I sometimes wonder if birth is a big conspiracy against women. You’re pregnant, not necessarily able to sleep comfortably for long periods of time, often have heart burn and your bladder feels like it’s the size of a pea. This is your lead up to the most intense experience of your life!
Labor is exhausting. There are no two ways about it. It’s emotional and a transformational experience, and now that time has passed it is less sharp and painful in my mind. (I can see now why people line up for more than one, but immediately after.. no so much! )
I gave birth to my son almost 3 months ago now, he was 9.4 pounds. We did it vaginally with no drugs. I’m going to share some of my experiences and first hand knowledge over the next few blog posts.
For labor there is really only two major pieces of advice I can share:
- Focus on your breath.
It is the one thing you have total control over in labor. If I let myself cry out, then the pain was so much more intense. I did long slow controlled breathing in and out. It helped to ride the wave of contractions.
- Let yourself be in the moment.
What ever your fantasy of birth, (and we all have one, and it will be shattered) allow yourself to go into the altered state needed. I heard a midwife once say about the mother at the time of birth “She goes to the stars to collect the soul of her baby and bring it back.”
Birth really is allowing yourself to transcend your need to control and to just be in the moment.
Your partner is there to do all the thinking tasks. Your job is to focus on your breath and let the baby and your body do the work. Nature knows what its doing.
I had 2 mantras I kept repeating and my wonderful husband reminded me of the first and it was very helpful
“My body was made to do this.” – Women have been birthing for thousands of years and the body has evolved to do the action quite efficiently.
”Open, loose and relaxed” I kept visualising the muscles of the cervix opening, especially on the outward breath.
What was Labor like? I had back labor. My son was head down but was facing the wrong way, his face was pushed into my sacrum, (his nose was squished flat when he came out because it has been pressed into my spine) and he had to turn himself around during labor. Back labor doesn’t mean much to people who haven’t gone through it, but it is said to be the worst labor pain ever and I would have to agree. Each contraction felt like someone grabbed my left hip & buttocks muscles and was crushing them, it was pretty intense. And very little that I did actually relieved the pain. I had a whole plan of using Essential oils, different positions with my hubby, different massage techniques, and in the end everything went out the window. Sitting made it worse, lying was agony, the Essential Oils offered a small amount of relief, we didn’t do any massage, walking was a challenge, I couldn’t stand very well and in the end my saving grace was hot water.
I stood in the shower for 3 hours at home with hot water pounding on my back (a friend pointed out I could have taken my fit ball into the shower with me to sit on, but it didn’t even cross my brain at the time!). Thank god for never ending hot water services. I twisted my hips during the contractions to relieve some of the pressure. with the water as hot as I could stand it. When I got into the birthing center I got into the Jacuzzi and my husband ran hot water on my back continuously till it was time to push. (I will share a more in depth version of my birth story in a blog post to come.)
After chatting with my friends and reading books about birth stories, I’ve learned it is so important to make peace with what ever is going to happen will be perfect during your birth. The pattern I’ve noticed is that the women who were on the extreme of wanting to do 100% natural and no drugs, no matter what, were often the ones who, in the end, had to balance that lopsided thinking, and go through the experience of having an epidural, drugs to help, and in some cases a cesar.
If you feel like you are one of these people and the thought of having to use medical intervention presses a big button for you, and all you can see is the negative side, then my suggestion is this: Write out 100 benefits (how it would be a positive thing for you and your baby) of having intervention in your labor. eg: keeps your baby alive, makes it a smoother birth for you, provides a safe environment etc… (You will have to dig deep from some of the answers. When you have to stop and think about it, that’s when you start to get to the heart of it).
You will, as you write them out come to the understanding of how there is positive and negatives to both experiences, (100% natural vs medical intervention). It will free up your emotional attachment to either experience and you will go into your birth with an open mind and connected heart.
The rest will unfold as it should.