Birth Preparation Tips & Tools

Calmbirth® – Birth with Knowledge & Confidence

Calmbirth

Forever will I be grateful for a lass I met about half way through my journey of trying to conceive.  We were studying together for a short time and she was well in to her first pregnancy.  A fellow class mate asked her how she was feeling about the birth, more specifically, was she frightened?  Well, I tell you, the manner in which she responded, so calmly, and the fact that she was actually excited about the birth and looking forward to it is something I will never forget.  That’s when I first heard about Calmbirth®.  She had recently completed a course and I vowed, when my time came, I would look into this apparent Calmbirth® too!  It was definitely a case of “I want what she’s got!”  We never kept in touch so I have no idea of her birthing story, but I certainly believe she set me up beautifully for mine.

At long last I fell pregnant and then a whole new journey began.  I was blessed with an incredible pregnancy, bub and my body were very kind to me, but if you’ve read my story you’ll know that I was terrified about the prospect of birth.  I quote: “just how exactly does something that big fit out of there???!!!”  Yes, I knew it was ‘natural’ and had been taking place for however many hundreds of thousands of years, yet I still could not comprehend it.

So I looked into this ‘Calmbirth®’ and discovered there were a number of facilitators in my local area.

What is Calmbirth®?

“Imagine a calm and joyful beginning to your baby’s life.  It is possible.  Calmbirth® is a simple yet effective childbirth education program which acknowledges the amazing ability of a mother’s body to work as one with her unborn child to give birth.  Calmbirth® empowers the mother and her partner to experience birth with wonder and joy.

Most of us get our impressions of childbirth from Hollywood movies or the horror stories of family and friends, and while the outcome is usually good, the journey to get there seems long and dramatic. And hurts – a lot!

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

More and more Australian couples are signing up to learn Calmbirth® – a series of relaxation techniques designed to allow them to take control of their experience and make it something to look forward to, rather than fear.

Birth is a natural process which should be experienced fearlessly, calmly and with confidence. Calmbirth® teaches pregnant mothers, fathers or birthing companions the skills to accomplish such an experience. Calmbirth® encourages mothers to surrender to the process of their labour and birth no matter how it unfolds.  If, for some reason intervention is needed couples can use the skills learnt in the Calmbirth® classes to meet any challenge they encounter calmly and without fear.”

Source: Calmbirth®

Sounds pretty awesome right?  There was a significant financial outlay but remember I was doing everything within my power to learn as much as I could and to set myself and bub up for the best possible birth.  Honestly, I am so glad we spent the money.  To think that, should I have shied away due to the cost, that my birthing experiences could have been completely different… well, it’s unthinkable really.  If you were to ask me what I believed were my top two keys to an amazing birth, they would be Calmbirth® and the Epi-No.  Without a doubt.

Further on I provide more information on the Calmbirth® program and how it works, but allow me to share with you a little of my experience.

It all started with hubby and I making our way down a long country driveway when I see a ‘tent’ appear.  A huge tent.  A Mongolian yurt to be exact.  “What on earth is that!?” I blurt out.  My husband says quite slowly and calmly: “That, I believe, is where our course is taking place…”  Well you could’ve knocked me over, and I’m pretty sure I asked him to turn around and go home!  He had already met our Calmbirth® facilitator previously in something along the lines of a ‘Beer & Bubs’ information night she had held for blokes soon to become Dads.  And he had warned me that she was kind-of ‘hippy’ (in all honesty she really wasn’t, but he thought so enough that he wasn’t surprised by the yurt!)  I don’t know of another Calmbirth® class that takes place within a yurt but I tell you what, it sure beats a boring meeting room, a hospital, or someone’s lounge room!  It really was so quirky and beautifully laid out and she’d gone to great lengths to ensure that pregnant mummas were as comfortable as possible.

Then the learning began.  I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to hear birthing spoken of in such a positive, natural way.  To learn about the intricacies of the woman’s body, it’s incredible design, and how even bub knows what to do – those aspects really stood out to me and really helped me when the time came.  We received a great resource which covers such topics as ‘The Power of Beliefs, Thoughts and Emotions’, ‘The Inner Resources’, ‘The Stages of Labour’ and ‘Birth Intentions’.  For my second birth, I again referred back to this resource.  I didn’t feel the need to do a refresher course, which are available, as I’d had such a great experience first-time around and was in no way apprehensive, but the book was wonderful to look through again.  We were also given a CD with meditations/visualisations and, as foreign as this concept was to me, I took it very seriously.  Remember, anything that I could control, I did.  So I sat in the bathtub, listening to the recordings, visualising the birthing process and myself ‘opening up’… kooky perhaps, but it sure paid off!

I believe that my amazing birthing experiences resulted largely from being both intentional and informed… two things that every expectant woman can be.  I can’t recommend Calmbirth® enough and am so thankful for the path on which they placed me.  I’m certain that, initially, both my husband and I thought that throughout my first labour I would be panicked, scared, worried that I couldn’t do it and afraid of the ‘pain’.  I had visions of myself gauging my fingernails into him screaming: “What have you done to me???!!!”  But, as you know, it was the exact opposite.  Even when, as I lay there in hospital having contractions that I was barely aware of, we heard the lady birthing next door scream: “Get this thing out of meeeee!!!”… even through that, I remained calm and focused (and hearing their bub make it’s first cry only moments later was pretty incredible!)  My husband is the first to admit: “If I hadn’t have seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it was possible!”

Below is an extract from the thank you email I sent to our facilitator containing the birth story of our firstborn:

“So even though I had high hopes for Calmbirth, my labour was even better than I possibly could have hoped for!  For days, every new midwife that came into my room talked about it, word had obviously spread!  Even the pediatrician had heard about it!  I’d done other preparation as well including using a tool called the ‘Epi-No’ and as a result had no tearing, I could have gone home that afternoon!  The midwives couldn’t believe it when, after my skin-to-skin time with bub and a shower, I’d gone for a wander out of the birthing suite to orientate myself and let them know we were ready to have him weighed etc and go to our room… apparently they’re not used to women who’ve just had a baby coming to find them! The use of drugs never even crossed my mind during the birth and I haven’t even had a panadol since!

So I just wanted to share that with you!  It was everything I’d hoped it would be and even better… I’d read so many real-life stories in the Calmbirth book about women who dilated so quickly and I was determined to be one of them – and it just happened!

It really was amazing and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!  Not once did it cross my mind that this was too hard or that I couldn’t do it or that I hated my husband lol or anything like that!  I still can’t believe it!

Thank you for your class – it must’ve helped me incredibly.  Coming in, I’d heard so many horror stories and as a girl had grown up fearful of the labouring experience and was determined to change my outlook… even so, leading up to the day it was still such an ‘unknown’, what was it going to be like?  Well, all of a sudden I found myself on the ‘other side’ oh so easily, and now life begins as a family!

So thank you again, you offer a remarkable and liberating ‘service’ I’ll be telling everyone about!”

The birthing journey is a very special time in a woman’s life.  Whatever path your birth takes, your ability to make decisions that are right for you and your baby depend on you being an active participant.

Should you be interested in knowing more, I’ve obtained the following information from the website of Julie Clarke, a Calmbirth® facilitator.

What is Calmbirth?

