June 17, 2003
permalink Yoga Bliss, natural birth, feeling empowered

Ahhhh, finally... a santuary of peace and happiness and contentment. Getting back into feeling good. Today I did my first yoga and pregnancy class with a local Active Birth yoga teacher, Jane. It was lovely.

I'd been going to another class run by a good energetic and helpful woman who knew her stuff, but there was so much emphasis on natural, drug-free, vaginal births being the only way to go, that it left me feeling a bit alienated. With now 24 years of diabetes and some kidney damage (although mild and stable for over 10 years) behind me, birthing centre and midwife-only births were not an option for me and I had found myself with no one or no ideology to relate to in these classes.

I would like the opportunity to go into spontaneous labour, but my doctor has told me that he wouldn't want me to go further than 38 weeks due to a small, but still greater than average chance of stillbirth due to my diabetes and kidney disease. This means I'll probably be induced early. I'll also have heaps of fetal monitoring during labour and I feel, under these circumstances, a greater than average chance of needing an emergency caesarean.

So on one hand I had good but very medically-oriented appointments at the hospital and on the other a yoga class at the time that didn't begin to explore the type of birth that could indeed be a reality for me. The way this natural ideal was approached by the teacher seemed not to acknowledge that a woman could still be empowered and feel in control in a situation in which she and her doctors chose to have her baby induced early for medical reasons or chose to have a caesarean section for medical reasons.

** Note. As I read this just over a year after the birth of my second child, I realise that indeed I did not feel empowered at the actual time I gave birth to my first child. Although this was affected by the complications that arose before and after the birth, it was, I felt, due mostly to a lack of open and respectful communication from a couple of the health professionals involved at the time of the birth and just after it. I feel there is a lot of room for medical professionals to consult more closely with women with diabetes about aspects of their care and their babies' care than these medicos did with me. For the birth of my second child, I had a different experience. Mostly due to having medical professionals on board who worked with me to have the most natural and nurturing birth experience possible, even in a situation of high medical intervention.

I think all women with diabetes (women in general really) need really good birth support from a partner and possibly also a doula who can support their birth decisions and advocate for them in a hospital setting.

oops... back to the yoga...

I wanted to connect with my baby, meditate, and gain strength and flexibility through yoga, and hang out with all these other lovely women, but felt uneasy saying the affirmation, "I WILL have a natural birth", as we were told to do in one of my first classes. The yoga teacher in this first class was good and helpful to me in many ways, but her energy was speedy (like mine!) and I craved a slower paced class in which everything would be gently explained and explored.

Anyway, today I found that dream class. It was in a lovely room with large windows looking out into calming green leafiness. The room was warm on a winters day and the teacher was sooo calm and open. She still had an active birth philosophy, but something about it all seemed gentler and more inclusive. Each posture was done so slowly with a lovely explanation and we really did feel snuggly and close to our babies.

I would love a natural birth, without drugs, where everything goes well and I do have certain fears about medical intervention. But I also need to trust the medical professionals I'm working with in addition to finding out as much as I can myself.

So it was lovely for me in this first class with the new teacher to have one woman come in with her new baby to tell us about her birth. She seemed really happy and radiant, calm and pleased. She'd had a caesarean after going 10 days overdue. Said her cervix was as hard as a rock and the baby had not engaged and the doctor gave her the choice of induction or caesar, explaining that due to these factors there was a high chance the birth would end in a caesar if they tried the induction. Her partner had become very worried and definately wanted to go the caesar way. She thought about it and decided on a caesar. She was worried about it and didn't sleep for the two nights before it, but says when she arrived at the hospital everyone was so lovely to her that it was all fine. A good experience. She especially commented on how lovely her anaesthetist was.

The baby was gorgeous and all the women in the room nodded (and many had children already) when the teacher said, "look birth is only one point in time. Just the tip of things. All the work comes after" :-) Not funny, but I guess I thought it was refreshingly level-headed. Let's not get too carried away with the birth. And remember it's a whole new human being we're bringing into the world.


Posted by M.A. at June 17, 2003 04:20 PM

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