Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Homebirth

Dealing with Loss While Growing a Life

Tricia was shocked to find out she was pregnant shortly after getting back from her father’s funeral. She hadn’t been really trying to get pregnant with her husband but they had agreed to go off birth control. She figured it would take a while, but it didn’t! She has a lot of feelings and things to say about grieving while pregnant, and mostly remembers crying…sleeping…working…and eating ice cream for 9 months. She is forever grateful that home birthing crossed her radar while she was pregnant and feels like the universe was looking out for her and she listened, and it forever empowered her.

Stages of Tricia’s Homebirth

Tricia’s first birth was a home birth at 37 weeks. Labor began by her water breaking in full after sleeping for about an hour, and was followed fairly quickly with consistent contractions. Although she remembers thinking she should go back to sleep, her husband and her were too excited. Justin had just come home from working all day at their bar and he popped up and made nachos for them to eat while they waited in anticipation for contractions to start. Tricia was blown away by how here body needed to squat through every contraction and felt at the end that she was back in high school playing a volleyball tournament all day. Externally Tricia’s labor looked straightforward and smooth, but internally it was an immensely intense physical, emotional, and spiritual event. She dilated to 10 cm within 8 hours of her water breaking, but then developed a swollen cervical lip and pushed on and off for 4 hours.

Her labor stalled during the pushing stage and didn’t pick up again until she was able to release some emotional energy and fears surrounding her son and her father. During her labor she saw visions of her son as a grown man, had conversations in her mind with people she saw in her neighborhood, felt a deep golden initiation into the energy that is motherhood and generally was exposed to a unexplainable dimension outside of chronological time and space. Her son was born with a nuchal hand which helped explain a little about the prolonged pushing phase. Even though her birth was smooth and healthy, the pain and sensations Tricia experienced were emotionally traumatic. She remembers clearly thinking while she was pushing and the crowning began how sad it was that Cedar was going to be an only child because she really wanted two, but she would NEVER be able to tolerate birth again. After Cedar was born though the endorphins kicked in and she felt AMAZING. To her, the feeling she got directly after birth was strangely worth all the pain during the labor.
postpartum skin to skin
The day after her son was born she found out her father in law had left her mother in law after 30 years of marriage. This devastating reality coupled with the flashbacks of the pain during labor made for a tricky first few weeks of parenting. Tricia dealt with a lot of new feelings and fears with her own mortality and felt as though she had lost an innocence to life that she could never regain. With losing her dad to suicide, losing her family structure on her husband’s side, and the normal emotions of motherhood Tricia felt overwhelmed. She credits her husbands strength and the strength she gained from her powerful home birth as to how she was able find her way and feel joy during those first few weeks.  Cedar was very sleepy and wasn’t gaining enough weight, but after the help of a lactation consultant Tricia figured out breastfeeding and continued to breastfeed Cedar for 3 years.

Tricia’s Second Birth Postdates

Tricia found out she was pregnant again when Cedar was 10 months old. She had just had one period and she had read a lot about the rhythm method and how to time conception to try for a girl. She was shocked to find out she was already pregnant and she and her husband decided to keep this baby’s gender a surprise. Tricia noticed so many differences the second time around.  Mainly toward the end she felt much softer and ready to go. Tricia kept anticipating labor coming early like the first one, but alas it did not arrive early. The due date came and went, and Tricia gained a lot of understanding for how difficult it is to pass your due date. The next day, after emotionally tying up some work related stress, Tricia’s water broke in full and labor began around 3 pm.  Contractions didn’t really pick up until after her toddler was put to bed…it’s funny how that works.

