The term "fight or flight" is also known as the stress response. It's what the body does as it prepares to confront or avoid danger. When appropriately invoked, the stress response helps us rise to many challenges. But trouble starts when this response is constantly provoked by less momentous, day-to-day events, such as money woes, traffic jams, job worries, or relationship problems.
Health problems are one result. A prime example is high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. The stress response also suppresses the immune system, increasing susceptibility to colds and other illnesses. Moreover, the buildup of stress can contribute to anxiety and depression. We can't avoid all sources of stress in our lives, nor would we want to. But we can develop healthier ways of responding to them. One way is to invoke the relaxation response, through a technique first developed in the 1970s at Harvard Medical School by cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson. The relaxation response is a state of profound rest that can be elicited in many ways, including meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation.Breath focus is a common feature of several techniques that evoke the relaxation response. The first step is learning to breathe deeply.
Deep breathing benefits
Deep breathing also goes by the names of diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing, and paced respiration. When you breathe deeply, the air coming in through your nose fully fills your lungs, and the lower belly rises.
For many of us, deep breathing seems unnatural. There are several reasons for this. For one, body image has a negative impact on respiration in our culture. A flat stomach is considered attractive, so women (and men) tend to hold in their stomach muscles. This interferes with deep breathing and gradually makes shallow "chest breathing" seem normal, which increases tension and anxiety.
Shallow breathing limits the diaphragm's range of motion. The lowest part of the lungs doesn't get a full share of oxygenated air. That can make you feel short of breath and anxious.
Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, it can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure.
Practicing breath focus
Breath focus helps you concentrate on slow, deep breathing and aids you in disengaging from distracting thoughts and sensations. It's especially helpful if you tend to hold in your stomach.
First steps. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down. First, take a normal breath. Then try a deep breath: Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural).
Breath focus in practice. Once you've taken the steps above, you can move on to regular practice of controlled breathing. As you sit comfortably with your eyes closed, blend deep breathing with helpful imagery and perhaps a focus word or phrase that helps you relax.
Ways to elicit the relaxation response
Several techniques can help you turn down your response to stress. Breath focus helps with nearly all of them:
· Progressive muscle relaxation
· Mindfulness meditation
· Yoga, tai chi, and Qi Gong
· Repetitive prayer
· Guided imagery
Creating a routine
You may want to try several different relaxation techniques to see which one works best for you. And if your favorite approach fails to engage you, or you want some variety, you'll have alternatives. You may also find the following tips helpful:
· Choose a special place where you can sit (or lie down) comfortably and quietly.
· Don't try too hard. That may just cause you to tense up.
· Don't be too passive, either. The key to eliciting the relaxation response lies in shifting your focus from stressors to deeper, calmer rhythms — and having a focal point is essential.
· Try to practice once or twice a day, always at the same time, in order to enhance the sense of ritual and establish a habit.
· Try to practice at least 10–20 minutes each day.
By Madisyn Taylor
The role of a mother is infinitely complex and one of pure tenderness, compassion, and unflagging loyalty
Mothers throughout history have been worshipped, revered, analyzed and even criticized. Every one of us was created through the wondrous workings of a woman's body; each of us has a mother. But being a mother is more than a biological concept. In India, women who are profoundly nurturing, compassionate, and wise are publicly acknowledged by the title "Holy Mother." Those who have never met their biological mothers often have mothers nonetheless in adoptive parents, relations, and friends. There are human mothers and spiritual mothers, Mother Earth, and mother goddesses. The role of a mother is infinitely complex and one of pure tenderness, compassion, and unflagging loyalty. The mother represents fertility, stability, creation, and sacrifice.
Our mothers determine who we become because they are not only the life givers, but the most influential person in our young lives. Before we are old enough to understand that influence, mothers give us the beginnings of our spirituality and value systems. A mother lauds accomplishment and ignores minor faults, she both teaches and shields her children from misfortune, and hides her own tears, preferring to laugh so her children can laugh with her. She is both a sharer of grief and a healer of many pains. And every mother gives of herself knowing that someday her progeny will leave her. For these reasons and more, motherhood is a sacred institution, not limited by narrow constraints. It is also not unusual to seek the guidance of a mother in a wise woman or a grandmother because each woman is taught to be a mother by her own mother, whether she chooses to have children or not. Other ways to see Mother is to find a source of motherly nurturing in the earth, which gives us so much and demands little in return. Earth mother continually blesses us with her bounty and we are even born and eventually go back to the universal mother
The definition is necessarily broad because mothers of all types exist in part to put a smooth veneer on the rough edges of life for those they love. A mother never stops growing, never stops becoming more motherly. Though some may argue that a mother is a woman who gives life with her womb and nourishment with her breast, it is important to remember that a mother, any mother, is also one who gives life with her tenderness and nourishment with her love.
