Welcome back and Happy New Year from all of us here at She Births®.
I hope you have had (or are still having) a wonderful rest with your loved ones.
We have so many exciting things in store this year and hope you can journey with us as we launch our app and new courses in Byron Bay, the workplace program and so much more.
The She Births® Show Podcast is going really well so far and folks are loving it! You can still enter the draw to win a 3 month supply of WaterWipes (thanks to our fantastic sponsors) by reviewing the podcast here*. By using the code SHEBIRTHS20 you also receive 20% off your WaterWipes when you shop online too.
Today’s podcast was an absolute pleasure to create (warning: we all end up in tears…like all good birth stories.) What can a spiritual teacher and physical therapist possibly learn about birth in preparation, and also from their birth experience? A lot it seems 😉
Jonni Pollard and Carla di Mattina describe their birth as the most spiritual, divine and connected moment of their lives. Join us for their birth story and discover what it’s like to walk the streets of the East Village, 9cm dilated, post 30 hours of labour.
*The She Births® Show is available for you to download from your favourite podcast app such as iTunes, Google Play or Spotify.
Podcast| Launch Season 1, Episode 2
A Spiritual Awakening in Manhattan by Jonni Pollard and Carla di Mattina
“It’s really everything. It’s the defining moment of our existence and the beauty and preciousness of our life. And to have experienced it that way on our terms, was everything. We were elevated in a way that will be with us forever.”
When you prepare for birth as a team something truly magnificent can occur.
Listening to Jonni Pollard and wife Carla di Mattina’s tell the birth story of daughter Saffira Devi is to bear witness to this.
As the couple tell Nadine in this episode of the She Births® Show podcast, Saffira Devi was born in July in New York City following months of intensive and deliberate birth preparations that impacted both Jonni and Carla in an unprecedented way.
It was a journey they began, travelled and ended as a joyous and loving team. “If you and your partner have a solid understanding of each other’s needs before the birth then you are in good stead FOR the birth, says Carla. “Because during that time when it was hard, Jonni could give me just one look, and I knew I could do it.”
Jonni, a meditation teacher and Carla a physiotherapist are what Nadine described as respective masters of the body and mind.
While the couple committed to a shared vision for an empowering birth, as individuals they imagined taking different paths to get there. At least in the beginning.
Jonni was familiar with the She Births method and excited by the idea of a home birth, but initially a hospital birth felt right for Carla.
“Hospital was familiar to me, my mum had birthed all five of us in a hospital, it’s what I had seen on TV and was all I ever knew of birth. I felt safest there – doing what everybody was doing,” says Carla. “We started with a hospital in New York and read Ina May Gaskin’s ‘Guide to Childbirth’ and that was a game changer for me. Nobody ever told me that birth could be enjoyable or that there was a huge spiritual element that can happen through it.” “At our next hospital appointment, I asked smarter questions and the answers I got didn’t satisfy what I needed to hear. And that began the journey of huh, what could an alternative birth look like that wasn’t in a hospital?”
Knowledge: Learning online with She Births®
And so began their She Births® journey with the couple enrolling in the Online Program.
Both Carla and Jonni say the course exceeded their expectations – steering them on the right course for birth, but also towards a closer connection as a couple.
“The education I got as the role of the man in this course was incredible,” says Jonni. “I was empowered to be the doula for a large part of it and this was such a revelation – and the impact that’s had and the role it had on my parenting and on my relationship with Carla.”
Carla agrees: “It was so important for me to be able to surrender to Jonni in that role – I don’t think I could have done it without you being the way you were. It’s so important for us as women to allow the man to be what he needs to be if he’s going to step into that role.”
The couple say they honoured the first lesson of the She Births method: taking full responsibility for the birth experience.
“As a physiotherapist I considered myself an expert in the body so I could have easily decided not to educate myself about the birth process, says Carla. “But it was whole set of new learnings for me! So anyone who thinks that they understand the body, we don’t understand the body for birth! You think that birth happens ‘to you’ and that you don’t have to connect because your body does it.” Carla describes the midwife showing her and Jonni the anatomy of labour and the way the pelvis and cervix expand as mind-blowing.
While Jonni says he was in awe of Carla during the learning process. “Not only did she embrace the responsibility she unleashed a power that even she didn’t know she had. The power that brought her into the work was what a woman can do and where she can go to access this power. It’s everything. It’s like the universe. Accessing the universe to be a conduit to bring this being into the world. The single most impactful spiritual experience of our lives.”
At the same time, the couple were mindful of the significance of letting go.
“Giving birth was the greatest connection spiritually that I have ever had in a moment and the greatest sense of growth that I have ever had in a moment… Now I understand that I belong to something so much bigger. That there was something working with me in the birth that was bigger than me to help me give birth,” says Carla.
For Jonni, the birth experience was a tangible representation of “surrendering to the force of nature and if you resist that comes into pain and if you resist that it turns into suffering. “
The labour begins
Jonni and Carla were assisted by a doula in their home birth but they began the first stages of labour alone.
“The duration really does mess with your head, “says Carla. “The doula could see that I was still resisting and not fully surrendering. So she showed us a couple of things and then said, I am just going to go! And I thought REALLY all this time has passed 18 hours had passed and going through and diligently doing the work but she left – she left that means that nothing is happening!”
After 26 hours Carla recalls sitting in the shower on her fit ball feeling really despondent.
