Are you scared of childbirth?
I haven’t always been health conscious as I am now. I had days when we would go for a 10km casual run on the weekend followed by McDonald’s pancake breakfast. This was in my early 20s.
It is very interesting how things change gradually. I enjoyed a good health growing up, no serious health problems or hospitalisation. I put this down to my own mother’s health consciousness cooking with home grown foods. I only started to pay more attention to foods and environment when we started thinking about starting a family. I bought a book called “The Natural Way to Better Babies by Francesca Naish & Janette Roberts.
For some reason, I had assumed that once I was ready to start a family, then we will be able to conceive straight away. This was not our case.
I learned about preconception care and how nutrition and environment can play an important role in healthy conception.
Once, the pregnancy was confirmed, I started researching about where and how to have this baby. At that time, people around me were booking hospitals and the gynaecologist as soon as they got a positive pregnancy test. This was new to me! People were even booking a spot for a childcare while pregnant! I somehow felt rushed to be making all these important decisions. But ended up picking a hospital and the gynaecologist who worked at the hospital I chose.
My appointments at gynaecologists were short and hurried. I had to weigh myself every time I got to the appointment, then have 5 minutes chat and I was out the door. I often came out of the appointment full of questions, doubts and fears about my pregnancy.
About halfway through my pregnancy, I came across a local event ‘Pregnancy, Babies and Children’s Expo’. This sounded like something I needed attend; all the information in one place!
I had heard of this incredible birthing story at one of the US TV show that intrigued my interest. It was called Hypnobirthing. Hypnobirthing assured that you would have easy and comfortable birth. Up until that day, my vision of women birthing was those shown on TVs and movies where women were in excruciating pain and screaming to get the babies out into this world!
I quickly became interested in an alternative way of birthing and ordered the book called ‘Hypnobirthing’ by Marie Mongan. The book empowers women by developing an awareness of the instinctive birthing capability. Having this knowledge can greatly reduce pain of labour, use of drugs, and need for caesarean or other medical interventions.
It made sense that the body tightens the birthing muscle and reduces the blood flow when you were under enormous fear.
This was a totally new concept to me. But I embraced this newly found knowledge and looked for someone local who could assist me with hypnobirthing.
I only had a few months left to go with my pregnancy. But I attended several hypnobirthing sessions to practice visualisation, relaxation, and self-hypnosis.
My obstetrician diagnosed my baby with IUGR (Intrauterine growth restriction). It meant that the baby was failing to thrive in the womb. She suggested inducing the baby earlier before the due date.
I now know that the causes of IUGR are many, and one of the reasons being constitutional. This means that baby is measuring small because the parents are relatively small.
Of course, the reference ranges used to measure babies are based on western babies. I informed the obstetrician that I am of Japanese origin. That may be why the weight gain may have been less than those of a western baby.
Fast-forward few more weeks, my due date came and went without any significant event. Of course, only about 3 % of birth happens on so called the ‘due date’. I was looking forward to finally welcoming this little miracle. But the pram and bassinet stayed empty for further two weeks.
We started hearing the announcement of new births; flooding in from fellow parents whom we met during the birthing classes. I resisted the suggestion to induce labour by my obstetrician. I thought I am 100% healthy and my baby is waiting comfortably in my womb that I still had some time. Fourteen days passed the due date and I finally resigned to the idea that my birth will be induced. It was a bizarre feeling to head to the hospital knowing that the baby will be born on that day.
I practiced my hypnobirthing technique throughout the wave of my labour. I counted from 1 to 10 repeatedly until I could feel the baby’s head coming out.
My birth was comfortable. It was just like how I visualised; my uterus contracting and releasing just like the wave of water coming in and going out.
The midwife who assisted in my birth gave me a labour of the month award telling me that it was the calmest labour she has ever witnessed.
From the time onwards, my interest in body and mind connection grew stronger. Knowing about your own body is no one else’s job but your own. At the end of the day, you have to be the one to make decisions about your health. Doctors can give you advice based on their knowledge, but you know your body best.
This is also the time I decided to take my own matters to my hand and trust my intuition.
Against my own mother’s advice and friends around me, I went on to have my second baby at home. I was originally booked in at a local birthing centre but instead, she was born in our apartment floor in Switzerland.
My third baby was born in the spa in our courtyard while listening to our neighbour sweeping their courtyard which was their ritual at 7 in the morning. My midwife sat on the chair next to the spa, knitting. I had the best birth experience with my third baby because the labour started spontaneously. I could fully enjoy the whole experience. My eldest daughter got to cut the umbilical cord with my husband. There was nothing better than bonding with my newborn in my own bed, in a room filled with morning sunshine.
Everyone has different birth experiences. I learned from my own experience to trust my own body and its healing power. Also, we have choices. Not all birth happens at the hospitals. I had no idea having a baby at home was even an option.
You only have to look around the world and see how other countries do things differently. Through subsequent births, I also learned that my body like to keep the baby little longer than normal. I had my second baby 15 days after the due date and my third one, 16 days after the due date. The ultrasound for my second baby suggested she would be small, but when she was born, the estimated weight was out by 1kg heavier! This goes to show that estimate is just that, an estimate.
Birthing babies can be an absolute amazing experience. I am grateful to have found hypnobirthing that changed my whole birthing experience. The great thing about self-hypnosis is that it is not only for birthing, but it is a technique that can be used for several different situations in life.
I hope to spread the word about this birthing. Not everybody goes through childbirth with excruciating pain, like how our society and culture portray.
If you are interested in knowing more about natural birth, please get in touch.