Positive Birth Stories
Women can overcome the fear surrounding labor and birth by hearing or reading Positive Birth Stories. I have asked a number of my Bradley Method® and Prenatal Yoga students to write their experiences down to share with other couples. Most of these stories on my blog http://prenatalyoga.wordpress.com are stories of natural birth. A couple of them are not, but these mothers were able to turn their baby's birth into an empowering experience and bring their babies into the world in the best, safest, and gentlest way possible.
"Women need to hear positive birth stories. Sadly, women who have positive, transformative, challenging but amazing births usually don't tell their stories. They may think it's not normal, or may not want to make other women feel inferior. Women need to share their birth stories, both positive and difficult, and when they're difficult, we should examine why and what could have changed. These stories have the power to transform how society looks at birth, to dispel the myths and relieve the fear." Debra Pascali-Bonaro
Sciatica in Pregnancy-Healing or Alleviating the Discomfort
During pregnancy sciatica can be aggravated and make for a miserable Mom-to-Be. I can attest to that fact since during every single prenatal yoga class, there is at least one or two people who claim to be suffering from sciatica. “Sciatica is the condition whereby either compression of the L4-S1 nerve roots affects the sciatic distribution or the sciatic nerve is injured as it exits the buttocks. It can also be influenced by the piriformis muscle, which originates on the anterior of the sacrum and passes under the sciatic notch, inserting on the top of the greater trochanter. The piriformis functions in lateral rotation of the thigh.” Yoga Journal, Sarah Powers
Pregnant or not, yoga practitioners will find that straight-leg forward bends aggravate their sciatica. Especially when pregnant it is important to keep a slight bend in the knees when doing a forward fold. This helps to prevent the rounding of the lower spine while the pelvis tugs back. This is why you often hear the instruction to “fold forward from the hips”. If the pelvis does not tilt forward in a forward bend, you will feel a strain of the sacroiliac (SI) ligaments or sciatica.
It is therefore important to avoid or modify any poses that aggravate sciatica. as well as any pose where shooting pain develops. Always tell your prenatal yoga teacher if something doesn’t feel right. If she is trained in yoga for pregnancy, she should be able to show you an alternative pose or a modified pose.
“Using your practice to heal the condition is possible with patience and specific sequencing. It is important to strengthen the muscles around the sciatic nerve and bring circulation to this region. First, I suggest you bend the knees when in standing forward bends and Downward-Facing Dog to assist in the forward pelvic rotation. Also, moving in and out of poses increases the circulation to the area.” Coping With Sciatica-Yoga Journal,By Sarah Powers
Doing pelvic rocks, cat/cow, and alternating opposite arm and leg raises can help strengthen both the lower back and the abdominals during pregnancy. Women can repeat pelvic rocks 50-100 times a day. Cat/cow can be done any time, and repeatedly to help circulation, relieve back pressure and pressure on the pubic bone. You can either balance in the arm/leg raises or repeatedly switch by inhaling and lifting the opposite arm and leg, lowering with an exhale, and repeating the other side. It is also very relaxing to do this with your breath.
Stretching the area by folding forward in Pigeon Pose or doing gentle twisting in may also be helpful. I frequently get requests for Pigeon Pose from women suffering from sciatica or lower back pain.
Finally, remember to continue with these poses long after the symptoms have disappeared, while still avoiding seated forward bends or forward folds with straight legs because it is very difficult during pregnancy to fully heal many injuries. Maintaining a regular yoga practice can really help stave off many pregnancy discomforts. Visit www.yogajanda.com/prenatal.php for more information on pregnancy, yoga, and resources in San Diego county.
