When did you realize you were really in labor?
After going through a few hours of Braxton Hicks the day before, then having them subside after a nap (suggested by my doula), I knew the surges I was feeling this time around were different. They were stronger and consistent in frequency. I doubted myself at first, but after a couple hours and not being able to rest, I knew this was the real deal and it was time to call the doula!
What was the most challenging thing about going natural?
The most challenging part about going natural was letting go of other's ideas of birth and trusting my own judgement of how I wanted this birth to go. I was told not to create a birth plan, to be open to an epidural and was told the birthing process was scary. I wasn't scared, I had a plan to help me envision my baby being born and I had done a lot of work and preparation to help me through the surges, naturally.
What was the most helpful thing you did to prepare for childbirth?
My husband and I took an 8 week natural birthing class with our doula, which helped us both set the foundation for the birth.
We planned to give birth at the hospital and our class really helped us in knowing what to expect with a hospital birth, including interventions, monitoring and what was available to us. Because we wanted to avoid interventions as much as possible, we decided we would do the majority of the labor at home, then transition to the hospital when I was ready or at the advisement of our doula. Setting this intention really helped during the labor. I labored at home for about 10 hours before heading to the hospital, where I labored for just 3 more hours before our baby was born.
Prenatal yoga, meditation, affirmations from my Blessing Way, having a doula were all helpful, but our class was what really helped me in knowing what I would need and pulling together those resources so they were available to me during the labor.
What surprised you about your birth?
What surprised me was how amazing and in control I felt during my labor. At different moments of the labor, it felt instinctual to move from one position to the other. There were times where I sat on an exercise ball and had my legs spread against the wall while my husband pressed on my lower back or thighs, other times I was on my yoga mat doing "cat, cow" poses, then at one point I was walking around in my backyard picking up avocados, completely naked! When we got to the hospital, my team was supportive in following my lead. I had a lot of back labor, so I spent a lot of time in the shower, where my husband sprayed my lower back with warm water. There was only one point during the pushing, where I felt I couldn't push any longer, but my doula and husband quickly affirmed me, telling me I could do it and that I was doing it! With that, I went back to feeling amazing and in control and pretty soon after our baby girl was born!
Trust yourself and do the preparation! I like to think that I had a toolbox by my side. While I didn't use all the tools in my box, they were still there in case I needed them. Take a natural birthing class, exercise (walks and yoga), do your squats, write out affirmations, prepare your birthing mix, write out your birth plan, get a doula!
What pain relief strategies worked best?
What felt best was having my husband squeeze my hips together - this relieved a lot of pressure. Actually, one of the times he was doing this, my waters broke and splashed all over him. When this happened we both bursted with laughter - it was too hilarious!
What position did you end up delivering in?
After pushing in the squatting position for some time, I ended up on my back, because I was getting pretty tired. So, I ended up delivering lying on my back, holding my legs to my chest.
How did it feel to hold your baby for the first time?
Pure, magical bliss! I didn't care that she was covered in blood, I wanted to (and did) kiss her all over. My baby wa finally in my arms.
What advice can you give to other mamas who want to go natural?
Trust yourself and do the preparation! I like to think that I had a toolbox by my side. While I didn't use all the tools in my box, they were still there in case I needed them. Take a natural birthing class, exercise (walks and yoga), do your squats, write out affirmations, prepare your birthing mix, write out your birth plan, get a doula! At the beginning of our class series, our assignment was to pick out affirmations and read them aloud to our partners. I remember thinking it was so cheesy! My husband and I even laughed at a few of them. However, knowing it might be helpful, I wrote out a few that I resonated with and when it came time for the labor, those affirmations were a huge help in keeping me focused. I was so thankful I took the time to write those out, even though o thought it was cheesy at the time.