Just over a year ago I had the most amazing birth experience and I wanted to share it. I know from personal experience that birth doesn't always go the way we want it to and it's not always easy. But I think there can be so much fear and worry around giving birth, especially for first time mothers or for women who have had a difficult or traumatic experience with a previous birth, that beautiful birth stories are important to share to give women confidence and strength that things can be different.
On February 19th I gave birth to baby Max and it was an incredible experience. At about 4am I woke with my first contractions. They weren't painful but I knew from my previous labour that this was the real thing, so I managed to sleep until about 9am. I then spent the day calmly at home, pottering about, watching some TV, making things for our wedding in June, and each time I had a contraction I got on all fours and circled my hips round, as I had been practicing since my pregnancy yoga classes back in 2006 when I was pregnant with my first.
Early in the day I estimated (from previous expereince!) I would give birth at about 10pm, so I paced myself with this in mind. Later that morning my brother-in-law phoned me to tell me that my sister had given birth that morning and their second child was a little baby boy called Elliot. I didn't tell him at the time that I was in labour too but I was incredibly excited that we could actually have our babies on the same day!
At around 4pm I took a bath and my contractions got stronger. The water was so lovely to be in and time passed, as it always does in labour, withouth me realizing. It was about 6pm that I really had to start concentrating on each contraction and we realized that we'd have to start thinking about going to hospital soon. I would have loved to have a home birth but after a c-section with Imogen because she was breech, and forceps with Oren because his shoulders were stuck, that
sadly wasn't an option.
By about 7pm we decided we should start to make a move to hospital as the contractions were taking even more concentration and getting closer together. I realized at this point that I was actually in the transition phase now and really should have left an hour earlier. Whoops! I pushed this thought to the back of my mind to reflect on once I had my baby and certainly didn't say anything to my husband! This stage of labour takes incredible concentration and strength, and it can be the time when you think you can't do it. You get hot and sweaty and can feel sick. Taking one contraction at a time I made it to the car. This was going to be the hardest part. I couldn't do yoga in the car, so each contraction required deep, deep relaxation and breathing. I completely zoned out of what was going on around me (the small matter of a motorway journey to the hospital!) and fully focused in on the fact that very soon I was going to meet my baby.
Getting from the car to the maternity ward took a while too but with each contraction I just stopped and worked through it with yoga. When I arrived at the labour ward I couldn't quite get my head around the fact they were asking me to give them a sample and then they needed to weigh me. I was about to give birth. Literally about to give birth. I have no idea how I managed to do those things for them but somehow I did and they let me go through to my room.
When I got there a lovely midwife explained that she only had an hour left, so we'd have to meet another midwife in a while. I thought to myself that she was probably going to meet my baby before she left to go home!
The next part is the part when I really wish I'd been allowed to labour at home. My contractions were so close together that getting up on to the bed to be examined was almost impossible and lying down was not something I wanted to be doing this close to giving birth, as I feared I could easily get stuck in a position I didn't want to be in. Not because the midwife would have kept me there but because it was just so difficult to move again.
I was 9cm when I was examined and moments after my waters broke. The next thing I knew another midwife had arrived and suddenly I was pushing my baby out, and this time it was actually happening. I could feel the baby moving in a way I couldn't when my poor 2nd baby was stuck. It was incredible. As if it had all been arranged in advance the midwife that came in used the phrase "breathe your baby out". How lucky was I to have a midwife that practices yoga and was completely on my wavelength? I just couldn't believe it. The thing I love about this part is that between pushes the relief is amazing and gave me the chance to check the time, to check that this was really happening and that this baby was really coming out without any assistance. And not only that but on the very same time that my nephew had been born!
I did everything I had been taught to do by my yoga teacher and hynobirthing teacher, and I went with my body and my breath, and my baby boy arrived at 9.30pm (just 30 minutes earlier than I estimated all those hours ago!) so calmly and beautifully. It was so wonderful and precious. And perfect.
Giving birth to my baby Max was just so incredible and empowering. I was amazed that after two complicated births I had actually given birth in the way that I always knew my body (and mind) could, without any drugs but a whole lot of self-belief, yoga, breathing, relaxation, and calmness.
The next day we took Max home and he met his big brother and sister, who fell in love with him straight away. It is so wonderful to see them all together.
All births are special and amazing but, for me, the feeling of strength, power and independence this birth gave me will stay with my forever.