27 January 2011

Giving birth....what to do, what to expect

Tomorrow Layla will be 9 months old. It has made me think about my pregnancy and her birth.

You've heard the horror stories, seen the movies and always wondered about birth. For some women it is something of complete fascination. For others it is one of complete fear. In generations past, girls saw their mothers and aunts give birth as a part of everyday life. There was less secrecy as a result. These days, modern women read books and speak to their friends to understand the mysteries of birth. For me, I wanted to know what the pain would be like and what would happen beyond the Hollywood dramatisation of sweaty screaming women. I had read all the pregnancy books but didn't feel I was in a position to understand what would happen.

Many years ago, I heard a radio interview on ABC radio with Juju Sundin. Juju is a physiotherapist in private obstetric practice in Sydney. She is one of Australia's most prominent educators in prenatal education including both childbirth preparation and holistic pregnancy fitness. Her dynamic and innovative teaching style has inspired thousands of women and men towards a rewarding childbirth experience. While it was many years before I had to tackle the issue of birth, this interview stuck with me. When I was in the later stages of pregnancy I relistened to the interview and bought Juju's book 'Birth Skills'.
Layla in my arms a few minutes after delivery

What Birth Skills taught me was what pain to expect, how to manage pain, what my body was doing and that the pain was good pain - good pain that would give me a gift of a baby. I better understood that birth was not about lying on a bed screaming. There are physical and mental techniques to make the birth easier and help the baby come out. For anyone who is pregnant, this book is a must read. It is also really important for your birth partner to read the book. I made my Mum (my birth partner) read it even though she had had three of her own children. She was sceptical at the time but after reading it said she learned a lot and better understood how she could support me.
The birth team!

Birth is but a moment in time. Even long painful labours come to an end. After all, it is the only time you endure pain and get a gift for your efforts.

1 comment:

  1. I had a dysfunctional labour with my first baby, but it didn't put me off for number 2. In fact everyone said it would be easier. It was. I had to have epidurals for both, the first because after 30 hours of labour, I was exhausted, the second because I broke my waters vomitting from gastro. I never really knew the pain of labour until no. 2. The epi failed to work down my left side and I felt my daughter twist around and move down ready to crown. I had to breath through the contractions and at the end of it, believe I could have done it would the epi. Contractions are unlike the pain felt with injury. It lasts a short while and you know it will end. Wish I had of known about this book. The pain is truly manageable.