Hypnobabies Joyful and Comfortable Birth Center Waterbirth
“During my Hypnobabies birth center waterbirth once I was in the tub, still listening to Easy First Stage, I completely lost a track of time. I noticed between few waves that my second wonderful midwife, Severine, arrived. I started feeling that the waves seemed a bit different, and it seemed so good to tighten the abdomen at the end of each “AAAH” or “OHHHM”. It felt strange, because my face and hands and upper body were so relaxed, but the bottom seemed no longer under control. I told my midwives that it felt as if I couldn’t relax my bottom and Severine said: ‘You aren’t doing it, it’s your baby going down. You are doing great’.”
For this second birth I have found a fantastic birthing team: two midwives that had an agreement with the local hospital to accompany the birth in a birthing suite, in a completely non-medicated manner. It’s like a completely independent hospital-based birthing center. Also, the more I was preparing, the more I felt that I wanted to do it on my own, to be left alone in my birthing time (Hypnobabies term for labor). I was actually fantasizing about unassisted birth (even though in reality I knew that I would never dare to do it completely alone and I wanted a qualified person to be nearby when the baby makes her appearance!)
My midwives, Celine and Severine, were fully supportive of my intention to do it nearly on my own and to use Hypnobabies. If Celine was simply accommodating in whatever choices I made (and was ok with using Hypnobabies language), Severine became quite excited when I told her about hypnosis. She told me that she recently had some training with hypnosis for childbirth (some different, French-language program, I guess), that she would love to attend a Hypno birth, and went on to ask me if I wanted to describe my Special Safe Place to her. I immediately felt at ease and knew that this was going to be a fantastic birthing experience.
This Friday, February 10th my MIL was visiting and she took our daughter, Agnes, to play outside. For once, after my weekly prenatal aqua gym I was able to enjoy a nice nap which later proved to be very helpful. I also listened to Visualize Your Birth track (Hypnobabies track that guides you to visualize the birth you want) and felt very happy and confident. The only thing is that again I was feeling unsure of where I wanted to spend my early birthing time. Sometimes during this track I imagined myself going for a walk and sometimes sleeping or relaxing on the birthing ball, but I somehow couldn’t make my mind. All I knew for sure was that I was ready to do the Miles circuit and all the Spinning Babies exercises. I even prepared my husband, Nicolas, by going through all the exercises with him, so that he could actively help me to avoid the stalled birthing time. I had confidence that my wonderful birthing team knew what to do, but I wanted to stay at home till I’m in my active birthing time.
We had dinner and my MIL left home saying that she will come back on Sunday, one day before my guess date (Hypnobabies term for due date), to pick up Agnes for a week-long holiday with grandparents. After putting Agnes to bed, we enjoyed a quiet evening, and I was already in bed reading through Hypnobabies birth stories (my favorite evening pass-time during these last two weeks) when Nicolas asked me for help. He was having a neck pain for a while and wanted to try another pillow and just couldn’t find the right pillowcase. So, I got up, went to the closet with him and bent down and we heard a small pop and the front of my nightgown was all wet and there was a puddle of transparent gel-like liquid on the floor. It was just past midnight.
With my first birth, my waters broke in the early morning hours after a night of pressure waves (Hypnobabies term for contractions) that didn’t feel like pressure, but more like menstrual cramps. Then they just stopped, and we couldn’t get the birthing time to start despite all the efforts. After over 24 hours of early first stage with inefficient waves and mild medications to induce labor, I ended up with Pitocin, but even that seemed not efficient. Agnes was LOA, but brow, and she just wouldn’t tuck her chin no matter what!
After hours of Pitocin and 1.5 cm dilation, I was told that the dose will have to be tripled. Also, I became too exhausted to be able to maintain my hypnosis, so I asked for epidural in order to be able to sleep and to be less zombie-like when I meet my baby. Hypnobabies helped me a lot to go through induction, especially through very rough Pitocin waves, but I was determined not to let my birthing time stall like last time. So, this time I prepared with Spinning babies and chiropractic adjustments to make sure the baby could go down. And this is why having my bag of water breaking before anything else was pretty stressful news for me!
