Please note I use Hypnobabies-friendly language for this story.
Around week 37 I started feeling my body gearing up to prepare for birthing Violet, my first babe. I know most first time Mom’s go late, but I still helped my body get ready through natural means like walking, squatting, yoga, my daily Hypnobabies Tracks, visualization/meditation and at 39 weeks I began acupuncture.
I know it’s a little hokey to say this, but when I spoke to Violet about her birth I asked her to come between 38-40 weeks and on a sunny day. At 38 weeks I began having non-consecutive nights of practice waves that petered off by morning and I was getting very excited about them. Then two things happened, the weather got cold and rainy and I caught a cold. Things plateaued for a week as I healed and waited. Looking at the New England forecast of never ending rainy 50º days I began telling her it was just dandy if she’d prefer to be born on a rainy day.
However, baby knew just what she was doing. I had three different “guess dates”, but the official one on my charts was 5/16/17. This was also the first sunny day in two weeks. Sure enough, the pressure waves started lightly the night before, just like the other practice nights I had. I slept through them thinking they would die down in the morning. Around 3:30am they woke me up and felt stronger. It was the first time I thought, “I should time these”. I put on a Hypnobabies track and used an app on my phone to time them. They were about 5 minutes apart give or take, lasting for a minute. I continued Hypnosis and tried to sleep.
Around 5:30am I got up to walk around and the waves didn’t die down and were becoming more regular so I figured it was time to call my Midwife. We agreed it was too early for her to come and that I should reconnect in a couple hours or if I couldn’t talk through the waves. Momentarily, I began getting bloody show so I decided to wake Tim up and give the Doula a head’s up that it might be baby’s birthday!
By 7am the waves picked up enough that I had to concentrate and move through them and I could no longer talk. The Doula was on her way and the Midwife had me start timing them again. I had Tim time so I could focus. By 8am they were coming every 2-3 minutes and lasting for a minute consistently. The Midwife agreed it was time to head over.
From here on out the experience is best described as being pretty psychedelic. The waves were strong and close together but I was just flooded with my body’s natural hormones and I kept my Hypnobabies tracks playing so I felt I was in an altered state of consciousness; high and protected. While there wasn’t much space between waves, I loved that all of that pressure stopped and let me breath and relax even for just a minute or two. I literally smiled between my pressure waves, just like the tracks told me to do.
Being in my own space was huge. Tim was by me the whole time. I noticed I kept my eyes closed through most of my birthing time, but Tim was always in arms reach. I could lean on him, kiss him, he would rub my back and give me words of encouragement. When my Doula arrived her hands were immediately welcome on my back, offering me counter pressure through the waves. She did an excellent job in simultaneously giving me my space and suggesting new positions if I seemed stuck. One of the first things was an early shower, where I got on hands and knees with a kneepad and she directed the water to my sacrum. It felt so good!
As things picked up I vocalized more. Saying, “Ooooh” and “Ooooopen” as my Hypnobabies tracks in the background repeated “Open, open, open”. I swayed, squatted (I had climbing holds set up to help me squat and they turned out to be perfect). I spent a lot of time on hands and knees. Once the pool was filled up I was able to spend quite a bit of time in there moving every which way and it felt very productive. My team reminded me to drink, and fed me little bites of snacks. My Midwife noticed I was getting a bit overheated in the pool and suggested I might want some air. I wrapped up in a bathrobe and loved the change of the temperature on my skin as my husband and I swayed on the deck taking in the beautiful day.
I was getting tired and started finding places on the couch to lie down on my side. I knew I didn’t love having pressure waves lying down, they felt more productive squatting or swaying, but I needed the rest. The waves were stronger and between each one I let my body collapse on the couch. It felt like I had only been doing this for an hour or two so I assumed I still had far to go. I said to my Doula, “I’m afraid of transformation.” It wasn’t a huge fear, but I needed to say it. She said, “I think you’re there.” Naturally, I didn’t believe her, thinking it should be harder, but I appreciated the sentiment.
In what felt like only minutes later, my body started gently pushing with the waves. Since it was gentle I didn’t say anything at first, assuming I was still just dilating. But as it continued I mentioned it to the Midwife. To my surprise she said that was fine, that I was doing a great job listening to my body.
The thing I loved the most about my team is how hands-off they were, especially during pushing. They continued to make sure my and the baby’s vitals were good, but it was unobtrusive for the most part. Since my eyes were closed so often, I truly forgot there was anyone in the room other than me and Tim. Occasionally my eyes would open and I would be surprised to see that everyone was still there, watching over me silently. I trusted my body and they trusted my body. It was intense but I felt confident. That said, I still didn’t believe it was happening. Honestly, until her head was out I was in denial that I was having a baby that day.
