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
Garrett was born on September 26th, 2007. What an angel. And, again, I have to sing the praises of my doctor, Dr. Biter. He was THE BEST! I strongly encourage anyone who is willing to consider natural childbirth to do some research of their own and really give it some thought. And no, that doesn't mean I look down on you if you don't consider it! You don't have to be a super hero, or a martyr – you just have to be a mom. It is the way our bodies were built that helps you deliver naturally. Comparing my first experience (pitocin, epidural, etc.) to this experience, my dilation progressed much faster, the delivery went more smoothly, and my recovery was INCREDIBLY faster without any interventions. I gained a sense of self that I wasn't expecting. I was just trying to do what is best for the baby, but it has made me more confident in myself and in the body God gave me. If I can do this, you can too! I know there are some exceptions, where it isn't possible physically, or emotionally if someone is truly terrified of the process. But for most of us, I believe giving birth naturally is a union of body and spirit in delivering a new little person to the world – it is such a sacred experience! Sooo … here's the story. I had been having contractions for a week or so, regular for 3-4 hours, then stopping, and I felt close to having the baby. Then I got really sick – a deep chest infection – and I knew if I went into labor I would have a rough time. Mentally I think I stopped the process, because my contractions stopped. After taking antibiotics to ensure no bronchitis or pneumonia, I was feeling better. It was about 5-6 days later that I was thinking to myself that I felt good enough to have the baby, that I felt ready. That day, Tuesday the 25th, at 3pm I started having contractions 10 minutes apart, about 45-60 seconds long. We just ignored it as we went about our day, shopping and doing normal things. At about 5pm, they started taking my concentration, and we had the grandparents come pick up our older son Cohen. We waited until after 7pm to drive to the hospital, when contractions were 3-5 minutes apart, at least 80 seconds long, and had been coming that way for at least an hour. When we got the hospital, I was a 5! That was great news, because that meant I was halfway there already! We labored in the shower, walking around, on the birth ball, over the back of the hospital bed, and in so many other positions. I couldn't stay still. I had back labor once again which was very intense, but Cameron was excellent at putting pressure on my back and relieving some of the pain. Hurrah for Scripps Encinitas! The nursing staff was great – they looked at our birth plan and honored every single point! I had no IV, only necessary fetal monitoring (the nurse even listened to the heartbeat while I was in the shower in order to accommodate), and brought us heat and ice packs, ice chips, juices, etc. The heat packs were awesome for my back labor!. Om Sanctuary – some meditational music – also helped quite a bit! Cameron was the best coach, talking me through contractions and helping me release tension, and attending to every need! At 10pm they checked me again and I was a 7-8, and an hour later, I was a 9-10. I was ecstatic, and that is just what I needed in order to get up and move around with the last few contractions. The nurse also said the heartbeat was a little low, and she was slightly concerned, but that the baby seemed fine. Dr. Biter came about 20 minutes later, and broke my water to get the last lip of the cervix to melt away. I was in the supported squat position to push, but it just didn't feel right. Dr. Biter said Garrett was sunny-side up, and to get on my left side with my right leg up in a squat. After pushing that way for maybe 2-3 minutes, the baby turned, and all of a sudden pushing felt great! Dr. Biter helped me ease the baby out with mineral oil, and Garrett was born within minutes, maybe 15-20 minutes total of pushing time. Later I found out the cord was wrapped tightly around Garrett's neck. Dr. Biter had tried to loop it over his head after he crowned, but it was too tight, so he had to cut it right then. Cameron was able to catch the baby's head and helped support the head while Dr. Biter cut the cord so Garrett could slip into the world. Total labor is hard to count, but from early labor to birth it was about 9.5 hours, only 5 at the hospital. It was a full moon, by the way, on the 26th at 12:29am when he was born! Afterwards, I felt fantastic!! This picture is from the day Garrett was born. The only reason we stayed in the hospital was for the 24hour rule for the baby. I am recovering 100000% faster than with Cohen – no tearing, hardly any swelling, and bleeding was very minimal. Everyone that sees how great I feel says, "it must have been a natural birth." Even my nurses told me they were grateful to have attended Garrett's birth because they enjoyed watching the process since hardly anyone delivers naturally anymore. I have to recommend Dr. Biter to absolutely every woman who needs a referral for a doctor! He is a doctor, but really more like a midwife at the same time. He is absolutely the best and most caring doctor I have ever met. When he came into the room, I didn't even notice, because I was in the middle of a contraction, and he knelt by my bed and just watched me relax and breathe. I opened my eyes to see him watching me, and won't forget the care and attention in his face. He is an incredible guy and I felt so well taken care of. I also have a newfound respect for my body and the ability to create and deliver a tiny person. What an experience to feel the rhythm of each contraction and to work with them and appreciate them instead of fearing them. I won't say it was pain-free, because it was definitely the hardest thing I've ever done physically. But I feel so empowered, and I have such a special bond with Garrett, and with Cameron, because of what we accomplished together. Thanks to all those who encouraged us instead of looking at us like we were nuts! And to my yoga teacher, Liza, I know that your encouragement and wealth of knowledge helped to prepare Cameron and I for the most intense yet most rewarding experience ever!! Yoga and birthing go hand in hand … I am so grateful for my background in yoga!! My last comment on natural childbirth is – anything worthwhile demands great sacrifice, and great sacrifice leads to something worthwhile for those who seek it.