Nicolas said: “Well, she’s earlier than we thought, but look at the sky! Tonight is the most beautiful sky I’ve ever seen, all for the birth day of our little princess!” It was so true, not a single cloud and we could see each and every star and one big and pink one in the middle, which was Mars, I think!
I went to change and noticed that I was shaking all over. It could have been from being cold, but I knew there was something else. I told myself that we needed to avoid all the adrenalin, made myself as warm as I could and went to bed listening to “Your Birthing Time Begins” track. Nicolas called his mother to let her know that we might be coming later in the night to drop Agnes at her house (the birthing center is 45 minutes’ drive and my MIL lives somewhat in-between, around 15 minutes away from the birthing center). My MIL sounded worried that we aren’t heading her way straight away, but Nicolas explained that it was an informed decision. I put on my Bubble of Peace and started a Fear Clearing session (Hypnobabies track to release fear). I wanted to release the fear that my birthing time won’t be progressing enough, but just as I started the track, I felt a pressure wave (I had none, absolutely none, not even the training ones during my entire pregnancy). It was very comfortable, but quite strong and I instantly knew that it was a real thing. By the time I got to the part where I needed to release my fear, I already had three other waves and my fear evaporated on its own.
I finished the session, started Easy, Comfortable Childbirth and went to CENTER, because there was no way I could fall asleep. I felt like moving. First, I went to the bathroom to have an enormous BM. I then went to the shower to just give myself a quick wash and noticed that I had to get on hands and knees for the next wave. By the time I got dressed again I realized that I don’t get much done between the waves.
I started being a bit worried that our initial plan to drop-off Agnes at in-laws wasn’t going to work well. I was having a hard time realizing where I was in my birthing time. It was comfortable and the waves didn’t seem long, but they seemed too frequent for “just beginning”. I didn’t want to go too early and wait in my MIL’s house with her being around and making distraction. On the other hand, I didn’t want Agnes to watch me for nearly an hour-long drive in case we go too late and it gets very intense. Also, at this point dropping her off would have been wasting time.
So, I went to the bedroom where Nicolas was revising his Birth Partner Guide and told him that we needed a better plan. We decided that he’ll ask my MIL to come straight away and sleep over. As soon as she’s here we’ll head to her house and hang there for a while before we’re absolutely sure it’s time.
While Nicolas went out to make a call and to do some last-minute packing, I sat down on my birthing ball leaning forward, listening to Deepening track (Hypnobabies track to deepen the level of hypnosis). It was my favorite position during both my pregnancies and the birthing time with my first and I was amazed to not like it at all anymore. I moved to bed on my left side instead and decided to time a few pressure waves while in Center. They were three minutes apart or even slightly closer, but I was most astonished to find out that they lasted at least 50 seconds. They felt strong but seemed much shorter to me. When Nicolas was back, I asked him to let Celine know how far apart the waves were and that we will probably need her tonight. She said it was good that we were getting closer to the birth center and to call her in one hour.
By the time my MIL came and we were ready to go, I was listening to Early First Stage (Main birthing day track) in CENTER and chanting “Ahhh” and “Ohmm” through the waves. At the same time, I started feeling a bit nauseous and after only a few minutes’ drive I felt that it might be a good idea to go to the birthing center directly. When I told this to Nicolas, he pulled over and said: “Sure, I’ll let the midwives know straight away, it’s been nearly an hour anyway”. I was really surprised, because it only seemed like fifteen minutes to me. I recalled the affirmations saying that every 20 minutes will seem like 5 minutes and smiled.
It was quite comfortable being in the back seat, switching between OFF and CENTER, only I was still surprised that I really HAD TO keep my back very straight through each wave and not leaning back or forwards. Once I found a nice position propped with the pillows against the door, it was easy to drift away, and I completely lost a track of time. As we were parking in front of the birth center, I vomited neatly into a Ziplock bag that I kept nearby. That made me feel good and happy and somehow in control and Nicolas too smiled and said, ‘Remember what they say, vomiting woman is birthing woman!’
