I had planned an active birth and never doubted my ability to birth my daughter naturally, with no drugs or intervention. As a yoga teacher, I had spent my entire pregnancy nurturing myself and my daughter and our deep connection. I was looking forward to experiencing what I believed was to be a profoundly joyous event. As the 14th approached, I felt ‘ready’ and was calm as I had long felt that my baby would be born with the full moon and had been telling her to “hold on until Daddy comes home”. Reece finally arrived home (from sea) and I relaxed, knowing that the birth wasn’t far away and that I needed to get groceries, which I did before going home.
On that same Tuesday night, while in bed, I felt some subtle sensations within my abdomen and knew that something was happening. I said as much to Reece, read for a bit and went to sleep almost reluctantly, curious and full of quiet anticipation, knowing it could still be days. I think that for Reece, there was still a sense of unreality about it all. In the morning the sensations were continuing and gradually intensifying and I decided to call Jean, our midwife to let her know what was happening. She told me I was in pre labour, to stay active and I’d have a baby by the next day. Reece and I spent the day ‘nesting’ and I even carried a wardrobe (a light one) up the stairs!
All day Wednesday I was aware of the sensations continuing and intensifying. The excitement and curiosity continued to build, even as I tried to relax mentally. By evening I started timing my contractions and I spent a lot of time in the bath with essential oils of geranium, clary sage and lavender, meditating and visualizing the opening of the cervix as a lotus. I remained calm and excited at the same time. I never doubted the ability and knowledge of my body. By 8.30pm I thought I should get some sleep if I were going to have a baby soon, as I was pretty sure I would. At 10.00pm I gave up on the idea of sleep, went walking under the moon and then got back into the bath. At 11.00pm I got back into bed, put some lavender on my pillow and slept until 1am when I woke with a jolt. I had another walk in the moon and another bath, thinking to let Jean sleep for a while longer, as I knew she had been up all night with another birth the night before. At 3am we arranged to meet Jean at the birth centre and I then called Mum. The rushes were getting stronger and required more of my attention. I started focusing on my breath and moving into myself more.
We arrived about 2 minutes before Jean, who promptly got me on the bed to check Jarrah’s heartbeat. While this was happening I had another contraction which firmly reminded me that I did not want to be lying down. I got into the bath and into ‘the zone’ rocking on all fours during contractions and relaxing in between with Reece massaging me with an oil blend I had made. The sensations got pretty heavy fairly quickly and I began to squat in the bath, breathing into each moment. Reece had skillfully painted a vision I had had with symbolism which reminded me of my power, calmness and the divine energy which was there for me to call on. I knew without a doubt that my baby would enter the world safely and in an environment of calm and loving tenderness.
Mum arrived about 4am and after a while Jean wanted me to get out of the bath and onto the toilet for a change of position, and also to encourage the bowel movement that had been annoying me since Tuesday morning. With the next contraction, out it came and I got back into the bath. Transition ended and my baby began her descent down the birthing canal, the rushes increasing in length, frequency and intensity. I had been using a squat position during contractions for a couple of hours. During each contraction I would hold onto Reece with one hand, mum with the other and draw my body forward as I breathed and moaned. After each contraction, I would sit back and relax. After a while I realized I was holding on through my pelvic floor. As I released it, I felt an immediate change in my body and was grateful for my years of yoga and intimate knowledge of my body. I began to push and breathe and relax. Push and breathe and relax, each moment bringing my baby closer.
Our two midwives, who had arrived about 5am, had been in and out for ages and were in the next room when I felt the stinging, burning sensation I had been waiting for. As I felt the actual birth begin, the adrenaline rushed through me and I felt an amazing surge of strength. Finally, she was almost here! I called out “She’s coming!” I reached down and felt my baby’s head! Her hair! She was slimy, so I think my membranes were still intact. Mum climbed into the bath to deliver her granddaughter. Things slowed a little, and one of the midwives told me that baby needed to be born with the next contraction. Done! Out came her shoulder and her little body slithered out and mum handed her into my arms. My baby girl, Jarrah was born. It was 7.35am, the sun was coming up and I knew myself to be blessed. I’ll never forget the moment Jarrah’s slippery little body slithered out and Mum handed her into my arms. I held her little body close and I think I died a little and was born anew at that moment. My daughter’s birth was the most spiritually intense and expanding moment of my life. I will cherish the memory of her birth for my entire life.
We stayed where we were for a while, enjoying the joy and wonder of our creation. After about 10 minutes, I got out of the bath with my daughter in my arms, sat on the toilet and Reece cut the cord. He took his baby girl into his arms for the first time and I was heartbroken to let her go, but wanted so badly to see her in his arms. He was full of quiet wonderment, looking into her eyes and trying to fathom what this now meant. My mum was honoured and humbled by the experience, proud and relieved. I know she wanted to hold her forever and that it was difficult in a way to hand her over.
When Dad arrived and I saw him hold his granddaughter with tears rolling down his cheeks, I hugged him and felt a sense of completeness. I’ve always been a daddy’s girl!
Since Jarrah’s birth, we have all remained fairly calm and content within our family unit. Of course, things aren’t always perfect, but I feel that the nature of my pregnancy and Jarrah’s birth helped us to begin our journey in such a positive way and that this beginning continues to influence our ongoing relationship. The relaxed and stress free entrance of my daughter influenced our relationship immediately and immeasurably, as she began her breathing life in my arms, with my love and full, undivided, uninterrupted attention.
Looking back on the whole experience of pregnancy and birth, I would choose to do the same thing again and again. I was so well prepared physically, emotionally and mentally through yoga. Throughout my pregnancy and entire labour I felt so confident in my body and mind. I had the support of my wonderful husband and our midwifery team who had been with us from the very beginning, who knew us, knew our goals, our beliefs and wishes. I was never frightened of the experience, or of not being heard!