“Although pregnancy and birth is a richly intuitive and instinctive process, a woman will prepare her ‘nest’ and birth according to the style of her culture, in the same way that a particular species of bird will build its nest with whatever is available.” –Pam England
I am planning a mother blessing ceremony for a good friend in September. In addition to fun plans like a belly cast and henna, she asked for something a little different than our usual “roster” of blessingway activities, in that she wants her friends to prepare a Mother’s Nest for her. We are going to communally decorate a birthing sheet for her bed and bring supplies for a “birth box” to have available during birth and postpartum (i.e. containing raspberry leaf tea, chlorophyll, postpartum pads, paper for placenta prints, outfit for new baby, towels etc. All the supplies you like to have on hand for a homebirth!). And, each guest will bring items to add to her bedroom, so that the whole room becomes a Mother’s Nest of birth power, strength, and support, basically like one huge birth altar!
While it wasn’t a communal process, I did intentionally create a nest for myself for the birth of my last baby. I put a futon on the floor about two feet from the bathroom and double sheeted it with a waterproof sheet in the middle and some chux pads on top. I wanted a nest that allowed me to “crawl to the bathroom” if needed. This is a request I repeated frequently during my pregnancy and it was really important to me. My mom asked, “why would you be crawling to the bathroom? Someone could help you?” and all I could say is, “I want to be able to crawl to the bathroom if I need to!” After my other births resulted in unfortunate and extensive labial tearing, I really, really disliked trying get up and into a regular bed. This time, I wanted a birth nest on the floor that I could roll off of and drop down onto, rather than trying to swing my legs out or lift them up to get in. As it was, I remained in this nest for the first three days after my daughter’s birth. I never crawled to the bathroom, but I could have if I’d needed to, dang it!
In the photo, the gray plastic tub near the futon is my birth box, all packed with labor and postpartum supplies. The cardboard boxes on the floor nearby contain my neonatal resuscitation equipment (before my daughter’s birth I became certified in Neonatal Resuscitation, because I had a fear of the baby not breathing at birth—rather than be frozen by that fear, I decided to do something about it. We then realized that it wasn’t that smart to have the only person who knows how to resuscitate a baby also being the person giving birth to that baby, so I trained my husband and mom how to use the equipment as well). I kept these supplies with my emergency birth plan underneath separate from my birth box, in order to mentally/visually have space between what was “normal” (the birth box) and what was “just in case.” My doppler is also there and some extra chux pads. You can also see my lovely birth altar with my Woman Am I picture on it, watching over my birth nest.
My baby was born into my waiting hands in this very nest, just as I planned. She breathed and cried immediately.