Why do we dare to declare it so categorically that GRAVITA an international home birth center with GRAVITACIA ecovillage is an innovative alternative to existing options to organize your pregnancy and birth? The point is that our project with gratitude to its predecessors incorporated all the best from each option and has been enriched with fundamentally new benefits. So let’s study existing approaches with its pros and contras, and then find out what is the Project’s uniqueness formula.
Nowadays suggested by default medical approach implying delivery in specialized medical institution – maternity house – prevails in care practice. It is administered by obstetricians who practices so-called active management of labour (frequent diagnostic, medication and surgical intervention).
It is generally believed that hospital is the best place for birth because:
- A hospital provides applying of modern diagnostic and medical equipment (ultrasound machines, cardiotocographs e.t.c.)
- It is possible to be provided by rapid emergency care for pregnant woman (including surgery: Caesarean section), blood transfusion, oxygen supply e.t.c.
- In case of extragenital pathology of heart, kidney, lungs maternity house provides both woman and foetus comprehensive examination with consequent delivery applying the least intrusive for damaged organs methods and consequent postnatal monitoring and health deviation corrections.
- Postnatal round-the-clock baby monitoring by pediatrician and woman monitoring by obstetrician-gynaecologists and nursing staff during 5-9 days
- A woman is relieved of household chores, baby care. She has opportunity to have a rest after delivery, sleep enough and recover.
Yes, modern technologies let reduce mortality in extreme cases, which require obligatory medical intervention. In cases of normal pregnancy deviations, foetus malposition (transverse, oblique), placenta previa, mother’s heart, kidney, liver diseases and other extragenital pathologies, delivery must be handled in maturnity unit, where urgent emergency care is provided. But this rule of obligatory hospital birth shouldn’t be applied for IN GENERAL ALL deliveries anticipated as normal low-risk case.
The thought was being embedded in society that hospital delivery is the “safety” synonym. But international statistic mercilessly dispels this myth. Even taking into consideration only one criteria of baby and mother mortality at childbirth (abstracting from other equally important indicators of birth care quality), all valid statistic researches (which compared only relevant cases with low and middle risk) show that the most safe birth care approach is home birth, then goes delivery in alternative centers of humanized birth and hospital birth has worst figures.
As a matter of fact, the root of all medical birth care disadvantages lies in commonly spread attitude to birth as a disease that should be “cured” only by doctor, and woman in labor is considered as a patient – soulless object of medical manipulations.
Is it really bad? Well, it is awful, in fact. Let’s look at negative side through the eyes of the woman, the newborn, the family and the society as a whole. Every statement is supported by research. It is but a few facts that we mention, do believe us.
Bad for the mother:
- generally, doctors initiate a dangerous chain reaction. In order to keep the delivery within artificially set time limits, the labor is being induced (amniotomy, oxytocin/pitocin injections, etc.), which leads to severe pain (the body has had no chance to prepare itself, with the natural production of hormones suppressed). It is only medical anesthesia that a doctor can offer (commonly, epidural), which, in turn, slows down the labor and forces induction again. It is a vicious circle. As a result, an exhausted, insensitive and thus unable to listen to and manage her body woman frequently faces perineal tears, episiotomy and, very often, a Caesarean section made for objective indications (the baby and the mother’s health status deteriorating because of external forcing). As a result, doctors heroically overcome complications triggered by their intervention into the natural process;
- feeling of a total deprivation of rights and impotence to make an influence on anything. Formally, a woman signs lots of authorizations for medical interventions. In doing so she is often stressed out, under pressure from the medical staff, lacking full information about negative impacts of and natural alternatives to medical interventions. In maternity houses of many countries, a mother in childbirth has no right to choose a comfortable posture or behavior in contractions, and she is constrained in her manifestation of natural reactions;
- many distress factors delay labor: an alien “cold” hospital environment, unfamiliar (often indifferent or unfriendly) people in white coats, and many other women feeling the same stress;
- Infection cases are really frequent due to “alien” aggressive bacteria, highly resistant to any treatment because of frequent wards disinfection;
- postpartum depression (a natural mechanism of maternal bond creation broken), violated self-esteem as a result of psychological violence and a long period of mind and body recovery.
