This month we chatted to Vanessa Hartman.
She is a doula, a yoga teacher, antenatal educator, a soul connection facilitator and co-founder of Honoured Birth.
Tell us about yourself and the birth work that you do.
My name is Vanessa and I am a natural birth passionista. I am a doula, a yoga teacher, an antenatal educator and a soul connection facilitator. In January 2015, together with my friend and colleague, I opened a little studio in Noordhoek called “Honoured Birth,” a space where women can celebrate their pregnancies and where expecting parents are invited to ask questions and obtain necessary information in order make informed decisions. It is a place to meet like-minded people and to find support and nurturing on all levels.
What drives you to do this work?
The look on a mother and father’s face when they are holding their baby for the first time, the overflowing love that radiates from each and every cell of their bodies is nothing other than true and divine bliss. It takes my breath away and fills my heart with immense honour and gratitude. It does not matter how or where they gave birth, at home, at hospital or through a c/s, it is that moment that again and again reminds me that the birth of a baby will always be a miracle.
How do you feel about home birth?
I believe that if the pregnancy has been without complications the best place to give birth is where the mother (and the father) feel the safest. For me personally that would always be at home. Many people don’t know enough about home birth and the safety of giving birth at home with a midwife so we need to help parents learn about this possibility so that it may become an option for them.
Are there any misperceptions about home birth that you would like to dispel?
Oh there are many. One of the main ones that I hear a lot is when people talking about their feelings on home birth say: “I am just not that ‘airy-fairy-hippi-type‘!“
Sometimes it frustrates me so much that, largely as a result of the media, birth is perceived a fearful and medical event that needs to be controlled so that those who choose home birth are easily labeled as “airy-fairy”. But birth can be the most beautiful and empowering moment of a woman’s (and a man’s) life that will unfold in its own unique and wonderful way. To me there is nothing airy-fairy-hippie-typeish about that.
What is it about home birth that you enjoy?
I love the calm and warm atmosphere, the loving, undivided attention and support of the midwife and everybody involved. Experiencing this respect and honouring of the process of birth as well as the mother moving with confidence in her own environment makes my heart jump with joy.
How did you get involved in home births?
Becoming a doula opened the home birth doors for me and changed my life completely – even though the first 10 births I attended were all hospital births, many in public sector hospitals and MOU’s. After only seeing hospital births my first home birth changed my life – again. Looking back over the past 4 years of being a doula and on what I have learned makes me strongly believe that “peace on earth begins with birth” and I am on a mission to reduce the almost 80% c/s rate in this country by supporting parents in the decision-making process and providing them with all the information they need.
Tell us something that has stood out for you in the work that you do.
This could become a very long answer as there are so many things that I could name. That’s why I should rather keep it very short and only name one thing: It is life changing!
What would you advise all pregnant mothers?
Start educating yourself as early as possible. Don’t wait for 34 weeks to do antenatal classes. Start early so that you have enough time to gather all the information you need to make informed decisions. It is your body, your baby and your birth so never feel that you have to stop asking questions. Choose your support system wisely and make sure that they support and honour your decisions and wishes.
And VERY importantly, don’t listen to any “horror” stories of other people’s births. Protect yourself from stories like a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend-had-to-have-an-emergancy-cesear-…..- and kindly ask people around you to only tell you positive and empowering stories, as these are the stories that will support you and your decision-making process and keep you free from the unneeded and unnecessary seeds of fear.
To contact Vanessa, or for more information on the work she and her partner offer:
click here to like them on Facebook