Power of a birthing woman

I started my journey in pregnancy education 4 years ago when found myself pregnant. That’s when I started questioning lot of the obstetrical practices. I had my baby in 2017 and after 2 years of maternity break I decided to get into childbirth classes and doula work. Every couple and every birth has taught me something and I always begin my classes saying we are going to learn from each other. But this last birth I was a part of has truly made me realize the power of a birthing woman.

It’s close to my heart for various reasons. Firstly the mother is a very close friend of mine and a second time mom. Secondly, she managed her whole pregnancy without support or family and this COVID lockdown made sure none of her family could come down. So when she asked me to be her doula, I was elated. We were already consulting on and off during her pregnancy for homeopathy and exercises. Somewhere in the 35th week, she suddenly experienced some unexpected weight loss. She consulted her gynecologist and the scan revealed low amniotic fluid levels. The doctor was talking a more cautious approach than a radical one, so that gave us time to work on her fluid levels.

We made sure she was hydrated well; pushing in fluids as much as possible. After a week, her fluid levels rose up and the doctor was happy to wait further. Unfortunately, due to the lockdown she could not go in for more scans. So I said what I say to all mothers; keep an eye on baby movements and follow your intuition. Things will be fine.

She went past her due date and the doctor was also kind enough not to bother her about it. The doctor knew that the outcome is best if labour is allowed to start on its own. Somewhere around 40+3 weeks, the mom told me that she is experiencing increased vaginal discharge and some change in the uterine activity. She also mentioned her bowels getting cleared more often than usual. I asked her to relax and do her routine activities. If the cramping increased or became regular, note it down. After 2 days she said that the last night she could hardly sleep. There were random sensations all over and no position was really comfortable. I guessed this was her pre labour and asked her to inform the doctor about it and also start timing her contractions to get an idea. I also pushed her to pack her hospital bag as she hadn’t done it already.

Around afternoon she told me, she’s getting very tired and had to lie down in between. She did some of the relaxation exercises we had done during pregnancy to tide through the discomfort. She still said the contractions were not regular, maybe coming every 15-20 minutes. By evening 9 PM I didn’t hear from her so I gave her a call. During the call she got a contraction and she could not speak to me during that time and that is when I realized she might be in active labour.

I informed the doctor, and decided to go to her house. When I reached there, she was in full blown labour with contractions coming every 1-2 minutes. She could hardly walk or stand during that time. But even with all this she said, I feel like having a shower. She showered quickly, had one episode of vomiting where she took out all her dinner. I helped her get dressed quickly so that we (she, her husband and I) could leave for the hospital. We drove like crazy amidst all the road blocks and detours and finally reached the hospital. On reaching her room, she told me Shruti, I have to push now! The baby is coming now!

It was just the two of us in the room and she got onto the bed like she knew that she was doing. She was on all fours, and she pushed. Two pushes and I could see the head. She held the head in her hand and guided it out. By the next push the baby was out and I received it. She turned around took the baby and sat there like a champion.

The baby was born at 11.50 PM and it took good 15 minutes before the cord stopped pulsating and they could cut it. The baby was skin to skin with the mother all this while. The placenta came out naturally in another 5-10 minutes. There was no tear so no stitches were required.

Just right there I was awestruck. I considered myself lucky to have witnessed an almost unassisted birth done safely in a hospital with all the facilities nearby. She knew when she was ready to push, she followed her instincts to get into the most comfortable position and she also guided the head of the baby when it came out. If that is not powerful then I don’t know what is. All mothers have this intuition buried somewhere deep inside. It is suppressed with all the fear and misinformation that they are fed during pregnancy. Up until a few decades ago, we allowed ourselves to trust this intuition and trust the process and now we have started relying more on machines, monitoring, doctors and tests. Where is the mother in all this?

Almost every birth can be intuitive provided the mother is nurtured positively during her pregnancy. Not just her family but also her doctor should believe in her. And more than anything else the mother should believe in herself; believe in the power of her own body. Of course I do teach the physiology of birth in my classes and explain them how wonderful and safe birth actually is, but this will be a story that I will tell all mommas I meet from here on. The take away message is that not every birth is easy, but you can make it yours if you truly believe in yourself.

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