Sunday morning at 4 a.m. I woke up feeling period like cramps. I thought it was quite unusual to have that feeling so I grabbed my cell phone to check the time. Sure enough 8 min. later I felt the same cramps. I timed the contractions for the next half hour before waking Gustavo. I wanted to be sure these were the real deal.
At 4:30 I woke Gustavo. We laid there for a bit talking about how excited we were to soon meet Savannah. It was still so early and contractions were steady at 7 and 8 min. apart. We both tried to go back to sleep but I couldn’t. I just laid there thinking that soon I would meet my little girl. Contractions were very bearable at this point especially when I compare them to contractions at 8 and 9 cm.
My mother in-law was flying in at 4:30 pm that day, her timing couldn’t have been better. My father had plans to make pizza so we could all gather for my mother in-laws arrival. All day Sunday my contractions stayed about 7 and 8 minutes apart. I pretty much ignored my labor all day. I showered, ate my Dad’s irresistible pizza, and I went to the airport with Gustavo to pick up his mother. We brought her back to my parent’s house to visit and eat. At around 9 pm we decided to head home which was right up the street. My mother in-law was tired from her long plane ride and went to bed. Contractions were still very tolerable so I told Gustavo to get some rest while my sister stayed up with me to continue timing contractions. At about 10 pm contractions started getting more intense and were now 5 and 6 min. apart. I went from walking around the house to leaning over the birthing ball. At this point I was more vocal but kept my voice deep and breathing very controlled. At about 12 a.m. Monday morning my contractions began at 3 and 4 minutes apart and stayed steady that way until 1 a.m. By 1:30 Gustavo was pulling the car up to the front of the house and we were loading up to head to the hospital.
By the time I was checked in, signed a bunch of consent forms and answered a bunch of questions it was 3 a.m. and the nurse finally checked to see how far I was dilated. She said I was 5 to 6 cm dilated and I could stay in the hospital free to walk around if needed. Gustavo and I never left the room. I continued to labor on the ball for another hour while contractions started to get more intense. At 4 p.m. the nurse checked me again and I was 8 cm dilated. At this point I was starting to feel desperate and contractions seemed to be getting closer together. We didn’t really time them at this point instead Gustavo and I were trying different techniques to relieve pain that moved from my lower abdomen to my back. Massage or touch was annoying. We tried dancing around the room and walking but I was trembling a lot at this point. Even though the shower did not sound soothing at the moment Gustavo convinced me to get in the shower. I continued to tremble uncontrollably and barely had a break between contractions. I could barely stand and I was very vocal at this point. I began getting frustrated in the shower and wanted out. At about 5 a.m. I asked Gustavo to call the nurse so I she could check my cervix again. It was so painful to lie down and let her check. At this point I was praying to God for strength to endure the pain and Gustavo kept reassuring me and reminding me that I was so close. I was 9 cm dilated. When the nurse was done I jumped off the bed and continued to walk around the room with Gustavo, every time a contraction came I had to hang on him because I could barely hold myself up. I was trembling so bad through every contraction and continued to pray. At this point I started to doubt myself and my body’s ability to withstand the pain. I felt so much pain in my lower back I thought I was going to break. I could feel my lower body shifting and expanding. I began to wonder if I should have allowed an epidural and if it was still too late to have one. But then I would hear Gustavo telling me, “you’re doing so good Lorena, you are almost there and I am so proud of you!”