It took a while for that head to come out, though. I was having involuntary pushes, so I went with that and only beared down a little. I also still didn’t even believe I was fully dilated so soon so I didn’t want to force anything. While squatting on my climbing holds I reached down to feel what was happening and I could feel her water sack inside me, it was really exciting!! A couple more pushes later and it popped, with a big gush onto the chux pads below me. I stood up and more came out. Then I checked myself again and exclaimed that I could feel her head, and it was covered in hair!! This was one of the most exciting times for me and really helped motive me.
The squatting was getting tiring and the team could see that so they suggested alternatives, including the pool which I had completely forgotten about. To be fair, while I knew I wanted the pool to help while I was dilating, I wasn’t sure I wanted to birth in it. But in the moment, it seemed like the best idea ever and when I got in that was confirmed. I now had a bunch of space to move and sway in all sorts of ways and the pressure on my back from all the squatting and hands and knees felt a bit better.
The only time my cervix was checked during my entire pregnancy was in the middle of pushing when I was given the choice. The Midwife asked me if I felt a lip of cervix inside of me. I honestly didn’t know what to feel for. She had me feel all around the head and I didn’t feel anything but I wasn’t confident in my own assessment so when she offered I agreed she could check me. By now the involuntary pushes were intense and sometimes hard to ride through because my body would just take over. She checked me quickly but it was very uncomfortable and I had to tell her to stop as another wave took over. Thankfully she had enough time to confirm there was no lip.
The involuntary pushes got baby’s head all the way down. I vocalized much more than I thought I would. Keeping my throat open and sticking with “Oooh” and “Ahhh” but I was losing a lot of energy through my voice and not through my bum. This was the only point I was really directed during the birth. My Midwife said if I wanted to make quicker progress I should try bearing down and to stop if it burned. I started with that while still vocalizing and it didn’t feel right. She then suggested I keep quiet when I push and push the energy down into my bum, doing that as much as possible with each wave. This made a lot of progress, even though I know it is similar to “purple pushing” which I was trying to avoid. Thankfully, it was at my pace and I could do it with my own movements.
Exhausted, I sat down for a few pushes to take the pressure off my back, lifting my bum as I pushed. Everyone encouraged me as they saw baby crowning. My Midwife reminded me to stop during crowning to give my body time to stretch. So it was slow and then finally she said it was time to push through the burning. It had been an hour and a half of pushing and while baby’s heart rate was good, it seemed clear that I was going to have to put more oomph into it to birth this girl.
I switched back to hands and knees and with the next wave I pushed as much as I could and was completely startled when her head popped out. I felt like I jumped out of the water. My midwife had me pause as she checked for a cord. She found one and quickly untangled it, no big deal. Then she asked me to push like that again and Violet’s whole body was out, much easier than her head. I carefully turned around and was handed my baby. There she was, right on my chest!
I think I was more shocked than anything. She was here, I really had a baby! Her eyes were open and she was so alert that I barely noticed the flurry of activity around me. I found out a little later that when she first came out she was a little stunned so her heart rate was low. She was breathing but not pinking up as quickly as she should so while I held her they gave her some oxygen. That got her going and she quickly pinked up and gave out a few yells.
Her cord was short so I had to be very careful to keep her head high enough while we waited for her cord to stop pulsing. A short while later I cut the cord (Tim declined). Delivering the placenta was fairly uneventful, but not all of the membranes came out with the first push so they had me cough and laugh them out. A while later, after both midwives had checked it out thoroughly, one of them gave us a “tour” of my placenta, which was very cool.
Tim, baby and I were led to the couch where little V latched for the first time. As soon as she was born she had been sticking her tongue way out, rooting around, so she was thrilled to finally be placed on the boob. I did have two first degree tears, nothing major, so I was stitched up while nursing Violet. The Midwives and Doula cleaned up, made sure I ate, drank, and peed and after a lot of skin-to-skin and nursing it was time for Violet to have a more thorough checkup. She weighed in at 8lbs and was 20.5” long. She was very alert and passed her tests with flying colors. I nursed her while she got her vitamin K shot and with that the birth team left us to settle in as our new family of three.
Birthing Violet was hands-down the most intense experience of my life. But I have to say in full honesty that I did not feel pain during the process. Not even during transformation or crowning. I felt a lot of pressure, and was sometimes overwhelmed by the energy in my body, but both during and in reflecting on the birth I would not describe any of it as painful. It was a level of intensity that required me to let go and trust my body completely and I’m beyond grateful that I had taken the time to learn about natural childbirth and how normal it really is. I’m also grateful for the Hypnobabies training that gave me the tools I needed to stay relaxed and focused.
I spent a long time “deprogramming” myself and learning about natural childbirth. If you want to learn too here are some of the resources that helped me:
The Business of Being Born (and the sequel)Share