That fear of the unknown you’re feeling? I felt it too. Its a lot. Birthing an entire human being is a big deal and it’s okay to be scared. It’s even okay to be terrified. You have a deadline, its not like you can put it off like you do when you really can’t face something…you know what I’m talking about. Every mother to be is different and they all want different things, some women want an elective c-section, some want a birth with no drugs, some want to give birth at home, some want an epidural. Whoever you are and whatever scenario fits you, its still scary.
My birth plan wasn’t structured per say. I knew I wanted to give birth in water and I knew that I didn’t want an epidural. What ending up happening was that I gave birth with no pain relief at all and I survived.
The hardest part for me was the contractions – they are painful. It feels like your uterus is being squeezed like a tube of toothpaste, pushing the baby down, which effectively is what happens. Breathing through them helped up to a point but when they’re fast and heavy, a little vocal action does make you feel a little better. I was being monitored in the assessment unit because they didn’t realise how close I was (having laboured at home and then the last two hours in the car due to traffic) and I was petrified. I kept telling the midwives that I couldn’t do it and that I was too tired…I say telling, I mean shouting.
Here is a (very pretty) visualisation of the stages of cervix dilation;
There are so many things happening and you don’t know what to expect from any of them but you don’t have time to worry because you have a job to do. Before I gave birth I spoke to my sister-in-law who has four daughters and she said to me that its positive pain because you are getting something at the end of it. The pain is for that moment you hold your child. This really helped me get my mind around giving birth and is probably the most influential advice I received.
Pushing is not comfortable but you can feel that the end is near and that was enough to get me through. When we first got to the hospital I didn’t think I had the strength or the capability but the adrenaline kicks in and your body does what it is designed to do. This is really important, your body is designed to give birth. Trust it. The midwives encouraged me to lead my labour by listening to my body and they were so right, my body led the way and told me when I needed to push and when I needed to hold back.
Can you handle natural birth? I guarantee you can.
Here are my top tips for getting through;
- Create a motto that suits you that reminds you that you can and keeps you focused. This is a hindsight thing, but the midwives “listen to your body” definitely got me through.
- Read positive birth stories. I made a point of reading positive water birth stories from other women which helped me connect better with giving birth.
- Women have been giving birth for thousands of years and will continue to give birth for thousands of years. We are powerful.
- Keep negative stuff out of your head. Don’t worry about tearing or long labour because at the end of the day your wounds will heal and the labour is such a small part of your life with your child that it soon won’t matter.
- Whatever happens you will survive. We are surrounded by highly trained professionals and we are so lucky to have these people looking after us. I am so grateful to the midwives who took care of me.
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