Branayama

“My best friend djs pretty regularly at Berghain, so I’m dreaming of the next date night where I can go hear her play with my husband, while my mother takes care of the kids.” - Johanne Schwensen

“My best friend djs pretty regularly at Berghain, so I’m dreaming of the next date night where I can go hear her play with my husband, while my mother takes care of the kids.” - Johanne Schwensen

Current state of mind?

I’m currently experiencing low-level season mania, and the fact that I’ve just had my second coffee AND eaten five Swedish chocolate balls (which I’m obsessed with at the moment – you just mix oats, with soft butter, sugar, cocoa powder and a shot of espresso, roll them into small balls and roll the balls in coconut flakes and you have the best snack. Really good for my milk production I’m telling myself).

If motherhood could be defined in one word? 

Intensity

You recently gave birth to your second daughter. How did you experience the transition from being a mom of one to being a mom of two? 

I thought I would experience guilt from not having all of my focus on my eldest girl — because guilt-ridden is what others have described the transition like. But I've experienced none of that, which I think is due to the fact that my role in Nola’s life has been more like a traditional “father”. My husband has been the primary nurturer (doing the bath and bed-time ritual) and I’ve been the one mainly taking her to activities and playdates. So now that I have to have most of my focus on the little one Asta, Nola isn’t experiencing a loss and neither am I.

Did you have a different post-birth experience the second time? 

Definitely. I didn’t take my down-time seriously the first time and I was up and about already a couple of days after the birth. This was really detrimental to my healing, and I remember having much more pelvic floor pain for quite a long period after birth. This time I allowed myself to be pampered and the first five days I only walked to go to the bathroom. I also went into more of a symbiosis this time and actually slept in a separate room with Asta the first 3 weeks. I did this because my husband got a really bad flu right before I gave birth, but then it just made sense to keep camping in the living room until our routine had been established.

What made you decide to plan a home-birth? 

It happened by lucky chance. I found a midwife who was initially just supposed to help me postnatally like they do in Germany. But then she told me that she was a home birth specialist, and upon telling me she was like: “wow, did you know that your face just lit up with excitement?!” I’ve never been a home birth aficionado or someone who was particularly interested in “natural” birthing or mothering. I’m all for medicine and pain-killers, in fact! And I’m also quite a fan of (most aspects of) hospitals. I didn’t even know I was going to really do it before the moment I paid the “on call” fee, because I kept on thinking that I’d change my mind, chicken out, or that my pregnancy would have some kind of complication that would get in the way. My first pregnancy was complicated with a long series of UTIs and even a kidney infection that led me to an OP with full anesthesia in order to insert a tube for the urine to pass through (yuck!). My cervix was dangerously short and everyone thought I would give birth way early, so of course I had to register with a hospital with neonatal care. In my second pregnancy everything was just so much easier, so it made sense to try out, now that the opportunity had been handed to me.

How did you prepare for the home birth experience? 

I read the birth stories in Ina May’s Guide to ChildBirth. And then I saw some YouTube videos about breathing. I didn’t attend any prenatal classes because I felt the one I did in my first pregnancy was a waste of time. To any women considering a home birth, I recommend reading a lot of empowering home birth stories. That was such a cool and chill way to prepare.

What was it like to birth your baby at home? 

It was amazing. I used to think “what bullshit!” when I heard people describing births as almost pain-free and orgasmic. But now, having tried to birth in the safe space of my living room, with no pain killers and the rush from riding the waves of the contractions, I can understand what those people are referring to. Rather than being scared of the contractions, I was working with them, breathing through them, almost welcoming them. It was really a revelation. My water broke at 22hrs in the evening, and then the contractions started real slowly, while I was in the bathtub watching “Working Moms". At 1AM I woke up my husband so he could accompany me, at 2AM I called my midwife and at 3.45 I pushed Asta out. So it was quick but calm. And Nola slept through the whole thing.

 

What’s your personal recipe for self-care? 

I get a Swedish massage from Dara Heath regularly and then once a week I have some kind of evening activity, whether that’s a dinner, a couple of beers at a bar, a writing workshop, etc. And then in the evenings when the girls are sleeping, I watch a series or read a book. I’m a huge fan of teenage series (Euphoria, Sex Education & Druck, etc) and reading all types of fiction (but especially newer female writers like Otessa Moshfegh, Maggie Nelson & Sheila Heiti).

Any postpartum secret desires?

My best friend djs pretty regularly at Berghain, so I’m dreaming of the next date night where I can go hear her play with my husband, while my mother takes care of the kids.

Speaking of, what was your first night out after pregnancy like?  

I guess that was already a week or two after giving birth. In Denmark we are much more loose and liberal than in Germany in regards to alcohol (and coffee) while breastfeeding, and the experts say it’s fine to drink small amounts with your dinner, for instance. But if I plan on having more than half a glass, I pump a 100 ml bottle and let my husband or whoever is around feed her. To gain some perspective, I always remind myself of the study that shows that even if you were to drink 4 beers in a row and get really drunk and then breastfeed at the peak of your drunkness (very much NOT advisable obviously) the amount of alcohol that goes into the milk is equivalent to one sixth of a shot glass of beer. So mothers ought to give themselves a break and drink a bit of wine after their baby has fallen asleep if that’s their definition of self-care (it is for me)!

Any motherhood mantras?

 "Whatever works” & “This is just a phase”.

 

Check out Johanne’s therapy platform It’s Complicated

 

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