Looking back at the birth of my first child, Lucy, I see how unprepared I was for her birthing experience. I was a very fit woman and had practiced meditation and relaxation techniques as well as yoga for a number of years and so I felt very prepared to bring my first baby into this world. It was to be a great and peaceful event that would be deeply spiritual and not too sweaty! Of course, despite all my efforts, the actual birthing experience was quite different to this and ended up being way out of my control. Although I had a strong mind and body and some great relaxation techniques, none of my preparation had been birth specific!!!
Birth specific preparation is the KEY to an enjoyable and empowering birthing experience. My first birthing experience, although not the birthing experience that I wished to have, left me with a great sense of personal strength, will and achievement… and a great desire to create an effective guide for all women approaching their own birthing experience that would prepare them for their journey ahead.
The birth of my second child, Jacob, was testament to my efforts. His birthing was an incredibly peaceful, joyful and non-sweaty journey. I did great preparation for his birthing experience based on the lessons I had learnt from Lucy’s birth. I immersed myself in the strategies that I have offered to you in this journal, the rituals, the celebration of his coming and practiced birth specific meditations daily… and his journey into this world was better than I could have ever imagined!
In the lead up to Jacobs’ birth, I attended Karen's Hypnobirthing course which I found invaluable with its’ focus on fear release and its’ birthing specific relaxation techniques. I strongly urge any woman approaching birthing to attend Karen's class or a similar course if it is available to them. The techniques are very effective and can be applied to any area of life following the birth of your child. As part of this course, I was encouraged to focus my attention daily on my vision of an ‘ideal’ birthing experience.
I spent time establishing in my mind what this experience might be. I could see the birth happening step by step in my mind. I would have some mild contractions that I would feel across my belly. When I felt these, it would trigger a deep sense of relaxation and opening. My waters would break and it would be a beautiful moment affirming my opening and my baby’s head would gently drop right down into my pelvis to release hormones of deep contraction matched by deep relaxation and endorphins. I would gently tap my husbands wrist when I had a contraction so that he would know where I was at and could assist me with applying pressure on acupressure points at my sacrum. My birthing Doula Karen would be there to offer her wisdom and guidance to myself and my partner when required, this way we had no questions or fears in our minds of whether what was happening was meant to happen or not.
We would be in a hospital where medical assistance was there if we needed it, but other than that, it would be just myself, my husband, our Doula, midwife and our emerging baby. Everything would be peaceful and after a couple of relaxed pushes, our beautiful baby would be wrapped up in my arms and breastfeeding to help the birthing of the placenta. The cord would be cut when its’ pulse stopped as a sign that both our bodies were ready for separation.
In the final weeks leading up to the birthing experience, I took a little time to do my own ‘Birthing Vision Quest Meditation’. This was a pivotal moment in my pregnancy as in my meditation, I discovered that my son’s birthing experience was not a task that I was to endure totally by myself… in my meditation, I found myself standing at the pinnacle of a rocky mountain, surveying a vast wilderness bellow me that stretched out to a wild sea in the distance. I could feel a soft warm and sweet breeze caressing my skin and gently playing with my hair.
I saw that this birthing experience was to be one that would require greater strength than that which I possessed within. For the birthing experience that I desired, I would need to call upon and connect with the energies of Mother Nature herself and for her strength to combine with my own. I needed to firmly root my feet into the earth for grounding and harmony. I needed to connect with the mother natures gentle breeze that would carry the winds of change through me so that I might release all my fears as they arose to remain serene.
I needed to focus on the warmth of the sun, the strength of the sea and the vital energy that is mother earth and allow myself to fill with this energy. By doing this, my birthing experience would be the natural, serene and empowering experience that I wanted it to be.
I saw myself, standing in this place, as strong as the rock I was standing on. I asked the universe to bless me with my perfect birthing experience and as if to say yes, in return a soft breeze again gently caressed my body and soothed its fingers through my hair.
I had been having practice contractions for about 3 weeks. They were gentle contractions that I just took as a cue for practicing the deep relaxation techniques I had chosen to use. The day of my sons’ birth, was no different to this. I was out with my husband in the late morning and had some practice contractions that were gentle and relaxing. They stayed very gentle but started to happen a little more regularly. We called Karen our Doula while we were out and she offered to come over for a short visit to see how I was doing. When she arrived, not much had changed, just lovely, relaxing surges every couple of minutes that felt nothing more than a mild tightening across my belly. As we sat in my living room I felt a funny sensation at my cervix kind of like a thin rubber band stretching and snapping lightly and my waters broke. I was surprised as water gushed out onto the sofa (and my new dress) !
Karen confirmed that all was good with my waters. I changed into something drier, and was exhilarated as I put on my headphones to listen to my birthing meditation that played on a continuous loop. My husband wanted to head straight to the hospital, and although I felt that we were hours off any arrival, as the tightenings were so incredibly mild, I agreed to go along so that his mind could be at ease.
It felt beautiful driving along the freeway with the breeze rushing over my skin, my eyes closed and my total focus on deep calm. I was totally in my own world, just me and my baby.
With each surge of tightening across my belly, my relaxation deepened and more waters poured out as great confirmation that I was opening more and more. By the time we reached the birthing centre, waves of deep contraction were washing over me but every time were matched by waves of endorphins and I relaxed more and more deeply into each wave. The only person who could tell I was having contractions at all was my husband. As we entered the birthing suite, I saw a birth mat leant up against the wall and was overtaken by a primal birthing urge… charged over to the mat and threw it down onto the floor and knelt onto it. Leaning over a bean bag, I changed positions a couple of times as the waves became more intense. My Doula guided me into each perfect position and my husband pressed on the pressure points on my sacrum, all providing the perfect relief so that I could remain focussed on my deep relaxation.
Only two contractions right before my babies head crowned were intense enough to distract me from my bliss at which time my Doula looked me straight in the eyes and simply said “look at me” as she took a deep breath and I followed her cue. This brought me back to my place of bliss and control. We moved me into a squatting position as my babies head crowned.
One minute of deep breathing as I breathed my baby down and out barely pushing myself at all, my body did all the work with each surge. My midwife entered the room, I remember, during this minute, looking out the window to a forest of trees and seeing the breeze gently swaying their leaves and branches. I connected with their deep rooted strength and with that thought pushed my baby down and out. In the next moment he was lying on the floor in front of me and I placed my hand on his tummy and chest and said “hi there little one”. We had done it. We were both good and strong.
My husband held our baby boy as I birthed the placenta. All up the labour had been about 3 hours, with just 2 strong contractions. I felt totally energized and blissed out. I showered and then sat clean and relaxed, breastfeeding my newborn and his older sister at the same time.
There had been no yelling, or barely any talking, no sweating or gasping, just beautiful, serene and gentle birthing. I was exhilarated, and my family was complete.