“It is not painful and once it is over you will have forgotten all about it.” is what my mum used to keep telling me and my sister about the wonder of birth. Giving birth has always been a natural and peaceful event for generations of women in my family and close circle of friends. Although my great grandmother died after the birth of my nan (that was during the tough 40s in Europe), it never occured to me that birthing could be dangerous at all. I suppose it all comes down to how the story has been passed on from one generation to the next.
I was taken by surprise about the high ceasarean and medical intervention rates in current times. In fact, I found it impossible to encounter a mother with a normal birthing experience in my corporate workplace (an ASX listed multinational company with private health insurance for all employees). After continuously being told of difficulties during the birth experience, I found that my own confidence had begun to be shattered.
So I began to prepare for the birth of my child as best that I could. I joined active birthing yoga classes and undertook a course in calmbirthing with my partner Marco. From week 35 I drank raspberry leave tea and ate a spoon of linseed each day. I meditated to the calmbirthing CDs several times a week whilst practicing yoga positions that would favour the ideal positioning of the fetus. I also sought the help of an accupunterist and got some herbal mix of my naturepath to aid recovery after birth. Marco practiced accupressure points on me for natural painrelief.
On Sunday afternoon, 11 days prior to the official due date, I had my first light contractions, about seven minutes apart. This could possibly not be the real thing! I took one panadol and went to bed at 8:30pm. I knew that I had to conserve energy as much as I could.
Monday morning I woke up with some increased contractions, now about seven minutes apart and I also had what is called the “show”. Maybe the real thing was going to happen soon...I rang my midwife who advised to stay home as long as I could. I slighly panicked since we weren´t really prepared to leave at the time. I told Marco who was taken by suprise. That day I spent cleaning the house, doing the last bit of washing, preparing the changing station and repacking my hospital bag whilst resting in between activities. My midwife rang back in the early afternoon to see how I was going...contractions were down to 25-30 minutes. What was going on? “Your body is practising, it could take another couple of days or weeks.” I took two panadol and went to bed early again.
On Tuesday morning I woke up and the contractions were gone. Maybe the panadols are still working? I rang my mum who told me they were possibly practice contractions and my sister had them too with one of her babies which ended up giving birth three (!) weeks later. Great, Marco had already put on his out of office on for his parental leave of two weeks.
We went for a walk to get a coffee and a chai tea for me (contains cinamon which is supposed to start labour). On the way back I noticed some more intense surges, in fact it was difficult to walk straight down the stairs...was that the real thing? In the morning I had noticed already the lack of hunger and my body somehow shutting down (emptying my bowels etc). It was 10am and the real thing had started. I made myself comfortable in the living room. I don´t quite recall how the coming hours passed, but somehow between watching the Shakira concert, doing pelvic tilts, dancing out the contractions, going up and down the stairs, listening to the calmbirthing yoga CD and leaning forward in between contractions it was 5pm. Contractions were now between 3-5min apart. I wanted to go to the hospital and rang my midwife. She recommended to meet at 7pm. An hour later I was sure this was the real thing. I had the urge to push and told Marco that we had to leave now! Thankfully we only live 12min away from the hospital. The car ride was probably the worst of the whole birth since I couldn´t move. I surely scared some people with the strange noises I was making on the back seat from the open window.
We got to the hospital at 7pm. My midwife wasn´t there yet and the ladies from the pregnancy assesment unit were quite hesitant in taking on my case. However, when they saw me having contractions every 2 minutes apart they offered to go straight to the birthing suite. “You can just push that baby out”, said the midwife that examined me. I could not believe it...I was fully dilated and not far away now from holding our baby.
It took another 25min of pushing. Leaning forward I focused on my body. Marco was sitting next to me stroking my hand. I didn´t want to be touched at the most I wanted my hand to be held. My thoughts went to one of our favourite spots on the NSW coast where we like to go camping on weekends. Soon we can take out little precious bundle of joy there!
Somehow it felt like running a half marathon. The finishing line was in sight but still a long way to go. It took a couple of strong pushes and we had our beautiful baby girl Emily. Another push and the placenta came out.
I was thrilled...the three of us had made it. I was now a mum and Marco was a Dad of this tiny little creature that had grown in my womb in the last 9 months. What an amazing experience! I rang my mum straight away to tell her the news. “You were right, giving birth is not painful”, I said to her. And if it was, I probably had already forgotten.