to figure things out amid all the hustle and bustle of well-meaning relatives and visitors. Malavika was not feeding continuously and we were concerned that she was not getting the nutrition that she required. The midwives visited us at home for the postnatal visit to see how we were doing and spent some time addressing our concerns and asking how we were managing. We were encouraged to go back to Birthvillage to work things out. This was a godsend. With my midwives guidance and support we got every last drop of colostrum into Maalu and she was latching successfully at the end of the day.
We are glad that we chose Birthvillage and the work that they do is really a blessing for all the women in Cochin, who are lucky enough to have access to it. I do not think that it is possible to thank them and the Birthvillage team enough for everything that they have done.
Scientist, Drefden, University,US
Goa Film Festivals, Scooter Rides On High Ranges And Birthing As One.
On March 4th at 4.51am, in the early hours of dawn,our dear daughter Sidhartha Sangvi sneaked out to glimpse theworld and made it possible to come out completely to feel the first step on earth. She is indeed the result of long term preparations and contemplation. Our pregnancy too was a beautiful and divine journey of regeneration between ‘3 to 1’ and ‘1 to 3’.
The Natural birthing centre ‘Birth Village’ fulfilled our dream to explore Gestation period, delivery and post- natal phase of pregnancy, together, deviating from the cliché roles of tensed husband taking laps outside the labor room and wife who leaves to her home on the 7th month of pregnancy and comes back to the husband’s home with the child after delivery and
When we approached an allopathic care provider for pregnancy confirmation, the advice given to us were, not to travel, not to climb stairs, mandatory bed rest etc. It literally frightened us and forced us to recognize pregnancy as a state of illness. We were leading life to its full swing and vibrancy until then and the thoughts about spending our pregnancy in such dullness lowered our energy and confidence. With the same state of mind as we climbed the stairs of Birth village, we heard our midwife’s voice, “You are not a patient. You are just pregnant.” Those words were actually opening the possibility to fulfill our wish of celebrating pregnancy to its best.
We never had to confine our movements throughout the period of pregnancy. We could be everywhere we wanted to be. Be it those regular journeys to Ernakulum for consultation, trips to high range spots like Idukki, Wayanad, Paithalmala, Kappimala, Coorg and Kollur, those sunsets at different shores, Goan Film Festival, Drama workshops, Classes, Scooter rides, Swimming,Dancing and what not! We had the gala at its paramount.
Those suggestions and advises provided by our midwives during each consultation helped us to be more meticulous and devoted. It was important to do systematic studies and research for enjoying the prenatal, natal and postnatal stages of pregnancy to its fullest. Our midwives stood with us as facilitators, resource persons, supporters and tutors.
By the afternoon of March 3rd, my mucous plug was expelled out and slowly the labor pain started. As our midwives suggested, we went for a relaxing, light- natured film, spent some quality time at a park, walking, had delicious food to our taste and went to bed at 9.30. But, by that time the contraction had reached 30 seconds in 15 minutes intervals. We waited for it to reach 60 seconds in 5 minutes. Around 1, it reached between 45 – 50 seconds in 4 minutes intervals, and we informed our midwife that we would be reaching there soon.
As we reached birth village around 1.45 am, we could see our midwives awaiting us with no signs of sleepiness on their faces, but energy on full swing. The birthing room was ready with desired lighting, the arrangements for water birth and all other necessary prerequisites in place. After the primary examination, our midwife told us that the cervix was dilated to 6 cm, which made us feel that we arrived on the right time. It took almost one hour of labor where I relaxed and slept a bit in the pool and another 2 hours for the birth. It was the ideal time to practice the knowledge we earned during last 38 weeks of pregnancy.
In between, whenever we ran short of confidence and lost hope, we had our midwives by our sides like two energy reservoirs to bring us up. The support they provided was beyond words. They gave us full freedom to try out different positions according to our comfort, for the smooth delivery. At the end of the second hour, we, as one body, pushed the baby out; our daughter’s head peeped out at 4.51 am. Within seconds, her whole body came out to the hands of our midwife. She welcomed her like an angel and placed her on her mother’s chest with the umbilical cord still attached inside to the placenta. As the cord stopped pulsating, her father cut the cord and separated her to the world that awaits her with stretched hands.
It’s a very short narration of what we had gone through… there is a lot to say and pages to write… a big schooling and a beautiful phase of knowing life… educating ourselves… learning love….Big thanks to Birthvillage and to all those faces who were with us throughout this journey
With much Love
Consultant Psychologist, Anaamaya Hospital,Payannur
Assistant Professor, VMC, Payannur
By Way Of Appliqué Work, Supernatural Pink T - Shirts And Singapore
It was from FB that I first came to know of Birthvillage – when my college senior Aathira Ajith birthed at Birthvillage, about 2-3 years ago.I wasn’t even married then, but was quite interested knowing there is a natural birthing centre at Kerala. When my time came, and I realized I will be in India for my delivery, I remembered Birthvillage again and talked to Reinack about it. I didn’t have to convince him, he was all up for natural birth, anything to avoid the very common C-section trend in India. With many positive reviews from happy couples over the past few years, the potential to bring a ‘non-drugged’ baby into the world and the fact that the husband gets to be actively involved during the whole process. On paper, Birth Village seemed to be our best bet.
