After the 12-hour birth of my first daughter, which ended in a forceps delivery, I wasn’t feeling that confident in my body’s ability to go through labour again. I was feeling anxious and scared that I would have a similar experience, and longed for a more active, drug-free birth. The philosophy of calmbirth appealed to us, so we enrolled in Kelly’s class. My husband and I attended the weekend sessions and thoroughly enjoyed the relaxing environment and approach that Kelly delivered. Back at home we practised the meditations together and every few days I would read from the calmbirth manual to feel inspired by other women’s positive experiences. By the end of the pregnancy I felt that calmbirth had already been invaluable in keeping me calm and enabling me to look forward to the birth rather than fearing it.
My waters broke at midnight the day before my due date. We got to hospital at 4am but I didn’t actually start feeling the surges until about 5am. At that point I started to get the shakes in between contractions because I was feeling so anxious about what lay ahead. We put the calmbirth meditation CD on in the background and my husband Brian read through the guided visualisations in the manual. This helped immediately to calm me down. Brian reminded me to relax my face and shoulders at the onset of each surge and would stroke downwards on my back and arms as I breathed down into my uterus. Despite having a bad sinus infection I was still able to do the calmbirth breathing through my mouth rather than nose. I continued to visualise my uterus working as Kelly had taught us and found this to be a tremendous aid in progressing through the labour.
By 6am the surges were quite intense and I found it hard to get myself into a comfortable position. I was determined, however, to stay as upright as possible (having spent a lot of my first labour lying down), and so spent the remainder of the labour on all fours or kneeling over the bed. I used a little bit of gas but mostly used the calmbirth techniques to get through each surge. When the doctor examined me and said I was 7cm dilated I suddenly felt quite deflated. Little did I know that baby Imogen was only another 30 minutes away rather than the 2-3 hours estimated by the doctor. All my focus and breathing had worked after all, and my body had been busy doing its job to move the baby down as quickly as possible.
When I told the midwife at about 9.30am that I was feeling a strong feeling of bearing down she didn’t seem too concerned, but my body knew better and I suddenly felt an incredible urge to push. Just 2 pushes later Imogen was born to both my disbelief and the doctor’s! The feeling during those final two surges was quite amazing – I was so proud of myself for pushing her out without any assistance or instruction. We then spent a magical 2 hours on our own marvelling at our new little girl; so different to the post-birth hours of my first child when I was too woozy from pethadine to even hold the baby.
I have no doubt that the calmbirth workshop helped me to have a quick and drug-free labour. If only I could go back in time and use it for my first birth as well!