11. Birth & Marriage with Ayelet Schwell

September 1, 2021

In This Episode
They say that it takes a village to raise a child. What about before the child is born? Ayelet Schwell provides support for women and couples as they embark on their journey through pregnancy, labor, and delivery by processing the experience. A positive and powerful perspective of the experience is important to help your marriage, raise your child, and possibly the birth of your next child. Listen to this interesting conversation between a doula and marriage coach on how your birth affects your marriage in this episode!

Highlights
1:32 Ayelet is a doula who helps women throughout their pregnancy by using any experiences related to birth that can be a source of strength and growth. Birthing Our Stories is a workshop she runs for women who have had a negative birth experience, which also serves as a support to close that child on their birth.
03:56 Whether you’re giving birth, the husband, or a family member giving support, there are different ways expressing and digesting the birthing process. Sometimes a birth brings more connection between spouses but when there is a disconnect, Ayelet helps raise awareness and helps women have that conversation with their husbands.
06:58 Humans can handle more than one emotion, so you are allowed to feel all the positive and negative feelings that arise from the birth experience.
09:10 It is very important to take the situation and process it to get as much of the learning experience as you can. Ayelet breaks down the roles of the mom and dad here.
12:15 Rebbetzin Bat-Chen shares her experience accompanying a friend and supporting her in her labor. This opened a new perspective for her to be more understanding of what her husband needed when she gave birth, especially to her sixth child.
15:02 Fathers play a support role during birth. The Birthing Our Stories workshop helps them understand, get involved, and help their wives in an intuitive way.
18:40 A listener asks who is easier to deal with: a first-time mom or an experienced mom.
20:25 The first birth story that Ayelet heard was her mother’s. She learned that women are powerful and that it is the woman who does the work during labor, which have helped her with her personal birth story and mission to help other women and couples.
21:36 A mom who has already given birth can have experiences from her past pregnancies that may need to be processed in order for them not to affect her next delivery.
22:21 Healing is not doing the opposite of what you experienced before. Processing is necessary between your first birth and the next.
23:30 In January, Rebbetzin Bat-Chen stood in prayer and asked God how she could serve Him in a more impactful way. She created the Marriage Breakthrough Retreat, a free seven day retreat for married women in business. Sign up for the waitlist!
25:50 Ayelet has a Trigger Response Guide for women who have had a negative experience or have been triggered in some way by the birth experience.
27:01 The four essential elements: voice, choice, power, and support, can be applied to your birth experience through this guide. You will see where the experience played out.
28:15 Home births are a wonderful option for many people, according to Ayelet. Although women do not need to do home births, it is important for those who want to do it to be in a safe environment.
32:38 The only way to get answers is to ask questions and explore. Home births are safe, but it is important to do your research.
39:17 Own Your Story is a birth story writing process that Ayelet created. It is not just for women who are processing a negative birth experience, but for women who have gotten pregnant. Writing your story helps preserve your experience in a positive way.
39:49 There is no shame in having a trauma from giving birth.
40:14 Your intuition is your best guide throughout any journey in your life.

Links
Ayelet Schwell: Birthing Our Stories | Facebook | Instagram
Own Your Story Birth Writing Story Workshop
Birth Healing Circle hosted by Ayelet Schwell
Trigger Response Guide by Ayelet Schwell
5 Surprising Ways to Improve Your Marriage
Marriage Breakthrough Retreat

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For more information about Connected for Real, visit the website!

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REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
Welcome to the Connected For Real Podcast! I’m Rebbetzin Bat-Chen Grossman, a marriage coach for women in business, and my mission is to bring God’s presence into your life, into your marriage, and into your business. Let’s get started. The following is one of the many conversations I had with experts and professionals about real life and how it affects marriage. Let me know your takeaways on Instagram or Facebook, @connectedforreal. Enjoy. And we are live. We did it! Welcome everyone. I am Rebbetzin Bat-Chen Grossman from connectedforreal.com and I’m a marriage coach for women in business. What fascinates me is how real life affects your marriage, and that is business and it could also be anything else. That is why this show was created because it gives me the opportunity to interview all of the amazing women, about what they do, and how it affects marriage. We really bring together both worlds, and Ayelet is an awesome, awesome doula, and her special her specialty is birth processing—preparing for and then also sort of just digesting what happened, how it happened, how did I take it, and all of my story around it. So, Ayelet’s gonna introduce herself but I sort of just gave you a little hint.

