Terrified of labour and how much it’s going to hurt? 3 women tell how they survived it.
"Acupressure points helped immensely"
Celeste Watkins, mom to Brittany
“Water, breathing with awareness and the touch and support of my partner helped me through the most amazing experience of my life. I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to try to avoid medication – it made no sense to me that I avoided even taking a Panado throughout my pregnancy and yet during labour would consider taking a narcotic or a regional anaesthetic.
"But I was warned that labour may be harder or easier than I anticipated, so I needed to keep my options open.
"Labour started spontaneously for me – and as my childbirth educator had instructed us to do, I used the early stage of labour to get my mind right, narrow my focus on keeping calm and conserving my energy for when I would really need it.
"I used the early contractions to get 'the hang' of breathing with intention, and it was awesome. As labour progressed and the surges became more intense, I blew the pains away as hard as I could and although it did not relieve the pain, I found that I could manage and use the power that was moving through my body to my advantage.
"My husband constantly reassured me and encouraged me and when he saw me tensing up he would touch me in that particular area and tell me to release my tension into his touch. I found that visualising my pain moving from my body to his strong body very comforting and at the same time I was sharing this massive power with him. At times his touch was light but eventually his touch become very hard and sometimes not hard enough to compete with what I was feeling inside.
"The acupressure points that we learnt in Tina’s class helped immensely and it gave my husband such a sense of satisfaction knowing that he was doing something so positive for me and that it was working”.
“The quickest way to relax deeply and quickly is to be aware of your breathing and change it to be slower and deeper, with longer outward breaths. This will calm your mind and reduce any physical tension in your body.”
"I felt safe and private"
Kathy Klein, mom to Caden
Using alternative methods during labour
“I used water, aromatherapy and music to help me cope with the labour experience. I was not against using medications to help me through it, but I wanted to be acutely aware of what was going on around me. I knew how powerful endorphins can be as I have run many marathons – I was curious about how it would help with labour.
"I went into labour a few days past my due date and I niggled for a few days before things really started. I stayed at home for as long as possible and then found the car journey to the hospital quite uncomfortable.
"The pool became available to me about half an hour after we arrived and when I got in the relief was instant. I am not sure whether it was because it eased the contractions or if it was because in the weightlessness of a watery environment I could no longer feel the weight of the baby. I found it wonderful to be weightless and I was able to change positions easily. I spent a lot of time on my hands and knees or leaning over the edge of the bath.
"I did not want to be touched, but my partner kept me focused by breathing with me. I remember thinking that I was breathing very loudly. The smell of aromatherapy oils in the room was calming to me.
Clary sage and Rescue Remedy
"In our childbirth classes we were given little balls of cotton wool that had a few drops of clary sage oil on them placed in a tiny plastic bag. We were advised to take the clary balls into labour with us and to sniff on them whenever we became anxious or afraid and overwhelmed. Rescue Remedy helped with this too.
"We had some prerecorded music playing (I run with music) and that was also extremely soothing. My partner made sure that the lights were dimmed for most of the labour and I felt safe and private and a million miles away from this earth. This worked wonders for me."
“Clary sage is a euphoric oil and helps with the release of endorphins. It is also the oil that helps dispel fear. It is wonderful to use in labour along with other oils such as lavender and chamomile, but cannot be used in pregnancy. Clary sage oil can also be used by a mother who knows she is going to have a caesarean birth and has feelings of fear."
"I felt empowered and strong with an epidural"
Alison Van Niekerk, mom to Sarah
Openminded about pain relief
“I was very openminded about pain relief in labour and was prepared to use whatever would get me through. I started off with breathing, movement and even used the TENS machine, but after 11 hours of labour I was only 2cm dilated, exhausted, and with no sense of humour as I could see no end in sight. When my doctor gave me drip to make my contractions more powerful, I asked for an epidural.
"Although I had been a little nervous of the epidural procedure (we had learnt about this in childbirth classes), at this stage of my labour I did not care how long or big the needle was. I felt myself relaxing within minutes and after 30 minutes or so I was a different person.
A good epidural experience
"My doctor knew that I was keen to push my baby out in an upright position, and he gave me the most amazing epidural. Because I did not have all that pain wiping out my energy reserves I was able to adopt the positions I wanted to when it came time for pushing and I had the energy to push Sarah out with no assistance from forceps or any other intervention.
Able to adopt various labour positions
"My doctor was amazing and he together with the midwives and my husband helped me adopt the squatting position for pushing. I felt empowered and strong and without the help of an epidural I doubt whether I would have had such a positive experience”.
“When it comes to labour – the most important thing you can take in with you is an open mind. No matter how well prepared you are and how much thought you have put into all of this, now one can tell for sure how they are going to feel until they are actually in the moment."