Why giving birth is just like skiing! Birth advice from Jackie Heffer-Cooke

Our very own Inconsistent Earth Mother, Jackie Heffer-Cooke has just started writing a monthly column in the Norwich Evening News and, this month, Jackie is offering up some birth advice, by comparing giving birth to skiing…..!

This time last year I went skiiing for the first time. I remember standing in the shadows at the bottom of the vast mountain with all my strange clothes, and uncomfortable new props, gazing at people flying gracefully down from the peak, thinking ‘I can’t do that’.

Birth advice in Norwich10 years ago I remember vividly packing my hospital bag, filling it with brick like sanitary towels, massive knickers, and tiny clothes for my newborn baby, then the following day arriving at the hospital in the throes of early labour, looking at birthing balls and birth pools, puffing and panting, trying to hold myself together, and thinking ‘I can’t do this’.

As I considered that mountain in the French Pyrenees last year I knew I had to stop looking at the peak, to break it down into do-able chunks, and just focus on the beginning. I just needed to get on the ride. I had to stop thinking, just hop on that button lift, quit worrying about how silly I looked, forget about falling off and just let that little round piece of metal propel me to the top of the nursery run. Then when at the top, I needed to employ the techniques I had learnt with my coach at the bottom, let myself go, and just feel it.

This explains my second birth, 5 years later, quite nicely. I had more confidence, I was so ‘in control’, I just ‘totally let go’. I did what I felt was right. That, along with being well prepared with active birth and breathing techniques meant I felt less vulnerable and more able to throw myself into it.

Birth advice in NorwichSo, now you see the analogy. In birth the mind is what holds us back. If your body feels like being on all fours and swinging its hips from side to side, if your breath wants to stay focused and use some lovely long outbreaths to ride the sensations out, if you feel like mooing like a cow! – then that is what you need to do. Don’t let the mind worry about what you’re looking like, or how daft you sound. Don’t let the mind believe the mountain is too high. When you’re in it and when you’re doing it, the ride will become more challenging – just like a blue or a red run – and when you get to the black run you know you have done brilliantly well, that you are at your peak, and that it is all downhill from here, downhill on a bob-sleigh to the finish line. Meeting your baby for the very first time. The best, most exhilarating and rewarding finish line possible.

A few months ago I had a midwife in one of my pregnancy yoga classes. The best and easiest births, she said, came to those women who truly follow the lead of their body and let themselves go. Now, let me just say that here I am talking about normal births where nothing medically has gone wrong; the baby is in a good position for birth, it comes on time without inductions, the cervix opens well and the baby doesn’t get stuck moving down the birth path. These are all reasons why understandably you may want to get off the ride and get some other help of the medical variety.

But, even in births that become more complicated, they don’t always end up in intervention. Sometimes, if it’s safe to, we can ride it out and get back on track.

So as it turns out skiing was challenging. But I really, thoroughly enjoyed it. It was exhilarating. So was my second birth. Go on, don’t be scared, just jump in it and ride!

Jackie Heffer-Cooke teaches HypnoBirthing, YogaBubs baby yoga, YogaBumps pregancy yoga and specialises in pregnancy massage.  You can book on to Jackies upcoming classes here, or by calling Reception on 01603 631 900, email reception@theorangegroveclinic.co.uk, or go to our contact page.