Till my 31st week of pregnancy, I was working in Singapore.Hence,we consulted a gynecologist at a regular hospital there. Following a Skype appointment with Birthvillage in January, Reinack & I decided we would pick water-birth at Birthvillage for delivering our baby
From my 32nd week, I was in Kerala and came to Cochin for my fortnightly prenatal checkups. Reinack flew down for a short period to attend the couple sessions of Lamaze classes with me. These classes were very informative and helpful for our labor and postpartum experiences. Following the instructions from Birthvillage, I did squats, lunges, stair-climbing, exercise ball workouts and practiced breathing techniques daily. My diet was also well taken care of by my in-laws and mother after I reached Kerala.
I moved to Cochin with my mother in the 36th week and so could attend the morning workout sessions led by Donna that were held twice a week. I enjoyed the sessions which included stretches, meditation, breathing and dance workouts; it was nice doing all this with other mommies-to-be. I don’t think I would’ve done as much if I were doing them alone at home!
Some interesting experiences at the prenatal appointments were that we were amazed at how our midwives could just touch my bump and say how the baby was positioned. Ours was positioned with the head downward right from the time I arrived at Kerala in beginning of February.
Another fascinating experience was that the midwives touched my bump and found out I had skipped exercises 1 week and because the baby was in the same position as in previousappointment! So yeah, in short, the Birthvillage midwives know what they are doing! ;)
Coming to my labor, one of my main concerns was if Reinack would be with me when I go into labor. What if I give birth when he is on the flight from SG to Cochin, what if my labor starts at night, the next direct flight to Cochin would be flying only after 24 hrs, blah blah... But it’s amazing how perfect the timings were! Reinack was to leave SG on the night of 4th April. On 4th early morning, I noticed slight cramps in my lower tummy. From the Lamaze classes, we were aware of the early signs of labor. The cramps went away with movement first and then they came at irregular intervals. I went ahead with my daily activities and did not call the midwives. Lamaze classes made us confident that there were a few more hours to reach the active stage of labor. By 4th evening, when Reinack was checking in at the airport, my contractions started becoming stronger. I started timing them – contractions were at 20-30 minutes for a little over 1 minutes. I felt I was in the early phase of
labor. Reinack and I decided it was time to call and let the midwives know. At 7 pm on 4th April, I rang my midwife up and gave her the contraction details. She asked me to go to bed early and call her when the contractions are around 10 minutes apart. I made some tea and went back to stitching anapplique bed sheet for our baby. Though I went to bed earlier than normal, I could not sleep much because the contractions were picking up slowly. Reinack was now on the flight, I prayed we could go to Birthvillage together.
At 2:40 am on 5th April, my mucous plug came out. By around 3:30 am, Reinack reached our house!
We went to sleep ready to wake up to go to Birthvillage. By morning, my contractions became more frequent – with around 5 min intervals. We called Priyanka at around 9:15 am and told her we would reach in half an hour. When we reached,both Priyanka and Donna were waiting for us, the birth room set to our liking – with dim lights. Reinack had made a playlist with instrumental music (I love such music!).
With the beautiful music playing in the background and in a room that looked nothing like a hospital room, Reinack and I started our adventure, with the midwives on our sides to support us. Walking, swaying, bouncing on exercise ball, sitting on the birth stool, squatting using the birth rope, 6 flights of stairs, lunch and many contractions later, it was time for me to enter the pool. The warm water was soothing.
“Our midwives eased us through the next couple of hours with motivating words and suggestions, which I felt was invaluable. Despite Viji’s best efforts, our baby’s amniotic sack (water bag) just wouldn’t break! Deep down, I felt we were in for an extended labor and feared that if the situation didn’t improve soon, Viji just wouldn’t have enough energy to push. I was wrong. Viji kept at it and the water broke. A few pushes later, our baby popped out! That moment is gonna beetched in my mind forever. She was soft, slippery, alert and perfect. Viji was exhausted our midwives got to work with her and ensured everything was under control.” -Reinack
There were times when I forgot to breathe, got scared and wondered whether I would be able to do it. I must say having Reinack by my side helped a lot – I could squeeze his arms when the pain increased, his hugs when I was in pain strengthened me. They all reminded me to breathe well. At 4:45 pm, our baby girl Norah popped out. It was painful, but the moment when I saw our baby and Reinack’s face brighten with excitement, happiness and pride, will forever remain in my heart. It was truly special. Our baby was kept on my chest, a soft, slippery, delicate thing, looking right into my eyes Reinack cut the cord; and he is the one who inspected and toldme it’s a girl! That was special too!
