Looking back at the birth of my first child, Lucy, I see how unprepared I was for her birthing experience. I was a very fit woman and had practiced meditation and relaxation techniques as well as yoga for a number of years and so I felt very prepared to bring my first baby into this world. It was to be a great and peaceful event that would be deeply spiritual and not too sweaty! Of course, despite all my efforts, the actual birthing experience was quite different to this and ended up being way out of my control. Although I had a strong mind and body and some great relaxation techniques, none of my preparation had been birth specific!!!
Birth specific preparation is the KEY to an enjoyable and empowering birthing experience. My first birthing experience, although not the birthing experience that I wished to have, left me with a great sense of personal strength, will and achievement… and a great desire to create an effective guide for all women approaching their own birthing experience that would prepare them for their journey ahead.
The birth of my second child, Jacob, was testament to my efforts. His birthing was an incredibly peaceful, joyful and non-sweaty journey. I did great preparation for his birthing experience based on the lessons I had learnt from Lucy’s birth. I immersed myself in the strategies that I have offered to you in this journal, the rituals, the celebration of his coming and practiced birth specific meditations daily… and his journey into this world was better than I could have ever imagined!
In the lead up to Jacobs’ birth, I attended Karen's Hypnobirthing course which I found invaluable with its’ focus on fear release and its’ birthing specific relaxation techniques. I strongly urge any woman approaching birthing to attend Karen's class or a similar course if it is available to them. The techniques are very effective and can be applied to any area of life following the birth of your child. As part of this course, I was encouraged to focus my attention daily on my vision of an ‘ideal’ birthing experience.
I spent time establishing in my mind what this experience might be. I could see the birth happening step by step in my mind. I would have some mild contractions that I would feel across my belly. When I felt these, it would trigger a deep sense of relaxation and opening. My waters would break and it would be a beautiful moment affirming my opening and my baby’s head would gently drop right down into my pelvis to release hormones of deep contraction matched by deep relaxation and endorphins. I would gently tap my husbands wrist when I had a contraction so that he would know where I was at and could assist me with applying pressure on acupressure points at my sacrum. My birthing Doula Karen would be there to offer her wisdom and guidance to myself and my partner when required, this way we had no questions or fears in our minds of whether what was happening was meant to happen or not.
We would be in a hospital where medical assistance was there if we needed it, but other than that, it would be just myself, my husband, our Doula, midwife and our emerging baby. Everything would be peaceful and after a couple of relaxed pushes, our beautiful baby would be wrapped up in my arms and breastfeeding to help the birthing of the placenta. The cord would be cut when its’ pulse stopped as a sign that both our bodies were ready for separation.
In the final weeks leading up to the birthing experience, I took a little time to do my own ‘Birthing Vision Quest Meditation’. This was a pivotal moment in my pregnancy as in my meditation, I discovered that my son’s birthing experience was not a task that I was to endure totally by myself… in my meditation, I found myself standing at the pinnacle of a rocky mountain, surveying a vast wilderness bellow me that stretched out to a wild sea in the distance. I could feel a soft warm and sweet breeze caressing my skin and gently playing with my hair.
I saw that this birthing experience was to be one that would require greater strength than that which I possessed within. For the birthing experience that I desired, I would need to call upon and connect with the energies of Mother Nature herself and for her strength to combine with my own. I needed to firmly root my feet into the earth for grounding and harmony. I needed to connect with the mother natures gentle breeze that would carry the winds of change through me so that I might release all my fears as they arose to remain serene.
I needed to focus on the warmth of the sun, the strength of the sea and the vital energy that is mother earth and allow myself to fill with this energy. By doing this, my birthing experience would be the natural, serene and empowering experience that I wanted it to be.
I saw myself, standing in this place, as strong as the rock I was standing on. I asked the universe to bless me with my perfect birthing experience and as if to say yes, in return a soft breeze again gently caressed my body and soothed its fingers through my hair.
I had been having practice contractions for about 3 weeks. They were gentle contractions that I just took as a cue for practicing the deep relaxation techniques I had chosen to use. The day of my sons’ birth, was no different to this. I was out with my husband in the late morning and had some practice contractions that were gentle and relaxing. They stayed very gentle but started to happen a little more regularly. We called Karen our Doula while we were out and she offered to come over for a short visit to see how I was doing. When she arrived, not much had changed, just lovely, relaxing surges every couple of minutes that felt nothing more than a mild tightening across my belly. As we sat in my living room I felt a funny sensation at my cervix kind of like a thin rubber band stretching and snapping lightly and my waters broke. I was surprised as water gushed out onto the sofa (and my new dress) !