“At that point I looked at Jonni and said, ‘I have to tell you something. I want to have an elective c-section! I didn’t mean it but it was like that last little bit of fear needed to be wrung out,” says Carla. “Jonni didn’t look at me or make any expression. He just looked at me and said, ‘Okay whatever you want at this point we will do.’ I just needed to voice it, it was there in me and I once I voiced it, then on we went.”
Jonni says supporting Carla through the process was “like a rite of passage”
“Carla had a lot of anxiety building up around the uncertainty of homebirth. So once the labour came in she was surrendering through a lot of fear. You could see her facing all of things she was fearing until she arrived at this deep place of surrender,” says Jonni.
“It wasn’t elegant it was wild, cathartic, very clunky, emotional process that she really went inwards to deal with. And the courage and the persistence and the power that she went into, I really witnessed that.”
Jonni’s ready acceptance and support of her emotional journey of her labour was transformative for Carla. “Jonni held me accountable to who I really am. And in the throngs of labour I feel like you can really doubt that… Jonni believed in me so much. Every time it would bring me to tears. He seems convinced I can do it, when I doubted myself, and holding me accountable to what I really did know but doubted was a game changer,” says Carla.
Intensity – things move forward quickly
Carla continued to labour for 36 hours.
“Every physical emotional cultural pursuit of my life culminated in those 36 hours of birth,” says Carla. “It wasn’t all beautiful and like “ah baby is out and everything is sweet!” Carla describes a particularly “hairy” point right before Saffira’s arrival where the doula checked in at about 24-hour mark, and said “You’re still in early labour”
“That felt like shit! I was like, really? And then her jaw drops and she said, ‘Oh my god, I never really share but you are 7cms and I just opened you to 9cm so we are having this baby soon! So things happened very quickly there,” says Carla.
As the contractions increased, Carla says she found squatting effective and empowering. “Big deep strides felt right. I thought I went down like a powerhouse – but apparently that was not what it looked like!”
Jonni describes Carla’s limbs at this point resembling jelly – “She could barely step by herself. I was lifting her and our doula was helping her taking her steps. But when she went down for a squat, she came alive; the energy and power she had in the squat was extraordinary. She went from this super floppy thing to a super power conductor of energy.”
When it came time to push Carla says the experience was “foreign to everything I knew how to do.” But she was equally overwhelmed by her reserves of power after such an intense and long labouring process.
“That excess power was more than I thought I was capable of. I found myself totally open and surrendering and I realised I had so much more in me” says Carla.
Not long after this, Carla’s midwife turned to her and said, “Carla I need this baby out in 10 minutes or we go to the hospital.”
Carla describes this as a turning point – the last moment of surrender. “When I heard it there was no fear, I just felt acceptance and, in that split, second, I thought – we can’t go to hospital, we have to do this now! Until that point, I felt so reliant on the tribe helping me – but then I knew nobody else can do this bit now, I actually have to do it. Nobody else can do it,” says Carla.
“I remember looking around for help and realising that the only person that could help me was me and the baby. I remember talking to the baby and saying, ‘You have to come out now, you’ve got to work with me to come out now, you’ve got to help me, please! And that felt like such a salvation to have someone to work with. And that next one we pushed her out in that contraction – just boom!”
“We were finally meeting her”
“Saffira just slid onto the living room floor and it was the most beautiful magnificent thing I have ever witnessed in my life. It was just everything,” says Jonni.
“Carla lay down on her back and rested on the doula’s knees. I was anticipating her coming out all green or blue or yellow or alien-like, but she came out gleaming … Looking at her I immediately fell in love. I started crying and was overwhelmed and that we were finally meeting her.”
Carla describes lying resting and taking a full few minutes to “come back into her body” before being ready to take Saffira into her arms. “She looked at me and nodded and Saffira lay on Carla’s chest and we all burst into tears … There was this big sacred goddess-like energy in the room, it was pouring out of the doors and the windows and her arrival was such a blessing,” says Jonni.
“I realised that what we experienced was the most important thing for us humans to understand, how we come into the world and the force that’s behind that … We were elevated in a way that will be with us forever.”
- Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin – https://inamay.com/
- The Golden Sequence, Jonni Pollard – http://www.jonnipollard.com/thegoldensequence/ https://www.instagram.com/jonnipollard/
- 1 giant mind app – www.1giantmind.com/
- Carla di Mattina – https://carladimattina.com/about/
Partnership with WaterWipes
She Births® began as a simple community program 10 years ago in Bondi Beach and today we are the internationally recognised scientifically verified birth education course. The relationship we develop with our families spans the entire perinatal period – from fertility to pregnancy, birth and into early parenting – and the majority of couples that study with us maintain deep and long lasting connections. Our community is made up of connected parents, conscious workplaces and dedicated health professionals who engage highly in their choices. They want the best and the purest for themselves and their families.
For this reason, our brand and the select brands we endorse hold great value to our dedicated client base. We regard our partnerships as a further extension of our community. We believe Waterwipes and She Births® share a value system. We are both dedicated to providing best-in-class support to new parents and work in the best interest of each child. We both see the importance of scientific research, and our investment in this is a source of great pride. We encourage you to read how a dad wanted a better product for his daughter and WaterWipes was born. https://www2.waterwipes.com/au/why-waterwipes-are-the-worlds-purest-baby-wipes/