I had a difficult start to my pregnancy and was intrigued when a friend suggested I look into calmbirth® classes to help me achieve the natural birth I was hoping for. The series of workshops, she said, were to teach pregnant mothers, fathers and birthing companions the skills to accomplish a calm and confident birth. My husband, Chris, and I took the classes together. Chris learnt ways to support me during labour and I learnt meditation, relaxation and visualisation techniques that I practised at home until we reached the big day.
When that day arrived, my labour pains began mid-morning and my waters broke in the evening. The waters were discoloured, so we went to the hospital to make sure everything was okay. My labour didn’t seem like it was progressing so after the midwives gave me the all clear, they sent us home. I managed to get some sleep, even though the contractions had settled into a pattern of being about 15 minutes apart. Because my waters had broken I needed to go back to the hospital the next day to be checked. When we arrived the midwives examined me and said everything looked fine. They wanted us to stay, so Chris and I settled into the birthing suite and I spent the night meditating in the bath.
The next morning the midwives gave me some drugs to help speed up the labour and also broke my inner sac of membranes. This bit was surprising to me, as I didn’t know that the sac holding the amniotic fluid was made with two membranes! Apparently the inner membrane contains the amniotic fluid and the baby while the outer membrane is part of the placenta. By lunchtime I was told I was 5cm dilated. I was completely exhausted at this point and decided to have an epidural. This seemed to help me along and by dinnertime I was ready to push. It took 55 minutes and during that time I was able to touch my baby’s head through the pushes. At the end, I helped pull him out. We named him Zachary. He was 4.3kg and 50.5cm.
While pushing I was marvelling at how the experience was just like I hoped it would be. We were smiling and chatting and Zac was born with little fuss and into a relaxed and happy environment, despite the three long and tiresome days of labour prior to his birth! I could never have imagined I would feel so relaxed and happy during three days of labour. Not all things went to plan, but I kept an open mind at all times, and the skills I learned during my calmbirth® classes got me through the long labour.
Bronwyn and her husband Chris attended calmbirth classes with Jacqui in December 2011. This story was published in Practical Parenting Magazine November 2012.