"She reaches up both of her arms right at my neck as to give me a hug."
No pregnancy and birth are exactly the same. Each of us has a unique story, and so do our babies. As Hilary Duff proves, a mother's second birth story isn't a just a rerun of her first.
Motherhood changes people, and for Duff welcoming her second child, daughter Banks, at age 31 was a very different experience than birthing her son, Luka, when she was 24.
Luka was born in a hospital, while Banks was born at home, and Duff recently shared a video of that amazing day on Instagram.
Sharing this video clip isn't the first time Duff has opened up about her home birth. In a two-part interview for the Informed Pregnancy podcast released last fall, Duff admitted that at some points in her home birth she was scared and asked herself why she wasn't in a hospital "with all the drugs," but she says she's so glad she did it this way and would totally do it again.
During her first pregnancy, Duff says she started out wanting an elective C-section (although she did not end up having surgery). She was 23 when she and ex-husband Mike Comrie found out they were expecting, and she didn't have a lot of peers who were having kids. She was really scared.
More than five years later, during her pregnancy with Banks, Duff was way more confident as a woman and a mom. She watched Ricki Lake's 2008 documentary "The Business of Being Born" and started considering a different kind of birth plan the second time around.
"I'm older now. I love motherhood more than anything—I never thought I would be this way, I never thought I could be so happy and so fulfilled. It's not easy, because being a parent is not easy, but it's just a joy. And I thought to myself that I want to like fully get the full experience of what it is like to bring a baby into the world," Duff tells the host of Informed Pregnancy, prenatal chiropractor, childbirth educator and labor doula Dr. Elliot Berlin.
Having support from Matt, Haylie and her mom
When Duff brought the idea up with her partner, Matthew Koma, he "was amazing," she explains. He had some questions, but was down to support Duff in her birthing choices.
Duff says she thinks her mom Susan and sister Haylie were "nervous to think about not being in a hospital" at first, but once Duff explained things a bit and got to talk to them about her doula and midwives, Haylie got really pumped about the idea.
"She was so supportive and amazing. I think my mom was a little more worried but she got behind me," Duff recalls, adding that because her mom had C-sections herself, even seeing Duff deliver Luka vaginally in a hospital was a bit of a different experience for her, so being there for the home birth was taking things to an unfamiliar level.
"The first time she saw me having a contraction in the house she was cooking bacon for Luka," Duff explains, adding that she had to pause the conversation she was having and squat down during the contraction.
With the family around and the TV on, Duff's labor progressed a little slower than she'd imagined.
"When I pictured my birth I didn't picture watching Guardians of the Galaxy on TV. Luka was like explaining the characters to me," she explains.
Duff says when she was moved to the birthing tub, her brain really let her body take over. After the birth she estimated she was in the tub for about 30 minutes, but Koma told her it was really more like 90. "My brain disconnected," she says. "I remember telling myself that I don't need to be here for all of this."
At one point, she looked at one of her midwives and said, 'I'm really scared right now." Exhausted and unable to hold her body up as she channeled all her energy into pushing, Duff let her team hold her legs and arms while she pushed.
When Banks' head emerged, it didn't feel quite like the birth videos Duff has seen.
"Honestly, when I got her head out I was shocked by the feelings," she told Dr. Berlin. "I've seen women reach down and pull their baby out, and I couldn't do that…I was like, okay I'm there, I'm there, I've got to finish this job, but it was like really intense. It wasn't pleasant at that point. I think I wasn't fully in my headspace, my body was doing what it needed to do. It wasn't until her body came out that I could like want to grab onto her and bring her up out of the water."
Baby Banks needed some breaths from a midwife when she was first pulled from the water, but because her son Luka was also born looking a little blue, Duff says she wasn't freaked out. Once she figured out how to breathe, little Banks did "the most amazing thing," her mama recalls.
"They hand her to me, and I'm looking at her—and you know, babies are like floppy little worms, they just don't have any control—and she reaches up both of her arms right at my neck as to give me a hug. It was so clearly a hug."
Duff says the hug made her feel like baby Banks was saying something: "Like, good [teamwork] mom, we did it."
To hear the whole interview, check out the Informed Pregnancy podcast.
[This article was originally published November 14, 2018. It has been updated.]
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