A while back I was asked to give my perspective as a Doula from a birth experience. It has taken me some time to gather my thoughts. I truly consider it an honor to participate in birth as a support to the mother and father during this critical and demanding part of life.
I began teaching birth classes 5 years ago with the intent of giving women who were desiring to have an unmedicated birth education on how the body works and powerful tools to help manage her brain and body, as well as the many body processes taking place in birth. As I proceeded I soon came to realize the support a mother needed to accomplish her goal and the more support the better. I embarked on the task of becoming certified as a Doula to more fully offer this support.
What surprises even me, is the strength of a women in birth, and even more so a determined mother who wants to be empowered by her birth experience. So for the women who have allowed me to be their coach, doula and support through their brith, this perspective is for each of you. This is what I observe and see in each of you as you so powerfully give birth.
IT works! Your effort and practice and determination pay off. It surprises even me how well this method works. I come home after each birth and exclaim to my husband. "IT WORKED!" "She did it." and "She did it beautifully!" I note the midwife, doctor and nurses and their amazement at how well she did and their awe of the experience as a witness to the birth. It is an amazing experience to watch.
The Labor. What is also true with each birth and surprising to the on looker is the total exhaustion, and mental toll on the mother. What looks like a mother asleep and deeply relaxed on the outside, is a mother fighting a mental battle to keep her mental focus on controlling what she can control and letting go of what she cannot. At times, she calls out in moments she has lost her focus saying she can labor no longer, that she has reached her limit. And yet, with a few prompts, encouragement, and loving touch she once again can go quickly back into her birth experience and once again be deeply relaxed. This usually signals she is almost to the finish line!
The birth. As a woman pulls the last bit of strength that is left within her, she is able to dig deep to find more, and more until she has given birth to her baby. This is truly amazing to witness. This picture of human strength surpasses all understanding as a women teeters between life and death to bring forth life. As women we don't get the feat we just accomplished! Why? Because this is what our bodies are designed to do.
The reward. As she brings forth life and the new little human is placed on her chest a glorious reunion happens. She is rewarded for her labor, she is empowered.
And at the same time wonders if she did is right! This is the perplexing question aI get asked. "Did I do ok?" "I felt like I was out of control." "I thought I would be better at it." This is when I wished I had a movie to play back for them. I wish we as women would be better at accepting our accomplishments instead of questioning or comparing our abilities to another.
My wisdom. I ask to each of you to enjoy your reward, and don't question yourself. YOU birthed a baby! And you did powerfully well. Women are powerful in many things and in many capacities, and yet none will surpass the ability you have within yourself to bring forth life. So take the reward, no matter how your birth comes even if it doesn't look exactly like you pictured it would come. Be grateful for your abilities and the frailties of you own humanness. And be gentle and kind with each other as you share your experiences of birth with each other.
Normally I would not post a picture of a woman so scantily clothed. I believe that modesty is a sign of respect for oneself and ones beautiful body.
The reason I post this picture on my blog today is that it depicts a beautiful woman who belongs to an African Tribe. She does not dress in a way of subduction but in the dress of her everyday life and customs. With that said I wish to share with you her story, It is a beautiful story of the worth of a soul. It is the wish of my heart that each of us could understood our individual worth better, and treat each other with an understanding who we truly are. Every human being upon this world has something of value to add to this beautiful world. We each need to know our own song and the songs of each individual we meet.
Of all the African tribes still alive today, the Himba tribe is one of the few that counts the birth date of the children not from the day they are born nor conceived but the day the mother decides to have the child.
When a Himba woman decides to have a child, she goes off and sits under a tree, by herself, and she listens until she can hear the song of the child who wants to come. And after she's heard the song of this child, she comes back to the man who will be the child's father, and teaches him the song. When they make love to physically conceive the child, they sing the song of the child as a way of inviting the child.
