Trust Your Instincts, a birth story, by Elaine McRaild
When I was pregnant with Millie, my daughter, who is now almost 5, I was keen to have as natural a birth as possible. I imagined everything happened exactly as I wanted it to. I would go into labour surges (contractions), stay at home as long as I could and then by the time I got to hospital it would be a quick, amazing experience.
I wanted to stay away from maternal classes, avoid One Born Every Minute and talking to friends, who wanted to tell me about their painful, traumatic birth stories. These were all things that potentially could influence the way I saw birth. I had my image of birth and I didn't want it to be influenced.
Not long into my pregnancy, I was told by the midwife that I would need to be induced on my due date, due to what the medical profession believed were high risk factors. I was 40 and this was a precious IVF baby. I told myself I would be OK, baby will come early, there are techniques I can use to help this along , so I pushed it to the back of my mind.
I continued to have a really healthy pregnancy, I was in my element, excited about the birth of this long awaited baby. I was taking time every day to connect with my baby, to connect with my body and connect with my mind by listening to my HypnoBirthing track, meditating and doing yoga, visualising the wonderful birth my baby and I were going to have together .Weekly acupuncture sessions helped me to stay calm and relaxed and kept pregnancy symptoms at bay.....pregnancy was great!
As my due date got closer, the prospect of induction seemed to be the only blot on the horizon. I discussed this again and again with my midwife, but she was only able to create fear when we spoke about it, telling me we would not want to take any risks with the arrival of this little bundle.
Every part of my being was telling me baby will come when baby is ready, but this every hanging induction was starting to occupy a bigger and bigger place in my mind. It was completely unsettling me. The week before my due date/ induction date I started to try some of the more natural ways to induce labour. I was drinking raspberry tea, I booked into my acupuncturist, he had a special point that could work to encourage labour to start. I was booked in for a sweep a few days before and all that resulted from that was me going home, climbing into bed and crying. I honestly felt as though my baby and I had been violated. "This baby would come when it's ready, they had no right to be trying to force it to come early!!!!"
I was starting to get really agitated "this is my body, my baby.....but the medical profession know best, I need to do what they are suggesting to me" At this time I was quietly fighting my instincts against what the medical profession were wanting me to do. I did allow them to induce me and I can honestly say the few hours with prostaglandin pessary was the worst part of my pregnancy and birth experience, contractions coming fast and furious, every 40 seconds. The midwifes on nightshift recommended that the pessary was removed, as it looked like I was being over stimulated and they would start again in the morning.
During the night, I could feel my own surges, which were milder and much easier to ride. I even managed to sleep through them, allowing me the opportunity to build up my strength. The next morning, I had a wobble at the though of having to start the process of inducement again. I reminded myself why I was there and that my precious little bundle would soon be arriving.
After breakfast, I had an examination and to my surprise, I was 6cm dilated, things were moving along nicely and there was no need for further induction. What a relief! It was like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. Arrangements were made for me to move to the delivery suite, my hubby was called to get himself into hospital. From this point, I felt more in control, I was able to refocus on why I was there and the birth I imagined that would bring my baby into the world. I focused on my breath, listened to my body and my wonderful hubby's words of encouragement. 4 hours later, my baby girl arrived safely, into the world. I was ecstatic, overwhelmed with not only love for my daughter, but with my own body which had created, nurtured and delivered this most amazing little baby.
I learnt so many things during the process of my pregnancy, labour and birth.....how amazing the human body is, the importance of keeping your mind focused on what you want and not what you don't want. Pregnancy and birth can be an amazingly empowering experience for a woman. It is important it is to stay calm and take time to connect with your unborn baby every day. A positive support network is essential, as it enables us to talk about and share what a positive experience birth can be. Whatever it might look for you personally, it's important that you educate yourself personally and be informed if you need to question a process that doesn't feel right for you. The most important thing I learned during the whole process was to listen to my own instinct. Your body and your baby know when the time is right for your baby to arrive in this world.
Read about Michelle Lang’s pregnancy story here.