Before becoming a Mum, I had no concept of it. I looked at my Mum as someone that just nurtured me. I didn’t idolise her. Or think that she had done an incredible job raising me, I just never looked at my parents like that. I guess you don’t really remember the early days. You don’t think that your mum struggled to get through each day at times. Sleep deprived and just battling.
Even right up until giving birth I still had no concept of what it was like to become a mother. Does anyone? It wasn’t until my son Oliver was around three months that I started to realise that this job of a mother isn’t an easy one.
I had a dream pregnancy right up until 28 weeks. Everything was going right. My obstetrician (OB) was incredible. So cool, calm and collected and every appointment was quick and easy. Around the 30 week mark my iron started to become very low and so did my platelet count so my OB sent me to see a specialist as he discovered a condition in the results that he had never seen before. For about four weeks, I was going in to see him two to three times a week. I had to continuously do 24 hr pee tests and every three days I had to get blood tests. The whole time though, I was feeling completely fine. No pain, energy levels were good and I was sleeping fine, but my results were showing otherwise. So after a few weeks of testing, my OB made the decision to induce me right on 37 weeks.
No one can prepare you for birth. To be honest, I didn’t read much at all. I didn’t want to hear about other people’s birth stories. I wasn’t interested in watching videos to see how it all happened. Although I did know that I wanted to try a natural birth. Meaning no epidural. I was going to be induced which meant that my waters were going to be broken and I was to go on a drip and my contractions were going to be controlled. Some say it’s harder to do a natural birth when you’re induced as your contractions come on a lot harder.
“We have to say, RIE has made a huge difference in our connection with Olly. I had realised after about a year of being a mum I wasn’t being in the present moment with Olly. When I was with him, I was always thinking of my to do list, or I was even scrolling Instagram or reading work emails on my phone…”
My best friend had a natural birth and she told me that she listened to a mediation track every night for six weeks. So I did the same. The track is Hypnobirthing Australia – Surge of the Sea. I had never practised meditation, although I have been a big yoga fan for 10 years. So every night I would listen to the track before bed. Around two weeks leading up to the birth I would listen to it in the car too on the way to and from my acupuncture appointments. Speaking of acupuncture, because I was being induced, I wanted to try and bring on my labour naturally. So I did acupuncture at 35 weeks, twice a week, for two to three weeks. I loved it. I had never been before but definitely think it is the reason my labour progressed the way it did.
We checked in to hospital the night before I was to be induced. When I got to hospital I was examined and my midwife mentioned that I was already 3 centimetres dilated. She couldn’t believe it, especially because I was showing no signs of being in labour. I strongly believe it was the acupuncture that made that happen! My OB wanted me to have a full nights rest before they were to break my waters. So the next day came and it was time to go into the birth suite. The nerves started to come on, although something I have always practised when I get nervous is to repeatedly say to myself quietly ‘I see the confidence in you Laura, I see the confidence in you Laura’, it helps me remain focused and calm, something I learned at my yoga teacher training in New York.
I set myself up in the birth suite with my mediation track playing on repeat and I was sitting on a swisse ball with a tens machine. I was connected to so many machines being induced, this is something that I wasn’t expecting but knew that I couldn’t let it bother me. Now that I think back, the art of getting through a pregnancy without an epidural is to not let your mind be distracted by anything and I mean ANYTHING. If something annoys you, practise letting go. So many distractions come up in hospital and I suppose that’s why many choose to give birth at home where you are more comfortable and relaxed. It’s key to maintain a relaxed state when contractions come on. The tens machine helped me use something to distract my mind – it was awesome for me. It gave me something to do. I would time it well with contractions.
My husband sat quietly the entire time. I couldn’t speak with him. I had my eyes closed for four hours and I pushed through my pain on a swisse ball. One of the hard things, was going to the toilet. I had to time my contractions so that when I walked to the toilet I didn’t fall to the floor because of the pain. After four hours, I heard my husband ask the midwife how long I had left. At this time I still had not been examined. To this day, I am not sure why they didn’t examine me. I think it’s because I was showing no signs of pain. I didn’t scream or make eye contact with anyone.
I vaguely heard the midwife say that they were going to examine me in another hour or so. At this stage, I was feeling the pain. The contractions were getting so strong. I let go of the tens machine as it was useless by this point and only became annoying to me. I said to myself on the next contraction I need to try a different position to see if that would ease the pain. I stood up and leaned over the bed. A contraction came on and I screamed. I immediately lost control mentally. My husband called the midwife and said you need to examine her. She asked me what I felt like doing and I said PUSHING! She was like, ok, get up on the bed. By this stage I was trying to calm my mind although, it was SO hard. The contractions were coming on so fast. One ended and the other one started. The midwife said ok, I can see a head, you need to start pushing. The pain was so intense so I tuned in to the mediation track, trying to calm my mind. As I was pushing, I was letting out this huge roar. My OB finally got there to save the day. As soon as he came in to the room he said ‘right Laura you need to stop all that screaming and use that energy for pushing’. Grab on to the pressure and push like your pushing out a poo. So I did and it wasn’t until I stopped screaming that I gain controlled of the pushing. I don’t think I would have got through unless he told me how to get control of the pushing.
“My advice to those trying to have a natural birth is to practise meditation. Practise calming the mind. Focusing on the breath, sitting still and trusting yourself. You don’t have to be a yogi or a meditation guru. You just have to believe in yourself…”
So after almost four and a half hours my little man came into the world. Note that I lost control of the pain at four hours and 20 minutes later he was born. They all say when you lose control and can’t go on, you’re just around the corner. I trusted my body and also my OB. My husband was so amazing and calm. He just squeezed my hand the whole way through.