Baby #2 came 1 day after her due date after 6 short but intense hours of labor, which she describes as feeling like a freight train making it’s way through her body. She learned a lot from her first birth and wanted to try using the birth ball as a tool to avoid  squatting with each contraction.  When it was time to push Tricia raised up on her knees and was startled to hear a  high-pitched gurgling scream coming between her legs before she even knew her baby’s head was out. The next push birthed her baby’s body and everyone laughed at how funny it all was. Baby #2 was born with a nuchal hand just like baby number 1. After about 10 minutes of holding baby #2 Tricia realized she hadn’t thought about the gender yet.  She had suspected it was a boy and had made peace with being a mom of 2 boys, but as she unwrapped the blanket to check the gender, she was overjoyed to see she had birthed a daughter. The first thought that popped into her mind was, “i am so sorry…being a girl is so hard”. Tricia loves being a woman, but had an immediate feminine connection with her daughter that was different than the connection she immediately felt with her son.  Her daughter Linden breastfed like a champ right away, and other than having a tongue tie that needed clipping, breastfeeding and postpartum went relatively smoothly. At this point Tricia’s mother-in-law moved in with their family and was a tremendously help with caring for Tricia, her husband, and two children.

homebirth midwife

Fast & Furious Baby #3 Homebirth

After her daughter turned 2 Tricia couldn’t shake the fact that she really wanted to have another baby. So after working on her husband for a year, he finally agreed to go for one more, and quickly she was pregnant for a third time. Being pregnant a third time was way harder than the two times before. Chasing after two children was tiring and Tricia gained more weight than she had the first two times around. Although she was thrilled to have a third child, it wasn’t as clearly joyful waiting for baby #3 to arrive. Tricia really wanted her mother to be at this birth, but found it very stressful to try and time travel plans around a birth. Tricia’s mother came a week before the due date figuring she would go early considering how large and uncomfortable she was, but birth is unpredictable.

It was great for Tricia to have her mother’s help for her two children, and she tried to make peace with the fact that her mother might not be at the birth. For two weeks before her baby came Tricia felt contractions begin at night and so Tricia and her husband would go on walks to try and kick labor into gear, but then by the time to morning came around her belly felt high again contractions had vanished. Every time she felt a contraction she experienced a milk let down reflex sensation without actually letting down milk.  Her due date came and went and she wondered how long she would have to wait.  But two days after her due date she woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, and she felt her baby’s head bulging as she used the toilet. She thought if she looked down she might actually see the head, but she didn’t!

Her baby was born after 4 incredibly short and painful hours. This birth was nothing like the first two. Her water breaking did not initiate labor, and with her bag intact she found it very awkward and uncomfortable to brace herself during contractions. The only way to cope was to get in the birth pool. She felt like a huge cow rolling from one side of the pool to the next moaning and just trying to surrender. During a contraction her water broke and then shortly after she felt a strong urge to push. Tricia was incredibly reluctant to push, as it hurt way too much and it took a lot of surrendering to go into that pain. She felt the ring of fire so intensely that she nearly ripped her husbands nipples off when she was pushing. After the head was born the shoulders hurt even more coming out. This was a new experience for her, and afterward her midwife told her she was concerned that the baby might get stuck as he might be diabetic. But he wasn’t…he was just 10 pounds 3 ounces! She was so thankful he was born safely and that her mother and two children were there to witness his entry into the world. With the birth of her son Ash, Tricia feels her family is complete.

Tricia Phillips Bio

Tricia Philips is a wife, mother of 3, and a childbirth educator living and teaching in Brooklyn, NY. She feels lucky to have birthed all three of her babies at home with the tremendous support of her husband, doulas, and midwives. Her journey into motherhood was preceded by the unfortunate suicide of her father, and the unexpected divorce of her in-laws. She often reflects on how the yin and yang of deep sorrow and pure joy felt during the pregnancy and birth of her first child paved a unique path to parenthood. Although very difficult, her experiences have given her a deep-rooted strength in herself and the universe that in some ways perfectly prepared her for the intense and gratifying work of raising children. Tricia is continuously humbled by mothering and is fascinated by birth as a spiritual event and a surrendering of “what is”. Her first birth unexpectedly blessed her with the knowledge that life comes from a powerful never ending source, and everyday since that experience she strives to stay connected to that knowing.  With each birth and each stage of her children’s lives Tricia is learning how to hold space for her children a little more, which in turn teaches her how to hold space for herself and be open to what life brings.

Birth Resources

Active Birth


Listen to me chat with Phyllis about today’s sponsor, BabyList, at the end of today’s episode and check out my sample registry of some of my favorite items for pregnancy and postpartum!

