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
Rebecca lost what appeared to be part of her mucous plug on Saturday night, her “official” due date. Since she told me she felt something different going on I decided to inflate the birth tub and get it ready. She emailed Andrea, our midwife, to inform her of what was happening and we ended up going to sleep after 2AM. I pretty much fell asleep right away….
Rebecca woke me up at 4:45AM, and she had had regular contractions since about 3AM (and did not get any sleep), which were getting stronger and more frequent. By this time her contractions were quite painful and based on some of her language I felt we were going to be in for a rough ride….. We tried a few different things to help with the pain, and it turned out that doing the hip squeeze was the most satisfying and effective help I could give her. I timed her contractions using an app on her iphone and they were indeed getting closer. We tried standing, sitting backwards on a chair, etc.).
Then she asked for a bowl and threw up. If I had been paying more attention in class I would have remembered that this was a sign……. After throwing up several times I turned on the shower and she stayed in the shower for what must have been close to an hour. Each time when contractions started I hit the timer, opened the shower door and squeezed her hips until it subsided, and stopped the timer when it ended. She had contractions lasting about 1-1/2 min, which were about 5-6 minutes apart. She was focused, but still somewhat talkative between contractions.
At around 6:45AM I emailed our midwife with an update, using email since I didn’t think it was that urgent. She called at around 7:10AM and based on my conversation with her she asked if she could send her assistants (apprentice midwifes) to our house. Donna arrived at around 7:45AM while Rebecca was throwing up again. She called Andrea who ended up on her way right away and arrived at around 8:30AM.
Andrea checked Rebecca and told her she was 100% dilated…..! (clue: remember the throwing up part…..transition?). While they started filling the tub I found that the water heater was pretty much empty (even after following Andrea’s advice a couple days before: turning up the water heater thermostat to max to have the largest possible amount of hot water available). We had to give it another 30min or so before Rebecca could get in the tub.
The next hours were spent trying to learn how to push. I sat on the side of the tub behind her while she was laboring on her hands and knees with me squeezing her hips. She laid down on her side for a while, while the team kept her (and me) hydrated and fed with water and yogurt (and Lauren made some killer smoothies!). Rebecca tried every trick in the book until labor slowed down because she was very tired. Every 15min the team would check on the baby’s heart beat (which was always perfect) and they would do this very gently and be as non-invasive as they could. But they never missed a check as far as I can tell.
Sometime during the day Rebecca had ended up with an IV because she was becoming dehydrated. When walking around one person was “holding the bag” while I was supporting my wife.
Both Rebecca and me ended up napping several hours later in the afternoon (with contractions spaced quite far apart) and after this we did some more stair walking while contractions were speeding up. Earlier when grabbing some quick snacks downstairs Andrea and I talked about the situation and why it was taking so long for her to push the baby out. She said that Rebecca “needed to find that place in her that would allow her to push her baby out”. She also told me this phase was taking much longer than normal and that we needed to think about transfer to a hospital if there was no progress fairly soon.
At 7:45PM, after 11 hours of on and off pushing efforts and after a pep talk with Rebecca, Andrea and Rebecca agreed going “full McRoberts” which meant Rebecca was sitting up against me on the bed, with Andrea facing her, two people pushing her legs back towards her belly, me pushing her shoulders forward (designed to make her curl up into a large “C”) and Rebecca pulling on a towel that Lauren was holding standing behind Andrea.
All this allowed Rebecca to find that place she needed to find and after a few contractions the baby’s head was clearly visible. Major progress in a few contractions! Now we were told that this baby would be born here and right now and another two or so contractions and our little Audrey was born with Rebecca catching the baby herself and pulling her onto her belly. Audrey Kathryn Muntinga, 8lbs-6oz and 22 inches long She’s cute!
Rebecca was bleeding quite a bit, but fortunately she was not torn. Andrea and her team swiftly took care of the cord blood collection, checking on our baby and cleaning her, others pushing and massaging her belly and giving her a Pitocin shot…. Andrea was a wonderful team leader and it all went smoothly. They were super.
The next hours were spent checking on Rebecca and the baby in detail, doing the newborn tests, giving her a Vitamin K shot, cleaning up, etc. And all that time I was still sitting behind Rebecca and looking at our baby on her belly while she was trying to nurse for the first time. She did get that glass of orange juice, and they even found the time to heat us up some food for us both.
At 11:45 the team left and we were in our own bed with our newborn daughter between us! Incredible….
