Life lessons learned from childbirth…
One of the things I love doing most is helping others see that they can achieve whatever they put their minds to. It’s all about mindset and whether you believe you can, or believe you can’t. Same goes with childbirth, which is why I’m sharing the story of my second daughter’s birth here. If you didn’t catch it, read my first daughter’s birth story here.
So we called this little cherub Honey because I really wanted (needed??) a sweet little child after my very spirited and independent first. I’m hoping her name will help her grow into that.
Honey was fifteen days overdue. These 15 days were tough for me, not because of being huge and pregnant (although sleeping was uncomfortable toward the end) but because of the pressure I was receiving. I had people calling me saying (inadvertently) that I was putting the baby at risk (what?) and asking in a concerned tone “Oooh, what are you going to do?” My answer was always: “I am going to do nothing. I believe strongly in the natural process of birth and labour, and I am going to let it unfold.” And unfold it did (eventually….)
Lesson Number 1: Don’t take on other people’s fears or negative energy. Ever. Just don’t do it. It’s their stuff, not yours.
Lesson Number 2: Don’t do things just because everyone else is doing them. Just because the majority of people go to hospital to have an induction if their baby is ‘late’, consider your options. I researched induction while I was overdue and the fact is that there is (in the most part) very little reason to induce healthy babies and low-risk mothers.
My labour started at 11pm on Sunday night three weeks ago. My hubby (Rowan) was asleep so I decided not to wake him, and I lay in bed enjoying the contractions and texting with my gorgeous friend Dani who kept telling me jokes and making me laugh. Every now and then I’d have to pause to have a contraction, and eventually I had to tell her I couldn’t text any more because they were too strong.
By about 12am I couldn’t do the contractions on my own any more so I told Row and we moved downstairs. We’d set up our house for the birth several weeks before but there was still stuff to be done. I got busy lighting the tens of candles around our lounge room, putting on music, and pulling the Powerades out from the back of the fridge. Row lit the fire (it was a really cold night) and then he started filling the birthing pool. In between all of this, my contractions were getting pretty strong. In Milla’s birth (my first daughter’s) there was a long and steady build up of contractions (her labour was 23 hours) so I could integrate them easily, but these were fast and furious! Seems the little baby who’d kept me waiting all this time had made up her mind and was not going to wait any longer.
We called our doula Rochelle (a doula’s a birth support person) who arrived half an hour later. A few people have asked why we needed a doula this time around, but there was no question in my mind that we’d do better having the extra support. Firstly, a doula can provide a female perspective/touch that the husband can’t, and an extra pair of hands (especially when you’re birthing at home like we do) can be really helpful. Rochelle helped me with contractions when Row was off boiling kettles for the pool (yep, we ran out of hot water that night!) and then they switched roles and she did ‘kettle duty’. Also, I find that having a doula who has birthed herself before (Rochelle has four kids) and believes in the natural process of birth really gives you confidence while you’re in labour.
Lesson Number 3: In life, as in birth, you can never have enough support. Surround yourself with people who give you confidence in your own abilities, and people that you can draw strength from.
By this point I knew things were heating up as the contractions were really intense, but neither Row, Rochelle or I thought it’d move this quickly. We had a few discussions as to whether we’d call the midwife (it was past 2am by now) and decided we shouldn’t just yet. It seemed like just a minute after we’d made that decision that the contractions got even stronger and I said that perhaps we should call.
And lucky we did! I started to really want to have the baby as soon as we’d notified the midwife but knew she had at least a 25 minute drive to our place, so I had to hang on. Rochelle coached me on how to hold back, and it felt like years before the midwife finally arrived.
As soon as she arrived, I jumped (ok, let’s rephrase that), I climbed gingerly into the pool and waited for the next contraction. In two contractions the bub’s head was out, and then her body slid out easily with the next. The midwife was only there for 15 minutes before I had the baby, and the whole labour had taken just over four and a half hours.
The most beautiful thing about this birth was that I did it all myself.
Lesson Number 4: I love this saying: ‘If it is to be, then it’s up to me.’ Nothing truer can be said about women in childbirth. While you can have all the support in the world around you, no one can have your baby for you. I’ve heard of women becoming like damsels in distress in labour, reaching out to others and hoping they can take away the pain, or hoping they can have the baby for them. Ain’t gonna happen. At some point during your labour you realise that it’s just you, and nobody can do it for you.
We didn’t have any interventions whatsoever with this birth and no one assisted me (physically.) No one touched me once during the second phase of the labour, as I delivered my baby. I was in the pool by myself and listened to my body and knew exactly what to do (helps if you’ve done it before mind you!) The result was that I birthed a 4.15kg baby with no pain relief and no tears or stitches required. I believe that this is due to a) the water – birthing in water is so gentle; b) the environment we created – to be in your own home with all your own things and smells and creature comforts is such a blessing; c) the fact that we could control who we wanted there and both of those people were people I loved and respected d) my preparation for this birth – I watched DVDs, got out my old books, journalled about the experience I wanted and attended pre-natal classes again, to get back into the birthing energy; and e) I strongly believe that as women we are in perfect design to give birth and there are so many benefits (to both mother and child) if we can do it gently, powerfully and naturally.