The time has come for me to take a step back from doing treatments for a little while, and focus on being a mum and bringing a little soul called Sol into the world. I recently gave birth to my first child 5 weeks ago, here in Ibiza. If you follow me, you will know that I specialise in maternity reflexology; I find it so rewarding. One of the biggest lessons I have learnt is that a relaxed mum to be is a happy mum to be, and of course the growing miracle inside is going to benefit from this.
One of the most interesting things that I discovered when picking up books on the birth, was how our hormones work during this time. I always knew that relaxation was of course key, and that the magical love hormone oxytocin played an essential role. But what I wasn’t aware of was that oxytocin cannot function alongside adrenalin. So simply put, when we start to feel any anxiety, tension or fear around birth, the oxytocin needed to stimulate contractions will not flow, therefore making labour longer. I practiced hypnobirthing throughout the pregnancy and during the birth and can say for me this was super powerful and did mean that I did not need any medical intervention and was able to have a natural birth. I’ve added a list of books and documentaries I found useful at the end of the blog.
I’ve lived in Ibiza for 5 years now, and one of the things that I love about it is its sense of community. When you live here all year, you really get to know one another, it sometimes feels like living in a small village especially in the winter. So it didn’t take me long to hear about other womens births on the island. One thing that seemed consistent when I spoke with them was that they had a doula for support, and each one had said it was the best decision they had made.
A doula is someone who is trained to support you on the lead up to, during and after the birth, and is very much an emotional support. My doula Cyd was fantastic, I loved our pre-labour meetings, and after each one I felt excited rather than scared about the prospect of giving birth. The best advice she gave me was about mindset. Only listen to the positive stories and don’t pay attention to what it looks like in the movies. She played a key role in putting my mind at rest during the birth, allowing me to remain calm and focus on bringing my little one into the world.
As well as reading around birth, I also prepared myself physically by doing a lot of walking and practicing yoga right up until the end of my pregnancy. I also indulged in a few massages and of course reflexology. Luckily I know other great reflexolgists here in Ibiza and I managed to train my husband up pretty well and got a lot of foot massages!
The day that I started my contractions, the day of my due date, I have to admit I was feeling a bit hot and cranky, as the Ibiza summer was getting into full swing. We had been to the hospital in Ibiza Town to sign the papers in case I needed an epidural. Although I intended to have a natural birth, I still understood that things could change and that medical intervention might have been necessary.
There had been some confusion with my due date at the hospital and they had also given me a due date for the following week. I think because I see so many clients for reflexology when they have gone over due, I had it in my mind that as it was my first baby I still had more time, as I hadn’t had any other signs.
My contractions came on in the evening around 7.30pm and were quite irregular and just felt like mild cramps, so even then I thought it was just the warm up which could take another week, but by midnight they were becoming stronger and so my doula Cyd came over. I still didn’t really believe that I would be meeting my baby the next day. I stayed up through the night at home, working through the contractions (referred to as surges in hypnobirthing), with my hypnobirthing breath, and getting some massages from Jamie, and felt very calm. I’d made a play list and was moving around my living room, dancing to the music as I’d learnt that this can help the baby move down. Hugs from Jamie also made the contractions come on faster! Amazing how nature works, I had read that hugs release oxytocin and there was the evidence. Pretty cool!
By 5am the surges had begun to become regular and by 8am we all got in the car to the hospital, I was kneeling in the back looking out to rush hour traffic. Cyd had mentioned that everything may slow down now as the environment was not so relaxing. My yoga teacher Kate had sung mantras with us during our pregnancy yoga classes, and I had it on in the car, so I tuned in to that and had a bit of a sing along, trying to keep myself focused within. I’d been told that singing releases endorphins and also helps to relax muscles too.
When I got to the hospital I had a bit of a cry, Jamie thought it was because I was in pain, but it was the realisation that we would be soon be meeting our baby! The midwife checked me and I was 7-8cm dilated. Great, looks like the singing in the car worked as I wasn’t that far off. I had to sit in the emergency room and work through surges for about 45 minutes before they were ready to guide me upstairs to the room that I would birth in. The surges reached their peak, and did feel painful, but I found that the key was to accept the pain, breath through it and I still managed to feel calm.
Once we got upstairs it didn’t take long for things to take a turn. I felt the urge to push, and yes, I did say the words.. ‘I can’t do it’, and also told Jamie to get off me when he tried to massage me again. Cyd knew that this meant the baby was coming and had reassured me before that this was absolutely normal. It had made me laugh when she told me that quite often women will want to leave and say they can’t do it. Anyway, with some reassurance I was able to get myself on the bed. Apparently the red button had to be pushed to alert the midwife to the room, and before I knew it, Sol was in my arms, working his way to his first feed in the new world.
I am super grateful to all the people that enabled me to feel empowered and trust in myself that I could do it naturally. It meant that I could enjoy every moment, and be completely present, and bond with my baby when he arrived into the world. I also have to add that any pain felt pushing him out did miraculously disappear as soon as he was in my arms. I really feel pregnancy and birth is a time to really get to understand the wisdom or our bodies, tune into our own power and work in harmony with nature.
Recommended Reading and viewing
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – Ina May Gaskin
Hypnobirthing – Marie Morgan
Gentle Birth Method – Dr Gowri Motha
The Business of Being Born