Jaclyn’s perfect waterbirth

January 26, 2011

Perfect. I couldn’t describe it in any better way. Ada Lee was born on Sunday morning at 6:43 am. She was 7lbs. 14 ounces. And oh so gorgeous!

Before I talk about her birth I want to give a little background. Ada is my fourth child. She was the only one born naturally with no medical intervention. My other three cuties were all delivered with the help of an epidural. When I got pregnant with my first child I didn’t put much thought into natural childbirth. I didn’t do any classes. I just figured doctors knew best and I was just going to show up and they were going to give me a baby. And that is pretty much what happened. Looking back I wish I would have taken a more active role because I think it would have saved my dear daughter the use of forceps, which caused her to have pretty severe jaundice. However, without dwelling on the past, I know that having experienced three hospital births made me appreciate delivering Ada all the more.

Before my HypnoBirth, if you would have asked me what I thought about labor, I would have told you that I thought it was the worst pain the world, that I would rather have someone break my leg than deal with labor. I would come to the hospital barely able to move, screaming, body tense, hyper-ventilating, and losing vision. And this was only in early labor. I couldn’t imagine going hours and hours in that condition. I have even said that I didn’t think I would survive.

My husband and I always said we wanted four children. When I became pregnant with Ada I knew that this could very well be my last pregnancy and I wanted it to be a good one. Thinking I was just too weak to do natural childbirth, I never gave it any serious thought. A few months later I stumbled upon the HypnoBirthing Utah website. I wasn’t sure if I really believed it or not but was willing to look into. I told my husband my plans. He gave me this look like “have you seen yourself in labor?” I figured, what was the harm? If it didn’t work I could still just get the epidural. The more I studied about hypnobirthing the more and more I got drawn in. The fear = tension = pain cycle made complete sense to me. That was the definition of me in labor, fearful, extremely tense, trying to run away from my own body, and in a lot of pain.

The idea that hypnobirthing could teach me to reduce pain and tension was exciting, and I decided that instead of using the techniques to just get me calmly to my epidural, I was going to forget the epidural all together. Through some further research I learned about birth centers. I knew that if I was going to be successful I needed a birth center. They had the atmosphere I needed for a natural birth. So I told Gregg my plans and he gave me a skeptical, “it’s up to you” look. I continued to look into birth centers and learned about how many provide birth pools and allow you to deliver under water. Some people were even calling it a waterdural. I thought to myself, “I should do this.” I told Gregg my plans the very next day. He looked very concerned, like I had gone a little crazy, but was supportive. I picked a birth center called Special Beginnings.

Hypnobirthing classes started shortly after. We took classes from Laura Curtis in Mapleton, Utah. They were so fun and I learned so much about childbirth. I loved reading the materials, watching birthing videos, and practicing with my CD’s. I had gained a whole new confidence in my physical body and my own mental powers. I was looking forward to my upcoming labor with excitement.

My due date was getting close. I had never hit my due date before, but the day came and went. I was surprisingly calm about my due date passing. I knew that Ada would come when she was ready. I was relatively comfortable in my pregnant body. My only anxiety was that if I carried beyond 42 weeks, I would not be able to deliver in the birth center. However, I was pretty confident that Ada would pick the perfect time to come.

Ada teased me a little before she came. For three nights in a row she made me think I was going into labor. My body would get going for a couple hours but then fizzle out as the night went on. I really wanted her to come that weekend. I was confident that she would. I knew my body was ready, and I was just waiting for her to be ready.

Some uncomfortable surges woke up at 2 AM, six days after my due date. I continued to lie in bed using my sleep breathing and surge breathing techniques as I timed surges. They were five minutes apart and getting more intense. I woke Gregg up at 2:30 AM and told him it was time. I also let my mom know we were leaving so that she could take care of the kids in the morning. Later she told me she didn’t really think I was going to have a baby because of all the false alarms we had all week and because of how calmly I came in the room to tell her we were going. We called the birth center and arrived at 3:15 am.

We calmly got our room set up. We set up the CD player, dimmed the lights, and had the midwives set up the birth pool. There was another mom birthing in the room next door. She was very vocal about her birth and would sometimes say things that could be distracting and kind of negative. We just turned up our relaxation music and it was surprisingly easy to tune her out. I was told later by Gregg that he had heard her a lot and was a little worried. I really only heard her a couple of times. Whenever I did hear her, I would just tell myself that she wasn’t me and just focus on my own body.

At this point in my labor I was dilated to 5 cm. I wanted to be on my knees with my chest on the bed. I had Gregg stand behind me and put pressure on my lower back during surges because I was feeling a lot of back labor. Everything was very manageable. During surges I would just tell myself over and over, “it’s not pain, its pressure, good pressure, the baby is coming down, this is good pressure,” and really focus on my breathing. Sometimes the sensations were even enjoyable because I knew that Ada was coming closer to me. I felt very in control. At this point I was not trying to go too deeply into self hypnosis to kind of save that for later. As things progressed I was having a little trouble regulating my body temperature. I was fine during a surge but after a surge my body was a little shaky from being cold. At this point I decided to get in the birth pool.

