“Breathe” documents ten women and their exciting journey through the home birth process. We hear the couple’s stories and meet the midwives, who teach us about the safety of birthing at home for low-risk pregnancies.
Birth is not a competition. There is no right and wrong way to give birth. Those who give birth at home are no more brave than any other. This documentary presents the home births as a way to show what birth can be without interventions. It explores the following questions: What would we be capable of doing if we let go of fear? If we trusted our bodies? If we focused on more than just the pain?
“Breathe” seeks to break down stereotypes of those who chose to give birth at home by presenting the stories of people who come from diverse backgrounds. Japan, Russia, and Spain are some of the birth cities of those in the documentary.
This is the only documentary that shows ten raw, real home births. We want to invite women to research and get information to learn about their choices when giving birth. While not every woman will choose a home birth, every woman has a right to make evidence-based decisions regarding the birth of their baby.
Presented by BIRTH (Bringing Information and Resources to Houston) http://www.houbirth.org
For videos go to my youtube channel. Click above or here to subscribe: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9ZzIniYnXrrrgbG40701QQ
Here’s a short trailer done in 2013:
We worry so much about seeing that first tiny speck of life on the ultrasound, about hearing that first heartbeat, finding out if it’s a boy or a girl, getting their room ready, buying a stroller, and reading books about how to get our babies to sleep better… but do we really spend enough time thinking about how BIRTH will affect our babies, and us as moms?
I had three such radically different births that I feel like I can speak at length about this subject. So much that, after the birth of my second child, I decided to make this documentary.
Giving birth to my son at home, with my husband and no one else is the greatest experience of my life. I have never felt God’s presence more than I did that day (read the full story below).
I wanted to talk to other women who had given birth at home. To explore the reasons and emotions that lead women to choose a home birth. I wanted to answer the many questions I got from friends and relatives when they found out what we were doing. Can anyone give birth at home? What if you hemorrhage? What if the baby needs oxygen? What if something happens? But before addressing the “what ifs”, I wanted to show the miracle and magic of a home birth.
I’ve watched “The Business of Being Born” and absolutely loved it. Ricky Lake has become a tremendous leader in the home birth movement. However, I won’t focus on hospital vs. home births. I will focus on SHOWING home births and the stories of these ten women whom I’ve filmed. I am forever grateful for their cooperation and generosity. I admire the way they listened to their bodies and believed in their bodies’ capacity to give birth.
No woman is the same, thus every birth is different. Length, position, temperament, rhythm. Yet in hospitals, they attempt to treat every birth as if we WERE all the same. Their interventions are followed strictly, without giving our bodies the chance to do what they were created to do. I try to show this in the documentary.
How many times have you heard these reasons for c-sections: “the baby was too big”, “she wasn’t progressing”, “the chord was wrapped around the baby’s neck”, even “the baby was breech”. Midwives deal with all those issues. And if the mother is in good health, they will still deliver successfully under those situations. I address that in the documentary.
Maybe home births are not for everybody. But hospital births are not for everybody either. It is my intent to show women that they have choices in birth. People ask me why I want to show my birth story… if we don’t share, we will soon forget what normal birth is and has been for thousands of years. I am not more brave than any other woman. I am merely doing what my body was made to do, what millions of women have done before me.
MY#1 and #2 BIRTH STORIES: (I have my birth story #3 on this blog post:http://mariasotolongo.com/?p=386 )
I wasn’t ready to have a home birth with my first child. I was uninformed and afraid. I labored at home from midnight until 8pm. We went to the hospital. Walked around for several hours. Tried to sleep on/off through the night. I didn’t get the epidural until about 11am. By that time, they could have offered to put heroine in my eye, and I would have said YES. I ended up having all the interventions I didn’t want: breaking my water, pitocin, epidural, and eventually a forceps delivery that caused a fourth degree tear. After pushing for two hours, Y was born at 2:10 pm on a crisp December morning. When she was finally out, I reached between my legs to touch the top of her head and broke down in tears, thanking God.
With my second pregnancy, I knew I didn’t want the same experience. My sister had given birth at home to her twins, and she gently nudged me in that direction. Still, it took us a while to decide to give birth at home. I had an OBGYN. I was told I had a low-lying placenta and began to hear the possibility of a c-section. I thought I couldn’t have a home birth.
But I called my future midwife and a simple discussion about my placenta simmered down my fears and gave me confidence that I could do it. It took a while to convince my husband, P. But armed with research and valuable information, he agreed to do it.
Once we were both on board, there was no turning back. We didn’t really tell a lot of people. We didn’t feel like explaining ourselves to everyone and wasting energy that way. Instead, I read books, talked to my sister and other home birthing mamas, watched videos, listened to hypnobirthing music, exercised, ate well, and waited for our baby.
Contractions started at midnight on my husband’s birthday! I labored the first three hours by myself, not wanting to wake up P until I was sure THIS WAS IT. By 3 am, I nudged him and said, “This is it. You’re getting a baby on your birthday!”
