Once I was completely present, focused on only one wave at a time and one breath at a time, the dilation was completely manageable. I guided each breath visually into my cervix; inhalations to create space and exhalations to relax, just like in yoga….
OUR POSITIVE BIRTH STORY – A yoga teacher’s perspective
If what happens at normal childbirth is too much information, stop reading now. A lot of our regular students have wanted to hear our birth story and the reason I wish to share it is how much yoga is needed at birth and how hearing positive birth stories was important to me before birth to go in without fear.
We wanted to wait for the natural onset of labour and allowed the pregnancy to go to the 43rd week. When the waters broke at 42 weeks and nothing happened for 48hr other than finding meconium in the fluids, we agreed to give the baby girl some encouragement and be induced. This was the first reminder of surrendering as we waved goodbye to our dream birth of water immersion. Now with the first intervention of induction, I was going to be stuck on the syntocinon and IV drip, as well as the CTG scan.
Once I got over it, my husband and I were dancing to Jack Johnson for the first couple of hours in the birth suite before the labour kicked in. As the contractions finally started I already had my ‘crisis of confidence’. The issue was time; I was mentally on the linear timeline and watching the large clock above the hospital bed reminded me that not much time had passed yet, compared to the 24h the midwives were predicting for an induced first time birth. Great, I thought. I’m very grateful for my support team of husband and doula who started massaging my back during contractions, and reminded me of the many reasons I wished to avoid as many interventions as possible. They indeed got me over the hump, after which epidural didn’t even cross my mind. Once I was completely present, focused on only one wave at a time and one breath at a time, the dilation was completely manageable. I guided each breath visually into my cervix; inhalations to create space and exhalations to relax, just like in yoga.
All of a sudden after an inhalation I naturally held my breath, and felt an urge to push during this natural breath retention. This second stage of labour lasted a lot longer than what I had anticipated, but again I wasn’t aware of the passage of time. Only later on I heard that out of the 4h 20min labour the pushing took an hour, which the midwives described as bungee jumping, as there was umbilical cord everywhere; around her groin and leg, shoulder and arm as well as the neck. They said, it might have been the cord or the more intense syntocinon induced contractions that squashed the baby, but all of a sudden the fetal heart dropped. At this stage the room was full of doctors and later on I heard I was already severely bleeding at this time. The doctor in charge gave me a serious look and told me the baby needs to come out with the next contraction or they would need to get her out. Because I hadn’t used any pain management for the pushing, I was able to follow the natural urges for perfect timing and find an outer-worldly strength from somewhere; the baby indeed flew out with one push, so fast in fact that no one was able to catch her and she fell into a bucket. Seconds later she was on my chest, and here’s the photo of the happy ending.
Another reason I wanted to share our personal experience (that in no way needs to match anyone else’s) is to highlight how empowering childbirth can be. It can indeed be beautiful and comfortable as well as something that women actively create, rather than something that happens to us. To quote our super mummy Sidsel, it can indeed be such a spiritual here-and-now experience that it feels like a ”mini-enlightenment”.