When she becomes pregnant, the mother teaches that child's song to the midwives and the old women of the village, so that when the child is born, the old women and the people gather around him/her and sing the child's song to welcome him/her. As the child grows up, the other villagers are taught the child's song. If the child falls, or gets hurt, someone picks him/her up and sings to him/her his/her song. Or maybe when the child does something wonderful, or goes through the rites of puberty, then as a way of honoring this person, the people of the village sing his or her song.
In the Himba tribe there is one other occasion when the "child song" is sang to the Himba tribesperson. If a Himba tribesman or tribeswoman commits a crime or something that is against the Himba social norms, the villagers call him or her into the center of the village and the community forms a circle around him/her. Then they sing his/her birth song to him/her.
The Himba views correction not as a punishment, but as love and remembrance of identity. For when you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.
In marriage, the songs are sung, together. And finally, when the Himba tribesman/tribeswoman is lying in his/her bed, ready to die, all the villagers that know his or her song come and sing - for the last time that person's song.
This to me depicts the power of a woman to change generations. When we can know of our child's great worth, and teach them of their worth , teach others of their worth, celebrate their worth, and remind them when they make mistakes of their worth. We then truly change the world!
Begin today by understanding your own great worth.
My daughter’s birth is something that I had been hoping and dreaming of for years. I had taken a hypnobirthing class two years ago at the Riverton Hospital in hopes of having a hypnobirth with my first baby. Unfortunately, my first labor didn’t go as planned. I thought my doctor and team was going to be supportive, but they ended up encouraging me to use the medicine provided instead of going natural. I ended up getting an epidural and walked away from the experience feeling ripped off, to say the least.
Since then, I was determined to have a natural birth the second time around. I took Karen’s hypnobirthing class this time and it was so amazing! I felt much more prepared than I had in the past and I could picture how I wanted my labor to be. I spent many hours listening to affirmations, meditating, “talking” with my baby and imagining my labor in detail.
I went into labor naturally 12 days after my baby’s “due date”. After getting a foot zone from Karen in the afternoon, I decided to relax and practice my meditation. That night, we went out to dinner and while waiting for the table, I started to have really strong surges. I didn't think much of it, because I had been having surges for 3+ weeks, so I just assumed that they would stop again. The surges averaged about 8-9 minutes apart for 2+ hours, so I started to think that this might actually be it.
We headed home to finish packing and clean up the house. I rocked my almost-two-year old daughter to sleep and told her that she probably wouldn’t see us in the morning. I cried knowing that it was going to be the last night where I could rock her for as long as I wanted to. I called my parents to let them know that they would probably be getting a call from us in the middle of the night.
The surges were consistently strong and some of them were 7 minutes apart. I decided to get some rest and fell asleep listening to affirmations around 11:00pm. I woke up around 1:00AM because I couldn’t sleep through the surges anymore. They were 6 minutes apart and I couldn’t talk through them. I spent the next two hours sitting on a yoga ball and listening to calming music. When my surges started to be 5 minutes apart, we decided to head to the hospital. My parents arrived around 3:00AM to stay with my daughter and we drove to the Hospital.
I checked into the hospital around 3:30AM. I was dilated to a 3 and 70% effaced. The contractions were pretty manageable at the time and they were fairly far apart when I was lying down, so I told Karen that she could just head over when she was up and ready for the day. I tried getting some sleep, but was pretty unsuccessful.
Karen arrived around 6:00AM. She suggested that we walk the halls, so that’s what we did. It was refreshing to get out of my room. I would have surges while walking and Karen would show my husband what he could do to make my surges easier. I loved how involved he could be in the birth process too! We walked for about 10 or 15 minutes, and then my body started to shake. I was so cold! Karen suggested that they check me, and I had progressed to a 4+.
We continued walking the halls more and tried a few different positions to stay as comfortable as possible. Annie, my midwife, arrived at around 7:00AM and gave me more suggestions on positions. My baby was posterior, so some of the positions were ones that I wasn’t familiar with in order to take pressure off of my back. At 9:00AM my body started shaking again and I was so cold. I began throwing up, so we decided to check me again. I was dilated to a 7 and 100% effaced. I couldn’t believe it! My body was doing it! I started crying because I just couldn’t believe it was working! I mean, I expected it to work, but after staying dilated at a 1 for over 15 hours with my first labor, I was afraid I’d have the same problem this time.
