Marissa Heckel gave birth in her own bathroom – standing up, holding onto the towel rack, after labouring on the toilet. It was just what she’d wanted.
There was no midwife or doctor in attendance, just Heckel’s husband, who snapped a photo. There’s pride on Heckel’s face, as she holds her baby son, and there’s blood on the bathroom floor.
A few days later, she shared the photo on Facebook, and it’s gone viral, sparking off a debate about unassisted home birth.
In a post, Heckel explained that she gave birth to her daughter drug-free in a hospital three years earlier. She said it was a “horrible experience, being bullied about my birth plan and harassed throughout my labour”.
When she became pregnant with her son, Heckel decided on a homebirth, with her husband’s support.
“We opted out of a midwife due to my stubbornness,” she wrote.
“I simply do not like anyone trying to tell me what is best for me or my baby. Finances were not the issue in my case. Going unassisted was more of an opportunity for me to prove to others that God made our bodies to birth – that hospitals were never the norm.”
Heckel delivered her son after a 36-hour labour. She says she tried to find relief in the shower and bathtub, but it didn’t help.
“I just kept telling myself, ‘The pain is only temporary.’”
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She says when the contractions and the pressure came, her husband was by the side of the bed, holding her hand.
“It was actually romantic although I was practically roaring at this point. Somewhere during the time period my water gushed all over our bed. Five different times.”
Heckel says that when she felt the urge to push, it felt “unnatural” for her to stay in bed. So she asked her husband to help her to the toilet, where she sat and “let my body do the pushing”.