Four humpback whales appeared just 50 metres off the coast of Cape Byron, on their way north to give birth. My husband, my daughter and I walked up to the lighthouse to celebrate my husband’s birthday. I was 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant, and my surges came irregularly during that day and night.
The next morning I decided that Birth Day had arrived. My husband and daughter were on the trampoline. I went inside. At 11.30 I took a homeopathic remedy, caullophyllum and began to get things ready. I found a chair I could sit backwards on, and some cushions and towels. I re-read bits of Back Labour No More. The baby was still posterior despite all my pregnancy efforts, and the book shows how to turn a posterior baby during labour. After about an hour I noticed that the surges had intensified and I had the posterior intense sensation in my lower back. The baby’s position meant that the pressure of the surges was being directed there. I followed the diagrams and was amazed to find that as I lifted my belly with each surge, the intense sensation changed and became completely comfortable. The lifting redirected the pressure to my cervix. This is how the technique brings comfort and a faster labour. I have since realised that I could have kept lifting in between the surges too which would probably have meant more comfort right from the beginning of each surge.
After about half an hour, the surges were more intense. Michael and Lana came up from the garden and I said, “I think it’s time to phone Megan,” my friend who was coming to support us during the birth. Unbeknownst to me, Michael was also thinking the same thing, somehow knowing that birthing had begun. He and Lana joined me in the bathroom, where I was sitting backwards on the toilet, still doing the lifting technique with each wave. Michael sat behind me and massaged my back, and Lana sat on the cistern cuddling me. I felt very open and tender with love for them both, and my tears fell.
Megan arrived and we hugged and I cried. I had a few waves in the bedroom - Michael helping me for a couple and Megan for another couple. I needed support from behind as I lifted during each surge. Then I went back to sitting on the toilet with Michael helping me, and Megan took Lana into the playroom. Michael helped me use the Alexander technique, telling me to “free my neck”, and gently holding my head. Each surge he talked me through; “You are the queen of calm and I am the prince of peace and we live in this palace of birth,” and “Breathe the baby down,” “All you need to do is rest the calm centre, don’t get involved in what is happening around that.” I am eternally grateful for his loving support. Each posterior surge began intensely and his words helped me stay calm and connected with my breath. Each time, the lifting changed the intensity to complete comfort.
After about ten surges on the toilet the sensations completely changed and I wanted to lean back. I knew then that the baby had turned. This was second stage, and with it came a strong desire to push. Out came, “YES” with the first two surges, and then I thought the head was coming out, “Here’s the head”, but it was the waters breaking as I moved back away from the toilet. They were lovely and clear. We called Megan and Lana back again to get Megan’s help to receive the baby. Michael and Megan positioned themselves under me and supported my perineum. With the fourth surge I called out, “Mama”, and on the fifth surge, “I don’t know what to do, I don’t know where to be”, and then out popped the head. The next wave brought the rest of the baby’s body, received by Michael and Megan, who passed the baby to me after Michael unwrapped the cord, which was once around his neck. At first I thought he was a girl, as I had thought all along. I was most surprised to see that he was a he! His head was purple and his body red, and he didn’t breathe for about 30 seconds. I felt complete confidence that he was fine. Michael stroked some mucus away from his nose and he began to cry and wriggle strongly. He was born at 2.30, after just two and-a-half hours of actual birthing. Lana had left the bathroom during the actual birth and came back in to meet her new brother. After holding him for a while I put him to my breast briefly but his jaw clamped down tightly (probably due to the short birth and his position). In addition, the surges were still very strong and I couldn’t be present with him the way I wanted to be, so Megan held him as the surges continued.
I pressed my stomach and was sure I felt some legs in there, as was Michael! We were a bit overwhelmed at the idea of twins and phoned a friend to help. I really thought there was another baby coming! My friend arrived and out came what I first thought was a bottom but of course was a placenta! My friend is knowledgeable about Lotus birth; she looked at the placenta, and then left.
I, the babe and his placenta made our way to the bedroom with Lana and Michael as we began the next stage of our journey as a family. I was amazed at how Michael and Megan cleaned up, washed, hung out washing, cooked and cared for me, the babe, and Lana!
I felt awed at the experience. I had aimed for a two-hour birth but couldn’t quite believe it had happened.
Megan stayed until the early hours of the morning. I was a little concerned about how Sunny’s jaw clamped tight when he tried to feed. So I was grateful that she stayed for this time, and to my knowledge of Aware Parenting. After some crying in my arms, the tension in his jaw was released and he began to feed.
Sunny’s placenta stayed attached for three and a half days. After two-and-a half days I thought he was trying to kick it off. The next day he was lying down and kicking with Michael, Lana and I all watching and I said, “he’s trying to kick his placenta off.” The next moment he kicked it again and it fell on the floor. He began to cry. I felt sad. We saw an amazing transformation – since his birth his eyes had been shut for almost all the time, even though the room was dimmed. But once he kicked his cord off, he opened his eyes and searched for connection. He and I gazed into each other’s eyes for half an hour or so, and from then on his eyes were open a lot more. It truly seemed that those few days helped him make the transition into the world.
We buried his placenta in the garden when he was seven days old, under an “After Dark” tree which Michael had chosen; it’s purple foliage reminded him of the rich nourishing colour of the placenta.
