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*BOP* I had a very traditional hospital birth with my first daughter back in ’09. I had wanted a natural birth, but aside from reading some birth stories and crossing my fingers and hoping for the best, I was really unprepared. I went into it thinking “I sure hope it happens this way, but if not, there’s always the epidural!” I had had some “well meaning” friends laugh at me when I told them I was going for a natural birth. Thanks a lot. Anyway, the whole thing was 54 hours. I went to the hospital too early and was sent home. My water broke the next day after lots of what I now know were not real contractions. It got really intense really fast and I totally panicked. We raced to the hospital, begged for drugs, stayed there for another 24 hours with pitocin, heart decels, C-section threats, and finally 2 and a half hours of “purple pushing” and several tears. Not ideal, but I think ultimately it was because of fear and unpreparedness on my part. *End BOP*
This time, I started the Hypnobabies Home Study course at around 20 weeks at the recommendation of two friends, one of whom used it twice for her 2 kids with great success. Right away I appreciated how relaxed the tracks made me when I listened to them. I looked forward to that time every day! I did fall asleep almost every time, but I’m a believer in the subconscious mind that works when you sleep, so I wasn’t terribly worried about that. At one point, I did have pretty bad sciatica, and I was able to erase the pain while listening to the tracks. Cool!! I’ll use that in the future.
I accidentally played the entire Hypnobabies playlist on Saturday night, so instead of just playing the Fear Clearing Session like I intended, I fell asleep and listened to all 3 Birthing Time tracks. I woke up at the end of Pushing Baby Out! Oops. I don’t know if my birthing time would have started anyway, but I got up to pee right at that moment and had blood tinged mucous. I had been having pretty steady Braxton Hicks for a long time that I had been practicing my finger drop technique with, with varying success. These intensified on Sunday. Then, I think early Monday morning, I began to have real pressure waves that kept waking me up. I had kicked my husband out of the bedroom for snoring, so I went into the other room around 6 AM to tell him I thought this was it! I took a shower and puked all over the bathroom, projectile style. I’ve learned this is an early labor sign for me, as I did the same thing with DD1.
The pressure waves I felt stayed the exact same from beginning to end, only varying in intensity. I felt a number of things: Cramping right around the bikini line, vaginal pressure, rectal pain and back pain. I had learned from working on my Braxton Hicks, that were actually pretty painful all the way through my pregnancy, that if I caught a PW early enough, I could bypass the pain and literally turn it into pressure, by using my Hypnobabies tools. I did that with my actual PWs, focusing on the pressure I was feeling in my vagina. I felt the pressure go downward and imagined it opening my cervix. Some waves I really could feel my cervix dilating! It felt like a cervical exam. I learned to welcome that sensation. I just imagined “pressure” and “open”.
The whole time I was in my birthing time I was chanting “whoooooohh”. I sounded like a very slow owl! I made different noises too, but I found it really helpful to make the “whhh” and “hhh” sounds. I didn’t use as many positions as I thought I would. I loved the tub at home and stayed there for hours! The birth ball was somewhat useful, but I found out after the birth that my dad and DD1 had been bouncing on it the day before, so that might expain why it was suddenly so low to the ground. :/ So the way I dealt with the PWs was: low vocalizations with every out-breath, visualizing my cervix opening (and later, baby descending), focusing on the pressure feeling, relaxing my pelvic floor (like an anti-Kegel), and staying as close to “off” as possible between waves. I wasn’t always successful, but it really worked.
Possibly the coolest thing I noticed, something I haven’t read anywhere before, and certainly something I did not notice in my previous labor, is that after a particularly intense PW I would experience this euphoric feeling. It was like I had endorphins flooding my body. This I noticed more towards the end, but it was amazing.
I was really apprehensive about when to leave to go to the hospital. On one hand, I really didn’t want to show up too early and stay at the hospital, and I was envisioning being stuck with all kinds of interventions if I did end up going too early. But at the same time, I’ve read enough Hypnobabies stories where the mom barely knew she was in labor before the baby started coming that I was afraid of waiting too long. Finally, I decided that even though my PWs were totally manageable, we would go in anyway, and I just made peace with the idea that I would go home if I wasn’t far enough along. The trip to the hospital in the car….what a difference from the first time!! The car ride for my first birth was excruciating! But this one was quite pleasant!! At this point we had long since stopped listening to my tracks and instead were listening to this incredible a capella singing group called The King’s Singers. They have this amazing Christmas album. I recommend it. It was the perfect accompaniment to my tracks when I didn’t want to listen to them. I barely wanted to get out of the car! But my husband dropped me off in the lobby so he could park the car and I just sat there “whoohh”ing and listening to my music. It was quite pleasant.
Then we went up to triage and even though it took forever, I was totally fine with it. I had it in my head that it didn’t matter where I was, I was going to do the same thing, so they could take as long as they wanted. My husband was an angel and did all the talking for me. When he got some piece of information wrong, I would just wait until the PW was over and then talk to the nurse. When they finally checked me, I was a 6! I was hoping for 8, but that was much better than the 3 I was the first birth! So, yay! They admitted me around 10:30 PM.
I really lucked out with the people attending the birth with me. Everyone I encountered had read my birth plan and was on board with it. They really tried their best to follow it!
At that point, we got situated in our room. I had brought Christmas lights (which I found out much later on, after the birth, that they weren’t allowed…but the nurses and midwives that night didn’t know it!!) and an oil warmer for a pine-y essential oil blend. We put on the Christmas music, put on the scents, turned the lights off and zoned out. I didn’t use the ball or the tub, but just sat in this chair the whole time. I did have to have an IV for fluids because the baby’s heart rate was getting a little high. I was not a good girl about drinking because I still felt pretty nauseous. They did delay that as long as they felt comfortable. After a long while, I felt like getting into the bed. I stayed there for a while, and again, time seemed to be suspended.