Calmbirth is an antenatal education program developed to assist couples aiming for a natural birth. It’s based on the belief that severe pain is not a natural accompaniment to labour and if a woman is both mentally and physically prepared, her birth experience can be rewarding, comfortable and empowering.

Peter Jackson, founder of Calmbirth in Australia, says the techniques are based on the work of the late English obstetrician Grantly Dick-Reid (author of Childbirth Without Fear 1956), the pioneer of natural childbirth.

In his research, Dr Dick-Reid observed that some women were frightened of birth and had difficulty coping with labour and birth, whereas other women who were not frightened or were better prepared and had an understanding of what was happening, coped quite well.

“Calmbirth promotes the use of the subconscious resources of deep relaxation which centre around the normal physiological relaxation responses within the body,” says Mr Jackson.  Calmbirth is not the Australian version of hypnobirthing. Hypnobirthing teaches couples self hypnosis methods while Calmbirth is a number of special relaxation techniques (and education).

How does Calmbirth work?

Calmbirth teaches you how to enter a totally relaxed state, similar to when you daydream or become absorbed in a good book or movie. It is then used in the last few weeks or months of pregnancy and particularly throughout labour and the birthing process. The techniques can also be used any time calm focus is required when caring for your newborn.

The program, usually taught over a number of days or a weekend, encourages an understanding of how the female body works to deliver a baby and the way fear can impede labour. Couples also learn how to use tools of relaxation, visualisation, positive imagery and light-touch massage to help prepare for labour and during labour itself.

The program is led by a registered Calmbirth practitioner and taught through classes, CDs and books.

“People leave the classes with a greater understanding of the birth process, confidence in their own ability to work with the birth process and excitement about their approaching birth,” says Mr Jackson. After completing the program, the couple then practise regularly, at home, right up until the labour.

The aim of the Calmbirth techniques is to have the labouring woman alert but deeply relaxed. It is this ability to relax that enables the pelvic muscles to open and allow the baby to birth more comfortably and easily. “Anyone can do it,” says Calmbirth practitioner Julie Clarke.

Calmbirth is totally safe, she adds. “Being calm and relaxed cannot possibly do any harm. It reduces adrenaline – triggered by fear – in the mother’s system, which helps to maintain the normal labouring hormone oxytocin and keeps the labour progressing well.” It also reduces stress which keeps the maternal blood pressure normal.

Calm breathing maintains good levels of oxygen to both the mother’s and the baby’s system, and, by relying on their own inner resources, the women are less likely to need medication which increases the baby’s health and wellbeing after the birth. The baby is then likely to respond with strong reflexes and commence breastfeeding without delay or problems.

 The language of labour

Language can really influence a woman’s perception of their experience both before and during the labour. The word “contractions” when spoken to a pregnant woman can be frightening and immediately thought of as “pain”.

Calmbirth couples are taught to think of contractions as “surges” or “waves” and to interpret birthing sensations as pressure, stretching or numbness rather than associate the feelings with pain.

attitude-is-everything“Attitude makes an enormous difference to our experiences and if we go into birth with very negative expectations, taken from horror stories, movies we’ve seen, articles we’ve read etc it will certainly influence the outcome,” says Ms Clarke. “What is thought psychologically will influence the physical bodily reactions – such as the release of hormones – and will influence the labour.”

Visualising also helps the woman imagine her growing baby and the impending birth and during labour imagining the contractions as waves coming into shore, or the dilation of the cervix as an opening flower are common themes.

So, is Calmbirth for you?

Calmbirthing is suitable for all pregnant women – from first-time mums to mothers having their second or subsequent babies – and their partners who would like to have a positive birth experience, in a calm, relaxed way free of fear and stress.

Ms Clarke, who has witnessed many “calmbirths”, says the women are serene and relaxed when using the technique. “Many are amazed at how focussed and self-directed they are,” she says. “Their partners often comment, after the birth, on how focussed her breathing was during the “waves”, too.”

We-Are-What-We-Repeatedly-DoCalmbirth uses the logic that preparing for a wonderful birth experience can help achieve it, although no amount of preparation can guarantee a perfect labour or the need for no medical intervention.

“It helps couples see labour as a natural process, something that a woman’s body is designed to achieve, not simply an ordeal which must be suffered as a means to an end,” says Sydney lawyer Claire Whitehead, who learned Calmbirth for the birth of her first child. “And it’s not about making women think they have failed if things do not go to plan.”

“Birth isn’t something we suffer, but something we actively do and exalt in.”   Sheila Kitzinger

The partner’s role

While the labouring woman is intently focused on her breathing, the partner is aware to minimise distractions and any disturbance that might alter her focus and is supportive of her wishes.

“Underpinning the Calmbirth course is the philosophy of encouraging, supporting and guiding family bonding between a couple as they prepare for the birth of their baby”, says Ms Clarke. “It focuses on the role of the value of each parent, the importance of mothers and equally important fathers in the life of their unborn and newborn baby. Relaxation, joy, hope, courage, determination and togetherness create good strong and loving relationships. In a nutshell, that’s what Calmbirth is all about.”

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 Nothing in life is to be feared

I mentioned the EPI-NO earlier which is a birthing preparation tool I absolutely rave about.  This device has the power to change your entire birthing experience, for the better.  I say without a doubt that I am certain the use of the EPI-NO played a vital role in the incredible birthing experience I enjoyed with my firstborn, and of course also my second natural & pain-free birth.  I beg you not to miss this article on the EPI-NO!

My birth without fear post is also a nice follow-up to this one, be sure to check it out!

Before commenting please stop & think: is it kind, caring, positive & beneficial?  Please remember that on the other side of this screen, be it the author or your fellow readers, that we are all humans with our own stories: needs, hopes, experiences, opinions &, most importantly, feelings.  This is a respectful & safe place.  I, the author, am not a medical professional.  I offer simply my personal experiences & information gleaned in the sincere hope that it may be of use to another.  This does not mean that I am ‘right’, whatever that means, but it did work for me.  I reserve the right to remove any comments I deem unnecessary, inappropriate or negative.  Thanks for being here.  xx

Birth Preparation Tips & Tools

Raspberry Leaf Tea

Taking red raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy may have a number of incredible benefits such as better circulation, shorter labour & better breast milk supply!

 

Have you heard about taking raspberry leaf tea whilst pregnant?  Is it an old wives tale, or does it actually work?

Upon announcing at my work place that I was pregnant for the first time, a colleague immediately recommended raspberry leaf tea.  Another colleague wholeheartedly agreed with this recommendation, swearing great results.  I have never been a herbal tea drinker and had never heard of it but as with anything related to a positive birth, I was only too pleased to take it on board!

If you’ve read my birth stories you’ll know that both of my labours were absolutely wonderful… after the first incredible experience, I made sure that I repeated everything exactly the same the second time around!  Raspberry leaf tea was a part of my protocol but, much to my delight, a friend told me you could also buy it in capsule form, so I must admit to preferring that option as opposed to drinking the tea.

See what you think about these amazing claims and decide for yourself.

“It is believed that raspberry leaf, if taken regularly through pregnancy and labour can:

  • Ease the symptoms of morning sickness.
  • Sooth and prevent bleeding gums which many pregnant women often experience.
  • Relax the smooth muscles of the uterus when it is contracting (Burn & Withell, 1941).
  • Assist with the birth of the baby and the placenta.
  • Calm cramping of the uterus.
  • Provide a rich source of iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium. The magnesium content is especially helpful in strengthening the uterine muscles. Raspberry leaf also contains vitamins B1, B3 and E which are valuable in pregnancy.

