How do I ‘trust my gut’ in labour?!

labour May 02, 2016

We were chatting in class the other day and the subject of following your gut instinct came up. The one thing that has served me in life has always been my gut instinct. I always go by it. I try never to make a decision if it just doesn’t feel right…but what do I mean by that? How can you go with your gut instincts when you really aren't sure about what is happening...particularly in labour and birth? How can you really get 'in-tune' with your gut and really, really trust it?

Let me give you a relevant example… I’ll set the scene…I was in labour with my 2nd little boy. It was early morning. My waters had started to break the day before but my contractions weren’t doing the business yet. My husband wasn’t allowed stay with me that night as I wasn’t in established labour…so couldn’t go to the delivery suite. I spent several hours that night walking up and down stairs, combined with a little rest, then a hot shower, then a bit more walking…doing what felt right.

That morning, when it started to kick off, I just ‘knew’ that I was going to give birth very soon. I was in an ante-natal ward and was the only lady in labour. Every other poor unfortunate gal (you’ll soon see why!), was in there for observation, for one reason or another. There must have been at least 10 of us lined up in our teeny cubicle spaces. 

Looking for some privacy, I closed the blue curtain thingy around me to create my little quiet space, and was hovering between my ball and the edge of the bed, oohhhing and ahhhhing my way through my contractions…not caring what the other ladies (who were having their breakfast) were thinking of my amusing noises.

Once my husband arrived in, I toddled / waddled out to the corridor looking for a midwife explaining that I felt I needed to go to the delivery suite as my baby was coming very soon. They were terribly busy god love them and told me to wait a while as everyone was changing shift and the delivery suites were busy!!!!! Wait? Sure no problemo love…note to self for next baby…never go into hospital at a change of shift. I said, listen I think I’m really close and just feel that I’m going to have my baby soon. I had no examination so didn’t actually know what the dilation situ was. Anyway, It wasn’t happening…bad timing on my part. So I toddled / waddled back to my ward, puking in the sink on arrival…during breakfast…again, poor unfortunate ladies. So about another 30 minutes or so passed where I started to sweat a little more and found each contraction a little more challenging to manage. I just had this ‘feeling’ that number two was on his way.

So eventually a lovely midwife came my way and said she needed to examine me as I had to be in 'established' labour if I wanted to get into a delivery suite…I really didn’t want her to but reluctantly allowed her on the strict condition that she get her hands outta there when the next contraction arrived. Bless her she did.

So she said “hmmmm, no you are only 4cm”…to which I swore at her (apologies dear gorgeous midwife), and said I’m not f**king 4cm. So down I got on one knee, performed my magic lunges, and hey presto I started grunting…”my baby is coming”! Well holy Jesus, the pregnant women went flying out of the room, glancing at me on one knee, and nurses and midwives legging it in! I was lifted onto a bed (you can imagine my pleasure at this)…I have a vivid recollection saying “I shouldn’t be on my back”! Anyway, my gorgeous Sebastian joined me moments later and I was overwhelmed, stunned, thrilled, thankful, shocked, all in one moment…while my husband was standing there thinking “Jesus Christ, I’ve only arrived a little while ago, what the hell just happened”?!

What’s the moral of the story?! Trust your bloody instincts and don’t let ANYONE put you off your scent! When women are pregnant or having a baby or are a mother, I find we have this almost supernatural power / instinct to just know in your 'gut' that something isn't right.

I know many ladies sometimes lack the self-belief when it comes to trusting their instincts and their amazing bodies in birth and believing they can have the birth they desire. So I’d like to give you a quick but useful exercise on how to become a little more ‘in-tune’ with your body…your gut…your soul or whatever you want to call it.

Think about a big decision you have to make, or something that is on your mind that you will have to deal with over the coming months. Perhaps it is something about your work...going back to work full time after having baby, quitting your job to get a part time job…moving house to a less popular/busy area to get more space…trying for a baby/another baby etc. etc.

Focusing for the next few minutes on your ‘big’ decision, I’d like you to come to a comfortable seat and eventually close your eyes. Take 3 deep inhales through your nose and exhale out through your mouth. I want you to think about your options. When you think about option A, how does your belly feel? Really explore what this option would mean; the impact it would have on your day. Is your tummy feeling tight, do you feel anxious, are you physically holding onto tension in your belly? Do you feel a bit sick? Are you breathing deeply and calmly, or are you breathing shallowly? OR, do you feel soft, warm and relaxed in your tummy? Does it make you smile warmly just thinking about option A. Now do the same for option B. How does it feel? Picture yourself in the situation. After considering both options for a few minutes each, how do you feel? Which feels more right for you right now?

This is such a simple exercise, but with regular practice, you can start to feel physical tension in your belly area. Your gut is trying to talk to you! Start to practice physically feeling more when any situation, big or small, comes up for you. Try to actually stop, pause and let it sink in. Just notice how your body is feeling and responding to your thoughts or worries. With practice, you become quite quickly aware of what your gut is trying to tell you!

If you are interested in getting more in-tune with your body, then pop on over to take a look at our Mama-To-Be and New Mama courses and see how I can help you on your journey. 

If you have found this helpful, then please do share this with your gorgeous friends, by using the buttons on the left hand side. Get in touch and let me know how your gut has helped you along your road to motherhood.

Until the next time,

Big love,

Xx Helen xx

Helen Plass works with women and their birthing partners to achieve a comfortable, healthy & happy journey into Pregnancy, Birth and Motherhood. She has built a successful business in Dublin, Ireland, as a Yoga Instructor, specializing in Pre- & Post-natal health and fitness, Active Birthing workshops, Baby Massage and Mama & Baby Yoga classes. She is known for her very practical & non-judgmental approach to pregnancy and the crazy times of motherhood! Helen has trained in the UK and Ireland, and is mega proud of coming first in her Yoga Teacher Training (she’s a bit of a swot) at the gorgeous Samadhi Studios in Dublin. She’s a proud wife, mama to two energetic little boys, former corporate marketing professional, keen runner and lover of all things related to sport…and is an avid supporter of Irish Rugby.

When she’s not becoming all teary and emotional with messages from her clients about their gorgeous births, you can find her walking along the rocks and beach with her boys, cheering on the sidelines of football and rugby pitches, experimenting with essentail oils, baking and preparing meals for the non-stop-eating men in her life…and in general just trying to keep it all together. Check out all her communication at NurtureMamas.com, and if you are in Ireland, her local business Mumandbaby.ie.