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Heather’s Perfect Hypnobabies Home Water Birth in Germany
“I looked at Husband and cried “WE DID IT!!” and “SHE’S HERE!!” to midwife, and then a flood of joy-filled emotions hit me so hard I thought I might die of happiness.”
Hypnobabies® – Natural Childbirth at its best!
On my birthday (Friday the 14th), we went to an Asian buffet per my request. I told my husband as we were driving there that if this was ever a sign that she was going to arrive, this was it – I ate at a buffet the day before our second daughter was born, and we had a giant Thanksgiving feast the day before our first daughter was born. We had a great time and I stuffed myself with kimchi, seaweed salad, veggie sushi, and tons of wok-cooked veggies and noodles.
Saturday morning at about 4 am, I woke up with soaked pajama bottoms, but the bed was dry. I got up to see if maybe I had somehow peed myself, but it was clear and odorless – likely amniotic fluid – and it couldn’t have been more than a few tablespoons’ worth, anyway. I changed clothes and went back to bed, because I knew it might mean nothing. Amniotic fluid can mean the beginning of birth or it could be a simple tear that reseals itself.
Once I was up for the day, my need to prep went into hyperactive high gear. Car seat installed. Maternity photos taken. I traced my belly onto a piece of stretched canvas like I did with the other two girls. Just in case.
Over the course of the day I kept leaking tiny amounts of fluid, but I also kept having to use the bathroom. Eight times, in fact. I knew that my body was cleaning itself out to get ready for a baby, but I didn’t let myself get too excited in case my gut feelings (ha ha) were off.
I also started losing my mucous plug and having a bit of bloody show, all (possible but not promised) signs of impending baby arrival. Some mild pressure waves (Hypnobabies word for contraction) here and there, but nothing noteworthy.
Husband also kicked his preparations into high gear – inflating the birth pool and getting the sanitary cover for the pool ready. He even took the girls to spend the night at Oma and Opa’s, and before they left our oldest said, “Hey I bet the baby will be here tomorrow!” I told her she was probably right, especially since she correctly guessed her first sister’s arrival date. Kid has some pretty amazing instincts.
Before Husband left with the girls, I told him I was going to listen to some Hypnobabies tracks and try to figure out what we needed to do – we hadn’t finished our classes yet and were a week and a half away from completing the course. I wrote down a little cheat sheet and listened to Visualize Your Birth (Hypnobabies hypnosis track for visualizing your perfect birth), in which I thought through what I wanted this birth to be like – a gentle, calm birthing throughout the night, watching the sun rise over our terrace – one of my favorite views in this village – with baby being born in the morning, easily and comfortably in the tub while I looked at my birthing affirmations I had hung over the rocker glider.
After that track, I listened to Your Birthing Time Begins and Special Safe Place, then I made myself a shake with over 100gm of protein and went to bed around 6:30, because I felt pretty certain I’d be waking soon to have a baby.
Husband went to bed around 10:45 pm on Saturday, which woke me up, and as he got into the bed, he told me he had listened to Birth Partner – Relax track twice before going to sleep. I felt hungry and decided I should try to eat a little if I could. I made myself some peanut butter crackers and texted with my mom and sister and a few friends to let them know what was going on.
Around midnight – 9/16, week 38, day 3 of this pregnancy – I decided to sign off of all digital communication to start focusing, per Hypnobabies instructions. I listened to the Fear Clearing (Hypnobabies hypnosis track to release fears) track and identified a few of the things that had been on my mind – whether we would even be able to have a home birth (my midwife was going out of town the 17-18th and the 28-30th and had no backup); the stress of no longer being able to use the birth center near us as a backup as originally planned (their lead midwife broke her leg and was out of commission for September and October births, and the second midwife was 27 weeks pregnant and unable to attend births solo, so they were having to turn down ALL of the September and October births for which they were planning); not wanting to be at a hospital but knowing that we would if a) the baby arrived when the midwife was out of town, b) if there was an emergency with me or the baby (and knowing that there would be three different hospitals we might end up at based on which scenario we found ourselves in). You’re supposed to only focus on one fear each time you listen to Fear Clearing, but I felt like I needed to dump them all into one power session. It felt good to clear my mind!