AYELET SCHWELL
Hi, I’m Ayelet, and I do attend births as a doula and support families through their pregnancy and delivery—childbirth. I also have a workshop called Birthing Our Stories, where I help, specifically women who have had a negative birth experience, who are dealing with unprocessed or leftover feelings, frustration that memories of their birth or triggers from their birth are still affecting them months or years later. They may have fears of getting pregnant again or doing that again from their previous birth experience, and the Birthing Our Stories workshop helps those women to close the chapter on their birth. It’s still part of your story. It will always be but through Birthing Our Story, it can become a source of strength and growth as opposed to this source of trauma, pain, and sort of dislocated feeling that many women unfortunately are left with after birth. I love that we’re having this conversation in this medium because something that has always been important to me and something that keeps coming up over and over is what about the partner’s role, the husband’s role, the father’s role. There’s this whole other aspect and perspective when you remember that that that birth is something that’s happening inside a couple most of the time, how really, really essential that aspect is, and how important addressing dad’s perspective is, so I love that we’re having this conversation.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
Yeah, one of the men was saying, “You guys tell me when you come up with something like that for men because women have all these great networking and awesome events,” and I think that this is something that is so true here too. I wish there was a birthing my story for men to process and experience on sort of just go through that that process—the process performance.

AYELET SCHWELL
The processing process. A hundred percent, and I do do it with couples as a private session for couples. What I’ve done also at the end in our closing session in the Birthing Our Stories workshop is I’ll actually coach women who feel that that’s something that they want to do—on how to have that conversation with their husbands so I do do that, and I really think it’s so important. In the birth environment–it’s so important. So yeah, we’ll touch on all that stuff.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
Oh my gosh, yes. We spoke about child loss and how each parent grieves differently, and I think it’s just so interesting—even when everything goes well, you have a baby, and everything is as miraculous as it could be and yet you still have different ways of reacting, different ways of expressing, and different ways of digesting. Sometimes it’s the postpartum women, and sometimes it’s the postpartum men, which happens a lot—where men just go into this like, “Oh my gosh, I took this responsibility on myself, and I don’t know what to do with this thing. There’s this little thing looking at me and I’m supposed to suddenly be perfect dad and—” They go through their own process, so just being aware of that is number one. Just allow that to be, and be okay with being different.

AYELET SCHWELL
Yeah, yeah. Okay with the transition. Okay with the change, and for both partners really to recognize that this is a transition for both of you. It can be something that brings obviously more connection and but when it doesn’t, it’s not something to be—I do have women who, and they know it’s not their partner’s fault—they know that, but they’ll say, “I try hard not to resent him for not speaking up,” or whatever and so then I’ll point out like, “Hey, this is where he was at during that whole thing,” and raising that awareness allows them to have that and open that conversation and have that conversation. So absolutely. It’s essential.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
It’s huge. It’s huge, and is there’s so much shame and so much guilt around not connecting. Like you were saying, “Oh, it’s such a beautiful thing—you connect through having a baby,” and you’re like, “But I’m not connecting.” There’s so much disconnect and they come to me and they’re like, “I can’t—I can’t do this anymore. Ten years later and all this is done is xyz,” and built on each other, baggage, and all of that stuff. That’s really important to just let it go. It’s okay. You don’t have to connect. You don’t have to make this all Disney—“Yay, we had a baby, and now we’re madly in love.” It takes so much out of you to go through this. Let’s just put this out there. Having a baby is a huge thing. So many parts to the story from just conceiving, to actually being pregnant, to getting through the first trimester, to getting through the second trimester, to then getting through the third trimester, and then the last 10 days feel like the whole year. Then you just [screams]. You finally go into birth, and there’s the labor, and then there’s transition, and then there’s the post—oh my gosh and every single part of this has an entire story around it. When you talk to women who just had a baby, they can go on for a day just talking about every single part of that journey, and it’s not a surprise. It’s amazing that we were even on the other side. Looking back, “Wow. We did all of that.”