I was exhausted by then and for the next few hours; I was in lah-lah land! But my midwives got to work and ensured that everything was under control.
“It was difficult for me to watch at times. I have heard there is tremendous physical pain for the mother during child birth. But hearing about it and the feeling of being there when it happens is incomparable. I got a better idea of what family is all about in the few hours I spent with my wife in labor. I think every husband should experience it at least once”- Reinack
Babies From Calcutta To Cochin
Here's someone who researched the entire country for all her options from North to South and East to West before coming to Cochin... 41 hours of labor later, here's what this renowned Kathak dancer has to say....Three ‘baby-mad’ women, Onefirst-time mom, One first-time dad;Firm hands massaging me through contractions; My husband chanting ‘Om’ through my contractions;Walking up and down the stairs; The relief of warm water on my back in the birthing pool;The contractions getting more intense; My partner/husband/lover feels them vibrating through my body andsuddenly the baby is out.
The three of us spend the first night together. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
An Epic Birthstory With A Repeat
One of the epic births at Birthvillage in 2011 which spanned over 5 days.The classic Gulf Malayalee, employed overseas who is able to travel with very limited leave, with very little time to prepare for birth, was rock solid through it all then 5 years back.
With the same calm demeanor slipped in effortlessly to the birth of his second child.
The only difference was that he had to additionally pat his older son to sleep in birthright whilst labor was in process.
And after birthing her child this mum walked out of the centre as if she had been just finished a prenatal. Cool as a cucumber...
Don't we just midwives love that!!
Restaurant Captain,Armed Forces Officers Club and Hotel
From Poona To Pixie
Our birth story begins a few months back when we started looking (thanks to Google from Poona) for a natural water birth centre in India and we found one here in Kochi. After initial communication with the staff and the midwives we were confident that this is where we want to be for welcoming our baby. We had to convince our parents and travel to the tip of the Indian peninsula, to the beautiful city of Kochi by 35th week. Our parents were against travelling far and insisted on visiting nearby doctors, who obviously will do lots of tests, prescribe lots of meds and perform lots of medical interventions which are unnecessary.
At Birth village, we took several Lamaze classes on natural birthing, the pros and cons of medical interventions, diet of pregnant mother, partner’s role in the entire journey and finally postpartum and breast feeding. After doing these classes, we felt confident to be parents. The most important thing we learnt was to have patience. Things will happen when they are meant to happen, that is natural. There is no need to aggravate or rush the process.
On the actual day, my water broke at 2am and I went into early stage of labor. It took me almost 10 hours to get into actual active labor. (Remember patience is the key) during delivery. My midwives along with my husband helped me bring a beautiful bundle of joy into this world. My midwives were very experienced, caring, motivating, loving and guiding exactly on birthing positions. Use of positive language encouraged me to keep my stamina going. We had a few laughing moments too! Remember it’s not only about pain, it’s an awesome experience and every woman should enjoy every bit of it. It will pain, hurt and exhaust you but in the end it will be all worth it when you see your baby in your arms. The moment she was born, she was actually smiling looking at me. That's the power of natural birthing. And Rohan, my husband, got to cut the baby's cord.
I would recommend Birthvillage to every pregnant lady as it supports natural birthing with the best love and care possible. I would like to thank my midwives for their crucial support in birthing my first child. Entire staff of birth village was very loving and caring. We are glad to choose this place for the birth of our little Pixie.
If you are healthy and really care about your baby's health and future, do educate yourselves about all options and do support natural birthing as it is truly worth a go.
- Extremely happy parents
Oil and Gas Consultant, Freelancer
Birth Story Of A 4.1kg Hunky Boy
Of buttery births at 41 weeks and brand new homes (and to top it off with a 4.1kg hunky boy!)We always wanted a second child and when our first born, Shanaya( a birth village baby) turned 2and1/2, we decided that it’s time for her sibling. After one Birthvillage experience it was only natural to me that I would want the same ecstatic child birth experience. In Aug 2015, I conceived and we were very happy about it, but second pregnancies are different, though you may appear a seasoned first timer. It took many months for the pregnancy to sink in, though I had severe nausea and other symptoms. But it was a smooth pregnancy which we enjoyed -we had baby showers and parties, photo shoot etc. (the first pregnancy was kept low key). By December, I came down for a month and half from Dubai and joined the Birthvillage workout classes and it totally rocks. I had a great time-The dance, the yoga and the meditation. Plus the prenatal visits at the center. Going to the birth center always makes me happy. I continued the dance sessions at home with my daughter even when I went back to Dubai .I remained very active throughout pregnancy. Having a tendency towards gestational diabetes I was completely off sugar.
