Just after midnight on December 12th 2013, in a tiny town somewhere in the Eastern Cape in beautiful South Africa, my second son Reuben Finlay Williams was born, completely naturally, without any drugs or pain relief used whatsoever. I felt like a champion. I felt like I’d just conquered the world. I felt amazing, like I had just climbed Everest and reached the top all by myself! The sense of God given achievement and joy was a moment I basked in. It was dark outside but it felt as though the sun shone around me in that little delivery room in the Clinic in Uitenhage. This birth was what I had hoped for, dreamed of and up until then could only imagine. A moment perhaps only another mother might know. But of course I did not do it all by myself, I had my beloved husband with me and one of my closest and most trusted friends pulling me through the whole labour. Had it not been for both but, I know my husband won’t mind me saying, especially for Shauna, I don’t believe the experience would have been quite what is was.
Having another woman with me during labour who I was close to and trusted and who was already a mother of four herself, was one of the best things about my birth experience. She had already been to that place of pain and fear, uncertainty and exhaustion four times and come through it, therefore I considered her presence wise counsel and a great encouragement and that’s exactly what she was. She kept count of my contractions and timed them for me so that I knew where I was as the different stages of my labour progressed. She played restful music for me and calmly reminded me with a broad and loving smile when I was anxious that I was made for this and my body knew exactly what to do every step of the way.
Whilst resting on the back of a chair, I sat upright on a big, balance ball for my entire labour which kept my whole body, and in particular my pelvis, mobile, flexible and in the optimum position for my baby’s head to bear down upon my cervix to help it to contract more efficiently and quickly. In fact, the only time I lay down during my labour was when I had to move to the bed for a brief internal examination to see how many centimetres dilated I was and when I did lie down, I immediately found that I couldn’t stand the discomfort of such a passive position. I was compelled to get up, stand up, stretch, bounce gently on my ball again and keep, quite literally, ‘on-top’ of my pain. For my second time around in labour, remaining upright and mobile during the full intensity of the strongest contractions made me feel in control and able to cope right the way through to birthing little Reuben. I breathed steadily and rhythmically with each wave of pain and one by one, as each contraction washed over me and then gradually faded away, I reminded myself I was moving ever closer to receiving this precious gift from God I so wanted, my second little son. As a result of adopting this position of authority over my own body, I felt a sense of dominance over the pain. I was in charge, I could move with my body and do whatever I felt I needed to bring this baby boy into the world.
Several weeks prior to labour and birth, I spent time every day reading through the stages of labour and what to expect so that I could also take authority over my mind. I was determined this time around not to fear the pain or allow it to rule over me. This was my strategy for achieving the birth experience I so hoped for; completely natural, unassisted labour and delivery. I equipped myself with the knowledge of what my body was going to do throughout labour and birth in order to be well prepared to handle it. I made sure I understood the process thoroughly. I took time to visualize my body relaxing and my cervix contracting in order to bring forth the very thing I desired most of all, another beloved baby boy. I discovered that in doing all this I was actually able to accept peacefully without any fear, the inevitability of the pain I was going to face once again. The fear I had was gone. This became an extremely powerful if not the determining factor in shaping the birth experience I had with Reuben and I’m convinced that it came down to the fact that before labour had even begun, mentally I had mastered the pain which in turn enabled me to ‘own’ this birth experience.
I have realized that as a woman and a mother, in the process of labor and giving birth, the engagement and intentional focus of the mind in order to overcome the pain and fear and to enjoy the experience, is as significant if not more so then the engagement of the physical body alone. At the ordained time, of course we have no choice but to birth our baby or babies, once labour begins there is no turning back! The wonderful thing is that if we are ready in our minds, with an assurance that we were made by God to withstand, go through and rule over the pain of birthing our children we can come out the other side on top. Not only
come out on top with our little bundles of joy but also with the very great and valuable sense of triumph and achievement that as a woman and a mother, only we were pre-destined to know.
What a privilege it is to have been created a woman, to be able to do this incredible thing that brings forth life and fruit into all the earth. When I look at my two precious sons, Jacob and Reuben, I realize what an honour it is to be a mother, created with a God given mandate; to birth and raise the next generation.
by Isy Williams