About 45 minutes later, we decided to break my water. I went to the bathroom afterwards and while going pee, I started throwing up. It felt uncontrollable because I threw up about five times. I made my way back to the bed and I sat in it like I was in a chair. I started having really painful back labor. My surges were really strong and close together. This was the first time during my labor when it was incredibly hard to relax. I decided to listen to some affirmations while Karen, my husband and Annie were doing some light touch massage on my belly, hands and feet. The light touch massage changed everything! My mind immediately focused on that rather than the pressure from the surge. I was eventually able to fall asleep in between surges.
Around 11:45AM, we checked again and I was dilated to a 9. I couldn't sit in the bed any longer because the back labor was so strong. We moved to the yoga ball and I put my arms above my head to hold onto a bar. This was the hardest part of my labor. Mentally, I was able to stay relaxed and strong during my surges, but in between surges, I started to question if I could do it. I was afraid that it was just going to get harder, and I didn’t know if I could handle it. Looking back, this moment was harder than any other moment during the birthing process. I felt helpless and so tired. I was very happy to have such a great team to remind me that I could do it at that time.
We were waiting until my body was ready to push, because we knew I was getting close. I got back onto the bed and put my feet in the stirrups. I really wanted to feel my baby girl moving down, but my back labor was so bad, that it made it really hard to focus on anything else. Suddenly, I felt this surge. It started slow, with little pressure, then it got stronger and stronger, and my body started pushing completely by itself! I started yelling, “I’m pushing!” (Which I realize now was completely dramatic.) I stayed as relaxed as possible and let my body do the work. I was so grateful to have Karen there because she kept reminding me to wait during the surge. My immediate reaction was to push, but instead, I waited, and my body did the pushing itself. It was a surreal experience. I pushed for about 35 minutes (twice as long as my first labor since this baby was posterior) until my sweet girl arrived.
Gracie was born at 12:34PM on Aug. 31, 2017 weighing in at 8lbs 1oz and 20.5 inches long. They immediately put her on my chest and I kept telling her “I missed you so much!”
My labor was everything that I had hoped for and more! I didn’t have a single needle in my arm and I didn’t need any Pitocin. My body was able to do what it was designed to do, without any extra “help”. It was such a calm and loving atmosphere, exactly what I wanted my daughter to be born into. To have so many people in a room who care and respect the birthing process is an amazing thing. It was an empowering experience that is a highlight in my life. I’m actually looking forward to being able to experience it again.
October 20 - I woke up at midnight with what started off as heavy contractions. I got out of bed and walked around to see if they would subside. Nope, they stayed steady and strong. So I knew we were going to be having a baby soon. I got in the shower did some dishes and then woke up the hubby. After I getting ready I called Karen to let her know what was happening. For some reason I was so nervous with this labor. Hearing Karens voice and the support and directions that she gave me was just what this momma needed. My husband took my daughter up to grandmas and I stayed home breathing through my surges. As soon as my husband got home I told him we needed to go to the hospital. Before, I was in labor I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. But this time I was so nervous at home. Getting to the hospital and having my team with me is what I needed to help me feel empowered and safe. I needed my husband, Karen and my doctor. We arrived at the hospital at about 3:00 am. Karen arrived about 15 minutes later. The nurse got us all checked in and hooked up to monitors and checked to see how dilated I was which was at a 4.
We followed Karen’s instructions and walked the halls, we would sit on the yoga ball. Which this was the best thing, we laughed and talked and it was so great when I was having a contraction I had my amazing team to help me through them. When I would need to lay down we would go back to the room and Karen would help with the surges. She would zone my feet and have me lay or sit in certain positions. I was amazed how much it helped! She also kept an eye on the amount of fluids I was drinking and made sure that I had food in my tummy. She was cute,she would also make sure my hubby was not getting exhausted and kept an eye on him to eat and drink and rest as well. About two hours later my doctor came in and wanted to break my water. That was not in my birth plan and having the support of my husband and Karen we decided to wait. So back to the walking,laying down and yoga ball. A little while went by and there was some concern with the amount of blood I was loosing. My placenta was starting to tear away from my uterus. Karen could see that I was then starting to get really nervous. She told me to breath and to tell my body to slow down the bleeding. I did just what she said I went into my breathing and talked with my body and a little while later the bleeding did slow. Then our baby girls heart rate would dip then come back up then dip again. We found out later that she had a short umbilical cord which was getting pinched. So the pressure was on to break my water. The concern was an emergency C-Section if the babies heart rate dipped too much. The interesting part was if we broke my water or if we didn't break my water there was still the chance of an emergency C-Section. I talked with my husband and Karen and I just closed my eyes and prayed and about 15 minutes later my water broke!