AYELET SCHWELL
Yeah, yeah. One hundred percent. You were saying, “Let it go.” I am giving you permission to feel all of the feelings—the positive and the negative, the uplifting, the excitement, the overwhelm, the exhaustion, and the wonderment—all of it together. We’re complex beings, humans. We have the ability, the capability, to handle more than two emotions—more than one emotion. There’s a quote that I love from the original Peter Pan by J.M. Barry, where he talks about Tinkerbell and that she’s such a tiny being that she can only hold one emotion at a time. She can be happy one second, and as soon as she gets that jealousy, that’s all she has is the jealousy, but we’re not fairies [Laughs]. We’re much larger and more complex than fairies, and we can actually hold on to so many emotions at the same time. That’s why, especially when you’re talking about birth, processing a birth experience, or heading into a birth experience as two separate beings and coming together—to go through this experience together, recognizing that there isn’t just one goal. There isn’t just one outcome and one possible way of feeling it. Either it was a negative outcome, and it’s horrible or it’s a positive outcome and it’s wonderful. No. There’s so much nuance and it can be a different, really. That nuance can affect each mom and the dad separately in different ways because of where they’re at in in the process.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
Yeah, it’s just so huge because I work with women in business. So in business, one of the biggest, most important things in order to be successful, is to be able to really take the situation, take it apart, process it, and then take as much of the learning experience. Get your money’s worth from that experience so that you don’t have to learn things multiple times or whatever it is. This is something that is so complex more than anything else that you could do in business that it feels like your job is huge. So how do you break it down?

AYELET SCHWELL
One thing to remember, first of all, the overall structure of how I see and I’ve been a doula for 14 years I’ve been I’ve been a birth giver for 16 years. I’ve six of my own, Thank God, and my oldest is 16 so I’ve been doing this for a while. The way that I’ve seen this play out is mom is the birth giver. This is all happening inside her body. This is all her doing this, and so her experience is very visceral, especially during the actual labor. If you’re in an environment that you can feel comfortable and you can trust your environment, then you’re free to actually be completely primal, completely in your body, and you’re feeling this process as it’s happening, obviously, because it’s happening inside you and what happens when there’s a complication or suddenly somebody sort of steps in and asks you to come out of that primal experience, be present, and answer questions like when was the date of your last period or all these ridiculous things that you don’t really need for that moment, you’re pulled out of that, and you step into this observer role. You’re sort of observing yourself in this process and that’s when some of that dissonance can come in that can cause a feeling of being mistreated, neglected, or whatever because you’re pulled out of the process that you were flowing in to be present and to deal with a complication or something that. So that’s mom. That’s the birth giver. Then you have the birth partner, dad, in most cases so he has actually, I would say, almost a more complex role and his perspective is a little bit more complex. His main role in the birth room is the partner to his wife to the birth giver. He’s there as his wife is actually birthing their baby. He’s also the father of this baby but so that’s two roles—but then you have to take a step back. You have to zoom out and look at the fact that he’s also, on top of that, he’s an observer always. He’s a bystander and there’s a limit to what he can do in the process. In the old stories, they send them out of the room to smoke a cigar, and then when we got to the 60s and 70s, we brought men back into the birth room. You’ve got them boiling water or bringing towels. In the birth literature, it’s all about sort of giving them a job, but to be honest to speak to you, the men right now it’s a very difficult place to be and especially if you’re in a hospital environment where if you don’t—you may have been there once and there are things going on that you don’t fully understand, and your wife may not fully understand them either but she’s intuitively feeling this process. You’re the bystander. You’re watching. You’re trying to make decisions. They’re going to appeal to you very often and they may even use alarmist tactics to try and get you to do what they think your wife should do, and what do I do in that situation?

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
I love it. I want to tell you that I finally felt what the husband feels when a friend of mine asked me to come with her to a birth. This was her first birth, and here I was helping her out. I felt so helpless because when I’m giving birth, I know what I need, I feel my body. I’m going through it but when I was there for her I was like, “What do you need now?” and she had no idea. It just was like, “Um… um…” It was so miserable. I was like, “I do not ever want to be the husband ever again.” I’d rather give birth many times and not have to be on the other side of supporting a person who you see—they’re going through something. She’s in pain. She’s trying to make decisions. She’s not sure—blah, blah, blah, and I’m really helpless. Obviously I’m not a doula so I didn’t know what to do, right?

