WE HAVE GOT THIS
Birth is mysterious and there is no certainty as to how it will unfold, it is a journey with infinite possibilities. Birth challenges us to face this rather uncomfortable space of not knowing and surrendering to the unknown. Despite this uncertainty there is so much that can be done to prepare for birth in all its beautiful forms.
In my first pregnancy, despite my best laid plans, I needed to accept that medical intervention was required. It was a change in direction to what I had wished for but what I discovered was how valuable my Calmbirth preparation was in assisting me to embrace the experience with calmness, confidence and joy. Here is my story.
I was 40 weeks to the day and after weeks of minimal change in my fundal height measurements (a way of assessing the baby’s growth) I was advised to have an ultrasound to check on the growth and placental function. Later that day, I received a call from the obstetric registrar with the result; they advised me to head in to the birthing unit to start the induction process that night.
My mind went into a spin…I wanted a natural birth, no intervention, no pain relief, I didn’t want a caesarean, I wanted to go home with my husband and baby straight after the birth….. I floundered around until my husband came home and I looked at him strong, steady and calm and he said the words I needed to hear. “We need to meet each step as it comes, we don’t know what is ahead, but we have got this”. I could breathe again.
You see the Calmbirth program is designed for couples or support people to prepare for birth together. This is exactly what we had done in the weeks between attending the course and this moment. Evenings together doing the guided relaxations, breathing practice, revisiting our birth wishes and discussing how we would work together. As my pregnancy progressed evenings were spent practicing the acupressure points and massage techniques.
It was a beautiful time of connection, excitement and absolute longing to meet our baby.
So, on this night hearing those words I came back to what I knew. I knew how to breathe and bring myself back to the moment. From then on in it was about meeting each thing one moment at a time.
To my relief I was already 1-2 centimetres dilated that evening. The prostaglandin for ripening my cervix was given and we settled to bed for whatever rest would come. It was exciting feeling my body respond with period like pain tightening’s through the night. My husband held me, got me heat packs and was tuned in to whatever I might need next.
The next morning when my waters were broken, my contractions immediately increased in frequency and intensity. Together we drew on all the tools we had learnt; we breathed, moved, rocked, connected and laughed. It was joyful. My husband applied pressure to the acupressure points to stimulate contractions, whilst I maintained an inward focus on my breath to allay my chatty mind. Despite our efforts my contractions eased off and it became clear I would need the next step in the induction process; Syntocinon (synthetic oxytocin).
As each contraction came, I stood and rocked my pelvis in circular motions. It was instinctual and rhythmic, helping me to focus inwards and my breath once again being the resource I drew most on. My husband was now applying pressure to my sacral acupressure points, he was there for every single contraction, I couldn’t do this without him. In the background I could hear my baby’s heart galloping away on the CTG machine.
As the syntocinon was increased every half an hour, I found myself mentally tiring although the contractions were completely manageable with my long, slow breaths. I used different positions to rest like the birth ball and all fours. My husband between his acupressure duty provided drinks, light touch massage, words of encouragement and some memorable humour! We were doing this together.
And then something changed, a change that I intuitively knew meant, I was getting close to meeting my baby. It was subtle, not the screamingly intense representations you see in the movies. It was in the realisation that the acupressure points were no longer effective, it was in the feeling of wanting to just keep exhaling and then exhale a little more, it was the midwife in me hearing the words escape that said, ‘I don’t know how much more of this I can do’. Was this transition? Yes!
I was 8cms dilated and the next contraction I was pushing. Deep involuntary heaves from within that I couldn’t supress. ‘Was that really me?’ my chatty mind would say. There was no stopping this! And the strange uncomfortable feeling of a bowling ball moving through my pelvis (that was the image I had at the time)- strange but not painful. I couldn’t believe it!
Before I knew it our midwife was saying to my husband are you ready to catch your baby? My mind was saying are you sure? Then there was my baby’s head and in the next push out slipped our baby!
‘I’ve got a baby, I’ve got a baby, I’ve got a baby!’ I cried over and over. I knew I sounded ridiculous (of course it was a baby!) but what ecstasy to have our exquisitely soft, wet, slippery baby on my chest! We had done it! We had done this together, my husband and I, working together to bring our darling baby boy into our arms.
As I meet couples each month preparing for birth, I share this advice; to put the time in to learn, practice and deeply know your toolkit of Calmbirth skills, they will be there for you in surprising ways on your baby’s Birth day. Whatever birthing journey comes your way meet it as it is one moment at a time. You have got this!