Three Homebirths + Postpartum Hospital Transfer

the birth houron itunes

the birth hour on stitcher

Summer Harms Bio

Summer Harms and her husband live in rural Minnesota and have 3 kids. They were planning a hospital birth with their first baby, but at 28 weeks,they ended up deciding to have a homebirth. The next two babies were also born at home! Her most recent birth was a super cozy Christmastime birth.


Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

The Business of Being Born

The Birth Hour

Special Announcements

My list of Black Friday/Cyber Monday Gifts for Expecting or New Moms!

Apply to share your birth story on The Birth Hour!

Rockin’ Green Discount


Use the code BIRTHHOUR and receive 40% off visit Rockin’ Green.

Birth Center Birth Story told with Midwife

the birth houron itunes

the birth hour on stitcher

Birth Center Birth Story

Today’s guest, Caitlyn, shares her experience giving birth at a birth center in Cary, NC called Baby+Co. She chose this birth center after not feeling supported in her hospital birth experience with her first child. Caitlyn had an amazing experience for her second and third children’s births at the Baby+Co birth center, and it was so great to hear her most recent birth story along with her midwife, Beth.

Caitlyn Kick Bio

Caitlyn Kick is a stay at home Mom to her 3 daughters, aged 3, 17 months, and 2 months. She attended East Carolina University, where she received her degree in Nutrition. She and her husband, Tyler, have been married 4 years. They live in Cary, NC. Watch this beautiful video from Caitlyn’s birth.

baby+company birth center birth story

Elizabeth Tyson Bio

beth tyson midwife cary NCCaitlyn is joined by her midwife, Elizabeth Tyson, to tell this story together. Beth originally hails from Chicago, and recently relocated to Cary with her 26-month old son and husband to become part of the Baby+Co. family.  She received her Master of Science in Nurse Midwifery and Master of Public Health in Maternal Child Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Beth has a particular interest in reducing disparities in low birth weight and preterm delivery. She has immersed herself in the well-being of women and families across the lifespan for many years, and takes great pleasure in assisting women in finding a place within healthcare where they feel valued, respected, and heard. Beth feels at home with Baby + Co., because they too seek to provide women with respectful care, and she is proud to help meet the needs of women and families in North Carolina.


birth center tub

Learn more about Baby+Co., including their model of care and outcomes by visiting their website. They are growing steadily with locations around the U.S.

Hospital and Birth Center Birth Stories

the birth houron itunes

the birth hour on stitcher

Hospital and Birth Center Stories

This episode features Denver mama, Alaina, who struggled to get pregnant and had two miscarriages before using Clomid for her 3rd pregnancy, and gave birth in a hospital setting. She found out she was pregnant again without any outside assistance just a year later and gave birth at a birth center, having an unexpected waterbirth.

waterbirth birth center

Alaina Isbouts Bio

Alaina and her husband Philip met while living abroad in Prague, and quickly bonded over their mutual love of travel and shared view of the world around them.  Though they got engaged very quickly, they enjoyed their time together traveling before they bought a house, settled down, and decided to try for a family. It unexpectedly took them a year and a half before they got pregnant with their first, a natural miscarriage at home. Eight months later, in a new home and new city, they found out they were once again pregnant. Once again, the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.  Alaina and Philip went through fertility testing and were finally able to have a healthy pregnancy with the help of Clomid. Her first birth was a 20-hour natural birth in a hospital.


Shortly after celebrating their baby’s first birthday, Alaina found out she was unexpectedly pregnant, though she was still nursing and not taking any fertility medications.  This time they decided to go with a birth center, and ended up with a beautiful and unplanned waterbirth. She currently calls Denver home, along with her husband of eight years and their two boys, Julian (3) and Finley (11 months).  Alaina is a freelance editor and writer, and you can find her online at She is on Instagram and Twitter @alainaisbouts.

Alaina recommends reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and taking a birth preparation class.


Listen to me chat with Whitney about BabyList at the end of today’s episode and check out my sample registry of some of my favorite items for pregnancy and postpartum!


*photos by Monet Nicole Birthing Stories. Monet has also shared her birth stories on The Birth Hour.

