Natural Childbirth in Bali. Interview With a Volunteer.

Natural childbirth in Bali
Interview with Maria Konovalenkova, a volunteer at the Bumi Sehat natural childbirth clinic in Bali.
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in interest in natural childbirth worldwide. More and more couples are opting for home births or births in birthing centers instead of hospitals, favoring the natural birthing process for their baby. Every year, more women come to Bali to give birth at the "Bumi Sehat" natural birthing clinic. We asked Masha, a midwife and volunteer at this clinic, why this trend is happening and what natural childbirth is all about.
Maria, hello. Please tell us a little about yourself. Do you have children yourself and where did you give birth?
Maria: Hello. I have been living in Bali for 7 years now. Yes, I have a daughter, Nala, who is now 2 years and 5 months old. Nala was born at Bumi Sehat. Her birth was the most important and vivid event in my entire life. Perhaps that's why I myself got involved in traditional midwifery and help with births. Childbirth is a very important experience in every woman's life, and being a part of this miracle is a huge happiness and privilege.
Masha with her daughter:
Why did you decide to help during childbirth?
Maria: Having taken up obstetrics, I came to the births of all my friends and those mothers who asked me to support them in this difficult and wonderful moment. I see that I have something to give a woman during the birth process, I feel that I can be useful. The clinic monitored me for a year. I behaved timidly and modestly, didn’t interfere where I wasn’t asked, did all the “dirty” work possible, but wasn’t particularly eager to become a part of Bumi’s life. Last year, the clinic's management asked me to work there on a more permanent and organized basis.
Before getting involved in midwifery, I was engaged in a completely different activity. Surfing and organizing private exclusive trips. Bright projects, good money, great responsibility. Then I got pregnant :). Perhaps under the influence of hormones, maybe in combination with a number of other factors, I lost all desire to engage in everything I was doing before pregnancy, my own business.
At the 4th month of pregnancy, I had my first check-up at Bumi Sehat. Robin Lim only gave me a couple of minutes of attention, but even that was enough for me to form the initial impression that I wanted to give birth here. At the clinic, I picked up a few books to read, one of which was the famous "Gentle Birth Choices" by Barbara Harper. She is a pioneer in water births worldwide. The book focused not so much on water births themselves, but on the natural nature of the entire birthing process, which I hadn't really thought about before. None of my acquaintances at that time knew of any other options besides giving birth in hospitals using stimulation, painkillers, and cesarean sections. Barbara extensively described the history of the last century, during which childbirth transitioned from home settings to the walls of medical institutions, with all the resulting consequences. For me, this book was an eye-opener and a starting point in realizing what I wanted from my childbirth experience. From that moment on, I began to envision the process that was important to me. I started thinking for the first time about my new role, about the fact that I too would undergo a transformation.
In addition to Bumi Sehat, I visited several standard hospitals and met with several doctors. But even though the conditions at Bumi Sehat were far from ideal, I decided to give birth there, as there was no better option for me.
At Bumi Sehat, there is wonderful staff and an atmosphere of unconditional care. Here, they believe in the naturalness and physiological nature of the childbirth process and refrain from intervening in what nature has so delicately and wisely planned until the very end.
Nala's birth was an absolutely extraordinary and mind-blowing experience for me. In them, I literally underwent a rebirth. It was not only the birth of my daughter but also of a new me. It was as if I had gained a new understanding. I experienced such a strong physical, energetic, and spiritual experience that it resonated deep within every cell, permanently and irrevocably changing me. I can hardly put into words what I went through, but it was very powerful, transformative, and beautiful. That's when I realized that this is what I should be doing from now on: supporting women on this journey, supporting them in such transformation. Yes, it was incredibly painful, there was agony, and perhaps it was the most painful childbirth I had ever seen. But, as my observations have shown, the more pain and intensity experienced during childbirth, the deeper the changes that occur in a woman. And every woman deserves such an opportunity, such a transformation. It's the culmination of female nature, a gift that every woman has the right to.
I remember how, after giving birth, I lay in bed with my husband and Nala, and watched how the midwife girls cleaned the room after my birth and at the same time whispered and told each other some stories so cheerfully and naturally. This was my second powerful turning point.
