Many thanks for the wonderful preparation your Saturday yoga class provided. Reading positive birth stories on your website was also an important part of my preparation and I'm so pleased I can contribute one to your collection!
Our little girl Ada was born in a pool at the UCH birth centre early on Wednesday morning - we had a completely natural, gentle, drug-free labour and birth and no stitches needed! Labour started late on Monday evening, and I spent the entire night having contractions that increased in intensity but waned in the morning. I finally understood why people call them surges and waves! I used breathing and different positions from your class (mostly variations on squatting) to get through the night and napped in between. In retrospect this was an early latent labour stage and the surges were quite mild compared to what came next (though I didn’t think so at the time!)
On Tuesday morning the surges had almost disappeared so my husband and I went for a long walk and worked on a photo album together - reminiscing on some of the fun adventures we've had together. He later told me he had secretly read the book “men, love & birth” and I think he had quite a few tricks up his sleeve to get the oxytocin flowing
throughout the process! The surges got stronger in the afternoon and my waters broke with a pop around 4pm, that’s when the surges started getting serious and I needed more than just quiet breathing to get through them - I definitely went into a “primal brain” state and let my “monkey self” do it... loudly! I think our neighbourhood may be a bit traumatised from my animal labour noises that went on well into the night.
My husband and our doula were amazing in creating a protected safe dark space for me in the living room so I could be 100% focused on labour. We used a soft stool with pillows on top for me to lean on while squatting during surges. We also used essential oils and massage throughout. There were moments when I wasn’t sure I could cope with the pain, but I did thanks to all the preparation with hypnobirthing and yoga, and the support from my husband and doula. It really was a team effort. That all sounds cheesy but it’s so true.
We laboured at home until 1am and took a quick cab ride to UCH where we were lucky to skip the triage and go straight to the birth centre where the midwife quickly assessed me to be just shy of fully dilated! I had thought we were just barely in active labour with still a long
way to go, so this news definitely gave me an extra kick of energy. A moment later I was in the pool and soon could feel the baby’s head making its way out with each surge. With a bit of gentle coaching from my team for how to breath during the delicate last push she was born with only a tiny vaginal tear that didn’t need stitches. We came out of the pool and had a gentle physiological placenta delivery with my new baby skin to skin having her first breast feed. I couldn’t stop smiling.
My husband and I reflected afterwards on what a different, much less positive, experience this could have easily been without the support of our doula. She helped us navigate the labour with confidence and enabled my husband to be the calm rock I needed. She also had great tools like rebozo, massage and essential oils to provide extra support for coping with the surges. Without her we would have been a bit panicked by the intensity of it all, not knowing what is normal or not, gone to the hospital too early, which would have likely stalled the labour and could have easily led to a longer more difficult process and interventions.
It was an intense but incredibly positive experience.
Please send my love to all the ladies in your class. Like you tell us every week, regardless of the path the birth takes, it can be a positive, empowering experience and I wish them all the best!!
I'm delighted to announce the birth of my son Alberto, who was born on 29th October 2017. We're all doing well and falling in love with him every day more and more.
I'm happy for you to share my birth story with other pregnant students to inspire a positive approach to childbirth.
In the couple of days before going into labour my body started to send me few warning signs, like heavy legs, pressure on my ankles and back pain. I did spend those days exercising on the yoga ball, squatting and practicing breathing techniques. I also had plenty of rest and good quality food. I had a session of acupuncture which really helped releasing pressure from my legs.
The first contraction arrived on Saturday at 6:30 pm, whilst I was watching a movie and exercising on the yoga ball. I tried not to think about it and go with the flow, listening to my body. As my contractions became stronger and more regular, I kept being active and adopting several positions learnt in your class. I did squat a lot, first holding on a window seal, then on a cupboard and finally on my husband! In between contractions, I rested on the bed for few minutes focusing on breathing and relaxation, to the point that my husband heard me snoring!
I arrived at uclh at 11:30 pm, to find out I was already 8 cm dilated and copying well with my birthing journey. During the transition I retired into my birthing zone, not allowing any communication. I either kneeled or laid on my side to achieve full dilation. The midwives were happy with my progression and expected the baby to be out in max 2 hours, however they found out the baby was back to back, and things stalled as I struggled to use the push contractions to move him down. Gas & air did help me during this phase, which was longer then expected and incredibly tiring. Once again being physically fit and well rested helped me massively. The physical strain was huge but I didn't give up and decided to give birth naturally when offered an instrumental delivery. Having my husband prepared and fully 'briefed' helped massively in ensuring we had the birth we wanted.
At 5:27 am magic finally happened, when Alberto was born; 4.2kg and 58cm of joy!
The midwifes commented on how fit I must have been to naturally birth such a big baby, especially considering his back to back position!
I personally have no words to thank you for the wisdom you've shared in your classes, the inspiring stories and the emphasis on physical preparation ahead of childbirth. Although they didn't take away the pain, they took away the fear of pain, allowing me to positively embrace my journey into motherhood, to feel empowered and confident I could do it, even when things got more challenging than expected!
I wish you all the very best for the future and I look forward to seeing you again at triyoga when I feel ready.
I hope you’ve had a good week.
I wanted to share with you the news that my son Jack was born at 6.46pm (at home) on Saturday 19th August, mere hours after i was in your class!
Last Friday I had a scan. I’d been feeling pretty chilled about when he would come - he would come when ready (my body was changing and prepping for sure but just no real indicators of the shifting towards labour and I was kind of feeling the most ’normal’ I had) - though lots of people checking in made it a little harder! He was happy, a little small (but not smaller than normal) but looked good except it seemed I had lower than normal amniotic fluid. They immediately discussed induction, which G and I were not keen on - I wasn’t even a week over! Ditto re a sweep at this stage. We wanted to give him / my body a chance to come naturally so agreed to have another scan on Monday if no sign and reassess then. Obviously if he was in danger in any way.
