Preparing for birth like for a big party..
When you come from a country where birth is highly medicalized, natural birth is not necessarily something that you have in mind at first when you get pregnant. Being able to overcome the fear is one. Being able to turn it around to the point that preparing for birth starts feeling like preparing for your next big party is something that one has to admire.
I had a chance to meet Emilia and Bruno when they decided to join me for a HypnoBirthing course. We stayed connected through their whole pregnancy, yet there are two moments that got stuck in my mind: 1/ Bruno showing me a stash of printed out pictures that he was planning to put all over their apartment around 2 weeks before Luna was born. And 2/ Emilia telling me that she kept her eyes closed for most of the time around two weeks after Luna was born ;-)
Their story is one of those that I tend to share with my students often so I am really glad that Emilia managed to put it all together for you in between taking care of Luna, renovating their new apartment, passing exams for TCM and navigating their new parenting life.. <3
Pregnancy & preparation for birth
When I found out I was pregnant, it was a complete surprise. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was terrified of all the new things I had to learn, get, and understand. I thought I will surely give birth in a hospital - just to be on a safe side, having in mind a horrible labor image I knew from TV. We - my partner Bruno and I - were looking around on how to prepare for this together, and found Kasia’s Hypnobirthing preparation course. After the first class, we both agreed - we’re doing a home birth!! All terrifying images went away, and we began to prepare our home for this magical event.
One day, a few weeks before the guess date, we picked out a hundred of our pictures together, and hung them around the birthing rooms - one, the yoga/relax space - our bedroom, and one, where we planned to put the birth pool. It was great to do that some time ahead, so I got time to acknowledge them there, and every time I stepped into the room, get reminded of our Made With Love baby heading (literally) earth side! I hoped to look at them during labor, and get into this oxytocin-high state with ease. In between the pictures I hanged handwritten affirmations and intentions for the transition. There was a sexy, spacey playlist made, so we can move and dance together during labor. Fairy lights were hanging, candles were ready to burn. The essential oils I planned to use during labor had their own special place on the shelf, for easy access. In short, we mentally prepared for it like for a secret home party - the location was known, only the time was a mystery! Our pre-party was a Goodbye Belly Ceremony with our friends, during which I received two ceremonial candles - a white Mama candle, and a green (my birth color) Baby candle. They were to be lit when I went into labor.
In the anticipation we went over acupressure points to relieve discomfort, and inspired ourselves with YouTube videos, where women just breathe the baby into the world. I made some tinctures to relieve anxiety and take the edge of the pain while in transition, and was practicing the breathing and visualization techniques learned during the course. Bruno was giving me light touch massages, and guiding me into calm state of mind with gentle meditation. He also dived into the research about auriculotherapy (ear acupressure) points responsible i.a. for the uterus, to help my body in this journey. In the kitchen there was a pile of veeeery dark chocolate, for grounding (that was more for my birth team, Bruno and my Mum). We even went over possible scenarios, in one word - we were ready for it, and couldn’t wait!
And here is birth story..
Of course, the birth took its own course. It started with the visit of my midwife, who gently nudged my uterus, which triggered surges. For the rest of the day I was having more and less intense surges, went for a walk, and had a hot, relaxing shower, but we went to bed with not much happening - the ‘false’ labor, so they say. The surges continued throughout the night, but I managed to rest in between them. Finally the next morning I started timing them, at which point they were about 30 s long, a few minutes apart from each other. I still wasn’t sure whether it is the real deal, but the regularity of them gave me hope that it might be it.
As the morning continued, things were getting more intense, and I felt my water starting to break and trickle down. It was very gentle, so I wondered, whether it was really it? The surges were still far from the ‘1 minute long, 2-3 minutes apart’ guidelines we were told, but we decided to call the midwife. They came round at 2pm, the midwife and a midwife-to-be, and they confirmed - it was amniotic fluid, and I was officially in labor!
I went for another walk together with Bruno, but this time the surges were much more intense, so we didn’t get far and had to stop a lot. He was supporting me so I could lean on him during the wave. After we got back, I tried to eat some dinner with my family, but it was not really possible, so instead I did yoga, and rested on my bed. Bruno was giving me auriculotherapy throughout the transition (also later, when I was in the pool), which was actually quite painful, but in my state it was a nice distraction.
At some point my waters broke completely, and since then I was making pools wherever I went - soon there were towels on the floor everywhere! My mum was pressing down on the points low on my back that we thought were releasing pain, but to me they felt like a trigger for more discomfort, so I kindly asked her to stop. Ok, I was more like ’NOO!’. I spent a lot of time hanging from the frame of my bed, and on the yoga bolster, leaning on Bruno. He took over timing of the surges, as it was stressing me they are not proceeding fast enough.
By the time it was 11pm, I was exhausted, cold and shaking, and the only thing I wished to do was to go to sleep. So we did that - of course, sleep in my case was an overstatement, but the rest between the surges was glorious. With that rest, the intensity of the surges slowed down, which I wasn’t super happy about, but I could take them on with a more relaxed body, which was very beneficial. A necessary compromise :) At some point I got up and sat on the ball, but was still dozing off in between. Eventually, around 3 am I woke them up, and asked for support. Bruno called the midwifes, and they came around 5. Things really took off from that moment, and he rushed to fill the birth pool. The midwifes said they will come back at 10.
At least I wasn’t concerned about timing the surges anymore - there was no time for that. I got to the pool, what a relief it was! But only for a moment. The water felt really warm, so I started sweating and panting on top of all the other things happening in me. But nothing mattered anymore. The water allowed me to move more freely. Bruno was guiding me to breathe, and I laid with my eyes closed, and roared, and I did it loud! The roar was giving me strength, connection to my body. The idea of silently breathing my baby out seemed very strange at that time. I felt suspended in between worlds. Hearing myself scream was somewhat reassuring that I’m still on Planet Earth. I looked at Bruno, and said ‘I can do this’, although I felt the opposite. I knew the power of positive manifestation will help me. After all, the only way out, is through! It was dark in the room except for the fairy lights, so I couldn’t see the carefully curated pictures (Love Walls, as we called them), and anyway, I had my eyes closed for most of the time, focusing my attention inward.
Eventually he got into the pool with me, and held me, floating on the water level, gently stimulating my yoni. I guess my body remembered the good times, and reacted to it in a very positive way! He was my rock, ordering me to breathe during the surge, and in between them, in those sweet seconds of peace and rest… I started to feel the urge to push, so he got out and called the midwifes to come earlier, as it was around 9 at that time. They came soon after, and were checking on me and on the baby, if everything is going alright. It was. They encouraged me, and guided on how to breathe and push, which was super, super helpful. Thanks to their advice to push really gently during crowning, I didn’t get a tear. Soon after - at 11.25, our child was born. I will never forget the feeling of her body passing through! I held her at my chest, so absolutely grateful for this moment, my head falling back from the effort, when we realized: we forgot to check her gender! She didn’t want to show us at first, crossing her legs, but then we saw. It was Nella Luna, our daughter, looking at us with her big black eyes… Absolutely magical!
After that I was kinda rushed out - the water got cold (which I completely didn’t notice), too cold for Nella, so we moved to the bedroom to give birth to my placenta and to examine the baby. She was the most beautiful thing I ever saw, each one of her tiny moves made my heart explode with love. I was so happy about the quick, efficient moves of the midwifes, who arranged everything so professionally and mindfully. In hindsight, I can’t imagine doing it differently, going to hospital or not having a birth pool. One thing maybe would be to remember to take the tincture I have prepared for this occasion… :)