The following is an interview with Judy Osborne, midwife at the delivery of Premlata.
What was Durga Ji doing to prepare for the birth?
If you have faith in Guru Maharaj Ji, you realise what having this human life means. It means that you've been given a part to play, and you've got to play that part. When Durga Ji found out she was pregnant, she immediately got herself completely into doing the best thing that she could for her baby, because the baby was so precious to her - she just wanted to do the best thing that she could for it.
She started doing exercises and went to classes, in fact classes that involved the husband as well as the wife, so that Maharaj Ji was also going to the classes, and they were learning together. The thing that struck me was just how much they both got themselves into it. With everyone that's expecting a baby, you've got to do that; you've got to be prepared. If you want to get the most out of it, you've got to put the most into it, and then it will be a most joyful thing.
What was the actual method that Durga Ji used?
It's the Bradley method, which involves abdominal breathing. That's the basis of it, that you breathe deeply. This type of breathing is very close to meditation. Whereas in other methods, the breathing is away from the abdomen, and it gets lighter and lighter. It's just chest breathing, and very fast breathing when you get into intense labour. These methods seem to build up tension over a period of time, rather than make you really relax. The Bradley method really aims towards relaxation, because relaxation is the most important factor in natural childbirth.
The other thing that Bradley thinks is very important is for the husband or the father of the baby to be involved as well. The best person to coach her and help her through the labour, if he's trained, is the father of the baby, because he's the person she's closest to. He can give her more support. Through pregnancy, the mother and the father attend classes and train as a couple. You are just taught everything that's going to happen during the pregnancy and during the different stages of labour. Maharaj Ji and Durga Ji went through all that together so that Maharaj Ji knew on the physical level exactly what was happening. He was able to help Durga Ji through the different stages of labour, and from one stage to the next. And he just did that perfectly - really, he was such a help to her.
How did you find out about the Bradley method?
It was a coincidence. Again, Maharaj Ji was preparing me. The Bradley method was not being used in England at the time, but it happened that one premie who had had her baby in California, using that method, came back to England and told me about it. Then I tried it with my deliveries after that, and it worked so much better. The mothers were so much more relaxed. It was much closer to meditation than the usual natural childbirth methods.
And again by chance, I came across someone who had used the LeBoyer technique of post-natal care, because the book had not yet been published in England.
What is this LeBoyer technique?
It involves being as gentle as possible with the baby after it's born - things like not separating it from its mother, even for a moment, and keeping the lights dim and keeping the room as quiet as possible. The baby is making a transition to a whole new world of unfamiliar sensations, so you try to make things less harsh. You massage it after it is born, because the contractions have been massaging him inside the womb, and you put him in water for a while to help him relax, because he's been floating in water before he was born. Doctors sometimes say that a baby normally won't smile for six weeks or so after birth, but actually, using the LeBoyer method sometimes they smile just a few minutes after they're born, especially in the bath. They really open up. These things I was learning were the same conclusions that Durga Ji and Maharaj Ji were coming to about how they wanted the delivery to be. So when I got to Los Angeles, I found that what Durga Ji envisaged happening was just what I'd been doing.
Did you know that Maharaj Ji had asked all the premies around the world to meditate?
Oh yes. It was such a lovely thing. We could really feel it. And Durga Ji was so pleased as well. We knew then that all the premies were focused on Durga Ji and the baby and Guru Maharaj Ji.
What actually happened then, the morning before the birth?
Durga Ji went into labour about midnight, the morning of the 9th. Maharaj Ji called me about 4.00 am, and when I arrived she was in established labour - not really very strong yet, though.
We started to get things ready, she drank herb tea, and we massaged her to help her relax. Gradually people began to arrive: Eileen MisWer, and Raja Ji and Claudia. Everybody was just so positive, so concentrated on this birth, so one-pointed, just putting energy into it. It was really lovely. And of course Maharaj Ji was there the whole time. He was massaging, and he was helping her through her contractions, and he was making it all so smooth - just a beautiful thing.
The whole tempo of the birthing then was very joyful? There weren't any complications?
