If there is one emotion that it is so important to be conscious of during birthing that is fear as the fear response causes physiological reactions in the body that are in complete contrast to a smooth and easy birth. An easy labour requires the release of oxytocin (the ‘love’ hormone released when hugged, held, touched, during sex…). This aids the process of surges (contractions) and the opening of the cervix. When fear is experienced the body goes into fight/flight response and hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released which immediately causes the body to clamp down and stop labour in order to be able to fight or escape. What a difficult balancing act, as it is of course normal to feel anxiety around birth despite it being a very natural act of the body…
During my last pregnancy I prepared using the Hypnobirthing preparation course during which I learned to use relaxation and hypnosis to get my body into a learned relaxed state so that by the time labour started this relaxed state could be easily accessed. I also read Robyn Sheldon’s book – The Mama Bamba Way which explains a great deal about natural birth, consciousness and relaxation and has some lovely meditations for pregnancy and birth.
I chose to have a home birth with an independent midwife and the process was very long (56 hour labour in total). I was using my relaxation methods fairly successfully for the first 8/9 hours and then found out that I had only dilated 2cm. I was gutted as it was tiring and sore. I immediately went into a negative place and wondered how I was ever going to get through this. My surges were extremely erratic and I could not settle and feel calm again. I was certainly not allowing for a smooth labour process. Being conscious of this I sat with the fear and decided to simply accept and acknowledge it and to accept and acknowledge the process as it was versus evaluating it as good or bad.
I also began to use spiralling – a process I had heard about in which the hips are spiralled (like when using a hoola hoop!) during each surge and the energy of each surge is allowed to flow through the body. Our bodies are absolutely amazing – that energy is incredible and very strong and the power of the surges can be very frightening so it is easy to want to resist them and shut down. When using the energy of the surges and spiralling my hips through the birthing process I found I could be with the surges and not resist them, and felt once again empowered and able to continue!
It still took a long time but I was able to accept that I was just dilating slowly. The baby was fine and this was simply how I was birthing. My baby girl was born in a birth pool at home with a fire and candles burning, soft music playing and my animals all gathered close at hand to be part of the lovely energy. It was incredibly peaceful and beautiful and I felt so deeply empowered!
Unfortunately, possibly due to the long labour and my level of exhaustion, I was unable to deliver the placenta and began to haemorrhage which meant I had to be transferred to the hospital where I had a D&C to remove the placenta, as well as a blood transfusion. In the process I was separated from my daughter as I was placed in ICU and she was not allowed to stay with me. My beautiful homebirth experience had taken a turn I was not prepared for and one that I spent the first year having to work through on both an emotional and physical level.
So that brings me to round #2 and naturally I have now had some fear. It has been very interesting to be conscious of this fear. I have worked through my last birthing experience in therapy and through TRE and BodyTalk, yet about a month and half ago I developed a urinary tract infection. While very common in pregnancy, even after the infection had cleared up the symptoms persisted for over two weeks.
In BodyTalk the consciousness of the urinary tract is fear (as well as release, resentment/anger and a number of other aspects). I sat with the symptoms knowing my body was trying to tell me that something was out of balance and through meditation, BodyTalk and a little acupuncture I began a process of releasing a lot of the fear (and anger) I was still carrying that was linked to my last experience. Interestingly, in Louise Hay’s book “You can Heal Your Life” she states that probable causes of bladder problems are anxiety; holding on to old ideas; fear of letting go and being ‘pissed off’. She recommends a new thought pattern/affirmation of “I comfortably and easily release the old and welcome the new in my life. I am safe”.
It was just so appropriate and so relevant and then, ta da, my bladder issues resolved themselves. I am so grateful for the feedback my body gave me and I am so grateful for awareness, consciousness and tools I have because I was able to release so much and gain so much all at once!
Last night I experienced false labour and really thought the game was on and yes, there was fear but I was also able to hold that fear and step into a part of me that is feminine, flowing and so in touch with nature and its processes. At the same time I became aware of the controlling and doing part of me (which I am also grateful for as it serves me well when needed). I very consciously imagined this part of me stepping aside and letting go and trusting the process. I am well aware my need to control comes from the fear and an illusion that if I can be in control then I can prevent bad things from happening….but it is just that – an illusion.
So I am in that balancing act….at times the fear is there and at other times I am in the flow and I trust. I am OK with this. I am human and I have anxieties and fears. However, I also know that I have ways to be with the fear and to manage how I choose to be with the birth. So as I wait with some degree of excitement, some degree of anticipation and a little wish that I could just know when it is all going to start…. I am ready!