Empowered Birth Project is an online initiative to
remind birthing people of their power
facilitate healing through story telling
and share information and education
HOW IT STARTED...
My name is Katie Vigos, and I'm a Registered Nurse and mother of three boys in Los Angeles, California. My experiences giving birth led me to create this platform-- first a hospital birth, then a home birth, and finally a planned unassisted home birth that ended with an emergency cesarean.
Our first son was born in a hospital in 2007. While I was able to experience an unmedicated, vaginal birth without complications, I felt unsupported by the staff and pressured to accept interventions I didn't need. I was fortunate to have my husband's constant, loving presence throughout the intense 22-hour labor. Determined to create a more comfortable, positive birth experience the second time around, I began researching and studying home birth. After attending the home birth of my niece and witnessing the midwifery model of care in action, I knew it was the experience I wanted.
My dream came true in 2010, when our second son was born into my arms in the comfort of our home. His birth was euphoric and everything I hoped for-- a spiritual awakening, a rite of passage, and a rebirth as a stronger and more powerful woman.
Empowered Birth Project was born a few hours later, after the midwives left and my husband and newborn son were asleep on either side of me. I replayed the birth over and over in my mind as I coasted along the postpartum oxytocin high. I felt an overwhelming desire to share my experience with others, and I envisioned lending my voice to help create a world wherein all birthing people feel supported, empowered, and comfortable in their birth experiences.
When I became pregnant with our third child in 2013, I knew immediately I would plan an unassisted home birth, meaning without the presence of a trained medical professional. As my pregnancy progressed, my husband and I immersed ourselves in preparation to receive our child at home together with a few close friends. I also sought prenatal care through two midwives and an obstetrician to make sure home birth was a safe option for us. I began sharing my pregnancy on Instagram and making plans for a documentary film about the experience. Director and cinematographer Carlo Alberto Orecchia came on board to capture the footage and bring the story to life. We were prepared, informed, and considered low risk like our two previous births.
Nothing went as planned.
As I approached 43 weeks of pregnancy, I knew something was wrong. Labor never started, and my body and my baby gave clear signs of distress. In a dramatic turn of events, our third son was born by emergency cesarean in June 2014.
I felt broken and defeated, as if my vision of empowerment through birth had failed. It was only by sharing the process of postpartum recovery with my incredible Instagram community that I began to reconcile the trauma and find healing within my birth story. As the project's following began to grow rapidly, I realized so many people are truly hungry for support and encouragement through pregnancy, birth, and motherhood.
Empowered Birth Project has evolved to include the stories of the greater collective, and has become a platform to remind birthing people of their power, facilitate healing through story telling, and share important information and education.
In December of 2017, I launched a petition to Instagram to allow uncensored birth images. Over 22,000 people have signed the petition, and it has been receiving attention from the press. Instagram has confirmed the petition is being internally reviewed.