Raspberry leaf was found to cause a relaxant effect on the uterus. It was believed that this relaxant effect caused the uterine contractions of labour to become better coordinated and more efficient, thus shortening the length of labour.” (Source: www.pregnancy.com.au)

“When taken during pregnancy, red raspberry leaf is said to aid the mother’s immune system, ease morning sickness and promote better circulation. Taking raspberry leaf is believed to help strengthen uterine muscles and tone the pelvic floor in preparation for childbirth, as well as assist with breastmilk supply.” (Source: www.bellybelly.com.au)

Study:

“The purpose of this study was to examine the safety and efficacy of raspberry leaf products consumed by a group of mothers during their pregnancy, by comparison with a group of mothers who did not. A retrospective observational design was used. Subjects were women who birth their babies at Westmead Hospital between January 1998-July 1998. The sample consisted of 108 mothers; 57 (52.8%) consumed raspberry leaf products while 51 (47.2%) were in the control group. The findings suggest that the raspberry leaf herb can be consumed by women during their pregnancy for the purpose for which it is taken, that is, to shorten labour with no identified side effects for the women or their babies. The findings also suggest ingestion of the drug might decrease the likelihood of pre and post-term gestation. An unexpected finding in this study seems to indicate that women who ingest raspberry leaf might be less likely to receive an artificial rupture of their membranes, or require a caesarean section, forceps or vacuum birth than the women in the control group.”

******

To be absolutely honest, I can’t remember at what stage I started taking it, nor the amount I consumed.  I believe it was a case of starting at say one cup of tea or 2 capsules per day and then you could work up if you wanted to.  Of course, this article is for information purposes only.  As always, I encourage you to do your own research to decide if you feel it’s right for you and please consult your health care practitioner before taking raspberry leaf, the type of preparation, what dosage to take and when to commence.

Please note if you are not a first-time mum: It has been said to not take raspberry leaf tea if a previous labour lasted three hours or less.  For me personally, seeings as I barely reached the hospital bed with bub no. 2, if there is a third I would consider not taking it!

If herbal teas aren’t exactly your think, taking raspberry leaf tea in capsule form is a great alternative!  With so many potential benefits, what have you got to lose?
Birth Preparation Tips & Tools · Birth Stories

How to say ‘No’ to horror birth stories

 

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No doubt by now you’ve heard them.  Well-meaning friends, even strangers, who can’t help but share with you their traumatic birth story in all the R rated gory detail.  As you listen, your heart rate increases, it becomes harder to swallow, your body responds in panic to what you are hearing and your mind, unfortunately, is taking it all in, filing it for use down the track.

Now, please hear me out, as I speak with all love and respect.  If you are reading this and have experienced a traumatic birth, I am so incredibly sorry.  My heart truly breaks for you and with all that I am I wish your outcome had been different.  A horror birth story should never be wished upon anyone and I hope you can find the healing you need.  There is a time and place to grieve, to speak openly and rawly about how you feel and professionals who can guide you through.  Inadvertently though, when these horror stories are shared, more often than not with a first-time mum-to-be, these stories multiply to now become, potentially, a part of her story.  It was never hers to begin with, but now she has taken it on board, whether she wants to or not.  Why is it in our society that we so freely share negative experiences, and yet the positives are so much harder to find?  We are quite literally surrounded by negativity in so many ways and pregnancy, birth and parenting are by no means exempt.

What good is it going to do to share with someone just how awful your experience was, I ask from my high-horse?  Do you think it’s going to be helpful or hindering?  No, it doesn’t ‘prepare’ them.  It freaks them out!  As if they’re probably not freaking out enough already!  Do you really want to make someone more fearful?  More anxious?  More concerned?  More confused?

I don’t know what it is, whether by sharing the trauma and the horror they feel they are preparing you for how ‘bad’ it’s going to be, or whether it somehow, subconsciously even, validates or vindicates them and what they went through?  It’s human nature for us to get a little competitive about who had something ‘the worst’, but I’m putting my hand up and declaring that it’s time to stop.  Our words are so incredibly powerful.  Let’s use them to encourage, inspire and motivate.  To empower and build confidence.  To be their biggest cheerleader and confirm: “You got this girl!”

And for you, gorgeous pregnant mumma, if you hear a negative story coming your way, here are some suggestions to (politely) stop them in their tracks:

“Sorry, can I interrupt for a moment?  I think I can see where this story is headed and I’m so sorry for your experience, but I am doing my absolute best to put myself and bub in the best possible position for a positive birth and that means not listening to the horror stories.”

“I’m sorry, I want to be respectful but I just can’t hear about traumatic birth experiences.”

“Thank you for wanting to share but if it’s not positive and encouraging, I’m going to ask you to please not.”

These sound very formal when written and they need to be conversational, so have a think for yourself and of course put it into your own words in a way that you feel comfortable.  But do prepare your own spiel and please don’t be afraid to use it.

At the very least, it may cause the wannabe sharer to consider the power of their words and hopefully think twice about spouting off to the next unsuspecting pregnant woman they meet.

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“Ssssshhhh! No horror stories welcome here!”

I’m believing that you, like me, will be one of those who freely & excitedly shares their incredibly positive birth story.  That it will change outcomes and that it will help break the stigma of birthing being this awful, traumatic ordeal.

Should you find yourself having heard an unpleasant story, either accidentally or intentionally, Catherine Price & Sandra Robinson in their book ‘BIRTH: Conceiving, Nurturing and Giving Birth to your Baby’ give some excellent advice (pg 322):

“Hearing other women’s birth stores may create fears (or add to them), perhaps leaving you upset, bewildered, angry or anxious about the impending labour.  However, listening to a variety of birth stories, even scary ones, can help you gather ideas so you can explore different support tools that might be useful.

For all the positive birth stories you hear, perhaps ask: ‘What worked for you?’ or ‘What made a difference?’  For all the negative stories, perhaps ask ‘How did that make you feel?’ or ‘What would you do differently next time?’

Things to remember with birth stories are:

  • Each woman’s experience is unique. While most women describe their labour as painful, this does not necessarily mean it was unpleasant.
  • Labours vary immensely. Other women’s stories cannot bring you to a full understanding of what your labour will be like.  You need to remain open and just wait and see.
  • If feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself that this was their experience. You are not this woman and your birth will be different.  You and your baby will have your own unique story.
  • Good birth stories can have a positive and powerful effect, so listen out for them. Some women find they are a great source of relief and motivation when preparing for their own labour and birth.” (which is why I do what I do!!!)
Birth Preparation Tips & Tools

Birth Without Fear

One of the most important things I learnt during my pre-birth preparations was this: when you are fearful/worried during labour, your entire body (insides included) tighten up.  It makes perfect sense if you think about it.  But it’s the exact opposite of what you want for a smooth, flowing, relatively quick birthing experience.  When you are fearful, not only does it slow the process down, but fear = pain.

