‘The intensity of your contractions can not overpower you because they are you ‘
I felt early contractions during the night on Sunday and woke up just thinking it was another different feeling that comes along with pregnancy. On Monday we went about of day as normal, did some work and went to the beach. But I was still feeling small contractions every 45 minutes or so so I messaged Margreet, our midwife, and she confirmed that it did sound like early labour.
By early evening i was sure that our babe would come to meet us the next day, for some reason I was pretty sure she wouldn’t come during the night.
Duart went for an evening surf, his happy place, and I called my 2 close friends and they came over to be with me, bless the experience and the space. They had walked really closely with me during our pregnancy, giving me affirmations, meditations, love and support throughout. We went to the beach to watch the sunset and be at peace.
Duart and I had been practicing the calming and breathing techniques of hypnobirthing so as soon as we knew it was happening we starting to practice tranquility.
I had a shower and washed my hair, laid out my cushions and blankets in the room, stuck up all my affirmations and beautiful pictures my friends had given me in a place I would be able to see them when I was in intense labour and burnt some incense in the room.
Duart and I tried to sleep, he got some sleep but I was too excited and was feeling the contractions more intensely during the night to get much sleep.
By 6 am I was already swaying back and forth with my knees in the cushions on the floor and my arms in the bed and Duart and I were practicing our breathing. Margreet the midwife arrived at 8 am and checked how I was doing. Then the photographer and assistant midwife, Juanita, arrived too.
They were incredible throughout, Juanita rubbed my feet, neck and back and brought cold cloths to cool me down. She was a beautifully peaceful presence. Margreet also rubbed my back and guided me through each new phase, and gave me choices which I appreciated. I fully trusted her as a woman and her experience as a midwife. My mother also arrived a bit later and sat quietly in the room and held my hand when Duart left the room. I really loved having her with us.
We had practice Duart massaging my back, but having the women do it and having Duart in front of me was really something I appreciated. I held onto him the whole way through and he reminded me to breath slowly, relax my face and unclench my jaw. My eyes were closed for most of the day, but I was connected to Duart all the time.
By 8 a my water had still not broken, Margreet offered to break it for me if we chose to, but we decided to let my body take its time. When it did finally break, it exploded and we all got a fright and had a laugh.
When my body started bearing down by itself it was an incredibly intense feeling, and was something I couldn’t control. I was very tired by then and lay on my side a bit to rest, but I was very uncomfortable in that position and I remember thinking that I couldn’t do this anymore. But words that I had read in another woman’s story was that she knew that when she felt she couldn’t go on that meant that her child was close to being with her earth side. This gave me strength and I moved onto the birthing stool.
Margreet coached me through trying to hold my contractions for longer using my breath. I tried my best and our beautiful babe came out at 4:20 pm.
When I reached down and felt her head crowning all I felt was joy and smiled and laughed the rest of the time. I lifted her to my chest and she looked up and Duart and me.
This is the incredible part of labour to me, it is that as soon as your baby is out, it’s all over and you are just filled with love and nothing else matters.
We moved to the bed and put her on my stomach and watched her do the breast crawl, such a string and aware baby.
I birthed the placenta and Margreet showed us how healthy it was and let that remaining blood and nutrients pump into her little body, then it was clamped and Duart cut the cord physically connecting me to my daughter.
Duarts mom came in too and met her first grandchild and while I got some stitches Duart held his daughter.
It was incredible to be at home, in our own space and do things in our own time. We wiped the blood off River but left the vernix on to absorb into her skin.
She is a happy and healthy baby and I am so grateful that we could birth her at home, I could lift her to my chest and that I didn’t have take any drugs.
It is an incredibly empowering experience that made me realize how wonderful my body is that it can grow this perfect being and bring it into the world.
And now I can grow her while she is earth side with milk from my body.
Amy van der Merwe