Unfortunately in our culture birth has a high “shock” factor, and often we hear about the negativity: the pain, the endurance, the tears, the stitches. And for most of us (this was myself included), we generally resign ourself to quite an unpleasant experience - until the baby arrives of course.
It wasn’t until half way through my pregnancy, that for the very first time, I had a woman tell me that she absolutely loved her labour, this was fucking ground breaking!! I had never heard a positive word uttered about birthing until this moment, and that was the catalyst that sent me on a journey to have a positive, and even pleasurable, birth experience with my child.
Once I decided to shift my perception of birth from traumatic, to positive, I knew I had to replace the stories I had been told. So I read and read and read as many positive birth recounts as possible, a great book was ‘Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth’, which shared a wealth of knowledge on natural childbirth, along with many peoples birth stories. This was so helpful to reinforce a positive message. (Who knew some women even orgasm during labour?! - no, I was not one of those lucky ones).
Throughout my pregnancy I continued to flood my body with positivity about birth with pre-natal yoga, and pre-natal meditations. I think any physical feat first starts with the right mindset, and I had to keep telling my body I trusted it was capable, and I believed in my own strength.
Fast forward to 39 weeks + 1 day, and the labour process begins. I always knew Kaimana would arrive a few days before his due date, but I never imagined it would be a 3+ day birth to get him here!
It was midnight, the wee hours of Monday morning, for dinner on Sunday we had consumed a really spicy meal as a family, jokingly saying it was to bring labour on as we were all ready for the baby to arrive.
I was having a bout of insomnia, which plagued my first and third trimester, so I was on the couch in the lounge room trying to get comfortable, I had made my little bed, had settled down to sleep and then heard this “Pop” and felt a release and warm fluid in my underwear.
HOLY SHIT! I immediately thought it must have been my waters, I rushed into mums room with an excited whisper - “I think my waters just broke” and her reply was “think? Oh you’d know if it was your waters”.
It wasn’t my waters, it was my mucous plug, which in all honesty, I actually had no idea existed until that very moment (maybe I should have attended those birthing classes?!).
If you don’t know either, the name is very literal, it is a mucous membrane that plugs the cervix, when released it looks like blood streaked snot.
I then ran into my husband and told him that all systems were go, his reply was “what do I do” it was only 2am so I told him to sleep until things picked up.
At that point, I did probably the WORST thing in my entire labour, after finally learning what a mucous plug was (thanks Dr. Google), I then made the stupid error of googling “how long after the mucous plug releases do you have the baby” (Ha!)
I read forum after forum, after my reading I came to the conclusion that most mums end up having bubby within a few hours, or at the most - by the end of the day. Right I thought, I’m having a baby today.
I was much too excited, so never went back to sleep (actually, maybe that was the worst thing I did throughout my labour).
I went to my midwife appointment that afternoon at 3pm, and on the drive home my contractions finally begun: 14+ hours after losing the mucous plug.
Initially they felt like period cramps, lasting 45 seconds or so and then releasing to feel no pain at all until the next one.
At that stage I was still very comfortable and could chat and laugh with everyone.
I was using breathing techniques from Hypnobirthing, was diffusing the essential oils Frankincense and orange and was rubbing Clary sage essential oil on my ankles, which is said to encourage labour and release tension.
I also made up an essential oil blend of ylang ylang, helichrysum, fennel, peppermint and clary sage which mum applied to my ankles and sacrum every hour.
As contractions intensified the hypobirthing style wasn’t working for me and I needed to expel energy to assist pain relief (read the book by Birthskills - by Juju Sundin, if you feel you’re that type of person)
I also started using a TENS machine placed on my lower back, which sends small electric pulses through your body and I found this incredibly helpful and used it right to the very end of the labour.
In all honesty the next 2 days are a complete blur, and I can’t remember much at all except constant contractions, I only had about 1 hour reprieve for the 3 days, and they were coming every couple of minutes.
I couldn’t sleep, except brief nod offs between contractions, I could hardly sit down, and I barely ate, except a strong craving for porridge.
My family took it in shifts to supervise me and all I remember is watching about 10 episodes of Grand Designs on TV with my mum, dad or husband as they slipped in and out of naps on the couch.
Finally on Thursday morning, 10th of May at 10:30am I was admitted to hospital 4cm dilated.
Once in the birthing suite I continued with the TENS machine, essential oils, drinking coconut water, eating bliss balls, listening to music and spending a lot of time in the shower...,the running water on my belly during a contraction was the most incredible sensation on the planet.
Things were getting extremely intense, after being in the birthing suite for 5 hours or so the midwife decided to check dilation - I had dilated another .5 cm - a HALF a fucking centimetre in 5 fucking HOURS. I burst into tears. I wanted to give up, I didn’t think I could do it anymore after 3+ days of intense contractions and no sleep I was exhausted to say the least, I told mum that I thought I needed pain relief, but the midwives knowing my wishes talked me out of it and instead she completed an internal examination. She could feel Kai’s head, my cervix was extremely soft and open, but the membrane of my waters was stopping the process. We decided to break my waters and within 45 minutes Kaimana was in my arms. - Mum was right, you know when it’s your waters breaking!
Those last 45 minutes were by far the most intense, but with the greatest reward.
Contractions were one on top of the other, and such an intense pressure in your backside (no one had told me this, but you would swear the baby comes out your butt!).
The strength needed for those final pushes requires a strength from another world. It takes the energy of each vibration, of every single cell one of your billions of cells.
I was birthing standing, the midwife told me to reach down and touch Kai’s head crowning, and that is all it took for the final push to have him earthside.
I was in shock, my husbands face had a look of intense awe and love that I will never in my lifetime forget, and my first words were “he’s a real human”, (as if I thought I was giving birth to kittens or something?)
This young man had taken so long to conceive, and so long to birth that the reality he was here didn’t hit me until the next day.
I would be lying if I didn’t say yes there was pain, endurance, intensity, (and stitches!). But that’s not how I will remember my birth experience.
I was taught such an incredibly valuable lesson of what the human body is capable of, how attached your mental and physical body are, and that these two working together can achieve anything. I was taught that the greatest rewards do come with the greatest challenges. I was taught that love truly does dissolve all pain.
And most importantly I was taught, never google anything again! ️