As I am beginning to teach Pregnancy Yoga in Bingley, I am reflecting on how I used yoga during my pregnancy and in labour to have a natural, drug free and surprisingly pain free labour. I know this is not the case for many women and that medical intervention is sometime absolutely necessary. My intention in sharing my birth story is not to make any woman feel regret or disappointment about how they birth their baby. Every pregnancy and labour should be honoured, cherished and appreciated. However, I do feel that there are many scare stories about labour, and not enough stories about natural birth and that is why I am a sharing my story.
I continued my regular yoga practice throughout my pregnancy as well as attended pregnancy yoga workshops and classes, and I am truly indebted to my teachers for all they taught me.
The nitty gritty
I woke up around 4am on Dec 2nd, (the due date!- 5% of babies are born on their due date, which is why I don’t really believe in them, but this little one was punctual!) my plug came out and I started having contractions. I immediately went to my yoga mat, my comfort zone, and began my gentle movements and breathing. I remember thinking, “I really don’t know how people can cope with the discomforts of pregnancy and labour without yoga, I have never been so grateful for my practice.” The contractions became regular quite quickly. I continued to relax at home, breathe, shower, bath, listen to music and my hypnobirthing cd until about noon. We went to the birthing centre – one tip I got was that the car ride is where you can loose your calm because of the stress and the way you sit, so I knelt on the car seat facing backwards (with the seat belt on) listened to music and had my eyes covered. I was 9 centimetres by the time I arrived and got right into the birth pool. My little one was born at 4:20, she actually came out on the bed- in the traditional position you see on tv (knees around your ears) which surprised me as it was the last position I wanted, but my legs were too tired to stand.
I had a ‘toolbox’ of things to help me through the labour instead of drugs- (although I did have 2 paracetamol before leaving for the hospital because I wasn’t entirely sure I would make it there, I really wanted to push but the birth centre was 24 minutes away. I did NOT tell my husband that). I would really recommend pulling together anything you think might help to put in your hospital bag. My toolbox included my breathing practices, yoga, music, water, my husband, and emails from friends and family. I honestly feel that there was not much pain involved, the contractions were manageable because you knew they would pass. The only pain was ‘the ring of fire’ but that didn’t last long because then she was here! I would also say that visualisation helped immensely. (I spent a lot of time imagining how I thought things would go and they pretty much went the way I expected). Before I would have laughed if someone told me that practicing to breathe was so important for birth: of course I know how to breathe! But I did practice, and my breath length went from 20 seconds to 46. And I was really so grateful for that when the contractions came. It is also important to practise relaxing, it is harder than we think to relax, and practising helped me be able to drop back into relaxation over and over again throughout the labour.
I should mention that I was suspected to have gestational diabetes which I managed by diet, and I had to really push and argue my case to be allowed in the birthing centre. I was bullied and scared by doctors and told I would be induced and I may be harming my baby. I researched and read and knew that I had choices, as I felt informed and confident I proceeded to pursue my desire to have a natural birth. I have to give my deepest respect and appreciation for the midwives at Calderdale Birthing Centre that believed in me and helped make my natural birth possible. I would have had a home birth, but I have fibroids and the risk of bleeding was too high.
This is a list of things that I think I found particularly helpful to having a natural birth-
Letting go of fears
Two books I would highly recommend.
If you have any questions, or comments or would like to share your story, I would love to hear from you. Thank you for taking the time to read.