AYELET SCHWELL
It comes also with experience but even that right you’re talking as somebody who you did experience it before in your body, and husband will never right experience that. You’re not emotionally, physically, and biologically invested in the woman giving birth or the baby even though you’re so invested in your friend. It’s not for that.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
For sure. How awesome is it that you now have a new perspective? Totally. That was after my third—four, five, and six I was completely more understanding and in tune with what my husband needed. The last one—my husband is so sweet. I gave birth right before midnight and he was exhausted—really exhausted. He had the craziest day. He had to walk the entire Jerusalem because there was no buses. It was a parade and he was absolutely exhausted by the time he got to the hospital. I was already there with the doula. It was just the craziest story. The second I gave birth, like 10 minutes before 12, and then he’s like, “Great. Can I go home now?” In reality, if I was normal postpartum, just had a baby, like, “Let me just punch you first and then you can go.” I was so like, “What? You’re gonna leave me here?” and he’s like, “The doula’s going home and she can give me a ride. I really need to sleep.” I just let myself be okay with that—like, “Okay, how about you stay just 20 minutes more and then you could go?” That was great but I wouldn’t have been able to do that if let’s say it was birth number one or two. It took me until birth number six to be okay with him being human.

AYELET SCHWELL
Right, right. For sure, for sure. For me, in my role, finding ways to help the—first of all to show that to the mom this is what you can expect and this is to be aware, but also helping dad to understand, to get involved, and to understand not to just have to give him jobs and like, “Go get the water. Go get the—” whatever but really to help him to be able to step into a support role in an intuitive way so that he, in a way, can understand. I have all these different frameworks that I could that I use to describe what mom’s going through so that he can relate to it and not have fear around it.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
This brings us to the mother’s comment that my father helped her very much. Number one, he saw on the monitor anytime there was a contraction coming because the monitor saw it first. He would warn her, “Oh, it’s coming,” and that was really helpful for her. That was his job, and number two, he sang her songs and made her relax. I think that’s huge just to be aware and communicate ahead of time what do you need. I need my husband to be there and make me laugh and remind me Hashem is here—God is here, everything’s under control, I’m in the best hands and all these things. I need him to do that because I am not able to be in two places at the same time. My husband sings and whatever. We do funny things. In the last birth, he did not do any of that because he was so tired and every time I was like, “Could you sing something?” and he was like, “How about I just put it on YouTube?” [Laughs] I think I should do that processing thing on that birth because it was so funny. It’s just all the things that are coming up now while we’re talking—it was just such a funny experience to have an exhausted husband there. He says, “Can we not make it midnight this time?”

AYELET SCHWELL
Hey, you accommodated. You gave birth before.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
I am very accommodating. There was one birth where he had tests on Thursday and I was sure I was going to give birth on Thursday but he said, “Please not before the test.” So I ended up giving birth on Friday. With another one, my parents asked if I could just wait one more day and my body listens. Totally. It’s amazing.

AYELET SCHWELL
That’s awesome. [Laughs] I think that’s part of actually the root of why we even have to have this conversation about how birth affects marriage and how it’s because we’ve been so disconnected from the fact that this is actually happening—that it’s not just something that’s happening inside of mom but you are actually doing it. You are doing birth. It’s not, “Oh, your uterus is contracting.” No, you are contracting. Just the way that if you were to lift something, you are the one lifting it. You are the one birthing and we’re so disconnected from that. The way that it’s taught in medical school and if we’re taught it, it’s like you don’t get the whole picture. You don’t you’re never taught–it’s never talked about in that way—that this is you doing this. It’s not easier but it’s like there’s this disconnect even for the birth giver to say, “Oh, what am I feeling?” but really, it’s happening inside of you. It’s not the same but you know when you have to go to the bathroom and you’re driving home. You’ve got a 20 minute ride, you can make it to the bathroom, and you can hold it in. It’s the same thing because it is a physiological process, and it is happening inside of you. If you were to say, “Oh, my husband has tests on Thursday and I’m feeling this but, ‘Hey baby. We’re just gonna wait till Friday, okay?’”