Then I realized that my future life was no longer about money. Either you are called to serve people, or it all passes you by. And I was called. I didn't choose this profession, I didn't think about it. At that moment, I already knew that there was no turning back to business. Of course, beautiful yachts, exciting travels, and good earnings - all of it was wonderful, and I'm glad it was part of my life. But at that moment after giving birth, I was struck by the thought of how soulless and empty it all was. I earned my money. I've been many places and seen many things. My last 12 years were filled with vivid events and strong emotions. Now I just want to be a mother, a wife, and simply useful to someone.
What exactly do you do at this clinic?
Maria: Every Thursday I see pregnant women.
Technically, prenatal care looks something like this: we listen to the baby's heartbeat, measure the woman's blood pressure, weigh her, measure her belly, palpate the baby, the woman provides urine and blood samples (not every time!). Women ask questions that concern them about pregnancy and childbirth, and I answer them. I provide vitamins, give recommendations regarding diet or physical exercises. In general, I help the mother prepare for this important moment in any way I can.
In addition to the reception at Bumi, I try to do group meetings for pregnant and postpartum mothers on specific topics.
When a woman experiences the first signs of the onset of the childbirth process, she calls me. We stay in touch, and at some point, both of us head to the clinic. In 98% of cases, I am present at the birth. Sometimes, unfortunately, I don't make it in time, as the process can sometimes progress rapidly.
I attend both home births and births at the hospital. Not often, but still. Additionally, I respond daily to 7-20 messages on Facebook from women who are planning to give birth at Bumi Sehat or at home.
And I also have personal meetings with anyone interested who hasn't yet decided where and how to give birth. I don't pressure anyone, I don't sway anyone in any direction. I simply help them understand for themselves what they need and which type of birth would suit them better.
And I'm also studying at the Ancient Art Midwifery Institute, a traditional midwifery school located in California. It's the first time in my life I'm studying consciously and enthusiastically.
So that's my schedule, 7 days a week without weekends. I surf maybe once every two weeks at best ;) But my love for the waves and the ocean hasn't diminished. Priorities just shifted :)
What is the essence of natural birth and what does it all look like?
Maria: Our clinic resembles more of a Balinese home. There are 2 birthing rooms, everything is clean and tidy, but of course, not sterile. Each room has 2 beds (for the birthing woman and her partner), a corner bathtub, shower, toilet, and a shelf with midwifery tools. Everything is very simple and modest.
Natural births are births without the use of medication, without any intervention in the natural process, with full awareness and the woman taking full responsibility for everything happening to her, where only the woman decides how and where she will give birth, and who and how will help her.
Hospitals usually have certain standards and protocols that the birthing process should follow. If there are deviations from the "norm," interventions are made according to the institution's protocol, whether it be stimulating agents, drugs to slow down labor, or anesthesia. Of course, it is also possible to give birth naturally in a hospital, but the chance is usually lower. Staff there may not always be prepared to spend a long time assisting the birthing woman due to various reasons. Also, the woman must have an extremely strong will for that.
It is crucial to understand that at Bumi Sehat, we only work with women who are at minimal risk. We definitely do not work with pregnant women who have serious health problems or contraindications. Healthy and strong women who are physically and emotionally prepared for natural births come to us.
My position on choosing a place for childbirth is very simple: a woman should give birth where she feels calm and safe. If a woman feels most comfortable in a hospital, then that is the most optimal option for her. There can't even be any comments about it! I just wish that every woman had complete and objective information about the facility where she plans to give birth, to understand and realize what childbirth in a hospital entails, what to expect, and what might await her. If the birthing woman has certain health problems, congenital defects, or if the pregnancy has not gone smoothly, if the woman is not emotionally ready for natural childbirth, then such a woman certainly needs to give birth in a hospital where there are qualified doctors and all the necessary equipment for emergencies.
Bumi Sehat attracts a specific group of women. These are young, healthy women who understand the profound essence of natural childbirth, who know and trust their bodies and believe in a positive outcome. Childbirth is a healthy, normal, and natural process, just like eating or relieving oneself. No one panics that you can easily die from choking on food, right? It's absurd, isn't it? Childbirth is also a natural process that can and should occur naturally. It's just that one fine day, it was turned into a commercial venture, and every effort was made to establish a monopoly of hospitals. Today, obstetrics is a huge business.
In Bumi Sehat, a woman can give birth for a day, two or three, as long as everything goes well. In the hospital, during a “prolonged labor,” within a few hours the doctor will approach the woman in labor and offer to help her, administer a stimulant drug through an IV to make everything go faster.