My pressure waves became more regular once I finished that track, so I opened my Hypnobabies birthing waves timer and started saving them. The app wasn’t working on my phone, so I downloaded the first contraction timer I found in the App Store, but it wasn’t working, either, so I downloaded yet another one to record for an hour. I knew my birthing time was starting and didn’t feel the need to time them for myself, nor did I even want to see the word “contraction” repeatedly, but I wanted to send a screenshot to the midwife and Husband so they would trust it was go time.
I listened to the Deepening (Hypnobabies track for deepening level of hypnosis) and Easy First Stage (Hypnobabies main hypnosis track for birthing time) tracks once each, and by 3 am my waves were about three and a half minutes apart and lasting about a minute and a half each. I knew from my first two births that I wasn’t too far along, but I was feeling like I needed support from Husband and the midwife. I woke Husband and sent him the screenshot to forward along, and he called the midwife around 3:15 to let her know what was going on.
We had the number for our photographer and our chiropractor ready to call, but I was feeling very, very private and had an intense need to be alone with Husband, so he didn’t call anyone else.
The midwife (MW) arrived around 3:45am and her student midwife (SMW) came around 4. I asked MW to check me so I could have a baseline of sorts to work with. She said I was dilated somewhere between a 3 and a 4, which was exactly what I was expecting to hear based on the intensity of what I was feeling and comparing it to the other girls’ births. I took comfort in knowing I was about as far along as I felt.
Husband stayed beside me, gently applying counter pressure to my hips and lower back when I needed it, letting me hang from his shoulders while I was standing, rubbing my head with one hand and my back with the other during the pressure waves I had while laying down, all while quietly saying the cue word “Relax” (Hypnobabies technique for deepening hypnosis) during waves. After a wave ended he would tell me how great I was doing and offer me sips of water. Every hour he’d take me to the bathroom to empty my bladder and help me find a new position if I wanted it. He also offered me food, but I don’t tolerate food well in births so I declined.
The pressure waves – from about 4 am onward – were intense. I shook and dry heaved through most of them, but they were not as close as the earlier ones were, so I was able to rest in between them and continue listening to my Hypnobabies tracks. I kept Easy First Stage on repeat, because I liked the prompts in that track the best.
As the waves began to further intensify, I continued to retreat inward, as I tend to do during birth. At one-point MW asked me a question, and it took her three times asking before I remembered that I speak German and could even understand what she was saying. Ha!
MW had Husband get me socks and a few blankets around 5 or 6 because I was shaking so much, which helped me stay comfortable in between waves. At one point during a wave, MW pointed out that I was shaking my head “no” and she asked me why. I didn’t even realize I was doing that! I made a decision to try to keep positive and began consciously nodding through them instead. The phrase “the only way out is through” popped into my head, and it became something I said repeatedly to myself for the rest of the birth.
This phrase also helped me remember some of my birthing affirmations – “Every time a birthing wave ends I smile and feel very happy,” and “The stronger my pressure waves are, the more deeply I relax,“ so I tried to put those into practice, too.
I chatted with Husband and MW and SMW in between waves to let them know what I wanted and needed (another affirmation that helped). I told them that if any of them felt like taking some pictures, I would show them how to use my DSLR in between waves. SMW sweetly volunteered to snap some pics when she wasn’t helping MW, so I set the ISO high, put everything on auto, showed her the zoom on the lens and how to focus and thanked her for giving it a try.
While I was able to keep my face muscles and hands soft and relaxed through the waves, as practiced for the last several weeks of the course, around 5:30 or 6 am my core and upper thighs seemed to have a mind of their own. My entire body would curve, like it was trying to self-optimize the best birthing position.