The idea of induction did make me anxious / upset as I instantly knew that mean no chance of a home birth, even a partial one and we became a bit obsessed with the window we had (Friday-Monday afternoon) to get things moving naturally. Tried all the old wives tales - raspberry leaf tea / pineapple / spicy food / walking walking walking / bouncing on the ball - and Saturday booked into your yoga class and for a session of acupuncture. Reflexology was booked for Sunday… We also did decide after a long chat with my midwife and my mum to book in for a sweep on Saturday afternoon. We decided a sweep was better and less intrusive then having to jump straight to induction on Monday. If it kick started a natural birth and gave me a chance to have the baby at home then great...
I did start having sensations Saturday morning on the way to and during yoga but these were pretty gentle and similar to what I’d been feeling on and off. As I walked from yoga to acupuncture and then whilst I waited and had my acupuncture these became decidedly ‘regular’. I didn’t time them and they weren’t taking my breath away - I just used my breathing technique and was mindful that they were coming in waves / intervals. Geoff met me from acupuncture and we decided to start timing them just as an indicator. It was now about 2pm and we were due to have a sweep at UCLH at 330pm. I called the midwife to update her and see if she thought I should still come in. We decided to have something to eat as planned and then check in again in an hour or so. I was hungry and also thought if this is it starting I need energy and a distraction (!) so Geoff and I went for pizza and the surges were now about every 3 mins lasting about 1 min. They became decidedly stronger during the lunch but again I used my breathing to help them pass. We decided after lunch to go in to the hospital as planned - I had planned to walk there through the park (more pounding of the pavements!) and decided to stick to that plan. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and I wanted to keep things moving and to stay active. I was a little slower than normal and the surges were increasing in intensity but we got to the hospital about 4pm and saw the midwife who gave me an internal examination and then would have also done the sweep. However I was actually 2cm dilated! Hurrah! My body had triumphed - no intervention for me!
Geoff and I got a taxi home and again I used my breathing to deal with the surges as we bumped along Liverpool road! We got into our flat about 5pm and Geoff immediately started blowing up the birth pool. I lit a candle my mum had got me and got my yoga mat out, my ball, a nice (white!) blanket for my knees and some pillows. The surges did seem to intensify pretty quickly as soon as we stepped through the door - it was if my body / baby was waiting till we were safe and at home and where we both wanted (we now know him) to be born. Geoff helped me with the tens machine which definitely helped as things were really heating up. I was still really reliant on my breathing at this stage. I was mostly on all fours breathing and doing various positions from my yoga practise and used the ball too. My waters broke at 544pm (on to the white blanket of course) and then the labour really stepped up a gear. Geoff called the midwife at this point and he was still trying to fill the pool. My body really took over and as much as I trued to use my breeding to regular the pain/sensations at this point I found it much harder and I definitely felt like I became animalistic in my reactions / noises etc. I was being led by my body and it was moving things on very fast. I had the sensation of pushing very quickly (before the midwife arrived) and though I didn’t quite how closer we were (Geoff certainly didn’t realise I don’t think he was so busy!) I knew it was intense and very advanced and feared the baby would arrived before the midwife! Geoff really tried to help me slow my breathing, breath through the surges but they were so intense and all consuming at this point I’m afraid I couldn’t. I did get quite upset at this point as I wanted to “do everything I had learnt / was supposed to be doing” but couldn’t. I meant the hypnobirthing practises. The midwife arrived at 620pm (not soon enough for me!) and Geoff was still trying to fill the pool and get it to the right temperature. I had a few puffs of gas & air but by this point things were so advanced I couldn’t deal with anything on me / in me. I managed to get in the pool for the last 8 mins (approx.) which was a welcome relief after no other pain relief (apart from tens) and though the midwife tried to get me to slow things down I couldn’t (I didn’t even push, my body totally took over) and Jack Otto Bailey was born at 6.46pm in the water as planned. I was definitely not (well from 545pm approx.) a vision of a calm, quiet, hypnobirther but my breathing was essential in those earlier stages of labour and I 100% attribute the hypnobirthing, yoga etc. to my general mind-set pre labour and how I was able to feel calm and confident having him at home and that I did not suffer greatly from anxiety etc. in the lead up to his arrival. No time I’m afraid for affirmations and music, massage etc. but all those skills, techniques and attitude def. led to my mind-set pre labour.
Around 6 hours from my first surge and 1hr 45mins of ‘labour’ and he was here. Safe and healthy. We were able to do delayed cord clamping and I passed the placenta naturally. G cut the cord. I did suffer some quite bad tearing and so we were taken to hospital that evening so I could be looked after in theatre. The only downside to an otherwise wonderful natural and as close as is possible planned home birth. We were sad to not have that first night /24 hours at home as planned but more importantly he came in to this world at home as we wanted. It was hugely intense, and I’m not going to say I enjoyed it (!) but I feel proud of my body and of Jack. I enabled him to come into this world as naturally as possible and (touch wood) he has been a beautiful calm so far. 6 days old today! Geoff and I are totally in love. I looked back at my birth plan on the fridge the other day and only the decision to not give him vitamin k (we didn’t at home but later did at hospital) was not ‘honoured’ / ‘adhered to’. I am breastfeeding him and though everyday is different and hard in a new way (and of course we are also massively overwhelmed at times) we are incredibly happy and feeling lucky and grateful. We have had 2 trips out (walk around Highbury fields and to lunch - more pizza!) and we are taking it in our stride. I hope / think. G and I are working as a team and are loving our new family.
Thank you for all you did to help us ready ourselves for this amazing experience.
Mady, Geoff and Jack XXXX
I hope you're well.
I always really enjoyed hearing the birth stories you read out during the pregnancy yoga classes (how I miss those easy Saturdays!) so wanted to share mine, especially as I truly believe the yoga classes were so helpful.
I attended my last class with you on your birthday and spoke to you afterwards as I was 41 weeks and a little anxious about the possibility of being induced the following Thursday. You kindly showed me some pressure points and I went home and tried my best to remember them and got my husband to press them when we remembered. I'd been doing everything possible to get things going, on the Tuesday (19 September) I went to the portrait gallery then in the evening, in a bid to nudge the baby along, was on the cross-trainer and doing squats in the gym!