The best thing about going through birth with no epidural is that when the head pops out, it’s like, life is back to normal. Not long after, I got to get up out of bed and shower. My husband couldn’t believe how normal I was acting when he came out. He couldn’t believe that moments before I looked as though I was going to burst with the pain but then as soon as he was out, my body felt completely fine.
My advice to those trying to have a natural birth is to practise meditation. Practise calming the mind. Focusing on the breath, sitting still and trusting yourself. You don’t have to be a yogi or a meditation guru. You just have to believe in yourself and control the mind through the pain.
Oliver is now 17 months and it wasn’t until fairly recently that I was chatting to my husband about parenting. I said to him, do you know how you’re going to parent? He was like “what do you mean?” and I said “have you thought about parenting and the style of parenting that you want to follow?”. He kind of looked at me like all guys do at times, “I’ve got this thing covered, I don’t need someone to tell me how it’s done”. I told him how I was listening to a podcast and heard a girl say that her husband’s connection with her son after years of implementing the RIE method (Resources for Infant Educarers) was incredibly strong and that the connection was like nothing she had seen before. My husband was then all over it and keen to learn more.
After a lot of reading and listening to the founder, Janet Lansbury’s podcasts, Ben and I started to implement RIE with Oliver. First of all, a lot of it made sense to us. Ben was already a big believer in letting kids work it out for themselves. Ben remembers his childhood being free to roam on five acres and most of the time he would be by himself playing games, kicking balls and climbing trees. His childhood was directed by him, not his parents. So this was something that really spoke to us already!
With Olly though, Ben was different. We both were. We both found ourselves interrupting Olly’s play a lot and directing him too much rather than just letting him work it out for himself. Also when Olly started walking we found ourselves saying the word careful way too much. We started being more mindful with the use of our words and explained to him why we are saying careful. Also instead of jumping in all the time to save a fall we now just buddy him (get close to him and be there to catch if he does fall) and observe more and let him work it out for himself. They are so much smarter than we think.
“I would love next time around to take pregnancy slower. Much slower. To tune in more. To listen to my body. To talk to my baby. To really appreciate my body and what it goes through to build a bub. It really is a gift.”
Another big change for us was communication. Kids love to know what is happening next. After implementing RIE, we find ourselves constantly telling Olly what we are doing and always letting him know ahead of time how the day will play out. Of course there are times where we have to chase each other around the house so I can change his nappy, but when it’s nappy time he stays still because we give him all of our attention and walk him through what’s going on and include him in the process rather than distract him by rattling a toy in his face.
Another RIE principle was removing the high chair. Ben and I actually loved doing this as Olly wasn’t enjoying the high chair. Olly just didn’t want to sit in it, he just kept trying to climb out. So this was actually easy to implement. However, the walking around the house with the food was something that did take a while for him to understand. We have to laugh to ourselves now as Olly is like a dog when food comes out. He just sits down wherever he is. The amount of times I have repeated “Olly you must sit down when you eat, if you walk away that let’s me know that you’re finished eating”. Although now, he is at the big table with us which is still not an ideal situation as he has some growing to do, but food time is so much more enjoyable. He eats and then when he is done he just gets down from his chair and walks away. Again, another RIE principle that just made so much more sense to us. They direct when they have had enough, not the parent.
What has made our lives so much more zen is allowing Olly to go through his emotions without us distracting him. If he is upset, we are there to support him with a cuddle, but if he wants to cry for 30 minutes we allow that to happen. Changing our minds to believe that tears and frustration in a child is a good thing has calmed our minds and made our bond stronger.
We have to say, RIE has made a huge difference in our connection with Olly. I had realised after about a year of being a mum I wasn’t being in the present moment with Olly. When I was with him, I was always thinking of my to do list, or I was even scrolling Instagram or reading work emails on my phone. Since implementing RIE, my phone is on flight mode and out of sight most of the day. The only time I look at it is when he is sleeping.
I am not going to go into it too much further, I will let you do some reading yourself so you can find what resonates with you, but after discovering and implementing RIE it has certainly made me understand circumstances from his view. Once you let go of how you perceive them to be and get down on their level and be present and communicate to them like an adult it makes the parenting journey so much more enlightening. Oh and this does not mean that it’s always sunshine and rainbows at our house. It’s definitely not that, but we just know how to handle situations more confidently now. Toddlers are forever changing and developing and it’s great to have some expert advice on how to interpret them.
Looking back on my journey so far, I would love next time around to take pregnancy slower. Much slower. To tune in more. To listen to my body. To talk to my baby. To really appreciate my body and what it goes through to build a bub. It really is a gift.
Today, pregnancy is rushed. Woman are working full time right up until they are giving birth and I don’t like this. I hate it in fact that we are sitting in front of computers all day long and not spending our days going for long walks in the sunshine and just being with ourselves and connecting more with our babies and our bodies.
I breezed through pregnancy. I didn’t really turn inward until a few months ago. I have never been someone that is highly stressed so didn’t think that I needed to quieten the mind but it wasn’t until I started meditating that I realised, wow! WTF have you been doing?! You have not been present the last 12 months of motherhood. So I love it because it’s made me get out of my head and stop thinking about my to do list and just sit and be with my family.
Birth next time around is going to be different. I am considering a home birth (don’t tell my husband that one haha) and to get a good tribe around me to help me through birth. I look back at my birth story and want to be able to write a new one, a more grounding one, a more ‘me’ one.
Hey mama, our greatest goal is to use The Delivery as a platform for women from all walks of life to share their stories. Let’s open up our hearts and laugh, cry, snort, yell, scream and wee our pants together (damn pelvic floor) … but most of all let’s support and empower each other. If you want to tell your story in the safety of this community, we would love to hear from you.