At Bumi Sehat, during the monitoring of the childbirth process, we rely less on time limits and more on the health indicators of the mother and the baby: the baby's heartbeat, the mother's blood pressure, body temperature, overall condition, and the mother's mindset. If the health of the mother and the baby is good and all indicators are within normal limits, then the mother is allowed to give birth for as long as nature dictates. Of course, we also consider other signs, such as the leaking of amniotic fluid. According to the protocols of birth centers, if a woman's water breaks and she does not give birth within 24 hours, an emergency cesarean section is scheduled. At Bumi Sehat, women are allowed to give birth naturally even after 24 hours from the rupture of membranes if the mother's and baby's conditions are acceptable.
Meconium staining is another separate issue. According to the protocols of birth centers, a woman is given 12 hours to give birth from the moment meconium is detected in her amniotic fluid. After these 12 hours, a cesarean section is scheduled for the woman. At Bumi Sehat, the mother is allowed to give birth for as long as she needs, again, if the baby's condition shows no signs of distress.
My experience of being present at childbirth shows that there are no clear time boundaries. There are no statistics and rules like giving birth within 12 or 24 hours. Everyone gives birth in their own way. It's just that in hospitals, every birthing woman must "fit" into the time frame set by the protocol of that particular hospital. And if the birthing woman exceeds these accepted boundaries, the doctor is forced to apply gentle pressure. Of course, if the birthing woman firmly insists on her own way, then no one will forcibly administer any medications, but a woman during childbirth, to put it mildly, does not quite adequately react to what is happening around her, and, of course, agrees to medical "assistance." And the administration of any medication into the mother's body means its immediate entry into the baby's body as well. And in a situation where the baby reacts poorly to the administered medication, as indicated by its heartbeat, the doctor will schedule an emergency cesarean section. This is basically where natural childbirth ends.
Childbirth is a natural, very delicate hormonal process. As soon as any synthetic medication is introduced, the whole mosaic falls apart, and it becomes impossible to put it back together. In the Bumi Sehat clinic, there are simply no medical drugs available, so nothing can be administered (I'm not talking about emergency cases, where, of course, we use formal medications). Here, birthing mothers are supported emotionally and psychologically, and every effort is made to help them as much as possible. Among the types of assistance provided: relaxing massages, moxibustion (burning Chinese herbs), offering various positions and movements, baths, showers, nutrition, energy drinks, homeopathy, acupuncture, rest, and even sleep.
As I mentioned before, it is possible to have a natural childbirth in a hospital, but for this, the couple must be very well informed. This applies not only to the woman but also to her partner because he will be in a clearer state of mind during labor and will need to make more rational decisions. Understanding what doctors propose, which medications they suggest administering, and how they will affect the baby and the birthing process—all of this needs to be known and clearly understood, considering its impact on both the baby and the mother. Additionally, the couple and the woman herself must have a very strong inner core and the intention to give birth naturally, adhering to it in every possible way. And for those who are not interested in natural childbirth, well, there's no need for further discussion, it's understandable.
Natural childbirth involves a woman's awareness that the birthing process is a natural physiological process, just like all the other processes we go through daily. Here's another absurd example. You can overeat to the point of fainting. However, your body will know what to do to help itself and will send various signals. The main thing is to listen to them, and then you can recover without medical assistance. Yes, there are cases where childbirth is difficult and unpredictable. In cases where the midwives at Bumi Sehat have doubts about the safety of continuing childbirth within the clinic's walls, the woman is transferred to the hospital. No one waits until it reaches a fatal outcome. I don't see anything deserving of condemnation in this. The woman tried to give birth where she wanted, where she felt most comfortable and safe, but the situation went beyond the natural and healthy limits acceptable by the clinic's protocol, so she was transferred to the hospital, a place more suitable for complex situations requiring emergency medical assistance. In my practice over the past 2 years, there were two cases of transfer to the hospital: one during labor and the other after.
For a woman, childbirth is the most important moment in her life. It's a moment of initiation, where the old book of life closes, and a new one opens. It's an incredible experience that reveals to a woman such strength, knowledge, and understanding of her nature that she can never find elsewhere. And it saddens me deeply to realize that many women are "robbed" in hospitals, especially when it comes to unnecessary cesarean sections. I'm not saying that cesarean sections are always bad. Of course, there are situations where it's the only way to save the lives of both the baby and the mother. But the number of cesareans performed in hospitals nowadays is simply staggering. They perform cesareans left and right, especially here in Asia, without any medical indications. However, if there are no contraindications, no known pathologies, I consider it my duty to provide women with maximum information about what natural childbirth is and what it offers. This information is necessary so that every expectant mother can make a well-informed decision about where, how, and with whom she wants to give birth. I never, under any circumstances, try to persuade anyone toward one option or another. I support hospital births as well. Even those women who want to have a cesarean section for one reason or another. Every decision deserves acceptance and respect. I just want every decision to be based on objective information.
