A practice of decolonisation

He uri mokopuna tenei no Te Whānau a Apanui, Ngāti Porou, me Waikato-Tainui hoki. Ko Teah Carlson toku ingoa.

Initially home birth was not my first choice; I wanted to give birth in a birthing centre. I did not want the mess at home, worry about cleaning my whare, having to cook my own kai. I wanted to be looked after, thought of, wanted my baby and I to be safe. These ideas were understandable, as my preconception of home birth was narrow, told in stories of old, of woman having to, of woman that were strong, and had a community of supportive people – this was not me.

Through a friend’s recommendation I met with Claire, a gentle, humble, but I would soon learn, a very wise woman. She was my light, the pathway to a home birth.  At first, I said that I wanted to give birth at a birthing centre and she was open to that, but shared that she mostly supported home births. No that’s not for me. This was an important moment as she could have said, that’s okay, may be you would be best suited to another midwife, but instead she was gentle and patient.

On our first visit, she gave me a book to read and when I was ready for another, she had plenty more. She also invited me to attend pregnancy yoga and a home birth antenatal weekend. All of these valuable resources and actions slowly informed me, at my pace, to the possibility of home birth, to a community where home birth was the first and safest choice.

As a practitioner, Claire had a wealth of knowledge she drew on from all disciplines, bio-medical, alternative medicines, rongoa, acupuncture and aromatherapy to name a few. When we would met, she would draw on these knowledge systems and inform me of the options I could follow. I never received such care from a health practitioner, it was an empowering experience. Empowering because healthcare was provided in a way that was holistic, informative and allowed me to understand that carrying my baby was the most important and grounding experience I could have as a woman, that I did not have to handover to the public health system. I was no consumer, I was hauora.

To me home birth is a philosophy, not confined to the walls and roof of a whare but much more, it is a way of being that frees you from the confines of a Western society. A society consumed by materialism, outcomes, statistics, risk and fear-based views, that tells woman what to do, how to be, told your body is not your own, birth is a medical process and babies are extensions of those views.  Home birth is a philosophy, because you don’t have to give birth at home to have a home birth, it is a practice that is holistic, culturally safe, strength-based, whānanu capacity building, grounded in practices of whanaungatanga (reciprocal, responsive and responsible relationships).

My two tamariki where born at home, into the hands of their pāpā’s. I had no mess, very little blood, my whānau where there to clean up, cook for me, I was looked after, thought of and my baby and I were safe.

No reira,
Tuia ki te rangi
Tuia ki te moana
Tuia ki te whenua
E rongo te po
E rongo te Ao
Tihei mauri ora