When did you realize you were really in labor?
It was 9:30 AM and I had just woken up in the morning after a 10-hour sleep (last time that will happen for a while!). I let my dogs outside and then went to the bathroom. At 39w+4, I felt a 'pop' while sitting on the toilet. The thought occurred to me that it may have been my water breaking, but I wasn't sure. Though when I began to stand up and the rush of liquid came pouring out- I knew it was true! I was one hour away from my weekly midwife appointment, so I called them and they said to head right to the hospital because I was GBS positive and needed to start antibiotics (the only hang-up in my natural birth dreams). I called my husband and we leisurely headed to the hospital. I didn't think I had started labor at this point, but when we were checked in triage- I was already at 4cm and 90-100% effaced and the monitor showed contractions! Things really picked up for sure about 2 hours later.
What was the most challenging thing about going natural?
I wasn't prepared for the back labor I was going to feel during labor. So much so that the front contractions felt great! Ha! I really needed to dig deep into my mind to find strength. I realized that I was beginning to dread each contraction and crave the few moments rest in between contractions. When I realized this, I changed my perspective to flip that around: Dread the breaks, and crave the contractions because they were bringing me closer to my baby. That thought process worked wonders! That, and the amazing massage my doulas and husband took turns giving me.
What was the most helpful thing you did to prepare for childbirth?
I treated my pregnancy and birth as though I were training for a marathon: physically, mentally, and emotionally. I did yoga twice a week, meditated every night before bed, and saw a chiropractor since week 17. I educated myself through reading and the Mama Natural Birth Course My supportive husband and I built our birth team: 2 doulas (one was training) and our midwife. I am a writer, so I journaled the whole journey and wrote my own affirmations after each entry.
What surprised you about your birth?
Even though I'd read this many places beforehand, I was surprised at how much work my body did without my control. My body just knew what to do. I had so many fears that my body wouldn't work. That labor wouldn't start on it's own if my water broke first. That I wouldn't be strong enough to endure hours of labor or pushing. That I would be in too much pain to move around the way I wanted to. All of those thoughts were wrong! The entire time I surrendered to my body and allowed it to do the work it was made for. I am more grateful for my body and confident in what it's capable of achieving now than I ever have been. It grew, carried, and brought my healthy baby boy into this world- and allowed me the natural birth that I had hoped for!
The entire time I surrendered to my body and allowed it to do the work it was made for. I am more grateful for my body and confident in what it's capable of achieving now than I ever have been. It grew, carried, and brought my healthy baby boy into this world- and allowed me the natural birth that I had hoped for!
What pain relief strategies worked best?
Meditation and going into my 'zone'. I also really enjoyed hydrotherapy and used the jetted tub. The sound of the jets were a great distraction and the warm water was amazing. My husband poured cupfuls of warm water on my belly and my doula massaged my shoulders and head. I also indulged in a childhood comfort of mine (that my Mom would always do when I was sick), which was putting a cool washcloth on my forehead. My husband kept replenishing the washcloth and it felt so relieving.
What position did you end up delivering in?
I tried every position: hands and knees, leaning over the back of the bed, squatting, on the toilet, and on my side with a peanut ball between my knees. But the position I ended up delivering was on my back! I was on my back but propped up in the bed. My midwife had me hold onto the back of my thighs right above my knees with my chin tucked as I pushed.
How did it feel to hold your baby for the first time?
We actually did it! I labored for 4 hours and pushed for 3 hours, but to me it seemed like it had gone so quickly. My adrenaline and love for this tiny human on my chest were so amazing. Nothing compares.
How did the Mama Natural Birth Class help you in your childbirth?
The Mama Natural Birth Class helped so much! It helped educate me and gave me the confidence that I could have the natural birth I wanted, even in a hospital setting. It also helped involve my husband more, when it could be easy for the Dad to feel left out or removed from the process. I also loved the Facebook support group and the birth affirmation cards!