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
We have a question here. Who is easier a first-time mom or an experienced mom? Oh, easier to deal with.

AYELET SCHWELL
As a doula? The myth is that first births are harder. The first time parents are more difficult but I don’t find that to be true. I really think it’s so individual. It’s also about the relationship you build so I really even—I can’t even—it’s a hard question to answer.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
I think it’s even deeper than that it’s the relationship a woman has with her own body and sometimes, I have women who had four babies and they are so disconnected. They’re still in that place of “I’m walking into the hospital as soon as I can, getting my epidural, getting them to do what they need to do—not interested in feeling anything or knowing anything and it’s totally fine. You know the best for you but that’s one way of doing it, and then you have these girls. They could be first-time moms, first time experiencing anything but they’re so in tune. They meditate or they feel their body and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, I feel something coming,” and it gets a different vibe. I think it really is so unique to every person.

AYELET SCHWELL
It doesn’t have to necessarily be meditating. I’ll see. I’ll tell you what I found is it really depends more on actually—this is the answer to your question. It depends more on the birth culture you grew up in, and that’s something that I always discuss. I discuss it with my doula clients, men and women, I want to hear from both of them what did you know about birth before this pregnancy, or before your first pregnancy, and I do that in my Birthing Our Stories workshop as well—that’s something that’s going to frame your experience of birth. I will say that the first culture that I grew up in was knowing that a woman is powerful, that ultimately it’s her doing the work—this is something that I learned from my mom. I’ve heard my birth story and my siblings’ birth stories over and over, and my knowledge of birth, which I didn’t know the mechanics of it, and I didn’t know what it was going to really feel but I knew that it was something I was capable of doing and I knew that ultimately, I’m the one doing it—not the hospital, not the doctors, and not anybody else. I think that had the most to do with my own birth and my own birthing journey over the course of the past 16 years. I think it has to do with the way that I help to guide couples too and in the preparing for birth and in the aftermath in terms of understanding what the what the terrain is when they approach birth, then we can talk about like, “Okay, what’s your inherited trauma? What’s the preconceived notions that you have?” That has much more to do with how a woman and how a couple are going to approach birth, how they’re going to handle it, how they’re going to come through it. That’s probably the foundation of what happens next.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
Right, and don’t forget a first time mom—she’s going with all these preconceived notions but an experienced mom has already experienced and sometimes that experience is also framing her coming birth or her experienced birth. A lot of baggage that you were talking about—if it wasn’t processed, if it wasn’t something that she really sat down and was able to digest, it’s going to affect the next birth and the next process as well. So it’s another thing to take into consideration when you’re asking which one is easier to handle. Sometimes you have to deal with very early very recent things, not so much from your childhood or from the stories you’ve heard.

AYELET SCHWELL
And that’s a very, very important point. I’m just finishing up a group where we just heard all their stories—a workshop group. We meet Monday nights, and so last night I said this. The response to trauma is very often to run in the opposite direction—to make all the opposite decisions and that’s not going to bring healing I see this so often and I always say, “Don’t think that your next birth is going to heal your previous birth unless you’re doing some processing in between,” and because it so often doesn’t happen that way and they come out of it saying “What? I did everything differently,” or, “I made different choices this time. Why did why did I come out of it like this?” and it’s because the trauma is still there. The triggers are still there, and you were making those decisions from a place of fear and pain as opposed to from a place of power, of knowledge, and support where you can actually have that powerful, healthy birth experience no matter what happens. So that’s such an essential point that where you’re coming from.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
Yeah. Oh, totally. Totally. The Marriage Breakthrough Retreat is a seven day retreat with a break in the middle for Sabbath. It is epic. I am not just saying that. I just ran the Marriage Breakthrough Retreat in February and 150 people. They were like, “You gotta do this again,” so I’m doing it again. I invite you all to sign up and to enjoy it because it’s completely free. It’s my gift to the world. Today I got a friend who asked, “I’m sorry to ask a silly question but why is it free?” and so the answer is because in January, I stood in prayer and I asked God, “What do You want from me? How can I serve and impact in a bigger way than just one-on-one because until this point I was doing just one-on-one. This was the answer. It was like, “Serve in a big way, and don’t just give a taste. Give the full thing. Actually bring God’s presence into people’s homes, and help them. So I am doing that in a big way, and I would love it if you guys can sign up. If you can tell all of your friends—it is specifically for women who are married and purpose-driven—so in business, working, or doing something that they are really passionate about. Make sure you sign up connectedforreal.com/retreat. I’m very excited about this retreat. It makes me happy.

