Or How I learned to give birth with confidence

I was a blubbering mess at the thought of giving birth when I was pregnant for the first time. I thought, a baby’s gonna come out of my vagina? How’s that even possible?! So I turned to one of my favourite coping strategies: I did research. I read everything I could find about childbirth. And what I learned both gave me hope and horrified me. You see, I learned that for some women, childbirth was an amazing and powerful experience. But I also learned that many medical interventions weren’t based on research evidence. The one that sent chills down my spine was the episiotomy. An episiotomy is a cut to the opening of the vagina. At the time, over 90% of first time moms had their vagina’s cut. This had never been studied. It was based only on what doctors believed. I did not want an episiotomy. And I was determined to have a good childbirth experience. It was the beginning of a deep passion to help others have a great birth too.

I breathed and swayed through the night. I started vomiting.

I was fascinated with “natural” childbirth in the beginning. It’s what I aimed for in my first birth. I didn’t want an epidural because I hated the idea of not being able to feel my body and move around. I wanted to be in control. When the day came, my labour seemed to go on forever and I wasn’t making much progress. After more than 12 hours I was only 3 centimetres dilated. I breathed and swayed through the night. I started vomiting. Even water wouldn’t stay down. I was frightened and tired. I still didn’t want an epidural. But I did use Demerol® (a narcotic). It felt like I was floating over the pain. It still hurt but it didn’t seem so important, somehow. Everyone thought I had hours to go, but my son was born one and half short hours later. I felt satisfied with my birth, even though it was difficult. The nurses and doctors were kind to me and they listened to what I wanted. And yes, my doctor respected my wish to not have an episiotomy and my lower bits stayed intact.

Our son slipped out like he was coming down a water slide.

For my second birth, I found HypnoBirthing® and I fell in love with it. I was already a (sometimes) meditator and I was loving all the breathing and relaxation practices. I already knew I could get through birth. But after taking the class, I was actually looking forward to it. We planned a home birth, which was lucky because our little guy was in a rush. My entire labour was 2 hours and 5 minutes! It was intense. Some of my contractions shook me to the core; there was no breathing through them. I just had to get to the other side. Then I would let my body go limp. Breathe in. Breathe out. No past. No future. Breathe in. Breathe out. I visualized a pink, velvety rose bud. I saw its petals releasing open, one by one. I dug deep but I didn’t know how long I could do it. Then it was like a door opened, I felt a rush of water and our son slipped out like he was coming down a water slide. I felt bewildered, powerful, relieved and exhilarated all at the same time. I knew I had to teach this amazing class and help other people have a great birth.

Childbirth can leave you broken or it can leave you triumphant.

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that there isn’t one “right” way to give birth. Over the years, I’ve listened to so many birth stories and read a ridiculous amount of research. What makes a birth a good one, is feeling cared for and supported and being able to make your own decisions. I’ve heard some breathtaking stories that were surgical births. And I’ve heard stories that were difficult to hear that some would consider “ideal”. While epidurals remove physical pain, they don’t remove fear. Everyone has different values and goals. Childbirth can leave you lost or it can leave you triumphant. Going into it with your eyes wide open is the key.

Everyone can have a great birth.

Did I mention I love research? After years of teaching HypnoBirthing®, I was frustrated to see how difficult it was for my clients to get the kind of care they wanted. I knew there had to be a way to make it easier and I found it! Last year I became an Evidence Based Birth® instructor so that I can teach pregnant people and the people who work with them about what the latest research evidence says about everything birth related.

Whatever your plans are for birth, or if you just don’t know what choices to make. We’ve got you!

What I learned both gave me hope and horrified me.
Allison Thompson, founder of Birthly

Allison Thompson, founder of Birthly

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