I cannot begin to tell you how difficult this day was for Rebecca, and how proud I am of her…. At the same time it was wonderful us going through it in the comfort of our own home with a skillful team supporting us. I highly recommend experiencing birth this way.
It was great.
Late in the evening on our due date I lost my mucus plug. I thought, “well, at least something happened on the due date, even if it could still be days or longer.” About an hour later around midnight I started feeling a tightening that was a new thing for me. This increased enough in frequency that Ritzo decided to blow up the birth tub before we went to bed. I emailed our midwife that something may be happening and I’d update her if anything changed. At 2am we tried to go to sleep. The tightening had intensified in those couple hours and, even though I tried, I was not able to sleep. I finally had to wake Ritzo at 4:45am or so. I was having back labor that was too hard for me to get through on my own. I realize now that I was surprised to have as much back labor as I did. My midwife had determined the position of the baby on each visit (LOA) and I knew at those visits I wasn’t carrying a posterior baby (and I had been doing various things to make sure it stayed that way). I think I mistakenly had associated strong back labor as something that went with a posterior baby so I was really caught off guard by it. Thank God for the hip squeeze! That was only thing that helped. I think if Ritzo and I had spent more time practicing massage and hands-on stuff on my back in advance, there may have been some pressure techniques or massage that might have worked too, but for what we tried, the hip squeeze was the trick and it helped me get through the contractions.
As Ritzo has explained, he made contact again with our midwife in the morning and the team began to arrive. I remember Donna, the apprentice midwife, arriving first and walking into our room as I was on hands and knees throwing up for the third time. Everyone else arrived in what seemed to me to be a short period of time. When Andrea checked me and said I was fully dilated, I was really happy. Everyone was busy setting things up and I got into the tub as soon as it was ready. I really liked laboring in there, especially leaning on my side, semi-floating, with my head resting on a towel on the edge of the pool.
In stark contrast to how quickly I became fully dilated, things in second stage slowed down. I continued to drink fluids throughout the day but as we got into the early afternoon I had not been able to urinate despite feeling like I needed to. Andrea put in a catheter – which I had never had done before and I was glad that it did not bother me – this really helped me to feel better because 2.5 cups were removed and now out of the way. Throughout the day we tried various positions for pushing when contractions came but there were often long stretches of time in between. I don’t know the average but I heard later it was sometimes as much as 15-20 minutes. I went downstairs a few times to walk around and went up and down the stairs to try to get things moving. I had an IV for fluids and energy in the afternoon. We also did antibiotics by IV since I was GBS positive. This had not been our plan but since I had the IV anyway, we decided to do it. I had done some other homeopathic prep for dealing with the GBS and done a second GBS test but the results had not come in yet.
When I think about how things went during the day, a couple things come to mind. The first is that I was probably more tired than I thought since I had been up all day Saturday and then gone into labor overnight without sleep. The slowdown was probably my body conserving energy. Debra, the other midwife working with Andrea, talked to me around 3pm and mentioned that since I am a night person that could also be a factor. She said that maybe when the sun went down, things would pick up for me (which it did). But there is something to be said for me figuring out how to relax and work with the contractions and really push as hard as I needed to. I feel like the contractions varied in intensity and some were easier to “go for it” and work with than others, especially the first 6-7 hours of pushing. We found a position that worked well for pushing and Andrea had her hands on me pressing down so I could focus on “pushing here.” That helped me. This was essentially the semi-reclined “C” position with legs back that was described in Susan McCutcheon’s book as an alternative to squatting. Andrea called it “McRoberts” but I think it’s about the same thing. This is the position I went back to at the end for the birth. I also labored on my side with one leg back while pushing. Those were the two best ones for me. At one point there was mention of possibly transferring to the hospital if things didn’t move along. This was apparently supposed to rally me but instead made me sad. I told Lauren (with a bit of a pout face) I didn’t want to hear anyone mention the hospital again. The reason this made me sad is because even though everything was slow, the baby was fine, and I felt like I was fine. I was still walking around and trying things so I didn’t understand why anyone would mention the hospital. That was the last I heard of that and we focused on getting things going and the baby out. At this point I was taking some herbal tinctures to speed up labor and intensify the contractions. Maybe that also helped. Sorry, I don’t recall what it was.
