I am sharing my story here, 35 years after the unassisted birth of my 2nd born baby at 44 weeks of pregnancy. Somehow the pregnancy catalysed the beginning of a new spiritual journey.
I was emerging from the child I had been into the woman I was becoming. In the early part of the pregnancy, childhood trauma became conscious through a process of primal therapy. I raged and cried buckets.
I was supported by my husband and a small group of special friends and therapists. It helped. To heal me.
About 5 months into the pregnancy, swimming in guilt about putting my unborn baby through this emotional roller coaster, I communicated with him. I lay down on the bed, placed my hands over my tummy and began to say to my unborn baby that none of it was his fault and that I was really sorry, I did not mean to hurt him, that I really loved him and wanted him. A strong movement from the baby followed and it felt like he placed his little fist into the palm of my hand. Tears streamed down my cheeks. We were in this together. I knew, somehow, we would work it out together.
As the pregnancy progressed and I felt heavier, I was more in tune and responsive to the baby in my belly. I remember listening to classical music and, while the music was playing, received a message in my head saying ‘I hate it, switch it off’. I changed to Rock music(the Beatles), and baby was much happier! I had no ultrasound scans during the pregnancy, nor did I see a doctor. It felt like there was no need, firstly, and secondly, we had just moved into a new house in a new town. I also wanted no interference. I stayed fit, walking on the beach and ate well. I remember wondering why the baby did not drop towards the end, although aware that second babies often drop only in labour.
40 weeks came and went. 41 and 42 weeks came and went. 43 weeks came and went. By this time I was a little concerned. I wasn’t sure, but felt my baby was trying to tell me he needed help from me. Although I had used castor oil to induce my first pregnancy, my intuition told me it was not right for this pregnancy. The baby’s movements became less. On Saturday, when my husband could be with me, we went to the beach with a picnic and I walked and swam for 8 hours. By late afternoon, I was aware of ‘period’ like sensations in my lower abdomen. By eight pm labour was roaring along (or rather I was roaring). I could not understand why it was taking so long. Again I knew I needed to help myself and my son in some way.
I put one foot on a chair and placed my fingers inside my body. I felt the bag of waters bulging, and the baby’s head much higher. Intuitively I knew I had to act. I used an instrument to help me pop the bag of waters, and the baby’s head came down onto the cervix. The cervix was still thick at the front against the baby’s head, while at the back I felt the urge to bear down. I knew this was the moment. Crouching while bearing down, I held my fingers still against the back of the baby’s head, supporting the cervix and it gently slipped over the baby’s head. Massive relief followed, the baby’s head came down through my pelvis and I squatted down on towels and gave birth to my son, followed by the placenta and a short cord of 10cm.
The short cord explained why the baby was ‘late’ and why I needed to ‘break the bag of waters’ and help the cervix expand over the baby’s head in record time. In other words, the baby needed to be born quickly once the waters were no longer there to keep him floating. And I was so grateful my body and baby guided me. He was alive. He was here safely.
Why am I sharing all this personal information? Because it illustrates many things.
- Communicate with your baby during the pregnancy, touch your abdomen, talk to your baby, sing, rock, dance, walk in nature and describe what you are doing and become aware of baby’s responses. Learn how your baby is positioned.
- Every birth is different. Every baby is different. Every woman is different. There is no “one size shoe fits all”!
- Get in touch with your baby, get in touch with your body and work through your pain, trauma, resistances, denials, losses. It helps keep you sensitive to your and baby’s needs.
- There is no ‘Due Date”, there is only a due period, on average from 37 to 43 weeks of pregnancy
- Sometimes induction of labour is called for, but many factors need to be considered and always with the mother’s full informed agreement and or respected decision. I avoided a medicalised and chemical induction.
There can be several reasons for delayed pregnancy and or labour, for example, a face or brow presentation of the baby’s head in the mother’s pelvis, cephalo-pelvic disproportion, a posterior position of the baby’s head in the pelvis, cervical dystocia or adhesions, a tight nuchal cord (around the neck) or a short cord(my situation), a compound or nuchal arm. A good care provider will listen, assess clinically and give helpful feedback as to what your options are. In most cases, normal birth is achievable. A good birth attendant will have holistic skills, may offer herbs, use homeopathy, massage, rebozo, positioning, be patient and encouraging, assisting when necessary.
Birth is a challenging transition for most of us, and deviations from the average experience can seem even more challenging. Sometimes a plan for a homebirth or using a birth centre may need to change and a hospital becomes the safest place to be. The most important thing is to know yourself and your baby BEFORE the birth. I did not want my birth to be violated and was able to tap into some deep primal knowledge about what my baby and I needed, without compromising our safety.
Learn as much as you can about pregnancy and birth, how women’s bodies work, how babies synchronise with us. Deep down inside, each mother knows intuitively. Listen to yourself. Listen to the mother.