Bad for the baby:
- active unreasonable medical intervention causes many negative impacts on the baby’s health. Artificial hormonal induction significantly increases the risk of initial brain injury, hemorrhage, and hypoxia. 90% of women having children with cerebral palsy had their delivery induced or accelerated in hospital. Use of inducing medication leads to lesions in the CNS which can’t be detected at birth but will be diagnosed by neurologists later on;
- inhumane treatment (an abrupt transition from the soft dark womb to a traumatic hospital environment: bright cold light, active manipulations from the very first seconds (spanking, weighting and measurement, injections, too much open space);
- disastrous early cutting of the umbilical cord leads to irreversible harm for the baby: 1) he or she lacks cord blood which would provide them with natural immunity-modulating substances; 2) the possibility to receive oxygen via the cord and to undergo a smooth shift to lungs breathing is prematurely “cut”. The baby has to inhale air in a very sudden manner, feeling a lungs burn, in fact;
- separation from mother impedes building a healthy child bond with and attachment to his or her mother.
Thus, as a result we have a full range of birth traumas: physical (pathologies) and psychological as well (the baby is imprinted with a basic life attitude of “the world is a threat and fight for survival”).
Bad for the family:
- the loved ones are often deprived of the “full-power” participating in the family’s most intimate event;
- feeling of fatherhood comes late (if at all!), the bond with the child is weak, cases of jealousy are not infrequent;
- elder children feel jealous and abandoned when their mom leaves them for a childbirth for a week or more.
Bad for society:
- instead of becoming a powerful uniting mutual family experience, hospital birth can cause weakening of the family cohesion. Research proves that the lion’s share of all divorces happen in the first years after the childbirth;
- high costs of hospital birth due to active medical interventions, costly diagnostic equipment and surgery interventions;
- physical and psychological birth traumas lead to further neurosis, phobias, inability to build healthy relationships and a strong family;
- due to the powerful authority of medicine our society has an extremely low level of women’s awareness of birth physiology, psychology and alternative natural approaches in prenatal and birth care. The mythos about danger of any other birth care options except hospital is deeply rooted and supported by doctors, the probability of complications risks is exaggerated, the truth about “high-tech” hospital birth negative impacts stays unreported.
Alternative humanized birth clinic
As a reaction for numerous disadvantages of hospital birth alternative clinics with more humanized approach had been appeared in developed countries. In these humanized birth clinics a woman is regarded as a main figure, not doctor whose duty is being replaced by midwife, who follows natural process flow in delivery. Medical intervention happens only when it is really needed. Bumi Sehat – the most famous center among women from post-Soviet space – is the remarkable social phenomenon and example of personal creator’s contribution in accessible birth care task http://www.bumisehatfoundation.org/ Such clinics are widely spread in USA, Canada, New Zealand, Netherlands, Germany, North Europe and other countries. They change “maternity ward” for private equipped rooms where any family members can participate in this intimate process. Interior and atmosphere of such space is designed so that give more comfort and relaxation.
Certainly, this option is much more advanced in comparison with conventional maternity house/hospital. It is a progress. Nevertheless, any alternative clinic inevitably inherits some disadvantages of hospital birth:
- the need to change home space for unfamiliar (ok, well-painted with flowers) room, which still is the same alien hospital ward but nicely This forced transfer when delivery enters its first or even second stage automatically becomes a factor of stress which can cause deviations and complications
- over time growth of demand for such service leads to the same “conveyor” type of birth care: time of permitted staying is limited, midwives are getting too busy to pay same attention as before.
- delivery in such centers can’t be afforded by every family. Bumi Sehat with its donation system is a rare exclusion.
Third option – home delivery with midwife’s assistance or without it (unassisted birth)
As you might know, we had our planned unassisted couple-birth. That was the most wonderful, emotional, transforming experience, we have ever had. We by our example witnessed that delivery can be soft, natural and truly intimate process in a “birth nest”, made with love, where there is no place for anybody or anything alien, outer, imposed. Of course, it can happen this way only if you personally thoroughly prepare in all meanings for that: educationally, emotionally, psychologically, maturing inside to be capable to take all responsibility. Why do couples choose home birth?
- Future mother and father want to become active participants of their baby’s birth, they consider excessive medical intervention as destroying natural process.
- Future parents do not trust official medicine.
- A couple has an experience of hospital birth, more often negative one.
- Sometimes they have an ill child with birth trauma.
- Future parents are not satisfied with sanitation, birth care service level, staff attitude towards mother and baby in maternity houses.
- They want to make a birth truly intimate family thing, believing that a newborn needs tender arms of mother and father, their happy loving faces most of all in first minutes after.