I think I sensed something might happen that night and at around 1:45am I woke up feeling some kind of sensations. I woke my husband and said I thought something might be happening and he just turned over and said "well, I'm having a sleep until you're sure"! Fifteen minutes later I woke him again as i was definitely in the full throes of contractions. Immediately they were lasting 45 second or whatever it is when you're supposed to go to hospital when they've been like that for two hours, and for those two hours I did all of the postures you showed us in class, they were the only thing i could to get through them. Despite the extreme sensations I felt prepared and somehow, not in control but ready and understanding of what was happening to me. They were intense but I kept reassuring myself at the height of each one, this will pass.
After those two hours we were told to come to the hospital and we got to UCH at 4:30am and I was told I was already 8cm! The birthing pool became available half an hour later and when I went up the midwife we'd seen for the last few appointments and had built a great rapport with was there to assist me. By this point I was really feeling the contractions and demanding my husband press the pressure point at the base of my back to help relieve them. When I went into the room I asked my midwife if it was too late for drugs and she smiled and said it's never too late for drugs but I never mentioned it again as I wanted to see how I got on and she never brought it up again as she knew I wanted as little intervention as possible.
I was in the birthing pool just before 6am and as soon as I slipped in I immediately sighed in relief as it felt so good and really calmed me down. But as I lay there I heard your voice saying not to lie back and to let gravity do it's thing so I sat up and forward over the pool and used gas and air to get me through each contraction. I don't think they eased the pain but were good to keep my breathing steady which was so important. I felt like I knew what was happening, I could feel my body working and felt empowered, I knew what to do and would do it.
The midwives just stood back and let me get on with it and my husband assisting me. Amazingly it only took about four or five pushes and at 7.09am,as the sun rose my baby was born and handed to me. My husband revealed we had a baby girl as I lay back exhausted, elated and in shock holding this huge baby in my hands that was mine. She was 9.2lb and her name is Violetta Sally Albasini.
I wanted to share my story with you as I truly believe everything I learnt in your class and the others at triyoga really helped me get through labour and own it. I understand now why women say it is empowering and why you said it is important to understand and accept what is happening and feel some sense of control. I recommend your classes to every pregnant woman I meet. However, I also understand now that as incredible and miraculous as labour is, it is just a process and it's what comes after that is hard work!
Thank you so much for everything you taught me and for going to triyoga each week to help and empower pregnant women. You will have touched so many lives and I will always be grateful to you for how you touched ours.
Lots of love and I hope to come back to your Tuesday evening class at some point next year.
I hope you are very well.
I wanted to send an email to you as a big thank you for your help with yoga practice throughout my pregnancy.
My daughter was born Sunday 18/June on my 40 els + 2 days. I really wasn't expecting it to happen so early and sooo was quick, as I hadn't had any signs at all. I went for a sweep on Wednesday that week and apparently I was already a bit dilated; however few days after the sweep and no signs of labour.
On Sunday my boyfriend and I took my son Leo (he is 3) to Hampstead Heath and met some friends there. Then we took turns to go swimming in the ponds. I have been regularly been swimming there throughout my pregnancy and has been heaven!! This Sunday, however, was quite crowded as it was really hot but still felt so good to swim :)
Then went back home for an improvised BBQ at our garden; we invited a couple of friends with their kid and started BBQ; as I was eating I felt mild contractions, long deep breaths in and out through my nose were my way to ease off my contractions (this is at 7:30pm); quickly the contractions moved to every 10 mins but I felt they were quite manageable and breathed them off and continued eating (I was quite hungry). At that point my friend suggested to call the midwife; I said it was better to wait; but by 8:15 my contractions were stronger; one my friends took the kids to his place; and Henrik (my bf) and my friend (Virgine) stayed. It took 15 mins to get a hold of a midwife they said they would arrive in less than an hour.
Somehow I wasn't worried; Henrik started prepping the pool (we had planned for homebirth) and my friend was assisting me with placing hot bottles behind my back. I didn't stay put through my contractions and I walked around the garden; got on my hands and knees for hip circles; and I practised bumble bee breathing many times which helped me to be there, present, not caring who was out there looking and I created my own world amidst the nature: the trees, the grass, the ants on the floor.. all of that became my focus when I had strong contractions... the midwife arrived just before 9; enough time to puff on gas and air 5 to 10 times and I felt baby was coming. Henrik dropped every preparation he was doing (there was no time!) and came with me and my friend; then my friend left as we wanted everything very intimate (however she has been a great help).
I had been preparing myself a lot through pregnancy. I was prepared for whatever the outcome had to be and I felt ready in spite of everything happening so quickly.
Henrik suggested to go inside for the actual delivery; however I decided that if all had started in the garden; then in the garden I should deliver. I had read a lot about breathing baby out and I tried my very best not to push but breath deeply to let baby to do what she had to do. She came out at 9:22 pm; she was inside the amniotic sack, hence my waters never broke and I got to hold her immediately. We didn't know the sex and I was somehow double emotional about the fact she was a little girl who had made it from our garden to the bottom of our hearts in a split second. Her name is Elina, second name to be decided yet but I want it to be something to remember her special birth; she weighted 3.3 kilos and has been very peaceful and chill out so far.
Thanks Nadia for your practice, your sense of humour and your tips on how to deal with labour. It was all very helpful and I felt strong, ready and positive to the experience!!!
You should teach postnatal yoga! I'll miss you
I'm so thrilled to be writing you to let you know that a week ago today I delivered beautiful baby Daphne.
Just under week or so after my last Saturday class with you....and your words of support and encouragement, everything turned out as wonderfully (albeit challenging!) as I could have hoped.
On the night before my due date my "latent labour" symptoms really stepped up and thought that what I experiencing between 11pm and 4am was full labour, but then it stopped. Same thing kicked off and happened again the following evening. So by Thursday, the day after my scheduled date, I was quite exhausted. But I just had a feeling that the arrival of our baby couldn't be too far off.
