Catchin’ a birthday baby

So, I caught a baby for the first time last week. On my birthday… a day where  I attended not one, but TWO Hypnobabies home births back-to-back. Pretty awesome birthday gift.

Two births, one catch and one pair of amniotic fluid-soaked jeans later, I got into my beloved bath tub just before midnight on my birthday and thought, now THAT was a good birthday.

It felt…. normal. Warm, wet, and normal. Special to be the first person to touch a brand new life, but normal.

More than that, it was humbling. I noticed how easily a person might allow themselves to get caught up in the juicy awesomeness of catching babies if they weren’t mindful. How it could get fun to be the baby-catcher, always the first one to greet the baby before handing him or her over to its mother.

What I noticed was that it wasn’t BETTER than the rush, the heart-tingling feeling I get when when attending births where a mother or father catches their OWN baby in a magically touching family bonding moment.

I will gladly and joyfully do the honour of catching a baby any time a mother asks or needs me to. But I definitely had a moment of affirmation that any person attending the birth of a new child should be a distant second or third choice to the baby’s parents, only if they do not want or are unable to, when it comes to the role of baby-catching.

As I held my arms out and allowed this beautiful baby to fall gently into them, as I cradled him there until his mother turned around and was able to clasp him skin to skin to her chest, I was very aware of the fact that this was not MY baby, and that as amazing as it was to be holding him in my arms, I realized I should get my hands off of him pronto.

Before attending this birth, I was well-beyond sold on a hands-off philosophy… I already cringed at births where a medical professional is grabbing at a baby’s head before he or she is even born, at photos of overzealous latex-gloved hands as the first touch a new life experiences.  Credit to my teacher, Gloria Lemay, who often talks about how babies don’t need to bond to anyone in those first moments other than their parents. In the moment where I held out my arms for this brand new baby to fall into before placing him on his mother’s belly, I knew with even more certainty that  she was right. These aren’t our babies. Birth isn’t the doula, traditional birth attendant, doctor, or  registered midwife’s show.  Birth belongs to mothers, babies, families, not those of us there to serve them.

Have you caught your own baby, or someone else’s? Share you experience below.

Jessica Austin, Childbirth Services in Vancouver, BC

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  6 comments for “Catchin’ a birthday baby

  1. February 13, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Love this! What an amazing BIRTHday!

  2. February 4, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    What a great post Jessica. <3 I didn't catch any of my 3 babes, and have yet to catch any others (though hope to one day)… though my husband caught my 3rd in the water… it was such a powerful experience, to give him that, allow him to catch his son. (my 1st was yanked out by forceps, and my 2nd was gently caught by a midwife; our 3rd was an UC). thank you for sharing this viewpoint. <3

  3. Inkling74
    February 3, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Love this post and love the chance to get to know YOU! What a very special birthday for sure!

  4. Tara - Doula on the Drive
    February 3, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Thank you for this beautiful and grounding insight Jessica…YOU are doing amazing work!

  5. Charlie
    February 3, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    brilliant article as always Jess.

    as with so many elements of the birth these days, I don’t think many people realise that mum or dad can catch their own baby, and instead think that a doctor or midwife *needs* to

    it is then taken one step further and said that that person (usually a doctor or midwife) “delivers” the baby instead of catches it

  6. February 3, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    WOW! Now that’s what I call a BIRTHday!

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