At a post natal visit with a recent client I was curious to hear first hand how she observed her own pain coping techniques in labour. She shared with me what she noticed. During 2nd stage (when she was breathing/grunting/pushing) her baby down she found herself very focused on being able to take her focus to the baby. She was encouraged to be actively working with her body to bring the baby down lower with each contraction. This mum had some gas through the labour but nothing else. So she was upright, active and open in her posture to help the baby descend.
After 2 1/2 hrs of active 2nd stage there seemed to be little progress and an internal check was advised in order to see what was happening. The mother agreed and was checked. She was fully dilated but there was caput (swelling) on the baby's skull, which she was told indicated that the baby had been in that position for a while and was not progressing. With the baby still above spines (the narrowest part of the pelvis) she was told that a caesarean would be necessary. We asked questions, checked if there were any alternatives and asked for some time to process this information. She felt disappointed to hear this and suddenly her pain felt different.
With the reason for the 'pain' seeming now to have lost its purpose she increasingly became overwhelmed by the same sensations that moments earlier were manageable. Shortly after, she was being prepared for theatre. During which she started to 'lose it'! The options for gas and tens machine were taken away so that a spinal could be given. Moments before she received pain relief a midwife looked her in the eyes and calmly spoke to encouraged her. The birthing woman started to focus again, the pain eased and she felt that with each contraction she could breath her way through it like she did before. Soon after the spinal took effect.
What she reflected back to me when we met a couple of days later was interesting to hear and I asked if I could blog about it. She said she could see how much her frame of mind influenced her perception of the pain. She also noticed that when she focused on how her body was working with her baby it made all the difference in the world. It gave her the oomph to give it her all and in the end she says she feels very proud of her efforts.
I’ve just started training rides up Mt Dandenong on my road bike again. I ride from Ringwood to Sassafras, drop down the other side of the ridge and then peddle back up a rather steep Perrin’s Creek Rd, to finally enjoy the well-earned descent back to dinner. It was on one of these hills that I went into a cycling trance and blissed into a state of simple acceptance of all that I was feeling. Although my body was working hard, I was also appreciating the smell of the air, the trees and ferns, the wending road, the singing birds, the connection to my body and interestingly the creative thoughts of my mind.
What stood out to me was the nature and quality of my breathing. I paid attention to it and realized that I was using it to help me ride better. I noticed the length of my breath matched my cycling stride and it gave me rhythm. I noticed how controlling it to slow down a fraction made me feel calmer inside. I found my will power and strength circulated through my body and encourage me on.
I enjoyed my thoughts on how perfectly similar this was for birthing women. Women that can respond to the workout in labour with these principals in place do well in birthing their babies. They find their way to dance the baby down to the rhythm of their breath, stay relaxed, conserve their energy and keep going in their power until the baby is in their arms. Women who are willing to do this work and partners who fully support this effort benefit greatly from this process. Strong, aware, healthy, connected birthing families lays a great foundation to the structure of their family life. Just like I am now motivated to do it again, or even ride a harder hill, so too are women and men that embrace the birthing and parenting journey as one that they can continue to actively participate in – mind, body and spirit.
Breath awareness and practice is one way to create this special birth dance. Help bring your baby into the world in a calm and powerful way. Make a positive difference to your life each time you practice and create a better birth experience to your family life.
Erika Munton Nov2013 – inspired after a tough training ride.