By midnight Thursday evening the surges came back on and felt meaningfully different. I went through most forms of relaxation and "releasing" techniques I had, but the surges were very soon only 5 minutes apart.
So the best decision I made was to get to the hospital, rather than continue to labour at home. This was one of the many things that just turned out different than I had envisioned, but all for the right reasons.
I got to the hospital around 3am and immediately felt so comfortable (despite the very sterile private hospital environment). I was met by a midwife who had spent the last few years at a birthing center and she was so thrilled to have someone arrive who had intentions against pain medication and interventions. She had prepared a room with a bath, helped get the candles all going and my husband and she became a great team, which then got to be a team of three once the doula arrived.
The next thing that didn't go as planned was that for better or worse the baby had dropped quite quickly, without the cervix dialating at the same pace. So I was in a very uncomfortable situation of having the baby low in the pelvis but having to do much more dilation. I think perhaps I had done one too many squats leading up to the labour and encouraged our baby a bit too far down! The result was I unfortunately couldn't use any positions of gravity or mobility :( My greatest hope was a labour filled with movement and fluidity.
So the team of three brought movement to me. I was stuck on my side, propped up in one of "those" legs up positions to for the whole second stage of labour and my husband and doula helped to rock and massage me in a way that felt like the motion I had hoped for. It worked so well that I went from 2cm dialated to fully dialated in just over 4 hours.
By then I was in so much better shape and could even stand and lean as I was moving into the final stage. The last stage lasted just over an hour and on all fours, like my familiar class position, I was able to give birth.
What was so amazing about this experience was how I could fully lean on the three people around me to get me through every little stage. It was the ultimate in letting go and knowing that each of them were there to play roles that let me go way into myself and yet feel supported. I had thought that so much about letting go was pushing myself to just release, but in the end, it was even more about others' supporting and building exactly the right surrounding and support for me to feel like four of us were labouring together.
The other thing that was so special was that my body really did do all the work. As you've always said Nadia, just go into childbirth fearless because we have to acquiesce to our bodies and nature. This was so much the case in my experience. My body needed a couple of days to do the warm up laps because there was years of releasing that had to be done, hence I had multiple days of labour. Then once I was in the heart of it, I could literally feel the stages happening, including the whole coccyx bone opening up to create space. It was such an amazing natural process, that at every stage I trusted what it was doing. And I trusted what the baby was doing. So in essence, my team of three, was a full team of four because the baby was also there for me to lean on...because she was doing everything she needed to as well.
So in the end, I did have the fully natural child birth that I had hoped for, but I consider that to be a lucky situation and I accept that fact that many things could have turned out differently.
And as I've heard from so many birth stories, I never thought I would be "one of those people". I was a very far cry from that when I first walked into your classes Nadia - at that time I was considering an elective C section.
But it was a chance to really let go and be part of something much bigger than myself and I'm thrilled I did it. Not least of which is because after just a week of motherhood (baby is a full week old), I already realise how I have learned life skills, not just labour preparation through these last 9 months. I breathe through every still painful feeding, I put baby on chest and do "in for four, out for four" every time she cries (it calms her down), and I still get onto all fours and rock myself when I'm at my wits end. So I'm pretty sure that I will be a much more grounded mother than I was setting out to be.
Thank you SOOOOO much for your support and guidance. I said to my husband on the way home from the hospital, "I feel like I need a photo of the three women at the hospital, plus Nadia and Katrina (my hypnobirthing coach) and I need to plaster it right on my bedroom wall shall I never forget the power of leaning on others. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I really hope to catch up properly soon!
Just wanted to let you know baby Miri is now in our arms! She arrived at 5.58am on Monday 16th November, at home on the landing, following my waters breaking about 12 hours earlier in the queue for the Hampstead Creperie van...! She's a very healthy 8lb 60z (3.8kg) and a long legged 24 inches (62cm). We are both very well and we've all spent a lovely few days getting to know each other. We did it!! We are so thankful to have been able to have the completely natural home birth we had hoped to offer our baby. Our second stage in particular was very short - she arrived with us very easily. The lack of sleep and relentless breastfeeding is really hard now of course, but we're even more overwhelmed by the sheer love and the wonder of it all. I can't stop gazing at her...
I wanted to thank you for the inspiration, confidence and sense of freedom your yoga classes gave me. When I came along at 14 weeks, they were a real lifeline, physically in terms of how I could be with my body during pregnancy and in creating space and comfort in my body for my baby, as well as emotionally and spiritually connecting with my baby, with myself and with other mothers to be. I know it helped me tremendously in preparing for and in birthing our baby. The 'I release and I let go' gospel song you used to play really resonated with me and it became a mantra for me throughout pregnancy and I took it with me into labour. When the time came, my fears disappeared and I was able to let my body do its thing and follow my instincts. I used a tens machine and really vocalised through the surges (which surprised me a bit!), and after having got caught mid surge on the landing on my way to the bathroom, the sensations intensified, and as I felt my body start to bear down, I didn't want to move or get in the birth pool when it was finally ready. It was a small, cosy spot and reassuringly I could see Ed (who got stuck having to hold the hose attachment for the pool to the tap at that point!) and this allowed me to go inside; I think it was all meant to be just as it was. Our wonderful independent midwife arrived just under an hour before baby did, so I did much of it on my own, and this gave me a deep experience of my own strength and power, something that I'm sure will serve me in many different ways in my life. It was a beautiful experience! All manageable. And when I sing the mother's prayer to Miri now (I used to sing it as I massaged my belly when pregnant as well as at the end of class), she stops and listens - so sweet!
With love, Rachel
Little Bodhi arrived yesterday lunchtime after a rather intense but brilliant labour that started with a few surges after class on Saturday, more on Sunday then the real deal at 4am on Monday morning.
We started off at home in the pool but just before he was about to arrive we found that he'd poo'd in his waters so I wasn't allowed to deliver him at home encase he needed special help. Which luckily he didn't :)
He was so close to coming I felt I was going to have him in the ambulance ride over! He came only 20mins after we got to at Marys & we managed the whole incredible process with lots of breath & sounds & circling of hips & squatting all of which I learnt from yoga. Oh & a couple of puffs of gas & air whilst going over speed bumps in the ambulance mid surge!