The birth of Sofia Alexandra, November 8th, 200710:08 PM
8lb 10oz, 21 inches long
Here is the story of how Sofia made her way into the world:
On Wednesday evening November 7th I went to seeour midwife, Jasmine, for my 40 week checkup. We had discussed the option ofdoing a procedure called sweeping the membranes once I reached 40 weeks if Ihad not yet gone into labor to help get labor going. When Jasmine checked tosee how I had progressed she found that I was 3 cm dilated and 75% effaced. Wedecided to go ahead with the stripping the membranes
On Wednesday night, November 7th, I started tohave some menstrual like cramping that was uncomfortable enough to use a hotwater bottle on my lower back to help relieve the discomfort. After resting allevening, I went to bed early with the hot water bottle to try to get some rest.I woke up frequently throughout the night, as I had been in the previous fewweeks, with cramps and mild contractions. As I had been having strong,uncomfortable, and frequent Braxton Hicks contractions for about 4 weeks, Ididn’t think too much of it. I finally got out of bed around 6:00 am andEduardo and I had some breakfast. Eduardo decided to work from home, thinkingthis might be the real thing and he didn’t want to be too far away.
Duringbreakfast I started to feel the contractions a bit stronger and started towrite down the time of each one around 6:45am. At this point the contractionswere irregular, some quite strong, some almost unnoticeable. This continued forabout another hour when I decided to take my morning bath (a morning bath hadbecome a routine since I was waking up with very sore joints). The contractionscontinued to get stronger and closer together in the bath. Once I got out, Icontinued to time the contractions and noticed that they were more or less 8 –15 minutes apart. Every now and then one of the contractions would come on sostrong that it would send me to the toilet needing to get sick. By 9:30am Iknew that this was really labor and not more Braxton Hicks contractions. But Iwas still feeling ok and kept busy doing things around the house. I ate a smallsnack, pausing to lean over onto the counter when a big contraction would comeon. I continued to get sick when a very strong contraction would come, but Itried to continue to drink water and some juice for energy. When things started to get moreintense, I started trying out the different positions we had practiced in ourBradley class. Eduardo would rub my back when the contraction would come on. Wetried the drunken prom date, squatting while leaning against the wall, therelaxation pose, lunging etc…but what seemed to work best for me was leaningover on a big stack of pillows on the bed while Eduardo rubbed my back.
Around 1pm we decided to call the midwife on call at UCSD tolet them know that the contractions were about 5-7 minutes apart and that wewould be coming in some time that afternoon. Eduardo finished packing thehospital bag and got everything in the car. The contractions were gettingstronger and I definitely had to stop and concentrate through them. We didn’twant to get to the hospital too early so I first went to take a shower andspent some time in the shower with the hot water spraying on my back.
At 3:00 we called the midwife on call at the birth center toreport that the contractions were 4-5 minutes apart and Jennifer, the midwifeon call, told us to come on in. We arrived at the hospital at 4:00pm I was 5cmdilated, 80% effaced, and -1 station. I immediately asked if there was avolunteer doula available (UCSD has a volunteer doula program through Heartsand Hands). Doula Erin arrived within 30 minutes of being at the hospital. As Ihad been vomiting much of the day and was feeling a big dizzy, the midwifesuggested giving me an IV with saline and sugar water to help keep me fromgetting too dehydrated and to keep my blood sugar up. Although I was hesitantabout getting an IV, I decided it was the best decision. The midwife reassuredme that I could still move around, get in the shower, the tub, etc…
Once settled into our room, I immediately started using thebirthing ball. The best position for me was to put the ball on the bed (theyhave queen size beds at the birthing center), with a pillow on top, and leanover onto the ball, rocking forward and back when a contraction came whileEduardo and Erin rubbed my back and shoulders. Doula Erin had brought somearoma therapy with her and she gave me some lavender to smell which reallyhelped me relax. When the contractions started to get unbearable Erin wouldsuggest trying a new position. I was resistant at first to move because I wasin so much pain, but Erin convinced me to give the new position a fewcontractions to see if I could get into a rhythm with that position. This strategyreally worked for me, as there were several positions where at first I wouldhave turned away immediately, but I ended up finding a comfortable way to usethe position. I used the hot shower for a while, but that was not ascomfortable as only one person fit in the shower and I really wanted thesupport of Eduardo and Erin right there with me. The large soft sided bath tubwas great!! I stayed in there for about 60-90 minutes, leaning over on pillowson the edge of the tub. It was in the tub when my water broke. The nurses cameto check that it was clear and let me stay in the water a bit more.
