I was at a birth at the weekend where progress was hard to read. There'd been no vaginal examinations as there'd been no need - the mother could feel the changes for herself but the contractions themselves were confusing - seemingly short and uncoordinated - and to the eye and ear, nothing altered for some time.
The midwife was wonderful, sitting quietly out on the landing, and I too was lying down, keeping well out of the way of the mother's awareness.
But as all midwives and doulas know, sometimes your head starts to whir - like standard maternity care with it's need for answers and progress - questions start to swirl. What if it's stalled,? What if we're just at the start? Maybe the baby's in a difficult position.?
When such static starts to fizz, resist it carers!. Focus on your own breath, slowing it to four counts in, five counts out - attune to your OWN inside.
And you'll start listening to what's happening with a different part of yourself. You'll get your answer.
In this case, the mother had decisively got out of a long shower where she'd been in a knees-wide forward lean...and went upstairs to a dark attic bedroom.
Once there, she moved about the room on hands and knees - trying to find comfort without success.
But she kept at it.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed her put her chest close to the bed and her bottom high - a knee/chest inversion.
No rational decision had taken her there, no instruction. She just found it, held it - and swayed her bottom and hips high, like a slow shaking down.
Then she came to upright - a deep upright, knees and thighs wide, sitting fully and well in her pelvis - and stayed there for a few minutes.
Then on one knee, a crouching half-squat, which when the contraction came, she lunged and moved into as if trying to push out on the available space - as if feeling every corner and edge of her hip.
And then she did the same the other side.
Round she went again with this sequence, like a dance - spontaneously, instinctively and after some minutes, everything changed.
Now there were guttural down sounds sound, an increase in downward force - and then a baby showed.
He turned out to be ten and a half pounds, double the size of her first child and the sensation of the pressure had been new.
His progress through her pelvis was different and her body just worked out how to accommodate him, by
tipping forward in that way,
then setting him down,
tipping him forward,
then setting him down
- to help him journey deeper.
Each time she released him from the 'bowl' of her pelvis, it could open a little wider, and when she sat back down, he could sink a little more.
How PHYSICALLY clever is that?
The exquisite engineering of the female body is jaw-dropping, along with the mother's unconscious knowing of how to work with it .