(Warning: The videos have graphic content that readers may find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.)
Over the weekend, several members of Smart Parenting Village wanted to share a video in the Facebook group that we must say is not for those who are...faint at heart. But we understand why they sent it to us: it demonstrates how powerful a birthing mom can be (well, the power of this mom at least).
The woman in the video is German physician and mom of six, Sarah Schmid, and it shows her giving birth to her fifth child at home UNASSISTED. Birth doula Flor Cruz (@badassmotherbirther), who shared the clip below, described Sarah's video as "nothing complex, difficult, technological, forced, timed, chaotic or mapped out."
Sarah was giving birth standing with only a birth tub on her left and bookcase on her right to anchor her as she pushed her baby out. She listened to her body, knew when to push, and it was still her who caught the baby when it came out (whew!).
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"In birth, often than not, we have the tendency to complicate rather than simplify. We assume that sophistication equals results, brilliance, performance, and intelligence but it simply does not," Cruz wrote on Instagram. "We tend to set the tone of expecting chaos, and we add so many things that in the end can make birthing more difficult than it needs to be."
The typical first reactions even among moms to the video were "OMG" or "Whoa!" or "What the..." (We were the same.) But once you've gone past the shock — which might take time for many and that's fine — you eventually realize that it's a mom delivering her baby by herself and at home, a feat of strength if there was ever one.
Sarah shared in her book, Freebirth: Self-directed Pregnancy and Birth, that it took her 25 minutes to deliver her fifth baby, describing it as "unremarkable, but she enjoyed it" just the same. It was her fourth childbirth that came without any help from a doctor or a midwife. The clip above was taken from this home video that Sarah uploaded on her YouTube channel in January 2017. (Warning: The video has graphic content that readers may find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.)
In her book, Sarah shared that after having observed many hospital births during her study of medicine, she was determined to have a home birth to steer clear of the regimented hospital birth protocols. She gave birth to her first baby with the help of a midwife, and except for her sixth child, she birthed the rest of her children on her own with only her husband as support.
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(Click here to watch a video of Sarah's second unassisted birth, her third child whom she welcomed outdoors and at night, and here for the video of her birthing her fourth child, which was her third unassisted birth that occurred in their living room and witnessed by one of her older kids.)
"If my body knew how to get the baby out, I needed to listen to it," Sarah wrote. She was convinced that inviting strangers to one's birth can be considered a risk as well. Since she felt uneasy about prenatal visits at the hospital, the mom of six did those herself, too (but, remember, she is a medical doctor).
Having a medical background helped her deal with pregnancy and childbirth on her own though she stressed it only accounted for partial credit. She learned how to listen to her body, thanks to a lot of research and her willingness to ask for help. For example, for her fifth pregnancy, she asked a midwife to check if she was carrying twins.
Sarah wrote in her book that her birth experiences are not meant to discredit modern medicine or hospital births. She said she wanted her book to help pregnant women "trust your body and intuition more than all the other voices you can hear" and give them the "courage to make the best decisions for you and your baby — whatever they may look like."
We can't all be like Sarah, of course. But her experience does show that we should be more confident of our body and what it can do, and we should nurture intuition. As Doula Cruz puts it, "Don’t set the mood for fear."