I have just reached 34 weeks in my pregnancy, and so my thoughts are turning towards the impending birth, the agony of labour, and the fact that I haven’t prepared anything for my baby yet, whoops! Actually, I feel quite relaxed about the whole thing. My daughter was born after a labour of approximately 13 hours, and although it ended in a forceps delivery and episiotomy (which I do not wish to suffer again), I felt pretty good about the whole experience.
While I was pregnant for my first time, I attended pregnancy yoga classes. They were fabulous. Not only did they give me a couple of hours of ‘me’ time once a week in the company of other women with shared experiences, but they prepared me for labour. The teacher is a wonderful lady who was very relaxed, helpful and taught from experience. Alongside the women-only classes, I took my husband to a couple of workshops designed to prepare us for the labour itself, and my husband enjoyed that opportunity to be involved and learn about his role in the process.
I don’t know much about hypnobirthing, but an article in the Huffington Post caught my attention. Apparently the Duchess of Cambridge is considering hypnobirthing for her royal delivery. It sounds very similar to the yoga breathing exercises I used during labour. There is no mystery and magic about natural labour. We have become a society where we focus only on pain and discomfort. We forget that the more we focus on pain, the more we feel it. Our mind and body will manifest whatever we think about the most, whether that be a delightful experience, or a difficult one. This concept might be hard to accept if you are a person that has suffered negative experiences, but it is something I believe in wholeheartedly.
When my waters broke, I was nervous, and when my contractions started, I was in agony. There is no other way to describe it. However, rather than waste all my energy screaming and shouting, I calmed my mind by breathing deeply and I focused on letting the contractions run their course. It didn’t take away the pain, but it did help me to work through it calmly and effectively. Once I was in established labour, my husband took charge of playing the meditation CDs I had chosen for the event, he helped me to count down my breathing patterns, and he was on hand to offer food and drink throughout. In fact, I couldn’t have done it without him. He may not realise this, but he was a key factor in helping me through what is a painful and intense process.
Ultimately, we women have lots of choices for giving birth here in the Western world. We are very lucky to have the facilities of decent hospitals, specialist birthing centres, and the option for home birth if we prefer. My midwife has suggested I try a water birth for my second baby, or even a home birth, but personally it doesn’t appeal to me. My hospital is easily accessible, and I would rather give birth in the hospital than at home, more for the practicalities than anything. My husband has said that this time he is choosing our music, because my daughter appeared to fall asleep during labour, which is why the surgeons had to intervene. Apparently now we will have no relaxation music, but we might have a bit of heavy metal… oh dear!