Ashley unveils her powerful journey to owning her worth in birth through various trials and tribulations. Listen to why she chose a home birth the second time around.
Hello, I’m Ashley Paré, with Own Your Worth. Today I’m going to be sharing how I learned to own my worth in birth. And the reason I’m recording this and sharing my story is because the journey for me to own my worth in birth was a pivotal one, it was difficult. And we don’t talk about birth enough in our culture. And it’s another way that I had to learn through tough experiences, to feel worthy to feel confident to feel capable. And I could not have had more different experiences between my first birth and my second birth. So I’m going to break this down into three parts. First, I’m going to share the experience of my first son, and that birth, because in order for you to understand why I chose to have a home birth, I have to share what happened to me the first time around.
My goal and hope here is that whether you’ve had a child, birth a baby in the past couple of years, or if you’re considering being a mom, maybe you’re pregnant, I want all of this to inform you of the power that you have within you why you are worthy. And of course, we’re going to talk about the broken system here for women. And how if we don’t own our worth, and birth and motherhood in labor in our postpartum period at work, it truly costs us. And it’s time to change that. So here we go.
The first time I got pregnant, I had a miscarriage. It was pretty early on. But it left me feeling alone. And it was difficult to process. What was happening, brought up all the questions, is there something wrong with me? Can I get pregnant, although it was a difficult experience, that led me to understand was that I truly wanted to be a mom. Because I’ve had to do a lot of work to feel worthy and of love to feel deserving of a marriage and a family that I am proud of. And I finally get to that place. And so my whole experience around motherhood really began with this first loss. I went into research mode. And I knew that miscarriages are “normal”. They happen to a lot more women than we know. And I started talking about it and sharing it. And a lot of women said me too. But I didn’t know that at the time when I was going through it.
This led me to really get clear about what I wanted to make important about my pregnancy, and of course labor with my first baby. And the thing is five years or so before I ever got pregnant before I met my husband, I had seen the business of being born by Ricki Lake. And so I knew that in the US cesarean section births were on the rise. I knew based on Ricki Lake’s documentary that hospitals make money off of C sections. I just started doing research around the history of birth in our country, and what has happened to women from predominantly having babies at home for literally centuries. To all of a sudden having births become medicalized in hospitals, as well, I was aware of this.
When I became pregnant with Noah after my miscarriage, I wasn’t ready to own the fact that I wanted to have a home birth. And so I chose a hospital in the Boston area that had a birthing center. And I could work with midwives. So I chose that experience, my first time around, because I thought, Oh, well, I get the best of both worlds, I could birth in a birthing tub in the birth center, I would have a midwife. But if something quote unquote, went wrong, I’d be in the hospital. And that thought process truly was now looking back on it all a part of, I think, really the patriarchal system here. And what I learned about birth prior to doing my own research, what I was told not through not only through movies, but in our culture. And in hearing other women’s birth stories, I learned that, you know, birth can be dangerous. Birth is hard birth is painful. And I just believe that to be true.
I set myself up in my first birth experience to be clear about all the things that I didn’t want to have happen. I didn’t want a C section so I chose a hospital that had lowest C section right in the Boston area. I didn’t want to have an epidural, I wanted to have a natural birth, I didn’t want to have my umbilical cord cut right after birth, I wanted to delayed cord cutting. So I made this beautiful birth plan of all the things that I desired. But really underneath it all, I was afraid of feeling out of control, I was afraid of quote unquote, these less than ideal or negative birth experience things from happening. And it turns out that my first time around, I experienced a lot of almost all of what I was afraid of. I didn’t end up with a C section, but I had a very long labor over 40 hours, it was very painful.
At one point, I remember just thinking like, ah, like, I’m literally dying. This is why they call giving birth to a human being like a rebirth or being born again, though the mother is born because I, I was miserable. I didn’t feel like I had the support. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know how to birth. I was resisting, like literally grabbing the table, the chairs in the in the hospital, like tightening my entire body. I resisted it. I just literally labored through the entire thing until I was completely exhausted and said yes to an epidural to be able to get some rest. And that led to Pitocin that led to maybe an hour of pushing. But it led to me tearing and it led to, for me the most dramatic part of my first birth experience, which was after hours and hours.
