Searching to make mum's life easier
Action or relaxation… what birthing method worked for you?
I must be honest, with just 8 weeks to go, the fact that I'm due to give birth quite imminently is starting to become very real.
As a VBAC, and thus destined to be monitored and clock-watched for the duration of labour, I've gone on a quest to decipher a few birthing methods, in the hope that more knowledge might mean less intervention. And to discover, can you really learn all you need for birthing, from a book?
Juji Sundin’s Birth Skills
The theory: a method of mastering pain through vocalisation, movement and action, channelling any adrenaline and energy into positive action rather than tension and fear.
The book: Very informative and factual, it takes you through a number of different coping strategies, each time with plenty of direction and examples. It was explained clearly enough that once finished, I was confident I'd understood the method enough to be able to do it alone. The version I read also had comments from Sarah Murdoch's own personal experiences, which made everything seem more real.
The verdict: Though the imagery of me stomping and banging stress balls together for hours on end challenges every part of my inhibitions, the attitude and voracity of this theory really hit home for me.
I have more nervous energy than a supernova, so using that pent up energy to positively face the pain certainly gels with my personality.
I also found the tone of the book very positive. There was no judgement if you did end up reaching for the drugs, so I came away feeling supported by the method and confident about its outcomes, rather than worried about failing or 'doing it wrong'.
Summary: Certainly going to give this one a go.
Hypnobirthing: Marie Morgan
The theory: Very similar to the CalmBirthing method, this theory is based on managing the pain by finding a state of complete calm through visualisation, relaxation and breathing.
The book: Takes you through the stages of pregnancy and birth to prepare your mind for each eventuality. It then guides you through the different techniques – breathing, relaxation, visualisation – with examples of each and exercises to practice.
The verdict: Because I am generally incapable of relaxing I was a little dubious about this working for me, but decided it was the perfect opportunity to really try and turn that around… and I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't nearly as airy-fairy as I'd imagined.
I found the book alone wasn’t enough to feel confident in fully grasping the method, the relaxation and visualisation CD's are essential to complete the picture. But once I'd invested some time and opened my mind to the concept, I could definitely see the benefits. I don't think I would manage to actually achieve self-hypnosis without attending the classes, but it certainly gave me some fabulous pointers on ways to remain calm and visualise the pain away.
Summary: Great pointers on how to stay calm and I'm already feeling the benefits, but felt like I needed a class to truly master the technique.
I've already put the theories to the test in everyday situations, and they both worked in their own, very different way.
Counting from one to ten and marching on the spot certainly dulled the pain of a stubbed toe. But alternatively, visualising a 'pain dial' and completely relaxing the body also really helped when I bashed my knee on my desk drawer (and we all know how painful that is!)
Other invaluable reads:
Silent Knife by Nancy Cohen: Definitely a must read for every VBAC. Though it is based in the US making a lot of the stats and facts irrelevant to us, it really allowed me to feel like a VBAC is a positive choice and nothing to be afraid of.
Gentle Birth choices by Barbara Harper: Though big and daunting at first, it’s a fabulous book that talks you through your options for a gentle birth. Gentle birth being one that focuses on exactly that – an experience that is gentle and non-intrusive for mother and child.
Again, I felt very positive about labour and birth after reading this, taking away any fear I had and replaced it with hope and empowerment.
And I'll report back in about 10 weeks time as to which (if any) method really worked when put to the test!
What birthing method has worked for you?
Did you find it all went out the window on the day?