I had no problem walking to the birthing suit, even if it was quite a walk and we somehow managed to get lost and had to turn around the building. We toured the facility several times before, but Nicolas said that everything seemed so different at nighttime! I seriously couldn’t tell, because even though I was walking with my eyes open it’s almost as if I wasn’t taking anything surrounding me in. I felt nearly somnambulistic. The waves were really comfortable while I was upright, I could just stay in CENTER and breathe ‘PEACE’ (Hypnobabies cue for instant comfort) through them and keep walking. I didn’t feel like stopping to go to OFF and leaning on Nicolas, because forward-leaning wasn’t as comfortable as being straight. I was seriously amazed at how well the CENTER worked for me, because we practice it often, but we never really get to test it before our birthing time. My favorite mantra going on through my head was ‘Deeper and deeper with my eyes OPEN. More and more comfortable with every breath I exhale’.
Then, as we were in the middle of some corridor, I felt a very powerful wave, so I went to all fours, resting my head and arms on the chair. When I got back up, Celine was standing next to me. She smiled and said: ‘How are you? I see it’s getting intense!’ and she gave me a hug. I smiled and said that I was doing great and that she would excuse me if I won’t peck her on a cheek because I threw up in the car. This made all three of us laugh.
The birthing suite was huge, dimly lit and very cozy. I had my vitals and baby’s vitals checked while rocking hips on the birthing ball and then immediately I asked if I could go to the bathtub. I was expecting Celine to propose an internal exam first, but she just said ‘Sure’ and started filling the tub. I vomited in another Ziplock bag and got undressed. It was around half past three in the morning.
Once I was in the tub, still listening to Easy First Stage, I completely lost a track of time. I noticed between few waves that my second wonderful midwife, Severine, arrived. I started feeling that the waves seemed a bit different, and it seemed so good to tighten the abdomen at the end of each “AAAH” or “OHHHM”. It felt strange, because my face and hands and upper body were so relaxed, but the bottom seemed no longer under control. I told my midwives that it felt as if I couldn’t relax my bottom and Severine said: ‘You aren’t doing it, it’s your baby going down. You are doing great’.
I left the tub once to get the water changed and waddled to the bathroom, half-wrapped in sheets, because it just seemed like the only other place to be. After several waves on the toilet seat, I got up and I was feeling so tired and sleepy. I just wished I could sit backwards and rest my head on the toilet tank, but too bad, it was a modern one with everything hidden behind the wall. From my experience working night shifts I knew it must have been around 5 a.m., you know this time because it’s so hard to stay awake. I told my team that I wish it would just slow down for a while so I could lie down and sleep just for a second. But as soon as I was in bed on my side, I instantly knew it wasn’t going to happen. This was the only time I was feeling a real, hardly manageable discomfort, so I yelped: ‘Oh no, bad idea, bad idea’ and the very next second Nicolas helped me up and back into the bath.
I was still feeling so tired, but the waves were so close and powerful, leaving me no break. Nicolas told me later that at this point I told them that I’m not gonna make it and somebody please do something to help! Since I already rejected them applying pressure on my back (it felt good, but I didn’t like the distraction), I was like: ‘What do you mean you don’t know HOW to help? You are my Birth Partner or what? Where are my Peace and Relax cues?’ He replied: ‘Sorry, I didn’t even realize you needed them, you look so relaxed during waves!’
Truth to be told, I don’t think I needed them either, I was just feeling at this point like I wanted to be nasty and give him a hard time. I later realized I must have been in Transformation, because only a few waves later I heard myself saying: ‘Well this is it, I really want to start pushing’. I can’t say my body was doing it on its own, I just felt like it was the most natural and comfortable thing to do. Again, I was expecting my midwives to check how far along I was, but they just told me to do what I wanted to do.
Pushing phase was long, but it felt amazing. There was no discomfort at all, just pressure. And it sure felt like a hard work. The most uncomfortable feeling was mild cramps in my thighs once in a while (from effort, as I was kneeling, my legs bent like a W). But even the cramps felt so mild; I had much worse cramps in my feet during my entire pregnancy.
I felt something, reached down and felt a bag of waters bulging like a balloon. I was so surprised! My previous birthing time was so uncomfortable, I was literally feeling myself torn in two and yet I made so little progress then! So, this time, even now, even though I was pushing, I somehow didn’t believe I was actually getting there. I somehow suspected my midwives were just being nice and encouraging and I half expected someone to come and announce that I am 3 cm dilated. At some point in the bathroom, I was hoping I might be going through Transformation, because there were hardly any time between waves, but I was afraid of keeping my expectations too high because of how comfortable I still was.