As soon as my son was born and I pushed him out and they said he was here and my husband said it’s a boy. I had him on my chest for like, literally it felt like seconds. And I was surrounded by nurses everywhere. And no one was talking to me. And they said something about him not breathing. And they said we’re cutting your cord. And they took him from me. And my husband and son went across the room until this little I guess incubator. But at the time, I had no idea what was going on. My doula was by my side. And she said, you know, he’s fine. He’s okay, he’s gonna read his pink. But she was the only one who I hired separately to be there with me. She was the only one who told me that my baby was okay.
I felt powerless. I felt abandoned. I felt like a bad mom. Immediately, I felt like I had failed and birth and labor. I felt like everything that I didn’t want to have happened was happening. And all I wanted was my baby. And when they brought him back to me, I felt so much relief. And that’s when my anxiety began. Because I feel like my first birth experience was filled from even in my pregnancy with fear, fear of the unknown fear of I remember, people would tell me to surrender when contractions come to surrender, surrender to them, work with them work with the energy. And I didn’t get that at all, I resisted it, there was no surrendering. Because I was afraid. And I’ve now since learned, even though I know this, and all of the work that I do around talking about money or helping women own their worth around myself, being afraid to speak up at work, because of the potential negative consequences. Like I know what that feels like in my body and how it shuts other parts of me down. But in birth and in labor, that fear literally prevents babies in your body from doing its natural thing of opening of relaxing, of releasing of movement. And that experience left me feeling so raw, so vulnerable. And honestly like a failure.
I remember leaving the hospital I just felt rocked. I was like what just happened to me. Like we really don’t talk about how emotional and life changing and difficult birth is. I mean, we do and we don’t you have to experience something, you have to re experience and for me, it left me feeling like there’s something wrong with me. Instead of something wrong with the system or something wrong with the beliefs that I had been told, or shared right stories that I had heard. And I went home with this newborn didn’t get any sleep. My body was so sore, so wrecked, so tired. And I had to figure it out. And I did of course, but I had one appointment six weeks later with my midwife. And literally she just checked my stitches and said, Yeah, you should maybe think about hiring a postpartum doula to get some sleep at night. And that was the totality of the experience of my first birth. It was like, Okay,here’s this baby. We’re gonna take him to make sure he’s okay. You’re not in charge here. Good luck. I could go home. And that’s it, you’re left on your own.
So in thinking about having another baby, it took me about 18 months to feel ready to even choose or decide if I wanted to do that. And when I did, I decided I was going to have a home birth this time, and I talked to my husband about it. And based on our first experience, he was on board. He was willing to meet with the home birthing midwives. And he asked his questions, I asked my questions, and we did so much research to truly understand what birth is and can be when it’s left alone, when a mother feel safe, and supported, and relaxed, the power of birth is unmatched. And I thought I did a lot of research the first time around, but I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And I was listening to, you know, my support team at the hospital, which now I know some of these midwives are called midwives, midwives, who working or working in the hospital, are still, you know, subjected to the hospital policies, and system and programs. And as soon as I decided to get an epidural at first time around, it was like I gave up my power, because the nurses took over, the doctors came in, it was now a medical event versus a birth.
So the second time around, I knew I wanted to have a baby at home. And I started listening to home birth stories. And the first thing that I noticed was that it took me nearly two years to be able to talk about my son’s birth, Noah, my first birth without crying. And what I noticed in these home birth stories that I started listening to, and this is why I’m sharing my story is that every woman no matter what she went through how it turned out maybe differently than she thought it might or how difficult it parts of it were no matter what these home birth stories. These women were proud. These women were happy, these women were able to talk about their stories with a joy, and a sense of accomplishment and determination and wonder. I thought, oh my god, like how can that be? Because home birth or birthing without medicine is supposed to be so painful and difficult. And why would you ever want to put your body through that? Right? Those are the these are the stories that were told that were fed. And I started learning about the impact of fear on your body. during birth, I started learning about what actually happens in birth in a woman’s body.
