I finally got my visa to come live with my husband here in London back in January 2017. I was at home in Florida packing my things with my Mom and wearing what I always wear around the house- a crop top and some shorts.
As Mom and I are packing and chatting she casually, and out of NOWHERE, says “You’re pregnant”!
I was stunned and confused!
How do you...?
What makes you...?
Why do you...?
I had just gotten back from a beautiful Hawaiian vacation with my Husband and had nothing on my mind except packing quickly enough to make the deadline on my arrival into the United Kingdom. I laughed what mom said off and continued packing.
(The clothes I had on when Mom said I was pregnant)
Fast forward to February 24.
I’m finally back in London catching up with friends and eating all the vegan food I can get my hands on (because London is one of the best places to eat vegan!). The weekend passes and Monday comes around and I notice I haven’t gotten my period yet. Moms words automatically pop into my head.
I call my Husband and I ask him to pick up a pregnancy test for me and when he finally gets home later that day what Mom miraculously already knew was confirmed...
I was pregnant!
How my Mom knew this is beyond me and must clearly be Mothers Intuition because I was only about 4 weeks pregnant at the time.
I was happy to find out we were going to have a Baby and my Husband had been ready for children for a long time already, but I still took 3 more pregnancy tests that week because I just couldn’t believe it. I mean, me, Laceinne, a Mom? I had never been the type to fantasize about having a family and I was never really a "baby person". I liked babies and, yes, I suppose I wanted children, but I just never really thought about it becoming a reality until the moment I found out I was pregnant.
(3 pregnancy tests confirming my pregnancy)
By the time Thursday arrived I got sick.
Really, really, horribly sick.
I didn’t feel like myself at all and began to accept that I was pregnant. In less than 1 week, my breasts became full and tender, I was incredibly tired, and I was unbelievably queasy.
For about 6 weeks I was nauseous to the point where I couldn’t even drink or look at water. I had no appetite, but whatever I could manage to get down came right back up only moments later. I lost about 12 pounds throughout the course of those 6 weeks. I gagged and vomited at the smell of any odor that came my way and at the sight of absolutely any food or drink. My poor Husband couldn’t even get ready in the same room as me because if I smelled absolutely anything he used on his body I would vomit.
Every day was a choice of “Do I try to brush my teeth or do I try to wash my face?”. A shower was absolutely out of the question because I couldn’t bear to stand up long enough to wash myself.
When I say I was sick, I mean I was sick.
At first I assumed it was morning sickness. I mean, most women get morning sickness and I’d heard of how bad they felt so this had to be it, right?
I tried to coast through it all by sleeping and resting as much as possible, but the nausea was so bad that it typically woke me up from my sleep around 1 am. I stayed in bed everyday for those 6 weeks and just watched The Big Bang Theory on Netflix and tried not to cry. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t move, and I just needed and wanted my Mom.
Finally, on April 5 I had my very first antenatal appointment. It took all of my strength to go because I was still extremely weak and in pain. I thought for sure the midwives would tell me what to do and offer me some help to begin to feel better, so I got ready for the appointment with high hopes for some relief.
On that very first visit, they simply asked me a bunch of questions about family history and put my information into their computer system. They took my blood pressure, weighed me, and took my urine. They asked me how I was feeling and I expressed to them how horrible I felt but, they must not have understood how severe my symptoms were because they just smiled and said something along the lines of “it’ll pass” and “it’s common”.
I had to ask them about my blood pressure and urine because they did not willingly share with me the results. They seemed a bit bothered that I asked, but of course they had to respond.
Red flag #1.
Why didn’t they voluntarily provide me with the results of my blood pressure and urine sample?
My blood pressure was passable, but my urine was high in protein. This could mean a variety of things including dehydration or pre-eclampsia. I immediately knew it was dehydration because I hadn’t properly drank anything in 6 weeks!
Red flag #2.
Once provided with results of my urine sample why didn’t they voluntarily tell me what I could do to remedy the situation?
I asked them what I could do about my dehydration and they told me that if it persists I could go to the hospital for an IV drip. If it persists? How many times do I have to say this? It’s been going on for 6 weeks!
Thanks. You’re a huge help.
