My Birthlight story – Nicola Gibbons
"I'm here because some of my students are pregnant and they have asked me to start a pregnancy yoga class for them." That was my answer to fellow students on the first day of the Birthlight perinatal course I enrolled on in April 2014. I had made what I thought to be a business decision; expanding my skills set to meet my market. Yes, I was pregnant for the second time but I just thought it would be interesting to do this training whilst going through pregnancy in my own body. I would be able to fully experience the techniques that would give me more insight for my teaching. It soon became clear to me that there was a far deeper reason for me being there.
Eighteen months earlier I had given birth to my first son, Morgan, by emergency caesarean. After 30 hours of labour I ended up on the operating table and it was not the birth I had hoped for. With my participation in hypno-birthing classes and my years of yoga experience I was convinced I could have a calm, natural birth. There is no doubt that my yoga practice supported me in remaining calm throughout the birth and I was convinced that I had made peace with the way in which Morgan arrived in the world but there was clearly some unfinished business. I began to feel deeply emotional as we explored pregnancy yoga techniques and learnt about childbirth. I found myself in floods of tears when I got home each evening. I began to question whether I was really studying the Birthlight system for my students or whether I was searching for some answers for myself.
As I led the final relaxation in the first prenatal class with my case study pregnancy group I experienced a real sense of connection to both the women and the practice. Over the next few weeks my own practice became my class preparation as I familiarised myself with the funny walks and Birthlight techniques. I spent a lot of time on all fours! We all grew our babies together in a group infused with warmth, strong female energy and laughter. Every teaching point I made to the group I took on board for myself. And as I guided these women to a place of relaxation and restoration I gave myself permission to do the same. In my first pregnancy I had continued a slightly modified version of a strong vinyasa practice. I saw it as a badge of honour that I was still strong and flexible even as my body changed shape. I thought I was being strong to prepare for motherhood. But motherhood requires a different type of strength. The strength to let go.
When I felt my first contractions I knew this second birth would be different. Morgan and I danced together; a medley of silly walks and pelvic movements. I squatted hanging off the upstairs banisters. I shifted, waddled, softened and rested. I wallowed in the glorious spaces between the contractions. When we travelled into the hospital I didn't sit in the front seat, eyes wide open as I had with Morgan's birth. Instead I continued on all fours in the back seat, circling the pelvis, resting in child's pose. In the hospital I barely opened my eyes, I just calmly continued with my movements and my rest. The midwives tried to get the required monitors around me but they soon realised this birth had its own rhythm and gently stepped aside. My second son, Evan, was in my arms within the hour. From start to finish my VBAC had taken under 5 hours.
So was my second birth "better" than my first? The simple answer is no. I am grateful to Morgan for giving me the complex and challenging experience of his birth. Without that experience I wouldn't have discovered the rich and rewarding aspect of my yoga teaching that is Birthlight yoga. More importantly, Morgan's birth had prepared me beautifully for Evan's birth. As they entered the world in their different ways, both my sons have taught me valuable lessons and they continue to be my best yoga teachers.
A deeply moving and so well written testimony, truly in the spirit of yoga and with a perfect conclusion. Thanks Kirsteen for your teaching and thanks to Nicola for this personal tribute that encapsulates how birthlight yoga goes beyond being supple and strong for birth but supports the 'birth of mothers’ irrespective of mode of delivery.