There have been cases where I attended births in hospitals and helped women give birth without the use of any medications. It's a challenging experience for me because I see the thinly veiled manipulations of the doctors. I don't have thick enough skin to withstand this, so I try to avoid hospital births now.
What is the responsibility of a doctor, midwife, and mother during childbirth?
Maria: I love talking about this topic, it's a very important moment. Childbirth is an unpredictable, spontaneous process, much like our entire lives. It's crucial to realize that everything that happens during childbirth and in life in general is your responsibility. Let's assume that during someone's childbirth, a fatal incident occurred and the baby didn't survive. While it's true that the hospital, like any institution, bears administrative and criminal responsibility, I assure you that all reports and statements will be written either before the end of the shift or by the end of the week. Any hospital will do everything possible to avoid lawsuits, compensations, and scandals. And I can also assure you that no amount of money, no court decision, can fill the emptiness and pain with which a woman will leave the hospital. On the way out, you're left alone with what happened, whether it's an unplanned C-section or death, and it's up to you to live with it. Perhaps this is more relevant to men, for whom the concept of retribution or compensation is more important, but how will such "compensation" affect the life of this couple in the future? I'm afraid, not much. Only time and perhaps a subsequent positive pregnancy and childbirth can help such a woman cope with the pain.
The childbirth process can be influenced by numerous factors. This includes the mother's diet during pregnancy, the supply of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients she had before giving birth, whether she engaged in physical activity or not, whether she led a healthy lifestyle, whether she consumed alcohol, cigarettes, or other toxic substances during pregnancy, her spiritual awareness and energy alignment, and what and how much she ate during labor - all of these affect the process and outcome. It's crucial to realize that you and only you are responsible for everything that happens to you and your baby during childbirth. If a woman chooses to give birth in a hospital, she must be clear about what to expect there and what compromises she may have to make. If she decides to give birth at home, she must also understand what to expect and what she should prepare for. Essentially, no one else but the woman herself is responsible for how her childbirth goes. Only she herself. Well, and her husband, of course.
Therefore, everything about how a woman prepares for pregnancy, how her pregnancy progresses, and how prepared she is for childbirth is solely her responsibility.
A very close moment is the question of vaccinations. When I'm asked whether to vaccinate a child or not, I always answer - my child is not vaccinated and never will be. I don't sway anyone towards vaccinations or abstaining from them. I know there are cases where a child's development has halted after vaccination. And I don't want to take that risk. What parents choose is their responsibility. I may recommend literature, share my experience, but ultimately, whether to vaccinate a child or not is the responsibility of the parents.
The same goes for childbirth - maximum informational preparation and awareness of one's complete responsibility for everything that can happen and will happen in the end. This decision, which will affect a person's entire life and their health. If something terrible happens, for example, if a child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy or developmental delay, who can the responsibility be shifted to? It's the 21st century; there's an incredible amount of information on the internet, describing all sorts of childbirth scenarios, their advantages, and possible consequences. Therefore, parents' decisions should be based on maximum information and, of course, come from the heart. It will always guide what's best for the mother and the child. And if a woman chooses to give birth in a hospital because it makes her feel calmer and more confident, then, of course, she should give birth there. Just be aware that as soon as you cross the threshold of the institution, you fall under the jurisdiction of protocols, and you can no longer say "no" to doctors.
Is there any statistics on safer childbirth?
Maria: There's definitely such statistics. There's the World Health Organization (WHO), which maintains global statistics on population childbirth, collecting data from all countries, from the USA to third world countries. So, according to WHO statistics, the safest childbirth is home birth. The mortality rates of mothers or babies during such births are significantly lower than those in hospitals.
Again, it's important to understand that there are two sides to every coin. For example, who is healthier: a bodybuilder using steroids or a person doing gymnastics? It's all about the result. So, what's healthier? That's for everyone to decide. In hospitals, any medical intervention involves the introduction of synthetic substances into the body. No chemical drugs are made from natural herbal extracts; it's a 100% chemical formula that completely disrupts a woman's natural hormonal childbirth process. Once chemicals enter the body, there's no turning back, and natural childbirth ends. And again, it's neither good nor bad; it's just important to realize that's how it happens.
