I am a clinical psychologist and mother of two sons
Long before their births, I‘d been having this problem of stiffness and aching in my neck. There was a lot going on at the time for me. I’d had a miscarriage. and I was just at a point where I was thinking, ‘I need to have a look at the way that I’m living my life’ and (Do I need to look after myself a bit better?’ It occurred to me that I could actually go and have something done about this neck problem. I’d just been living
with it, really. I was talking about it to my brother, who’d had lessons, and he said (Why don’t you try the Alexander Technique?’ He bought me my first lesson as a birthday present.
I certainly think there were benefits, in both the physical and mental areas. I feel much more aware. I was already aware that stress and tension played a large part in the neck problem, but it made me even more aware of the micro-level of tension. I could do usual sort of relaxation stuff, but as I learned the Alexander Technique I became aware of this almost-unnoticeable tightening while I was doing things. There was a broader benefit as well. I felt I was looking after myself a bit more.
It helped that I could use the Technique when I got pregnant. Unfortunately, it helped me less the first time I gave birth than the second time, even though I was actually having lessons during the first pregnancy. The first delivery was induced because my waters broke, and there were no contractions. There was meconium in the waters, which can be a sign of foetal distress, so I was stuck in the bed and couldn’t really get into the positions I wanted. In that respect, I was disappointed that I hadn’t been able to use the Technique a bit more, really. In the earlier stages, I was able to use it, and I had to, as the induced contractions were horrendously painful. As it happens, the baby was fine.
In my second delivery, I had the same thing (the waters going and no contractions) but that time there wasn’t any meconium, so they were happy to see what happened over the next twenty-four hours. The birth happened naturally after a few hours anyway. I was more able to move around and keep upright. There is something about lying down: it’s strange, because it is so often seen as being the position that you are supposed to give birth in, but there was something about being in the upright position that meant that I could concentrate a bit more, particularly on my neck and shoulders and keep them loose, and also concentrate on my breathing a bit more. I felt I was able to work through the contractions better, whereas the first time I was just kind of surviving and enduring them.