How to have a better birth by Zest’s Lyndsey Heffernan

Leading childbirth expert Dr Gowri Motha reveals how to prepare your body – and mind – for the best experience possible

Posted: 10 April 2013
by Zest’s Lyndsey Heffernan

Despite spending the past few months trying not to think about giving birth, now I’m 33 weeks pregnant, it’s time to face facts: childbirth is probably going to hurt. A lot. But according to Dr Gowri Motha, Gentle Birth Method founder and childbirth expert to the stars, there are steps us mums-to-be can take in the weeks leading up to The Big Day to make the pain more manageable. Phew! I caught up with her to find out more…

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Why So Scared?

There has been a lot in the news recently about Tokophobia – that is, fear of childbirth to you and me. Take a look at these recent posts:

BBC News
Huffington Post

It’s no wonder more and more women are fearful of childbirth. If you believe everything you hear in the press, giving birth is a traumatic, painful and undignified experience that women are forced to suffer. We hear horror stories about tearing, episiotomy, emergency Caesareans and dangerous complications. Combine that with the constant updates on the shortage of midwives and the pressure on our maternity services. It’s no wonder mums to be are quaking in their boots.

During my experience as an obstetrician I delivered hundreds of babies and met hundreds of mums who were rigid with fear and some of whom were emotionally out of control. My work involved transforming their fears and apprehension to positive anticipation of a gentle birth.

Growing up in Sri Lanka and in India, I had the impression, that giving birth is what our bodies were created for. It’s natural with manageable levels of pain.

When I came to England I was struck by a whole new cultural attitude that women have developed here to childbirth and most of it was fearful and negative.

Most probably this fear stemmed from the fact that mothers feel very much on their own in our society.

From my own point of view, I cannot imagine being in labour with strangers who do not know who I am or who just treat me like “a case” with machines doing all the monitoring. I believe that for a mother to experience a gentle birth they need the appropriate right kind of support and advice. Stuff that works!

In my book, I teach mothers to be how to get over their fear and use self hypnosis and visualization techniques to help them stay calm and relaxed. Using these methods can help reduce the need for medical intervention, the risk of tearing and the need for Caesareans.

This calm and gentle method, might not make for TV viewing, but there is a lot to be said for a relaxed mother, a gentle birth experience and a happy baby.

Zdravka Birth Story – February 2010

karlinaI love talking about my labour;  it makes me live this moment again. It starts from here.

I went to see Dr Gowri when I was 24 weeks pregnant. I was so upset! The doctors told me I could give birth in 2 weeks, my cervix was shortening. I felt devastated. I needed help and support to get my mental strength back. I already knew of Dr Gowri and her Gentle Birth Method, I was reading her book Gentle Birth Method and a friend of mine was going to her clinic in St John’s Wood. So I strait away made an appointment. I had a hypnotherapy with Dr Gowri, consultation with Dr Seema about my health and diet and a Creative Healing with Sarah. Everybody was so nice, I felt comforted, taken care of, enlightened with hope and most importantly confident and positive that my body and my baby will work together to bring my pregnancy to full term.

I started following The Gentle Birth Method and had beautiful treatments at the clinic in St John’s Wood every week till I gave birth. Going there felt so good, I thanked my baby every time for giving me such a wonderful experience.

My labour started when I was 38 weeks. It was Sunday midday when my partner and I woke up, like we knew we needed a good rest for what was to come. I went to the loo and something strange came out, something jelly like. I phoned the hospital and they told me the labour had started. All I had to do was wait for the contractions. We carried on as normal throughout the day but in anticipation. I was relaxed and kept calm, knew it was important not to get too excited, didn’t want to the adrenalin going so I listened to my Birth rehearsal CD from Dr Gowri, did some breathing exercise and ate well.

We were watching a film when around 11.30pm my waters broke. We looked at each other saying without words “This is it!” and then my boyfriend said to me “Good luck!” which I found hilarious. He was getting nervous, bless him, but didn’t show it with anything else.

The contractions started soon after the waters broke. Around 2.30am they became very regular and strong. The midwife kept saying to call again in the morning. My god, that sounded crazy to me, I knew I was not far from giving birth. At 3.30am I asked my boyfriend to call the midwife and tell her we are coming, I couldn’t even talk. I was concentrating on the contraction to get through them and falling into a deep relaxation in between. Strangely enough it was like meditation, when I thought about it after words I realised that I have never before being so present for such a long time. Anyway, I took may be 3 Arnica pills, I also had the other homeopathic pills that Dr Gowri advises for labour but every time I was reaching for them the contractions started and I couldn’t take them.

We got to the hospital just before 4am. I wanted a completely natural birth. Lucky for me there was a free pool!!! I always wanted to give birth in a pool. The room was very nice; it felt very intimate. The only light was coming only from the bottom of the pool. As soon as I went in it I felt relief all over my body and not long after that I started giving birth. With the guidance of the midwife and the great support of my boyfriend, gently but quickly, our baby came into the world. We didn’t know the gender in advance. So captured and charmed by our new arrival, full of admiration and curiosity, it took us more than 5 minutes to realize we hadn’t seen if it was a boy or a girl.

Our beautiful baby girl Kalina was born at 5.04am on the 22 of February 2010. The placenta followed half an hour later with few pushes and no bleeding. I had first degree tearing because Kalina came out with her right hand on her cheek, but needed no stitches. Contractions were painful, no kidding, but I managed to “ride” them. I Didn’t have any pain killers. If I had gone for gas and air I would have lost my concentration.

This is my story. It is a happy one and I really had the perfect labour. Following The Gentle Birth Method was a real blessing for me, my baby and my partner.

Countless thanks to Dr Gowri and her team.

Love from all of us

Zdravka

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