Fear-Tension-Pain-cycle

I love this section on ‘Fears and Concerns’ from the book BIRTH: Conceiving, Nurturing and Giving Birth to your Baby by Catherine Price & Sandra Robinson (used with permission):

“Some women approach their labour in a very open and accepting way, confident in their body’s ability to give birth and to deal with their pain.  Others are not so sure, or are admittedly nervous, scared of even terrified of what may lie ahead.  Fear of the unknown and concerns about the what-if’s are fairly normal during pregnancy.  However, suppressing your fears may only make them resurface in some way, shape or form during labour, increasing the level of pain felt.

Some cultures believe that fear is the main cause of a labouring woman suffering in childbirth.  This theory does have a physiological explanation.  A woman’s underlying fears can make her body tense, often without realising it.  Adrenaline is then released, inhibiting her endorphins, which are needed to help relieve pain.  Adrenaline also inhibits contractions prolonging the labour.  Increased pain and a prolonged labour can create anxiety, making her feel she is not coping or progressing, adding to her fears and increasing the pain.  This ends up in a vicious cycle of:

  • Fear
  • Tension
  • Increased perception of pain
  • Anxiety
  • Repeat

Feeling fearful, anxious and in unmanageable pain can lead to requesting pain relief sooner and/or becoming exhausted prematurely, as more energy is used to fight the labour, rather than going with it.  This type of experience also creates feelings of not being in control and seeing the whole labour process as negative, perhaps leading to feelings of failure if you expected to cope better.

Often by identifying and openly acknowledging your fears, you can devise some coping strategies.  Sharing your fears can also help your caregiver and partner/support person work with you through this phase of the labour, to help calm and reassure you, and hopefully assist you.”

If you’ve read my birthing stories you’ll know that I claim both of my births to be pain-free.  So, how did I do it?  Well, for starters, my babies and I did it together.  We were a great team.  I also had an incredibly supportive partner.  But more than anything, I drew from within and focused on what I had told myself over and over in my preparations.

Below I have prepared some bullet points that I truly hope will be embraced by you and, ultimately, assist you in your own wonderful birthing story:

  • Embrace this experience with confidence. You are empowered.
  • This is a privilege, an honour, and a unique experience.
  • Surrender
  • Fear = tension = pain & the body shuts down/closes up.
  • You need to be relaxed for your body to work naturally & effectively.
  • Relaxed woman = relaxed cervix.
  • If you don’t know the gender of your baby use this as added motivation and choose excitement – will it be a girl or a boy??? Not long to go now!
  • You are birthing your baby. It’s your baby’s birthday!  What a cause for celebration!
  • You’re about to meet your baby!!!
  • Each wave/contraction is dilating you – making a pathway for bub!
  • You feel pressure, not pain.
  • The uterus is simply a muscle, working hard.
  • It can help to picture your dilations opening you up like a flower, say a lotus. Bringing forth new life. waterlily-pink-water-lily-water-plant-158465.jpeg
  • Once each wave/contract is complete: you don’t need to go through that wave again! High five!  Each one brings you closer to meeting your precious baby!
  • You & baby are the perfect team – bub knows what to do too!
  • Draw upon your inner resources, you have within you everything you need.
  • No fear, no worry. Perfect love casts out all fear.
  • This is all completely natural. You were made incredibly to be able to do this.  Have faith in your body’s ability.
  • Remain in control of your mind and let your body do it’s own work.
  • What we repeatedly think about & where we focus our attention is what we become.
  • Send love down to your baby.
Think you can
I fully appreciate this isn’t always the case, but I do know one thing… thinking you can’t is not going to do you any favours.

This information was taken from the Huggies website and I used it myself (I especially love the first point and evidently that is what landed you here with me, great work!):

  • Do your homework – become as familiar as you can with what’s involved in childbirth and educate yourself and your partner. Remember, we tend to be more fearful about situations we do not understand.
  • Keep active – our bodies are designed to move. Unless you have a condition which is preventing you from moving when you are labouring, then being mobile generally helps labour to progress more quickly.
  • Do some creative visualisation or mindful meditation – whatever helps you to focus. Many women find themselves in an almost primal state when labouring. Give into the forces which your body is dictating and have faith that it knows what to do.
  • Take an iPod or a favourite CD, some aromatherapy oils or perfume into the labour ward with you. We labour with all of our senses and this is a time of acute sensitivity.
  • Keep your partner close. Some women like to have more than onebirthing support person with them; invite whomever you feel most comfortable with. But first check the hospital policy on numbers of support people allowed.
  • Aim to focus on your baby and visualise them going through the labour process with you. Try not to view the pain in an entirely negative way; it is a means to an end.
  • Try to relax when you can between your contractions. Feeling tense will only add to your discomfort so take the opportunity to rest when possible.
  • Keep focused on your contractions as they come, rather than thinking about how you’ll be coping with them later on. Deal with one contraction at a time. Remember, small steps.
  • Don’t feel embarrassed – your midwife and/or obstetrician has seen and heard everything you could possibly do or say a thousand times before. If you need to grunt, scream, swear or pant, or a combination of all of these, then just go ahead and do it.

The birthing journey is a very special time in a woman’s life.  Whatever path your birth takes, your ability to make decisions that are right for you and your baby depend on you being an active participant.

Should you be a woman of faith: let go and let God.  Remember the author and creator of life.  The designer of both you and your bub.  The following scriptures were compiled by Mother Rising (gorgeous printables can be found on her page) and, if you let them, they will both comfort and empower you.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (ESV)

2 Chronicles 15:7 “Be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” (NIV)

Psalm 55:22 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (ESV)

Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (NIV)

Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (ESV)

Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV)

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (NKJV)

Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV) (My favourite!!!)

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (ESV) (My 2nd favourite!!!)

2 Timothy 4:17 “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me.” (ESV)

1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (ESV)

 

I’d also love to add in Psalm 139:14 “I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Your works are wonderful.  My soul knows that very well.”

 

******

Note:

The 2nd stage of labour generally starts with a rest of  5 – 20mins.  Take it!  Don’t intervene.  Recognise and appreciate it.

Don’t push till your body tells you to.

When pushing, remember the baby will move back up slightly after each push but that’s all part of preparing the pathway.

Birth Preparation Tips & Tools

Do you know the EPI-NO? (Hint: You NEED to!)

Using the EPI-NO was a key ingredient in my incredible birthing stories.
EPI-NO prepared me mentally for the sensation of birth & it prepared my body for the physical stretch.

*** This is NOT a sponsored post.  I am in no way endorsed by the manufacturer – this is a tool I used personally and believe it played an incredibly significant role in both of my calm, natural, fast and pain-free births with no tearing or complications. ***

Ladies, let me tell you about a cheeky little birthing preparation tool called EPI-NO which you may not have heard about but, and I can’t stress this enough, you NEED to know about!!!  This device has the power to change your entire birthing experience, for the better.

Warning: it may seem a little ‘weird’ and if, like me, you’re on the prudish side, your first reaction may very well be: “Oh hell no!”  Hear me out though, because I truly believe this product played a vital role for me in two crucial areas:

1) It physically prepared my body for the stretch that it had never done before, yet was imminent (let’s face it, there’s no escape!)