Around six in the morning my waves began to feel different, and I asked if I could get in the birthing pool. MW checked me – I was at a 7 – and said Husband could go ahead and start filling the pool. He offered first to open the blinds for me so I could see the gorgeous sunrise coming up behind the hills and forest. I felt really encouraged by my progress – at least a cm per hour – and I appreciated MW giving me updates each time she measured the baby’s heartbeat and movements. She encouraged me to stay on my left side as much as I was comfortable – not only to rest and save energy, but to also ensure the baby’s head and body engaged in the right position.
I remained upright during our second daughter’s birthing time, and I had planned to do so with this birth, so it took me a minute to wrap my brain around how to get comfortable on my side. I trusted that MW would only make that suggestion if she felt it was necessary (and it proved to be true – had I been upright I would have progressed so quickly that I would have missed the pool altogether!). While working through getting myself comfy, several gushes of amniotic fluid came out during some powerful waves, yet MW and SMW managed to keep me and the couch dry with chucks and some large fleece pads.
The pool took a long time to fill because the sink adapter wasn’t working well for Husband. He and MW went back and forth between the kitchen and the bathroom to try to get a good connection. Around 7am MW told Husband if there was a way to get the water to run faster, that would be great, because I needed to get in there soon.
I had used my new serger (birthday present) to make a birthing skirt, and I told Husband that I wanted to put on my birth pool outfit if possible (wardrobe change – priorities folks!!), so he walked me into our bedroom, helped me change clothes, and guided me into the water just after 7:45am.
Water is one of my all-time favorite things ever. I love swimming. I love the beach. I love being on boats. I wish I was a shark. I like baths and showers. Water. Is. The. Best.
As you all know, one of the first things you’re encouraged to do with the Hypnobabies program is create a special safe place in your mind that you can disappear to when you’re in hypnosis. My place for both this and my previous birth was alllllways underwater – sometimes alone in the ocean (see shark above) or swimming deep underwater in a warm infinity pool, surfacing to look out across a larger body of ocean water (a very smart person encouraged me to have this backup space in case the ocean ever got uninviting or scary, which came in handy during this birth – I wanted to be alone but not so exposed, so to speak).
Anyway, I was already excited to be in the water (my ultimate birthing dream has always been a home water birth!), but man, the second I put my feet in the warm water, every part of me relaxed so deeply that I realized I wouldn’t be in there long before the baby arrived. The tub had an inflatable bottom, too, so it was like having a comfy mattress to sit/stand/kneel on. I thought for a second about how I wanted to be in the water and decided that a wide-legged knee squat with my arms hanging over the sides would a) probably feel pretty good and b) would bring baby earth side pretty quickly.
Husband sat on the glider in front of me, and in between waves I rested and looked at the affirmations hanging behind him and thought of another favorite – “I can feel the love of those supporting me during my birthing time” – I knew my family and friends who were aware my birthing time had begun were thinking about me, and it helped give me the strength and endurance to make it the last few miles.
My dream was coming true. I was at home. I was in the amazing warm water. It was even morning time! So close to holding my baby.
I asked MW to check me again (funny how theoretically opposed I am to internal/cervical checks but how much I needed the assurance during this birthing time), and she said that she could only go this far without feeling the baby’s head, indicating her first and second knuckle on her hand. Confused, I blurted out “Inside my cervix or my vagina?!?” and she laughed and said nooo inside your vagina the baby’s already coming through your cervix.
Oh. Ok then. That’s doable.
I told MW that I wasn’t really sure how or when to push and that I was going to need some help and guidance. With our second birth, I had told the attending nurse that I was feeling a lot of pressure, and she dismissed my concerns and our second daughter was born in a toilet (Husband physically lifted me off the toilet high enough for the midwife to catch her before she fell in!), but I never consciously pushed her out – my body’s fetal ejection reflex took over and she basically birthed herself. MW laughed sweetly and said she wasn’t going to tell me when to push my baby out.
