Guest post from Lorna, I Knitted Me a Beach
Lorna’s Very Different Birth Stories
To say my two experiences of birth were like chalk and cheese would be an understatement. The only similarity between the two was that I was 9 days over my due date with both.
I thought I was as prepared as I could be first time round. But when my waters broke just as I was getting in to bed one evening, with the pains starting shortly after, the last thing in the world I felt I could cope with was giving birth. All I craved was a good nights sleep!
A sleepless night spent in early labour, gave way to a morning of ever increasing pains and so we made our way to the hospital just before lunchtime. Once there, the pains were so intense in my back I was physically sick. This, plus the utter exhaustion I felt due to lack of sleep resulted in me feeling completely overwhelmed and out of control. I just could not cope with the pain, so I requested an epidural.
Finally, close to midnight my daughter was born. It was a struggle, she had to be delivered using forceps and I was torn quite badly. I was disappointed that the whole experience was not at all how I’d imagined it to be. However with a new healthy baby to look after, I put these feelings to one side and instead focused on raising this tiny being as best I could. The moment I looked down at my daughter shortly after her birth, cradling her in my arms, a huge wave of love and overwhelming responsibility for her consumed me and I tried to put the birth behind me.
Three years later I fell pregnant again. During the early months I concentrated on keeping myself well, eating healthily and doing a lot of walking. As my bump started to grow, giving birth was getting nearer to becoming a reality. At first I panicked. I did not want a repeat of my last experience. I wanted to be in control. I wanted to experience what it feels like to push, I wanted to remain positive and use that positive energy to make the experience the best it could be. I bought a book, Blooming Birth by Lucy Atkins, and I read and re-read it several times. I was going to be in control. I was going to channel my breathing in a positive way. Giving birth is a natural process resulting in the most tremendous, life changing outcome and therefore I wanted our birth journey to be the best it could be, for both of us.
This time round I bought a birthing ball. Why had I not had one first time around? These are the best thing for easing the pressure that you feel down below, particularly towards the end of pregnancy. I would bounce up and down and roll about on that ball every day to relieve the back aches and pains, whilst watching TV, It was so much more comfortable than the sofa.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, we had friends from the Netherlands come to stay with us. As expected, discussions soon turned to labour and giving birth. Hearing how over there, the approach to childbirth is that it’s a natural process, with most women giving birth at home. There is much less medical interventions and pain relief is not routinely offered to a labouring woman. It all sounded less clinical and so much more liberating. Hearing this, I was even more determined to apply the same approach to my upcoming childbirth experience. My due date came and went and I worked at trying to remain focused, mindful, positive and in control. I practiced my breathing techniques as mentioned in the book and kept my friends words at the forefront of my mind.
When the time came, I was kneeling down to kiss my three year old goodnight, when I arose to feel a popping sensation, which were my waters breaking. It was around 8pm, I felt excited, yet calm. This was it, it was starting! My contractions set in shortly after and with each one I applied my breathing techniques and repeated positive messages over and over in my mind. As midnight approached, my contractions had intensified, so we made our way to hospital.
Once there I tried to stay as mobile as possible. As each contraction grew stronger, I did opt for some gas and air, which helped me to channel my breathing and I found it exhilarating. With each contraction that past, my excitement grew and my husband and the midwife were right there next me, constantly praising me and encouraging me. We were experiencing this together. We were a team and our goal was in sight. I remained upright, kneeling on the bed, facing the wall. When the urge to push overwhelmed me, I was completely consumed by the moment and I found my body just took over and did its thing. I will never forget that feeling. It was so intense and liberating. I was in control of each push that was bringing my baby into the world. Finally, just after 2am, my daughter was born. I was elated. I immediately wished I could do it all again. I felt so proud that I’d kept my focus and enjoyed every moment of the experience. They say two births are never the same and it was definitely true in my case.
Thank you so much, Lorna!! You’ve definitely given me hope for a second baby now…I did try really hard to be focused and positive with the first but I think in actual fact, I just wasn’t prepared! Hopefully I can be like you and have very different births! Oh, and thank you for the book recommendation, I’ll definitely try and get a copy (should there be a number 2!!).