I left that first appointment feeling extremely agitated. I mustered up all that energy to go to that appointment and the midwives did not help me with anything! They offered me no information, no guidance, and no help for the way I was feeling. I was just another number and I was on a time limit with them because there were more “patients” after me.
Eventually, as I continued to do my own research, I came across information on a condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum. HG, as it’s known, affects approximately 1 out of every 100 women and is not too common. Symptoms include:
Extremely heightened sense of smell
Little to no appetite
Weight loss of 10+ pounds or 5% or more of your pre pregnancy weight
When reading through the symptoms, I could check off every one of these! I had lost about 12 pounds by the time I discovered my HG. Yes, I was persistently nauseous! Yes, my sense of smell was extremely heightened! Yes, I was dehydrated and had no appetite! Yes, I was tired and occasionally vomiting blood!
I felt so physically sick that it made me emotionally sick too. Of course, I already loved my Baby and was so happy to become a Mother, but I felt as though wishing the sickness away also meant I was wishing my Baby away and that simply was not true! I was swimming in thoughts and emotions and it got to the point that I had to stop Googling things, delete the Instagram app from my phone, and shut the ringer off my phone too. I felt completely defeated.
On April 27 I got my first and only ultrasound of my entire pregnancy. I was unsure of how I felt about using radiation on my womb, but I wanted to confirm what I already knew. After learning even more about ultrasounds and radiation, I recognize that ultrasounds are not absolutely necessary and can sometimes cause more harm than good. As long as I remain healthy and in charge of my pregnancy, I will definitely not get ultrasounds while carrying my next baby.
(My only ultrasound)
By this time, we had seen the midwife at least once more and she did not restore my confidence in her at all. She was curt, not very friendly, and just didn’t have the best energy overall. There was no way I was trusting her with my Baby, so I started to figure out how I could give birth without her or any other formally trained medical worker.
Most people might have just asked to switch midwives, but for me, it felt like the whole system was a fail. It wasn't just her attitude that made me lose faith, it was the rushed detached appointments, the smell and general aesthetic of the office environment, and the general lack of information and guidance I could see women were not being provided with.
my birth. I wanted to remain in control of when I moved, what I ate, what position I was in, and everything else in between. In hindsight, I’m happy for our antenatal experience because it led me towards the empowerment of freebirthing our first Daughter. I had also learned about how women were forced to labor and I couldn't imagine being told what I could and could not do during
DISCLAIMER: This is MY experience with MY midwife during MY pregnancy. I know other women who have had fantastic experiences with their midwives.
What is a Free Birth?
A freebirth, or unassisted birth, is a birth that is allowed to unfold naturally without any outside help. It is when a Mother gives birth to her child through her own instinct and fearless courage without any formally trained medical professionals present and without any interventions.
When free birthing, the Mother is in charge of where she is, what she does, when she does it, and who else may or may not be present. It is not a medicalized process, but rather an expression of Natures greatest metamorphosis.
We did not choose to have our first child at home unassisted by being ill informed. On the contrary, we did vast amounts of research. From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I started reading and doing research on female anatomy, fetal development, and labor. I read books including:
Birth Without Fear
Handbook for Raising Black Children
Witches, Midwives, and Doctors
Placenta, the Forgotten Chakra
I also read numerous articles and cross referenced information from various websites. I joined Facebook groups. I searched hashtags on Instagram. I found people who had done what I wanted to do and had real conversations with them about their real experiences. I took those 9 months to fully submerge myself into all things pregnancy and labor.
(Learning about childbirth while 7 months pregnant on vacation in Ibiza)
It's important to understand what emergencies could arise during childbirth and how to handle them. I searched the top emergencies and some of them included:
Upon further investigation I was able to determine that these things sound worse than they are and they are not as common as they are made out to be. I learned how to check for any signs that something was wrong and what steps to take to remedy the situation if one arose.
I also learned the steps to take once baby was delivered. What do I look for? Are there any immediate checks to perform? When will the placenta be expelled and what do I do after I have the Baby?