Karen confirmed that all was good with my waters. I changed into something drier, and was exhilarated as I put on my headphones to listen to my birthing meditation that played on a continuous loop. My husband wanted to head straight to the hospital, and although I felt that we were hours off any arrival, as the tightenings were so incredibly mild, I agreed to go along so that his mind could be at ease.
It felt beautiful driving along the freeway with the breeze rushing over my skin, my eyes closed and my total focus on deep calm. I was totally in my own world, just me and my baby.
With each surge of tightening across my belly, my relaxation deepened and more waters poured out as great confirmation that I was opening more and more. By the time we reached the birthing centre, waves of deep contraction were washing over me but every time were matched by waves of endorphins and I relaxed more and more deeply into each wave. The only person who could tell I was having contractions at all was my husband. As we entered the birthing suite, I saw a birth mat leant up against the wall and was overtaken by a primal birthing urge… charged over to the mat and threw it down onto the floor and knelt onto it. Leaning over a bean bag, I changed positions a couple of times as the waves became more intense. My Doula guided me into each perfect position and my husband pressed on the pressure points on my sacrum, all providing the perfect relief so that I could remain focussed on my deep relaxation.
Only two contractions right before my babies head crowned were intense enough to distract me from my bliss at which time my Doula looked me straight in the eyes and simply said “look at me” as she took a deep breath and I followed her cue. This brought me back to my place of bliss and control. We moved me into a squatting position as my babies head crowned.
One minute of deep breathing as I breathed my baby down and out barely pushing myself at all, my body did all the work with each surge. My midwife entered the room, I remember, during this minute, looking out the window to a forest of trees and seeing the breeze gently swaying their leaves and branches. I connected with their deep rooted strength and with that thought pushed my baby down and out. In the next moment he was lying on the floor in front of me and I placed my hand on his tummy and chest and said “hi there little one”. We had done it. We were both good and strong.
My husband held our baby boy as I birthed the placenta. All up the labour had been about 3 hours, with just 2 strong contractions. I felt totally energized and blissed out. I showered and then sat clean and relaxed, breastfeeding my newborn and his older sister at the same time.
There had been no yelling, or barely any talking, no sweating or gasping, just beautiful, serene and gentle birthing. I was exhilarated, and my family was complete.
Answering the Call
Your destiny may be waiting for you, but whether or not you meet your destiny is up to you.
There are those of us who believe that our lives are predestined and that we should resign ourselves to our lots in life. Yet the truth is that it is up to each one of us to decide what that destiny will be. While each of us is born with a life purpose, it is up to us whether or not we will say yes to fulfilling it. And just like when we choose what to eat, who to keep company with, and whether to turn right or left when we leave our home everyday, choosing to say yes to your destiny is a decision that can only be realized when you take action to make that choice a reality.
Whether you believe it is your destiny to be a parent, an adventurer, an artist, a pioneer, or a spiritual guru, saying yes to your destiny is only the first step. While manifesting your destiny starts with knowing what you want and believing you can attain your goals, there are then the actions that must be taken and the decisions to be made before your destiny can truly happen. When you take responsibility for fulfilling your destiny and begin acting with the intention of doing so, you not only take fate into your own hands, but also you become the hands of your own fate. Doorways inevitably open for you to step through, and every choice you make can be a creative act toward realizing your goals and dreams. You begin to follow your instincts and intuition, recognize opportunities when they are presented to you, and seize those golden moments. You also begin to recognize the decisions that may not serve this greater picture and can more easily push them aside.
Remembering that the decision to fulfill your destiny is always a choice can be empowering. Knowing you are fulfilling your destiny because you want to, rather than because you have to, can make a huge difference. When you are freed from obligation, obstacles in your way become challenges to be overcome, and the journey becomes an adventure rather than the obligatory steps you are being forced to take. Your destiny may be waiting for you, but whether or not you meet your destiny is up to you. Your fate is in your hands.