A Postdates Birth at The Farm

the birth houron itunes

the birth hour on stitcher
Shelby Shankland shares the story of her daughter’s hospital birth that initially left her feeling empowered, because she had overcome such a difficult experience. But as she processed it, she became more and more angry about the way her care was handled. When she became pregnant again, she knew she wanted a different experience and shares the story of her son Jack’s waterbirth at The Farm birth center in Summertown, TN. She ended up going 3 weeks past her due date and faced some scary moments after her son was born, but she trusted fully in her midwives at The Farm and felt empowered after her birth. Read more about giving birth at the farm.

the farm birth center midwives

Shelby Bio

Shelby Shankland lives in East Tennessee with her husband, 8 yr old daughter, and 3 yr old son. Prior to moving to Tennessee, she lived in San Francisco for almost 20 years, having moved there to attend the Conservatory of Music, and stayed on working in various office jobs until switching careers to postpartum doula work and lactation counseling after the birth of her daughter. Shelby is now a Certified LifeWorks Life Coach, a Reiki II Certified Reiki Practitioner, project manager for a learning and development company, and professional flutist. She enjoys all of her various means of bringing home the bacon, but in particular enjoys coaching and empowering women.
the birth houron itunes

the birth hour on stitcher

the farm summertown tennessee

Ina May Gaskin Resources

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

A film about The Farm Midwives and Ina May Gaskin

Shelby shares this article as a postpartum resource:

After-the-Birth Mother Care
Mothering, Spring 1995, by Nancy Griffin
IT’S BEEN A WEEK SINCE THE BABY WAS BORN, AND you haven’t slept a wink. Your milk just came in, and your nipples are getting sore. The laundry’s piling up, your mother-in-law just called to see why you haven’t sent thank-you notes to her friends, and you haven’t spoken a complete sentence to your husband since you went into labor. Help! Is this the way life is supposed to be? What about the new mommy?

Many women, having enthusiastically prepared for their new arrivals, are surprised by the world awaiting them on the other side of childbirth. The pediatrician is everything they had hoped for; the infant safety and CPR classes prove a definite boon; and the new furniture and baby gear are ready for action. The moms themselves, however, are not. They are overwhelmed and unable to find the time or space to tend to their own well-being–perhaps the greatest gift a mother can give her children. Well cared for ourselves, we become physically and psychologically equipped to care for our young, and to portray strong role models that will inspire them to take good care of themselves in the years ahead.
Based on what we know of our evolutionary past, women did not always journey into new motherhood feeling alone, uncertain, and distressed. Indigenous cultures had joyful postbirth rituals and well-established support systems in place to care for new moms. By reclaiming these mothercare customs from our not-so-distant past, and combining them with late-20th-century research findings plus a dash of modern common sense, we can find it not only possible but a lot of fun to take care of ourselves after giving birth.


According to current research, it takes about four to six weeks following an uncomplicated vaginal birth, and six to eight weeks following a complicated vaginal birth or cesarean, for a mother’s body to complete the initial stage of recovery from childbirth. Throughout this period of time, the uterus contracts, involuting to its prepregnancy size. Breastfeeding, which stimulates uterine contractions, assists in this process. Lochia, discharged vaginally, indicates that healing is occurring at the site of the placenta. Episiotomy or cesarean incisions are also mending at this time.

Orthopedic changes are taking place as well. Pregnancy hormone levels are dropping off and, with lactation, prolactin levels are rising–contributing to a gradual decrease in joint laxity. Over a 9-to 12-month period, both the pelvic ring and the abdominals realign and regain their strength. All the while, postural changes are taking place in response to the redistribution of weight.

To optimize your approach to the postpartum year, be sure to avoid any exercise that places your joints at risk for injury, stresses your abdominals or lower back, or places excessive caloric demands on your body. Safe forms of exercise include recovery exercise classes that emphasize non- or low-impact aerobic activity for cardiovascular training, swimming, walking on flat surfaces, stationary or mobile bike riding, and upper body muscle conditioning with resistance bands rather than weights. Options that can adversely affect your recovery include jogging, stair-climbing, step or bench aerobics, use of a StairMaster or inclined treadmill, highimpact aerobics, heavy cross-training, cardio-funk, and weight training. For as long as you continue lactating, your joints will remain somewhat lax–probably until the return of regular periods–so avoid any form of exercise that may stress your joints.
In tribal wisdom, the postpartum year was a time for mothering the mother. Massage was a popular healing technique used to help the new mother relax and to restore normal circulation, thereby facilitating optimal musculoskeletal recovery. Anthropological research reveals that for the first three months after giving birth, some of our foremothers were treated to a daily full-body massage.

