By Alice Koller, Empowered Birthing.
Well my baby is one today. I am not sure how the year went by so fast but it did and it is just filled with blissful memories and amazing experiences. He is the last of three but will always be my baby, no matter how big or old he gets. His birth and first year also hold an extra special place in my heart as I believe I finally did ‘it’.
What is 'it'?
‘It’ is a complete calmness and wholeness that I feel I have found since having my third child. I feel complete not just in the family sense but in who I am and it all started with my pregnancy and birth.
I knew my options, I knew what choices I had open to me, I was fully educated in what happens, when it happens and everything else I might need to know. I knew and finally loved my body and I felt truly confident in its ability to birth my baby. I knew what I wanted. I also had an amazing birth team, whom I both loved, respected, and felt very connected to in the form of my Midwives (the Madawaska Valley Midwives) as well as my amazingly attentive husband and my two little cheerleaders (my sons aged 2 & 4).
I also had hypnobirthing.
Preparing for Birth with Hypnobirthing
I had used a different method of hypnobirthing for my second son and compared to not using it with my first son, my second birth experience was polar opposites. Positive to the extreme but with this birth, I built even more on to it.
I used KG Hypnobirthing which has even simpler breathing techniques and I just loved the relaxation scripts. So I read The KG Hypnobirthing book by Katherine Graves, I had already done my teacher training in KG Hypnobirthing so I knew all the content, I listened to the relaxation scripts when I was going to sleep or in the bath, practised visualizing my baby being born, repeated my favourite positive affirmations and I ignored my due date (as well as kept it very quiet), instead focusing on a date at 43 weeks - because he had to have arrived by then!
So in short, I was prepared, happy, positive, relaxed, and under no pressure.
The First Stage - Early Labour
On the 20 February 2018 at 11:50 pm my water broke. Entirely of its own accord, I had had no sweeps or done anything out of the ordinary. My husband and I got up, filled the pool, called the Midwives to give them advance warning, and then we went back to bed. I did start to have mild irregular surges (contractions) but I just ignored them until I couldn’t ignore them any longer so at 4:00 am I got up quietly by myself, put on a relaxation and confidence script, bounced around on my birthing ball and practised my breathing. At 5am I called the Midwives to ask them to come on over and at 5:30 I woke my husband to let him know I was in active labour. At 5:45 the Midwives arrived and at 6:15 I was in the birthing pool.
The First Stage - Active Labour
I had my chosen music playing, my lavender diffuser on, the lights down low, and my eyes closed. I was breathing perfectly through each surge visualizing my uterus pulling up and my cervix opening. Each breath in I took I said to myself, ‘calm in’ and then as I breathed out, ‘tension out’ and I made sure to let my whole body relax with my out breath. My Midwives were amazing and kept so quiet in the background I almost forgot they were there. They truly respected my wishes to use hypnobirthing and that I had confidence in my body's ability. My husband kept me hydrated with coconut water, and kept the Oxytocin flowing with loving words and just being close. My boys would come and check on me periodically, and I have said it many times before, but there is no greater affirmation that you can do it, than to gaze upon those whom you have already birthed.
The First Stage - Transition
This being my third baby, I already knew I was a few centimetres dilated and not wanting to be discouraged by numbers I declined all vaginal exams unless the Midwives deemed it necessary. I was on all fours, entirely of my own accord as it was the most comfortable and subconsciously primal position. I was fully focused on just me and the changes taking place in my body. I could feel my baby's movements and I could picture him moving down.
The Second Stage - 'Pushing'
At 7:03am my baby was on his way and as the surges of my uterus became even more powerful, instead of pushing, I concentrated on relaxing to an even deeper level in order that I could completely open and give my baby the room to birth himself. I used my down breathing all the while visualizing his squished, grumpy face coming to greet me.
At 7:11am he had crowned and for the first time out of all my births I had the confidence to stroke his little head as there was a pause while I could feeling him rotating inside for the final expulsion. At 7:14am he was born into my hands. I had birthed my own baby. It was the most rewarding, exhilarating and empowering moment. I did it with my two young sons and husband by my side.
The Third Stage - Placenta
At 7:31 the placenta was born. After waiting 9 minutes, my husband cut the cord and my new family of 5 moved to our bed where the Midwives helped me to establish breastfeeding after a beautifully successful breast crawl.
For the rest of the day we all lazed in bed, watched movies and got to know our newest addition. I stayed in bed for 2 days, and didn’t leave the house for a week. It was the best decision I made to allow myself to heal, to concentrate on our bonding, and to readjust yet again to the changing family dynamic of having a third child.
Yes it was a blissful birth and an empowering one. My first few weeks were not without difficulties though in the form of breastfeeding, sore nipples, and slow weight gain for my baby. It turns out he had seven ties - tongue, lip, and cheek tie which we did have corrected but I had to fight hard to re-establish my milk supply after it dropped and I had to work hard to get his weight up to where it should be. Having had his ties fixed I then also had to work hard on getting a good latch. I had some long nights of feeding, sitting alone in the dark with only my negative thoughts of failure to keep me company. With the unending encouragement of my husband, persistent and amazing help of my Midwives, and the use of my hypnobirthing I got through it. I would visualize my milk flowing from me into my baby and I would repeat over and over that ‘I have enough milk to feed my baby’. I would practice taking some long, slow breathes and relaxing and it seemed to work.
So here I am, one year later. I just nursed my new one year old to sleep. Just like with his due date (for those interested he was born at 39 + 6) when I believed he would come when he was ready, I believe he will stop breastfeeding when he is ready too. I still feel like I am riding high from my birth experience and my experiences of his first year and I will tell anyone that will listen.
Born: 7:14 am 21st February 2018 weighing 8lb 15oz
If my birth story has inspired you to try Hypnobirthing, please do get in contact! I can either meet in person or chat over skype if you live outside of the Ottawa Valley. I teach both in person and online.