My Restorative Birth
My third pregnancy was hard; not just physically, not because it was in the middle of covid, which added a layer of difficulty to appointments and support, but mostly because my two previous labours and births were traumatic. As my pregnancy went on, I really struggled with massive anxiety leading up to the birth of my third daughter.
Constantly thinking the worst, having so much fear about the birth itself. All three of my births were natural, unassisted vaginal deliveries, but they were all so very different. Some context for my third birth and why it became such an important moment for me: My first birth experience was a shoulder dystocia- a difficult, exhausting, painful and very, very long second stage of labour. A lot went on (a story for another day), but, in short, I was young, very fit and healthy, and so although it was considered a traumatic birth experience, I recovered well physically and mentally at the time. I thought, "well, at least next time it can't get much worse."
My second birth was a posterior birth, a sporadic labour, and a long, difficult second stage with plenty of internal grazing and tearing (again, a story for another day). I mean, what were the chances of having two traumatic births one after another like this? Why couldn't I just "have a baby?" A peaceful, water birth with candles and soft music? Obviously, this was not on the cards for me. So when I was pregnant with my third child, I had given up on a birth plan, given up on any chance to have the birth experience that I wanted. I was just so worried that something else would happen that would make things really hard, and the closer I got to the birth, the more anxious I got, and real fear set in, which is really not like me. I spent so much time trying to convince (close to begging) my midwife to let me get a caesarean. I just wanted to get into the hospital as quickly as possible so I could hook myself up to whatever drugs were offered - I was not doing this again. My motto was 'there are no heroes- just get this baby out!' I desperately wanted to hold my beautiful baby but really, really didn't want to have to birth her.
So finally, the day had come (overdue, of course). My mum had come to visit to look after my other kids earlier in the week, but that morning had decided to go back home over an hour away. My husband was working, and I had dropped the other kids at school and kindy. My mucus plug had released, and my contractions had started. They were light and sporadic but became regular, and I felt like things were kicking off. But it was my daughter's 2nd birthday tomorrow, and I just knew this baby was going to rain on her parade. So off to Kmart I went to buy some of those self-inflating balloons (no way was this mama going to be blowing balloons up in labour.) I wrapped some presents and picked up the kids early to have an impromptu birthday party.
With that done, it was time to send everyone off to bed so I could labour in peace. I didn't tell anyone I was in labour, mainly because I just wanted to focus on my youngest and a part of me just thought, let's not make a fuss. Also, my waters hadn't broken yet, and my previous labours had all started with my waters breaking. So, I thought I would wait for that to happen before I start to consider myself in serious labour. (Side note: this was not accurate… I was definitely in labour). In hindsight, I was so glad for the distraction, it meant I had no time to let that fear take hold of me. My focus was on my other children and not on the impending birth that I had spent months tearing myself up and making myself sick over.
By the time everyone was in bed, my labour was well and truly underway. This plan of racing to the hospital early and getting there with enough time for epidurals and whatever else was on offer went out the window. It actually didn't cross my mind even once that day. I wasn't panicked. I didn't feel scared. I laboured silently and calmly. I trusted my body. At about midnight, I called my neighbour to come over to watch the kids. I rang my midwife, woke my husband up and we drove to the hospital (I hadn't told him I was in labour yet- I wanted him well-rested this time).
One quick note: I waited at home too long in my previous two labours and was in active labour in the car, pushing. Not only is it incredibly uncomfortable to be in a seated position while in labour (which didn't happen; I was crawling all around the car), but it's also a little scary thinking you're going to have baby on the side of the road.
So this time, when I rang my midwife to tell her I was coming in, and she told me that I could stay home a little while longer because I sounded like I was calm and coping well, I knew that I wasn't waiting any longer. I knew my body had shifted- I had noticed the changes, and I was listening to that little voice inside (which thankfully was guiding me through and not freaking out!)
*Video of the birth of Ella can be found on our instagram page @tinyheartseducation
I got to the hospital, and less than an hour later, I birthed our third daughter. We had a calm and quiet water birth, and everything went really smoothly. I had gone into this birth with the expectation that it was going to be horrible. I had told myself that I couldn't do it, that there was nothing magical and amazing about birth. The lead-up to this moment had been awful. However, this experience softened my heart. It made me realise how incredible a woman's body is, not just from the 'normal' birth I had finally experienced, but even more looking back at my past experiences. It fulfilled the expectation I had right before my first baby. It changed the way I see and speak about my birth experiences and birth in general. But most of all, it healed me from the trauma of my previous births.
I think birth education is the MOST important thing for women. Knowledge is power, and knowing that your body is so incredibly strong and resilient, is critical.
Birth & newborn course
The Bump, Birth & Beyond course will educate you and your co-pilot (support person) on what to expect during pregnancy, birth and the first trimester with your new little love.