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That’s Why It’s Called a Birth “Preference” Instead of a “Plan”

That’s Why It’s Called a Birth “Preference” Instead of a “Plan”

I have long-struggled to like myself. I hated my body and lacked self confidence in many areas, so finding out I was pregnant just triggered a heightened sense of anxiety for me. Finding out I was diabetic at my first OB appointment made things even worse. As the doctor rattled off the list of awful things that could result, I sat there expecting each to all happen to my baby, and they would all be my fault. I wondered if I could live with myself if I caused such pain for my beautiful growing baby – macrosomia, dislocated limbs during birth, heart and spine defects, respiratory problems… One thing I had been told from the beginning – I would be induced at 38 or 39 weeks due to an increased risk of stillbirth for infants of diabetic mothers. I strongly opposed an induction but wanted to do what was best for our baby.

As the pregnancy progressed and my education on the issues increased, I became “a model patient” (the doctors’ words). My confidence grew as quickly as my sugars and A1C decreased, and for the first time in my adult life, I was actually feeling good about myself and my body. This new-found confidence gave me the ability to try new things (like yoga, which has been life-changing!) And maybe it was my “mama bear” instincts forming, but I was blessed with a feisty courage that I had not previously known to speak up for myself. Did that cause some tension between my doctors and me? Yes. Was it worth it? YES.

At that point, if I pictured our baby’s ideal birth, it would be in a peaceful environment outside of a hospital, calm, quiet, in water, with no interventions. My husband and I took a hypnoyoga birth class and hired a doula. I talked to several midwives; however, they couldn’t deliver my baby, due to the fact that I was taking insulin. I started researching natural induction methods to encourage baby out on her own. I drank red raspberry leaf tea, walked every day, faithfully attended yoga, saw my chiropractor once a week, got acupuncture, used essential oils on acupressure points, and visualized her calm, peaceful birth every chance I had. And still, the induction date (Sunday) arrived with no sign that baby Samantha was going to come out on her own.

As we walked the short hallway to the antepartum wing, I debated escaping. But I was with my husband and his mom, and really, pregnant ladies can’t run that fast. So we checked in, got settled in our room, and I was soon disappointed to learn that I wasn’t even ripe! After three doses of Misoprostol throughout the night, Resident S (that I ended up liking the most) tried and failed to insert a Foley bulb. Also throughout the night, our amazing nurse kept coming in and apologetically asking me to shift positions. He was noticing small drops in Samantha’s heart rate during the tiniest of contractions. (I wasn’t so worried, as that was a normal occurrence from the time I started attending my NSTs twice a week for the previous 2 months.) Finally, after one more dose of Misoprostol and lots of waiting, Resident K was able to get the Foley bulb in. I was hopeful that things would start happening that day (Monday), especially since they moved us to labor & delivery.

By Monday evening, the Resident K was somewhat surprised to learn that the Foley hadn’t come out on its own. So she gave it a tug and it came out…it was Pitocin time! My stomach did some flips thinking about all the stories I’d heard about the dreaded P, but at the same time I was so excited to meet Samantha and I was really ready for things to get a move on. After 24 hours in the hospital, I’d slept about 4 hours and had felt zero contractions. Thankfully we were blessed with amazing and fun nurses, which helped to pass the time. My husband put on my favorite Harry Potter movie, a few visitors came by, and we listened in excitement as the OB on call said we’d be meeting our baby by the end of the day tomorrow.

Here’s roughly how Monday night/Tuesday morning went:

Nurse: “Did you feel that contraction?”

Me: “Nope.”

Nurse: “Let me adjust the monitors; they are slipping.”

Me: “Ok.” (Try to sleep! Try to sleep!)

3 minutes later…

Nurse: “Did you feel that contraction?”

Me: “Nope.” (Try to sleep! Try to sleep!)

Nurse: “Sorry, I need you to move onto your side…her heartrate is not quite cooperating.”

(Repeat 5,000 times.)

And so it continued throughout the night. By Tuesday morning, they had adjusted the dosage of Pitocin more times that I could count – first increasing steadily, then backing off when her heartrate would drop significantly (from the 150s to the 60s…a few times it even went down to 20!) So when Resident K came in that morning, she explained that it was time to break my waters, in the hopes that things would pick up. I still hadn’t progressed beyond the 3cm that she had measured when the Foley bulb was pulled out.