As promised we are just dropping you a line to let you know that the birth of our daughter Kessie Amber went without a hitch. I began in labour, having surges 10 minutes apart about one hour after having a membrane sweep on 23rd February, this continued until about 3am on Friday 25th. At this point the frequency and intensity increased and we went in to the hospital at around 4 am. Between Wednesday and Friday I applied the techniques you taught us and used the CDs to help me relax enough to get some rest during the night which was amazing really. Established labour went really well and Mike said how relaxed I remained throughout. We opted for the birthing pool and hoped for a water birth but as it turned out baby wouldn't turn the corner and I had to find different positions to try and help her out. Kessie was born at 17.21 on 25th February at a really healthy 7lb 15oz and measuring 51cm in length. She was totally calm throughout the whole experience as demonstrated each time her heartbeat was monitored, she was so relaxed! We are convinced that this is all down to the techniques we all learnt together which were invaluable. The midwives were amazing and supportive and regularly commented on how calm and relaxed we remained during the birthing experience. Although the end was hard and I had to rely on Mike to keep me focused and help me through the final stages, as I was becoming exhausted, the arrival of Kessie was brilliant. I was lucky enough to avoid episiotomy or tearing and recovery has been very quick, we think that our relaxation helped with this.
We are all very chilled out and relaxed and want to thank you for all your help and support in the days leading up to Kessie’s arrival. Many Thanks
Liz, Mike and Kessie
Elizabeth and Claire
I decided to look into hypno-birthing techniques when I got pregnant with my second child. My first labour and birth were the result of an induction which left me feeling out of control and vulnerable, so I was determined to have a better experience the second time round. I attended Karen's hypnobirth class when I was about 7 months pregnant and found it so refreshing to hear a positive attitude towards birth – and that it could be a natural, empowering process!
I used all the material Karen gave me and did some of the recommended reading, the CD in particular helped me to relax and remain calm during the later stages of my pregnancy.
One phrase from the CD that did stick in my head was “birthing your baby on the day that you choose”, and I kept thinking about the 4th of July – but dismissed it due to it being a memorable day -independence day. However Claire decided to be born on the 4th of July which astounded me!!
When I did go into labour I was in denial that this was really it, as the sensations felt too comfortable and easy to bear unlike my other labour. I focused on my breathing and used the relaxation techniques to see me through each surge.
As my labour progressed it felt very natural and that I was in control at all times. I could hardly believe it when I got to the birth centre and realized I would be soon meeting my baby.
The atmosphere in the birth room was very calm, with flameless candles and my relaxation music playing in the background. Getting into the birth pool was pure bliss!! I just let my body take over and do what it knew how to, and after only a couple of hours Claire was born! I still couldn’t believe it was that easy and my baby was finally here. She was so calm and perfect, and I remember how alert this tiny baby was, taking in her new world, my midwife had to reassure me that she was OK as she wasn’t distressed or crying at all!
I found the whole experience amazing and felt so empowered, all thanks to the techniques I learned from the hypnobirthing course. I am now a firm believer in the power of our minds and bodies, and that natural birth really is possible. Thanks to Karen and her this class for empowering me to have such a calm and positive birth experience! I have already recommended the course to other pregnant friends.
Clearing Your Mind
BY MADISYN TAYLOR
The more we practice settling our minds, the easier it will become over time.
After a full day out in the world, stories, words, images, and songs from any number of sources continue to play in our heads hours after we encounter them. Even as we lie in bed, in the quiet dark, our minds continue noisily processing all the input from our day. This can leave us feeling unsettled and harassed. It also makes it difficult to take in any new information or inspiration. Like a cluttered house that needs to be cleared if it is to have room for movement and new life, our minds need clearing if they are to be open to new information, ideas, and inspiration.
Too often, the activities we choose to help us relax only add to the clutter. Watching television, seeing a movie, reading a book, or talking to a friend all involve taking in more information. In order to really clear our minds, we need a break from mental stimulation. Activities like yoga, dancing, or taking a long walk help to draw our attention to our bodies, slowing our mental activity enough that our minds begin to settle. Deep breathing is an even simpler way to draw attention away from our mental activities. Once we are mentally relaxed, we can begin the process of clearing our minds. Most of us instinctively know what allows our minds to relax and release any unnecessary clutter. It may be meditation or time spent staring at the stars. Whatever it is, these exercises feel like a cool, cleansing bath for the brain and leave our minds feeling clear and open.
Setting aside time to clear our minds once a day creates a ritual that becomes second nature over time. Our minds will begin to settle with less effort the more we practice. Ultimately, the practice of clearing our minds allows us to be increasingly more open so that we can perceive the world as the fresh offering it is, free of yesterday's mental clutter.