The Two Week Wait
10 Questions To Ask Your Care Provider
Your Pregnancy Care Options
Common Symptoms in Early Pregnancy
Six things you may not know about the hours after a caesarean birth
What is Informed Choice?
How to Plan for Postpartum
A Quick Guide to Breastfeeding
If you know Montana Lower you’ll know her smile and you can hear it throughout her birth story as she recalls the spiritual journey of bringing her daughter, Blue, earthside. She talks in detail about her deep connection to her body, breath and unborn baby and her ability to listen to her intuition, use her birth skills and subsequently experience a gentle, love-filled water birth. Montana’s story is an incredibly positive and inspiring one despite the challenge of birthing amidst bushfires and navigating new motherhood during the isolation of coronavirus.
Montana is an engineer by trade, a model and climate activist who recently launched Murals For Change, a not for profit that combines art, activism and mindfulness to inspire future leaders. She knew her partner, Tom, for many years before they got together and yet it was only a few months into their relationship that she fell pregnant with baby Blue. She travelled a lot during her pregnancy and was sick up until her very last month which was around the time that the bushfires started and all her plans for a home birth were in disarray.
“Planning a home birth enabled me to have the mindset that I wasn’t going to hand the power over but instead to believe that I have all the power inside of me to birth my baby. And when it came down to it, I’d rather give birth looking at trees than a white hospital wall…I was so excited for birth, I’ve always been passionate about giving back to our primal instincts. As a woman I was so excited to know how strong I could be, and honestly how magic it is to create a human being.”
To actively prepare for birth, however it was going to unfold, Montana and Tom did a calmbirth course and came out of it informed and empowered. “It really helped me understand the science of birth, how my body produces all the things to protect me during labour, how my mouth is connected to my yoni and that when my mouth is open, I’m directing open energy down to my pelvis and yoni,” she says.
The final month of Montana’s pregnancy was emotionally and physically heavy and made even more challenging by threatening bushfires and the upheaval of evacuation. “We started seeing the fires from our house high up in the mountains of the Byron hinterland. We had a half-finished, unregistered bus, which was all our life savings, sitting in the driveway. At midnight we got the call that we needed to get out so we packed everything into the bus and then it broke down. I was so pregnant and tired and we weren’t sure where we were going to go. It was all really heavy.”
They ended up in a small house on a friend’s property and during the days that followed, Montana had to let go of her plans for a homebirth. “I just told myself that I was on a birthing retreat instead of the fact that all my plans had been cancelled and I’d lost all control. I continued to be looked after by my midwife and we planned to give birth at the local birth centre which was only a few minutes from where we were staying.”
The emotional release of late, hormone-charged pregnancy meant she had to let go of the need to do it all and do it all by herself. “Pregnancy was much more an initiation for me than I ever thought. I felt like it was such a huge time for me to deal with the trauma of my upbringing and my own birth story and what that meant for me to become a mother. I continued to have nightmares of my childhood and adolescence and they became really intense as I got closer to giving birth. They made me really sad but they also reminded me how much I wanted to be a conscious parent. At the time it was a really heavy process,” she says.
Amidst the emotional upheaval she launched Murals for Change and two hours after she sent her final email, she sat down for dinner and her waters broke. She went to bed but woke soon after with mild contractions so at 10pm she put her birth playlist on, lit the candles on her birth alter, lay on her side and focused on breathing and vocal toning. “I was in a rhythmic state and getting lost in a trance of music, breath and voice. I was drifting in and out of sleep for the first 4-5 hours and I kept getting messages from Blue telling me that we were going to do it slowly and gently.
“I started to weep because I was so happy. I was so excited to meet my baby but it was also so healing to feel so present and primal in my body; it even made me happy to let my body have control instead of my mind.”
When the sun started to rise, Montana felt like she needed to go to the birth centre and they arrived within minutes. Her friend, and her doula Rosie Matherson, helped her settle and get back into her deep breathing and she managed to stay calm despite the fact that she felt like she was starting labour all over again.
“I got into the bath and Tom was massaging my back and that’s when it started to get really intense but I felt like she couldn’t fit. I had been pushing for two hours and I kept saying: she doesn’t fit, there’s something wrong.”
Montana’s intuition was right; Blue couldn’t fit because there was a cervical lip. She lay back on the bed while her midwife manually moved it, closed her eyes, focused on her breath and heard Blue tell her what she needed to do. “You have to open up, it’s safe to be vulnerable, I need to see that you’re open to being as loved as you love others, and I need to see you work together for me to come through safely.”
“I opened my eyes and I looked into Tom’s eyes for the first time in my labour, and I just felt so loved, so seen, so heard and I felt his unwavering strength and trusted him to be the dad I always dreamed of for my baby and that so much of my heart wanted for myself.”
“The cervix opened and it was painful, it was the only part of my labour that I would describe as painful, but it hurts to open up sometimes, physically and emotionally. I got back into the water and felt her coming down. I asked Tom to cheer me on which is so unlike me…in all other aspects of my life I was to do things silently and without fuss. I was weeping with happiness at how incredibly powerful it all felt. I just felt our little girl coming down, coming down with every breath. I’m pushing and pushing and little Blue came out and then went back in about 15-20 times, it was a very gentle birth. On the final push her little head came out and her hand was out and she was birthed. She was handed to me, crawled up my chest, and I was just weeping and I couldn’t stop thanking her. Thank you so much for choosing me! She was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
They spent the next few hours in hospital before going home to their little nest. Four days later they felt safe to return to their mountain home and Montana was so grateful to be amongst nature and away from technology so she could have a 40 day babymoon.
She admits that the postpartum period, whilst achingly beautiful, has not been without its challenges and talks openly about the loss of her maidenhood and the rebirth of herself as mother. “I may not be as light and free as the maiden but I feel like I’m finally doing what I’m here for.”
Her advice for new mums? “Ask for help. And if you don’t know how, learn! The postpartum period is a lot harder without a village to support you.
Spiritual birth, Babymoon, Birth centre, Cervical lip, Calmbirth, Waterbirth, Home birth, Covid-19
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