Ultimately, like Ritzo mentioned, maybe I just had to figure it out and decide to go for it and have my baby. So whether it was my head, my body needing to rest or peak at dusk, or finding which pushing method made progress, things got going. With a mirror I was able to see the baby crowning which was exciting and explained why I was feeling the ring of fire sensation! With the next push my water finally broke, then her head came out with the next one. It was so awesome on that last push to reach down and catch my baby and bring her onto my stomach! At first no one said what we had…I thought someone said “she” but when we asked the midwife said “check and see.” Since Ritzo was sitting behind me supporting me we had the same perspective. I held her up so we could find out together that we had a baby girl! She was pink almost immediately. I can picture her little face scrunching up to cry. So amazing!
The post birth part is a bit blurry as I was mostly focused on the baby on my belly. The placenta came out with one push 7 minutes later. I had a couple clots and enough bleeding that it had Andrea’s full attention. They gave me pitocin and massaged my belly and the bleeding stopped.
I agree with Ritzo 100% that we are very happy with our home birth experience as well as our midwife and the team she brought. It was so wonderful to be at home to move around, try different things and at the end be resting together in our bed. Andrea and one of the assistants came back the next day to check on us and again at day 3. We will have our two week checkup this week.
Now we are trying to get into a groove with breastfeeding and sleep, etc. My milk came in right at 48 hours and we had to fine tune the latch but it is going pretty well now. Audrey nurses often but then occasionally will go 3-4 hours between feedings which is nice when it happens. I had a lactation consultant appointment with Rochelle at Babies in Bloom this past Monday and she gave me some good tips but said that overall things look good. I can’t believe how much Audrey has changed already in just 2 1/2 weeks.
If there is a second baby for us, I will definitely do acupuncture and/or chiropractic while pregnant. My gut instinct tells me that would have helped me a lot. And probably right now actually. I really need to pay attention to my posture while breastfeeding!
Wishing you all the best blessings and a joyful birth!
Ritzo, Rebecca and Audrey
Posted in Natural Birth Stories |
BY LIZA JANDA
- If it hurts, it’s working just right.
- Good job.
- You’re doing just what you’re supposed to be doing.
- It’s okay. Remember this is good for your baby.
- Each contraction is a hug of love for your baby.
- Try to completely let go with this next contraction.
- You’ve got it! You are strong!
- You are capable.
- You’re such a good mommy.
- This is hard work and you are doing it.
- You are beautiful!
- You are amazing!
- I’m so proud of you!
- You are right on top of it.
- I love you!
- This is so important for your baby.
- Keep breathing. Stay with it.
- You’re doing so well!
- Each contraction brings your baby closer and closer.
- You’re going to meet your baby soon.
- Wow! You are so strong.
- Now take a deep breath and just relax into it.
- Visualize what is happening inside of you. Picture it in your mind’s eye.
- Trust yourself!
- Trust your body and allow it to open.
- You’re a sexy birthing mama.
- You should be so proud of yourself.
- What a wonderful mother you are!
- You’re doing such a terrific job.
- Thank you for doing such an awesome job for our baby.
Below is another natural birth story with some valuable opportunities to point out lots of things Michelle did right that helped her achieve the natural birth that she wanted.
I want to thank you so much for the great Prenatal Yoga class that you offer at Babies In Bloom. I took your Wednesday and Saturday classes to help with my varicose veins in my left leg, and consequently, I also found out how much I enjoyed yoga and all of its benefits. I had pressure and pain in my leg due to my pregnancy related varicose veins, until I discovered your prenatal yoga class.
I felt improvement after the first class that I took and the pain went away after the second week of classes. There was one week that I had to miss two consecutive classes and I could feel the pain and pressure in my leg come back due to being on my feet all day at work and missing those classes. It was really amazing how the stretches and breathing practices helped my circulation.
Your prenatal yoga classes definitely helped me with the actual natural birth of my daughter, as well. I used your breathing techniques to ease and get through my contractions, your helpful natural birthing advice gave me knowledge and confidence to reach my final goal of a natural birth. And your pregnancy-catered yoga positions gave me the strength in my legs to squat during the actual birth. We had an amazing birthing experience with the help of you, Dr. Nick Capetanakis and the Scripps Memorial Encinitas staff!
Liza- Prenatal Yoga allows expectant mothers to relax and explore their emotional selves. By getting in touch with our emotional selves in preparation for labor and birth, we can learn how to view pregnancy and birth in a less factual or rational way. It opens the door to the idea or concept of trusting their bodies to not only grow their babies but also to birth their babies. Give my free 25 minute yoga class a try. The physical benefits are a nice bonus too.