- Friends gave birth at home, their baby grows and develops fast, pleasing everyone by health and animal spirits (nowadays it is so rare).
- There are homebirthing classes or groups, uniting parents who already gave birth at home or plan to do it. Sometimes initiators are women, their husbands or even future grandparents.
Every year more and more people decide to give birth at home. What are the reasons for that?
- During home birth a couple has the upper hand, fully responsible for their baby’s delivery. Thus, keeping in mind that delivery process doesn’t always go smoothly, future parents are very motivated to prepare themselves, sparing no effort, no time.
- Mother and father feel themselves much more comfortable at home than in any, even well equipped ward. Pregnant woman can choose any postures her body wants without feeling ashamed. And her loving husband feels his usefulness, helping his wife to numb squeezes, supports her confidence in successful delivery and can be free to afford himself any displays of affection towards wife and baby. Birth is a continuation of sexual couple’s life. The cycle: conception – giving birth – upbringing. A father has equal rights with mother for participating in every element of this chain.
- “Pregnant” couple has possibility to choose a midwife according to their tastes and wishes. Generally, 4 and more months a midwife prepares a couple for delivery. Close emotional bond is being grown during this time among future parents and midwife, they trust her, thus, her presence doesn’t destroy intimate home setting but helps avoid unwanted complications in delivery. A midwife becomes sort of a family member, very often a couple keeps in touch with her for several years, consulting in upbringing and health topics.
- Delivery goes in a natural manner, without any inducing, analgesia and other excessive interventions.
- A father becomes the main mother’s pillar in delivery, sharing huge happiness of birth together. So fatherhood feeling, responsibility for wife and baby come with the first squeeze. Such fathers less frequently have problems with child uprising. Very often, they become even more skilled than moms, developing baby care skills they engage in gymnastics, swimming, developing games with a child.
- A mother feels free to choose the most comfortable position. Right after delivery a baby is being allowed to the mother’s breast, letting the cord to transfer all blood fully.
- A baby is being born in a cosy semi-darkness, without scaring bright light, in a silence (or to the sound of pleasant quiet music) and harmony, in a joyful atmosphere of a family thing, he is surrounded only by loving people filling every minute with their care and attention.
- First days after delivery parents try to be sensitive to all baby’s needs, give him breast whenever he want (not by “regime”), pick him up often, take bath. Mom and dad do light gymnastics, swimming. Such kids develop faster, sort of bathing in love and tenderness.
- Parents do not have to “get used” to their baby (compare with hospital birth, when a father sees a newborn only after several days, and mother during her staying in hospital can interact with a baby only during breastfeeding). It is extremely important for a father to get fatherhood feeling, when a family softly shifts from pregnancy to upbringing. And a baby himself doesn’t feel himself abandoned.
- American pediatricians Klaus and Kennel assure that first hour and a half of newborn’s life is the most crucial period, when the relations of attachment and trust between parents and baby are formed.
- Mother recovers much faster after giving birth, she is surrounded by loving family and home setting. She has opportunity to eat healthy home food and take care of herself.
- Risk of mother’s and baby’s infection is much lower. Common family life creates common home bacterial flora, which is “familiar” to a baby since he was in mother’s womb. The reason of frequent infections in maternity house lies in mixing bacterial floras of many mothers. And often disinfection leads to bacteria’s resistance and complications in treatment afterwards.
- If a family has other children already, they become active participants of major changes in a family life. They do not miss their mother and don’t feel jealous as in case of hospital delivery, when a mother leaves them for a week or more. On the contrary, they get close to parents, assisting in delivery process and helping with baby afterwards.
Our homebirth experience proves all of these arguments 100 percents. However, we understand that this option is not possible in all cases.
- It is not always easy to find truly professional experienced midwife, whom you could trust enough to assist with the most important event in a family life, in your place of location. Some countries prohibit such approach or informally condemns. So real variety of candidates is not common.
- Unassisted home birth is beautiful choice, but not every couple dares to take full responsibility. Such option implies necessity of comprehensive training for all family, detailed scenario planning.
- It is still difficult to reason with maternity house about option of emergency transfer. Doctors are usually negative towards any notion about home delivery. Usually they get familiar with them only in such emergency cases, considering parents as irresponsible people.
