I wish so much that I knew about how powerful my body was when I had my two sons. Instead, like most women I had heard horror stories regarding giving birth and so like most women I had a degree of fear and anxiety around the birthing experience. I did not trust my body to be able to do what it was designed to do. It was only after postnatal surgery and a severe flare of endometriosis that I found myself on an unexpected quest into reclaiming the wisdom inherent in female bodies. You can read about my journey in my book ‘Reclaiming Feminine Wisdom’.
When I began making discoveries about myself through tracking my cycles’ cyclical rhythms and incorporating feminine healing therapies I became angry about the loss of true feminine wisdom. Far from what my culture had subconsciously taught me about being a woman. This most definitely applies to becoming a mother and the rite of passage that occurs when giving birth. I medicated my birth at 4 cm with my first child because having been someone who had experienced menstrual pain through life I couldn’t get my ‘head’ around the fact that I might just cope with it. And there is the problem, in labour it’s about surrendering to the wisdom of your body and asking your mind to kindly step aside and allow the experience to unfold. With my second something very interesting happened, I decided to try using visualisation and body scan’s to ensure I wasn’t holding tension and I focused on slow and deep breathing. I had done mindfulness and meditation in the past and so was using some of what I had experienced in those classes. I was actually, at the time, unknowingly using some hypnobirthing techniques. I couldn’t believe it when they checked me that I was 8cm and heading into transition. I didn’t even know what ‘transition’ meant back then. I went straight into fight/flight adrenaline and fear mode. This was because I had planned an epidural for my second birth as I was anxious that I wouldn’t be able to do the pushing stage. There was a huge hormonal reaction going on for me at that time and I had no confidence in the ability of my body to go the whole way. This makes me wince, having trained as a hypnobirthing teacher now and with the deeper understanding of feminine wisdom I can see how little I trusted, knew and understood. There is no point regretting but with the knowledge and understanding I now have, which is so much more than back then, I would have kept going for a natural birth. Instead I medicated at 8 cm when I was so close and had been doing so well! The techniques I was using had truly worked. I had no reason to medicate at this late stage apart from my own fear that was making the decisions.
I want to make it really clear that I do not judge any women on the choices they make in labour or whilst giving birth. We all need to feel empowered in the choices we make, whatever they are. I love the results and empowerment that hypnobirthing offers for women no matter what happens. Knowledge is truly power. I should add that I was told by a midwife that I was not in ‘active labour’ and I would need to be 3-4 mins apart with contractions for a couple of hours. Luckily it was with my second child so I knew, and intuitively I knew that I was. So I asked for a check, (which I had to argue with the midwife for as she didn’t believe I was), I was surprised at how far along I was but not that I was in ‘active labour’.
I pushed to get the check then as I had planned a medical birth again so wanted to know when I could have the epidural. I wouldn’t ask for a check if I gave birth again (if you’ve read my book you will know why I had a hysterectomy). But putting yourself back in the driving seat of your inner knowing about your body is imperative. Do not give your power over to anyone but yourself.
If you are interested in my hypnobirthing and birth support classes you can find more info at www.melanierossiter.co.uk