Reflections from Aristotle:
Sara’s first birth had gone ‘catastrophically wrong’. She was living as an expat at the time and had come back to the UK to have her baby. It had been disorientating and she hadn’t felt prepared.
Sara was devastated in labour when told that her son had ‘worrying fetal tones’ and a cesarean was recommend. Since arriving at hospital she said she had felt completely powerless strapped to a bed and ‘at the mercy of the Drs’.
A spinal block was quickly sited but as surgery started Sara had an almightly panic attack and had to be put under General Anaesthetic mid-operation. She awoke to a great sense of disconnect and life as a mother seemed surreal, almost ‘fake’.
Despite this trauma Sara conceived again within the year. She contacted me to discuss her options as she had been told an elective cesarean was compulsory and she was in a total spin. Even the thought of being laid out on an operating table again was sending her into active panic attacks.
Sara needed several antenatal sessions to overcome her thought obstacles; to be able to imagine the possibility of a normal birth where she was alert and in control. At the same time she was scared about another emergency and took her time to make her decisions.
In the end Sara decided she would feel strongest if she prepared for a normal birth and spent as long as possible at home. She was living with her parents and siblings at the time and the setting did not feel private enough to have a homebirth, but she adopted a homebirth mindset.
When Sara called me during her labour she had been contracting for a few hours, and by the time I reached her 20 minutes later I wasn’t sure if she would get to hospital. She had reached inside herself and found a beautiful rhythm that was clearly taking her fast to full dilation. Sara was sure she wanted to be in hospital so we got going promptly.
On arrival at the hospital Sara was 9cms and feeling the urge to push. A very short time later Sara’s daughter arrived and was snuggled into her arms. They were both alert and could enjoy the natural newborn eye-gaze and nuzzles. She was grateful to end her childbearing with what she called ‘birth bliss’ and the knock on effect from this was a sense of healing and deeper bonding with her eldest child too.
Nora’s first child had been brought out with forceps. She had felt restricted and claustrophobic from the moment of arrival at hospital, and her contractions had slowed. After many hours she was ‘almost glad to just get the baby out’, and now felt guilty that her daughter had not had the most gentle entrance to the world. Nora struggled to breastfeed and stopped within 4 months which she also experienced as a failure.
Nora’s mood was low when she got in touch, but with homeopathic treatment this changed dramatically over the next few months. She began to feel an ‘upsurge of hope’ and despite a diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes (GD) she was fully stepping into a space of empowered choice. Her main aim for labour was that any intervention she had would only happen if she felt she needed it for the safety of her and her baby.
Nora took the life changing step of changing her diet to keep her blood sugars steady instead of relying on the metformin. She realised that small changes reap big rewards and put her back at the centre of her family’s health. This enthused her with even more trust and confidence in her body’s ability to grow and birth her baby without drugs.
Nora woke in the early hours of the morning and found she was contracting regularly. She was thrilled and prayed an istikhara (prayer of guidance) about where exactly she should be to have this baby. She had arranged a homebirth against medical guidance due to GD, but wanted to feel spiritually sound in her decision.
After she had prayed her contractions notched up not just one gear but many, and as her doula I called for the homebirth midwife. Within 20 minutes Nora was pushing so I called 999 for paramedic support under the guidance of the maternity unit. As the rapid response arrived Nora’s baby was making his way out. Nora experienced a totally hands-off birth that she swore was entirely without pain. The rapid response medic helped Nora to sit up and cuddle baby and the midwife arrived within 10 minutes for the paperwork!
Khadijah’s information, encouragement and wisdom enabled me to experience pregnancy and labour in its full beauty. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for her support. Not only is Khadijah well versed in explaining what to expect from the formal aspects of midwifery care, but she has a deep sense of intuition. Her love of nature, life and humanity allowed me to form a deep and everlasting connection with her based on trust and understanding. It was this very trust that allowed me to experience a calm, tranquil birth where I could allow my body to do its work and deliver my baby into the world.
Maimuna had two previous cesareans for failure to progress (a medical term for when the cervix has not fully dilated at the time of deciding upon a cesarean birth). After multiple failed attempts to insert an epidural before one of her operations, the surgeon decided to perform her second cesarean under General Anaesthetic. Baby arrived safely, but Mai herself was traumatised, and her husband Abdullah even more so. When they discovered they were expecting their third child they were terrified.
Mai hired me to process the emotional pain of the past birth and create a vision of how she would cope when she went into labour this time round. She booked 5 antenatal sessions and discovered:
- her legal rights in labour
- powerful knowledge to make her own decisions
- a tool to interact with staff politely and assertively
We also talked thoroughly through her previous experiences, and drew on homeopathic remedies that would help her release the overwhelm of the past and bring her to the calm power of now. Through affirmations and birth art Maimuna visualised EXACTLY how she wanted her next birth to be.
Maimuna and Abdullah asked if I would accompany them for the labour and birth. During labour Mai used her affirmations, called upon guided EFT and homeopathic support, and also enjoyed massage and hand holding. Abdullah was able to step into a new role of simply loving Mai by being present, without worrying that he had to take on anything ‘gory’ as he put it.
Mai’s labour was longer than she wanted it to be, and she and Abdullah were terrified that she would have another cesarean birth, but with pulsatilla, encouragement, and some strong hip squeezes from Abdullah, Mai was doing really well. By tracking the heartbeat with a handheld sonicaid (no belts!) the midwife could reassure her that their baby girl was steadily making progress towards birth.
Mai had a consistent and steady back labour throughout, possibly due to her daughter’s posterior position, and eventually she decided that she wanted to try an epidural. She, better than anyone, knew all the risks, yet her instinct was pulling her towards this decision. As Abdullah sat down and breathed calmly with a kindly midwife, Mai and I cuddled into each other to take the position she needed for the epidural.
This time it worked.
The epidural at this birth was cathartic. It completed a circle for Mai. Instead of running from her fear she leaned into it and reframed the meaning of this intervention to make it work for her rather than against.
Within the hour their daughter arrived safely without any mechanical assistance, and no tears to Mai’s perineum. The epidural had bridged a gap for Mai and she’d walked into motherhood shining. They were ecstatic.
Mai said she’s never felt so victorious in her life, and Abdullah was beyond proud of her determination and stamina. He expressed that with doula support he had felt able to be present in the birthing room with all the triggers, smells and memories, and he was infinitely grateful to be left with a new memory of his wife: radiantly strong and glowing.