After hearing her out, I told her that I wasn’t ready for them to break my waters. I explained that I was aware of the risks and benefits and that I just didn’t think it was time. (I had hoped getting up and about during the day would help things move along and that my water would break on its own. I’d given up trying to sleep by that point.) Then the OB came in and gave an even longer, guilt-laden explanation about why it was time to break my waters. She started talking about a “failed” induction. Truthfully, I wasn’t really listening. My mind was made up. Earlier my doula had prepared me for this moment and I followed her suggestion in saying to the OB, “I understand that there are risks associated with a labor that’s not progressing, but I am not ready for you to break my water. I would like to continue as things are for now, and if my baby does become truly distressed to the point where she needs to come out immediately, I know that you are very capable of performing a successful c-section very quickly.” After looking me up and down, “Um…actually for a woman your size, a c-section isn’t that quick.” If only there were words for how I felt at that moment. The only thing I managed to say was, “No. Not now.” A few tense moments later, the OB suggested that we take a break from it all. I wasn’t discharged, but they took me off all the monitors, stopped the Pitocin, and gave us 4 hours to walk around the hospital. “Just don’t go outside; it’s wet and you might fall.” (So the first thing my husband and I did after a shower was go outside. I didn’t care that it had been snowing earlier and was freezing…the fresh air felt amazing after 2 days of being cooped up in a tiny room.)

My husband and I ate some lunch, climbed (crab-walked, jumped, lunged) 10 flights of stairs, and visited the postpartum clinic to look at cute baby stuff…and not one contraction. I was so discouraged. I’d truly hoped that my body would take over and decide to bring Samantha into the world! I lost my mucous plug, but that was it. I am so thankful for the support my husband gave me during that time – he had my back through all of this and did everything he could to get me laughing and having fun. I’ve never had so much fun climbing stairs.

Defeated, we returned to the room and I told them I was ready for them to break my water. They did, and I was back on the Pitocin. Things finally picked up. OF COURSE there was meconium in the water, so I knew that she would have to come soon! As the contractions became much stronger, I bounced on the ball, walked the halls with my husband, and stayed on my feet as much as possible. Standing was the most comfortable way for me to labor, but I knew I couldn’t keep it up forever. My mom and my husband’s mom stopped by for a visit as they had each day, and it was sometime during their visit that I realized it was getting too hard to talk during the contractions. And that’s when all sense of time left me. Was it minutes before the doula came? Hours? Not sure. My contractions were lasting 40-60 seconds and coming a minute or less apart. Sometimes there was no break between them at all. Things picked up quickly and soon I wasn’t able to stand through the contractions. My doula suggested kneeling over the back of the bed so I could rest between contractions. How long had it been since I’d slept? Probably Sunday night. I was exhausted. And these contractions were no joke! And my back…my lower back started hurting so bad. Counter-pressure on my sacrum did nothing, hip squeezes did very little. But I was able to turn inward as I’d been practicing and breathe, focus. Through the toughest moments, I could also hear Samantha’s heartrate dropping. A few times during those drops, I panicked inside and I’d lose control. I felt myself crying out or breathing too quickly. I started to feel like I couldn’t do it. Finally, I asked to get in the tub, and the hot water felt amazing. My husband faithfully knelt by, feeding me ice and refilling the leaking tub.

At some point, I fell asleep. (My husband said I was even snoring and he was so relieved that I was getting rest.)  Maybe it was only for a second, but I felt so much better. Sure, some of it was the hot water, but mostly it was because my labor had slowed down considerably. Samantha’s heart rate had continued to drop with the big contractions so they were decreasing the Pitocin drip. Meanwhile, I heard some commotion outside the bathroom – my doula was packing up our stuff! The charge nurse had decided that she wanted to close the wing we were on, as there were only 3 other patients on the floor. My husband protested, asking her if she really felt like it was right to move a woman in labor. She relented and told us we could stay. Calmly explaining the situation, my doula told me what was happening and how they had already packed up everything, but we could stay if I wanted. She also suggested that walking to the other wing might help move things along without the help of the Pitocin. That seemed appealing, so they helped me out of the tub. I remember thinking it was funny that they were trying to help me into a gown…at that point I didn’t even care what anyone in the hallway saw.

As we walked through the corridors between the two L&D floors, I stopped to squat through each contraction. By the time we were almost to our new room, I was approached by Resident S.

“Things just really aren’t moving along like we thought they would, and Samantha is in quite a bit of distress during your contractions,” she explained. As I attempted to wrap my sleep-deprived mind around what she was trying to say, I remember sinking onto the bed and asking, “If you can give me advice, what would you do?”

