birthing from within

It is my daughter’s 18 month day (and I am 37 weeks with my second pregnancy) and since that time, I have known a number of people who have become mothers. I feel really blessed by the birthing experience that I had, for a few reasons.

  1. My baby was born healthy, vibrant, present. She seemed awake from her first moments.
  2. I gave birth feeling supported and held by the birthing team I had. I felt my wishes were heard, acknowledged and respected. I didn’t feel pressured or controlled.
  3. I was able to let my body move, to try different positions, to be in a pool, to follow my body’s instincts. I was guided in this by the presence of my doula, who gave some alternative positions I could use when I felt stuck.

 

For this to all happen, I credit my birth preparation, which for me, was multi-dimensional.

  1. PHYSICAL – I did not feel comfortable doing regular yoga practice, even modified for pregnancy. For me, possibly because of my long history of training, it was important to do pregnancy specific practice. I know not everyone feels this way. I still wanted to be mindful and present and strong but I did not feel the need to be athletic.
  2. PHYSICAL EDUCATION – I also felt it really important to move my body in specific ways to facilitate birthing, to practice and consciously feel the changing angles of the pelvis in movement, to facilitate the widening of the base of the pelvis to pass the baby through.I felt it important to understand the movement of the pelvis, and what it does in different positions. One of my (spontaneous) birthing mantras was “Sitting Bones Wide” which is a position facilitated by bending the knees and squatting (which was how I gave birth). It facilitates the greatest possible space in the pelvic floor, to give the baby the most space to pass through.
  3. VISUALIZATION – This part of my birth preparation came from a book called Birthing From Within, by Pam England. I used drawing and art to help anchor my feelings surrounding the birth. I did a number of drawings with different intentions, and they seemed to have imprinted my psyche with qualities that then manifest in my body. Drawing felt like intuitive instructions to the body. You can see some of them here. My (spontaneous) birthing yantra (visual meditative aid) was an intuitive drawing which I identified as my tissues stretching gently to facilitate the baby being born. I had no tearing, and so I assume this worked.
  4. MANIFESTATION – Because I would not know my midwives, I decided it was really important that I energetically “invite” midwives with the right energy to my birth. After watching The Business of Being Born, I used 2 phrases to describe the kind of assistance I wanted from a midwife: Guardian of the Safety and Witness to my Process. To be honest, I would not use those 2 phrases exactly again. But it is what I got. When the midwives arrived, they set up resuscitation equipment, something my doula had never seen before. She asked why, and they responded, for safety. I feel that because I asked, energetically, for midwives who would hold that space, I got midwives who did exactly that.
  5. BIRTH PLANNING – I read a few different birth plans, and when I wrote one, I really focused on what I knew to be possible, while leaving space for circumstances to arise that I had not forseen. I articulated my wishes in a way that left space if there were challenges or emergencies, so that I was mentally prepared. Similarly, having been present for a birth before my own, I had a few thoughts about what to expect, and when a suggestion came that I didn’t think was appropriate, I felt confident in the moment to state my desires and stick with it (it didn’t hurt that Iona was born very shortly after).
  6. TRUST – The massive project for me was to affirm my trust in my own body. At one point, there were questions from midwives and doula as to whether my labour had stopped or slowed. Inside myself, I knew it had not, and I knew to trust my instincts in that moment.

 

My advise to anyone who wants to facilitate a natural birth, or even to have control over the environment and feelings within an assisted birth, is to do 2 things.

  1. Get a doula. If you have never heard of a doula, you can read up here. A doula is a neutral person, expereinced with birth, and can give both the new mother and father peace of mind, practical assistance (my doula ran up and down the stairs with my husband bringing hot water for the bath!) and a sense of trust and space in the process.
  2. Prepare your mind and body. I chose to approach birth stories and images with a sense of distance and space, taking information and inspiration, but not getting invested or scared about birthing. My own process, visualisation and clarity was more important to me than birth stories and images form other people. Giving birth is one of the most extreme physical experiences one can go through. Having the visual image of other people in that moment of extremity can bring up fear, value judgements, ideas of what we should or shouldn’t do or be in birth. I wanted to keep myself clear of that, and allow whatever my body needed to do to happen to facilitate birthing.

Resources:
I found my doula here:
http://doula.org.uk/

they do lots of prenatal training and support in North London:
http://activebirthcentre.com/

This book is helpful, if a little too restrictive for me. But I used their homeopathic tissue salts, and found them SUPER helpful. Also some other descriptions like perineal massage are really good.
http://gentlebirthmethod.com/

Here’s my best book:
http://www.birthingfromwithin.com/products/birthing-from-within

This is who I did my prenatal training with:
http://www.birthlight.co.uk/

Uma is amazing for prenatal yoga training:
http://www.wombyoga.org/training/pregnancy-yoga

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