I’ll share some resources about podcast books, stories, even my midwives that I worked with, because my support team the second time around, was amazing. And the biggest difference is that I started believing in and trusting in myself, I started to own my worth that I am capable of burning, that I am capable of moving with the energy of my body, to release fear, to release, control, and to ultimately release a baby the first time around. It felt like I should be listening to my care team that I didn’t know what I was doing especially listened to others. And the second time around, I listened to myself and my body. And I asked the support team around me the important questions because in the first time around, I wasn’t owning my worth in my pregnancy or my birth. I was feeling like I couldn’t advocate for myself I was afraid to share with people that I was working with midwives and in breast center as afraid to even own it myself that I really truly desired a home birth. I was afraid to have certain questions that they would ask me and procedures they wanted me to get done. I was afraid to say no because of the judgment and the looks and the shoulds that honestly I would get in working with the team I had in a hospital setting. But the second time around, that didn’t happen at all. All of my eight needs. Not only did I voice them, but they were honored. I was asked questions and got to share my fears got to share my experiences.
The midwives that I worked with were so amazing in providing the support and providing me with their experienced view based on science and based on experience based on research and based on being at home With hundreds and hundreds of home births, so these midwives that I hired, literally witnessed home births over and over and over again, women powerfully giving birth at home unassisted or without medication. And I started to trust that, wow. If they’ve seen this happen, then it’s possible. And really the big catalyst for me was funny enough, my chiropractor, I started seeing a new chiropractor. I wanted to support my body before I got pregnant. And she had shared with me that she had two home births. And I interviewed the midwives and they shared their stories with me about the women that they serve. And suddenly, I realized I could do it too.
This is what I want to share with you that you are deserving and worthy of a beautiful, powerful, healing, inspiring, empowering birth experience. And no matter how you end up, birthing your baby, right, because ultimately, for me, it was about feeling safe, and feeling confident, being able to trust in my body, which was lacking in my first birth. So ultimately, I want you to know that you can have this experience of trusting in your body that yes, it might be hard, that might not turn out the way that you expected or the way that you really wanted it to. But through the process of birth, you can feel powerful. You can make informed decisions, you can advocate for yourself, or you can be surrounded by a team that does advocate for you and your needs, and supports you and lifts you up when you have those hard moments. Because you’re not meant to birth alone, you’re not meant to, in my mind, just give up control and let a system bring your baby into the world.
For me, my second time around my home birth, I did a lot more preparation and research and working with my body and hearing other women’s stories. But the most powerful thing was just knowing that if someone else can do it, so could I, and what fear that I have to release to be able to trust in my body, and information and research about what actually happens in birth information about the safety of being left to yourself in a safe place, whether that’s home, whether it’s in the hospital, wherever you feel safe, that is going to be the best place for you to go into this primal state and bring life into the world. And so my second birth with Roman, it was healing. It was so powerful. I had the most amazing birth. Hi, I think the first words I said, when I birth Roman in the birth tub in my own bedroom was Oh my God, why doesn’t everybody do this, I want every woman to experience this.
I had six hours of labor, moving through contractions with my body, moving my hips, listening to music, listening to Hypno-birthing meditations, I was pretty much alone in my midwives came couple of hours before Robin was born, started getting a little bit more intense. And I was in the tub, my midwife was rubbing my back and putting some pouring water down me during the contractions. And when my midwives first got there, one of them came into the bathroom with me and sat down next to me and said, Ashley, would you like some company? Or would you prefer to be left alone. And that’s when I knew that this birth was going to be all I needed. All I desired. And it was gonna be so different than the first time around in the hospital. Because I was seen. I had choices, I had options, I had a voice, and my team was there to support me. And that led to I mean, literally the most powerful experience ever, in terms of me, just leaning into what my body was doing, and letting go. I now understand what surrendering and labor and birth means. And I let all of the power wash over me wash through me. And I remember during the transition period, there was a pause. And I had my eyes closed. And I was just imagining my body I think I even said like, open, open, open, down, baby down. And I was just connected. I could literally feel being connected to an alternate universe, the portal of life. And I hopped into the birth tub. My husband’s laughed afterwards saying, you know, at one point I thought you weren’t even going to get in that birth tub, and I worked so hard to get all I had been talking about was wanted to give birth to my baby in the tub and my husband at one point thought I wasn’t even going to use it. Because this time around. It just was powerful, and it happened pretty quickly.
I think I pushed twice in the tub and I burned my baby and I brought him up and I gotta say it’s a boy. And he’s here and I held him. And it was amazing. I held them and held them and held them. The midwives came to me and just rubbing his chest, and they helped untangle my umbilical cord. And it was so beautiful. My body did its thing. And I got out of the way, because I wasn’t afraid. And I felt safe. And this is so true. And such a metaphor for all of our life. Right? That you are worthy that You are deserving that you are more than enough that you are perfect whole and complete exactly as you are, that you don’t need a job title money, or somebody else, to love you or validate you to feel like you’re enough that comes from within you first and then you start seeing it on the outside, then it’s reflected back to you. And when you’re not seeing it, we have to go back inside of ourselves. Because my first birth experience was a reflection of all of my fear. And me not owning my worth and just succumbing into a system that I didn’t want to be in.
