Life was very different five years ago when I fell pregnant. I didn't anticipate the metamorphosis I would experience on my journey into motherhood says Frauke Ryan

I have always been a rather conscious person (sometimes at the expense of light-heartedness!). Pregnancy was no exception. I prepared for and entered pregnancy consciously and went on a deep dive into education around pregnancy, birth and postpartum. I read all the books, watched all the documentaries. 

The more I learned, the more I understood that birth did not belong in a hospital. I didn't want to birth in a hospital. But I had already found a midwife early on in my pregnancy. Here in Germany, one line of midwifery care is 1:1 care through a private midwife. This midwife does your check-ups, is with you during your birth and comes to your house during the 6-week postpartum period. But you will need to birth in the hospital. 

I liked this midwife and knew it would be very difficult for me to find a homebirth midwife half-way through my pregnancy. 

I would nudge my midwife during check-ups and would ask her what would happen if we left it too late and the baby came at home. She made it very clear she was not equipped or trained for homebirth. I didn’t make peace with it. But I had to respect her position. 

From that point on, I focused all my attention on educating myself on the hospital system and all the potential interventions I might be facing. I wanted to understand which intervention had which consequences. For me and for my baby. 

Creating my birth plan

I went on to write a detailed birth plan that I then shared with the OBGYN at hospital registration, with my midwife and my husband. Everybody knew what I wanted. But most importantly, I knew what I wanted.

There were times during my birth where intervention came knocking at the door. I did not let it in. I knew the consequences of these interventions, so I was determined to birth my baby without them. 

I know now that all circumstances were working in my favour. I had a rather short labour; all went well, and we were in and out of the hospital in the same day.

I had emerged from my birth confident, strong, and self-determined. I was in control of my birth and my body. 

Photograph of a woman's legs sitting on a rock, crosslegged and wearing a white dress
I work towards a world in which women can birth their babies feeling safe and supported

Birth trauma and women suffering in silence

I would soon learn in postnatal classes, baby groups and through stories around me, that my experience was the exception.

All around I encountered women who were traumatized, who felt defeated. Women for whom birth was a struggle, as was breastfeeding and mothering in general. It felt as though they were all connected.

I witnessed suffering women, mostly in silence. Because they would blame themselves. “I couldn’t birth my baby, it had to be cut out of me, and now I can’t even feed him.” 

All these women would enter motherhood under the veil of shame and guilt. Let alone the physical impairments they were left with after having been cut, cut open, pulled, and pushed. 

I felt this collective feminine pain and I knew I had to show these women that birth could be different.

Even without having the framework and language I have now, I understood birth was something big. It could make you as a woman, as a mother. 

Birth and the innate power and wisdom of women

In my work as a doula now, I work with women to remind them of their innate power and wisdom. I remind them that all they need to birth their baby is already within them. They just need to surrender and listen. 

I take women through the hormonal blueprint of birth, I share with them what physiological birth, undisturbed birth looks like and why birth is a rite of passage.

With this knowledge and trust in themselves, women can take responsibility. Radical responsibility. For themselves, their bodies, and their babies. 

I work towards a world in which women can birth their babies feeling safe, supported, and self-determined. A world in which women emerge from their births feeling strong, confident, able, and whole.

And I like to imagine the generations of babies who will be brought into this world in peace, love, and connection. And what implications that might have for our society.

Or as the legendary midwife Jeannine Pavarti Baker said: “Peace on earth begins at birth.”


FIND Frauke's work as an Energetic Birthkeeper at (In German and English)

IMAGES: Jessica Sommerville Photography

Runner Up in The Green Parent Writing Competition

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