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Positive Birth Stories are here to revolutionize the way we look at birth (and change the world 🙂 )! Fear and stress associated to birth are one of the main reason why women don’t manage to achieve a joyful birth experience. And it doesn’t have to be that way! You can read more about Positive Birth Stories here. Or head to my birth story: How I had a natural and pain free birth thanks to hypnobirthing.
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Kristina’s Birth with Hypnobabies
During my second pregnancy, I really embraced learning more about the process of giving birth. With my first daughter we took the standard issue hospital birth course, I read up a bit, and knew I wanted to try for a “natural” birth without pain medication. I ended up with a very positive experience, but going into it again I really wanted to learn more. And I knew I wanted a doula. We ended up hiring a doula that I really felt confident in, and she turned me onto Evidence Based Birth. I binged her podcast, starting with her pain management series. I pored over the details of alternative pain management – acupuncture, massage, TENS, aromatherapy, etc, etc. I also learned more about drug related pain management, which also helped keep me convinced of trying to avoid them if possible. I read about mother directed pushing, I learned about the advantages of different positions for labor and giving birth (where I decided I would like to try squatting). I also started a home practice of Hypnobabies, where I learned how to put myself into a state of self-hypnosis and practice deep relaxation. I kept the mind-body connection in the forefront as I got closer to my “guess date.” I felt more prepared this time, and almost excited for giving birth.
My guess date rolled around and things were still pretty quiet. As I was induced before, I wasn’t sure what to expect if I were to go into labor spontaneously. At 39 weeks I did elect to have a membrane sweep, which gave me some cramping for the afternoon which dissipated after listening to a hypnosis track. At each of these last appointments I got progressively more dilated, which seemed like a good thing. Once I got to my appointment 5 days after my “guess” date, I asked for another sweep because it seemed like a why not situation. I had already scheduled an induction, and my July baby was looking like he was going to be an August baby. My doctor gave me a surprised “oh” when she checked, I was nearly 4 cm and 50% effaced. She commented that it was likely I probably wouldn’t make it to my induction date. Hooray! So I went home and carried about my day. Once home, while watering the plants in the backyard, a large dragonfly landed on my hand and rested for quite a long time. I stared in amazement and really felt this was a good omen.
That evening after dinner, around 8pm, I felt a sharp in my lower belly. I didn’t think much of it as I progressed through the usual bedtime routine. As my daughter splashed in the tub, I noticed more odd feelings. It struck me as this might be it. I soaked in the rest of her bath, getting her ready for bed, and snuggling her to sleep. I knew in the back of my mind this was going to be the last time I would be putting her to bed as an only child. It was bittersweet, punctuated by increasingly strong pressure waves throughout my back. I had started timing them on my phone and once I got up I decided I wanted to take a shower. I texted my doula and she suggested the same, and to look out for consistency. They weren’t terribly close together and never longer than 45 seconds long. Once I got into the shower they jumped to 2 minutes apart, 30 seconds long. I started getting confused, and concerned. I knew my first labor was fairly quick, and if the contractions were already this close, and causing me to pause, this was a sign things were heating up. I finished packing up my toiletries, my husband packed our bags in the car and I called my doula. I tried listening to a hypnosis track, which gave me some time to relax, but suddenly a strong contraction snapped me out of it. Yeah, this was it. I had our doula come to our house, since we lived so close to the hospital.
Once she arrived at our house near midnight, I was on the bed listening to the active labor hypnosis track. It helped keep me calm, but the waves kept coming at a quick pace, not allowing me to stay fully committed to the relaxation. We quickly decided we should head to the hospital. We piled into the car and arrived at Labor and Delivery. I was listening to my hypnosis tracks again, quietly walking down the hallway towards triage, stopping to hold onto the wall and wind into some sort of hip sway dance that just came to me through every wave. Amazing how our bodies seem to know what to do. Once we got to triage, I elected to get checked, after an excruciatingly long wait to get the fetal monitors on while I couldn’t stand still, or get on the bed. Once she did check, she said I was 5cm. I was slightly disappointed for just a second, but I knew in my mind that this was all happening too fast and that was going to change quickly. Eight minutes later I felt a shift and exclaimed “there goes my water” – and once again, I knew this was about to get intense.