AYELET SCHWELL
I heard good things about it, by the way.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
Yes, thank you.

AYELET SCHWELL
From people who did the last one, yeah. Yeah.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
Well, now you have to come to this one. [Laughs] I’m putting you on the spot live so that—

AYELET SCHWELL
Yeah, right? I’m practicing essentialism. I have to choose the things that are the most—my highest point of contribution.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
Today, someone said, “Yeah I can’t commit to seven days.” I said, “Don’t. Just commit to day one. Just show up on Monday and take whatever you want out of it. Then if you like it, fine. If you don’t like it, I’m fine. I don’t care.” I’m still doing it all right so and there’s recordings. You told me a while back that you have two things. One is for before the birth and when it’s after something like that. What is it?

AYELET SCHWELL
Yeah, where you can find me. I do have some really cool and really, really helpful free resources. One is a trigger response guide, and that’s for you if you’ve had a negative experience or you feel triggered sometimes by your birth experience. It can come up in a whole bunch of ways, and this is a way to sort of deal with the trigger in the moment so that you can make the decision about what to do next. The example that comes out a lot is where you feel anytime like a birth scene comes up on TV or somebody starts telling their birth story in a group, and you feel like you get that that trigger response, you want to run away, and whatever you normally do—either you get silent and you sort of become a shell or you do whatever you’re not doing that from a place of power so the trigger response formula allows you to release the trigger in the moment and then make a decision. “Do I want to stay and participate in this conversation?” “Watch this movie,” or, “Do I want to take a step away?” and it’s coming from a place of power so that can play out in all sorts of different situations. That’s the trigger response guide and that is at birthingourstories.com/trigger-response. The other one is a guide for you if you are trying to conceived or you’re currently pregnant, and you’re hearing all these stories, whether or not you had a past negative experience, this is the guide to help you to put into place the four essential elements that will give you a positive birth experience no matter what the circumstances. So it walks you through a process of the four elements of how to put those into place. The four elements are voice, choice, power, and support, and when you have those four things—I go through each one and explain what that means in your birth experience, you’re going to have a positive experience no matter what the circumstances. I’m so serious because I’ve supported women who knew they were having a loss and who knew they were they were birthing a stillborn baby and they had a positive experience. So this goes for the full range of experiences when you have these four elements set up, you are setting yourself up for a positive, powerful, and healthy experience. You’ll see as you go through it if you have negative experience in the past, you’ll start to see where that played out in that negative experience and then of course, you could come and do a workshop with me if you’d like.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
What do you think about home births?

AYELET SCHWELL
Me, personally? I think they’re a wonderful option for many people. I don’t think that all women need to all of a sudden go birth at home, but I think it’s worth looking into if it’s something that that you’re interested in. There are really great resources on it. I’m happy to talk about it. You can always reach out to me. You can find me on Facebook. My Facebook page is @healingher, and you can you can find me on Messenger, WhatsApp, wherever you are, I’m there.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
I love that you said it’s not for everyone. You have to be a candidate for a home birth, even legally. It’s not something you’re going to do if you have complications, if you have history, or if you have certain things.