The birth pool was so amazing. The instant I got in I felt good all over. I strongly recommend a birth pool for natural labor. I was surprised what position I wanted to be in while in the pool: semi-reclined on my back, practically floating. Gregg sat behind me the whole time talking to me and stroking my head and holding my hands. I’m not sure I could have done it without him. He was such a great moral support. There were two moments where I lost my calm control. He was the one to quickly bring me back. This birth was so amazing for us to experience together. Gregg kept saying things like, “This is amazing. What you are doing is amazing. You are doing such a good job. Ada will be here soon. You are going to be holding her soon.” He was so positive, so encouraging. I just wanted him next to me. As for food, I really didn’t want to eat or drink. I was kind of nauseous before I got into the tub. The nausea went away after getting in the tub; however, at that point I didn’t like to interrupt my concentration with having to eat. Even though I felt that way, I still made sure that I was getting food and drinks every so often to stay energized.

My labor became much more intense, and I became a very noisy hypnobirther. I thought I was going to be like the moms that are so quiet during surges, the ones that look like they are sleeping. My body was calm but during my outward surge breathing I would make a very loud, low pitched, moaning sound. That sound helped me focus and just felt good to make.

During surges, I focused on staying relaxed and breathing right. I did my surge breathing, a slow breath in to a count of ten, while expanding my stomach as far as it could go (like inflating a balloon). Then I would exhale to a slow count of ten while making my low pitched sound. But I found that sometimes my body didn’t want to breathe that way and I would have to make adjustments. Sometimes my body wanted me to take shorter inhales (more like a slow count to 5) and a very long exhale with noise. Sometimes my body really enjoyed the sensation of pushing my stomach out as far as it would go and I would do that longer. There were also times that I had trouble getting my stomach to push outward and it felt better to actually do a gentle squeeze of my ab muscles. I guess my over all point is that I used my surge breathing that I learned in class as a baseline but sometimes I had to really listen to my body and follow what it wanted me to do. As long as I was breathing in a relaxed way, listening to my body, and not breathing out of panic or fear, I could get through the surges.

After a surge, my body felt great. I just let myself enjoy those moments. That is when I really used my self hypnosis. I would try to get as relaxed as possible and listen to my relaxation cds. The CD’s were such a huge support. Whenever one ended or was getting close to ending I would have Gregg start it up again as soon as possible. One of the biggest things that I made sure that I did NOT do was think about when the next surge was going to come. During my previous labors that is all I could think about between surges: “Oh no, another is coming soon.” And I would just stress myself out. This time I just made sure that I lived in the moment.

Four hours after labor began, my water broke. My water has never broken on its own before. The hospital personnel have always broken it for me. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I was when my water broke! The nurse ran in to ask if I was okay, she was worried that after my water broke I would freak out. (The birthing woman in the next had a very different reaction when her water broke.) I told her with a big smile, “No, I’m great. This is great.” The reason I was so excited was because I knew Ada was coming soon.

After my water broke my surges were right on top of each other. There was almost no break. I didn’t really care because I was so thrilled that my water broke that the extra work wasn’t worrying me. Even my midwife came in and told the nurse to not leave me. He said, “The way these contractions are going she’s going to deliver soon.” So the nurse stood at the end of the pool with a flash light to watch for crowning.

Less than a half hour after my water broke I was having the urge to bear down. The midwife came in and waited as Ada began to crown. That was when my body decided to take longer breaks between surges and I was actually a little frustrated. I was so excited that she was coming I thought, “Not now. Don’t take a break now. She’s here!” I became really excited for the next surge to come. I had the urge to push and she came very quickly.

The midwives handed her to me immediately. She was completely limp. She had absolutely no movement. I looked at her, and then back at the midwives, who were just calmly waiting. I asked, “is she ok?” Then she started to breathe and gave a soft cry. Apparently it took her a few seconds to figure out she had been born.

We got out of the tub. Gregg cut the cord, and I delivered the placenta while in the bed. The midwives checked blood pressure and heart rates, and then everyone left us to snuggle and nurse. A few hours later they came in and weighed Ada and did a more thorough exam.

My recovery has been amazing. I felt practically back to normal that very same day. I wasn’t about to go run a mile or anything. But I was getting around just fine. I actually had a lot of energy. It was more difficult for me to force myself to rest.

Delivering Ada was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Everything went so perfectly. I can’t wait to share this birth experience with my own daughters one day so that they can have the same confidence in their own bodies. We women truly have amazing bodies!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendy Rush January 27, 2011 at 11:52 am

What a beautiful birth story. This is how birth was meant to be, and how it CAN be in the absence of fear. In a country where women fight so hard for their rights and equal treatment, it baffles me that we still approach our births as helpless victims who need saving. It is time for change. First, there were the suffragettes, then came the bra burners, now is the time of the “birth-zillas.” Let’s take our births back ladies!

Cathy Lidster January 30, 2011 at 7:47 am

Thank you for this post! It makes me happy that I teach hypnobirthing. This is what it is all about! And Big Congratulations!

Michelle February 13, 2011 at 10:15 am

What an amazing birth story! Thanks so much for sharing! Tell your story often…women need to hear this!

Soshanna Hayhoe February 14, 2011 at 2:10 am

Beautiful! I love hearing stories like this, it makes teaching HypnoBirthing the most amazing thing to do. Congratulations and thank you for sharing.

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