The night (and the next day and the next night) I became a Mum
I thought I’d find it easy to give birth. How naïve of me.
“You’re a yoga teacher – you’ll be amazing” people would say. And I would smile and agree, despite having not the slightest notion of what was about to happen or how I was going to get this baby out of my body.
I think that’s what the 417 different midwives that I had during my hospital visit thought too.
After the initial dreamy stages at home when I was so excited about being in labour (and when I was still able to sit, meditate, stand, and circle my hips without gripping desperately onto the furniture), I suddenly became static; barely able to move and ultimately stuck for hours in the same spot.
The tens machine quickly became a massive irritation, along with my well-meaning husband. In hindsight, he was being the best he could ever be in that situation. I knew he would be. He was literally holding me up (for hours) under my shoulders whilst I rocked and took micro naps in between contractions. However, the iPhone app that he was using to time my contractions did little to ease my annoyance and frustration.
Eventually we decided it was the time to go to hospital. I whimpered and groaned as I clambered into the taxi. “Is she alright mate?” The taxi company we had called hadn’t informed the driver that I was in labour. Thankfully instead of turfing my leaking ass out onto the pavement, he whizzed around the streets of Brighton to get me to the hospital quicker. Had I known how much longer I was to be in labour, I would have told him not to hurry. It really hurt round the corners.
Once in the ward, the bright hospital lights and unfamiliar smells slowed everything down even more. I was in a lot of pain and felt like I could barely move. At one point I was asked to climb up onto a really high bed, lie on my back and have someone check my vagina to see how dilated I was.
Normal and necessary stuff for birth I know, but it honestly felt like the most painful moment of my life.
Eventually, I arrived in the delivery room and felt instantly better. After many hours of no longer believing my baby was ever going to arrive, I finally felt like it was going to happen.
However, it didn’t. There was just a lot more groaning, locking myself in the bathroom, getting stuck in the bathroom, being rescued from the bathroom, and then literally shitting on my husband’s foot, whilst simultaneously swearing at anyone that dared to mention the word “episiotomy” within earshot.
It was at the point where my subconscious had accepted the fact my baby was never going to appear that I suddenly realised what was going wrong.
I was holding her in.
She didn’t seem to mind. She wasn’t distressed, and her heart rate was normal.
Knowing how we are now, it actually makes sense. Neither of us wanted to let go of what we had. She was as close as she could ever be to me, and I loved being pregnant with her. I wasn’t really sure whether I was ready to share my baby.
She was neither stuck nor too big. I had just spent the last 24 hours subconsciously holding her in. Add this to fifteen years of yoga practise and some seriously strong pelvic floor muscles and I suppose it was no surprise that it was taking a long time.
A quick aside for anyone who temporarily hated me for that last “seriously strong” statement: you can feel happy in the knowledge that those days are long gone and I am unlikely to ever trampoline again.
So I began to let go. And as I released my pelvic floor muscles during a long exhalation, I immediately felt her starting to move down.
She was nearly here.
And then very soon after that she was actually here.
Amazing, beautiful, ridiculously long with massive canoe-feet was my daughter.
The midwives remarked on how little I complained about the incorrect (and then corrected) stitches I received, but I had tea, toast and a beautiful, healthy new baby. I didn’t care about the stitches. And I didn’t have to be in labour anymore.
It was around this time that I knew I had to learn about this properly. I wanted to be able to teach women yoga to maintain as much comfort as possible during pregnancy, and to help them feel prepared and confident for however their babies are born. Pregnancy forces you to take on so much, both physically and emotionally, that to either start or continue a regular yoga practise makes so much sense to me.
And so, after lots of learning, I set up my pregnancy yoga classes. These give pregnant women the comfort of a regular time each week to be around other pregnant women, going through some of the same things as them. And not only do these women’s baby bumps grow during the time I am teaching them, so does their confidence and their friendship (which is essential for those early days of motherhood when you are not quite sure what you are doing and a lot of the time, you are making seemingly big decisions on very little sleep and large amounts of cake).
Pregnancy yoga is not just learning how to breathe during birth. It is about learning how to have an awareness of the physical, not cognitive, nature of pregnancy and childbirth, and thus being able to feel confident with the natural process as much as your body will safely allow.
I now think it was a good thing that I didn’t find childbirth as easy as I naively thought I would. I don’t know if I would have been so eager to learn as much as I have. I might not have thought I needed to.
Lynne teaches hatha, pregnancy and postnatal yoga, weekly classes, one to one tuition in and around Shoreham-By-Sea, West Sussex, and weekend retreats at Tilton House, Firle, East Sussex.
For more information about Lynne’s amazing yoga, you can find her at the following:
You can also read about Lynne and her life with Multiple Sclerosis, yoga and her family, on her blog www.mymsyhouse.wordpress.com.