Once it broke I just cried. I had this wave of emotions come over me, for some reason knowing my water broke meant that it was go time and that the contractions would be getting stronger and we would be holding our beautiful baby girl soon. The contractions were so strong and the pressure on my lower back was beyond intense. Karen would push on my lower back and my husband would be by my face and holding my hand. The nurse checked my dilation and I was at a 7 1/2. Then I felt my baby just drop, that feeling was so amazing to feel. To feel your body know just what to do is beautiful. I had communicated what I felt to Karen and then my nurse asked if I felt like I needed to push and said to not push yet since I was not at a 10. Well, as the nurse was talking my body was already pushing on its own. I went from a 7 to a 10 in less than a minute. Right then my doctor came in and checked me and my baby girls head was crowning. Then it was show time, about 5 nurses came in and from there everything felt so intense. The surges and burning sensation were something I cannot explain. Karen knew just what to do and what to have my husband do. She could tell the pain was starting to take over. I cannot explain how amazing she is! She grabbed my husband and had him grab one of my hands and he stood him right by my head. She then grabbed my other hand looked me straight in the eye and directed me when to breath and when to push during each surge. I needed this so much. When a contraction was over Karen would have my husband fan me to help cool me down. About 15 minutes of pushing our little girl was here! Weighing 6 pounds and 9 ounces! Karen then stayed to help me with skin to skin and nursing my little one. She was beyond sweet to tell me she would stay as long as we needed her to. Let’s not forget we have all been up since midnight and it was now 11am the next day.
To have an unmedicated birth or a medicated birth everyone needs that team to help them. When things go not according to plan to have a doula who understands your birth plan and can communicate your needs and wishes to the staff is just what every family needs. I was amazed at how Karen knew what my body was doing and she could tell me what is going to happen. To have her communicate to me in such a personal way and to tell me what my body would be doing and that it was okay was such a comfort. Karen will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Born: June 2, 2017 at 7:50 am, 7lbs 10 oz, 21 in
June 1st my midwife, Annie, stripped my membranes. Later that day I started to feel some strong surges so I decided that we needed an outing before the baby came. We ran to Shopko where we had to stop occasionally so I could breathe through the surges then we went out for dinner at El Toro Viejo for dinner. The contractions were getting closer together but I wanted to get the kids in bed before we went to the hospital. After the kids were asleep I called my mom and asked her to come over so she could watch the kids while we were gone. The surges were becoming quite uncomfortable but still bearable so I took a bath to help ease the pressure. The bath worked and I was able to breathe and relax through each surge. I was feeling really good at this point. I felt like I was totally rocking the relaxation that I had learned from Hypnobirthing.
When the surges became about three minutes apart we headed off to the hospital. When they checked me I was still at a 3.5 which is where I was when Annie, checked me that morning, so we hung out for an hour to see if I had progressed. After using the birthing ball and walking around they checked me again but still no progress because the baby was face up, so we went home. This was frustrating because I really felt like I was in active labor and should have been progressing.
As we were leaving the surges were becoming more intense and moving towards my back. While we were at home I took another bath to relieve the pressure that was becoming more and more intense. After being home for a couple hours I decided that I couldn’t do it at home any more. My husband was amazing during this process and helped me breathe and relax through the surges as well as offering support and counter pressure.
We went back to the hospital about 2:30 am. When they checked me again at this point I had progressed to a grand total of 4. Again I was frustrated and disheartened. I was in a lot of pain during the surges yet nothing was progressing. Annie came about 3:30 am and really offered a much needed second support to my husband and I. At this point neither of us had slept at all and we were struggling. After walking, bouncing on the birth ball, and doing about a million squats I was finally at an 8.
While I was pushing I yelled a couple times that I couldn’t do it anymore but my husband, Annie and the nurses were right there to assure me that I absolutely could do it and helped me with positive affirmations.
After Isabelle was born I felt a little let down because I felt like I hadn’t handled it as well as I wanted to but my husband assures me that I did great. Looking back I am so glad that I did a natural birth and used hypnobirthing. I love that my body was made to give birth without intervention and I let it and embraced it.