Oh yeah. My body. I forgot. I can do this.
I still didn’t realize how close I was to having this baby and kept asking MW if it was close. How close? How much longer? How many minutes? Give me a specific ETA! With our second birth, it was at this point that I was saying that I couldn’t do it, that I needed a Tylenol (not sure why that was the first drug I wanted but whatevs). With this birth, I knew that I COULD do it, I just needed someone else to tell me exactly how long I had to continue doing it before it was over. MW just kept smiling and saying “bald” (soon).
At this point my body was taking over and, just like with the second birth, was pushing her out for me. I kept murmuring “open, open, open,” and at one point I asked God to pleeeeease help me do this.
I felt baby’s head begin to emerge, and I remembered the Hypnobabies tracks that talk about your perineum remaining intact, and I was grateful for the warm water helping soften everything.
I didn’t push and instead let the waves control the birth. Her head came out into the water at the same time it felt like her shoulders were emerging from my cervix, and I surrendered completely to the birth, letting myself make the same, familiar guttural sounds I made when our second baby emerged. With one roar her head passed into the water, then I caught my breath until the next wave brought her shoulders out. She didn’t come out completely, so I gave a gentle little push and MW directed her out of the water while I quickly sat down so she could pass her to me. It was 8:17 am, barely a half hour after I first set foot in the water. Our sweet baby was here and in my arms!!
The water continued to feel amazing and soothing and totally intensified the joy I was feeling at seeing this gorgeous, tiny little miracle. I kept saying hi to her over and over, then I looked at Husband and cried “WE DID IT!!” and “SHE’S HERE!!” to MW, and then a flood of joy-filled emotions hit me so hard I thought I might die of happiness. At one point I cackled “I feel so much better now!!” I laughed and cried simultaneously for several minutes, then asked Husband to call my mama and my sister in America. We video chatted, then Husband brought me a drink – bubble water with grape juice. Yum.
While talking to my sister, I laughed and said I was sure I had woken up our downstairs neighbors and asked the midwives if I was so much louder than the typical German birthing mama. They both looked at me like I had lost my mind and asked me what I was talking about, that I had made hardly any noise until right as she emerged, and even then, my sounds were more involuntary than anything. (For the record, our neighbors heard nothing. They had no idea!)
The same was true for our first and second births – in my mind I was sooooo loud – but when I looked back through these (and the other) pictures, I can see that I was pretty chill looking. Funny how your mind can play tricks like that.
I stayed in the warm water for a good hour after this birth. Husband cut the umbilical cord about twenty minutes or so after she was born, once it stopped pulsing. The midwives pointed out how super thick the cord was – and it really was massive, at least twice as thick as our other girls had been.
MW asked me to push the placenta out with the next wave, and I fussed at her because it felt like she was pulling on it. She assured me that she was only guiding it and could feel and see by how much of the cord had come out that it was already detached. (**BOP this sentence**) I told her to stop touching it – one of my big (unfounded) fears was an emergency due to postpartum hemorrhaging – but I also knew that the placenta had to be passed within a pretty short timeframe with German home births before the mother is required to go to the hospital, so I pushed it out with the next wave. MW quickly lifted it out of the water to examine it with SMW, and I began nursing the baby – for some reason MW wanted me to wait until the placenta had passed before nursing.
Baby latched on like a champ and nursed for a solid hour before we got out of the water, which had no blood (or poop – lol), just a little cheese from Baby still having so much vernix. I massaged the vernix into her skin as much as I could. Our other two were born with no vernix, but they were also cooked a couple of extra weeks longer. When we finally got out of the water, we wrapped Baby first in a warm towel, then MW dried me off and helped me get into our bed. I asked if I had torn, and MW said there was just a little skid mark that wasn’t worth worrying about. Phew. Perineum intact!
This was the very birth we prayed for and prepared for, and I’m so very very grateful for how everything turned out.