My eldest son who is currently almost 13 and a massive science fan, is reading the Stephen Hawking book, A Brief History in Time. Kudos to him. I love science, but I won't lie, quantum physics, astro physics...it hurts my brain! Talking about parallel universes, trying to imagine a different version of our lives, I guess it's kind of fun, like watching "Sliding Doors".
However, it's got me thinking. Kind of in a "What if...." kind of way. Particularly in the case of my pregnancy and birth with my son.
What if my best friend hadn't told me about - and then nagged me a bit, I'll be honest! - to go to Pregnancy Yoga and learn about Active Birth? It took me a while as I had a crazy busy job in TV, and had only dabbled with yoga at the gym before, plus it was a surprise pregnancy so it took me a while to stop being in shock and a little bit of denial! Imagine my luck when I discovered that on my route home from work in North London was the Active Birth Centre (run by the world-famous birth campaigner, author and teacher, Janet Balaskas). I started Pregnancy Yoga classes with the amazing Lynn Murphy at the centre and I didn't realise initially, but they changed my life.
In a parallel universe, maybe I wouldn't have bothered so much with looking into yoga, or not been able to get away from work in time to make the classes. I am trying to imagine how that pregnancy, birth, and early months or parenthood might have played out if that had been the case.
I might not have, for example:
- found an amazing, quiet place that was so calm compared to my work and London life
- found out what it was to feel grounded - and how amazing that is, and how relevant for birth
- learnt about my body, and how it was designed for birth - how the pelvis opens, how contractions work and how to "deal" with them (and it all totally worked!)
- found out that labouring on my back was not a great option....for so many reasons
- bonded with my surprise baby
- learnt about self care, accepting support, as well as a positive and open mind
- made friends with other women going through similar experiences, and stayed friends postnatally - their friendship and shared experience was so important to me
- learnt how to breathe in a simple yet effective way that saw me through a powerful birth
- felt more comfortable in my changing body and saw it as something to celebrate, not fear
- eased out back ache and other it's various pregnancy-related aches and pains
- learnt about what being a new mum can be like and what support I might find helpful
- heard other women's real birth stories in a safe environment
- got to ask questions about birth or discuss any concerns I had; gained loads of knowledge
- learnt how to tune in to my instincts for birth and caring for my baby and how important that is
- put everything we learnt in class into practise during my labour and it was AWESOME!
- discovered a new-found obsession with fennel tea!....
- OK.....if you've read this far thank you....I have realised I could go on and on, including how postnatal classes were also brilliant, and how it inspired me to train with the Active Birth Centre and pass all this info and support on to others (perhaps another blog or two in there!)
But needless to say, 13 years later, I still love teaching this special kind of Pregnancy Yoga and Active Birth classes, helping to bring other pregnant women to together to feel more relaxed and grounded in their bodies, feel more confident and positive towards birth, giving them tools and techniques to help them tune in to their internal resources (like their breath and natural labour movements) to help them feel more empowered about it all. Providing a space for connection.
Can't imagine what my life after that first pregnancy would have been like if I hadn't listened to my friend nagging me to go to yoga....can't imagine how different my birth story would have been, not having yoga in my life, not doing this work. I am so grateful I am in THIS universe ;)