Breastfeeding consultants were plenteous. Newly lactating mothers could call on any number of experienced women to help them adjust to breastfeeding in the first few weeks. No doubt, problems such as sore nipples, if they existed at all, were quickly alleviated by repositioning the baby on the breast, in keeping with tips from the village women.
The importance of excellent nutrition for the breastfeeding mother was widely recognized. In some tribes, the new father honored the mother’s passage by immediately hunting up an outstanding meal for her. He further demonstrated his manly virtues, it has been said, by not impregnating his wife until after the new baby had weaned, thereby averting postbirth pressure for too-soon sex.

Personal grooming was an integral component of the new mom’s day. The tribal women would escort her to the local pond, stream, or river and pamper her with herbal baths, shampoos, and facials. While she bathed, another woman would hold her newborn or teenagers would come babysit. Refreshed and renewed, she could feel like herself again, and the teens could rejoice in their hands-on training for parenthood.

The traditional postpartum care practices used to augment physical healing are simple enough to adapt to everyday use in today’s world. Take these evolutionary tips to heart in your time of recovery.


Self-esteem can falter in the postpartum months. Women accustomed to valuing themselves as the CEO of a big company, a movie star, or “simply” a superwoman adept at juggling home, family, husband, and career frequently think little of themselves as new mothers. The natural functions of pregnancy, birth, and new motherhood–once mysterious and highly regarded–are no longer sacrosanct. Weight gain is often viewed negatively, as is taking time off from work to begin a family. The pressures to have a perfect body, maintain a fabulously successful career, contribute substantially or fully to the family economy, and be a perfect parent often leave new mothers feeling overwhelmed and guilty.

In our rush to climb the contemporary ladder of accomplishment, we are apt to place our needs as mothers last on the agenda. To counteract this tendency and nourish your self-esteem, remember that in tribal times, giving birth and being a mother were among women’s greatest accomplishments. A woman’s ability to bear new life was honored as sacred, and the functions pertaining to new motherhood were considered deeply important.

In traditional cultures, life moved at a slower pace. People ate and slept when they needed to. Daytime naps were customary among adults; tropical tribes even set aside time for a midday siesta. Babies slept with their mothers, and as a result, mother-infant sleep cycles became synchronized. The new mom felt rested even if she had nursed several times during the night.
If you, like many contemporary mothers, feel chronically exhausted and overwhelmed, try napping with your baby during the day. At night, plan on intermittent feedings. Current research shows that babies do their growing while asleep, and hence need to feed during the night. Because mother’s milk is so quickly and easily digested, breastfed babies often need to feed several times a night. Be grateful for immature sleep cycles–they are a call to life for infants who, to survive, must nurse at least every two hours during the first six to eight weeks of life! Trying to “get” an infant to sleep through the night is an unrealistic modern-day endeavor rooted in the need to get to work on time in the morning.

Humankind has been around for quite a while–only a brief moment of which is associated with the postpartum expectations we are familiar with. Perhaps our foremothers knew a thing or two. Joining the best rituals of the past with the knowledge of the present may very well spark a happy, healthy future for ourselves and our little ones.

Goldsmith, Judith. Childbirgh Wisdom. Brookline, MA: East West Health Books, 1990.
Liedloff, Jean. The Continuum Concept. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1977.
Sears, William, MD. Nighttime Parenting. Franklin Park, IL: La Leche League International, 1990.
Thevenin, Tine. The Family Bed. Wayne, NJ: Avery Publishing, 1987.
For more information on traditional approaches to postpartum care, see the following articles in past issues of Mothering: “Mother Roasting,” no. 43; “Traditional Childbirth,” no. 51; and “Postpartum Practices throughout the World,” no. 66.