Resources I recommend:
calm birth programme www.calmbirth.com.au
I had been offering calm birth sessions to clients for some time and was delighted to put them into practice myself during my pregnancy and birthing. Developed by Bowral midwife, Peter Jackson, the programme helps women dismantle the fear-tension-pain cycle through a number of ways. Understanding how the uterus is affected by fear. Letting subconscious mind healing work release fear. Using breathing, relaxation and visualisation techniques to maximise the effectiveness of each surge, allowing a woman to work with her body and help release endorphins. By practising these techniques daily, they become second nature during birthing. My calm birth preparation, including listening to relaxation CDs daily, empowered me and gave me confidence in my body’s ability to give birth.
To find a calmbirth practitioner near you, contact Peter Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 02 4862 1156
The Gentle Birth Method book by Gowri Motha
Gowri Motha’s book was my weekly pregnancy companion! Thorough in it’s approach, it includes physical, mental and emotional preparation for birth. The week-by-week programme gives dietary and nutritional advice based on Ayurvedic principles, for example avoiding wheat (which congests vaginal tissues and restricts the cervix from gently opening and widening) and sugar (so preventing toxins being deposited in uterus, cervix and pelvic structures and thus giving extremely supple and flexible pelvic ligaments). Supplements recommended include daily Ayurvedic teas and a pill. The homeopathic tissue salt programme recommends three remedies twice a day, which vary during the different months. There are even Ayurvedic recipes which even I found easy to make and delicious!! Particular treatments are recommended for each week of the pregnancy to “boost the detoxyfing effects of the diet.” They include Reflexology, Bowen Technique, Cranio-sacral Therapy, and home massage techniques. A daily yoga sequence is shown in the book. The mental preparation consists of deep muscle relaxation, self-hypnosis, and visualisation. The emotional preparation consists of ways to bond with your baby during pregnancy, and a birth rehearsal script.
I followed the Gentle Birth Method programme and attribute the physical preparation to the high levels of energy I had during my pregnancy. I’ve never felt so healthy! I did not feel weighed down, despite carrying a 9lb. baby, and was taking long walks even in my 40th week. I had none of the discomforts I’d had during my first pregnancy. I am sure that having a quick birth without tearing was also related to the dietary and physical preparation I had done.
A Preparation for Birth CD, Labour CD, and all the herbs and teas are also available from the website.
Acupuncture can be a very helpful therapy in all aspects of the birthing process, from pre-conceptual nourishment through to post labour recovery.
Acupuncture is ideally incorporated six months to one year before conception is planned. Once pregnant, it treats pregnancy-related, and ensures the woman and the baby are strong and healthy. More serious complaints such as gestational diabetes, breech and posterior presentation, threatened miscarriage, and pregnancy-induced hypertension, may also be successfully alleviated by Acupuncture. “Overdue” babies can also often be born naturally using Acupuncture to stimulate labour. Once the baby is born, Acupuncture can treat emotional and physical exhaustion, post-natal depression, mastitis, problems with milk flow and stress, digestive difficulties and trauma in babies. I visited Simone (email@example.com) regularly before and during my pregnancy. I loved the sense of calm and healthful vigour it gave me.
This can help with the physical changes that happen during pregnancy. Discomforts can be alleviated and released so that the mother's body to be in best condition for the birth. I came away from my regular visits with Marion Buchner with a deep sense of calm and trust in my body.
I found this incredibly helpful during the birth – it was a way I could keep centred and relaxed, particularly with the directions, “allow your neck to be free”, which Michael kept saying to me! My visits to Brian (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the weeks prior helped me to stay in the present moment during the birth. Alexander Technique Education: www.ate.org.au
Australian Society for Teachers of the Alexander Technique: www.austat.org.au
The Field Centre www.fieldcenter.org
“What comes to us in life is not merely a matter of chance; it follows from who we believe we are and what we take to be real.” The Course made such an empowering difference in how I experienced the pregnancy and approached the birth.
Inspiring birth stories and videos
I highly recommend reading ecstatic, orgasmic, and empowering birth stories and watching joyful and passionate birthing videos. I watched an amazing birth from Birth into Being many times, feeling so inspired. (www.waterbirth.org)
Homeopathics, Bush Flower Remedies, Rose of Raphael Remedies
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley
I love this book and its mix of personal anecdotes and the latest research on many different aspects of pregnancy, birth and mothering – including lotus birth, unassisted birth, and elimination communication.
Sit Up and Take Notice – Positioning yourself for a better birth by Pauline Scott
I really enjoyed this book for the clarity it gave me about determining a baby’s positioning, and why it is so important for an easy birth.
Back Labour No More – by Jeanie McCoy King www.backlabornomore.com
I recommend this book to everyone. This book does just what it says it does – speeds up birth and turns a posterior baby. Make sure you are in the place you are planning to give birth in and you have someone to support you when you start using this technique. I think it is amazing. Particularly useful for people with a sway back and a short rise! I credit this with the difference between my first labour of 86 hours and Sunny’s two and-a-half birth.
The Aware Baby – by Aletha Solter
If you buy one parenting book, let this be it! How to understand a baby’s cues, meet a baby’s needs, and understand the relationships between crying and feeding, sleeping, and play, as well as all about attachment. One woman said that knowing about Aware Parenting helped her approach the birth with more confidence.