After about 30 min. more I had enough, I started feeling delirious and I wanted her out “NOW!” I told Gustavo to call the nurse. She came in right away and I asked her if she could break my water in hopes that things would speed up. She told me she couldn’t break it but she could check me again and there might be a chance that my water would break.
While checking me I could feel her putting lots of pressure on my bag of water. She also told me to bear down a couple of times. I knew she was trying to pop my bag of waters. It was the most annoying and painful feeling to feel that pressure but I was glad she was attempting to break it. As soon as she broke it she told me I was just about ready to push. She told me to get on all fours and she was going to call the Dr. At this point Gustavo said it was about 6 a.m. The nurse told me I could go a head and bare down when I felt a contraction come. I couldn’t bare the pain while on all fours. I turned around and asked to use the squat bar. She brought out the squat bar and I tried that for a couple a pushes. At this point the Dr. was in the room and getting into position to receive the baby. I told the Dr. I wasn’t liking the squat bar so she suggested I lean back into a sitting position and bring my knees all the way back towards my chest. It was in this position I felt most comfortable and able to push the strongest. Gustavo said it took about 6 more pushes and at 6:15 Savannah was on my chest crying and making all these cute little sounds. Gustavo was crying and I was trying to catch my breath after being blown away at the site of my child in my arms, so alert and beautiful!
I didn’t get an episiotomy but I did tear in two spots. The Dr. sewed me up and my mom and sister came in to meetSavannah. As soon as I saw my mom I started crying with joy. I was so proud to introduce my mom to her first grandchild.
My mother had my sister and me natural. I would always ask her, “Mom how painful is it to have a natural birth?” She always said that it hurt but the pain went away as soon as they place your baby in your arms.
After labor I asked my mom, “When you had us did it ever cross your mind that you weren’t going to make it?” She said, “Of course, but you are my daughter and I could never bring myself to tell you that. Why would I want to instill fear in your head when I knew you wanted this so bad and I had faith you could do it!?”
My mom was my inspiration, I always thought if she did it then so can I. I was so glad she never emphasized on the pain of natural birth. I went into labor with no fear and no doubts. I believe my mind set together with Liza’s prenatal yoga and the Bradley classes helped me to achieve the best birth experience for both Savannah and I.
Here is another positive birth story from one of my Prenatal Yoga students, who is also a childbirth educator. I went into labor at about 10:30pm on Sunday night 04-06-08 (the day after my last yoga class!). We had taken a huge long walk that day, and I spent about an hour in the afternoon visualizing and telling the baby that it was a good time to be born. At my midwife appointment the previous day (40w 3d), La Shel had mentioned that if I was still pregnant the next weekend, she'd want me to go in for a NST. I did NOT want to do this, so I became very focused on having this baby before that became an issue! My contractions were almost immediately 2-4 minutes apart. They weren't too long, only about 30-45 sec, but I had to vocalize through them from the start. I had a ton of bloody show, and knew that things were happening. I was still convinced that I could get some sleep in 'early labor' but I honestly don't think I had early labor- I had to work through contractions from the start. Ian got going getting everything set up, and around midnight he called our doula to have her head down. We texted La Shel a few times to keep her apprised. Around 12:30am, my water broke while I was on the toilet. I had been spending a lot of time there because of the bloody show and I felt better there. Our doula arrived around 1:30 or so and I was full out in what I think was transition. I felt really nauseas during each contraction, but only threw up once. I alternated between the toilet, leaning over the bathroom sink, and all fours on the floor. When our doula arrived, she encouraged some squatting and gave me light massage on my back, which was about all the touch I could handle. She helped Ian get the tub up to temp. and I got in about 3am or so. The water felt miraculous! Ian called La Shel, and she arrived about 3:45am. I was convinced that I was only at a 2 or 3, so I didn't want her to check me, but she insisted. She barely reached in and told me to feel for myself. The baby's head was about an inch up- I could hardly believe it. Around 4:30am, I started pushing, or really my body did- I didn't have any control over it. I was squatting in the tub. I have no recollection of the time passing at this point, but it felt like I only pushed for a few minutes before La Shel asked me to get out of the tub to try using gravity. In hindsight, I think it had been about an hour or so. From that point on, I pushed in every position known to man- squatting, toilet, leaning, etc. I was yelling so so loud and cursing a ton (so much for my gentle peaceful birth)- it was