This is a pretty honest account of my birth; my labour was a mix of manic and intense contractions followed by a more calm and very powerful experience of the second stage. Manicness at the beginning did include my partner Mickael electrocuting me with a seriously ancient and dodgy TENS machine that I had borrowed from a stranger...
The Birth of Moïse: September 15th 2014
I was ten days past my official 'due date' when I went into labour. I was walking to my yoga class when I felt gentle aching and tightening, which I had been feeling for the past few weeks on and off. I enjoyed an hour and half of yoga class... practising postures ideal for the first stage of labour.
Later on in the evening I was in bed feeling very relaxed with my partner Mickaël. He had been giving me daily massages for the past month and we had created a real sanctuary in our bedroom using candles and music to create a calm atmosphere.
As we were lying there, quite suddenly my waters broke. We changed the sheets of the bed, lay back down and I felt a very sharp kick, which without the cushion of water, really hurt! I think it was my baby's way of telling me he was on his way!
The contractions began five minutes after the waters broke. They were very erratic and intense. As soon as one contraction finished another would begin, or there might be a short 30 second pause, but there was no pattern. I couldn't stay still and was pacing around the room in circles.
Looking back, despite the panic I felt in response to the manic non-stop contractions, I instinctively used positions I'd previously been shown in birth preparation classes and pregnancy yoga, such as rocking my hips on all fours.
I was very hot and having lost all inhibitions I was determined to go out onto the street naked, in hindsight I'm quite glad my sister Petra insisted on the dressing gown before we got into the taxi!
I had been planning to give birth in a stand alone birth centre. Apparently I went into labour during one of the busiest weeks for birth in the year; the hospital I was registered with had no space for me either in their birth centre, or ward! Luckily my sister Petra managed to get through to the other hospital in Bristol, which had room for me in their midwife led unit. We sped to the hospital very fast.. while my sister tried to make small talk with the taxi driver who did not look pleased at all to be giving us a lift!
Once we arrived at the birth centre, I entered a much calmer phase of labour. With reassurance from the midwife that my baby would be here soon, I got into a birthing pool. At this stage I retreated into a more inner personal space, I kneeled in the pool mostly with my head down and eyes closed.
I was blessed with a midwife who encouraged me to follow my instincts and passed the majority of the time sitting quietly at the side of the pool. After the intensity and panic of the initial contractions it felt like a huge release to be able to feel my baby coming down through my body. I sank into the experience and surrendered to the sensations.
My baby and body were doing all the work.. I didn’t feel the need to 'push'. I drank a huge amount of raspberry leaf tea throughout my pregnancy (at least three cups per day) and I think this could have been a reason behind my particularly efficient uterine muscles! The labour lasted just under three hours in total.
The moment when my baby emerged up through the water and I saw him for the first time, was so utterly powerful and sacred. What’s more, after giving birth I felt so much awe for my body knowing what it could do.
When my waters broke and I was flung instantly and headfirst into the 'transition' stage of labour I didn’t believe I could do it and was instantly thinking of an epidural... but that stage and those feelings passed... I was supported by those around me and as a result I look back on giving birth as an incredibly empowering experience.