Whereas my second birth, I knew I was capable, I knew I was worthy. I knew I was safe. And I knew my body would work with me. And I knew that I could trust it. And so I let it go, I surrendered to it. And when we’re trying to force things in our life, whether it’s relationships, whether it’s at work, whether it’s out of fear that we have to work harder, we have to be more we have to get more education, we have to earn more money. Right, that puts us in this mode of acting out of fear, instead of acting out of love puts us in this mode of trying to get shit done versus allowing things to be created. And when I allowed and moved out of the way of the process of birth and allowed my son to be born, is the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had. One of the best parts of the home birth is the postpartum period. Because the postpartum period of having a baby is hell. For me, anyway, it’s been the first time around, I thought it was because I had a traumatic birth experience because I was a new mom. Because of all these things. I wasn’t sleeping, right. And I felt so anxious. But everyone kept telling me that I remember I asked one of my doctors, when everyone kept telling me it’s normal, I suppose what happens try to get some sleep. And the second time around, even when I had a beautiful birth experience, I thought everything was going to be fine the second time, but I still had intrusive thoughts, I still felt so much anxiety. And honestly the second time around, I had even darker thoughts around hurting myself around running away around leaving. And that really scared me. And so the way that our babies are born and come into this world is important, of course for ourselves and them in terms of their health and their wellbeing and our health and our wellbeing.
But ultimately, the postpartum period really is what sets us up to be able to give, to be able to care to be able to feel safe again, to be able to repair and heal, from whatever experience has happened to us to bring a baby into the world. And there is absolutely I mean; we’re making progress now. But there’s absolutely so many things about the postpartum period that I wish I could change. And the second time around, I did have a postpartum doula come and cook food for us. I had been working with the midwives. So another benefit to a home birth is that number one, you get to be in your bed right after birth. So my husband and I and the baby were in my bed. Literally 15 minutes, 20 minutes after I got out of I was in the birth tub for a little while holding the baby Roman and then we went to my bed. And I was cared for the midwives were there, they cleaned up the house, they organized everything, they brought me food, I get to bond and cuddle and squeeze my baby Roman after about an hour of just bonding and breastfeeding. Then the midwives did the birth check. Wade Roman, just a few things. And they left a couple of hours later, making sure that we were all taken care of and I went to sleep. And they came to see me the midwives a number of times, I can’t remember how many times within the next six weeks they were there like a day later, three days later, a week later, two weeks later.
The care that I received the second time around was what every woman deserves. And the fact that our health care system, for the most part does not cover home birth is just wrong. It is cruel. I had to pay out of pocket. I have my home birth, and it was worth every friggin Penny. But the fact of the matter is, is that I had way more care. I was taking care of as well as my baby. I got support for postpartum depression. a lot sooner because I never got support the first time around, and it was acknowledged. And I could choose ways to deal with it the second time around that I didn’t even know were possible the first time. And I set myself up for success. And the second time around was hard, because Roman ended up having a tongue tie. And there were all sorts of things that I could not have prepared for that I still had to move through and learn and, and that’s just what being a mom is, I think. But I was able to move through the tough parts being a lot more kind to myself, I ended up needing to take more time off away from my work in my business. And the first time around that, all I wanted to do was get back to work, all I wanted to do was feel like my life hadn’t changed, and that I wasn’t out of control anymore. And I wanted to work, work work. And of course, there was a pandemic after Noah was born.
But this time around, I truly released and trusted in the process and have been able to take care of myself in a different way. Even though it’s still hard. But the support after having a baby, that postpartum period is so fragile and delicate, and crucial to you and your baby. And when women are telling me that their companies are finally offering six weeks of paid leave, I mean, this is just it’s not okay. And we as women need to start standing up and saying this is not okay. Because the fact of the matter is, we should never be in this position to either have children or earn money to survive, right? We need time we need our babies need us, we need us, our families need us, our society needs us to heal and get better. Right and having my own business. I mean, it’s cost me financially, a lot, to take time out of work to take time out of my business to take more time than I anticipated.