Our daughter was sleeping in our bed, and we didn’t want her to get up. We went into the living room to face the contractions. They got pretty strong within an hour so we called the midwife. But she heard me go through a contraction and thought we had time. She told me to rest as much as possible and to call her back when the contractions were closer together.
The next two hours flew by. I sat on our rocking chair for a long time listening to music. P says in between contractions I actually snored. But the pain was getting tough. My back was tense. My uterus made me lose sense of everything so often that I didn’t know if I could go on. Nothing else mattered except getting through each wave.
Then I somehow told myself I could do it. I got an internal injection of confidence. P was also determined, a strong anchor by my side. He massaged my back in ways that seemed to be the perfect remedy for my pain. I DID bark at him a few times, though. Once, to tell him to stop timing the f-ing contractions. They were REALLY close! I didn’t need a stop watch to tell me that. Time was unimportant to me at this point.
At 6:30, Y woke up. I explained to her brother F was coming. That he was ready to meet her and that I would be making some noises to help him come out.
We called my mom and she came to get Y by 7. We also called the midwife to tell her we were ready to have our baby.
I laid on the floor, naked, on my right side. I had one pillow on my head and one between my legs. Here is where I traveled to a place of the most pure raw emotion I have ever experienced. Every four minutes, I would feel a punch coming through my throat, down to my bottom, pushing with such strength, I could only fight it with an animalistic grunt. But each time, right after that, a blanket of comfort and whiteness let me relax to such a degree I was limp and calm. I didn’t want to change positions. P held my hand. God held my soul.
I had sat on the toilet on and off throughout the labor, and by about 7:30, I knew I had to go back there to continue opening up. I also screamed at my husband, “Where the f— is the midwife? I’m about to have the baby.”
While on the toilet, I heard a POP and I thought it was the baby. I looked down and it was my water, I imagine. I had been leaking for days, but it must have officially broken at that point.
“Call my sister, call someone, I’m telling you this is it”, I told P. He called my sister. My contractions continued roaring. Right when P hung up with my sister, I felt an extreme urge to push.
“I feel his head. What do we do?” I said.
“We’re having this baby. No one’s coming. You have to do this.” He said.
I stood up, grabbed on to his neck with all of my might. I looked up to the ceiling and cried out to the Virgin Mary to give me strength. I knew the next push would bring our baby out.
I waited those precious minutes until the next contraction. We were both standing in our bathroom, I squatted, hanging from P’s neck, and I pushed.
Our baby’s head was out. It was really out. Awe. I touched it and talked to him, welcoming him and praying we would be ok. His face squeezed together, eyes closed. Surreal.
“Do you see him, do you see him?” I asked.
“Do we call 911?”
“No. We are fine.”
“Wash your hands. Do you get him out? What do we do?” I asked a million questions.
Right then, little F started to cry, with just his head out. He was hanging between two worlds.
P went to get towels and pads to put on the floor. Time seemed to tick at a different rhythm. As if everything was in slow motion. Even the light in the room felt like it changed. I knelt, with left knee up, right one down.
“You’ve got to push him out,” P said.
I was scared.
“You were born to do this!” he encouraged me, with golden, confident eyes.
That was what I needed to hear. I lost all fear and knew there was no choice. Stillness. Just looking into each other’s eyes.
The contraction came. “Ok, I feel it,” I said.
“Push our baby out”.
Effortless. No pain. I grabbed our son’s warm body out of me and onto my chest.
P and I shared a look that I know I have never seen in his eyes nor he in mine.
“You did it,” he said. We took a second to cry.
There was a pool of blood, LIFE, BIRTH, NATURE at our feet. The umbilical chord was still attached. I suctioned his nose and mouth. P handed me blankets. We became a team, sure and efficient. But we also wondered if F was ok. He was breathing. He was crying. But he was just fearfully purple.
We talked to him, remembering how important it was for babies to hear their parents’ voice. I prayed. I cleaned him off, tried to get him to nurse. We got our midwife on the phone. She was in morning traffic. She told us to make sure he was warm, to continue doing what we were doing. She heard the baby’s cry and told us he was scared. That we had to keep talking to him, assuring him we were ok.
Then, my mom and sister got there. We all sat on the bathroom floor, together trying to get F to nurse and get some color. My sister encouraged me to let out my emotions. I was so afraid. I cried out loud. I acknowledged how shocking this all was. And magically, F stopped crying, he latched on, and we began to see his body change colors. Miraculous. I had given birth. No one else did it for me. No interventions, no doctors. I had really given birth.
What I’ve learned from this enlightened, life-changing journey is that there is a plan from above. That we posses an inner strength much greater than we give ourselves credit for. That we will not stop living in fear until we give birth to who we really are and want to be, regardless of whom everyone else WANTS us to be. That God is grand. That we are born to give birth.