Even though he poo'd in his waters the midwives said how he didn't seem distressed at all & again that was due to the deep yoga breathe we took between surges.
Yolande, our doula, was an amazing support to both me & Harry & I couldn't recommend her more highly. She really held space so I be exactly what I needed & helped Harry to be the best birth partner he could be.
We're back at home now & we're all getting to know each other. It's amazing how the state of mind I have from yoga allowed me to stay calm though the transfer & able to achieve the natural birth we so wanted for our baby. It just shows how it's not just about setting your on a particular outcome but allowing yourself to be present & birthing the baby in the way they want to be born. Bodhi is obvious a little adventurer & fancied a ride in an ambulance with the lights on!
Thank you for introducing me to the beauty of pregnancy yoga. It totally empowered me to make choices about my birth that I would have never otherwise questioned.
Here's the little monkey, exactly 7pounds of him :)
See you soon
Love Jess x
I am one of those who had barely done any yoga before this class.. I did try before, but felt that I wasn't doing it correctly and that yoga wasn't for me. But in these past months this class changed me. At first it was the time of the week where I connected with my baby, I used to cry every single class and come home feeling closer and more aware of my baby.
Then at one point I suddenly understood that everything I learned here were resources I could eventually use in labour.
But most of all through this class you "brain washed" me. You made me understand that there are other ways to birthing a baby than lying down in a bed and screaming. And you made me believe that anyone, even me, could do this in a more natural way.
I didn't believe you at first, but eventually I started finding out about different possibilities and finally I decided the Birth Center was a good option for us; as if I changed my mind about the epidural or if anything happened I could always go to the labour ward which is less than 5 minutes away.
But that never happened!
I started with contractions at 7pm, 8 days after my due date. I knew she would come at least a week after the due date, I just did. That's why I didn't get any sweep done... The only extra help was you pressing my feet, and I asked for that when I was almost 41 weeks.
At 7pm everything started happening... The contractions started growing, and growing until suddenly my waters broke. By midnight we were told to go to the birth center. That was the first time they examined me and I was only 2 cm dilated but the contractions were coming very close together.
So they made us go walk through the hospital. And this was the worst part... Because now contractions were very strong and I was in the corridors of a spooky hospital...
By 2:00 we went back to the birth center, and although it was still too early they gave us a room... And this was incredible! There were soo many things to use, and just as you told us... I just knew what to do... For example there is a harness with a "cloth" and I just hung there. And... There is a huge shower with strong hot water ... I think I went through the whole yoga class in the bathroom floor... Except for the downward facing dog... Only because it was slippery ;)
By 4 am I was 7cm, I got in the pool and thought I never wanted to leave! Pain just decreased and now the midwives stayed with us and started monitoring me constantly.
Everything happened very quickly until this point... But after a few more hours contractions slowed down a lot and they lost intensity.
So the last part was quite slow. I got out of the pool and because contractions were so weak, the midwives and my husband had to "build the atmosphere" themselves. They just shouted at me: come on!!! You can do it!!!! They even all shouted in Spanish copying my husband... They really gave me that push that the contractions were not achieving! And I had one person holding each leg and arm and positioning me...
And we did it! Olivia was born at 10:30 in the morning and it was the most amazing experience of our lives. And I never stopped smiling throughout the whole labour.
I am so happy and so proud. As I said, I thought I was not one of "those" people. I didn't even know how to breath correctly, and I only went to yoga once a week. But that was enough to be "brain washed" :) and to be open minded enough to see this opportunity.
So once again THANK YOU.
Just wanted to let you know my baby was born just after midnight on Sept 1st. It really was an amazing experience, different from my other two births. There was a real closeness between me, my midwife and Josh. My waters broke unexpectedly the day before, and for whatever reason I became focused on him not being born till the next day. When the contractions really kicked in at 8:30, I was quite mobile for a while, but when things speeded up, I was able to let go in a way that had been much more difficult with the previous births. I really knew to get down on all fours and keep my pelvis high and my head low. This midnight focus was a really useful tool to pace things and when it did in fact reach midnight, I was able to use gravity and breathing. Although this all took place the night before we moved house, being with the baby has been such a straightforward delight, and I'm sure this is because his delivery was so good.
Hope to see you in Mummy and Me! Thanks so much.
I wanted to thank you as really, I don’t think I would have done it without my husband, you and Ina May Gaskin in writing :)
It was incredible to feel all the changes in the body, although it was painful, of course, it was absolutely wild to feel the baby push down and move through me. So powerful and overwhelming. It took some more than 3 hours to push this boy out. He just wasn't ready to meet the world and again when the moment finally happened, it was so fast and painless. And so damn amazing! That part was great, to actually get him out and see him. I didn’t even rip this time, again not sure how it happened this way. I did say the mantra to myself: I'm going to get big:) i feel like this time round i conquered my fear and became a real woman who gave birth to her own child; no drugs and interference. Just me and my baby and nature. And it's just the greatest experience for any woman. Now i know. And now I want to have more. Crazy, isn't it? :) So thank you!!! Thank you. I will do that interview and take your photo with your permission of course at some point because i know there will be lots of women out there who will be so happy to learn that you teach!
Take care, Masha
Your classes were really instrumental in getting me through what was by far the most challenging, terrifying, incredible, scary, wonderful, glorious, empowered day of my life and I wanted to thank you. Sometimes words don't seem to be able to express what one is feeling and this is one of those moments.
From the breathing that I had learned to the visualisations, from the affirmations to the stories, to the candles -- I can't tell you exactly what helped when, but I do know that without them, the birth of my daughter would have been a very different experience.
And, of course, I have to especially mention the partner yoga, which gave David tools and ideas to feel connected rather than simply terrified and separate. He was an amazing partner, with me 1000% and has continued to be instrumental and incredible in the days following as I heal and try to grasp this new reality. Also, speaking to Varda and Cerdic and the connection we've forged with them has been just such a gift.
