Saturday, January 17, 2015

preparing for labour and birth




born in the water, she's still completely content when immersed

This week I reached a new stage pregnancy; I've been feeling heavier, slower and more tired. This entire experience has been quick (I only have about six weeks to go) and as I journey into this final stage of baby growing, I'm acutely aware that labour and birth is imminent. 

My need to actively prepare for labour has, I admit, been completely non-existent - an entirely different experience to my first and second pregnancies. With Che I was incredibly focussed on what I thought was active, concentrated preparation; I read all the books, did all the courses, listened to all the CDs and anxiously waited like a typical first time mum. Poet's pregnancy was different, of course, and I prepared with a little more faith and a lot less fear. I attended a weekly yoga class, taught my pre-natal students up until 38 weeks and immersed myself in all the natural birthing books I could, seeking wisdom from the likes of Ina May Gaskin, Janet Balaskas, Sarah Buckley and Gowri Motha. 

But this time around, life is significantly busier. I spend so much time in the present - parenting, working, going about the day-to-day - that I've had little time to focus on what's right ahead of me. Surprisingly, it's been very refreshing. For someone that has anxious tendencies and likes to know what's coming next, I've been relishing in trusting that what will be, will be. 

Whilst I haven't read any birthing books, watched any documentaries or attended any courses, I have been preparing in small, subtle ways. My daily ocean swim has been an opportunity to dive into the quiet and escape the chatter of little people; there is personal space in the sea and the bliss of weightlessness and cool. I often float on my back and look up to the sky, my ears under the water so all I can hear are the waves and whilst it may only last for a few minutes, it's an opportunity to be calm and still; a meditation, of sorts. 

In moments of doubt and fear, I come back to my birth intention - a simple sentence that is both a positive affirmation and a personal reassurance. I have no birth plans or desires...instead I'm open to accepting this birth experience, whatever it may be, and trusting that Daniel and I will do it together - regardless of who is with us and where we are*. 

Perhaps after two births, seven years of teaching pregnant women, and endless discussions about contractions, labour and pushing, there is a part of me that is exhausted by the conversation. This time, I've stayed away from all the chatter and have been content with knowing that regardless of how I prepare, labour and birth is inevitable. In Rumi's words:


don't push the river, it flows by itself. 

*I am booked into the low-risk birth unit at my local hospital - the same place I birthed Poet. Thankfully, I have the same wonderful midwife that attended Poet's birth and I have the upmost trust and faith in her. There is a big, beautiful bath in each birthing suite so I hope to use it, at some stage. 

Was your birth preparation different for each pregnancy? I'd love to know.


19 COMMENTS

  1. Fab topic, one I haven't considered until reading your post. My birth preparations were all entirely different, the first was spent in the wilds of Cape York peninsular, heading to Cairns by sea two weeks before my due date, number two I was living in inner city Melbourne studying full time, number three was by a river in northern nsw with a baby on my hip as one grew in my belly, number four was running a children's circus group through an icy Ballarat winter and number five was back in northern nsw chasing the other four around while studying again!! Babe number five is the most mellow of them all, sleeping through the night at three months, appearing to be very happy to meet the faces behind the voices she could here for all those growing months. Best birthing wishes to you x

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    1. Lots of babies and lots of homes...such a beautiful story! x

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  2. I am currently 39 weeks pregnant with my second child and I believe that I am in the same place you are, just taking it one step at a time, and being open to what comes. I was lucky to feel much the same when pregnant with my son, but this time things have been a bit more easy, and time passes much more quickly when you have a three and a half year old to run after! Mostly I spend my days looking forward to the joy of another little soul occupying the house, buying flowery frocks (we are having a baby girl) and wondering what she will look like, more of a gentle excitement than hurried anticipation. She's still carrying quite high so who knows when she will come? To rush it or worry is silly to me now... (my son went a week over and so I was induced, it was a beautiful 5 hour birth!) It's all such a beautiful mystery. :)

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    1. time passes so quickly in subsequent pregnancies. Blessings for a safe birth and an uneventful house move x

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  3. Oh I just love the part about swimming in the ocean, I should really try that! Somehow it seems like both a blessing and a curse when you no longer have that blissful ignorance you have the first time around! I'm not even out of the first trimester (with my second) but naturally I have already given labor and birth some thought! I know now from my previous experience that on the end the birth will happen as it happens and there's no point in over planning it (planned for a home birth last time, only to be rushed to hospital during transition but then getting the natural water birth I wanted after all. .. Although in hospital! ). Anyway I wish you all the very best and I'm sure it will be another beautiful experience. Xx

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  4. I should also add that I must keep myself grounded because we are moving/driving 3000+ miles away from Seattle to Florida in the first week of February! So baby will either be two or one week(s) old depending on when she decides to come. :) So also I have solidarity with you in making the move while pregnant/postpartum.

