The power of writing and sharing a birth story
Le 19 février 2018
It is the essence of a prenatal yoga class to have women attend my courses for a few months or weeks, and then « disappear » once their baby is born. It doesn’t make the connection between them and the teacher and the rest of the group any weaker. (In fact… I wonder if this impermanence might even make it stronger !). So it is always special to receive news of a baby’s birth when I open my emails or read my phone messages. Some of those messages come in the form of a short or long birth story which we share in class, always in amazement (because birth and becoming a mother are amazing processes). Writing a birth story can be an extremely therapeutic exercise, helping to gain even more ownership of what just unfolded, and sometimes coming to terms with what didn’t go as envisaged. A birth story can be such a wonderful gift to share with your child at the appropriate moment, a gift maybe to pass on from mother to daughter or daughters-in-law and grand-daughters. In the age of sensationalisation of birth in the media, a real birth story can also be such a source of empowerment for other pregnant women, linking women in one universal circle of motherhood, strength and inspiration.
Here is the birth story which my friend Suzy wrote for herself, and to share, to inspire, to give courage and positivity to others. Enjoy!
« A Positive Birth Story
As most of you know, we had a new addition to our family a few months ago. Not long after I decided to write down the short story of Jack’s birth as I feel that we hear too much about the pain and what can go wrong during childbirth and not enough about what goes right.
This is especially for women out there who are pregnant or would like to be in the future, so please share with friends in that situation.
Birth story – Jack
We so often hear horror stories about giving birth – the pain, what went wrong, the problems at the hospital. But what about when things go well? When just after giving birth you feel that you could do it again? When you have your ‘ideal’ birth experience? What then? Well usually we are made to feel lucky and a bit strange and then we shut up about it and let the stories of pain take over…
I have decided not to be quiet! I have decided to share my story as I think my experience could help other women to approach birth full of courage that their bodies are made to do this and not with fear which is scientifically proven to slow down the process (fight and flight hormones send energy to our legs and arms to flee the situation, not to our essential organs for giving birth).
Jack is my second child. Edgar, my first, was born in 2011. He was 12 days late and I was told he « needed » to be induced. The process was very intensive with contractions every minute for 7 hours. I gave birth at Saint Pierre hospital with the team of midwives on shift at that time. I asked my gynaecologist not to be there (a first in her long career) as I did not want the birth to be medicalised unless really necessary, and I had confidence in the doctors at Saint Pierre if I needed them. I spent the end of the labour in water, which helped a lot, then 1 hour and twenty minutes pushing Edgar out.
Although it was an almost natural birth (apart from the induction), it was incredibly intense and I held some apprehension for giving birth again, especially when my second pregnancy also went over time and conversations began again about being induced.
Here I’d like to mention special thanks to the midwives who followed me for the whole pregnancy – Zwanger in Brussel (http://www.zwangerinbrussel.be ). I could not recommend them more wholeheartedly. Four wonderful midwives who have found a great balance in taking good care of the pregnancy while keeping intervention to a minimum.
Although I am writing this 5 weeks later, I actually recorded what happened for the birth just after. This is what I wrote:
“I am sitting in Saint Pierre hospital with my two day old Jack sleeping by my side. What a joy – he is having a lovely sleep, making his little noises every so often, but sleeping for two hours already. He’s eating well. He’s met his big brother and that went great… but first the birth…
Sunday evening 2/2/14 – just after midnight, l had an overwhelming sensation to go to the toilet and had a big gush of water… my waters had broken. I hadn’t experienced this with Edgar so it was a new feeling. It happened 3 times. I went back to bed to lie down and the contractions started to come. I was in no doubt about that!
As I had been preparing with hypno-birthing (http://www.hypnobirthing.com), my reaction was to go back to bed and to relax completely and see if the contractions were becoming regular. They soon did – every five to seven minutes.
At 1.45am I thought it was time to call a taxi. My parents-in-law were with us to look after Edgar, so my partner just let them know that we would not be around in the morning and we were off.
We arrived at Saint Pierre through the emergency and were sent to the delivery floor. My contractions were steady and regular but with the hypno-birthing technique I simply closed my eyes when they came and rode the wave until it passed. Between contractions I felt completely normal.
The midwife checked me out – I was only 2cm dilated but she said that they would keep me in as I had lost some amniotic fluid in the waters. She added that if I did not start having contractions then they would have to induce me. I thought this was strange since I had told her I was having contractions, but the problem with hypno-birthing is that from the outside it looks like you are not going through anything!
They took me to the induction room as they obviously presumed labour would be some time away, and hooked me up to the monitor. It was only then that she saw and believed that I was having regular contractions!
We were left to ourselves. My partner dimmed the lights and put on my relaxation exercise, which I had been doing every day for the last two months. It was my aid to get deeper into the hypno-birthing. I had added some relaxation music afterwards so for the next 90 minutes I went with that, rode the contraction waves and reassured myself that my body knew exactly what to do and that Jack was on this way.
At 4.45am I felt that the contractions were changing. These were the only contractions that my partner was aware of me having. I also needed to go to the toilet. After about 5 contractions like that I told my partner to call a midwife….
“What should I tell her?” he asked, thinking that we must still have hours to go…
“Just tell her to come please,” was all I could explain!
She did come – she checked me out and said they need to get me to a delivery room straight away – Jack was there!
I started to breathe Jack out rather than push him. It is so much more effective! Try it next time you go to the toilet!! Pushing makes you contract your muscles, breathing relaxes them and helps the baby to pass.
A wonderful student midwife, Garance, encouraged me to take the position that I wanted and so I gave birth to Jack 15 minutes later on all fours. He came out looking at the stars and he was passed to me through my legs. I took off my t-shirt and held him to my chest – animal instinct in action! I asked them not to cut the cord straight away. They didn’t leave it long though – 5 minutes maybe and my partner cut it.
We were left for three hours skin-to-skin. This is the most magical moment ever. 8 babies had arrived that night, all within a couple of hours so the midwives had a pretty busy schedule.
I had a couple of scratches to the perineum – the only ‘damage’. No stitches needed just a bit of water while I went to pee for 24 hours. I was up and walking during the day and no pain to sit down… amazing!
Jack was born 54cm long, 3,780kg at 5.23cm. A real sweetie – calm and alert.
An amazing experience and I am so happy my son could be born into this world in such a way.”
What was so special about hypno-birthing? To me the following points seem the most vital:
- your body knows what to do – trust it and take your head with its fears and doubts somewhere else
- birth is not a medical process – you and your baby are in this together all the way – he also knows what to do – trust him
- each contraction will be a wave of 1 minute, with a peak. Then it will subside. The hardest part is very short and will pass
- breathing out your baby is easier for you both and causes less damage
It is not that I felt no pain – it was however completely manageable. Just after giving birth I felt like I could do it again – that was certainly not my experience first time.
« Thank you for the great yoga classes that were very useful for coping with contractions, the hypnobirthing that guided me through the last weeks of pregnancy in approaching labour and for all the advice! »
MARTJE AND BABY SIENNA