Members birth stories

Faryal's Birth story

By Faryal

Birth as a definitive spiritual event was something that I felt strongly.

Having a homebirth I felt required faith and surrender on my part because as everyone knows labour is unpredictable and you're not always in control of the outcome. I prepared my body and mind well and understood the clear connection between the two. I also gathered lots of information on the process of labour and what I could do to help ease my baby in to the world naturally.

I found the whole process of pregnancy in general to be a very gentle process on my body which was quite miraculous to see unfold so slowly and perfectly. In general it felt like such a positive period in my body, mind and soul.

I have a physical and cognitive challenge due to my health condition of M.E or CFS which means that I have to manage activity and rest at periodic times to maintain energy levels. This was difficult in the first and third trimester but was something I was used to doing once the fatigue of these trimesters were added to my own fatigue issues.

One big question mark was how I would labour and if I could labour the way that I wanted to naturally without any medical interventions. My preparation of mind and body told myself that I could do this and my spiritual faith and surrender was strong too. The medical world lacked so much knowledge of M.E as well as M.E and birth so I saw my natural homebirth as an affirmation of trust in my own body once again after struggling with M.E for two years. In general I had experienced a lack of understanding of my condition. I realized shortly after diagnosis that it would be me who will determine my fate and me who will have to communicate and educate on my condition to demystify it. I found myself once again in an antenatal appointment at hospital trying to educate the medical staff on my condition. Without much knowledge it was suggested that I could opt for a planned c-section due to my fatigue limitations even though I had a low risk pregnancy in all other areas. I just ignored that suggestion as that was not something I wanted. I strongly believed in myself and even though it was my first birth I knew that my trust in a natural birth was far greater than any fears I had.

I hadn't always planned a homebirth during the pregnancy but had wanted a natural birth in the birth centre. I felt led there and then it clicked and made sense after educating myself on homebirths. I also held the belief that whatever happened I would let go and flow with the process as it was all going to happen for my higher good and my baby´s higher good.

My husband and I had attended a hypnobirthing course at a yoga centre and I practiced the visualizations and breathing techniques that complemented the yoga breathing I was already practicing from my pregnancy yoga classes twice a week. The pregnancy yoga classes had been one of the most supportive and beneficial decisions I committed to during my pregnancy. I had also recently trained as a Restorative yoga teacher and would practice deep relaxation on myself as well as attending regular meditation sessions at the local Buddhist centre also. As well as the hospital and NCT courses, my husband and I felt we had gathered a lot of knowledge and my husband felt prepared to support me through the process and took the time to attend the courses with me. He said he felt he could be a midwife by the end of the courses hehe!

Nearing the due date I felt that having a doula as extra support throughout labour would be beneficial also. This was one of the best decisions I made and soon realized that the support I had from my doula Hayat in the weeks leading up to the birth, was very important also, not just on the day of the birth. The post-natal attention I received was invaluable for me also. During the birth she not only offered support to me and had to hold my hand through some tense grips that maybe hurt her hand, but she also supported my husband with getting things together for the pool; food and drink for me as well as helping to make sure I was always comfortable. The subtle emotional, physical and spiritual support I felt from Hayat was gently present for me throughout.

I prepared my living space for the birth and had a constellation of affirmations dotted all around the flat. My living room was decorated for the zero party as I called it, of my baby´s birth with bunting and pom poms. I bought a birthday cake and even a zero candle! I had fake candles and aromatherapy ready, a music playlist and calming images at the ready to prepare for the big day. I also strung my own affirmations across the room and had the birth pool ready thanks to the support of my husband.

We kept the birth plan a secret from our parents so as not to deal with others´ anxieties and so that we could focus on our wish of a homebirth. The labour was pretty text book and went exactly as I had been informed. It was a gentle process with one stage leading on from another smoothly. I didn't focus on pain as the feelings weren't painful, they were new sensations that were intense at times. The sensations needed to simply be and run their course and so I tried to stay out of their way and not attach thoughts or judgements to them. I visualized birds flying to the top of a tree over and over again and didn't use all of the other hypnobirthing visualizations I had practiced in the end as this one seemed to do the trick.

The contractions came and went and I trusted in the process even if after a while it felt like I wasn't sure when the contraction feelings of being wound up like a toy would end. Obviously not everything was how I had imagined such as giving birth to music (the tracks had ended by the time my daughter had arrived even though I had requested songs as though my husband was a dj! Hehe). One song became my booster song that gave me so much energy, it was a beautiful Sufi prayer called the Qasidah Burdah. I decided to blindfold myself with an eye mask for the whole process so that I could go inwards. This helped to cut out any distractions and to focus on my hypnobirthing visualization and breathing. I laboured silently through my contractions and think I even fell asleep in the pool during my transition phase. I had enough food stocked in for labour and requested certain items to refresh and energize me throughout as well as lots of fluids. My baby arrived after 12 hours of labour but the concept of time didn't exist at all for me. Pushing came with ease and was not as silent as the contractions were. I laboured through the day and by sunset my baby was born. We lit the zero candle and cut the cake holding our baby daughter in our arms and shared it amongst the midwives, doula and ourselves. I had been looking forward to that piece of cake for a while and it was the birthday party I was most proud of putting together in my life. The meaning of her name in Arabic is Gift from God.

Having a baby and a fatigue condition can be challenging and a gift as it has taught me lots on pacing, energy management and self care. I try to take each day as it comes. I began teaching Restorative Yoga classes after 5 months every other week at a yoga studio in East London.