“Giving birth can be the most empowering experience of a lifetime – an initiation into a new dimension of mind-body awareness.” ~Ina May Gaskin
As soon as I got pregnant I read everything related to pregnancy and childbirth. I wanted to know what to expect, and what I could do to ensure everything went smoothly.
I opted to take Hypnobirthing class through Blooma (shout out to Channing!).
Hypnobirthing provided me with information about what to expect in the different stages of labor, and offered several techniques to help me cope with the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that pop up during childbirth. It also provided a platform for my husband and I to talk about my wishes during labor and birth, and how he could best support me. It helped him to know what to look for as I was going into labor and what he could expect. Which, it turned out would be very helpful in my labor and birth.
As a part of Hypnobirthing you do daily work on affirmations and visualizations. These were incredibly helpful for me on so many levels. It not only helped me work through my own fears leading up to my labor and delivery, it helped me cope with the new experiences I was having in pregnancy empowering me as “labor-day” drew near.
Doing this work helped me to honor and trust in my body and my son to birth safely. These things that I practiced turned out to be critical, allowing me to have a labor experience that left me feeling happy and empowered.
I had measured “big” all along, and was so convinced my son would come early. I think every first-time mom thinks this - or is it just me? I remember my midwives telling me that it’s normal for a first-time mom to go past her guess date. I also remember thinking “yeah, okay – but that won’t be me”. The universe was laughing in my face. It was a full eight days after my guess date that I went into labor. Nine days post-guess date my son, Crosby, joined us Earth-side.
By labor started with a false-alarm water breaking (being that pregnant in the height of the summer – one never knows). After this false alarm I was having inconsistent surges/contractions. This went on for several days…
Finally, on Friday, August 3rd, I hit a mental break. I had been having surges irregularly for at least 24 hours and I felt like I was not progressing AT ALL. I remember thinking I was going to be in this in-between state forever. As these surges continued, I utilized my breathing skills that I had been practicing and continued my affirmations.
After two phone calls to the midwife, an increasing pressure and discomfort low in my pelvis, and continued inconsistent surges, I was convinced I was in very early labor or prodromal labor. I consciously welcomed the sensations that I was feeling and let them flow. In fact, I remember wanting to feel more of it – because I knew that would mean we were getting somewhere!
Eventually, I felt like I needed to use the restroom, so I tried, and tried, and tried. I didn’t need to go to the bathroom - it was a head, my sons head. In the moment I was confused. Listening to my body I thought I was progressing, but because of my irregular surges and after my conversations with the midwife I was convinced I wasn’t even close to birthing this baby. (Side note: my husband was NOT confused – he knew what was up. But remained a steadfast observer and supporter.)
Before I knew it, my body sprang into action. I felt a surge coming and my whole stomach bore down! After a conversation with my husband, and a call to the midwife, we were on our way to the birth center!
These pushing surges continued and about 30 minutes later we arrived at the birth center. My midwife checked baby, I got in the water, I was checked, and he was on his way out!
This is where things got good! The water was AMAZING.
This was a happy phase for me – it felt good that my baby was coming, that I was in a comfortable space surrounded by the support team I trusted. I worked with my body and breathed through the pushing phase. This is really where I feel the techniques that I had learned and practiced paid off! About 2 hours after arriving at the birth center, we had our baby boy. It was the most crazy and surreal experience. I wouldn’t change a moment of it.
In the moment, I couldn’t tell you what stage of labor I was experiencing, but I knew to use my breath. I knew how to build support around me that allowed me to get through the moments of fear. The months prior to my birth, I had been learning and practicing so that I could put these lessons into action. It felt so good to work with my body as I brought my dear boy into this world. My experience would not have been the same if I did not put in the work. By preparing and practicing coping skills I set myself up for success.
Doing the work, taking time to educate yourself (and your partner), preparing your mind and body, and sharing your wishes with your support team are amazing steps you can take to create an amazing and empowering birth experience.
Written by Margaret Achu – Certified Health Coach, Occupational Therapist, Mama You can follow me on Instagram @coach_margaret_achu or check out my website margaretachu.com.