Do men often attend births?
Maria: In our clinic, yes, often. Almost at all births. Bali attracts specific individuals who are very reverent towards childbirth, and husbands usually attend and deeply support their women.
I will touch on another one of my favorite topics - the "first hour of a baby's life," which is incredibly important but often neglected in hospital settings. After discussing this topic with a couple, usually, even if they planned to give birth in a hospital, their decision radically changes in favor of giving birth at Bumi or even at home. For example, I always talk about the importance of keeping the umbilical cord intact with the baby, i.e., not cutting it immediately after birth. By preserving the placenta undivided from the baby, the child receives many rightfully deserved "bonuses" contained in those 100 - 150 ml of blood, which he would otherwise be deprived of (with instant cord clamping). This includes essential iron, stem cells, valuable nutrients, maternal hormones, and simply oxygen nourishment, which is so crucial for the baby in the first minutes of life! In hospitals, the umbilical cord is cut immediately, and at most, you can ask to delay this moment for 10 minutes, but they won't allow more, not according to the protocol. At Bumi Sehat, the umbilical cord is burned with a candle the next day after birth while singing mantras or the mother's lullaby. You can, of course, wait a few days until the umbilical cord dries up and falls off naturally, but not all women agree to this, and it's more of a ritual significance. This is a complete "lotus birth."
In maternity hospitals, the umbilical cord is cut immediately after the baby's birth, and the placenta is disposed of as "biological waste." In general, the placenta is an incredibly powerful substance in terms of hormones, which possesses great strength. Worldwide, the first remedy used by midwives to stop bleeding is to separate a piece of the placenta and place it against the woman's cheek. It's a medically proven fact that the placenta contains a vast amount of hormones and prostaglandins, which help women recover during the postpartum period. At Bumi Sehat, women who have given birth are offered to swallow a piece of their own placenta with honey for quicker and more effective recovery of strength and health. And upon discharge from the clinic, women are offered several options on what to do with the placenta so that it can serve the family for some time. Among these options: burying the placenta in the garden where the baby will grow, drying and encapsulating it so that the woman can take these capsules as a highly effective postpartum recovery supplement. There are numerous options for "honoring" the placenta and expressing gratitude to it for supporting the baby's life and being the closest companion and filter throughout its entire existence until the day of birth.
I buried my placenta in my garden and planted a mango tree. Let a part of my child's energy live in the Earth and in a living tree. I believe in the energetic component of the placenta.
Placenta encapsulation is a very common practice worldwide nowadays. The placenta is dried in the sun or in a dehydrator, manually ground into powder, and placed into gelatin capsules. Such a natural supplement is a miraculous support for the health of both the mother and the baby throughout their lives. Especially if the mother prepared well, ate properly during pregnancy, and led a healthy lifestyle, the placenta will serve well in maintaining health. It contains vitamins, minerals, hormones, and everything necessary, ideally suited to each specific mother and baby.
At Bumi Sehat, the placenta is given to parents, beautifully decorated with frangipani flowers. It is sprinkled with sea salt, nothing rots, everything is preserved perfectly. This is actually one of the deciding factors for many couples who give birth at our clinic. For many, lotus birth is very important.
Who gives birth more often at Bumi? Locals or foreigners?
Maria: Bumi Sehat clinic was created for the local Indonesian population. Since the maternity services here are based on voluntary donations, it has turned out that the majority of women giving birth here come from low-income families. More affluent local women, as a rule, give birth in hospitals. Nowadays, natural childbirth is perceived by the majority as some kind of barbarism, both in Indonesia and in the most developed countries. Not only childbirth, but the presence of any accompanying pain is considered to be from the "Stone Age." Why suffer when there is advanced medicine with its wonderful "safe" painkillers? Who needs natural childbirth and the accompanying pain? Cesarean sections and births with epidural anesthesia are increasingly becoming the choice of the modern pregnant woman. They administer epidural anesthesia, and an hour later the doctor tells them to push, and they give birth without even blinking. The influence of the media and information sources that confidently and beautifully advertise "safe" and "painless" hospital births is too strong.