Our system does not support women. It’s another way that we are held down, I believe, from instead of birth being this most powerful life giving friggin force that it is. It comes with lots of stigmas. And we are left to be on our own to say figure it out, figure out how to have children, how to manage care for your children, if you want to go back to work, how to manage yourself, your mental health, your physical health, your spiritual health. Oh, and take care of these kids and figure out my life. It’s just wild when we think about it. So, my takeaways for you are this no matter where you are in the process of motherhood, birthing labor, pregnancy? How can you own your worth? If you have a birth coming up? Here’s considering having children how can you do research get clear. And decide write the experience that you want to have. So that way you can feel powerful bringing life into this world? Because only you can bring life into this world. As women, we are life givers.
Whether we physically have children or not that power is within you and your body and your soul. So how do you want to own your worth? Whether you choose to have children or not own it? If your body if you’re struggling to get pregnant, and you’ve had a miscarriage or you’re struggling with fertility treatments, if you haven’t been able to get pregnant, how can you own your worth? How can you trust in your body? Not that it’s failed you, but that it’s there for you. And if you’re going to have a postpartum period, what do you need? Talk to women who’ve given birth recently, talk to women who’ve given birth in the past, and ask them what they wish they had asked them about the hardest parts, ask them what they’ve learned from that experience. Because there are postpartum doulas, there are midwives, there are so many resources now out there and available. And so I want you to think about putting a plan in place a financial plan and a support plan to make sure that you’re able to have the care that you need. Because setting yourself up as a new mom for success to be able to care for your child makes a big difference. And this is why it’s so important for us as women to own our worth and to negotiate, and to walk away from people and jobs that are not serving us because we need to be in our power and earning competitively for our work to give us these choices in our life. Because we’re not being taken care of elsewhere.
So I want you to have the knowledge, the power and the financial freedom to make these choices to put yourself through this experience and the best way possible and let it transform you and all the ways and if you’ve given birth years ago, how can you no matter what your birth experience was feel worthy and deserving of owning the fact that you are I live forever that you are a mom, that it’s not meant to be perfect, that it’s meant to help us become the best version love ourselves that we can. It’s meant to help us create a better future through our children. And what I have learned is that the more I learned about myself, the more that I can heal, my pain, my trauma, my triggers, the more that I can give, teach and model for my children. And I think the emotional process within ourselves and within our children, by being able to be there and be that rock for our kids is probably the best thing that we can to his parents, in terms of giving them a solid foundation, so they feel worthy, so that they feel confident in who they are.
So that way we can break these cycles of trauma or fear or generational pain. So, I want you to just acknowledge what is your story around birth? What do you believe to be true? Around labor and pregnancy and birth in your body? And is it really true? Do you know that you could birth a baby pain-free my midwives told me that my home birth, as they saw me laboring, all they felt was joy. They felt like it was in joy that I was moving with the energy that I looked happy. And I was, I was my home birth was pain free, I did not feel pain. I felt power. I felt energy. I felt surges, I felt pressure, I felt whole. But I’ve also had a painful birth. And all I can account for. And the difference is the fact that I did the healing process of believing in my body, that I heard other women’s stories that it was possible. And then I let go, that I trusted in the process. And that I knew that I was worthy of having a birth that I dreamed of. And that’s my wish for you. There is nothing to fear. When you feel supported when you feel safe.
So get educated. Look at the ways that our system, her birthing are keeping us small, are keeping us in fear instead of fearless. So, you are worthy of owning your worth and birth you are worthy of owning your worth and motherhood. And the more that you practice this at work or at home, the more ways you’re going to see the beauty and power of life reflected to you through abundance. And that’s what you’re worthy of. This is about coming to understand that we as a society have been allowing a system to tell us how to birth instead of allowing our bodies and our history and our hormones and our souls to teach us how to birth. This is Ashley Paré. Thanks for being here. You are worthy.
A huge thank you to the many people who supported me in my journey. Without their stories, support, care, and encouragement I would not have known the power of home birth. Here are a few resources; contact me directly if you’d like to learn more.
Birthmatters Midwifery Care – Midwifery team
Wholesome Healing Chiropractic – Perinatal Chiropractor
The Business of Being Born – by Executive Producer Ricki Lake
The Homebirth Midwife Podcast – by Hearth & Home