Image: Cape Town October 2015



A telling of our homebirth experience
The very private birth of our daughter in our home


When she was six years old our daughter Jette said, "Gold and silver are the most precious things in the world. But there is something that is even more precious and that is love."  We can only guess about Jette’s path before she came into this world. But Jette's father Felix and I would like to share how her journey on earth began to inspire other parents-to-be.

Addition in April 2015:
By the way, Jette has agreed to the publication of her birth story. After a school friend refused to believe that she had been born at home and in the water, Jette retorted, “Oh, yes, I was! Go and read my story!”


We were always very certain that we wanted to welcome our child at home. We were always certain that I would, if possible, give birth to our child in the water. We were always certain us that we would not have more than one ultrasound – if that. Besides, we were always certain that we wanted to get to know our child first after its arrival before inviting everyone else to do so. And it was not important for us who would come to us – an old soul or a young one, a boy or a girl, a healthy child or a handicapped one. We knew: This child wants to be with us. We will accept it as it is. And so it was. On 13 April 2005, supported by our midwife, I had a water birth at home and gave birth to a healthy daughter. And there were many signs before, during and after the birth telling us: You are being guided!


At the beginning of the pregnancy, which we were extraordinarily happy about, a big topic was my “advanced” age of 42. Due to my age, the reactions around us were very subdued, “Really? You are having a child at your age?”  Later people talked only about our wish for a birth at home. Again, the response was disappointing, “Really? You want to give birth at home? As a first-time mother? And you want to have a water-birth? What if something happens?”  And later still, after “everything had gone well” and we had had a truly beautiful birth experience, we suddenly became “heroes”. Today we keep seeing the radiant faces of women and men who want to birth their child at home and want to know everything about our experiences with home birth. We also encounter people that are disappointed or have a bad conscience, because “something went wrong” at the hospital and they would have liked to give birth at home…

Therefore, we would like to share our experiences in the hope that many expecting parents will experience this important, highly delicate and intimate time in an equally intimate, loving, delicate and very personal context, just as they really want. Because a birth is a miracle, an experience that is greater than we are, a deeply spiritual experience. Simply said, it’s about creation. We come in contact with our joy and our fears.




In May 2004 a friend gave me the address of an anthroposophical gynecologist, and shortly after I had met Dr. Pollmächer in her modern practice in Zurich/Kilchberg, I was sure. This was the right person for me. We talked about stopping my birth control and our desire to have children. She responded confidently: “Don’t worry about your age.” She explained to me that I might have to wait for a while for a regular menstrual cycle, and that falling pregnant could take up to two years. Of course, she also had to warn me about the potential dangers of a “late” birth, but she was always objective and supportive. She advised me to start taking folic acid immediately. I began to take my temperature daily to track my cycle. Immediately after stopping the pill, I returned to the natural 29-day cycle, and fell pregnant during the second one! We were pretty sure it would be a girl, because there were five days between ovulation and our night of love. Usually only female sperm survives this long. It is said that male sperm does not live longer than a day. But we remained open to both options until birth because we wanted to allow for a surprise.

My second visit to Dr. Pollmächer was very special. I was beside myself with joy! We talked about a birth at home and about the path that was before us. This time she had to inform me about our options regarding prenatal diagnosis. An amniocentesis was out of the question for us. The risk of injury to the child through such a procedure seemed too high. The child of a friend was hit in the head during the amniocentesis and was born paralyzed from the waist down. We also forwent the ultrasound, since it is known that this process produces as much noise in the belly as a jet plane. Dr. Pollmächer accepted our position. She explained the advantages of the ultrasound, but allowed us to choose freely, and after careful consideration we decided to do a single ultrasound. Dr. Pollmächer advised us to do this in week 22 or 23, because at that time a full scan is possible.

Felix accompanied me on my third visit to Dr. Pollmächer, and I have to say, I was very excited. We knew that the opportunity to use this technique just once and to take a “look from the outside” was a gift from our child to us. It was a very emotional experience for me. When this little person was suddenly moving on the screen, every emotion I had rushed to the surface. There is LIFE in my belly! I almost dissolved and had a moment of complete union with the child. For a short time, I was just energy … The touch of Felix' hand made me feel pure love. While Dr. Pollmächer tried to follow the fast movements of our child, she asked briefly: “Is everything all right?” “Yes, everything is all right.”

This scan allowed us to have all significant markers checked (apart from the profile of the face): The back was properly closed. The joints were well formed. The heart was working correctly. The arms and legs were properly formed, etc. Only the profile of the face could not be seen because our child was moving too fast, literally trying to escape from the noisy sound waves. Thus, the question of a possible cleft lip and/or palate (harelip) was not answered. But that was not important to us.