Here is a short version of my birth story… I woke up at 2:30am with menstrual-like cramps and the contractions progressed from there. We labored at home as long as possible and we checked into the hospital at 8am.
Liza-Dr. Sarah Buckley says a laboring woman needs three things to progress in labor. She needs to be in a private place, like home, where she feels safe, and she is unobserved, yet supported. As you’ll read in the next sentence, Michelle was able to relax at home and let her body open up so she could birth her baby girl.
Dr. Cap was already there and checked my dilation right away. I was 9cm and he broke my water while checking. The nurses grabbed a squat bar for the table and I had our baby girl exactly eleven minutes after checking into the facility!! I barely had to push, since gravity and the natural contractions guided her out. Dr. Cap was amazing and coached me through that final pushing stage. He helped me to slow down and massaged me with mineral oil so that I would not tear like I did during my first labor. I only had one tiny minor tear that healed within a couple of days. Dr. Cap was patient and let my husband, Jeff, catch our daughter and hand her to me right away.
Liza-What a thrill and honor for a father to be able to “catch” his own child, and be the first person to hold her…He did not have Jeff cut the umbilical cord until my placenta was out and the nurses let me hold and bond with our daughter for a couple of hours until they finally took her vitals in our labor room. It was amazing!
Here is a picture of Anna Mary Raiatea Logandro (I mentioned to you that we were going to give our daughter a Tahitian middle name…we gave her “Raiatea” because of its significance to us. Jeff and I went to Raiatea on our Honeymoon and my friend, Riya (“Raia”), introduced us on a blind date.). Anna was born on April 26th at 8:11am. She weighed 8lbs 2oz and was 18-1/2″ long.
Below is the natural birth story of Emily, Tyson, and Cambria Lee Perez. I’ve added comments, highlighted, to emphasize things they did that were very helpful in achieving the birth they wanted for their daughter. If you want t learn more, click here.
(This is a wonderful thing to do to help you ignore your labor and to get the staff support you’ll need in labor) Throughout the day the cramping slowly became a little more intense and closer together. Nothing painful, just annoying. The Stage One App(This a good reason to practice relaxation in many different positions and scenarios)I baked cookies for the staff and cleaned around the house.
laying on my exercise ball,
leaning against Tyson, and standing in the shower. Tyson was SOO good at getting me to change to different positions at this point and keeping my energy up. ( If you want to be as good a birth coach as Tyson, read:The Birth Partner, Third Edition: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions (Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, &)
(Sometimes in situations like this, having a doula to support the mom in labor can be helpful so mom feels supported and dad can handle decisions, questions, anything that needs to be handled.)
(If you get a nurse who doesn’t see things the way you see them, ask for another nurse. It’s a simple solution)
Thank you again!
Take online childbirth classes at Your Place, At Your Pace!
Travel a lot? Busy schedule? Spouse deployed? On bed rest in pregnancy? Can’t find a childbirth class that fits your schedule? Our online childbirth classes are the perfect alternative to an in-person childbirth class!
IF YOU CAN’T COME TO A CHILDBIRTH CLASS, WE WILL BRING THE CLASS TO YOU!
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Go to www.birthclassonline.com or www.birthclassathome.com. For only $75.00 you get award winning online childbirth classes, access to a certified childbirth educator, bonus information about pregnancy, labor, and birth. All this will help you create the healthiest and the safest birth possible for both you and your baby.
WHAT DOES EVIDENCE BASED MEAN?
This online childbirth class is evidence-based. That means that the information you learn in the online childbirth class is backed up by medical research and analysis.
So how can you avoid things like an unnecessary cesarean birth? Learn about natural pain relieving techniques in labor? Know all your options and what questions to ask in unexpected situations? Get educated and informed. Being prepared is the best way to keep you and your baby healthy and safe!
Taking this online childbirth class gives you valuable information so that you and your partner can make informed decisions. You can have confidence that the information you learn in your online childbirth class is based on documented facts, and based on proof of the best medical practices, for the safest and the healthiest births possible, for both mothers and babies.
WHAT DO EXPECTANT PARENTS THINK OF THE UNDERSTANDING BIRTH eCLASS?
Most expectant parents have a lot of fear about labor and birth.
Who wouldn’t want to feel confident about labor and birth?