My husband and I went to our weekly appointment at 4pm. My midwife, Annie, told us that my water bag was bulging out of my cervix and that I was at 4.5cm and that the baby could be coming basically anytime. My blood pressure was a little high as usual and I used my Hypnobirthing breathing skills to work to calm my anxiety and by the end of my appointment, my BP came down enough to allow me to go home.
After leaving my appointment, my waves began immediately. I was able to go home and relax and spend time with my husband and our 5 year old daughter who had been patiently awaiting on her baby sister’s arrival. We ate dinner and relaxed. At this point, my surges were 8-9 minutes apart and I was still unsure if this was actual labor or not. What I did know is that with each wave, I would have to stop all that I was doing and focus on breathing through them using my Hypnobirthing skills. I closed my eyes, shut out the world and focused on breathing and relaxation. The wave would end and I would go about my evening.
The surges continued to get stronger and stronger and by 6pm they were every 6 to 7 minutes. By 7:30 they were coming around every 4-5 minutes. I went and soaked in the tub and they still didn't subside. I got out and decided to contact my midwife. We agreed to be in touch within and hour so I could labor at home for as long as possible.
By this time, I felt that we needed to get our daughter settled for the night and my husband took her to my sister’s house. She and I both got emotional saying goodbye. It was hitting me that she was no longer going to be “the only one” and that made me feel sad in a way, as she is the center of my universe. She told me she was going to miss me. Luke took her and I stayed and labored on the bed.
I was not comfortable in any position really. I tried my side, squatting, draped over the end of the bed, on all fours, walking, bath, etc. Most positions made the ligaments in my pelvic area hurt more. The only place I had felt comfortable and had relief from contractions was on the toilet…where every pregnant momma spends half her life! Seated there, it relieved so much pressure and allowed me to open my hips in the most comfortable way.
My husband tried so hard to be super supportive and encourage me to breathe but I just kept getting so frustrated with him. It’s hard to accept help from your husband, while very loving and kind, just is not a feelings and emotions kind of person. I feel bad for that now because I know that he wanted to be helpful. I also wish that I had considered my need to have nonverbal support more from him, which I believe would have felt more natural coming from him. Looking back, I know that if my labor had not been so intense and so fast, and we had been at the hospital sooner (our final destination) I may have been able to use my skills and accept his support more and verbalize what I needed him to do differently.
Shortly after this, I felt like I had to go to the bathroom and had some bleeding. Then the surges started to get way more regular and more intense. My surges were very unmanageable at this point. I was unable to talk through them and I could feel my body getting ready to have this baby. With each wave I went within myself; I shut my eyes, breathed and focused on relaxing. I started to become nauseous and to shake without being able to stop it. I remember thinking that I was really struggling and questioned myself and my abilities to deal with early labor. Little did I know, I was entering into or in transition phase but had no idea that this was it. But I reached back out to Annie and she said it was probably time to get to the hospital.
Trying to get the car was super difficult as the surges were coming 2 to 3 minutes apart. I couldn't walk or talk through them and it took what felt like forever to get to the car. We got to the hospital and for some reason I wouldn't let my husband park in the emergency entrance breezeway and insisted that he park in the farthest spot in the parking lot. I stopped to have surges on the way that were coming nearly back to back at this point.
We found a wheelchair at the front door and I sat in it reluctantly. We wheeled into registry and I couldn't even open my eyes and look at the lady because the waves were so intense and I couldn't control my body. I continued to practice my breathing and tried to compose myself but my mind and body were on their own path. In fact, trying to hold back my moans and groans during this time was almost painful. The hospital staff must've known I was nearing delivery because another woman immediately escorted us back to labor and delivery. The doors opened Annie was there waiting in her green scrubs. Thank goodness! I felt a wave of relief rush over me but the surges did not let up.
We got to our room and the nurses were there waiting. Annie wanted me to get changed into my gown. I was trying to make jokes but it was obvious that I was trying to hold it together. I could barely walk because the surges were super intense and rocked through my whole body. These felt different than what I had been experiencing and I literally had no break in between them. I kept my eyes shut most of the time trying to focus as much as possible and to breath through each wave as it came over my body.
I went to the bathroom to change and immediately started having the most intense surge. My soft moaning had turned into full blown groaning and loud carnal vocalizations. Annie came into the bathroom to support me through the wave by applying pressure to my low back and reminding me to breathe because at this point, even that had become a lot to handle. I moaned and groaned and I just wanted to swear so bad! In fact, I think I did more than I should’ve throughout the entire process.
