Photo Credit: Moira West
My sister, Taryn, had her mind set on a drug free natural birth, and was lucky enough to have achieved it, I am so incredibly proud of her, and after sharing my experience with c-sections, I felt inspired to share her birth story.
My Husband and I had been anticipating the opportunity to grow as a family and have a baby, so finding out that I was pregnant was without a doubt a remarkable time for us.
So I started my journey the way I usually handle any big event in my life… RESEARCH!
But it can all be somewhat overwhelming with all the information on the internet these days. (The struggle is real okay)
I always knew I wanted to deliver naturally but it wasn’t until a friend mentioned the word “hypnobirthing” to me that set me off on a I-need-to-know-more frenzy. (Must. Research!) HypnoBirthing® is a complete course of natural childbirth education, and I had came across this website, Beautifully Born, a local group of ladies offering Hypnobirthing® classes in Cape Town. Reading further they were talking of being able to help pregnant moms welcome their babies into the world in the calmest way possible without the need to use drugs. (yes, that means no epidural, no gas, no pethadine) Instead, they make use of relaxation techniques that allow you to use your natural birthing instincts.
I made contact with the owner at Beautifully Born, Kim Young, (who is absolutely lovely by the way) and she gave me some advice and tips on how they help women achieve a calm, drug free birth. FOR FREE. Free professional advice is very scarce these days. After discussing it with my husband, Jonathan, we decided to sign up for the 5 week course.
The course covered everything from, changing the picture that society paints for us that natural birth is this excruciating, unbearable task; letting go of the fear of birth; to teaching expectant mom how to use different breathing techniques to induce our bodies natural pain killer, Oxytocin.
The weeks leading up to the birth, Jonathan and I felt more calm than ever and totally prepared for what was lying ahead of us. The only thing that was torturing us was waiting for baby to decide to come into our world.
Thursday, 27 November 2014, 39 weeks, 3 Days 9:30 pm
While watching TV, I felt a pain in my back. As the pains persisted, I began timing the very irregular patterns, and climbed into bed. After feeling 3 within 10 minutes, we eagerly rushed off to the hospital.
On arrival at the hospital, the Midwives mentioned I should have called first (oops, I’m a first time mom okay) but they prepared a room for me and put the Foetal Monitor on to determine what was happening. They saw definite surges occurring but I felt them very slightly, much like menstrual pains in my back. At that stage I was 1 cm dilated, and they asked me to remain at the hospital to continue monitoring my progress, however, at 5:00 pm the Midwife woke me up after I had dosed off saying “I was too relaxed for someone who was in labour”
She put me on the Foetal Monitor again and Labour had stalled. I took a walk to see if that would help but after an hour of walking the boring halls of the hospital, I realised this baby was too comfortable, and they sent me home that Friday morning at 9:00 am.
Saturday morning, 29 November, 8:30 am
I woke up with bounds of energy. At 9:00 am, while washing the dishes, I felt a strange feeling and went to bathroom to investigate. My mucous plug had come down, and I immediately started feeling dull pains in my back.
This time, I called the Maternity Ward and they advised me to monitor the surges and stay home to relax.
As the day progressed, my surges were very irregular. (I.e 10 minutes, 4 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 3 minutes then 9 minutes then 11 minutes apart.)
At 9:30 pm I called the hospital as my surges were becoming more intense and I realised I had to have antibiotics administered for the Strep B Bacteria in the birth canal (I forgot about it – ooops, pregnancy brain!)
Upon arriving at the hospital, they examined me and determined that I was only 4 cm dilated but surges were nice and strong, lasting a minute long each.
Jonathan set up the room, dimmed the lights, lit some candles, and put on my relaxation music. He helped me breathe through my surges as I felt like I struggled to stay focused through some of them.
I had the drip put in for the antibiotics which made me feel nervous which unfortunately set me off my relaxed state quite a bit. I hate needles!!!