&

2) It gave me a ‘sneak peek’ into what birthing was like, what sensations I would experience… and I assure you it was nothing like I thought it was going to be!

new-delphine-plusMay I introduce you to: “EPI-NO”.  A brochure handed to me early in my pregnancy by a midwife at my obstetrician’s office aroused my curiosity.  Neither her nor my obstetrician ‘sold’ it to me by any means.  They said that they were seeing some good results from it and I figured it couldn’t hurt (well maybe it could…) to give it a go.

Due to the fears I’d always held about birthing a baby (just how exactly does something that size fit through there???), the friends I’d known who’d torn from front to back and my terror at the pain and complications that must inflict… I quite happily parted with the $186AUD to get my hands on this obscure item.  I was a woman on a mission, actively taking steps to ensure I gave myself, and of course bub, the best possible outcome during the birthing process, and this was one of them.

EPI-NO is meant to imply ‘Episiotomy NO!’  An episiotomy is a surgical cut in the muscular area between the vagina and the anus (the area called the perineum) made just before delivery to enlarge your vaginal opening.  The jury still seems to be out as to whether an episiotomy or allowing the body to tear naturally is the ‘better’ option… but ladies, I think we’ll all agree that neither is much more desirable!

What does EPI-NO do?

The following information has been taken directly from EPI-NO’s website:

“EPI-NO reduces the risk of tearing and episiotomy (stitches) during childbirth by working with the natural pregnancy hormone relaxin to prepare the perineum with gentle stretching exercises after Week 36.

 

The human body performs more efficiently in any physical activity when the body has trained and prepared for it. Childbirth is no exception.” 

– Dr Wilhelm Horkel (Inventor of EPI-NO)

Clinical Studies have shown a link between perineal injuries during childbirth with decreased bladder control, long-term incontinence, and sexual dysfunction.  Women delivering over an intact perineum experience a more rapid recovery from childbirth and increased mobility.

EPI-NO also conditions the pelvic floor muscles both before and after delivery (i.e. it’s also a pelvic floor trainer).

EPI-NO consists of: EPI NO
(1) a narrow contoured silicone balloon,
(2) a hand pump,
(3) pressure display,
(4) an air release valve,
(5) connected by a flexible plastic tube.

The EPI-NO balloon is soft, easily inserted, and naturally shaped so that it fits the vagina perfectly.  EPI-NO must be used only with a water based lubricant.

EPI-NO stretching exercises commence after Week 36 and continue until the end of the pregnancy term.  These exercises gradually stretch the perineum in daily sessions of 20 minutes comprising several cycles of 5 minutes duration. In these exercises the balloon is inserted and inflated at the perineum.  Women training with EPI-NO will normally achieve a dilation of between 8.5cm and 10cm over 3-4 weeks.  Women achieving 8.5cm will achieve the extra 1.5cm when the head is crowning.  Following the stretching exercises the balloon can be glided out, simulating the experience of control during delivery.”

Does EPI-NO work?

So that’s the technical jargon, but if you’re anything like me, you want to know from someone who’s used it first-hand and, more importantly, does EPI-NO work???

Here is my personal experience and review of using EPI-NO:

The first time I tried it I made myself comfortable on my bed, hubby was with me, inserted it (I found I always had to hold it in position or it would just come out) and began inflating it.  As the balloon gets larger, you start to notice a burning sensation and this is the start of you stretching.  Just like you’d practice doing the splits as a girl, the longer you hold it in that position the less you notice it, and you can potentially push yourself a little further.  There’s no rush though.  The great thing about this is you always work within your comfort levels and you are in complete control.  I tell you what though, when I ‘birthed’ the balloon (i.e. didn’t deflate it whilst it was still inside me but rather pushed it out), “Holy Guacamole!!!”  For a few seconds it scared the crap out of me.  It shocked me!  I had visions of being in labour gauging my fingernails into my husband’s arms screaming “What have you done to me!!!???”  But just as quickly, it was over.  I re-gathered myself and realised I’d just been given an insight into birthing my baby.  What a blessing.  I could practice beforehand to avoid freaking out on d-day.

The flash of the woman I didn’t want to be during labour encouraged me to keep using EPI-NO.  My husband was banished after that first experience and I used it in private, generally twice a day.  It really was a form of exercise, and as Dr Wilhelm Horkel, the inventor of EPI-NO, says: “The human body performs more efficiently in any physical activity when the body has trained and prepared for it. Childbirth is no exception.”  Makes perfect sense doesn’t it!  Why oh why then do more women not know about this?

It is said not to use it prior to week 36 because it works with the relaxin increasing in your body during this late stage of pregnancy.  My firstborn came at 38 weeks 6 days and by this time I was regularly inflating the balloon to the 10cm mark.  I’ve read forums online of some women saying they could never reach that 10cm mark and that’s OK.  Surely something is better than nothing.

Now, first timers, let me ask you a question.  When you are birthing your baby, do you expect that you will feel like you’re birthing out of your vagina or your derriere?  Because I most certainly was not expecting bub to feel like they were making their entrance into this world via my backside!  But that’s exactly what it feels like!  EPI-NO helped me get used to this bizarre, strange pressure so that it wasn’t a shock in the delivery suite.  Honestly, for me, this was invaluable!

My obstetrician, who was away the weekend I birthed, visited me a day or two later.  We received a handshake and a “congratulations” then he looked at my notes and questioned: “No tearing?”  When I confirmed this was true I received a second handshake (but I could tell he really wanted to high-5 me!)… something very rare for first time birthers apparently!

If you haven’t read my firstborn’s birth story please be sure to because it is absolutely amazing!  A completely calm, natural & pain-free birth with no tearing, no complications nor interventions.  I dilated incredibly quickly… from 0 – 9cm in a very short time.  I was stunned to say the least and I quote: “Does this mean I’m having a baby…?”  The rest is history!  I say without a doubt that I am certain the use of EPI-NO played a vital role in this success story, and I have been spouting about it ever since!

So that you don’t just have my review of EPI-NO to go off, I asked a friend of mine to write up a quick testimonial after her first birth.  Different to mine, as every birth story is, but impressive results nonetheless.

Josie’s Story – An EPI-NO Review:

“A friend suggested I try EPI-NO during my first pregnancy.  It sounded unusual and a bit quirky but I gave it a go and started around 38 weeks.  I reached a maximum stretch of 8.5cm and was worried it may not be so effective.
I endured a long labour and finally out came my baby’s head, quickly followed by a big, broad and tall body.  A baby boy weighing 9.5 pounds (4.230kg) and 55cm long.
The midwives were very concerned I’d torn my perineum given this was my first, he was a large baby and how quickly he shot out.
I only sustained superficial tearing on the outer vagina with no tearing to my perineum.

The midwives were astounded.  I told them about EPI-NO and they believe without a doubt this saved me from having an episiotomy.  The midwives said they will be recommending EPI-NO from that day on to all the women they see in antenatal clinics.

I strongly recommend EPI-NO to every woman in preparing for childbirth, it is so worth it. I will definitely be using it for my second.”

So yes, Josie still tore to a degree, but absolutely nothing like they were expecting her to and certainly nothing that caused her long-term pain or issues.

Another friend shared with me how she’d used it leading up to the birth of her second (because I’d not stopped raving about it after my first!).  She’d sustained third degree tearing first time around and this time… nothing!!!  Her nurses were amazed!  What stunned my friend the most was how ‘normal’ she felt immediately after birth. “Yes!!!” I said. “That’s how I felt after my first and everyone looked at me like I was some kind of freak!”