We got to our room and I labored on my hands and knees on the bed, again winding my hips through contractions. My doula started filling the tub, but I think we all knew there wouldn’t be time to use it. At this point I started feeling a sense of panic. This was HARD. Harder than I remember, harder than I envisioned. I knew I COULD do it, but I started to feel less confident. What could I get for my pain? How can I keep relaxed with this all consuming pain? I started thinking all my time practicing hypnosis was a waste, I couldn’t keep centered. At this point the nurses were asking about a birth plan. Right! Birth plan, it was in my hospital bag, things were going so fast we didn’t have time to go over it. In fact there wasn’t much time for anything, and the hospital was insanely busy and all three on call providers were in other rooms. I would have normally had the midwife assist, but she was busy, and eventually we had a doctor come in. I heard him say something along the lines of “let me know when I’m needed” and I remember thinking I think pretty soon, dude!
At this point when my husband and doula took out my birth “plan” they asked about nitrous oxide. It was something I was interested in trying. This was just after 2:00 am. They got it ready for me and tried to explain how to use it, and I quickly grabbed the mask and assured them I got it. Around this time I started shaking uncontrollably with contractions on top of one another and I knew this was transition. It quickly grounded me, if I could get through this, then I can make it to the end. The nitrous helped take the edge off the contractions and let me take breaks in between.
When the doctor returned and checked me (25 minutes later), I was complete and +1 station. The urge to push began about 10 minutes after that. I soon found that my position was not allowing my body to completely rest during the breaks, however. I tried getting onto my left side, which is how I started pushing with my first birth. It was quickly ruled out as I felt even more uncomfortable. I started getting frustrated as I did not want to lie on my back, for sure. That’s when my doula suggested the squat bar, as I had talked about wanting to try squatting. They quickly adjust the bed, added the squat bar and I stood up to grasp the bar. At the beginning of each contraction, I took a hit of the nitrous then allowed my body to take over, breathing through each push. It was obvious that this position was the right one, I felt completely in control of my pushing. No one was coaching me, no one told me to hold my breath, no one said I needed to do more. As I continued I started feeling his head descend further and further down. It was an amazing feeling. Once he started crowning I expected a brief “ring of fire” similar to my first birth, except this time it felt so long. I think it was a combination of my upright position and my body taking control. He crowned and just paused there, my body holding him there. I thought I would for sure be tearing, as the searing pain was so intense. I took a cue from Call the Midwife (love that show) and paused and took some shallow breaths to allow my body to stretch. Through extremely loud screams, of course. I will not lie to you and say this was some Earth mama woo woo experience. There was a lot of screaming. Anyway, after the pause, my body pushed again and in a split second, he was completely out. This is the moment that will forever stay in my memory. I was literally in an upright squat, leaning onto the bar. It was an involuntary reflex to push him out completely, and I looked down below me to see my baby lying on the bed looking up at me. It felt so empowering, so natural, and just amazing. He quickly was placed on my chest and I was able to recline back and take a moment to recenter. It was just about 30 minutes of pushing, and about 7 hours start to finish. I felt like a superhero. Despite my insistence that I was tearing, I had no trauma worth stitching up.
A difference between my two birth experiences was the emotions I experienced directly after birth. With my daughter I recall feeling completely amazed that they handed ME a baby. A wet, squirmy baby that was MINE. How on earth am I supposed to care for her? What do I do? I didn’t feel an immediate bond, I knew I loved her, but the idea of becoming a mother didn’t initially set in (even after nine months of pregnancy). This time, I was excited for the moment I would see his face. I KNEW what I was getting into. I KNEW he was an individual, someone we would get to know. I immediately grabbed him and spoke to him, and he calmly listened. He latched on and nursed for a long time. We had more than a golden hour, as nurses were so busy with other deliveries. It felt calm and serene. Then a nurse came in and had to finish “admitting” me to the hospital since things were going too fast earlier to complete the process. Oops!
The most amazing part about birth that I’ve found, is that as women, we elect to do it again. Even in the throes of my worst pain, where I was swearing in my head I would NEVER DO THIS AGAIN, the experience of bringing your baby into the world has almost an addicting quality to it. I started thinking about how I would do it differently another time (what?!), and got wistful thinking about it. I felt the same way the first time. I wanted to relive the experience, even though it was the most painful thing I had endured. As time goes on the memory of the pain softens, leaving the reminiscent thoughts of seeing your baby for the first time. Of feeling like the most badass person on the planet. It really is something you can’t explain until you experience it. And all the moms out there – you really are badasses!
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