Back to Cochin again in Feb, I carried on without missing any workout classes. Everybody around me or at least most of them around me said that this baby would come early. The baby had settled deep down in my pelvis quite early on, and around the 35th week I felt extreme heaviness and exhaustion. My midwives told me that what I needed was rest and I was off the exercise class for two weeks. We wanted the baby to complete 37 weeks at least and that happened. I was back in the exercise class AGAIN at week 37 and then that went on to week 39. Navin came down from Dubai on 26th and left after few days deciding to come back when there were some symptoms. I was feeling upset that he may miss the birth. One of my midwives did a special meditation session with me telling me to let go off expectations and calculations, to leave it to destiny to decide who will be there for the birth, making me understand that I am capable of birthing the baby no matter who is there and who is not there. I felt relieved and I actually let go, and then Navin returned on 7th as the due date as per the ultrasound was 10th. We were going out to all the malls. I was doing the stairs, walking, bouncing on the birth ball etc so that labor would kick in. 10th came and went. No signs of labor. Shanaya had arrived bang on the due date and my whole family expected the same to happen this time around. So we started getting calls enquiring about my well being , whether baby was ok, is a C-Section required , whether the midwives would induce labor .. It was the concern for the baby and me. At the same time many people said its ok let the baby come when it’s ready. I wanted Navin to be there for the birth. So at one point I thought should we go for some natural method like membrane stripping. But our midwives told us that I was just in 40th week and it was unnecessary as the baby is fine. Finally, Navin said that we will wait and will not go for induction and that he would leave on 21st irrespective of birth happening or not. We had chosen a completely natural birth for a reason and we didn’t want any kind of intervention. We were at peace now. We informed our midwives that we will wait it out. We decided to go out and enjoy the last few days as threesome. On 17th we decided to go to Fort Kochi and take a walk and go to Kashi art cafe. At the same time my family was also planning to move into our new house but we just could not as some last minute hitch would crop up. Finally, we decided to move on 18th. My intuition said that I would go into labor too and that’s precisely what happened. At about 3:38am, the pain kicked in. but I waited just to be sure. Then, at about 5 am I informed Navin that pains had started and just like last time he said- try to sleep. And we did that. But the pain was getting very intense very fast. At about 7:30 we decided that we should call our midwives and tell them that we wanted to come. We decided to have breakfast. We needed energy. So I opted for a quick bread toast and hubby decided to have French toast. So while he was munching my brother became my birth partner. By 8:25 am we left home and were at Birthvillage by 8:40ish. I get two strong contractions and I decide to enter the pool. As soon as I enter the pool one of my midwives came in saying- " I didn’t know u were here!" I felt a strong urge to push and I did. Another long push and the baby's head emerge. I touch the head and am all motivated. A very, very long grunt and push and out comes the baby at 8:52 am and there on my chest. For the next few minutes Navin and I are soooo excited and happy that we forget to see the gender and then Navin checks and announces -it’s a boy. So though overdue by a week the little fellow decides to spare his parents a long labor and comes out in 20 minutes. It wassuper fast even with a cord around his neck. Just could not believe it!!! All's well that ends well-water birth, normal healthy baby and Navin's presence with a bouncy baby boy of 4.1 kg!!!
And from thinking about wanting a membrane sweep, I went on to birth without an exam or requirement of sutures (Stitches) even after the birth!
God has been very kind and we took our new bundle of joy to our brand new home.
The SUPER man’s version
Although I have always considered Renu to be more competent to choose the method of delivery that should be adopted, after our first session prior to the birth of our first child it was a no- brainer for me to adopt natural childbirth.It was the first time that we were informed that childbirth was a natural phenomenon and not a medical condition especially if the mother was healthy and it may not require a battery of tests and that medical professionals may come in for natural childbirth as trained midwives (which is an accepted norm in most European countries) which has stood the test for the births of both our children. And this is not the case of just our two children but also from many other families whom we interacted with whom I would refer to as our birth batch mates.
What I feel impressed with is that the mother does not take any medication, doesn’t feel any weaker during labor or after the birth. It is amazing especially when I compare it to a lot of my friends accounts of what happened after births, often repeated C sections and numerous days they are required to stay in.Whereas in our case, it was a pretty short labor this time around and many of us may not believe that but straight after the birth my wife had a hot meal, round of selfies and the three of us had a good nap together as a new family as I had been up since 5 am and Renu since 3 am due to the onset of labor and I had to catch up on my missed sleep.
It takes a lot to stand up when the world pretty much goes the other way but there a sense in going with intuition and recognizing and supporting what is just and right and that’s exactly what we did and we are extremely proud of that.
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