From the bottom of my heart, I want to say that you do what you do with grace, elegance, caring and heart, and when push comes to shove (literally!), it makes all the difference.
See you soon.
With love and gratitude, Gabriela
I have finally got the chance to write to you to let you know my positive birth story! If you remember I came to yoga a couple of Thursdays ago and had a contraction at the end of class! You wisely told me to go home, have some food and some rest just in case. So I went home, had a big lunch with my partner who then went to work at about 3pm. I then tried to rest but couldn't sit down and get comfortable so I ended up pacing around the flat! By 5pm I realised I was having regular contractions about 12-14 minutes apart but because they didn't feel that strong, I hadn't realised that I was in labour! I called my partner anyway who came home. By 7pm we phoned the hospital and said we were coming in as contractions had rapidly dropped to 4 minutes apart. By 10.15pm I was holding my little baby daughter Yasmine!! It all happened very quickly and we had the waterbirth we hoped for which made for a very calm experience. The midwife was amazing at Queen Charlottes Birth Centre and I felt very calm and in control throughout. The yoga techniques definitely worked combined with the water and I'm so pleased to be able to write you this email to say that everything happened as I hoped. Thanks for your brilliant classes and all the positive stories you told us which I found very helpful. I hope you can pass on this positive story to help others.
Hope all is well.
Best wishes, Isobel
I came to your Saturday pregnancy yoga classes, and I promised I would let you know how I got on with my caesarean. It was actually 4 weeks ago, and I meant to write to you before now, but I seem to have no time to do anything except eat, sleep and feed!
I often remember you saying that the hardest part of being a mother is not giving birth, but everything that comes after that - you are so right! No-one would believe how much time a little baby takes to look after, unless they've done it themselves or seen it first-hand!
I had been apprehensive and anxious about the C section as I had a low-lying placenta and there was an increased risk of bleeding during the op. However, everyone (medical staff and friends who'd given birth at UCH) had reassured me that the medical staff are so competent and professional, and that was my experience. I had a wonderful male midwife and all female doctors, and they were all friendly, reassuring and competent.
Fitting the spinal anaesthetic was not bad at all, then I lay down on the operating table feeling zonked and very relaxed, and looked over at my partner dressed up in his operating theatre gear looking nervous. I concentrated on deep breathing and listening to the lovely Mozart CD that we had requested they play in theatre. Just a few minutes later our beautiful baby boy was lifted out and held up high for us to look at, bawling away and looking so chubby, healthy and full of life! It was a most amazing, unforgettable and overwhelming moment that I can't really put into words and it moved both of us to tears, and it still does now as I think back on it.
Then my partner went over to see the midwife do the baby's APGAR tests and he even cut the remainder of the cord off (an amazing achievement given how squeamish he is) and began taking pics of our lovely little chappy and cuddling him. Baby was still covered in the vernix wax and bawling away, looking cross and perturbed about his sudden entrance into the world. I could see all of this, but I couldn't really get involved as I was trapped on the operating table whilst they stitched me up. The doctors remained very calm throughout the op, and were chatting to each other about how they were going to tackle the next op. I felt relieved that they were sufficiently relaxed that they could chat as they worked, although part of me also hoped they were concentrating hard on me too! In the end it all went fine, and although I did bleed more than the usual C section, due to the low-lying placenta, it was not enough to need a transfusion or for there to be any panic. I have recovered just fine, with no complications (although I must say that the first few days I felt like the walking wounded, weak and exhausted, but that quickly wears off, and after two weeks I felt pretty normal and able to go out for walks.)
Pretty soon I was wheeled into the recovery ward, and then I could cuddle baby skin to skin. He was calm and alert, I was over the moon and also enjoying the calm and quiet. My mum and dad came in to visit within that first hour, and were very excited and taking photos. After a while I had to ask them to leave and come back later, as my partner and I just wanted to enjoy the quiet amazement and incredible feeling of being with our baby at long last after all those months.
All in all it was a wonderful and magical experience, even though it was a surgical birth. At the end of the day all that matters is that baby and I got through it safe and sound. My partner had hesitated about being present during the op because he is so squeamish, but he was so delighted that he was there and said he wouldn't have missed it for anything. Although the birth had loomed ahead of me as a scary obstacle to overcome, it was in fact all plain sailing, and in fact breastfeeding has been much harder to deal with! My baby had a tongue tie making it difficult for him to feed, and jaundice, making him sleepy, so we had to put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it, but now finally it is working out.
Best wishes, Rebecca
Our little daughter Holly arrived on Wednesday, March 10th. We are all very well and happy. When we arrived in Munich I continued practising yoga at home. I'm so grateful for having had classes with you at triyoga. There was so much stuff that helped me during labour, it was amazing! The breathing exercises at the beginning of your class, or the squatting and the keeping up exercises! I'm sure that's why it all was quite short and relatively easy (easy does not really work, but all is relative anyway). The only pain killer I needed was twice a dose of Bach's rescue remedies ;-) It started at 10pm with sudden contractions exactly every 10 minutes, no other signs at all. I didn't really take it serious as I thought it might be just braxton hicks so we went to bed. I tried to breath through the pain, which worked fine and I could really sleep until about 3am. When I woke up I realised that the pain had got more intense, checking the time I was now with contractions every 2 minutes. So we called the midwife who was here within 10 minutes and then we all rushed into the birth centre where I went straight into the pool. There it got really intense but still okay. After about 2 hours I got out of the pool and contractions changed, I already had the feeling I could push her out. Well, after some time she then arrived at 9:12am. It was amazing! She is now lying just beside me and yawning, I could look at her tiny face all the time. She is so wonderful.
Finally finding the time to drop you some lines to tell you about the birth of our perfect little baby daughter Millie. I always found the birth stories you read out in class really inspirational so here is mine to add to your collection.