Who wouldn’t want to feel relaxed and prepared?
99% of parents polled said that the time and effort it took them to complete the class was just right. And they felt confident going into labor and birth.
90% of parents polled said the ease of learning and following along was Outstanding or Very Good
” The videos in our online childbirth class were a reality check and let us know what we can expect during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. The class/exercises gave us a lot to think about and helped us prepare with checklists and things to ask our providers.”
“I like being able to go at my own pace over a couple of days time period, and re-watching or going over information again with my husband at a later time. This online childbirth class is so convenient!”
- Learn about your changing body
- Recognize signs of labor
- Watch real-life birth videos
- Discover helpful comfort techniques
- Get an overview of medical procedures
- Understand cesarean birth’Prepare for your baby’s arrival
- Know what to expect after giving birth
Successful VBAC's can happen in 85% of women who had a previous Cesarean. I'd like to encourage women and couples to get as much education and re-education as they possibly can about childbirth and VBACs in general. There are some great resources for the support and information you will need for this momentous and joyous day to come. With the right support and effort you can do it. You won't get what you wish for, but you will often get what you work for!
Recommended books and DVD's for VBAC:
Here is Rachel and Nick's story:
Hi Liza, we had our baby! Last Saturday morning, two days before the due date. It was incredible!
I woke up at 2:45 in the morning feeling a very long contraction. When it ended I felt like my water may have broken. I took some notes on taco and began wandering around the house figuring out my contractions. They were all about one minute long and one to three minutes apart, mostly two minutes apart. They were manageable on my own so I let Nick sleep.
I kept watching for the emotional signposts because it was really important to me to stay home until the very end of first stage. After two hours I woke up Nick and asked him to help me. I called Dr. Cap and he just told me to go to the hospital when I felt it was time.
I started to think that I wanted to leave for the hospital before my daughter woke up so we called my parents and asked them to come help us get ready. I still did not feel like I was in transition or even late first stage. The most fabulous thing we discovered was when my back started to hurt, Nick tried the hip squeeze. Miraculously, doing the hip squeeze relieved both my back pain and cut the contraction pain in half. I don't know why, but it was an incredible trick. So he had to squeeze my hips for each contraction and then I'd let him leave for 30 seconds to go pack the car, then he has to come back to squeeze my hips again!
We hopped in the car just before seven. I had four or five contractions on the drive to scripps enc., but still felt pretty in control. I had a few contractions on the lobby floor while we checked into the hospital, but I quickly got a room and the nurse checked me. You are complete! she exclaimed, Don't push! Wow, those were the sweetest words I've ever heard!
Dr. Cap showed up shortly and told me to start pushing. It was a lot of work but not too bad and only lasted 45 minutes. I was on my back, tilted further back than I wanted, but Cap said that was best. As the baby came out, I reached down to take her. They told me to give one more push and she came out and I lifted her onto my chest! I just held her there for a while, and finally a nurse asked if it was a boy or girl. I never even thought to look or ask. Nick took a peek and found it was a girl! Total labor, start to finish: 5 1/2 hours.
Dr. Cap was a fantastic coach. He was so calm and gave me lots of guidance and encouragement. But I couldn't have done it without the encouragement that Nick was also giving me, telling me over and over how much progress I was making. That was the most helpful part, to know that I was actually getting closer each time.
Baby nursed right away! They never washed her and hardly took her from me at all. We did vit K but no eye drops.
So my birth plan was followed to the letter. The only thing that happened was I had to have the Pitocin IV after the placenta, due to excessive bleeding.
Looking back on it I couldn't really identify having gone through transition, I never felt like I couldn't handle it, but now I realize I was pretty irritable near the end as we rushed to get to the hospital, so maybe that was it!
We are at home now doing exclusive skin to skin, in bed all day, and it is beautiful. We named our baby girl Laurel Jane.
Thank you for all the support, education, and wise words as I prepared for that wonderful day.