When I got home, I took the list of the midwives working with and recommended by Dr. Pollmächer and intuitively picked the name Petra Graf. We met in December 2004. It was sympathy at first sight. The two hours of the appointment passed in a flash because Petra specializes in home births and had so many beautiful and touching stories to tell. She gave us a lot of valuable information, for example that the Spitex [a Swiss organization that provides support and care at home] offers support for the preparation of the home birth and before and after childbirth and that this is covered by insurance if people register in time. Petra always emphasized that we were doing the birth while she was “merely” going to be assisting. But she voiced a very clear CAVEAT, “There is one exception. If complications arise, I am the boss!”  That meant if urgent action and a quick decision about a hospital transfer were required, Petra didn’t want to discuss it but to decide by herself.

In Petra we had found our own personal midwife immediately and only over the course of the shared four months did we notice the power inherent in having a professional midwife around, who was not only our closest confidante, but also very wise. Midwives have an earthly and spiritual knowledge of the laws of creation. We became very conscious of this during our time together. Petra also recommended Michel Odent's books. Odent is a renowned medical doctor and inventor of the modern water birth. His book “The Farmer and the Obstetrician” gave us many important insights and strengthened our determination to have a water-birth at home.

The five prenatal check-ups were done by Petra at our home except for one final checkup by Dr. Pollmächer. Both Petra and Dr. Pollmächer used a Pinard horn, that is a wooden stethoscope, to check on the heartbeat of our baby instead of an ultrasound. In the meantime, the head of Spitex called in at our house for an intake interview and took note of our care needs. For ten days, the staff of Spitex takes care of shopping, cooking, laundry, ironing, and vacuuming – no window cleaning though. This is paid for by Swiss health insurance companies. We were very grateful that Antonella was there for us before and after the birth. She was a professional through and through – quick, friendly and discreet.

As final preparation Petra provided acupuncture and homeopathy sessions to soften the tissues. The hospital was notified should an emergency occur. We rented a water pool from the birthing center Zürcher Oberland in Hittenberg for a month, which we tested immediately, of course. (The cost for the rental of CHF 100 is paid by the health insurance if it’s declared with them first). Then we began to nest.


In the night of 13 April 2005, at 1:30 am, I was awakened by a punch in my gut. “Mama, it’s on!”  was the message. Petra was with us at 4:30. Smiling, she greeted me with the question, “Have you packed your bag?”  No. I had no bag packed for a transfer to the hospital. And if it came to it, Felix could quickly grab the few necessities. The fire in the fireplace gave off a comforting scent. The choice of music was perfect. Well wrapped up in my favorite blanket I meditated and communicated with our baby between contractions. There was a perfectly natural and harmonious togetherness and cooperation between the three of us and our child. It seemed a completely absurd idea to have to leave the house now to go into the anonymous and technical atmosphere of a hospital … When yet another contraction was over, Petra said with a smile, “This contraction is over, it will NEVER come again.”  What a beautiful picture. This immediately made the thought of every new contraction that was yet to come much easier.

All the while our Green Tara statue stood patiently by the fireplace, a symbol for all the women on the entire earth who have given birth before me. Eye contact with the Tibetan goddess gave me the combined strength of all the mothers who have made it and some of the pain simply evaporated. In this way I was able to mobilize immense strength! To my great surprise, I felt that women have a joint or “hinge” in the lower back that opens the pelvis! Therefore, it was a great blessing that Felix pressed his hands strongly against my back during every contraction. Petra remained discreetly in the background, taking notes, and asking me from time to time to change position between sitting, lying down, squatting, standing, walking. Because “giving birth is movement”, or rather “life is movement”.

Meanwhile, the sun was rising, and Felix opened all the curtains. It was a beautiful morning. Around 6:30 Felix began to call the clients that had appointments with him that day. Almost everyone was amazed that we were “at home”… Then the pain during contractions changed. It had a different quality and became almost stabbing. This was the end of normal contractions and the beginning of the final phase of labor. Shortly thereafter, at 11pm, the amniotic sac burst, directly over the toilet – my favorite spot during contractions. Then things moved very fast. Felix and Petra already saw the little head. It was time! Petra insisted that I get up and go to the pool. When I had reached the pool, the next wave already came. I stood astride the pool, held onto its edge and there was only pushing. Then I stepped carefully over the edge of the pool into the water and made myself comfortable in the ring of air. The water buoyed me up wonderfully from below. What a glorious relief! Then Felix got into the water. Now it was “getting serious” for him too. We sat opposite each other. Petra stood next to the pool and gave directions, “Silke, stop pushing. Just breathe.”  After hours of pushing I was so much in the rhythm that I did not immediately respond. So Petra became louder and more energetic, “Silke, stop pushing, just breathe!”  I remembered the preparation for the birth, Petra had explained that we can only do one thing at a time, either pushing or breathing. At that moment I let go of everything and breathed deeply into the pain. I was sure and awake and could see everything clearly. I was able to relax my pelvic floor completely. This was followed by a big climax of emotions: by relaxing I let go of the baby, and I could feel clearly how it continued to move on its own! The baby worked its way through the birth canal by itself! Petra and Felix shouted, “The head is coming!”  All by itself, our baby pushed through the opening. And suddenly all pain was gone. The thickest part of the baby’s body, the head, passed through the canal, the baby popped out under the water and swam into Felix’ hands. Petra looked at the clock. It was 11:11am. I was very relieved, very happy and could now relax completely.