Alas from another friend who I’d heard had an EPI-NO… she confessed it was still sitting in it’s box unopened… three natural births and she tore every time… I realise they may not be for everyone, but I sure don’t regret it’s use for a second!

More testimonials can be found on EPI-NO’s website.

What are the risks of purchasing EPI-NO?

  • You may have purchased EPI-NO only to go into premature labour and hence not have even had the opportunity to use it.
  • You may have started using it but go into labour earlier than expected and perhaps not have reached the ‘goal’ you were aiming for… though one would hope that something is better than nothing, as with any form of exercise.
  • Despite your commitment and best efforts using the product in the lead-up to labour, circumstances find you having a caesarean.

As much as possible, one does need to mentally prepare themselves for the above mentioned.  There are no guarantees in birth.  But remember, it can also be used for pelvic floor exercises so it’s still a great purchase (I don’t think I’ve met a woman yet post-birth who’s pelvic floor is entirely as it should be…)  And of course it can be used again for possible future vaginal births.  Personally, I always like to be over prepared as opposed to under prepared and I like to know I’ve done all that I can do/control… but sometimes circumstances and situations are out of our control and, as disheartening as this can be, please remember that the health of both mum and bub are always of the utmost importance.  Our medical professionals are professionals due to their education, training and experience… whilst it is wonderful to be well informed and have clear ideas as to your birthing plan, unfortunately there are times when it all doesn’t fall into place the way we had hoped.

I am not a medical professional and urge you to always do your own research and please liaise with your medical team.  The thoughts and opinions expressed herein are those of the author based on their own personal experience.  No guarantees of effectiveness or outcome can be made.

EPI NO 2

 

Before commenting please stop & think: is it kind, caring, positive & beneficial?  Please remember that on the other side of this screen, be it the author or your fellow readers, that we are all humans with our own stories: needs, hopes, experiences, opinions &, most importantly, feelings.  This is a respectful & safe place.  I, the author, am not a medical professional.  I offer simply my personal experiences & information gleaned in the sincere hope that it may be of use to another.  This does not mean that I am ‘right’, whatever that means, but it did work for me.  I reserve the right to remove any comments I deem unnecessary, inappropriate or negative.  Thanks for being here.  xx

Birth Stories

My 2nd Birthing Experience – different, but just as incredible, and still PAIN FREE!

P1050982Well here I sit, in my hospital room, with my beautiful daughter sleeping in her crib.  We had the immense joy of welcoming her into our family yesterday morning!  I think I’m still a little shell shocked and really can’t believe it!

She came FAST!  Ever since my firstborn’s arrival I had been warned time and time again that this time around it would be fast, but until I was in the midst of it I didn’t realise how fast!

At 38 weeks I was working my last shift teaching in our local TAFE restaurant.  Around 7pm I started feeling a bit ‘off’.  Just not right.  I mentioned it to my colleague (who immediately expressed “baby”) and sat in my office for the majority of the evening to finalise paperwork and record results.  I threw up but then felt much better afterwards so hoped that was the end of that.  At one point I walked back up to the restaurant but quickly started feeling nauseous again.  I got complete that I needed to and sat with the class to debrief and farewell them and to apologise for my absence during the night.  We joked that I might have a baby tomorrow!  I still wasn’t feeling great so rang my parents to come and get me as I didn’t want to drive.  Just as I was finishing up with my students all of a sudden I was again overcome and had to quickly make my way outside and get as far away as I possibly could before throwing up again.  How embarrassing!

Mum and Dad arrived then and took me home, Mum in a flurry as only a mother could/would be!  She suggested that perhaps I call the birthing unit.  “What am I going to say?”  I questioned.  “Hi, I’m 38 weeks pregnant with no contractions but I’ve thrown up twice…”  Well, that’s just what I did (as all good daughters do, of course!)  The hospital were happy for me to come in for a check if I wanted to but my waters hadn’t broken (they did the first time) and I hadn’t noticed any unusual contractions.  I’d had braxton hicks for weeks but they never concerned me or really took my breath away.  To me it was all just part and parcel of pregnancy and I didn’t even realise that’s what they were until my obstetrician pointed one out!  I decided just to try to go to bed and get a good night’s sleep, particularly if it could be a sign that something was going to happen.  I honestly thought I may have just been coming down with a virus and was pretty ticked off about that truth be told thinking “Great, this is just what I need!”.  Well, a good night’s sleep it wasn’t for hubby or I!  I vomited twice more through the night and had a bout of diarrhoea.  Come the morning and my wise hubby says: “Isn’t that a way of your body clearing itself out in preparation for labour?”  Well, what do you know, Dr Google confirmed this could be the case!  The more I thought about it I remembered our Calmbirth® facilitator (prior to my son’s birth) saying it had happened to her.  Mind you, I still didn’t think I was in labour, just that there was possibly something going on.

I emailed my obstetrician to let her know about my night (I’d been reprimanded by her earlier on in my pregnancy when I hadn’t promptly let her know of a possible UTI) and she said that if the symptoms had settled down then everything should be fine and just to rest.

I rang Mum and Dad to check their movements for the day and told them to keep their mobiles on them!  Hubby had a tele-conference for work but chose to stay local… I didn’t want him to go too far.  Well, things changed quickly!  All of a sudden I became aware that I was in fact having contractions quite regularly.  You see, the thing is, I tend not to notice them.  They were like the braxton hicks I’d been having for weeks, my stomach tightening hard as a rock, but I realised they were coming quite regularly!  I couldn’t even remember at what stage you were meant to call/go in to hospital (I was already in at that stage the first time around and even then hadn’t been very aware of them until the late stages).

I went and had a shower then rang my main man and told him I wanted to go to the hospital just to get checked out and see what was happening (i.e. if I had begun dilating and was in fact in labour).  He claims he’d only been at work about 45 minutes!  I dilated very quickly with my son and only the morning prior at my obstetrician’s appointment we’d had a lengthy conversation about spontaneous labour and I didn’t want to be caught out!  (She was kicking herself afterwards wishing she’d done an internal examination on me that morning!).

I called my Dad to come to ours to be with our son.  I gathered a few things but by this time realised it was really happening and at one point, not long after hubby had gotten back in the door, I dropped to the floor in our hallway feeling the need to push and said: “I think we need an ambulance!”  It was hard not to panic then realising how imminent this was – my body seems not to notice the labour phase until it’s time to push!!!  Phone in hand he was ready to make the call but as I got through that contraction I quickly did the math on how long it would take them to get to me and decided to risk it and head to hospital ourselves.  That was probably my first-ever real experience of what a full-blown contraction felt like and I realised that I just needed to ride the wave (i.e. breathe) and that all was OK on the other side.  I of course wasn’t thinking of peak hour traffic, but hubby was!  (Seriously, it was the worst possible time of day to do that drive!)  I was in the zone and feeling quite stressed because I didn’t know how much time we had – I don’t think I even farewelled my beautiful boy who was about to become a big brother!  My first birthing experience was incredible largely thanks to Calmbirth® but this was already shaping up to be a very different experience!  I wasn’t afraid – certainly second time around there is not the ‘fear’ of the unknown and you can have confidence because you and your body have done this before… for me it was the speed with which this was progressing and I wasn’t really keen on a roadside delivery (I did throw a couple of towels in the car just in case!)  It was the most intense car ride of my life!!!  I managed to email my Dr to say: “This is happening.  On my way in but not sure if I’ll make it.”  And I called the hospital to have a wheelchair waiting on arrival (hubby’s recommendation, I didn’t think I needed it!!!)  After that the contractions kept on coming and I had to dig deep to breathe through them and pushed my feet hard against the floor to try to stall the urge to push and keep baby girl in!  So everything I’d learnt in Calmbirth® about going with the flow with your body, staying relaxed, visualising yourself opening up… and here I was purposely tensing up my body to try to slow down the process and keep the shop shut!!!  Hubby pulled a particularly highly illegal high speed overtaking manoeuvre up the outside which I’m sure elicited some sour looks and harsh words… but once we hit the stand-still of peak hour traffic I had to close my eyes to maintain focus and not panic even more due to the volume of cars moving at a snail’s pace!  How hilarious that everyone around us was going about their normal daily routine and I’m wanting to shout “You’ve got no idea, get out of the way, I’m having a baby!!!”

