giving birth

“Re”Birth Ceremonies Aren’t For Everyone, But They’re Still Beautiful

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Have you ever heard of a “re”birth? It’s basically a ceremony to help a woman and family process after a birth that doesn’t go as planned. I’ve never heard of it before and as a doula, I’m pretty intrigued.

I learned of the practice after I was linked to this beautiful photography set while coasting somewhere around on the birthy web, as I do. Pictured in a set of breathtaking images is a mom in an herbal bath with her infant twins. Her doula, Nicole, explains:

A couple of months ago, I (Nicole) met Tirren and Steve in their home. They were pregnant with twin girls, and so excited and happy to be welcoming them into their home and hearts…Tirren had been told that she was best to have a caesarean birth, due to placenta previa, and so, together, we planned for a really positive, beautiful and ‘natural’ caesarean. Tirren’s twins had other plans however, and they decided that enough was enough in utero and at 32 weeks they were trying to exit! After a hectic time of hospitals, flights to Perth and trying to make sure Steve flew in on time, the babies were delivered at 32 weeks 6 days – thankfully they were perfect in every way!

I’m guessing this family was struck by the suddenness of their daughters’ birth and wanted a way to process the whole experience. Thus, a re-birth ceremony, which the doula Nicole explains as:

A rebirth ceremony is done after a mother experiences a birth that was not her original plan – whether it be an emergency caesarean, a vaginal birth with lots of intervention, or even a natural birth that just wasn’t like the mother expected it was going to be. We spend some time reminiscing about the pregnancy, and the mother’s thoughts and feelings towards her babies, and run a herbal bath with a generous amount of healing herbs and beautiful flower petals. We light candles and put on soothing music. And the mother sinks into the bath, holds her baby in her arms, and we pour blessings upon her little one, and tell the baby how loved, wanted and special she is, and how hard her mother worked to have a peaceful birth for her baby. Then the mother takes her baby down into the water (head above the water, of course!) and brings her up to her chest, like you would in a water birth. It can be a very healing and beautiful ceremony.

A re-birth is pretty out there for most people, I’d imagine, but it’s certainly cheaper than therapy! I’ve attended a few births that haven’t gone the way the mother hoped and there are often residual feelings that need to be expressed and acknowledged, even if a mother is still very happy and grateful to have a healthy baby (or, the above case, babies).

So, I’m all for re-birth ceremonies. They could be a really powerful way for a woman to process an unplanned Caesarean or really, any birth where something unexpected happens, be it a sudden episiotomy, a birth injury, or a postpartum hemorrhage. I can’t imagine that a re-birth is for everyone, but I hope these kind of rituals become more common, in a world where we’re often told to set aside our complicated feelings and smile through the raw, confusing and emotional first few weeks and months of motherhood.

Photo: Spring Photography