We had our first pregnancy March-December, 2020. We lived in a village in Asturias. This was the time when Spain went into full lockdown during the first Covid wave, and restrictions of varying degrees remained for the rest of the year too. We gave birth at home in a pool. Labor took about two hours. It was a wonderful experience for everyone involved. We lived the birth we dreamed of. A month after birth, here’s what we think helped us prepare for the birth.
Nature.Ana/Gabor (A/G): With all the coronavirus craziness, we would have gone mad if we lived in a city. We were so grateful that we could enjoy nature, have mountains in the south, have the ocean in the north, go for long walks and hikes and just fucking breath life in. A: I love sun so it was wonderful for me to enjoy summer and sunbathe in the second trimester.
Midwife service.A/G: We chose to settle in Asturias for the period of the pregnancy because of the avaibility of a women’s circle and midwife service. We hired a midwife and doula to support our pregnancy from the very beginning and assist the birth at home. We felt cared and prepared for the birth. By the time A was due to, we established a trustful, loving relation with them.
Monthly pregnant women’s circle.A: A supportive, safe environment to exchange experiences with women in the same boat.
Birth vision and plan.A/G: Throughout the pregnancy, we conciously created a birth vision. We imagined how we would like that it happens and eventually crafted a birth plan. This was shared with the midwife too.
Motherhood celebration.A: My local friends organized a surprise ritual for me to celebrate my upcoming motherhood. It was beautiful to be surrounded with other mothers and feeling their support. G: When we decided to make a baby, I gave an amulet of Sheela Na Gig to A to remind ourselves the amazing capacity women have.
Books, books, books.
Yoga Mama, Yoga Baby. A: Great overview of what to expect each month. G: Hands-on toolbox of breathing exercises, asanas, herbs to support the pregnant mother.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. G: Aka the bible. First I read it a few years ago and then reread it during the pregnancy as well. Very clear summary of the natural birth process, the various complications might occur, and the interventions hospitals typically apply. Half of the book is dedicated to women sharing their natural birth experiences. It was very helpful to create a birth vision for ourselves.
Simplicity Parenting. A: An inspiring read about creating a distraction free environment for the child. A child, especially a baby, only needs you really, not toys.
Human Cycle. G: An athropologist’s contemplatations on the various ways three distinct societies, an African tribe, British middle class and Indian ashram, operate and approach life. An absolutely transformative read. Helped me come to a conclusion on what fatherhood means to me.
Videos.G: The Hungarian Hoztam e világra Youtube channel publishes stories of women giving birth. I found it very educative to hear their first-hand stories that ranged widely from traumatic to joyful.
Videos.A/G: We watched a few documentaries about natural birth giving. We were very grateful for the couples featured in the films who openly discussed and shared the footage of their births. It really helped us visualize our very own birth. None of us attended any births before, therefore this was key for us to really understand and emphatize with the process.
Making love.A/G: We made love throughout the whole pregnancy. It was a very different and beautiful experience. We heard that semen can cause the uterus to contract, in fact, very close to the birth it can even trigger the birth. We also experimented with this, and confirmed the theory. In the last few weeks the three times we made love, A had contractions afterwards. During the last one we even believed that the birth has started.
Available partner.A: It was very important for me to have G’s support. He educated himself about the whole process that gave me confidence. I loved our walks, hikes, acro yoga and massages sessions. G: By the time A became pregnant, I managed to have a remote, part-time job that gave us financial security and enabled me to be really present during the pregnancy.
Music.A/G: We collected a few hours worth of songs that we imagined listening at the birth. It was a nice bonding exercise. We already started to listen to this playlist in the last few weeks. During the birth, listening to these songs was very comforting. We fell in love with the music of Paz Shanti.
Journal.A: I kept a diary during the pregnancy. I got the idea from the book Tiempo de espera in which a mother writes a journal to her coming baby. I found it a beautiful way to start to communicate with my baby while she was still in the womb. It also creates an opportunity for the baby to read it back as a grown up to hear what it was alike to be pregnant with her.
Inspirational cards.A: I made a deck of flip cards with thoughts I wanted to remember during the birth.
Pregnancy App.A: I really enjoyed that each week there was a visualization of the fetus. G: During the first two semesters I often found it challenging to emphatize with the upcoming birth. My body wasn’t transforming, I didn’t feel different. This app helped me a bit to get into the mood of what’s awating for us. Its content is really shallow though and assumes a hospital birth.
Overall it was an incredible journey we will never forget. However there’s one thing we would do differently next time. We haven’t prepared ourselves much for the fourth trimester. It was quite an intense, tough ride. We wish we educated ourselves more about breastfeeding (which we wanted to do exclusivily for a long period of time). We wish we had a supporting community around. Our families were far and travel wasn’t sensible in the middle of the pandemic. We were new in our hood too and therefore we had no access to nearby friends either.