After a long pause, a big sigh, and a bit of a frown, she said, “Well, I think I would have a c-section.” She really knew it wasn’t what I wanted, and I trusted her that at this point it was the best option for Samantha.

It’s shocking how fast you get prepped for a c-section. It seemed like only minutes went by before I’d expressed my “demands” (drop the curtain as soon as she’s coming out, immediate skin-to-skin with me or my husband if I wasn’t able…) and asked questions about the surgery, met the anesthesiologist, and walked to the OR. My doula and husband were both with me the entire time, which was incredibly comforting. The worst part of the surgery was the uncontrollable shaking! I felt a sense of calm going into this surgery, because I knew I was going to meet our dear, sweet baby so soon.

It’s just like they described…it feels like someone’s sitting on your chest. At one point I felt nauseated, several times I felt like I was hyperventilating, and the whole time I was shaking uncontrollably. But then I heard someone say “She’s out!” and I tried to wave my useless arms around and tell the anesthesiologist to move the curtain. I desperately tried to see my baby girl being lifted into the world, but I only saw her once the doctor was carrying her over to the warming table. It felt like an eternity that they were looking her over, and I was calling out “Is she ok? Why isn’t she crying? Stop wiping her down! Just bring her over here!” My doula reassured me that it was only a minute or two, but I was just so ready to hold her! My husband cut the cord and carried her to me. At that moment, I absolutely lost it. I was sobbing, still shaking, and loving my little girl in a way that I’d never thought possible. She was 5 pounds, 14 ounces of pure, seriously adorable perfection

My husband and I had joked throughout the pregnancy that Samantha was a stubborn girl. She just wasn’t ready to come out and wasn’t going to let someone make her! Born on International Women’s Day, Samantha came out literally holding her head up, quietly observing the world around her. My prayer for our sweet girl is that she will grow up a strong woman with the confidence that I only found once I became her mother.

_____

Every time my husband proudly handed off the stunning visual birth plan that I’d designed and he laminated, we’d joke that it was only a birth “preference” because we know that things can’t always go as planned. It still feels like the only thing that went as planned was that our little girl was born, happy and healthy. Today, her 2 month birthday, I’m still struggling with that. And I anticipate that I will continue to struggle for quite awhile. After a bout of high blood pressure and worries of postpartum preeclampsia, extremely low milk production despite 7 weeks of my best efforts and awful-tasting supplements, complications with my incision (two pinky-finger deep holes that aren’t not healing), and postpartum depression and anxiety, I look down at the often smiling face of our sweet Samantha and know it’ll all be ok.


Photo by Tricia Croom – Doula Services.

Photo by Bella Baby Photography.

Birth experience submitted by Melissa Rogers.

Birthing Peacefully with Hypnobirthing

Birthing Peacefully with Hypnobirthing

After the excitement of being pregnant with my very first baby I couldn’t help but feel so nervous & anxious about giving birth. It was consuming me, which I realise now was a blessing for me as it put me on the most incredible journey of hypnobirthing.

I am sure there are a lot of you out there that can totally relate to this anxiety associated with giving birth and this is where I get really excited. Because my birth wasn’t luck. I wasn’t lucky, I did so much preparation and if I can do this, you can to. I am someone that has always prepared myself for all of my greatest achievements & fears in my life so preparing for giving birth only felt natural.

My preparation for Chase’s birth began right away, however intensely from 20 weeks. It involved educating myself on how amazing the women’s body really is. Listening to endless hypnobirthing YouTube videos online. Hanging out with my incredible cousin Donna who is a doula, yoga instructor & hypnomum twice a week online where we practiced visualization, breathing techniques, meditation, connecting with bub and comfortable yoga poses and listening to my positive affirmations every single day. All of this helped me so much push out any negative thoughts I had about giving birth.

My last week of pregnancy I spent my days doing all I could to initiate labor. Acupuncture, long walks (I walked every day being pregnant) and climbing up and down stairs.

I woke up Thursday the 21st of January, listened to my positive affirmations, popped my walking shoes on and went for another long coast walk while listening to my hypnobirthing. It was a beautiful sunny day and I just knew that it was going to be the day I went into labor.