- It is cool if you own a house in the bosom of nature and close to hospital: quietness, silence, privacy. It is not easy to make a “nest” in a city apartment: neighbors can call police because of strange loud sounds, urban noises e.t.c. More and more women every year go for natural delivery to such warm countries as India (Goa state), Indonesia (Bali), Vietnam, Thailand. It is even possible to find a midwife who speaks same language. But there are some disadvantages: necessity to apply and pay for visa (not all countries allow staying long enough to avoid hurry), solve all domestic problems in a alien country themselves, Asian climate has very seasonal nature – you will not go for giving birth during monsoon time, and you will not find midwives also.
Uniqueness of GRAVITA & GRAVITACIA project
You see, every option has its pros and contras. The uniqueness grows from the fact that we not only took all the best from these 3 approaches, but added innovative ingredients, thus allowing to name our Project as a 4th alternative approach. It is, indeed, a leading frontier of birth care evolution. We believe that our project will be the pioneer. Projects with similar mission and conception will arise all over the world, beginning to replace archaic forms of pregnancy and birth care. Sounds too presumptuous? Judge for yourself! Here are benefits of Center GRAVITA in complex with ecovillage GRAVITACIA.
From home birth we took:
- Individual home space. It is possible to choose a house for own taste before coming to Brazil (we plan to build about 150 houses of different type). All dwellings will be fully equipped with all necessary and sufficient amenities for a good life: furniture, kitchen with cooking appliances, hot shower, internet. A house will be unhurriedly getting settled, being imbued by energy of a family living there, transforming into the real private family’s “birth nest” ready for meeting new life.
- A family becomes a rightful (not just leniently allowed to watch) participant of common intimate process. Such unique shared experience unites very deeply, believe us.
- It is easier to choose unassisted birth: you can negotiate with midwife about her urgent consultation or even visit, if you will ever need support of experienced professional.
Humanized birth clinics gave us:
- Focus on woman: her rights, needs, wishes
- Idea to have a central building, where consultations, diagnostic (including usage of modern machines), emergency ward, group meetings are held.
- 24-hours professional support by experienced midwives, who follow natural soft way of birth care
- Diagnostic and medical intervention only when it is really needed. Every midwife will be equipped with all necessary staff.
- Possibility to choose midwife and/or doula to support in pregnancy and delivery. The project will involve only the best professionals from all over the world. You can be sure that any of candidates was thoroughly tested for having sufficient skills, experience and qualification.
General maternity houses gave us:
- Opportunity of emergent surgery (caesarian section, first of all). Modern hospital in Paraty is only 15 minutes far from our Center. Keep in mind that basic medical care (including this surgical procedure) is free of charge for all foreigners (which in itself is a huge advantage)
- Minimum stress due to household chores, any domestic things. We assist future parents from the very beginning (transfer from airport to Center). We help to settle in without any stress. Parents can even purchase a monthly pass for food delivery from our restaurant of healthy food, forgetting about cooking at home (which is available in every house still).
What advantages we added:
Benefits related to birth care in GRAVITA
- Opportunity of long stay in a private house in the Center’s area. It is a place where a family spend last months (2-4), gives a birth and stays first time after. It is the key difference from other alternatives. No urgent transfers, stress of a hurry and unknown place or something similar. Nobody hurries no one. A family lives exactly as long as she wants. Brazil gives the right of 6-month staying without visa for the citizens from majority of countries. It is the format with deep immersion we recommend, because the main family event is worth proper preparation, when a family makes time, attention, energy for that. Not only delivery itself but last months of pregnancy should be spent in a right place with right people and in right settings. Nevertheless, we give opportunity of traditional “express delivery”: to come when the signs of labor process appear (or just few days before expected date), settle in a special temporary birth house, give birth there and after some rest go home. This option can be chosen by local Brazilian woman or by any foreign woman who would prefer (no matter why) to stay not in our houses but somewhere else.
- Donation system covering all services related to birth care (education, consultations, midwife’s participation in delivery). The system implies recommended donation amount, but every family can decide how much she can and want. If there is no money at all, it is possible to give birth absolutely free of charge – it is very important for us that any woman regardless of her material condition could give new life in ideal setting of GRAVITA, being professionally assisted by the best midwives in a natural way. Such charity is possible thanks to ecovillage GRAVITACIA– all incomes from other services (not related to birth care) go to financing of GRAVITA. Thus, in spite of its very social and non-commercial character, thanks to GRAVITACIA’s developed infrastructure, GRAVITA becomes a sustainable autonomous project, not dependent on any external cash flow.
- Education (group and individual), being managed by experienced midwives-tutors, lets all family to become fully and comprehensively prepared for giving birth. We plan common partner courses and groups for future mothers and fathers separately.