I felt most comfortable sitting upright in a chair or on the Birthing Ball leaning my arms over Jonathan’s shoulders while he helped me count through the Hypnobirthing breathing techniques.
30 November, 12:30 am
The Doctor arrived, and only at about 3:00 am the surges started to feel quite intense, it took more for me to stay focused but I was taking them one surge at a time. When they examined me again, I was 8 cm dilated.
I felt as if I was floating and could hardly keep my eyes open at this stage due to the Oxytocin release that was stimulated by the breathing techniques.
I began feeling the surges one after another, with no intermissions, lasting a minute each. At about 4:10 am, the Midwife came to do observations and examined once again. This time I was fully dilated and ready to welcome this baby into the world.
I chose to stay semi-reclined as it was comfortable.
The Doctor arrived to prepare. He said I was doing well, and confirmed that it was almost time to meet baby. He advised that body would tell me when I was ready to bear down and that he would “hear” me when I was ready to start pushing.
As he stepped out the room, I felt this massive urge to bear down, my stomach muscles pulled so tight that it forced my upper body forward and into position for the “bear down”. It felt as if my body took over and I instinctively listened to it. I had an uncontrollable deep moan that emanated from my throat, I still wonder where it came from.
The Doctor returned to the delivery room and said the most welcoming words, “OK, we are READY!”
I tried to push but doctor explained that baby’s head was rocking back and forth in the pelvis so I needed to give a bigger push, and at the end of my push, hold it, inhale and push further.
At this stage I said to Jonathan “I can’t do this” as I felt quite a bit of pressure in my pelvis. This was the part I wanted to give up the most.
As I pushed, the Doctor ruptured my membranes to break my water and I felt a strange feeling when the warm liquid gushed out.
I experienced the “ring of fire” (stretching of the perineum as baby was crowning) and the Doctor administered a local anesthetic which helped a great deal.
The Midwife then asked if she could bring “Victoria” into the room. I was confused. Victoria, was a standing Mirror. She put it at the end of the bed and asked me if I could see my baby coming.
I loved this mirror because I could see what was happening down there and I could get a peek of my baby’s head which gave me the much needed motivation to carry on.
I pushed 3 more times (with a lot of effort – it was exhausting) and finally, the head was out. The Doctor had to do episiotomy just before the head came out, and at this point, I didn’t feel a thing.
When I saw the head, I forgot all about any pain I was experiencing. After giving one more push, the shoulders came and the Doctor said “catch your baby”. I experienced the most remarkable moment as I reached down and pulled baby out and onto my chest. At 05:10 am, my baby was born, and let out a tiny little cry. With eyes wide open, our baby locked eyes with Jonathan and grabbed onto his finger, the earth stood still and my heart melted as I witnessed the loves of my life share a precious bonding moment.
I didn’t even check to see if the baby was a boy or a girl until the Midwife asked me, “boy or girl?” I took a peek and said “IT’S A BOY”.
We welcomed a little boy named Mason. My boy was here. Finally, I am a Mom.
The Doctor offered Jonathan to cut the cord after it stopped pulsing. We requested delayed cord cutting as it has lots of benefits for baby.
The placenta had come and it was healthy, (I didn’t feel a thing –many people said that it would be painful).
After a long while the Midwife came in to check in on Mason and do his observations.
3,36 kg, 35 cm head circumference, 53 cm length.
Jonathan did skin on skin contact with Mason, while I got cleaned up, recovered from a low blood pressure spell, and took a moment to take it all in.
Giving birth was the most amazing experience and I was so proud that I had made it through with no drugs. The support of my amazing birth companion, Jonathan, my pro natural Gynae and Midwife is what gave me the strength to push through it and achieve my drug free birth.
Overall, the whole experience taught me to be patient, present, and to trust my body. It was so empowering and I know now that letting go of fear is possible and it will allow me to exceed my physical and mental endurance.