AYELET SCHWELL
Right. The priority list in my mind is you, your baby, and family, and if all of those factors in your life can come together to support a home birth, then I think it’s an excellent choice. Ultimately, in order to have a healthy birth, you need to be in a place where you feel safe, where you can trust your environment, and you can trust the people in your support team. You have to be in a rest and digest state, and not in a fight or flight state in order for the hormones of labor to do their work. Just like any other physiological process that we do in our bodies and so wherever that is for you—so of my six children, four of them were born at home. My first was in the hospital, and when we were looking into this option for my our second baby, that factored in a lot because I felt like in the research that I had done, the people I had spoken to, and my own experience of my first birth, I felt like I wanted to give birth at home. That’s where I would feel the most safe, that’s where I would feel the most cared for, and bringing in the people who I trusted to be there and support me would be the ideal way for me to give birth, and my husband wasn’t sure. He had a lot of questions, and when we went into that conversation of, “Okay, are we going to even pursue this question?” I said to him, “Look, ultimately, you are my partner. You are my rock. So if you’re not comfortable then at home—if you’re feeling unsafe, if you’re feeling untrusting of this process when we’re at home, then I won’t feel safe at home because I need you to be solid. We’re gonna go through this investigative process and you need to be convinced. You need to feel comfortable that this is a safe option and he was, and we did. Now, he’s a huge advocate and so are his parents, who would never have imagined it. I think my parents saw me going on that habit at some point but that was a huge that was a conversation that we had. So, it has to be right.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
I love that you recognize it’s not for everyone. Of course, it’s not for everyone. I think it’s really detrimental to say anything is for anyone. We’re so unique and we have such different needs. I have a friend, both her parents are doctors, and she feels the safest in a hospital. This is her home. She just feels like, “Oh, okay. Now I can finally give birth because I know I have the people to—” whatever and for her, giving birth anywhere outside the hospital was like, “No way, no way, no way.” I had my number five too quickly in the house and it wasn’t planned, so we ended up going to the hospital afterwards. Right before that, my friend gave birth in the house—also not planned, also too quickly, and she had a completely different experience. She was petrified. She had all these bad thoughts going through her head. She thought something wrong was gonna happen. Too many things were going on and so she was in total anxiety. Meanwhile, I was like, “Wuhoo! This is so fun. I get to be home and it’s going too quickly.” Such different experiences because we’re such different people and like we were saying before in the beginning, it has to do with how you were raised, what stories you heard, what things you believe about, and all of the different frameworks that are building this experience for you so it is definitely not for everyone—a hundred percent.

AYELET SCHWELL
Yeah, but I do want you to know that it is a safe option. It is a true option and it’s something to explore. My approach is always to explore because you can only get answers that way. If you say, “Oh, I know.” “Oh, home birth sounds nice but it’s not for me,” you never ask yourself the questions about it and you never explore it, then you’ll never know and just because you’re exploring something doesn’t mean you’re not going to come to the conclusion that, “Oh, this actually is not for me,” but then you walk away knowing that you did really explore it, and you didn’t really choose not to give birth at home or whatever the question is but that’s always that’s always my approach is—let’s explore it. You said “Nothing is everybody.” Any time that I hear an absolutism in any direction, I’m gonna back away–from either direction. “It’s safe for everybody to be induced at 39 weeks” Let’s explore that. “Oh, if a baby has a one formula bottle then they’re never going to be able to breastfeed.” Let’s step back from that for a minute. Either side that you come from—

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
All these beliefs. I remember when I was taking my first ever class preparing for birth, the lady said to us and here I was paying a lot of money to be told how to breathe, how to think and how to whatever. All she said was, “This is the best class I’m ever gonna give you. Walk in and ask for the epidural,” and I was like, “Okay, you didn’t give me any other choice but to do what you say.” Like, “This is just not fair. I paid you all this money.” She went on for a whole hour explaining why it’s safe and it’s good for everyone, and everybody can have the epidural. I’m doing my research and going, “Wait, but there’s people who can’t have the epidural. What about them?” and it just made me crazy how frustrated I was at that preparation to birth class.

AYELET SCHWELL
Yeah, that’s so unfair.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
Let’s just give credit. My mother always said the epidural is godsend, and it is. A lot of people are able to have babies thanks to the fact that they don’t have to worry about so much of the pain but—