- Various recreation procedures and practices allow to a woman deeply prepare her body and mind for future intense work and recover after it. Massage, aqua fitness in pool, yoga, postpartum swaddling, e.t.c.
- Careful support in postpartum period: consultations, baby monitoring (if needed), group lessons.
- Supporting like-minded environment. Very often, choosing natural birth, a family meets with misunderstanding and even aggression of relatives, doctors and society. Instead of push-upping muscles in a fight for your rights,
- you could just get powerful support from the space vibrating at the same frequency as your family. It is wonderful to communicate with same parents who share your vision and outlook. The possibility to share experience among future and present parents is priceless. You can speak about sensitive things without a fear of being misunderstood or condemned.
- a unique bonus from hospitable Brazil: a child born here automatically becomes a citizen, his or her family can obtain permanent residence and citizenship through the “fast-track” procedure. The GRAVITA center will provide legal support service as well.
Advantages related to GRAVITACIA ecovillage:
- Ecovillage accommodation will be organized with the greatest comfort and convenience for inhabitants and care for the environment. Self-contained developed infrastructure: around 150 houses of various types, 10 birth houses for short-term stay, a center of reception, diagnostics and consulting, healthy food vegan restaurant, spa, water pool, children’s club, space for developing and wellness practices, eco-transport rent, etc. Prices for accommodation and other services will be affordable for middle class people (close to prices for similar services in Asia). With all its benefits, the project shouldn’t become an elite thing;
- GRAVITA & GRAVITACIA are harmoniously placed in the closed natural park’s landscape surrounded by green hills, waterfalls, mountain rivers and streams, relict Atlantic forest with an amazing view of the ocean bays. We want to set up a net of pregnant-friendly walking trails along the ecovillage forest area with intimate places for rest, meditations and just-doing-nothing.
- In addition to recreation procedures and practices we organize creative workshops, developing master classes and group activities, concerts with musicians, singers, artists and speakers true to GRAVITA&GRAVITACIA’s spirit
- We do understand, how important it is for families with children to arrange pleasant and healthy pastime for kids. So we want to create safe gaming spaces, children’s club with various activities for young children. For elder kids we recommend attending Waldorf school (our daughter Mia studies there), situated just 10 minutes ride away from the Center.
Advantages related to location
- the Center is located in one of the most environmentally pristine regions of the world – the green coast of Costa Verde. An opportunity to drink spring water, eat vegetables and fruit grown at neighbor farms is truly unique nowadays. It is very important to “get impregnated” with health during the last months of pregnancy, giving the best to the baby for accomplishing his or her forming;
- easy access to nature beauties and wonders: one of the best beaches in the world for any taste, from calm family ones to cool spots for extreme water sports fans; hundreds of islands, waterfalls, natural parks, and mountains;
- a mild comfortable climate without sharp season swings allows guests to enjoy their stay any time of the year (it makes a favorable difference from other birth centers with an international status in Asia, for example);
- proximity to cultural sights. Just 6 km from the cosy ancient colonial town Parati with a developed infrastructure (protected by UNESCO as cultural heritage). Every month new festival, concert, exhibition or other cultural event is being held in Paraty. 250 km from legendary Rio-de-Janeiro and San Paulo is optimum distance to avoid negative impact of proximity to megapolis and enjoy opportunity of visiting its main attractions. We intend to organize individual and group transfers as well.
So, these are main advantages of GRAVITA&GRAVITACIA project.
Let’s summarize, what infrastructure objects are included in the Project. So, on these 20 Ha of private natural park we have:
Home birth center GRAVITA: central house (consultations, diagnostic, crash facility, group activities) and carry-over short term birth houses nearby (for those who come only for delivery itself), car on duty (for emergent transfer to the hospital if needed).
Ecovillage GRAVITACIA: around 150 houses for every taste, harmonically placed in natural park’s landscape; hostel and camping site with parkig zone; houses for the staff; healthy food vegan restaurant; ecotransport for rent (ordinary and electric bicycles, electriс motocycles, bio ethanol cars); a net of forest pregnant-friendly walking trails with rest and meditations zones; tie park; children’s club; spa complex; sauna and steam bath near mountain river; creative workshops space; center of practices for body, soul and spirit; concert space.
In the next phase we plan to buy near 20 hectares more to build a village for permanent living of those who already enjoyed such natural way of life in GRAVITA&GRAVITACIA. Both purchase or long-term rent options are possible.