like an animal took over. Ian said he's never heard a human be that loud. I was vaguely aware that I was pushing for a long time. I had a hard time getting out of my head and I was thinking that I wasn't doing things the 'right' way (this is where all my education hindered me, I think!). The baby's heart rate stayed totally steady and calm through the whole thing- she didn't seem fazed at ALL about being there in my birth canal for so long. There was never any drama or tension- they kept encouraging me and having me try different positions. Even though I knew it was taking a long time, I never once thought about transfer or that something was wrong. Jamin played 'bad cop' a bit- having me eat, try new positions, and especially having me stand up straight in between contractions, which at the time was the most impossible task I had ever encountered- I just wanted to lean over! Even though I remember being pissed at her during it, I needed that from someone, and she provided. I pushed on the bed with my feet pressing against my doula and La Shel's chests, I pushed on the birth stool, it went on and on. It became daylight and I was so so tired and worn out. Beyond belief. This is where the yoga really helped me- they kept commenting about how strong I still was (as I bruised their chests) and I was able to be in some pretty difficult squats and positions. The yoga practice got me ready to use my body in ways that were unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable but in the long run satisfying and important. At one point towards the end I felt bones grinding inside me- bizarre! The baby's head was visible for a while, but she never really crowned. I was squatting, and finally I just sat down for one push. I went from everyone seeing a tiny circle of head to the entire baby out in ONE PUSH at 9:09am on 04-07-08 after 4.5 hours of pushing! She was asynclitic, and apparently decided to tuck her chin and when she did I was still pushing full force as I had been for the previous hours and she literally shot out of me like a champagne cork! La Shel almost missed her, and we all were shocked that a baby had just shot out! She didn't cry, but was wide awake and alert and coughing. I held her against me and after a bit I looked and saw we had a daughter. After about 15 minutes, I passed her to Ian, and I delivered the placenta. Her cord was super long- like 18 inches or more, and wrapped all around her body. I got a shot of Pitocin since I was bleeding quite a bit, but it wasn't all that bad after all (most of the blood was from tearing). I tore a lot since she shot out so quickly, and got about 12-14 stitches. We waited to clamp or cut her cord until about an hour after her birth. Ian just held her attached to the placenta while I was getting stitched up. I was very sore and stiff and swollen and bruised for a few days because of all the pushing, but within about a week was feeling much more human! I spent the first few days in bed with Zephyr, and the first time we left the house was when she was one week old and we went to the pediatrician. She has nursed like a champion right from the start, and I have a ton of milk. Things are going really well, and I am so so lucky that Ian is home with us- I don't know how people do it who don't have a supportive partner! Overall, it was definitely NOTHING like what I'd been picturing for the past 4 years as I planned my ideal homebirth. I didn't get my waterbirth (maybe next time!) and I was loud and crazy and didn't focus the way I thought I would. Ian or I didn't get to catch her, I had a ton of directed pushing (which I didn't think I wanted), etc. But I certainly got the birth I needed to have to learn that I can't plan everything and that things work out the way they need to. We are so thankful we planned a homebirth. I know that she would not have entered this world the way she did if I had been in the hospital. I would have probably ended up with a cesarean because they would have never let me push for 4.5 hours, and at the very least I would have faced vacuum or forceps and/or episiotomy. As it was, she did great and entered the world as gently as possible. She never left our arms, and never had any procedures done to her. What a beautiful thing. She gave me a very easy pregnancy and a very fast labor, she just made me work a bit to finally meet her. Time will tell if this is indicative of her future personality- doing things her own way and only giving in when she feels like it! I know this is long and wordy, but I figure a fellow childbirth educator appreciates the details in a birth story! I want to sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you gave to me during my pregnancy. I have spent the entire pregnancy telling people how awesome [www.yogajanda.com] prenatal yoga is, and I will continue to do so. I firmly believe it is one of the very best things I've ever done for myself and my body. I have never loved my body more than while I was pregnant, and your classes really contributed to that. I only gained 19 lbs and am easily back in pre-pregnancy clothes, and while perhaps genetics have something to do with that, I think we can also thank yoga. I loved spending time in your Prenatal Yoga classes[ at Blue Raven Yoga], and am so sad that I won't get to be there each Saturday.