Hubby was my hero.  How he held it together on that drive… supporting and encouraging me the whole way, holding my hand even whilst driving and navigating with his phone in the other hand the back streets as best he could to get us there ASAP (who says guys can’t multi-task!)

I tell you what, I could feel her crowning the last couple of contractions before we arrived, talk about a S-T-R-E-T-C-H!!!!  (“Two more minutes, we’ll be there in two minutes” hubby tries to reassure me… that roadside delivery was so ridiculously close!)

Our arrival was classic.  We pulled up right at the front door (I’m surprised the tyres didn’t screech!), leapt out and I started straight for the wheelchair.  Then he’s off and racing with me to the elevator as the receptionist calls out: “Do you know where you’re going?”  To which I replied “I hope so!”  Into the lift and hubby asks “Level 2 or 3?” (we had done this before!) but my response was “I have no idea!” so he hit both buttons!  Level 2 it was and there’s Nurse Di waiting (thank you Miss Receptionist whom we went screeching past for obviously placing the alert!) all bright and cheerful: “Right, so, how are we feeling?”  she says.  Me: “Oh I’m ready to push!”  Instantly I felt relief though – we’d made it!  And that’s all I could say as I was wheeled to the delivery suite: “I’m so glad we made it.  I’m so glad we made it!”  I knew bub and I were safe now no matter what happened next!

Trying to get me on the bed mid-contraction and the midwives are like: “We just need to do a quick check of the baby” as they try to place I monitor on me.  “I’m pretty sure you can see something there right now!” was my response to them at which time my doctor walks in, pulling on her gloves.  (I’m later told by a nurse that many women think they’re crowning when they’re totally not, but I was telling the truth ha ha!)  I told them my waters hadn’t broken and she said she could see my membranes bulging so broke them (I wonder later, in hindsight, whether I could have perhaps had one of those incredible experiences of having a baby born inside it’s amniotic sac… alas we’ll never know!)  Then she lets me turn over onto all fours because that’s what I wanted (I had to talk her into it though, she kept saying being baby number two it was going to be fast but because my first labour was so amazing I wanted to do everything exactly the same as much as possible!)  My next contraction came and I pushed my bubba girl’s head out.  Then with the following contraction out came her body.  Done.  Here she was.  Just like that!  Everyone was stunned, myself included!  Later they told me they got in all of about 3 minutes of foetal monitoring!

So there I am holding our baby girl in total disbelief!  I’d just birthed our baby!

Take a look at these photos, I just laughed and laughed.  Incredulous is probably the best word to describe it, “what on earth just happened?!” were the feelings.  Absolutely incredible!

IMG_9312
You could not wipe the smile off my face!

This precious baby girl was ready and I have no doubt that she’d have come sooner if we’d been in hospital already.  I had no tearing, no complications and obviously no drugs or interventions as quite simply there wasn’t the time (nor the need).  All I experienced was a burning sensation as I pushed her out but it wasn’t painful.  Yes it was fast and intense but nothing that her and I couldn’t handle together.

******

Quite some time later hubby realised he’d better move the car from the hospital’s front entry and discovered he’d left the keys in the ignition and I’d left my door wide open!!!

During my entire hospital stay, every time a nurse visited she would ask me if I wanted any painkillers.  They seemed to think I was trying to be some sort of hero, a bit prideful that I didn’t want to take any.  Folks, I didn’t need any!  Not even remotely!  Not during labour, not after.

After the fact I was told that, whilst I didn’t realise I was in labour and wasn’t aware of any contractions, every time I’d vomited it had most likely helped move bub into position, similar to the role of a contraction.

******

Reading back through my firstborn’s birth story well after this arrival and I discovered that I probably should have re-read it prior: “If I’d have laboured at home at all, which I was planning on doing for as long as possible, I don’t know if I would’ve made it to the hospital in time or I would have been fighting the urge to push as hubby was driving because I really don’t think either of us would have realised how far in labour I was as I never met the ‘technical requirements’ of contractions being 3 – 5 minutes apart lasting for at least one minute for at least one hour etc etc like they tell you in the antenatal classes…” Oops!

 

 

Before commenting please stop & think: is it kind, caring, positive & beneficial?  Please remember that on the other side of this screen, be it the author or your fellow readers, that we are all humans with our own stories: needs, hopes, experiences, opinions &, most importantly, feelings.  This is a respectful & safe place.  I, the author, am not a medical professional.  I offer simply my personal experiences & information gleaned in the sincere hope that it may be of use to another.  This does not mean that I am ‘right’, whatever that means, but it did work for me.  I reserve the right to remove any comments I deem unnecessary, inappropriate or negative.  Thanks for being here.  xx

Birth Stories

My Firstborn: A Calm, Natural & Pain Free Birth

In May 2013, after over 5 years of waiting/trying, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy!  He came 8 days early so he surprised us and as a bonus I got to enjoy my first Mother’s Day a year early which was so special!

My labour was absolutely incredible and honestly pain-free!  I know that for many this is hard to comprehend, so I’d love to tell you our story.

******

P1020431
Relishing my first mother’s day with my baby boy, 1 week old.

Of all nights, hubby and I had stayed up late watching two back-to-back movies, something we never did!  Hubby had always said that he’d hoped when I went into labour that I’d have had a good night’s sleep the night before… well that wasn’t to be!  We had literally just gone to bed and within minutes, at midnight, my waters partially broke.  It wasn’t a huge flooding, but certainly something I hadn’t experienced before and I called the hospital to let them know.  I didn’t have any contractions or anything.   They said to go back to bed for an hour then call them back and let them know what was happening.  I was still losing fluid so I rang and, after much deliberation from the midwife, who straight away asked me whether I’d done Calmbirth® due to the terminology I was using and how calm I was, she said that protocol stated that I needed to come in for monitoring.  She was reluctant because she was worried that once I was in they mightn’t let me go and the possible interventions this could lead to (the hospital I was booked in to has, I’ve been told, one of the highest intervention rates in NSW).

