Why I Caught My Own Baby

Baby number one arrived smoothly and peacefully after 22 hours of labor. I’ll admit I was exhausted and just wanted her out by the end. My midwife was doing a great job of helping me stretch and I was happy to have her catch the baby and place her on my chest. It never crossed my mind to catch her myself, and I think I even responded “no” when asked if I wanted to touch her head during crowning.

Baby number two came after 9 hours of labor. I felt his wet, squishy head as he crowned. He was 9 pounds 13 ounces and there was meconium. Because of that, they hurried him out and whisked him away. Other people in the room were scared for him, but I wasn’t. I knew he was fine, and I just wanted to hold him. It only took a few minutes for them to bring him back, but it felt like an eternity. My arms ached to hold him. His screams subsided the second they placed him in my arms. I felt like we had been robbed of those first few precious moments, and I was determined never to let that happen again.

Baby number three came after I had become a HypnoBirthing instructor. I knew so much more. I felt more empowered than ever. With each birth, I strayed a little farther from the medical model and a little closer to my own instincts. I wanted to catch this baby myself. I had watched dozens of births where the mothers and fathers gently guided their babies out of mother’s womb and into the light. I wanted to experience that, too. I loved the idea of my hands being the first hands to welcome my baby into the world.

I wrote a new line on my birth preferences sheet and reminded my midwives at every appointment that I would be catching my own baby. By the time I went into labor, they were probably tired of hearing it. I labored for eight hours. It was intense, but it went smoothly. Soon, I felt my baby slip down the birth path and to my perineum. It happened in one surge. I gently placed my hand on his head, which I could feel peeking through.

The moment I had planned for, prepared for, and longed for for so long was finally here. This was my chance to heal from my previous birth where my second child had been ripped away too quickly. This was my chance to embrace my baby and connect in a way I never thought could be possible. But, at that moment, I panicked. Fear set in. What if the cord is wrapped around his neck? What if I tear? What if he comes out too fast? So many different thoughts of doubt passed through my mind. I couldn’t escape them. My midwife’s voice called me back.

“Are you catching this baby?”

“I’m not sure I can…”

“Sure you can. We’ll help you.”

My hand was still resting on his head. With the next surge, I pushed away all of the fear and doubt and let my baby slide easily from my body. I picked him up and placed him on my chest. A wave of pure ecstasy engulfed me. All I could do was cry and exclaim, “that was amazing!” over and over. My sweet baby boy rested quietly on my chest, and I felt my soul fill with joy. The wounds of my previous birth were completely forgotten.

I held my baby close for the next several hours. No one came to take him away. He and I were one. We had been one for nine long months, and we were still one–in a different way. After he had nursed at my breast for 45 minutes, he fell into a deep, peaceful sleep. I watched him with awe. My body, mind, and soul were at peace. I had never felt more empowered.

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