Natalie Lawrence, 28, a massage therapist and coach, lives in Bedfordshire with husband Lee and son Max, 12 months. She tells us about her natural, medication-free birth.
During my pregnancy I trained as a professional-level triathlete, even racing my bike until 32 weeks. But one thing played on my mind – the pain of labour. In sport, I have a high tolerance to physical pain, but the idea of being out of control in childbirth made me anxious.
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My waters broke at midnight, 10 days before my due date. At 2am, I felt my first contractions. They didn’t hurt, but it felt like I had a stomach ache. I stayed relaxed, though the pressure in my bump stopped me from sleeping. As time went on, the sensations became more intense. By 10am the contractions were every five minutes.
I couldn’t believe how easy my labour was
I’m an active person and I wanted to keep moving, so we took a trip to the shops to get a car seat for the baby. My contractions were uncomfortable, but not painful. I couldn’t believe how easy my labour was. I’m used to endurance training and to blocking out pain. This felt a bit like one of my races!
‘Try and view this like a triathlon,’ she said. ‘You’re nearing the final hurdle.’
Back at home, my mucus plug became dislodged. I called the hospital and was told to come in. The longer I waited to give birth, the greater the risk of infection, they explained. The pressure in my bump was growing with each contraction. Lee drove me in at 10pm and I was given an internal examination. By 5am, I was 5cm dilated. My mum joined me and Lee on the ward. ‘Try and view this like a triathlon,’ she said. ‘You’re nearing the final hurdle.’
Around 8am, Lee ran me a bath. For the next hour I lay back in the warm water, feeling calm and relaxed. There was still no pain, only powerful, but manageable, pressure. Suddenly, a strong cramp swept over my stomach. I felt like I needed to go to the toilet urgently. Lee and Mum helped me out of the bath. As I sat on the loo, I realised the pressure I was feeling wasn’t just in my bottom. Instinctively, I reached down. To my surprise, I felt the baby’s head.
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When the midwife examined me, she said, ‘My goodness, you’re going to have to start pushing!’ Like in my races, I gave it everything I’d got. I don’t recall pain, even during the final stage when the baby’s head was crowning.
After just a few big pushes, the head, then the body, slipped out. This was it, I’d given birth to a beautiful baby boy, Max, and with none of the pain I’d been terrified of. I’m convinced that my sporting background helped to shift my mindset and gave me a natural, pain-free birth.
>> READ: GIVING BIRTH WAS LIKE AN ORGASM!
Three things I’d tell my friends
- Even if you’re not naturally sporty, try and imagine you’re in a circuit class or doing an exercise video during your labour. Remember, the discomfort is only temporary.
- When you’re pregnant, try not to over-analyse what’s going to happen in labour. Let your body tell you what to do when the time comes.
- Instead of screaming during each contraction, try to moan and groan like a man! You might feel silly at first, but making deep noises can really help with the pain.