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Cathy Daub with Libby Zandbergen*

Preparing for birth

Libby had a sense that this birth would be a peak experience in her life, so she prepared not just her mind and body, but also her spirit by attending pro-natural birth education classes, listening to birth stories and reading books such as those written by Ina May Gaskin, midwife, and Sarah Buckley MD.    She learned about optimal pelvic positions, ate healthfully, took yoga classes, walked in nature, and saw her chiropractor.  During labor she used sound, water, and mantra for pain relief.  She birthed her son in a supported squat position at the end of her couch.   

She said, “I gave birth to my son, at home in Governors Bay, NZ on 2 July 2021. My support team consisted of my husband, two midwives (one of whom is a close friend) and a student midwife. It was a truly euphoric experience and I didn’t sleep for days afterwards!” 

Ecstatic Birth

Libby did not have a traumatic birth.  She had an ecstatic birth.  She did not have a birth that prompted her to become a childbirth educator/birth doula to save others from a traumatic experience.  She had a birth that was so amazing that it was a transforming experience for her and she wanted to reach out to help more birthing women to have the birth of their dreams.  

She continued, “I want all birthing people to have a positive experience. My birth only reinforces my desire for women to be fully informed and to be active participants in their healthcare. I want to share the benefits of experiencing a natural, vaginal birth at home. I want to learn how to serve and empower women in a holistic, emotionally sensitive sense.” 

Passionate about birth

“I am passionate about birth and serving women,” she continued, “It would be a privilege to accompany women and their partners on their birth journey and to witness the miracle of birth…   I want to serve women so they can let go fully and have trust and faith in their body during birth. To be a reassuring presence, especially when they are feeling doubt or fear. I want to ensure women are prepared going into their births so they feel confident and empowered. I want to ensure her emotional needs are met during labor and birth so she leaves feeling emotionally well. This leads to better outcomes following birth (with breastfeeding and bonding). I would also like to grow as a person and embody what it means to be a doula; patient, humble, in service, present, grounded, ego-less.” 

The euphoria she felt from her own birth experience made her feel united with all women giving birth.  Feeling this passion inside she wanted any birthing woman to know that, “Your body is designed to give birth. It already knows what to do and will tell you what it wants to do. Use long, low sound and breath.”  Libby believes a woman’s birth is on her terms and that she will support her choices.  She sees herself as part of the birth team, able to handle all of the practical things as well as offer emotional support, guidance on movement/positions, and pain management throughout.

Reflecting on her own birth journey

After her amazing birth Libby realized:

  • Early childbirth preparation along with choosing midwives and friends who supported her and helped her to feel safe, resulted in a birth experience for which she will have positive. ecstatic memories the rest of her life. 
  • There is power in believing the instinctive nature of birth. 
  • To have an uncomplicated birth requires the mother to feel emotionally, physically and spiritually safe. Therefore, having someone ensuring she feels calm, supported and secure is hugely valuable. Her doula’s presence may be one of the things she needs to fully surrender and let go. 
  • Becoming certified as a childbirth educator and birth doula was a way in which she could help other birthing parents have peak experiences in birth.  
  • She could be part of the journey with other birthing parents to experience transformation in birth just as it did for her. 

Human Values form the foundation of BirthWorks and their practice integrates the mind, body, and spirit which increases confidence and decreases fear in birth.  Being informed and feeling safe when giving birth offers a cascade of benefits for when a birthing mother is not fearful, her body which knows how to give birth, can open more easily and be her guide so she can instinctively birth her baby/babies. Having such a peak experience in birth, extends into parenting and makes the transition to parenthood easier.  

There are pressures in childbirth today that are economic, legal, and financial that have too often overcome the birth process leading to more birth interventions that have their own risks. These affect hormone production and also cause stimulation of the thinking brain, making it more difficult to access the primal brain that already knows how to give birth. In low-risk women, birth is a normal and natural part of life that most often does not require interventions.  

Following her heart

Libby followed her heart, and researched a number of programs and then decided to choose BirthWorks International as, “I love that BirthWorks offers an evidenced-based approach that is also spiritual, as I want to learn how to serve and empower women in a holistic, emotionally sensitive sense.”   

She learned that BirthWorks has an ACED certification program (Accelerated Childbirth Educator Doula) where she could accomplish both of her goals to become a childbirth educator and birth doula with one course. The combo course will help her to prepare birthing parents early in pregnancy, and then likely attend some of their births as their doula.  This is transformation in action. 

Be quiet now I’m giving birth so please don’t bother me.

I feel intensity…

Just help me feel safe and do as I ask and believe in

Me as I birth my baby.

Lyrics from CD “Believe”

*Libby Zandbergen is a student in the BirthWorks International ACED certification program.