The wave passed and I thought I had time to sit down and use the restroom so Annie left the room. I had just enough time to pull my pants down and kick of my shoes and almost immediately, another wave came. Remember what I said about the toilet??? Annie came in right away and knew that the baby was coming. She helped by reminding to breath in and out. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me like that gasping feeling you get…but as Annie reminded me to breathe, I thought of baby and that she needed it too and sucked in air. Just breathing in that moment was one of the most difficult things to do, so simple, but so hard.
I was still sitting on the toilet and started to feel the most intense pressure and odd sensation in my birth path. I felt the baby descending and with that I also felt my body instinctually want to help this along. Annie told me I needed to tilt my pelvis so she could see what was happening and continued to remind me to breathe. I took an inward breath and as I exhaled with a loud groan, I could feel my body gently and naturally push the baby out at the end of the breath. I cannot remember how many breaths or surges it took to deliver the head but I know that it came out. Annie told me later that I naturally I lifted my bottom off the toilet to prevent the baby from falling into it and she caught her. She immediately placed the baby in my lap and I held her there on the toilet. I remember hearing the nurses talk about cutting the cord and I was able to tell them that I wanted to delay clamping and they graciously respected that. My husband was there to take pictures and be with us while I sat on the toilet loving our sweet, tiny baby.
Our sweet girl was coming and she was coming and coming fast and there was nothing that we could do to stop her. My body knew what it was doing and found a place to do it in that was most comfortable, even if that happened to be the toilet. I later learned that Annie had sent Luke to get the nurses to come back to the room, that she asked for gloves and never had time to put them on and that she had to break my water as the baby was coming en caul.
Looking back, I am in shock at what the body can do. I can't believe I just gave birth so quickly and so easily. But it was also so so so hard. This may not be the ideal Hypnobirth to some. It was a little chaotic; I swore like a pirate, I was not as calm as you see in some of the videos; it was fast, and unpredictable. But here is what I also know…I was in control, I felt supported by my husband, I had a midwife who cared and showed me nothing but kindness, respect and true value to the birthing process, I felt like I had a say in how I birthed my baby which was one of the most exhilarating, empowering and difficult things that I will ever do in my entire life! I know that I would not have been able to handle this process the way that I did without Hypnobirthing and the skills I obtained throughout the learning process. Also, to compare this birth to the birth of my 5 year old…there really are no words, just feelings. This birth was healing to emotional trauma that I sustained with my first daughter where I had no control, no power and was entirely uneducated.
Rory Jaye Nichols was born on March 9, 2017 weighing 6lbs 5oz, 18.5in long. I went into labor around 4:30pm and labored at home until we left our house at 9:45. We walked into the hospital room at 9:57 and she was born at 10:02pm.
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.
Answering the Call
Your destiny may be waiting for you, but whether or not you meet your destiny is up to you.
There are those of us who believe that our lives are predestined and that we should resign ourselves to our lots in life. Yet the truth is that it is up to each one of us to decide what that destiny will be. While each of us is born with a life purpose, it is up to us whether or not we will say yes to fulfilling it. And just like when we choose what to eat, who to keep company with, and whether to turn right or left when we leave our home everyday, choosing to say yes to your destiny is a decision that can only be realized when you take action to make that choice a reality.
Whether you believe it is your destiny to be a parent, an adventurer, an artist, a pioneer, or a spiritual guru, saying yes to your destiny is only the first step. While manifesting your destiny starts with knowing what you want and believing you can attain your goals, there are then the actions that must be taken and the decisions to be made before your destiny can truly happen. When you take responsibility for fulfilling your destiny and begin acting with the intention of doing so, you not only take fate into your own hands, but also you become the hands of your own fate. Doorways inevitably open for you to step through, and every choice you make can be a creative act toward realizing your goals and dreams. You begin to follow your instincts and intuition, recognize opportunities when they are presented to you, and seize those golden moments. You also begin to recognize the decisions that may not serve this greater picture and can more easily push them aside.
Remembering that the decision to fulfill your destiny is always a choice can be empowering. Knowing you are fulfilling your destiny because you want to, rather than because you have to, can make a huge difference. When you are freed from obligation, obstacles in your way become challenges to be overcome, and the journey becomes an adventure rather than the obligatory steps you are being forced to take. Your destiny may be waiting for you, but whether or not you meet your destiny is up to you. Your fate is in your hands.