Four months after giving birth to son Benjamin, she has opened up about the eight-hour birth - saying it 'didn't hurt in the slightest'. Gisele gave birth in her bathtub at home in Boston with no pain relief with her mother, sports star husband Tom Brady and a midwife by her side.Poor Gisele. She had a lovely birth, one that she planned and prepared carefully for--and she gets ripped apart for talking about it. Commenters to this article call her a liar, an android, a robot. They call her brainless and dumb, or deceitful, or selfish and shallow, or overly competitive. All because giving birth was not a painful experience for her. Sour grapes, anyone?
"My delivery was in a bath tub, in water," said the 29-year-old. "I wanted to have a home birth. I wanted to be very aware and present during the birth...I didn't want to be drugged up. So I did a lot of preparation, I did yoga and meditation, so I managed to have a very tranquil birth at home."
Speaking to Brazilian TV channel Fantastico, she said: "It didn't hurt in the slightest. The whole time my mind was focused in each contraction on the thought 'my baby is closer to coming out.' It wasn’t like 'this is so painful.' So I transformed that intense feeling into a hope of seeing him."
Bundchen says her son didn't cry after being born and rested in her lap for a long time. "It's wonderful," she said. "Never in my life I thought I could love like this. You hear people talking about it, but you don't know until it happens to you. I couldn't be happier."
Now I love my birth experiences. Pain was definitely a part of the experience, although not the dominant or defining aspect. I've written earlier about how I view pain and what giving birth feels like (great stuff in the comments sections, too!). I don't at all begrudge Gisele her painless birth, nor do I doubt that she is telling the truth. I know several women who have had births where pain really wasn't present at all (I'm not talking about painless births due to early epidurals--but unmedicated or "natural" births). Often they were using some form of hypnosis, such as Hypnobirthing or Hypnobabies. Several gave birth in out-of-hospital settings, but not all. The fact that I experienced moments of pain as part of giving birth doesn't make me doubt that Gisele didn't, nor does her experience evoke feelings of hostility, defensiveness, or anger in me.
Gisele's description of focusing the power and intensity of birth--"I transformed that intense feeling into a hope of seeing him," she remarked--reminds me of the video Birth Day. Naoli Vinaver Lopez, herself a midwife and mother of three, transformed the sensation of pain into one of "love bursting out of my womb" by focusing on her husband as she labored. I also recall an essay by Ingrid Bauer about "Birth as sheer pleasure" (from Midwifery Today Issue 68). Some excerpts:
With this second birth, I went into active labour very suddenly and without warning just after 3:00 a.m. I was taken aback by the intensity of the contractions. For some bizarre reason (fear!), I decided to time the contractions even though I hadn’t planned that and had no idea what the timing actually meant! They were five minutes, five minutes, then three minutes, three minutes, then two minutes, two minutes, progressing rapidly.My parting thoughts? "It is an unfortunate part of human nature to envy those who climb above us and to pull them down literally or verbally or at least within our own critical and judgmental minds," Richard and Linda Eyre commented in an essay about motivating children through praise and positive reinforcement. Let's move beyond our impulse to deny other women's experiences when they are different from our own. Let's stop tearing each other down and instead celebrate those moments of intense joy and fulfillment.
I didn’t realise how fast things were going and sank into fear mode. If these first six contractions were already this intense, how would I ever stand 10 more hours? After all I was an older mom, hadn’t had a baby in 12 years, and this was going to be hard! Immediately, my abdomen was gripped with incredible pain. I couldn’t stand straight. I bent over, grasped the sink and rolled and rocked and moaned with every contraction. Despite the intense pain, I was “coping” well.
But all of a sudden, I remembered. I realised that even as I was rocking and moaning with the contractions, part of me was actively resisting and holding back against the powerful life energy that was coursing through me. I was still split, hadn’t fully embraced or committed to that energy, and was being painfully pulled between the two choices. It became crystal clear to me in that moment that the only thing that was causing pain was not the strength of the birthing energy, but my fear and resistance to it. The more I resisted, the more it hurt.
I decided to completely move into that energy, as part of it, rather than against it or bravely alongside it. I had a good look at the next contraction. The words, “This is only sensation” came very clearly, out of nowhere, into my awareness. I decided I wanted to feel this sensation, not resist it, no matter what it was, no matter what it felt like. I wanted to be and feel alive, no matter what that might mean! I consciously opened my arms, heart, sex and body to it. I was willing to experience the very centre of it, now, in this very moment. And wow!
Forget about pain-free! In that moment, literally within seconds, the overwhelming pain was transformed into the most intense orgasmic pleasure. And I mean intense. Those contractions were powerful. Contractions came one upon the other with rarely more than 5-10 seconds between, and often less (not like my first birth where I slept between contractions!). I felt sometimes close to the edge of being overwhelmed and falling back into fear (have you ever been so happy that you’re afraid you can’t take any more and it’s going to end? It’s a bit like being at that edge).
But then I opened my mouth to sing and didn’t stop. I just melted right into that life force, flowing like an open channel through my body, out my mouth, out my sex, out my heart. I wish I had a tape recording because apparently I sang some incredibly beautiful melodies (“not like any birthing sounds I’ve ever heard,” said my good friend, who caught the last bit and has been to several home/unassisted births). I don’t remember what it sounded like (except one note); I just remember the feeling of the energy.
I felt everything within my body: the cervix opening, the baby moving down, the bones cracking apart slightly, his head emerging. No pain, no burning, just oh-so luscious, sexy, sensual, wet, alive, moving fullness. There was absolutely no pushing at all. I just kept breathing and singing and wasn’t aware of any contracting or bearing down in my uterus, just smooth movement. Just before he emerged, I instinctively arched way up and then lay forward again (I was on hands and knees), as it felt almost like he was moving “around a corner.”
Exactly two hours and 10 minutes after the very first twinge, he came out to the waist into his papa’s and my hands and paused there between contractions, opened his eyes, looked around and sang “Oh” on the exact same note I was toning. Then he whooshed out on the next contraction and I took him in my arms.
That birth changed so many things in me, showed me the true beauty and pleasure of Nature and birth, cracked my heart wide open. I can hardly read a single book on birth now — even the most progressive, alternative natural birth kind — and not think that somehow, something utterly vital is missing. Something nobody ever told me about. So much emphasis is on how to handle the physical pain. Nobody ever prepared me to simply fully embrace the sheer sensual pleasure of birth.