From the tub I tried the ball again and then moved into therocking chair with a stool. Eduardo turned off all the lights and asked thenurse to keep it dark in the room. Sitting there in the dark rocking myselfthrough the contractions enabled me to enter a very deep relaxation, so much sothat I almost fell asleep in the 30-60 seconds between each contraction. Thecontractions were VERY strong at this point and the only way I could managethrough them was to count while breathing, knowing that I could certainly makeit to the next number but not sure of anything beyond that.
The midwife came in and checked me while I was sitting inthe rocking chair and told me that I was 8cm dilated. I was very disappointedby this, as I was sure that I was in transition and must be getting closer. Iwas starting to feel like I wasn’t sure how much more I could take and doubtingwhether I could make it through.
Finally Erin suggested we get up and go for a walk to try toget things going. At this point, standing up, much less walking sounded likethe most awful idea in the world. But with Eduardo and Erin each at one side ofme so I could lean on them, I managed to walk down the hall about 30 feet. Thecontractions were so strong that I couldn’t really hold myself up and I was notable to stop myself from clenching at least one part of my body. Eduardo kepttelling me to relax and not to strain my face of my hands, but at this point itwas impossible. On the walk back to the room I felt a sudden need to go to thebathroom. I sat on the toilet for a few minutes thinking I was going to have abowel movement, but the nurses kept assuring me that it was the pressure of thebaby’s head and not a bowel movement. I was feeling a very strong urge to push,but the nurses were telling me not to push, as I couldn’t yet be fully dilatedsince I was only 8cm about 40 minutes earlier.
Throughout all this time, Erin was having me vocalize withmy breathing through the contractions rather than push. This gave me somewaythat I could expend some energy and something else to focus on rather thanpushing. Finally I got up from the toilet and decided to try squatting. Thenurse brought in the birthing stool and I tried squatting on that, leaning intodoula Erin behind me. In this squatting position, all my body wanted to do wasto push, but they kept telling me not to. I told the nurses that I needed topush now! The midwife came running in at the point after having just deliveredthe baby next door, check me, and said the head was right there and that I wasready to push. With the next contraction I pushed with all my energy and themidwife, nurses, and Eduardo all started exclaiming “ooh, oh, there it is!”that they could see the head start to come out. I couldn’t believe that it wasfinally the time for the baby to be born! With just two more pushes the headcame out and then one good hard push and the body slithered out. They put thebaby on my chest immediately, wiping the face as they lifted the baby out ofme. I felt as though I had just run and won a marathon, feeling such a sense ofexhilaration and accomplishment, holding the beautiful little being. Themidwife commented that “he” looked like a big baby. It was not until this pointthat I realized we didn’t know the gender yet. I asked if it was a boy, and shesaid she didn’t know, she just called him a boy. So I lifted the blanket andfound that she was in fact a girl!! She was perfect in every way and the momentshe was born I no longer felt even the tiniest bit of pain. It was as if thepain of the contractions were years away.
With the preparation we received from the Bradley childbirth class with Liza Janda and the support of the doula once we got to thehospital and the nurses and midwives at the birth center we never lost thefeeling of confidence that we could do this nor did we ever feel like we had tofight for the birth that we wanted. Eduardo was an amazing coach and was ableto provide even better coaching to me with the support of the doula. I wouldsay that to have a natural child birth every couple should take a goodnon-hospital class such as the Bradley method and have the support of a doula.
Thank you Liza, for a great class!!
Alison, Eduardo, & Sofia