Throughout my pregnancy, I had heard may different stories about birth from friends, colleagues and students. I can honestly say that not many of them were positive or empowering to the mother and were told with animosity and fear of sharing what had happened with the same line to complete the story every time - ''But you will be fine''
I felt pretty powerless, hopeless and scared, as I know many first time mothers do when they start to prepare for birthing their child. I needed empowerment. I needed reassurance. I needed to know that I was completely capable and that I could participate in what I hoped would be the most beautiful life event so far without fear of intervention and of this natural process. And the most important aspect of all - I needed to believe the water birth I was hoping for was possible.
With yoga being such an integral part of my life pre-pregnancy, I was hoping it would lead me to this more intuitive and trusting part of myself that I came to realise is extremely necessary when it comes to birth. And it did. I immersed for 6 days into the midlands of Portugal with Uma Dnsmore-Tulli and 22 women for what was to be the most life changing time for me as a woman, a yoga teacher and a new mother. It instilled trust of intuition and innate wisdom that was so needed.
Along with the pregnancy yoga training, I crossed paths with midwife and yoga teacher Rebecca Tieken who came to be an inspiration and a true mentor to me when preparing for birth. She guided and reassured me when my waters broke with no contractions and my hope for a water birth at the birth centre was not to be. She listened to my despair with such warmth as I was booked in for an induction (artificially starting the labour process) the next morning and guided me to the options avoid and manage this process.
What follows is a short version of my birth story written by Rebecca, with both of us hoping it may instill hope and belief that despite what would be deemed 'complications', knowing your rights and your options can still lead you to your empowering birth, however it may turn out to be:
Becs begins by telling me how the events unfolded on a Sunday afternoon when she felt her waters break. What follows is her birth story as told by her to me. I have full consent to share her story.
Becs went to the birth centre where the midwives confirmed her waters had broken. However, since she was not having any contractions/surges, she was told she couldn’t use the birth centre.
After reviewing her options, she chose to decline induction and to opt for expectant management – waiting for labour to start naturally. Most women (90%) will go into labour naturally within 48 hours of the waters breaking.
She decided to wait for things to start naturally and in the meantime monitor for signs of infection. Throughout Monday she tried all sorts of things to kick-start the labour – from eating pineapple, long walks, yoga, raspberry leaf tea. Becs had already started to feel sporadic tightenings and felt like mentally retreating inwards. By Tuesday morning, her surges had ramped up and she felt the need to use a TENS machine to help. By midday, the surges came every 2 minutes, and she started to feel intense pressure down below. So she got ready to go to hospital.
Once in hospital, Becs was examined and found to be 6cm dilated! In the labour ward she was looked after by one midwife and her student. Becs chose to use a birth pool and experienced a huge relief from the warm water – “pure feelings of surrender, and floating felt incredible”. She used her breathing techniques to help ride through the surges. The midwives attending her encouraged her to listen to her body and push if she needed to. After 1 hour of being in the water, Marley was born and brought up to her chest.
One aspect that Becs found she was not prepared for is the checks that happen after the baby is born, ie checking for perineal tears, which felt very invasive. The gas and air really helped during this part.
Both Becs and her partner are huge Bob Marley fans.
All in all, it was an amazing experience not only for the new parents but also for the midwives. This was the first water birth that the student had witnessed and one of the very few water births on the labour ward! Both the student and the experienced midwife felt privileged and commented how it gave them hope that birth doesn’t always have to be completely medicalised.