Nothing at all. Everything went completely smoothly. Durga Ji was just so incredible. She was so in tune with what was happening to her. It had taken me a long time to realise what natural childbirth is. Usually when people think of giving birth they think of drugs, and anaesthetics, and pain. Durga Ji had gone through all of that way of thinking. At first she was planning to have it id the hospital, because she wanted to make completely sure that everything would go all right. And then she gradually came to realise that it's got to be just so natural. The baby has got to be born straight into your arms and shouldn't be separated from you at all in those first few minutes. Her understanding and sensitivity were incredible to me.
We seem to be so far away from our instincts, that we don't even realise that of course it's best for you to hold the baby right away. People have to be told these things. But Durga Ji didn't need telling. She knew for herself. And it was the same with the labour, she just experienced every minute of it: she went completely with what was happening. She didn't try and fight it or anything. She just surrendered completely to the experience.
Natural childbirth is a very spiritual thing, really, because that power which is pushing the baby out is the power of Holy Name. Surrendering to the experience of labour is like meditating. If the woman flows with it right, the way Durga Ji did, she won't experience so much pain because she'll be one with that power. But if she is afraid and resists and goes against what's happening to her, then she'll feel pain. For women without Knowledge the experience of natural childbirth can be the most spiritual experience in their lives, because for the first time a power that is greater than them just takes over. And premies really get even more out of it because they understand what's happening.
Experiencing labour like that is the first service that you do for the baby; it enables you to give so much love to the child. Babies need a lot of patience as well as a lot of love. Sometimes you don't understand why they are crying, so you've just got to be very open. And the experience of labour enables you to do that.
You can't help feeling that everything which happens to Durga Ji and Maharaj Ji happens so that-they can better teach us, and so that they can better help us to live our lives perfectly too. I felt that Durga Ji was experiencing this birth so that she can help us so much more, so she can be so much more of a mother to us.
What happened when the baby was actually being born?
When Durga Ji came to the second stage of labour and the baby was actually being born, Guru Maharaj Ji was encouraging her to push, and to push just at the right time. He knew exactly how to do it. It almost seemed to me as if they'd been through this thing of childbirth together many times before.
By the time of the actual birth, I didn't even feel that I was a person to feel anything. I felt completely that Maharaj Ji was working through me.
Really, Maharaj Ji would like to have done everything. He would have delivered the baby himself, but he gave other people a chance to be there. He worked through these other people. It seemed as if he had just picked every body who was there for what they could do to make it the most perfect birth. And I felt completely that I was his instrument, to make the birth as smooth and as beautiful as possible.
When Premlata was delivered, as her body was being born, I put her straight onto Durga Ji's abdomen, so that there was never any separation. She slid out and then slid straight onto Durga Ji's tummy. And then Durga Ji was stroking her, and gently massaging her, meeting her, just getting to know externally this baby that she'd been carrying for so long inside.
As the baby was born, Maharaj Ji said, "Oh, it's a girl." He was the first one to know it was a girl. And then we just waited for the cord to stop pulsating because it's so traumatic for a baby to have the cord cut when there's still blood being pumped into it. And so we waited, and when it had stopped pulsating Maharaj Ji cut the cord.
When the baby had been lying there a while, Maharaj Ji wanted to hold her. He took off his gown, so that when he held her she could feel his skin next to hers. Because again that's a really, really important contact. Materials don't mean anything to a baby. The lifeless. But the feel of human skin, especially of your mother and father, is just so important. It was such a beautiful moment when Maharaj Ji took her in his arms. So lovely.
What happened after the birth?
After the placenta was delivered, Durga Ji took a herbal bath. Then a while later she had another bath, and this time she took Premlata in with her. Premlata really opened up then moving her arms and legs around, really relaxing. Later Durga Ji was able to walk, and they took some pictures.
Can you tell us a little about Premlata?
She's so beautiful. There's so much love coming through her from Maharaj Ji. It seems as if she's a gift from him to his premies. And she's really beautiful. She gets more beautiful every day. Right when they're born babies sometimes seem so wise, because all they've known up until then is meditation, and everything they do is coming straight from that experience of meditation. Often they seem more like babies when they're a month or six weeks old than when they've just been born. Premlata is just so beautiful, I don't know what else to say about her.