Tags: baby, back pain, birth, Books for VBAC, Bradley Method, Cesarean section, Childbirth videos, Dr Capetenakis, DVD's for VBAC, labor and birth, Liza Janda, relaxation in labor, unmedicated, VBAC
Posted in Labor and Birth Advice, Natural Birth Stories, Uncategorized, VBAC |
Right now, I’d say my favorite childbirth video is Orgasmic Birth. Although this is a wonderful video and shows the glory and the challenges the pain and the ecstasy women can experience during labor and birth, it’s title is my least favorite of all of them. Whenever I mention this video in my classes, prenatal yoga or Bradley Method classes, people are just so shocked and a bit turned off. Yes, there are some who giggle and think it’s kind of funny but for the most part the title gets a bad reaction. So thank goodness the producers or distributors realized this problem and created another version, almost exactly alike, titled Organic Birth. Well, whatever it’s called, the best testimonials I’ve heard have come from a couple of different people. They both stated that before they saw the film, they were afraid of labor and birth, but after they saw it, they couldn’t wait for labor to start. They both had natural, un-medicated births.
Suzanne Arms has a 35-minute film called Giving Birth: Challenges and Choices. The DVD has an hour of bonus material for the birth advocates, and birth junkies in the crowd. I also show this childbirth video in my Bradley Method classes. What I love the most are the three obstetricians who advocate for natural birth. They have such a reverence for the natural process and each explains their own reasons. I like that one obstetrician states that you really need to prepare, get educated, and do the work necessary to have a safe, healthy birth.
There is also a home birth midwife and a labor and delivery nurse who talk about the psychology of birth. Both are advocating support, emotional, physical, and spiritual for the laboring mother.
There’s also a great video of a natural home birth, which is not very graphic-no crotch shots-and it has my students in happy tears every time.
Birth Day has my favorite birth in it. Naoli Vinaver gives birth in the water at home, surrounded by family and filmed by her dad. She, herself, is a midwife in Mexico. First, the location where they live is so idyllic and peaceful. I love how the whole family goes for a hike to the stream while she is in early labor. Then they all sit down to eat rice and beans. Naoli chows down on her food while in early labor. I love to point out to my students that they may be excited but their body is doing a lot of hard work and they will need that sustenance.
Then she and her husband work together walking around and around until she decides it’s time to go into the big Jacuzzi tub. It’s there that she births her baby girl into the hands of her husband. Then both of their sons take off their clothes and get into the Jacuzzi. It’s one big happy family and a beautiful birth. Whether you plan a homebirth or not, everyone should see how birth can be, and was probably meant to be. It will help take your fear away for sure. This is a childbirth video that will melt your heart.
The Business of Being Born and the More Business of Being Born series are essential for every expectant couple, whether it’s their first or their 6th baby. In the past 3-4 years, I have had so many people sign up for my Bradley Method classes after seeing The Business of Being Born.
This entertaining documentary opens your eyes to the truth about birth in America. After you see the original film, you will want as much education as you can possibly get. It will introduce the idea that you not only have choices in childbirth, but also introduces the idea that pain in labor doesn’t necessarily involve suffering and that the experience from beginning to end can be amazingly beautiful.
These are great choices for childbirth videos for teachers because you can watch one birth at a time and use them according to what you are covering in your classes. For expectant parents, watching these DVD’s will help give you courage and resolve to help bring your baby in to the world in the safest way possible.
See more articles by Liza Janda
1. You’re doing so well.” You can’t praise or encourage a pregnant woman in labor enough.
2. “You’re amazing!” Pour on the praise and keep it coming.
3. “Imagine what is happening inside your body. Visualize your cervix opening with each contraction.” Imagining the changes that are
4. “Think about the baby. Each contraction is like a hug of love from you for your baby.” Each contraction in labor and birth really is a surge of the love hormone known as oxytocin. This is the same hormone we all produce when we fall in love, when we have an orgasm, and breastfeed our babies.
5. “All this hard work is stimulating your baby’s breathing, and circulation, and preparing the baby for life outside your womb.” Studies show that hormones the laboring mother produces that help her deal with the pain of her contractions, cause her baby’s adrenals to produce high levels of catecholamines or stress hormones that help baby adapt to all the changes coming his way.
6. “Trust yourself. That incredible strength is YOU. You’re doing it! “ Turn her fear around and encourage the laboring mother to accept that great power is coming from her.
7. “You’re doing everything right. We’re here for you.” Standing right next to her, supporting her both physically and emotionally will carry her a long way through all that hard work of labor.
8. “We know how hard you’re working. I’m so proud of you.” Showing compassion and empathy can help. Just acknowledging that yes, it is hard work, but “You can do it and you are doing it.”
9. “Breathe in and breathe out. That’s right deep slow breaths!” Deep slow abdominal breathing helps to stimulate the relaxation response in labor.