After who knows how long, I started to feel like pushing felt good. I told the nurse the next time she came in, and she said “yeah, we could tell by your chart which ones were pushy ones!” The midwife checked me and I was an 8. I wasn’t thrilled about this, but they were. She said she was starting to really want to break my waters because baby’s heart rate was still high. They were worried that I had an infection. They kept taking my temperature after PWs and it was always high, but I believe this is because I would have hot flashes right after intense PWs.
I was very afraid of having my water broken, especially only being 8. *BOP* My first birth, my water broke at 4 cm. It was another 18 hours after that that my daughter was finally born, so my water breaking didn’t speed things up in that particular birth. I was worried that if my water broke before I was complete that I would lose control. I also found myself oddly afraid of the pushing phase, which really surprised me because during pregnancy I wasn’t afraid at all and was looking forward to it! I don’t know where that came from. *End BOP*
My midwife said she would leave the room so my husband and I could discuss the water breaking. They also started some more fluids. We decided that even though I was afraid, we should probably go ahead and do it. My wonderful husband at this point said that I should start listening to my Hypnobabies recordings again. He, of course, was right. Then the midwife came in and, bless her heart, she checked the baby one last time before breaking my water. She declared that baby looked OK after all and she was comfortable letting me continue laboring on my own. I love her.
Not very many PWs later, I felt a huge POP and even though nothing came out, I knew my bag of water had broken. A few PWs later and I had confirmation with some gushes of fluid. Things did indeed get more intense at this point, but I kept my focus and kept saying “whoooohh”. Some of the vocalizations were pretty loud, but I had read enough ladies’ birth stories to know that if I kept my voice low in pitch it would keep me relaxed. That was awesome. I started to feel very pushy a few PWs later, so the next time the nurse came in I told her about the water breaking. The midwife checked me and said I was complete and could push anytime I liked. Not that I could stop if I wanted to!!
Maybe the next contraction after they told me I could push, the urge to push became completely overwhelming . It seemed at this point that my PWs joined together to become one big PW and one long push. I really tried to “Aaaah” baby out, but in reality it was more a primal animal growl/scream. If I had to spell it, it would probably be “aaaah”, but it was incredibly intense. Baby did not just “slide out”, but was expelled by this uncontrollable force inside me that I was powerless against. The urge to push did diminish when she crowned, so I had some more dignified pushes to get her out from that point. I only pushed for 4 minutes!!
They put my baby on my chest right away and the cord stopped pulsing almost immediately. My husband cut it. The midwife tried to convince me to have a shot of pitocin as a preventative measure to control bleeding, but I declined. I’m glad I did, because I hardly bled at all! The placenta came out easily. I got the shakes really badly, but they eventually went away.
They did have to take Emily to the warmer (in the same room) because even though she cried right away, she wasn’t pinking up like they wanted and she was making these grunting cries. They gave her oxygen and suctioned out a ton of fluid and then she was fine. They laid her back down on my chest and said I should wait a few minutes before nursing her to get her oxygen levels up. The poor thing kept trying to latch onto my non-breast skin! Finally we tried nursing and she caught on after a few tries, unlike my first daughter who struggled with it for a good month (before continuing to nurse for 2 more years!)
The after pains were not fun at first. They gave me ibuprofen, which did nothing, and brought me a “heating pad” which was this ridiculously complicated machine that pumped hot water into channels into a pad, except the water never heated up at all. Useless. Silly me, it didn’t even occur to me to use my Hypnobabies techniques until many hours later. Then I had an “a-ha” moment and breathed through them, visualizing my uterus as a blue rubber ball and imagining it shrinking, thinking “smaller, smaller.” It worked! Fortunately, these after pains became hardly noticeable by the time I left the hospital.
I was concerned that my husband wasn’t going to get around to reading the scripts or practicing with me. He was very supportive and positive, and I knew he wanted to, but he was seriously procrastinating. In the end, he really stepped up to the plate. We practiced every other night from 37 weeks on. He kept telling me he knew I could do it.
During my birthing time, he would do the shoulder cue (I preferred that to the forehead) and “relax” cue until I found it to be more distracting than helpful. He kept telling me how great I was doing. He was right there the whole time, getting me things, arranging the room, whatever I needed. At the end, when the back labor got really intense, he tried to massage my lower back, but it broke my concentration, so after a few PWs I asked him to stop. The best part was when he pushed me to listen to my Hypnobabies tracks at the end.
He was awesome, and I don’t know if I could have done it as easily without him. I feel closer to him than ever as a result.
While I don’t think I was totally successful in doing all the techniques perfectly, this birth was incredibly empowering. I can’t truthfully say it was pain-free, but I never felt out of control and it never got to the point where I even considered asking for drugs. I really never needed them! Some things I wish I had done differently are:
Really mastered the finger drop technique
Really mastered the anesthesia
Done much more fear-clearing sessions, particularly about my water breaking. I would add a fear clearing session about pushing, but I didn’t know I was afraid of that!
Other than that, though, Hypnobabies worked beautifully for me! The memory gets rosier the more time passes…I’m sure that’s mainly post-partum hormones! But if I were going to have more children (probably not) I would certainly do it again! Bonding with baby was easier, recovery was a breeze, and because I was so relaxed, I felt rested all day! Thank you!
Emily Jean, born November 29, 2011
24 hours birthing time, 4 minutes of pushing
7 pounds 1.1 oz, 19 inches long
Thanks for reading if you made it this far!