My story is one of acceptance and being in the present as things turned out quite differently to the waterbirth we were hoping for. And of being mentally strong, believing in my ability to give birth naturally to my baby Millie was a meconium baby and I was induced (with some crazy pill) to get her out as quick as possible. So we were in a normal delivery room instead of the birth centre I had hoped for. The first midwife said the absolutely worst thing she could have possibly said to me when I asked if I could still move around the room; it was something along the lines of 'no darling, this is not a normal labour, it's a medicalised high intervention labour. You will be continuously monitored and on a drip so you need to be on the bed, and you will probably be in pain'. Matt my partner was absolutely amazing, he calmed me down and said we would discuss it all with the doctor. And he was right, the doctor was much more understanding of me wanting to have as much of a natural birth as possible. So he agreed not to put me on the drip but instead give me four hours to go into established labour (4cm dilation). This meant that after an initial half hour on the heart monitor that showed that the baby was doing well, I had the next few hours to do what I wanted.
We prepared the room so all the lights were out other then candle light, put my buddhist and hindu chant music on, placed Shiva, Buddha and Ganesh on the window shelf. The atmosphere in the room changed straight away and the next few hours were an intense but beautiful journey of contractions increasing in intensity. I had a long shower, slow danced with Matt between contractions and then went into deep squats, bounced on the ball and folded forward over the bed... throughout I was breathing deeply and going into a meditative state and to my surprise managed to convince myself that what I was feeling was not pain but an interesting sensation and the more intense the better as this meant my baby was one step closer to being born. I also used hypnobirthing tools to take myself to my safe place, in my case my favourite mountain in Austria, the ever increasing intensity of the contractions fit well with the image of a strenuous mountain hike.
When the four hours were over, I was put back on the heart and contractions monitor, and to the midwife's surprise (not mine or Matt's) I was 4 cm dilated; no further hormones or other drips required. Result! The journey to full dilation was one mainly spent sitting in cross legged meditation taking myself off to my safe place and communicating with Matt, who did a brilliant job at making everyone else behave exactly as we wanted (no lights on, quiet voices...) Whenever a new person entered the room (I think I had about 5 different midwives through the night) they commented on how nice an atmosphere we had created in the room.
Several hours later, and again to the midwife's surprise, I had fully dilated, all without pain relief and was ready to get the baby out. Unfortunately my contractions had slowed down at this point and it didn't look like we were going to meet the latest deadline (before further interventions). So I asked Matt to kiss and cuddle me, and the midwife realised that I knew about natural ways to bring on the Ocytocin and said she would leave the room to give us some privacy. Alone in the room Matt and I started to stimulate my nipples and kept kissing and the contractions came back, not as strong as before but strong enough to breathe deeply through them and get my baby further down the birth canal. Then it all turned into a bit of chaos. Baby's heart beat dropped quite low and the emergency buzzer was pushed. So by now I had 6 people in the room (midwife, student midwife, doctor, assistant doctor, baby doctor (because of meconium)... and to my surprise and delight the head midwife from the birth centre walked in and stood next to me. She must have heard that there is this woman in a delivery room that was trying to go it all natural. It gave me a real boost to see her there and she and Matt were coaching me on through the last stretches. In the end it took too long to push her out and they had to cut me a bit as they were worried about baby's heart rate. Out came the head with cord all around it, so they took the cord off and pulled her out. She started crying straight away and after a bit of chest to chest time with me, Matt cut the cord and the baby doctor examined Millie to make sure the meconium hadn't got into the lungs etc.
I am very happy with the birth we had and am convinced that the mental strength, the breathing and focussing techniques, the birthing positions and everything I have learnt in your classes helped Matt, Millie and me to negotiate the (almost) natural birth we wanted.
Millie is a true blessing and we are really looking forward to coming to your mummy and me classes soon. Oh, she was born on 10th Feb so still a few weeks to go.
A big heartfelt thank you from the 3 of us!
I had my daughter Frida last Saturday at 3.26pm. Normal vaginal delivery with no tears or pain relief. I just wanted to thank you again for being there in the labour room with us. Your voice kept telling Matt to tell me to BREATHE DEEPER. And I did. We arrived at the hospital with no rooms available so we were put in a office with no checks till i was 6cm dilated. I kept hearing your voice saying you can have the birth you want anywhere and it gave me the confidence not to panic. Once we were in our room, we put rafi's black out blinds up, asked them to remove all the machinery (they weren't happy) and off we went. It was hard but I felt I knew what to do. Very different from lovely John and Lizzies but with the right mindset, amazing births can happen everywhere. I'll bring her in soon, once the dust settles and Rafi doesn't hate me anymore!
Om and love, Sirine
nad! it's been a beautiful sweet transition into mama papa baby serene dreamland.
the birth was FANTASTIC~~~~~~!!!!!!!
basically tony and i did the majority of the labour alone, without knowing it
2:30 am - 9:30 am just riding the waves of contractions alone at home.
napping, bathing, snacking..... called the midwife and doula around 7:30 am, and must have down played our contractions, as they showed up casually at 9:30, to check in, maybe go back to the office... until they EXAMINED ME!
8cm dilated (meaning ALL READY TO GO!) the tub wasn't even out of the box, medical tools nowhere in sight.....
i lay on my bed and meditated on staling the birth a bit, cause i was dead set on the WATER BIRTH~
tony and midwife fumbled with tub, plumbing hook up didn’t work, filled up tub with pots and pans, ran out of hot water...
no more time to wait! got in shallow tub had baby within hour and a half!
it was amazing! i learned many things in that hour in a half
how to bring the scream IN
to not listen to my brain think "i don't know how to be soft" or "i don't know how to let go"
i could see where my brain could slow me down - be my down fall, if i were to "THINK" about those things.
my eyes were closed the whole time, i was inside with the burrowing baby.
i cracked my eye open once to wave hi to tony.
i was able to stop the thinking and get feeling and pushing.
it was AMAZING!!!!!!
all on film. black and white birth film coming up....she is a sweetheart! really gentle xxoxoxo
I hope this finds you well. I've been meaning to email you for a whole week now and finally got round to it... I wanted to tell you that our baby boy arrived safe and well! Noah Bear was born at home at 1.52am on 2nd November weighing a good healthy 7lbs 11oz and he's SO gorgeous!