No bruising, no episiotomy, no drugs, no decline in labor, no shift changes for the midwife, no hassle or artificial drama, no strange smells, no bright light, no masked, fleetingly familiar people in white coats around me, no one that talked over me and disturbed me. Just a natural birth in a very private, personal, and intimate atmosphere with people that had my heart and my trust. A natural birth with very natural pain, in our very own rhythm, guided by the love and the power of mother, father, and child, held by the wisdom of the midwife and blessed by many unseen helpers. A truly natural birth – the birthright of every human being.

Only later did I understand the great symbolic significance of this act of birth. Since all future development is contained in the beginning, just like it is in a seed, I know now that as a mother I can always accompany our child to the door – no matter the situation. It has, however, to go through the door on its own, using its own strength. And our child will succeed!

While I relaxed on a banana cushion, Felix held our baby in his hands, full of amazement at the great miracle that had happened. The baby looked up at him from below of the water, as if it wanted to say, “Hi Papa, here I am here now.”  The baby kept swimming under water for a while. Petra photographed everything. Eventually Petra put our baby on my chest and Felix whispered into my ear, “It is a Jette.” Wow! At that moment, something numinous suffused me! Now she is here. The girl that had appeared to me for the first time eight years ago and told me of her coming at a time when I did not even know Felix.

Sometime later, Felix cut the umbilical cord with scissors Petra uses just for just this one purpose. We actually wanted to let the umbilical cord pulse, but since Jette seemed a little “tired”, Petra pushed for cutting it earlier. At that moment, Jette seemed to wake up and come “alive.” Approximately 45 minutes after giving birth, Petra asked me to step out of the water so that I would not get too cold. I lay down on the sun lounger and was wrapped in warm towels (a small stove works wonders). Meanwhile, nearly an hour had passed, and the placenta was still not born. Petra had to nag a little, she said, “Silke, I’m going to do something I don't like to do and I will do so only once. I apologize in advance.”  She pressed her full weight on my upper abdomen and – splash – out popped the entire placenta. That finally completed the birth! The placenta should never remain in the belly for more than an hour after birth, otherwise it will attach again and can potentially no longer come out safely.  All was well now! And Petra was amazed: The placenta was in prime condition. It was very dark and very strong! A good sign that Jette had been sustained perfectly in my belly. Later Petra took a piece of the placenta to produce homeopathic globules from the placenta. And a year later we buried the placenta that had been frozen until then in the nearby forest under a young tree.

After Jette had breastfed for the first time, Petra weighed Jette, lovingly performed the usual tests, dressed the wound of the umbilical cord and dressed her in her first clothes. Petra put Jette in a soft cloth and pulled her into the air with a scale. Jette weighed 2.8 kg, a lightweight. I filmed everything, Felix photographed everything. Jette’s elongated alien-like head looked a bit strange initially, but it is well known that the skull bones of a fetus are not fused so that they can move during birth and fit through the opening of the mother-pelvis, allowing the baby to exit the birth canal in the best way possible. Since the birth creates some “stress” on the baby’s head, it was important that Felix harmonised Jette’s energy flow with cranio-sacral osteopathy the next day by gently touching the individual skull bones.

In the meantime, Petra had cooked a Chinese chicken soup - without meat, but with mushrooms - for me to regain my strength, a ritual from the long tradition of wise midwives. It was a really “special” soup that I would not necessarily eat every day, but it gave me strength, and that was important. I was high with hormones and called my parents to deliver the good news. Then we went to sleep together, all three of us, Jette in the middle.