I took my time getting ready thinking we were most likely going to be sent home anyway… I just figured my waters breaking meant something was possibly going to start happening in the next few days (not stopping to think about the risk of infection and that I would likely be induced if nothing happened quickly anyway!  I was reminded of that later…) We finished packing and got the house in order and got to the hospital about 3am.  Before leaving home I’d said to hubby that maybe I was feeling ‘something’, certainly not what I considered to be signs of imminent labour but I was feeling a little ‘different’ so to speak…

At the hospital (we never even brought my hospital bag in!) they strapped a monitor to me which of course meant I was flat on my back in bed… which if I was in labour wasn’t what I would have wanted but it didn’t bother me because I didn’t think I was in labour!  The first thing they told me was that the baby’s heart rate was dropping with every ‘contraction’ – which they were concerned about and started talking induction and even cesarean as the baby could have been in distress.  My doctor was away for the weekend – his one annual weekend away a year!  So much so that in our antenatal classes the nurses were explaining how it’s possible your doctor mightn’t be available when your time comes so to be prepared for that… “Except Doctor F” they said, “He’s always here!”  So the midwife went to speak to the on-call doctor about it.  By the time she came back and re-checked the monitor, everything was perfect.  They needed about an hour and a half of ‘perfect’ results though before they could send me home… they then started doubting whether my waters had actually broken or not as the symptoms could have been related to something else… but she did comment that my contractions were getting stronger.  “Your face isn’t telling me that though” she said, “the machine is”.  So I just stayed relaxed and let them monitor me, in my eyes everything was fine.  Even if I was in labour, I still figured it was the very early stages and that we were surely still 12 – 18 hours off having a baby!  The midwife said that I probably would be sent home to labour saying “You’ll know when to come back in”.  Then I was told that the doctor was coming in any way for another patient and that he wanted to observe me in the morning before letting me go, so she took the monitor off and just said to get some rest.  She’d done an internal examination on me and said I hadn’t even started dilating, which is why she was sure they would just send me home.  The contractions were getting a little more intense, but still nothing I would even have referred to as being in ‘labour’.  I never understood how people said they “just breathed through them” but that’s exactly what I did, with very little effort.  Whilst I didn’t actually fall asleep, I was perfectly calm and relaxed and don’t think I even did the real deep breathing I’d learnt in Calmbirth® and practiced in the preceding weeks.  I don’t think I needed to, but I’m not sure.  Hubby didn’t even know, he was trying to sleep on the couch.

I got up later to go to the bathroom and all of a sudden felt quite sick, like I was going to pass out / throw up.  The doctor came in at this time and did an internal examination, which the midwife said he needn’t bother about because she’d already done one and I hadn’t even started.  He looked at her perplexed while he was doing it, “She’s about 9cm dilated” he said.  She couldn’t believe it, and neither could I!  His words were like music to my ears because I’d read all the testimonials of this happening to women in the Calmbirth® book and had said to myself “I want a story like that!”  I honestly said: “So does this mean we’re having a baby?”, still totally disbelieving!  Apparently it did lol!  My contractions still seriously weren’t anything to speak about, but I decided that if this was happening I wanted to start moving around etc, because up until this time I’d just been lying in bed.  My student midwife said she’d never seen anyone at 9cm so calm, but honestly, it was so easy!  I felt sick again and this time I did throw up, which they later tell me was probably the transition stage, and hubby thinks this kicked everything into gear.  The contractions potentially became a bit more intense, but they were never long or painful, then I reached this big lull and said to the midwives, “So are we basically just waiting for me to get the urge to push?” and apparently we were!  The fact that neither of them were leaving the room and were getting everything in order made me realise that this was actually happening – it was still all so surreal because it wasn’t anything like I ever expected labour would be!  The urges did come and the one thing I was surprised about was how much I did need to push.  The Calmbirth® training had me thinking that my job was to stay cool, calm and collected and let my body do the work, but you really do need to push your baby out!  I was on my knees with my arms/head resting on the bed head.  I just did what they told me and really you just feel pressure in your bottom (using the Epi-No really helped prepare me for this, but that’s another story).  It wasn’t until the doctor came in that I realised we must’ve been close!

Now, this is very interesting… pay close attention ladies!  At one point the doctor asked me to turn around and lie on the bed in the more traditional pose.  Even though I questioned him he somehow made me think it was for the best… well, that stopped everything didn’t it!  I think it was a combination of stage fright (you know, a deer caught in the headlights, I’m looking at them and they’re looking at me and my private parts…) Eventually the midwives said “You need to put her back the way she was”. Then he started talking about giving me a shot of one of the hormones because baby was so far down that we couldn’t leave it down there for long, but thankfully my body kicked back into gear when I was back in the original position (the midwife later said obviously I knew what was best and she was annoyed with him for changing me then talking about needing to give me an injection because I’d been doing so well!).  My contractions were quite far apart so I had heaps of time to rest in between (I mean, I didn’t even work up a sweat!) and they weren’t for very long… this probably just meant I didn’t push him out as quickly as others would have and in the end they virtually pulled him out (manually though, no forceps or vacuum or anything like that) and although that was a weird feeling, all of a sudden he was out and I’m like “what did we have?” – then it’s all a surreal blur from there holding on to his tiny blue slippery body then placing him on my chest… it truly was magical!

If I’d have laboured at home at all, which I was planning on doing for as long as possible, I don’t know if I would’ve made it to the hospital in time or I would have been fighting the urge to push as hubby was driving because I really don’t think either of us would have realised how far in labour I was as we never met the ‘technical requirements’ of contractions… you know, ‘3 – 5 minutes apart lasting for at least one minute for at least one hour’ etc etc like they tell you in the antenatal classes… I really only ‘worked’ for about 2 hours… bub was born at 9.07am.

So even though I had high hopes for Calmbirth®, my labour was even better than I possibly could have imagined or hoped for!  For days, every new midwife that came into my room talked about it, word had obviously spread!  Even the pediatrician had heard about it: “So you’re the one everyone’s talking about!”  I’d done other preparations in the lead-up as well including using a product called the ‘Epi-No’ and as a result had no tearing (this earnt me a hand-shake from my obstetrician who checked up on me a few days later), I could have gone home that afternoon!

The midwives couldn’t believe it when, after my skin-to-skin time with Mini B and a shower, I’d gone for a wander out of the birthing suite to orientate myself and let them know we were ready to have him weighed etc and be moved to our room… apparently they’re not used to women who’ve just had a baby coming to find them!  The use of drugs never even crossed my mind during the birth and I haven’t even had a panadol since!

I shared the above with my Calmbirth® facilitator and closed my letter to her with:

“It was everything I’d hoped it would be and even better… I’d read so many real-life stories in the Calmbirth® booklet about people who dilated so quickly and I was determined to be one of them – and I was!

Personally, I didn’t end up visualising really or anything like that, I just used the breathing a little but didn’t even need to do that much – the entire experience was that low-key, it just happened!  It really was amazing and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!  Not once did it cross my mind that this was too hard or that I couldn’t do it or that I hated my husband lol or anything like that!  I still can’t believe it!

Thank you for your class – it must’ve helped me incredibly.  Coming in, I’d heard so many horror stories and as a girl had grown up fearful of the labouring experience and I was determined to change my outlook… You helped me do that and I am ever so thankful.  Even so, leading up to the day it was still such an ‘unknown’, what was it going to be like?  Well, all of a sudden I found myself on the ‘other side’ oh so easily, and now life begins as a family!”

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Click here for my 2nd birth story.

 

 

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