The labour itself was good - the early stages were happening on that Saturday I saw you last although I felt less going on the Sunday. On Monday I woke at 6am with surges of about 10 secs every 20 minutes or so. I came into triyoga and did Ayala’s class which was the right place for me to be - very nurturing. That afternoon we did a few very light errands but by 6pm things got a lot stronger so Nick started timing surges. By 8pm we called the midwife who I managed to speak to and she didn't believe that I was having 45 second surges every 2 1/2 minutes as I could speak. Nick had to be very insistent that I was but she still wanted us to call back in 2 hours. Our Doula (Tracy Chau) arrived which was great for both of us especially Nick.
When the midwife arrived at 11pm I had been sitting on the loo for quite a long time as it was the only place I wanted to be! She checked the baby's heart rate and it was very low so she got me into my front room lying on my left side. She said that if we didn't get the heart rate up in 30 seconds she's have to call an ambulance as Noah's head was getting to compressed. My sitting on the loo hadn't really helped. The midwife told me to take some deep breaths - so I really focussed on drawing all my breath into the baby - just as we do in our classes. Noah's heart rate went straight up so we stayed put.
Things were very intense and the midwife offered me gas and air which I was about to accept but she said she thought it may interfere with my breathing - so I refused. My breath really carried me through, all that practice we did in our classes... and I remembered your words at the end of every class - "with every surge I get closer to meeting my baby" those words carried me through too - thank you. You also did a reading a few weeks ago about connecting with your inner monkey - I loved that reading and it really inspired me to connect with my inner primate!
When the second midwife arrived I knew things were close and with the support of Nick, Tracy and the midwifes I birthed little Noah lying on my left side, Nick holding my top leg as I squeezed his thighs and Tracy hitting some acupressure points on the back of my pelvis. It was in incredible experience!
I just want to thank you for all the wonderful classes and the little chats and support you have given me. Those keep up exercises are really helping me now as I squat and crouch to pick the little bear up and cradle him in my arms.
With light and love to you, Nadine
We had our baby girl at 39 weeks and 3 days on Wednesday morning. Here's a photo.
We had the most amazing birth at the UCLH birth centre. Hypnobirthing and my yoga practice really helped me deal with the early stages and when we went to hospital I was 5 cm dilated and they couldn't believe it as I didn't really look like someone who was contracting every 2.5 mins. I went from 5-10 cm in a couple of hours after using the birthing pool but had to get out as contractions slowed. I then took on every active birth position like squatting, hands and knees etc I learned in your class with my husbands and midwives help and had to push actively for 2 hours finally delivering baby while lying in the strangest position on my side with husband supporting back and my leg on midwives shoulder. I took no pain relief at all and just breathed through everything (I still can't believe it!). I want to really thank you as your classes were amazing and really helped me prepare for and achieve this birth.
I hope to see you with the baby at the mum and baby classes in 6 weeks.
Thanks, we are both very well.
I gave birth 3 days after the baby due with normal delivery. It wasn't as bad as I thought I gave birth in sitting position using a chair with a hole (which was very comfortable) and I am still wondering how it is possible?
I didn't take an epidural and after, in the hospital when I saw women's who used this, I was sure that I made very good decision.
I could walk and take care of my baby straight after giving birth and both me and my baby were really well.
I had really intense contractions only for 4 hours and after these my baby was with us.
I'm very pleased to announce that our baby girl Beatriz entered this world on the 4th, at exactly 41 weeks, weighting 3,560kg.
She was born at home (Yay!! We did it!!!) after 20 hours of powerful labor, with a second stage of just 30 minutes!!
I feel that going to your Maternity Yoga classes since 17 weeks was one of the best things I did throughout the whole pregnancy. Those 1h30m of my Saturday were dedicated exclusively to connecting with my baby, crying my eyeballs out every time I heard the prayer song and taking care of my growing pregnant body. It was lovely to be amongst so many pregnant ladies and looking at the different shapes and sizes and realising how beautiful all of us looked and the true miracles that were happening inside our bodies. It felt a little bit like a sisterhood.
Also, during surges I used several positions we did during the classes (the lunges, with the hands on the floor while doing circles with the pelvis, holding on my boyfriends arms and squatting - making sighs and blubbering the lips was amazing!) which helped me being upright allowing my baby girl to position herself perfectly. I think that doing mainly the same movements in every class just trained my brain and body to immediately know and assume the positions during labor, which I found a million times more effective than looking at positions in brochures.
During labor I could hear you in my head saying "with each surge I come closer and closer to welcoming my beloved baby" and I really focused on that. It was vital to keep my mind on the "prize" especially during the more painful and demanding parts of labor, when I was feeling like I was hitting a wall (and there were 2 or 3 times like that, the toughest one if course being during transition). Also I always made sure I did low pitched sounds and relaxed the face, the mouth, the jaw, the throat just like you were saying in each class.
So in the final 30 minutes of labor, I got in the pool and despite doubting some minutes before if I could push the baby out, being so tired already (I had been in labor for 19h), I felt this incredible, uncontrollable urge to push that came out of nowhere and completely surprised me! In those 30 minutes I roared my baby out, making sounds that I didn't know I could make, feeling like a powerful dragon! Each surge in this phase felt like I was being hit by a train, but I just surrendered my body, I let go and went with it, trusting that it was doing it's thing.
It was then when our lovely midwife said "Ana, reach down and grab your baby" and I received my baby in my hands, brought her out of the water and put her on my chest and when I saw that beautiful face with those big dark eyes looking right back at me, that I had the uttermost incredible feeling of ecstatic joy I have ever felt in my entire life! It felt like being in a vortex of love, like being high on the most blissful and powerful drug of all times. My baby was here, she was real and we were finally meeting eye to eye (and finally found out that we were right, it was a girl!). Labor was gone, forgotten and totally worth it!
The labor was painful, incredibly demanding and challenging and just like the pregnancy, taught me a lot about life and about myself. It revealed my true inner strength and that I can trust myself and my instincts. It made me feel ready to become a mother, the lioness that will do anything for her cub.