Pre & Postnatal Educator, Founder/Host of The Natural Mama Podcast
New Orleans, Louisiana
I had mastered the whole living abroad thing, fully identifying as a “Forever-Expat,” with no vision of returning home (United States) anytime in the foreseeable future. Well, then comes baby… and “Pregnant-Expat” isn’t nearly as fun as the jet-setting, island-hopping lifestyle I once relished in.
After living in Barcelona, Spain for several years, my husband and I decided to move to Chile, his home country. The week we moved there; I became pregnant. Although we talked about having a baby and had even begun “trying”, we didn’t expect it to happen so quickly.
We were truly overjoyed and incredibly excited. But fairly soon after finding out the good news, I realized being pregnant abroad presented a whole range of challenges that I never expected. The joy and excitement of having our first child was directly counterpoised by the stress and fear of giving birth in a foreign land, in a foreign language, and with foreign standards of medical care.
I always knew I wanted to give birth naturally – vaginally, unmedicated, with minimal interruptions/interventions. After searching for an OB who favors natural births, it didn’t take long to find out that my birth preferences did not fit into the medical system of Chile, a country with one of the highest cesarean section rates in the world. It’s common for a woman to go to her first prenatal appointment and leave with a c-section already scheduled for 38 weeks away. This freaked me out.
Well, the stars aligned (and my incessant searching paid off) because I found the one and only OBGYN, and her team of midwives, who are infamous for being balls-to-the-wall pro-natural. When I called to make an appointment, I was told she was booked for the next five months. But then the scheduler stuttered a bit and told me “Oh wait, someone literally just cancelled as we’re speaking. Would you be able to come in tomorrow morning?” This was a divine moment. I am sure of it, because this doctor was the only one I wanted. Turns out she truly lived up to her stellar reputation.
I was supported and comforted throughout my pregnancy, with very few interventions. I only had two ultrasounds, was weighed only when I asked to be, and was never checked for dilation. Honestly, I didn’t even know pregnancy check-ups were so procedural (weight, cervical exams, etc.) until my best friend told me what it was like for her in Texas.
My pregnancy was a breeze and I felt super prepared for childbirth. My midwife educated me on my own anatomy and physiology, taught me natural pain relief techniques, and continually encouraged me to stay in-tune with my body, trust my body, and be totally present throughout the experience.
On August 4, 2019 I was three days past my due date. I woke up to pee when I noticed I had lost my mucus plug. At 1:30pm my water broke, and I began feeling pretty gnarly contractions. Many of them were double-peaked contractions. I labored at home with my husband for as long as I could… probably too long to be honest. Because my son was almost born in the car on the way to the hospital.
I was unmedicated, I was fully present, and I was put into a euphoric state during labor. Yes, the contractions hurt. But in between each contraction, I was lifted into a state of bliss – the natural rush of oxytocin is INSANE and REAL. About 30 minutes before Mateo was born, we were walking to our car to head to the hospital and I just stopped and looked at my husband with a huge smile and tears rolling down my face. He asked “What’s going on? Are you okay?” I responded between sobs, “yes!!! I’m just so HAPPY!! We’re about to meet our baby!!!!” It was an unforgettable feeling. Thank god my husband kept me on track and ushered me into the car, because it was definitely time to go.
That’s when the fetal ejection reflex (Ferguson Reflex) kicked in. I had heard about how your body “does all the work” on its own, but it didn’t really make sense to me until I felt it first-hand. I was lying across the backseat of the car, and suddenly my contractions changed. My body was pushing out my baby and I had absolutely no control over it. I told my husband “He’s coming!! He’s coming!! My body is pushing him out and I can’t help it! I’m not trying, it’s just happening!!”
My husband drove the car up to the automatic doors of the emergency department of the hospital. The front bumper was literally in the doorway and he hollered at someone to get a stretcher for me. Someone brought a wheelchair and I yelled at them in Spanish that the baby’s head was hanging out of my vagina, there’s no way I can sit in a wheelchair. The stretcher arrived and I was rushed through the hallways towards the labor and delivery section. I was lying on my side, demanding my top leg to be held up in the air as we zoomed through the hallways. The guttural, savage sounds coming from deep within my soul echoed throughout the halls of the hospital until we got to my delivery room. I pushed twice and Mateo was born at 7:39pm.
Once the birth was over, and my doctor’s job was basically done, the lack of medical care became present. We have no idea how much our baby weighed at birth because the scale was broken. They injected him with a Hepatitis B vaccine without my consent. When I got up to use the bathroom for the first time after giving birth, a nurse escorted me to the toilet and walked away, leaving me unattended. I got super dizzy, everything went black. The next thing I knew I was lying on the floor covered in blood, with cuts on the side of my head. I had passed out, by myself. The event was brushed over and ignored by the medical staff as if nothing had happened.
I learned so many valuable things from my experience of being pregnant, giving birth, and becoming a mother in a foreign country. Knowing that I was living in a place with out-of-date medical practices and a complete language barrier, I took it upon myself to research the ins and outs of all things baby-and-birth-related. And I became obsessed.
This is how “The Natural Mama Podcast” was born. A project that embodies and expresses my deepest passion. It is my goal to educate, empower, and encourage women to choose the most natural route possible throughout pregnancy, childbirth and beyond. I believe that when women are properly educated on the design and function of their own bodies, fear of the unknown dissipates, and confidence takes ahold. I began to gather the latest information from peer reviewed medical journals, experienced midwives, OBGYN’s, lactation consultants and fellow mothers.
There was no reason to keep all this valuable information to myself when so many women around me were struggling and desperate for answers. I began recording podcast episodes to share my acquired knowledge with as many women as possible. The Natural Mama Podcast evolved from there into a very active Instagram community and now an official blog-style website.
Women deserve to give birth with dignity. This is something that is so often disregarded in our society’s modern, over-medicalized approach to childbirth. The Natural Mama Podcast is an informational source for women to learn about their own incredible bodies, fully understand the sacred event of childbirth, and confidently make informed decisions to take control of their birthing experience. If I can help just one woman transition into motherhood at ease, I will feel genuinely fulfilled.
How to connect:
Podcast episodes are available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Soundcloud.
Please follow @naturalmamapodcast on Instagram and visit www.thenaturalmamapodcast.com to learn more.
Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!
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