When I fell pregnant with my first baby, we were overjoyed and despite a little morning sickness, I had a fairly trouble free pregnancy. However, people kept asking me how I felt about the labour which seemed to be fast approaching. I was under the impression that the labour would hurt, but that I would get through it. After all, that’s what everyone told me, so it must be true.
Then I got chatting to a very good friend, who offered to lend me a book and some Hypnobirthing CD’s. To say that I was sceptical about the CD’s is an understatement, but I decided I had nothing to lose by listening to them and so, in fits of giggles, we played them before going to bed. They were very relaxing, but for the most part I fell asleep long before the tracks had finished, so I was sure they couldn’t be working.
The book was Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth and this captivated me. She seemed to understand that giving birth was a completely natural process and if we trusted our bodies, we could overcome most issues that, in a hospital environment, can often become medicalised. It opened my eyes to the fact that there are so many different kinds of birth, but that they can all be positive.
I still brushed most of it away as hippy nonsense and yet the apprehension about my impending labour seemed to be decreasing. I went over my due date and whilst some friends let this bother them, I simply enjoyed the extra time, relaxing as much as possible.
The intensity of my contractions calmed so much, I asked the midwife if I was still having them. They slowly increased, but in the warm water everything seemed much more comfortable and manageable.
When everything began in the middle of the night, I was very calm about it and also a little excited. My contractions came and went on and off for the rest of the day, I slept a little here and there and generally tried to relax. About 7pm they became a little more intense and by 9pm I wondered if I had left things too long at home and was panicking that we wouldn’t make it to the hospital in time, but somehow we did.
Once in the midwife led unit, I was able to get into the birthing pool and I can only describe it as heaven. The intensity of my contractions calmed so much, I asked the midwife if I was still having them. They slowly increased, but in the warm water everything seemed much more comfortable and manageable. As the feelings became more intense, I remembered some of the breathing and directions from the CD’s. I began to visualise a dial and was able to turn down the intensity by mentally turning the dial. I couldn’t achieve this with every contraction, but I definitely managed it and was blown away by the fact that just listening to a CD could have such a profound effect. And so, we continued like that, using the breathing and visualisations on and off.
And then, our little boy was born in the pool. My pain threshold is not known to be high, my parents had always said they would leave the country when I gave birth. And yet, I had done it… with no pain relief. I felt like I could take on the world and I knew it was largely down to the CD’s.