Unassisted home births carry their own risks and it may not be for everyone, but as a healthy woman having a healthy pregnancy with no complications, I knew I could do it. I stuck to my plant based vegan diet and ate as best I knew how throughout my pregnancy. I focused on eating lots of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables like strawberries, pineapples, plums, peppers, and lettuce and balanced that with other nutritious foods like wild rice, quinoa, chickpeas, lentils, and of course, lots of water. I continued to exercise and stay active throughout my pregnancy and worked out until I was nearly 9 months pregnant. I had boxing lessons, jogged, and did body weight training under the guidance of my Husband. I had emotional and spiritual support and I was loved and encouraged throughout.
(A typical breakfast for me while pregnant)
(Taking a water break while working out at 6 months pregnant)
I continued to attend my antenatal appointments and see my midwife who, at this point, I flat out just didn’t like. She monitored my progression by feeling the fundal height and asking me monotonous questions about how I was feeling. She always asked for urine. I always refused. Why allow her my urine if she had already proven to me that she wouldn’t help fix any issues I was having on my very first visit?
Urine samples are taken from pregnant women to screen for dehydration, pre-eclampsia, and gestational diabetes. These conditions apply if a woman is not eating healthily, but I knew I was doing my best to eat the best way I could. I actually even kept a diary of everything I ate throughout my entire pregnancy just to keep me on track!
(Holding my 2 food journals at 7 months pregnant)
So why did I continue to see the midwife?
The first reason is that I wanted to learn about antenatal visits, what they entail, and what the process is. I knew I’d be best able to help other women if I first went through the process myself.
Secondly, I wanted to pick the midwifes brain. Though I was and still am continuing to learn daily, at my antenatal appointments I always had a list of questions to ask her to verify certain things I had read about. Things like what urine samples are for, what the baby should be doing during this week, and how I was comparing to other women who were as far along as I was.
Thirdly, I knew since I was having an unassisted birth I would need proof that I gave birth to my baby in this country. A trail of paperwork from all my antenatal appointments would suffice.
I must admit, as much as I did not like the midwife, since this was my first pregnancy, it still put me at peace to occasionally check in with someone who could reassert what I already knew- that I was progressing normally and wonderfully.
I never told the midwives of my plans to free birth. I didn't feel inclined to share with them because I know how readily fear tactics are employed. I allowed them to believe that I would be having a home birth and even picked up the midwives home birth kit to keep at my house. The kit included various items the midwives might need to use to intervene in my labor had I called them.
Reactions On My Choice To Free Birth
When I began to tell my family and friends that I made the decision to free birth I was met with confusion. Many people did not know what I meant and once I explained it to them, just like anyone else, they were fearful because they love me and wanted me and the Baby to be safe.
"But what if something happens?" was the most common argument.
"Just have a midwife present!" was a justification.
"Be smart, this is your first child!" was a redundant statement.
I had to remain headstrong and confident and I had to calmly and peacefully explain to everyone why I was making this choice. I explained to them what I learned about the most common labor emergencies arising due to medical intervention and that by forgoing outside help I knew there would be less risk.
I received phone calls and text messages from people who deeply care about me, but I chose to block out anyone or anything who did not believe in all my reasoning. I was not making this choice out of ignorance, but rather due to extensive research and a lifestyle which fully supported this healthy and perfect transition. I needed to keep a positive energy field around me if this was going to happen as I wanted it to.
Unfortunately, because we have allowed the medicalization of childbirth there are laws which exist and which vary country-to-country and state-to-state that determine our right to have an unassisted birth. In London, where I had my daughter, it is legal to freebirth, but it is illegal to have help from anyone other than a trained and licensed midwife, doctor, or other medical professional. This means that, while I may be comfortable with my Husband helping me during childbirth, legally he cannot take part. Crazy, isn't it?
I recommend you look into the laws regarding unassisted births where you live.
Freebirths Across The World
Across the world, women are free birthing daily. They are giving birth on their own terms, outside of hospitals, to healthy and beautiful babies. Just because it isn't advertised and you don't see it or hear about it, does not mean it is not happening. I have personally connected with lots of fellow freebirthers from different parts of the world who have shared the same magical story as me. These women are going into labor calmly, peacefully, and relaxed. They are approaching labor feeling rich and empowered. I know because I was one of them and I look forward to doing it all over again when I'm blessed with my next Baby.
*You can read about My Birth Story here
(The freebirth of my Daughter)