For me, that wasn't an option. I wanted to give birth naturally, without medications, to listen to my body and respond to its signals. It's a very powerful and beautiful process. Almost every woman reaches a point during childbirth where it seems impossible to go on, where there's no strength left, no faith, where pain and overwhelming fatigue take over... It's an extraordinary experience, yes, but it's necessary for every woman for one reason or another. Such an experience, accompanied by incredible emotional and physiological work, brings out a very important aspect in the woman giving birth - maternal instinct. I'm convinced that going through life's difficulties and a certain amount of pain is simply necessary for all of us humans. After all, the experience of pain, whether physical or emotional, shapes and hones certain qualities within us: strength of spirit, humanity, compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, and ultimately wisdom. Without going through challenging experiences, we don't develop. The more trials we face, the more resilient we become. Pain plays a similar role in childbirth. Nature has honed the "mechanism" of childbirth over millions of years, perfecting it so that we, as a species, could survive. Perhaps Nature decided to leave Pain as an integral part of the childbirth process for a reason. Maybe it's also necessary for the survival of humanity? Isn't the strength of maternal instinct what helps offspring survive in nature? How are we different from our animal siblings?...
My maternal instinct was ingrained in my veins precisely through childbirth. Sometimes I hear people telling me that the instinct for self-preservation is the strongest and most primary instinct in life. Well, maybe for some, but not for me. My child is my life. In the wild, maternal instinct always prevails over the instinct for self-preservation. Any female animal in the wild would be ready to fiercely defend her offspring against any threat to its life. In humans, this instinct is less pronounced. And this is partly reflected in the entire generation as a whole. In the modern world, it's easier for a woman to trust experts and specialists than to listen to her own deep inner voice, her wisdom. Until now, in most maternity hospitals, the newborn is taken away from the mother for examination, and sometimes even left in a separate room until the mother is discharged home. As if it would be better for the mother and the baby this way. As if someone in this maternity ward could take better care of the baby than its own mother. I deeply sympathize with all the women and babies who have gone through such an experience. But for myself, I know that no one knows my child better than me, no one knows what he needs, and no one feels him the way I do. No one can take care of my baby as I can. This inner voice came to me during childbirth, and I am very happy to have such a deep and strong connection with my daughter.
Are there any age-related contraindications for natural childbirth?
Maria: Probably not, it all depends on the overall health condition of the mother and the baby. In our clinic, a woman gave birth at the age of 41, her first child.
Do cases of infection of the baby or mother occur frequently at Bumi Sehat?
Maria: I am not aware of any.
According to WHO statistics, the lowest risk of infection during or after childbirth occurs with home births. It is commonly assumed that the sterility of medical facilities protects women from infection risks. However, to assume that hospitals or maternity wards are sterile is at least naive. Any hospital is a huge breeding ground for bacteria, and an environment where only the strongest, most resistant, and therefore most dangerous pathogens survive.
When it comes to home births, the home is the most familiar environment to a woman's body. Even if your home is filled with bacteria, they are the ones to which the woman has developed a strong immunity, as she lives in harmony with these bacteria. Bumi Sehat is not a sterile facility. However, all sterility measures are strictly followed according to protocol in cases where they are truly important.
It's worth noting that hospitals and maternity wards are places with a large concentration of sharp instruments and people who can skillfully and willingly use them. Take, for example, the procedure of episiotomy, which is not absolutely necessary. Not only is it rare for a woman to be asked for permission to perform an incision, but this procedure also carries the risk of injuring the baby's head. This creates a precedent for blood contamination. At Bumi Sehat and during home births, there are no cutting or piercing instruments that could damage our skin—a shield against infectious penetration.
In the history of Bumi Sehat, I have not heard of a single case of infection during childbirth.
I often ask the midwives at the clinic about statistics. What is the maternal mortality rate? 0%. Even if something goes wrong and a woman is taken to the hospital during childbirth, it's still 0%.
What about newborn mortality? Yes, it exists. But it's important to understand that not every newborn is destined to survive. There are babies who come into this world with very serious congenital defects that are incompatible with life, which cannot be detected by any ultrasound beforehand. As for how many newborns die each year in maternity wards and hospitals? I don't have an answer. I can only speculate that it's much higher.
Is it worth going to give birth in Bali?
Maria: It’s hard to say whether it’s worth it or not. Some people decide to give birth here because of the warm climate. No need to wear several sweaters and gaiters, fresh fruits and vegetables all year round. A lot of people come here because of Robin Lim. She is very famous and attracts women from all over the world!
