Recently we were blessed with the arrival of our second son. With our first, I had a completely natural, straight forward birth so I knew birthing a baby naturally, without drugs and intervention was possible but the memory of my first birth was playing on my mind. I was so looking forward to holding my baby in my arms, meeting him for the first time and feeling that incredible bond and motherly love again but at the same time, memories of the birth, particularly the later stages were creeping in and I was starting to relive the hard parts, which was zapping my enthusiasm.
Leading up to the birth, in my search for some positive birth related material, I read Katrina Zaslavsky’s A Modern Woman’s Guide to A Natural Empowering Birth. The inspirational collection of birth stories helped me overcome my fears, and gave me confidence in my body’s ability to birth my baby.
In addition to the book, I used the Birth Goddess Cards with positive affirmations to help re-program my mind to look forward to the upcoming birth. Each card shows the gorgeous birth goddess image on one side and a powerful birth quote on the other to help create a positive mindset. I used the birth cards at my baby shower to direct positive thoughts and energy from my loved ones to me and my baby.
At night, as I fell asleep I listened to the empowering Birth Goddess Audio Cards with 25 Birth Quotes and 25 Birth Affirmations, accompanied by beautiful background music to help with deep relaxation and birth preparation. I also listened to the audio track on the way to hospital and during labour at times when I needed to let go and relax. Truthfully I still find the audio tracks relaxing and often use them to induce sleep.
As another part of my preparation, I completed a Hypnobirthing course with Stephanie Rackemann, a qualified midwife and Certified Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner. Through her business, Birthing Matters Steph runs private and group classes to help prepare mothers and couples for birthing their babies. Hypnobirthing is all about learning tools and techniques to help with the intensity of labour, calming the mind and generating positivity around the upcoming birth.
The Birth Goddess resources beautifully compliment the Hypnobirthing course, with empowering stories that demonstrate to women that natural, uncomplicated birth is possible, normal and achievable. I saw common elements in the positive language used and therefore it was easy to use these resources in unison.
Although the book showcases inspiring birth stories in all different settings including homebirths, I related more to the hospital birth stories. I personally prefer the security of a hospital and doctor to deliver my babies, which is partially because we live a long way from our nearest birthing hospital. I took something away from each birth story and enjoyed the special recounts.
One particular story altered my thoughts about who should be at the birth of our babies. For my first son, it was only my husband and I and since then I was determined that it was the only way to go. After reading Natalie’s’ Story, which quotes, “I think even with all the best intentions, the experience is never what you think it will be. Better to surrender and accept that who is there is meant to be, and those who aren’t, aren’t”, I relaxed about who was going to be there. My husband and I decided that my mother should attend the birth if she arrived in time and it was a wonderful decision. It was incredibly special for us all and I had double the support and double the love surrounding me and my baby.
The whole experience went very smoothly with excellent results, most importantly a beautiful, healthy baby boy. Although I will say that my birth experience was not ‘pain free’, I do feel that I was able to cope well, relaxing through the intensity of contractions, breathing and staying in the zone, allowing my body to do what it was designed to do.
My obstetrician and midwives were amazing and very supportive of my birth choices but after reading this book, I experienced a new found confidence in taking control of my birth experience and was not afraid to ask for what I needed. It was as though I was armed with confidence and a new level of knowledge. It was my birth and my body and it was my responsibility to communicate my wishes.
To me, the main messages behind the book are that giving birth is a natural process for women and babies that can be done without drugs or intervention and it is important to trust your body to do what it is designed to do. I think women need to look forward to giving birth and embrace the experience, whatever that might be for them. Every woman’s birthing journey is unique and miraculous.