Practicing Fearless Motherhood {in Brazil}

{By Heidi Jo Haughn Palma, Maringá, Brazil.}

I would like to share my journey into fearless motherhood.

Maringá, Brazil.  Public hospital cesarean rate 86%.  Private hospital cesarean rate 98%.

Who would have thought that in this murky maternal healthcare scenario, I would meet a radiant team of home birth professions.  They were relatively young experience wise, but I knew that if any complications arose, a state of the art cesarean was just a short car ride away.  My Brazilian husband was very skeptical of the idea of a home birth, but after watching many birth videos and attending a seminar, he turned to me and said the words that made my heart melt,”I think Lucca is going to be born at home”.  I was 27 weeks pregnant.

We received bizarre amounts of criticism from family members and friends until we just stopped talking about it.  A neighbor threatened to call the police and child protective services if any strange activity were going on.  Regardless, at 39 weeks and 5 days, in the 10pm darkness under the light of the street lamps, I swaggered my laboring belly around the block inviting stronger contractions to come on after my water started trickling.  Three hours later I was in active labor in my bathroom, under the shower.  The midwife, doula, and my husband at my side.  A speedy four hours later, I was in the pool on the birthing stool and my son was crowning.  The neonatal nurse stepped in quietly just as Lucca was being born.  Direct skin to skin.  Delayed chord clamping. Daddy cut the chord nearly 10 minutes later. Natural and normal delivery of the placenta.  I nursed Lucca shortly after. A dream come true… And no police sirens! Just love, oxytocin, and family.

I chose to breast feed openly.  This was another hurdle in a country where Globeleza dances naked on TV from dawn to dusk with skimpy body paint covering only the essential regions, but where I heard that I needed to cover up and that only mothers who were shameless and sloppy didn’t cover up while breastfeeding.  I started getting glares and surprised exclamations, “wow! You’re still breastfeeding him?!” when Lucca was 4 months old.  If it weren’t for the other mommas in my women’s group who patiently shared evidence based information and emotional support, I most likely would have weaned my son during the biting phase, or the pinching phase, or the toddler talking with his mouth full of breast phase.  But I didn’t.  I won’t lie, I weaned him five times for 15 minutes, but it never lasted much longer than that before my gut instinct kicked in.  But those 15 minutes felt like flying.

Today Lucca is 2 years and 4 months old.  I attachment parent, I guess… But not on purpose, I just parent as needed, and he usually needs and thrives with attachment.  AP isn’t exactly taking Brazil by storm yet.  I still nurse in public and have become immune to snide remarks such as, “Wow! You’re nursing a little man!” “Let go of that breast, you’re too big to be nursing!” “You clever little naughty guy!”.  I explain to Lucca that he can nurse as long as he needs to.  And last night after a 10 hour stint at daycare while momma and pappa worked hard, we hopped in the shower together in the same bathroom where he was born.  Under the same shower where he came to be in this world, Lucca stated sleepily, “I want nursie”.  I sat on the floor with Lucca in my lap and slowly bathed him inch by inch under the warm water as he nursed.  It was magical.  Life had come full circle.

Birth Without Fear is the first step in the journey of fearlessly parenting a child as needed… every hurdle, every challenge, every up and down along the path is more intense and much sweeter when you are LIVING without fear.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story and for sharing so many others that inspire, affirm, and support courageous motherhood.

The same bathroom 2 yrs 4 months later, still skin to skin.

birth without fear

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  • Linnea

    What a beautiful and inspiring story. Just because something is the norm, doesn’t mean its right for you. Its wonderful to follow your heart, and ignore the nasayers. Mothers, women, know whats best for themselves and there family.

  • Kim

    So beautiful. I actually got teary-eyed while reading it. Your love for your son and your courage in the face of the opposition you’ve faced is inspirational. What a beautiful, strong mother you are! Sending warm thoughts to you and your lovely family! xx Kim

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