Milk and Water

Naoise Birth is a poem about the birth of my second son. It was a long, slow, and very painful labour, that was physically and mentally difficult. Physically difficult because I had a very large fibroid that had grown to the size of a melon during my pregnancy and this posed a very real threat of haemorrhaging. Mentally difficult because of the problems that I encountered with the father of my first child after he was born thatled to the breakdown of our relationship. The fear of haemorrhaging and anxious feelings that again I might loose a partner, I believe contributed to a lengthy labour. 

The most positive experience of my birth, other than meeting my son for the first time, was spending time labouring in the birthing pool, I wished that I had been able to give birth in the water but due to the haemorrhaging risks had to give birth on land. I had wanted to have a home birth but due to the risk of complications in birth he was born at the Calderdale Birth Centre. 

Naoise Birth

The last milk pearls glisten on my nipples
Your first movements began as a tickle
A minnow swimming

A melon sized fibroid had grown in my womb
Crowding your room
It threatened to cause me to haemorrhage during birth
Blood rivers flooded my mind

Water slowly filled the pool
Contractions squeezed hard
I clambered on a stool as if mountain
My body became submerged


Circling, floating, twisting and turning
A dolphin
The first woman born
You inside your amniotic fluid sack
A russian doll swimming pool

I am the porch, the threshold of the universe

Your birth on land was long
Time in the water
Holds heavenly memories of

Meeting you holding you, seeing your ice blue eyes
Feeling your soft peachy skin
Looking at your downy hair
Feeding you from my breast

Is the moment of birth without language ?
the woman is open
she speaks with cervix
she speaks with her voice
that is her body
one body separating
the self, the other
mother, child

About Helen Sargeant

I am a visual artist, mother of two children aged 12 and 4, and co-founder of the MeWe arts collective. I intend to use this site to explore how my personal experiences as a mother informs my arts practice. To reflect upon the maternal in relationship to memory, loss, and mental health in particu…Read more


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