So I tried feeling with my fingers inside the bulging balloon and I told my midwives plaintively: ‘Well, there’s no way I’m dilated to 10, I can feel like 4 fingers at max! Why would you even allow me to push!?’
My midwives and even my husband laughed, and I couldn’t see why it was funny. Severine said gently: ‘You cannot feel your dilation from here. What you’re touching there is your daughter’s head.’ And while I was still looking at her in disbelief, Nicolas said: ‘Look at your tummy! The bump is down!’ I looked down and realized he was right. That was when I finally believed how far in my birthing time, I was despite all the comfort.
At this point I thought that I technically had to ask Nicolas to switch to Pushing Baby Out. The funny thing was, it’s almost as if I didn’t want him to. I was scared that as soon as Easy First Stage stops, my hypnosis might start slipping. And it just felt so good to follow my body and push on my own without any guidance, saying in my head ‘Down and out like a slide!’ So I just kept doing it my way.
It took me quite a while to push her head out. She was coming two steps down, one step back. I was complaining a bit between waves (‘Can’t my body just take over so I can have a break?’), talking to my babe, asking her to come out and joking with my husband (‘Ok, I’m done for now, it’s your turn!’) Despite being tired, I felt that the atmosphere was very relaxed and joyful.
When she was crowning, I tried pushing her head out between waves, but it only budged a little bit. It took maybe three more good waves from crowning till her head was out. My midwives didn’t give me any perineal support and just told me to help myself with my hands the way it felt right. It seemed pretty scary, but at this point I felt like my body intuitively knew what to do and couldn’t do wrong. It felt hot and stretching. Severine said to blow on the baby’s head to bring the heat down and it reminded me that I could breathe my hypno-anesthesia where I wanted it to be! And the next moment the head was out!
What happened between this wave and the next one was the most amazing moment ever! I could caress her head and at the same time she was kicking her feet inside my tummy. And I realized how truly miraculous the moment of birth was, this passage between two worlds, and my baby was half-way in and half-way out. I told this to Nicolas, and it brought me to tears.
Nicolas seemed perplexed, because the very moment her head came out still in her amniotic sac, he couldn’t see any face at all; our babe’s face looked all white and squashed as if she was a bank robber. He later told me that he thought she wasn’t doing ok and had a real fright. We still laugh about it sometimes: ‘Remember when she came, and you couldn’t figure where the face was on her head?’
During the next wave I could feel the midwives turning her shoulders and pulling her body out, and this was really, truly the only intervention there was during entire time (if you don’t count adjusting a belt with the fetal monitor and this one time when they offered me counter-pressure on my back). I heard a little cough and a cry, turned around, stepping over the cord and they passed me my baby girl. She was blueish white with lots of vernix and they were still pulling bits and pieces of her sac off her. I didn’t even have a thought to look and see if she was indeed a girl. She looked huge, I couldn’t believe she could have fitted inside me. From watching a video later, I was surprised to see that I was just there, completely perplexed, holding her to my chest and rocking back and forth like in a trance until someone said that we should come out and get warm. I was helped up, they quickly rinsed me with the shower head, wrapped me in some sheets and helped me onto bed. My baby girl Adele was quickly turning pink. She wouldn’t open her puffy eyes, but started nursing like a champion. Only a few minutes later I felt a warm gush and Celine asked me to push a bit during the coming wave, I breathed PEAAACE and the placenta was out.
After an hour or so cuddling, we weighed Adele and she was 8 lb and 12 oz, way more than 7 lb that we all expected! Celine checked me for tears and amazingly I didn’t have any, just two small scratches on the outside, on my right and left (which I strongly suspect were from my nails when I was trying to ease her head out). I told Celine that pushing seemed to take a while, I thought it would go much quicker, to which she said that it was simply perfect for her size and my size, and this is what allowed me to push her out without a single tear.
I am so thankful to Hypnobabies for this peaceful, comfortable and almost unassisted waterbirth birthing time! It was exactly like I wanted it to be and indeed, it makes me feel so powerful! It was also such a healing experience after my first birthing time with so many interventions! If raising children wasn’t such an important, time-consuming job, I would have been ready for the third one straight away!
Read this other amazing Hypnobabies waterbirth story HERE