When did you realize you were really in labor?
I was at work when I thought my water started leaking around 11am and I began having dull contractions that weren't quite uncomfortable yet but different than Braxton Hicks. (I was induced with my first child so at this point I was still questioning whether or not they were "real"). I was GBS positive so I called the Birthing Center at the hospital I was planning on delivering at and they had me come in to verify that my water was or was not leaking (it was not). By the time I arrived at the hospital to get checked around 5pm, the contractions were getting slightly uncomfortable and were 9-10 minutes apart. I was dilated to 3cm, 70% effaced and baby girl was engaged/station zero. They monitored me for two hours and my stats remained the same so they gave me the option to stay or go home. At the time, my contractions were 3-5 minutes apart but still manageable at this point. We chose to go home and labor there at long at possible. Things changed fast. They were uncomfortable by the time we got home. Contractions changed around midnight and were intense. We returned to the hospital around 2 am.
What was the most challenging thing about going natural?
I was tired. Very tired. Transition lasted a long time. When I arrived at the hospital I was dilated to 7cm and within an hour I was at 8cm, but I stayed at a difficult 8cm for approximately 4 hours before I had the OB break my water. Even after she broke my water, it was another hour before I decided I wanted to push. Thankfully, I only needed 2.5 contractions to push her out. I hadn't eaten in almost 20 hours at that point and was running out of steam.
What was the most helpful thing you did to prepare for childbirth?
Hypnobirthing. I practiced hypnobirthing breathing and relaxation techniques. I had done this previously with my first pregnancy as well. It helped me focus and maintain control.
What surprised you about your birth?
Pushing her out in 3 contractions. I expected it to take longer. With my first labor and delivery, I suddenly realized I had to push then and there and he came out in 3 contractions as well; however, with this labor and delivery, the pain I was experiencing was different. Part of my body wanted to tense up against my will and part of my body wanted to push. When the doctor checked me and I was complete and the baby was fetal station 2+ I decided to try and push with the next contraction (thankfully).
Believe in yourself, because it is absolutely possible and you are absolutely capable.
What pain relief strategies worked best?
I used hypnobirthing breathing and relaxation techniques along with counter pressure on my back and rebozo sifting during contractions. My husband and the nurses were great with the counter pressure during every contraction. It really helped. I labored on a birthing ball or on my knees facing the back of the bed. I was not comfortable lying on my back during this pregnancy or sitting in bed. I had to keep moving.
What position did you end up delivering in?
When it was time to push, I did deliver on my back in bed.
How did it feel to hold your baby for the first time?
Surreal. There isn't another moment like it in your life.
What advice can you give to other mamas who want to go natural?
Believe in yourself, because it is absolutely possible and you are absolutely capable. When I started to doubt myself, I prayed for strength and guidance.