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  5. Your words are so true: what will be will be. And, as we all realize inevitably after giving birth, all of the birthing plans and things go out the window, and life just takes over. With my oldest I remember I had a kind of pregnancy journal where I could record the weeks/food aversions etc. I had a m/c before her and being a bit paranoid, didn't start the journal until 12 weeks, which I regret. I read the typical pregnancy books, followed along with "now baby is the size of an avocado" as typical first-timers do. After my beautiful Alina, I had another m/c, so when I was pregnant with Finnlagh, I just wanted to ignore everything because I realized there is very little you can actually control. I nursed Alina, carried on chasing her everywhere (such a busy toddler) and enjoyed our days. With our third (Reed), I cannot even tell you the exhaustion that set in around 34 weeks (so sorry!) I remember my midwife telling me that it was the 3rd baby that actually knocks you down (not the 2nd - gee, thanks!). With my 4th (Jude, now 6 mos), I just managed to keep up with life. I nursed Reed until 5 days before Reed was born and got my older kids to help out by waving $ and treats for tasks I was too planet-sized or exhausted to do. I have had an emerg c/s, VBAC, c/s and a VBA2C. Life is one crazy ride! I wish you so much luck with the last few weeks of pregnancy, and of course, a healthy and safe delivery! It's a privilege getting to read about your journey over the last few months. All good things, Ariana

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    1. Life really does take over during labour; the perfect preparation for motherhood, I think. Thanks for sharing your beautiful story x

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  6. I think preparing the first time is so challenging because you simply have no idea.
    Even though I knew my second labour would be different than my first, at least I felt confident in that I somewhat knew what to expect…what the sensations may be like, what my reaction might be. And I knew what I needed to focus on…a few affirmations, a few fear releases, lovely chats with my midwife and that was about it!
    Best of luck for a safe delivery and a healthy baby!

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    1. Yes, I definitely know what's coming but I trust that the affirmations in my head are strong and focussed x

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  7. The "don't push the river" quote is still one of my favorites ever since I saw it written on your chalk wall that first time. Such a great reminder that coincides with birthing perfectly.

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    1. Coincides beautifully with life, too x

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  8. Yoga classes for my third child were the best preparation ever. And when suddenly labour begun, I could really feel all the progress of the baby in my body. This third baby just told me how she wanted to be born, on a calm path, just between her daddy and me. She managed to arrive before any medical assistance could come. I had to tell myself 'I'm a woman of the world, I'm just giving birth as many other women do at the same time' in order to stay calm. and she arrived, she was sleeping, just meaning for me 'stay calm and carry on, I'm here'. That was such a great experience, and yoga did helps so much for me, from the beginning to the birth.

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  9. My last birth was nothing like the others, and it was a little unnerving. I had felt so empowered with my other labors, but I really needed my husband to help me get through this last one...and to be honest, that was good too. It brought us much closer. It's such an amazing thing. :) Best of luck to you!

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  10. I'm pregnant with my third child and although I'm only 19 weeks I can already feel I have less anxiety and fear about this birth. Perhaps that will change, but right now I feel more trusting. I will be interested to hear how you go with your birth given your relaxed outset and minimal preparation. Good luck!

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  11. Wow, such a beautiful moment to share with your wee babe in the ocean, sounds perfect. For me, third time round, and with a straight forward pregnancy (and 40 weeks of morning/day sickness!) we flew from the UK to NZ at 32 weeks and back again at 36 weeks. Even with the concern regarding travel insurance, and which way to travel (eg not via the usa for visa issues) I was surprisingly calm. When it came to giving birth we rocked up a the hospital after a day of contractions without phoning first (which put us in the seriously bad books - I just had done so little preparation we forgot we were meant to call!), were ignored for 20 minutes, then was examined, wheeled to the delivery room and gave birth within an hour of arriving at the hospital! I was home 3 hours later. I think I finally had faith in my body that it knew what to do and in the midwife team, that if we had issues they would support us (as they had with a very medical, intense first birth!). It was quite liberating and my energies were used with my older babes rather than worry. My third is a very laid back baby as long as she is surrounded by lots of people .... best wishes for some relaxation time and a beautiful birth!

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  12. Beautiful photo.. Just beautiful. We only have one child but are talking about a second. Our planning is already different. I think each birth needs to be different. We change as we grow and can't repeat things even if we wish we could... and then there are the things you wish never to repeat that you sometimes do.. and even then your perspective is different and so is your planning and experience. I guess I'm saying "No (wo)man ever steps in the same river twice". Wishing you a beautiful and peaceful birth.

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