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Birthing in Community, Living in Community

By Molly Stiens, DC

Recently, I was asked to be a part of a free birth by one of my chiropractic clients.

For those of you yet to jump on the train that this phrase is associated with—essentially, a free birth is a birth where no medical attendees are present. Like all things birth, it was a whirlwind, but it simultaneously had perfect timing. I had agreed to take the birth early in her pregnancy, knowing that I had a trip planned very close to her 40-week due date.

As my trip approached, I had been giving mama chiropractic adjustments. She was walking on the beach every day, and still not experiencing signs that babe was making his arrival. The little guy was clearly cozy in the belly. While I was away for ten days, I casually checked in, not wanting to overwhelm mama with doubts on why baby hadn’t yet made his way.

The trip ended and the same evening my plane landed back on this sweet island home, I sent a text letting mama know I had touched down, and we could get her on the schedule for an adjustment the next day. No doubt she was elated, as pregnancy discomforts had set in in those final days.

In divine timing, at midnight, I got the call. Her husband told me, “It’s time.”

Although it’s the call you’ve been waiting for, in that moment, all of me wanted to make excuses: a 5-hour time change, lack of sleep, travel, a full day of clients that would have to be rescheduled. But, I took the call.

Two other women in our community joined us. Neither had a background in obstetrical medicine, but I think that was the idea. We showed up in support—in service to the mama and her babe, not a licensing panel. This is the way many mamas are leaning: in search of individuals to show up in support for how they want the birth transformation to go.

The way we support mothers in birth shows where our societal values lie. We continue to isolate moms from their work, from their loved ones in delivery, from their babies afterward—and even more so now that “pandemia” has taken hold. This birth I’m speaking of was almost like an alternate universe. There were moments, glimpses, a deep knowing for me: This was exactly what bringing life earthside was designed to feel like. This little human will be imprinted by the experience. Coming into the world sensing community. Sensing support. What a beautiful narrative to begin your first moments of life.

We can look back to see ahead. Witnessing the lives of those in indigenous cultures. Valuing the home, valuing the tribe, valuing the human pieces of us. Honoring the sanctity of gathering. Individuals excited to ask, receive, and reciprocate a helping hand, instead of the idea that we’re walking this road alone.

The hallmark of a holistic paradigm is community. Maybe it’s not five women showing up the moment your baby is coming earthside, but five different families assisting to make that sacred moment possible. Or families stepping up to bring you nourishment in the postpartum window. Or coming together to cover expenses of a home birth experience. All I know is that we were designed for human connection. Living is communal. Birthing is communal. Mothering is communal. Let’s start making this the narrative.