You may remember, I planned a homebirth and instead got a c-section. Yet, I have got to say I felt remarkably at peace, as I moved through the process. Somebody recently asked me what one piece of practical advice I would share with someone about to give birth, who wanted to stay calm and centred. Me being me, I found it hard to stop at ‘one’. Everything below is what worked for me, a description, rather than a prescription.
Two things leap to the top of the list. The first came before delivery. In my ‘Birthing from Within‘ class they led us through this meditation, they call it confronting your tigers (or your fears). The second is a flower essence mix I took during labour to help with my energy and with staying strong and true to myself (in making decisions regarding the choices that come up).
So, the ‘facing your tigers’ meditation, if I remember correctly is just this: first think of the thing you are most afraid of regarding birth. For me I had just learned my baby was breech so my fear was that she wouldn’t turn and I’d have to have a cesarean. Then you imagine that ‘worst case scenario’ in detail and how you would feel. Then put a big cross through that image in your mind. Next, open your eyes and think what you would need to be able to cope with that same scenario. For me it was ‘acceptance’ although it could be something very practical too, like support, music, talking to the doctor first, whatever… Next you go in and visualise the same scenario but with this thing you needed. For me I saw my daughter coming out triumphantly through a window in my belly and I became sure that whichever way she came out was going to be amazing and in accordance to God/the Universe’s plan. A great serenity came over me since then. You can repeat for every fear you find inside yourself.
The flower essences I took were Australian Bush Flower Essences and they were outstanding (as always). I really didn’t feel tired, even though my labour lasted 30 hours!!! and I felt very centered and in tune with my higher self or intuition in making any choices (for example regarding who could be in the room, whether to go for a certain intervention and when, etc.). I would suggest identifying what you feel you are most likely to need help with during the labour and take ABF Essences which target that.
Go here for a list of essences. They are amazing, truly!
My combination of essences, which I mixed myself at home, included Macrocarpa (for energy) and Sturt Desert Pea (for staying in and trusting my own truth) among others – seven in total. I am sure it was the essences that enabled me to say I could go another 8 hours, if needed (till morning) after having gone through 30 already!
A couple of tennis balls pushed between lower back and the wall or the bed are useful for a while to alieviate lower back pain. After that I really wanted a person pushing on my lower back, hard. That really helped.
With breathing I found that for me, personally, that K. breathing deeply WITH me was much better than someone saying ‘breathe in… breathe out’!
Additionally, I really benefitted from watching videos of real births and reading the inspiring birth stories in Ina May Gaskin’s books. I found reading and seeing real births helped me gain a more realistic grasp of what it would be like. It was especially good for K to see them too, to ready himself for what was to come.
Plus I would recommend the documentary ‘The Business of Being Born’ produced by Ricky Lake (which we saw online, here). It is very illuminating as it discusses the medical, financial and human backdrop to birthing in western countries.
Apart from that, just go with it and stay in the moment… which I found happened naturally: mind, body and soul are all focussed as each contraction or surge pulls you inexorably into the Now. I rode each wave of sensation without anticipating what was to come or dwelling on what had passed and I found the pain was bearable. Or at least each rush reached a peak of pain which was excruciating but lasted, at that maximum intensity, only a few seconds – and I knew that so even if for those seconds I thought I was going to die, seconds later all was well and I was singing show tunes in my head again and thinking ‘I can do this. I am doing this!’
Trust in your spirit’s intuition and surrender to what is, meeting what arises. Breathe.