General Guidelines
* DON’T try to tackle the postpartum months alone–seek help from relatives, friends, and competent, experienced professionals.
* ATTEND La Leche League meetings if you are breastfeeding.
* CONTACT a qualified lactation consultant at the first siggn of a breastfeeding problem.
* CREATE or seek out a playgroup, a baby gym, recovery exercise classes, and new parent groups, and begin participating as soon as you feel ready.

Following an Uncomplicated Vaginal Birth
The First 2 Weeks Postpartum
Enjoy your baby
Limit visitors
Do Kegel exercises daily
Begin gentle walking on noninclined surfaces
Get a massage
Rest and eat well
No errands, shopping, cooking, or cleaning

2–4 Weeks Postpartum
Begin regular walking on inclined surfaces to increase circulation, beginning with 5 minutes a day and working up to 20 minutes
Nap and rest daily
Eat well
Get a massage
Get out of the house and do something fun
No more than one errand a day

4–6 Weeks Postpartum
Begin a recovery exercise program 3 times a week, with the approval of your care provider
Join activities that bring you into contact with other mothers
Nap and rest daily
Eat well

Following a Complicated Vaginal Birth or a Cesarean

The First 4 Weeks Postpartum
Enjoy your baby
Limit visitors
Do Kegel exercises daily
Limit yourself to household walking
Get complete bed rest, including naps
Eat well

4–6 Weeks Postpartum
Begin gentle walking and work up to regular walking
Rest and nap daily
Get a massage (only if you had a vaginal birth)
Get out of the house and do something fun
No errands, shopping, cooking, or cleaning

6–8 Weeks Postpartum
Begin a recovery exercise program 3 times a week, with the approval of your care provider
Get a massage
Join activities that bring you into contact with other mothers
Contact the International Cesarean Awareness Network [see For More Information] and attend meetings
No more than one errand a day

For More Information: International Cesarean Awareness Network, National Office PO Box 276, Clarks Summit, PA 18411; 717-585-ICAN

Maybe you should take a nap too.
Let the spoon run away with itself,
Let the trash get carried away.
The bed can flourish rumpled and ripe
(Like an unmade bed).
The dust can swirl into tumbleweeds
rolling out of bounds.
Maybe you could lie down like a dog
Chasing its tail into a circle until,
Round enough, you churn your own self
Into a yellow dream where your baby
Takes care of herself for just an hour
And the answering machine returns your calls.
The cat washes its paws and slumbers;
The refrigerator hums the groceries
Off the shelves and into the pot,
Coaxes the stove into sauteing mushrooms,
Who are frankly happy to be browned and warmed
And bathing in butter,
And the weather drops its mood
And bakes the clothes on the line
While the bills sneak out the pet door.
They know you’re napping;
They know you need your sleep.

COPYRIGHT 1995 Mothering Magazine
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

Hospital Sponsored Homebirth Program in Australia

Homebirth in Australia through Hospital Program

Lizzie Mills, is a young wife and mother from Melbourne, Australia who is passionate about birth and shares the birth story of her daughter who was born at home via a hospital sponsored homebirthing program with midwives.

In this episode she discusses

– the vulnerability she felt as her waters broke

– how she dealt with posterior back-ache during a long early labour

– how her pregnancy went, including losing 11 pounds due to morning sickness

– how the hospital supported homebirth program worked

– and ultimately the amazing waterbirth she had with her husband in the tub as support.

Lizzie Bio

Lizzie is a stay-at-home mum who loves motherhood and enjoys sharing the things she’s learning along the way. She talks about natural birth, how to be a good birth partner or support person, breastfeeding and more on her blog LizzieSophia.

You can follow her second pregnancy and birth story on youtube at LizzieSophiaTv

the birth houron itunes

the birth hour on stitcher
homebirth through hospital in australia

Lizzie talks about natural birth, how to be a good birth partner or support person, breastfeeding and more on her blog LizzieSophia.


Find The Birth Hour sample registry here to see some of my favorite pregnancy, birth and postpartum items.

Birth Resources

Birth Skills

Breastfeeding hotline in Australia