How beneficial is yoga for pregnant women?
Maria: Very beneficial. Prenatal yoga helps prepare for childbirth and maintains both body and mind in good health.
The more serious and mindful the expectant mother is in preparing for childbirth, the better and smoother her delivery will be, and both the baby and the woman will be healthier. Healthy nutrition is very important. Understanding that you are nurturing a new life within yourself every second is the key to the health of both the mother and the child.
Childbirth is an extraordinary emotional and physical experience that requires mobilizing all the resources accumulated up to that moment, including nutritional, mineral, and energetic resources. Therefore, pregnancy should be taken seriously and responsibly. Childbirth is like a marathon. Unlike in a marathon, a woman cannot drop out midway; she has to go all the way to the end. And the better prepared a mother is for this moment, the easier it will be for her to overcome this journey. I always tell every woman: "You know how to give birth. You are capable of it."
I always emphasize that mental contact with the baby during childbirth is also extremely important. Not a single woman goes through the ordeal of childbirth alone. The baby and the mother are in the same boat. And if a woman at least knows and understands what is happening to her at the moment, who will explain to the unborn baby that it's not the end of life, not a betrayal, not a day of cruel punishment? After all, uterine contractions with their pressure are a completely new and painful experience for the baby. Therefore, the inner dialogue between the mother and the baby is very important; it's the only thing that will allow the baby to feel that "no matter what, Mom is still here, and she thinks and cares about me." Of course, the baby in the womb won't understand the meaning of words, but the biochemistry, the experiences, and emotions that the mother goes through during such a dialogue will be read and felt by the baby. Unconscious memory begins from the moment of conception. Research shows that a person can remember fragments of life even in the womb. How pregnancy went, the mother's moods, how childbirth progressed - every moment matters in shaping a person's personality and some "strategic line" of their life. Therefore, mindfulness of the entire childbirth process plays a key role for every individual.
Should the husband be present at childbirth?
Maria: I don't have a definitive answer. It all depends on the woman, the man, and their relationship. For a woman, childbirth is a very serious emotional and physical experience. For one woman, it's very important to have someone there at that moment, while another woman prefers to be left completely alone. In my experience, men are almost always present at childbirth, with few exceptions. Couples who come to give birth at Bumi are usually already informed, and many men want to be part of this magical process.
The husband is undoubtedly a very close person to the woman, and his support is incredibly important. Support can be given from behind the door as effectively as holding hands. It's a matter of personal choice. I would only wish that the man be somewhat prepared both in terms of information and emotionally. Not all men are ready to see their woman in pain. Not all are ready to witness the unmasked process of childbirth in all its intensity. Men are such beings who always like to be in control. And here something incredible and incomprehensible is happening with the wife and the child, and he actually can't do anything, can't help. Some start to panic, some even have hysterics... And if the man is nervous, this nervousness, this unrest is transferred to the wife, and overall, it's not what the woman in labor needs. I have witnessed situations where husbands in an unbalanced state made decisions for their wives like "that's enough, we've tried your natural childbirth, we don't need more of this, let's go to the hospital!", and almost dragged their wives into the ambulance, even though from a midwifery point of view everything was going smoothly and the baby was feeling fine. It's very sad to see such situations. That's why it's better to prepare for childbirth together.
I have heard from experienced midwives many times: "Childbirth is not a man's affair." Childbirth is inherently a "dirty" process. It's an animal state. If a couple is in long-lasting and strong relationships and has seen each other in different manifestations, then the husband's presence during childbirth is assistance and support. If a husband attends childbirth, he must clearly understand that he is the solid and steadfast ground on which his woman's sense of security and safety will rely, and that he cannot afford to panic even for a second. It's not only the childbirth of his child, but also the childbirth of his woman.
In my opinion, childbirth and the first year of life after childbirth are the litmus test of relationships in a family. Not all couples can go through this and stay together. From the moment of conception and for at least a year after childbirth, deep and complex hormonal changes occur in a woman. Not every relationship is able to withstand such a test. Some families do not survive the test of the baby's arrival and break up in the first couple of years after childbirth. It's a wonderful and at the same time challenging period, a vivid indicator of the level of relationship in a couple. I recommend preparing for this period as well because childbirth is not the end of the story :) With childbirth, everything is just beginning!
But, in any case, the birth of a child is the most beautiful thing that can happen in life!
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