It was 1pm I was at my Nanna Nitza’s having lunch when I experience my very first surge. At first I felt a bit nervous, this was the only time I ever felt that. I took one deep breath, held my belly, had the BIGGEST smile on my face and remember saying “this is it, I get to have you in my arms so soon” and from that moment celebrated EVERY surge. (I knew that it was definitely lab our, as I had never experienced any feeling like this) I couldn’t stop smiling at the thought that he would most likely be entering the world on his due date – what a clever boy.
I wanted to continue my day like I would any other day, as this was always a part of my visualization in order to remain calm and allow my body to do its thing. I went for another long walk. Called my mum and sisters. Scrubbed my showers for the 10th time that week and cooked dinner.

Once my husband got home from work I was so EXCITED to tell him it was the real deal and that we would soon have our baby. He was overwhelmed with so much excitement, love and nerves. He gave me the biggest hug and kiss and said Let’s DO THIS!

We continued to make dinner and watch TV. At 9pm I called my mum as my surges were every 10 -15 minutes and lasting about 30 seconds. She lives 3 hours from me so I knew she had to leave soon in order to be here on time. It was very important for me to have her a part of my birth. My husband is this crazy positive energy and my mum is this calm, nurturing & warm energy – I knew they would make a great team and that’s exactly how it was. I also called my midwife & her positivity was absolutely incredible and so reassuring that I am more than okay to be at home for longer.

At 10pm I told Ty to go get some sleep. As I knew it was going to be a long night. I was in between the hot shower and in my yoga poses with a heat pack. Mum was on loudspeaker to me the whole time – she would speak to me when I wanted to speak and she was silent when I was.

My mum got to me at 12pm gave me the biggest hug and kiss and we then went for a walk to the local petrol station so I could keep moving and get some sugar. I stopped and leant on my mum every 5 minutes for a full minute. Mum and Ty wanted to take me to the birthing center but I assured them that I was more than happy being in the shower and that they should get some rest. I wasn’t aware of the time when I was in labor. But mum & Ty told me the next day I was in the shower from 12.30 – 3am I could not believe this it honestly felt like 10 minutes. In this time, I was in my birthing bubble and really having to practice everything I had learnt as it had hit a new level of challenging.

At 3am it was time to head to the birthing center from 12 – 3 my contractions were every 3-5 minutes and lasting a full minute & had certainly intensified so I was happy to go. I was extremely proud that I had stayed at home for as long as possible. But of course first stop…Hungry Jacks, as Ty was hungry!!!!! He claims he did this because I told him to distract me from going to the birthing center for as long as possible, but I know it was because he was just thinking about his stomach. Oh and then a HUGE detour on the freeway!

4am we arrived to the warmest midwifes and environment. I got an internal and was 5cm dilated. I was so excited to know that I had already dilated that much. We discussed my birthing plan and what I wanted to achieve. The birthing pool was ready for me and was such a great pain relief I was in the pool until I was 7cms dilated. Then experienced the transitional stage – which was extremely challenging, I had to use every single bit of strength I had to try and regroup. I felt really out of control at this stage & I have never experienced a pain like this. This is when my mum suggested using the gas. This was incredible at getting me back into my zone and ready to push.

At 7am I was fully dilated. I got ready to jump back in the pool but standing up and holding onto the bath felt to good. I was then able to have mum and Ty on either side pulling against me as I pushed with each squat. What an incredible feeling this is. Your body just takes over and knows exactly what to do.

Once he crowned the midwife asked me to touch his head – this was a motivation like no other. I spoke to Chase every step of the way and we made such a great team.

She asked Ty to come down onto the floor and get ready to grab him. At this stage my waters still hadn’t broken. I birthed Chase’s headfirst – I didn’t even know this was possible. The very first person Chase laid his eyes on was his Daddy and Tyron says it was by far the best moment in his whole entire life. He was so excited. He came up to me and said Juss he is just perfect he has the biggest lips and so much hair – you can do it, just one more push!

My final surge 8:05am on the 22nd of January – he was here along with all that water. On his due date 7 pound 10 and 51cms! Ty and the midwife grabbed him & past him straight through my legs to me we laid there for hours just staring and incomplete awe of our baby boy.

6 hours later we were sitting in our lounge room at home as a family for the very first time.

I have never experienced anything as incredible & empowering as giving birth, I went into a whole new world where I felt so connected to my body and to my baby boy. I think about this moment so often and how proud I am that I was able to achieve the birth I have only ever dreamt of with my husband and mum by my side, practicing hypnobirthing.

Nothing could beat that feeling of holding Chase in my arms for the very first time. In that moment the whole world seriously stopped. I already could not imagine my life without him and I experienced a love that I could not believe was even possible. Being able to achieve the birth that I had only ever dreamt of made this day that extra bit special.

Submitted by Justine Zampogna.

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