AYELET SCHWELL
My birth class in a nutshell if I had to give it one statement, I would say that no intervention is good or bad. It’s how it’s used, and if you’re being given an intervention and it’s being used as a solution, then it’s going to be a problem, and if it’s being used as a tool then it’s probably not going to be a problem. That’s ultimately the bottom line. Any intervention can be a positive intervention. If it’s a tool. So often they’re not seen as a tool towards the process in the medical environment. A woman has given us an epidural and it’s goodbye. You’re on your monitor. You’re on your own. Whereas if a woman needs an epidural you can have that for the pain. There are so many situations where that does become the best option for the pain and then there’s so much more that we can do to support your process, your birthing, which is something that you are still doing even though now the pain is much less or is gone. This is preparation. We talk about all the different hormones, and endorphins are the body’s natural response to pain. That’s what happens in response to the to the intense contractions. Your body starts to increase endorphins but it won’t increase endorphins in certain environments. If you have a lot of cortisol and adrenaline, then you’re not going to have enough endorphin to take away the pain so you might take an epidural, which will replace the endorphins. Now your body’s stopping to produce endorphins but guess what? We can do something about that. We can give mom a massage. We can sing to her. We can increase her endorphin response even though the epidural is there and you’re not interfering with the birth process, and that changes everything.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
I love that. You were talking about what you grew up on and it brought me back to just when you have those things. I grew up with my birth story being my mother giving birth to me being like, “I had to have contractions for 24 hours or something until you finally came out,” and I had this such a strong belief that if this is how it is then this is how it is. It’s probably gonna happen to me. That’s gonna be super long, and my first birth was eight hours. It blew my mind how different it went from my mother’s birth. This is something I tell all of my people whoever is there–22 hours. Sorry, I got the story wrong. Twenty-two hours. It was not the same, and sometimes the biggest reminder that I need, and everyone else needs, is not only are you not going to have the same story as your mother, every birth is different. So if you had eight kids, each pregnancy is gonna be different and your number nine is going to be different than all the other ones because you’re a different body, in a different baby, and a different situation—

AYELET SCHWELL
I think it probably has the most to do with the environment that you were in. I mean I would love to hear the story of your first birth but I could probably point out how your internal environment and your external environment supported a quick process. I always tell the first-time moms too—there’s this myth of the long first birth. It’s not the amount of time that it takes that is connected to being the first time. It’s the first time your body’s doing it so there are a lot of steps. There are a lot of processes but each one can go very quickly, and they can happen in concert if you’re in a situation where you can allow that to happen.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
Right. Yes, I agree. If you get out of your own way and let your body do its thing, this is a huge thing. Get out of your own way. As we’re talking about me, because this is my show, my number two ended up being the exact beginning as number one with all the things that I would have done differently. It was really interesting. I felt God was making it the same beginning so that I can feel the differences with different choices that I made. It’s just fun to encapsulate a story, like you were saying, just to create something that is written down and has all of the memories in it.

AYELET SCHWELL
Yeah, and there’s a program called Own Your Story that I created, which is just a on your own—a birth story writing process. That’s just something just for your own sake. It is definitely geared towards women who are still processing a negative experience. There is that aspect, but it’s not exclusive to that at all. It’s if you haven’t written it down or it’s just something that you’d to preserve in a positive way, the Own Your Story program should be a really great option.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
I also want to say there is no shame around having a trauma from a birth because it is so normal and natural—something that happens so easily. It’s such an easy thing to have a trauma from that you definitely don’t have to hide behind it or feel bad about it. Do you want to tell anybody something really practical that they can take with them on their journey?

AYELET SCHWELL
Trust your intuition. If you don’t trust it now then that is the one thing that you need to work on right now—is figuring out how to get back in touch with your intuition. It is your best guide. It is so precise. Our intuition is the broadest understanding of our subconscious and spill down into feelings. Trust it. If you don’t trust it, that’s the thing to work on, and I’m happy to work on that with you.

REBBETZIN BAT-CHEN GROSSMAN
That’s amazing. Amazing. It is true. It is so true. Quiet the noise and just trust your intuition. I love it. Thank you so much, Ayelet. It was such a pleasure. This is so much fun. And that’s it! Thank you for listening to the very end. I would love if you can leave a review and subscribe to the podcast. Those are things that tell the algorithm, this is a good podcast and make sure to suggest it to others. Wouldn’t it be amazing if more people became more connected for real? And now, take a moment and think of someone who might benefit from this episode. Can you share it with them? I am Rebbetzin Bat-Chen Grossman from connectedforreal.com. Thank you so much for listening, and don’t forget, you can be connected for real.

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