10. “Let’s hear you make some noise. Keep it low and deep. Take a deep breath in through your nose and just moan all the breath out.” The vibrations the laboring mother makes when she moans affects the pituitary gland which then stimulates the relaxation response every pregnant woman needs to tap into in labor.
11. “Take a deep breath and just LET GO with your exhale… One contraction at a time… Stay focused on this one contraction and see how relaxed you can get.” For everyone helping the laboring woman it’s helpful to stay focused on the moment. Don’t think about the contractions to come and the ones that have passed. The body knows just what to do and the laboring mother’s job is to let go and get out of the way.
Remember that the woman in labor must have complete trust in her body’s ability to bring her baby into the world safely. She must find assurance and confidence from those around her. Just like you will tell her, “You Can Do It!” and so can she with your help and faith in her.
Can you really have a “painless childbirth”? I’ve had 2 students in 17 years tell me they had painless labors. I experienced 45 minutes during the labor of my second child during which I felt no pain, but still had contractions. But most people will tell you they experienced some level of “pain”. There are a couple of programs offering Hypnosis for Labor and Birth that promise a painless childbirth. But are they truly talking about no pain at all? Or are they talking about changing your reaction to pain. Every action causes a reaction and, knowing this, Dr. Robert Bradley was one of the first to help women change their reaction to the intensity of labor and birth. The Bradley Method teaches women to turn inward, to release and let go, using different relaxation techniques. It also teaches mothers and their coaches to understand the emotional map of labor, and the physiology of labor. This knowledge helps take away fear. Take away fear and anxiety, and your experience of pain lessens.
Science is finally beginning to understand that our bodies have an incredible hormonal system, that, if undisturbed, can give us a joyous, rapturous, even an ecstatic birth! During labor and birth, our bodies produce the hormone oxytocin. This is the same hormone humans experience when they fall in love, hug or kiss a loved one, bond, have an orgasm, go through labor and birth and breastfeed. Oxytocin can influence not only our physiology, but also how we are feeling about what is happening to us. Dr. Sarah J. Buckley describes how labor and going through the birth canal is good for both baby and mother. Instead of people dreading their labor, they can look forward to it, enjoy it, knowing that they are doing something good and inherently safe for their baby.
In the early 1900’s James Braid discovered that patients were naturally anxious before surgery and if he was able to use rhythm, and techniques of monotony to induce a sleep like state of relaxation. He could get patients to discuss their fears and help alleviate their fears associated with the surgery before the operation.
The dictionary definition of Hypnosis:
“1. An artificially induced altered state of consciousness, characterized by
heightened suggestibility and receptivity to direction.
2. A sleeplike condition.
3. (Psychology) an artificially induced state of relaxation and concentration in which deeper parts of the mind become more accessible: used clinically to reduce reaction to pain, to encourage free association, etc “The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Learning the techniques necessary to relax during labor is an important element in preparing for the birth of your child. But parents need to know more, much more to ensure the safe arrival of their children into the world. By fully educating themselves, they replace fear with knowledge. In this day and age of numerous interventions and the medical management of labor, anticipating any and all of the possible scenarios and knowing the questions to ask can help ensure safety and comfort. Labor and birth is a normal natural physiological process. When we have a full understanding of all of the hormonal systems, the physiology of what is happening in our bodies, it is much easier to relax, let go, and trust our bodies to do the job of birthing our babies.
While going through this normal process of labor and birth, I can assure you, you will experience pain on some level whether you feel intense emotion, or physical intensity. Some women have even experienced orgasm. You will experience intense emotions as your hormones surge through your body. The oxytocin will cause your uterus to contract, thickening the top of your uterus, opening the cervix, helping to push your baby down and turn your baby into just the right position to leave the womb world. To help you deal with the intensity of contractions, your body will produce endorphins. The more relaxed you are, the more endorphins you will produce. The more you can let go, the faster your baby will be born. The stress hormones that you produce will cause your baby to produce stress hormones, which stimulate circulation, his/her immune system, and help your baby breath outside the womb. “High maternal oxytocin levels during labor and birth also benefit the baby. Research has found that maternal oxytocin crosses the placenta and enters the fetal brain during labor, when it acts to protect brain cells by switching them off,(Tyzio, Cossart et al. 2006) This is beneficial because it reduces the amount of oxygen that the baby’’s brain requires at this time, when contractions can reduce blood and oxygen supply.”3. www.sarahbuckley.com
When you understand that the pain has a positive purpose, then you may accept that it is not the same kind of pain that indicates something is wrong. With this acceptance comes a different perspective on your labor. You may not perceive the contractions of your uterus as painful, so much as an intense feeling. Some childbirth methods call uterine contractions “surges”. They are in actuality a contraction of a large involuntary muscle that come in surges, and waves, building to a peak, then simply going away allowing the mother to rest and regroup. But if you are told you will feel no pain, you will undoubtedly be taken by surprise when active labor kicks in. Even if you do feel pain, it isn't something you can't handle, and it isn't something to be afraid of.