Petra had our house keys and came back a few hours later to check up on us. After having worked together and gotten to know each other during the 3 months prior to the birth, after having gone through the birth process together, Petra now attended us after the birth. For ten days she made daily visits that lasted two hours. On day 6 we bathed Jette for the first time since she was now sufficiently stable for this great challenge. Petra taught us so much. She was not only our wise teacher, but she was a true mother-substitute. Through her help, through her laughter, her patience, her endless love for creation and through her constant mindfulness as a midwife, we came into direct contact with the archaic power of the wise women tradition, in which the knowledge of women is passed on to women (and men) and from generation to generation. It was a deeply moving and spiritual experience. 


PS: While Jette made her way into this world, her godmother Martina was received in audience by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome. Jette was born and shortly afterward Martina sent us this picture and a few lines, saying “I just shook hands with the Pope.”  What a wonderful coincidence – and symbolism.




Three days later we welcomed the anthroposophical pediatrician Dr. Regine Müller from Zurich to examine Jette; she was recommended to us by Petra. We spent 1.5 hours together, sitting at the dining table and talking, mostly about feelings and emotions. At the end, she said, “Mrs. Schäfer, I have seen you, I have seen the child, I have heard your story. What am I doing here? I will not examine the child, this child is healthy. This was a mature birth.” When we parted, we showed her the pool, still standing in the living room. Dr Müller spread her arms and said joyfully “This is a sacred place.” The three of us looked at each other, saw the spark in each other’s eyes and sank into a deep embrace, with Jette in my arms. After Dr. Müller had gone, we realized that the pool had done its duty. It had to be dismantled. I even got a little aggressive and pushed Felix, “The pool has to go!” In the evening, after Felix had dismantled the pool, we both felt better. Everything was at its rightful place again. Now all was well.




In Switzerland a birth is invoiced in three stages: preparation, birth, and aftercare. The cost of our home birth was CHF 3,240 in total, including three months of preparation and including 10 days of aftercare by our midwife Petra Graf. We rented the water pool at the birth house for CHF 100 for a month. All costs were covered by the additional insurance of the EGK, but had to be declared in advance by us.

Check with your health insurance for the cost of preparation and aftercare. Ask the hospital for the cost of the birth. Depending on the doctor’s fee, insurance company, hospital, birth circumstances, the cost of an “average normal” birth in hospital is between CHF 4,500 and CHF 9,000. The cost of a “normal” caesarean birth is about CHF 15,000. And follow-up costs are separate and must be added as well (all prices as of 2005).




We wonder why only 2% of all parents opt for a home birth in Switzerland. Is it the lack of information, or is it even misinformation? Why are home births the norm in Holland where hospital births only take place if there are relevant medical grounds? Have you ever considered that home births are much less expensive than hospital births? Why are there so many routine ultrasounds? According to our gynecologist, the American model of birth is increasingly creating problems in Europe as well. Obstetricians end up in a conflict between their genuine interest for ideal care before, during and after birth and the need to protect their own careers against future claims by the parents. Often doctors sell additional checkups not for the “safety” of the child, but to protect themselves. Find out about the motivation behind your doctor’s advice. Ask if they have ever attended a birth outside the hospital, be it a home birth or a birth in a birthing center or elsewhere, and whether they support it. Look for an independent midwife early on, ideally one who has a connection to a hospital, so that continuous cooperation and complete trust are guaranteed. Get specific information that will give you assurance, and trust your common sense, your hormones, and especially your sacred ability to become a mother.

In July 2009 Martina Eirich’s and Caroline Oblasser’s touching and beautiful book Luxus Privatgeburt – Stolze Mütter über die Kunst des Gebärens in den eigenen vier Wänden. Eine fotografische Liebesgeschichte an Hausgeburt und neue Weiblichkeit (Luxury Private Birth – Proud Mothers About the Art of Giving Birth in Your Own Four walls. A Photographic Love Story of Home Birth and New Femininity)  was published. Our story can be found on pages 198/199.

As soon as the desire to have children awakens within you, we recommend to jave the quality of your blood checked. With the help of dark-field microscopy and by using isopathic and homeopathic remedies, we were able to free our blood of many toxins, even old family information, 1.5 years before conception. In this way, the blood supply for our daughter became as pure as possible. One does not even suspect what is hidden in the blood, though it should not be there.

Reflect and see which way you want to go, and what information you want to give your child by birthing it that way. Because all transitions in the life of your child will follow the blueprint established at birth. While pregnant, I was again and again confronted with worried questions of a predominantly frightened environment, “Aren't you scared? What if something happens?”

Yes, but what if nothing  happens? What if you have a normal natural birth during which the hormone oxytocin, the hormone of love and happiness, which from day one produces a deep attachment between mother and child, ist released? “Well, then …” Yes, we have given our child the best possible start in life and a lot of basic trust. This is our wish for all parents and children, and our entire society.

Silke Schäfer & Felix Joy