Child on rocks

“We as a couple. We choose to be anonymous.”

She said as she looked me straight in the eye, her stare piercing as if to stress that this is something very important to her.

“But I will share the video on social media so that others could benefit from it,” she ended.

This is my dull attempt to remember the exact words said on that Tuesday afternoon, while a torrential rain poured outside, water falling from the tall trees that covered the wide single-floor house we were all cozied in.

I was sitting beside two friends with whom I woke up early to see what flowering trees are left around the campus. I thought we would be done in a couple of hours that I even elected to not feed my cats until I got back home. But after having omelet brunch together with the new friends they introduced me to, we were still there outside, 3 pm, while my cats purred in hunger back at home.

I think we were drinking chocolate while this conversation happened. And mind you, this was just after we ate chocolate. All that chocolate in my system helped me pay attention—I heard everything my new friend said amidst the loud downpour of rain over the steel roof.


The video she was referring to was a video of her giving birth to her son by herself, with her husband only watching and documenting the entire process. She was a believer of autonomous birthing—a philosophy of giving birth where the pregnant woman directs how everything happens. This self-direction extends to things that should happen before and after the birthing.

She did not go through any conventional program that most soon-to-be mothers go through before giving birth. She did not go through a nutritional program under a physician nor fasted before giving birth—a protocol that doctors give so that, in the event a woman needs to undergo a cesarian section, it would be easier for them to perform it.

She did not push for her son to come out. She waited, letting her body and son communicate to do the process naturally. And when her son came out, after about 11 hours of labor, no one cut the umbilical cord. She and her husband waited for about 30 minutes—enough time for the blood from the placenta to transfer from mother to child through the umbilical cord. After 30 minutes, she had another contraction, this was her second birth—the birth of the placenta, the wonder organ of pregnancy, which most of us take for granted. She and her husband, gently tugged the umbilical cord until the placenta slipped out of her, physically separating mother and child for the first time.

Her son will stay connected with the umbilical cord and the placenta for five more days until the cord naturally separated from the child. This process was beautifully called “lotus birth”—birthing the child intact with the cord and the placenta.

I am writing this, still in awe of the story. And if you are curious, yes, I watched the video of her giving birth—a shortened 11-minute video cut from the entire footage (Update: My friend and her husband have generously released an even shorter version of the freebirth video online. You can now watch it below).

{{< youtube n6U5vEfqe2Q >}}

Birthing and Autonomy

It was my first time to watch someone give birth and it is one of the most eye-opening things I’ve ever seen. My life is completely different after seeing the footage. I felt a strong feeling of gratitude to my mother and my sister, both mothers of three children, as I was watching the video.

But when I went home that night, and in the following days, what the entire experience left me was an affirmation of one of my deepest values—a value so intricately weaved in everything that I do and want to see in the world. A value that even Nature teaches us.

That value is autonomy.

Like my friend and her husband, I am a believer of autonomy. I believe in autonomy because it is impossible for me to feel good and to live well without feeling free. What makes me feel good is a very personal and subjective thing. What makes me feel good is not necessarily what makes you feel good—or what makes the majority of people feel good for that matter.

For example, walking alone or with friends in Nature is fun for me. But I bet not everyone could stand the silence and stillness of the mind required in such an activity. Most people would rather listen to music or go to a party to have “fun.”

Now, here is where autonomy enters. Imagine if someone or the state, for example, imposes a law where everyone is required to have fun ONLY by walking alone in Nature!

Such a rule is unfair. Walking alone in Nature is not fun for many people. It is not what makes them feel good. And yet all of us need to follow such a rule because of fear. We fear punishment and so we give our freedom away. We are stripped off of our autonomy and made to submit to such a preposterous rule!

Now extend this scenario in everything that we hold dear in life—education, health, childbirth, work. What you get is a very unhappy world of people with no sense of free will, where everyone does the same, and everyone has forgotten what makes them feel good.

Autonomy is Essential to Self-actualization

In order for us to feel true happiness, we need to be able to govern our lives, to have the ability to dictate what we want to do, when, and how. The more autonomy we have, the more power we have in curating our context. The more power we have in curating our context, the bigger our possibility of experiencing positive emotions. Optimal happiness can only be achieved in a world where individual freedom is optimized first.

And if that isn’t enough to convince you how good freedom is for you, then it might help for you to know that according to studies, people who feel free are more motivated and have longer lives.

For sure, freedom is not easy, because freedom requires self-reliance, and oh boy, do we fear relying on ourselves!

But between dependence on authority and freedom to create our own lives, the latter is closer to what we know deep within us is good for us. And what better way of building a world of autonomy than letting mothers bring their children to the world in full freedom.