It took my husband, Guy and I six years to conceive our daughter Ava. I loved being pregnant and felt healthy and well. I spent a lot of time meditating and talking with my baby, and I enjoyed regular relaxation massages. Ava was in a posterior position through out my last weeks of pregnancy, and as a midwife I knew this could mean a less than optimal positioning for an easy birth. I tried EVERYTHING to encourage her into an anterior position including yoga, ‘spinning babies’, osteopathy, acupuncture, and adopting forward leaning positions and activities in day to day life. Eventually I started to recognise that I was becoming very fixated on my baby’s position and was spending a lot of time focusing my attention on the possible unwanted birth scenarios. Seeing as I did not have any control over my daughter’s chosen position, I decided that I needed to move pass this psychological block as the anxiety and fear that I felt was not going to be of any help in making birth easier. I practised meditation and mindfulness exercises, and I also wrote my fears on a piece of paper and then burnt it in a symbolic releasing process. All of this helped to make me feel calmer and accepting.
Every night for a couple of weeks before Ava’s birth a would get a run of Braxton Hicks lasting a couple of hours. A few days before I went into labour, my midwife came over for an antenatal check and found me on a ladder, head in the pantry scrubbing away with all the pantry contents spread out on the benches. My midwife said ‘It won’t be long now’ in response to my nesting instinct activity.
On the night that I went into labour I was getting the usual run of Braxton Hicks but thought something was a bit different this time. I went to bed early just in case. I woke at 2am with a feeling what I thought could be my waters breaking. I got up excitedly and went to the bathroom to check. No more fluid leaked while I moved around so I thought that my membranes were still intact. I noticed then that I was getting mild period-like pain with some regular tightening. Yay! It was happening! I grabbed a hot water bottle and went back to bed to try to get a bit more sleep before things heated up.
After about half an hour the tightenings had gotten strong enough that I wasn’t able to sleep through them so I decided to start getting ready for welcoming my baby. I left my hubby Guy asleep and went downstairs to make a smoothie and heat some water for warm compresses. By the time I had drunk my smoothie I noticed that I was having to stop, lean forward and focus on breathing with the tightenings so I knew that I was probably getting into established labour. I went and jumped in the shower, relishing in the feeling of rocking and moving my hips under a stream of hot water. It wasn’t long before the vocalising that I was doing with the contractions alerted Guy to the fact that I was in labour. Up he jumped, all excited and happy with me, before running around getting busy checking on the boiling water, and putting plastic sheet on the floor and bed. At this stage I had a particularly strong tightening that I called out to Guy to be with me, I felt that I didn’t want to be by myself anymore. I asked Guy to call my friend Quilla who we had on standby for birth support if needed, and in between contractions I shared a laugh with Guy and Quilla.
By the time Quilla arrived half an hour later I was no longer joking in between my contractions. Instead, I was going more within myself as my body worked hard. I no longer felt strong enough to stand in the shower and was now lying in the bath. After a while the bath didn’t feel right, I felt too buoyant, and wanted to be grounded so Guy and Quilla helped me out and I lay on my side on my bedroom floor. It all felt quite intense at this stage and knowing it hadn’t been very long since the period-like pain had started (only 2 hours, I later worked out) I had a thought that I must only be in early labour and I started to doubt my ability to continue to cope, caught up in the ‘what ifs’ in my head’, like ‘what if I still have another 10 hours and I’m not handling it now?’. I asked Guy to call my midwife, who would be 45 minutes away, and soon after that, my body started the powerful and completely involuntary process of pushing my baby down. I felt completely unable to move during this process and continued to lie on my side, until my midwife suggested that I try to get up and walk to help my baby navigate through my pelvis. With help i managed to walk to the bathroom and sit on the toilet, where I was able to put my fingers into my vagina and feel my daughter’s head. I could touch her head easily, and so knew that she was close. I saw that the bath was still full, and so I happily slid in. Not long afterwards, as the sun was rising, I pushed my daughters head out with a big scream. The burning sensation of her head crowning was intense, but brief, and the feeling immediately afterwards was blissful! It was then that my hubby looked at our daughter’s head underwater and said ‘oh, I can see her little face!’ As I was lying backwards I realised that she had just been born posterior, looking towards the pubic bone instead of the towards the bum. The rest of her body was born easily and she came straight up to my chest. Ava was born at 7am after only a four hour labour! After I birthed Ava’s placenta, we hopped out of the bath and jumped into our bed as a new family, and Ava enjoyed her first breastfeed.
Although there was a stage during my labour where I felt that I couldn’t cope, and also a time where I wished that I had an epidural in hospital, these thoughts were brief and my amazing birth support team helped me to keep bringing my awareness back to my breath and to help my body to relax. It felt so normal and natural to birth at home with the people that I chose and I felt completely uninhibited. I am sure that this contributed to my fast labour despite Ava’s posterior position. We feel that Ava’s birth was a gentle experience for her in her transition to extra-uterine life and it was an experience that helped to strengthen the love between Guy and myself as we widened our love bubble to welcome our long awaited daughter.