Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.
It is the journey, not the destination that matters. Here I describe the most beautiful, spiritual aspect of my labour, the first stages along a bumpy road to giving birth. My firstborn child, a son, was born in June 2010. Ewan’s birth was far from the ‘perfect’, natural birth I had envisaged, prepared for and naively believed I would have. Instead, I gave birth by emergency caesarean under general anaesthetic. Lying unconscious, I missed the first three hours of my son’s life, and then spent the next few days too ill to care for my son, recovering in hospital.
My suffering, the pain, trauma and long period of postnatal recovery were far outweighed by the child standing before me. My son was born a very healthy little boy, who nursed like a dream. Our first meeting was indescribable, as I instantly felt overwhelmingly attached to my son, an outpouring of unconditional love which knew no bounds.
Now, almost two years on, I can reflect on and celebrate this profound experience, cherishing the joy of labouring naturally, even though I could not in the end birth naturally. In this post I share the period before the second stage of labour, holding these hours up with strength, pride and happiness for all to see.
This article first appeared on the Nottingham Baby Fayre website on 1st April 2012; The Nottingham Baby Fayre
What this class is
Pampering is the right word to describe this three-hour extended yoga session for Mums, a regular one-off Saturday event at the Yoga Home. Run once every term, three times a year, Yoga Home students who are also Mums are invited to a well deserved rest and relaxation event at the Iona School in Sneinton, an ideal venue for a few hours away from the kids. In this calming environment, in the schools kindergarden, students are led through two one and a half hour yoga sessions, broken by a short break for tea and healthy nibbles (Green and Blacks chocolate, oat crackers and homemade flapjack). At the end of the morning students can stay for a fuddle, a shared lunch, which always includes Ameet’s delicious homemade dahl, plus lots of other scrumptious food brought in by attendees. The whole event is a wonderful combination of yoga and socialising; three rare hours of yoga, plus a chance to meet up with friends from past pregnancy and postnatal yoga classes.
An inner sanctuary
As mums we are constantly on the go, thinking about and serving the needs of our children, juggling running a household, caring for our children and often our partners, plus for many doing paid work outside of the home as well. There is rarely any time in the day to simply sit back and just be, enjoying the present moment and taking a long, slow breathe, collecting our thoughts and paying attention to ourselves. In this electronic, fast-paced age our need to just be is more necessary than ever, as we are rarely unplugged, seldom in a space where we are able to listen to our inner mind and let go of all the clutter we are holding on to. In this constant chatter, racing about serving the needs of others, it is very easy to neglect ourselves. This is where yoga comes in. It is a safe, quiet place in which to let go, to listen to our bodies and our minds, in an attempt to unite them. Whilst everyone benefits tremendously from yoga, or some other form of deep relaxation practice, for mothers the benefits may be even more apparent, because in giving this gift to ourselves we are also giving this to our children, offering them a calmer, happier role model in which to follow.
A caesarean birth did not affect how I bonded with my son. Joy on both our faces.
Why a postscript is necessary
Writing and sharing Ewan’s birth story has been cathartic; helping me come to terms with the experience and accept the loss I suffered of not being able to birth Ewan naturally. The response from my family, friends and now the blog community has been amazing, which is why I have decided to add a postscript, as final points to this series of writings.
So many people have shared with me, in person, on Facebook and on my blog, their own experiences of giving birth. All these contributions are to be celebrated, because it sparks a much needed conversation about this often neglected area of many women’s lives, the birth of their children. These comments have illustrated to me the suffering, indignity and lack of control so many women feel when giving birth in hospital. Hearing their stories adds rage as well as sadness to my own experience, knowing many women suffer similar, or worse, treatment than I did. It also clarifies my own thinking on this subject, of which I share a few salient, final points below.
Intellect versus instinct
Our intellect can be a hindrance when giving birth. I wrestled with mine when in labour, thinking about what I’d read, what I’d heard, letting these thoughts interrupt the birthing process. In the end I let this intellectual chatter go, turning inwards into another level, one I had never ventured into before. My body believed in myself, was sure and certain, even if my intellect wasn’t. This physical being took over, directing me to follow my instincts, switching off from the invasive, artificial world surrounding me. It simply knew what to do and how to do it. I completely switched off from my intellectual brain.