Anticipate that you will have pain with a sacred and safe purpose. Know that it is truly something you can handle without medication, for most women. Labor and birth are inherently safe without intervention. Plan on reacting with deep breathing, rhythmic movement, different positions, low, deep moaning sounds, and a belief that you can actually enjoy this journey. Slow down, and enjoy the sacred experience and journey of bringing your baby into the world.
Thursday June 14, 2012, came and went. However, it was not a typical Thursday. I woke up as usual at 8:30 a.m. to get ready for my cycle class at the gym. At 8:33 a.m. I felt a slight gush of water as I walked around. I didn’t think much of it so I continued to get ready for the gym. Time continued to pass and I didn’t think anything of it since I was not due until June 27th. Even though I was 38 weeks pregnant and considered full term, I told myself it was too early to go into labor or let alone for my water to break. I asked a close friend who had just given birth to her third child a week earlier what she thought it might be. She indicated that it could be my mucous plug. However, I continued to feel gushes of water as time went on. I decided to wake my husband and let him know what was happening. He advised me to call the midwife and not go to the gym (yes I was still trying to get to my cycle class).
Once I spoke with the midwife who indicated that it was not an emergency and it sounded like my water broke she instructed me to make my way to the labor and delivery unit to test the liquid that was gushing out. Since it was not an emergency my husband and I decided to take our time getting to labor and delivery. We cooked breakfast and then I showered to make sure I was nice and relaxed. We grabbed our birth kit and our over night bag and headed to labor and delivery. At that point I was a little nervous because I was not feeling any contractions and I knew that I had 18 hours before I was at risk of getting an infection and I did not want to get induced. During our drive to the hospital, my husband and I had agreed that if everything was ok, we would drive back home to labor as much as we could with our Doula.
Four o’clock finally arrived and we went to check in at the birthing center. We were given one of the big rooms that had a king size four post bed and a tub to labor in. It was 5p.m. when my mother and sisters arrived at the birthing center. At that point my contractions were getting a little stronger, longer, and closer together but they were still manageable and I was still able to have conversations. Around 7p.m. things started to pick up and my contractions were a lot stronger, longer, and closer together, I was in active labor. I tried several positions which included side lying, rocking on the birth ball, walking, and leaning over while holding on to one of the post on the bed (this position really worked for me). As active labor continued things were getting really intense. My contractions were very strong and were right on top of each other. I didn’t have any breaks in between them. At that point I felt like I could no longer do it and my husband reminded me that by saying that I was in transition and I was close to meeting our daughter. Finally I was able to get into to the tub and continue my labor. I had no idea how I was going to get into the tub from the bed because the contractions were killing me. Once I got into the tub it was a huge relief. Laboring in the tub was very relaxing and the contractions felt more manageable. While in the tub I began to feel a huge sensation to push. The midwife was able to confirm that I was dilated enough to push. Once I changed my breathing and was able to establish a good pattern of birthing and curling the pushing sensation became easier to handle. The hospital’s policy did not allow for a water birth so I could only labor in the tub until the baby began to crown (I could remember wanting to curse at the nurse for not letting me deliver in the water). After pushing for sometime the baby began to crown and I somehow managed to get up and walk back to the bed to resume my pushing. I pushed for approximately 45 minutes. On June 15, 2012, at 2:09 a.m. our beautiful Charlotte Aleah Maldonado was born, weighing 6lbs 11oz and 18 inches long.
The joy of watching my husband catch her and then cut the cord was amazing. My daughter was placed on my stomach and crawled her way up to my chest and I embraced her warm little body. The third stage of labor did not go as I planned. Because I had a slight tear and I would not stop bleeding the midwife was forced to give me pitocin or risk hemorrhaging. Delivering the placenta was not a pretty sight at all and I was surprised by its size. After all was said and done both my daughter and I were alive and healthy.
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