Posts Tagged ‘positive birth stories’

More natural birth stories

October 31, 2008

Excerpted from Journey into Motherhood:

Inspirational Stories of Natural Birth by Sheri Menelli

From Denial to Ecstasy

By Michele Zeck

You could set a clock by my menstrual cycle. But when I was four days late, I focused on all of the physical signs indicating my period was on the way. I bought an Early Pregnancy Test on my way to work, just to put my mind to rest—I knew I was not pregnant.

I went to the restroom the second I arrived. That stick couldn’t have turned positive any quicker than it did… I was horrified! At 32, I had just gotten engaged to Rich, and did not want kids at all. In a state of shock and hysteria, I tried to tell a couple of my co-workers. I was incoherent, carrying on and pointing to the stick, so distraught that I had to leave work. I headed straight to Rich to tell him the news. I could not have asked for a more sympathetic man as I sat in his office blubbering about the situation.

That night we talked over our options. Do we keep the baby or do we give the baby up for adoption? I cried and prayed until I finally fell asleep that night. The next day I had an overwhelming feeling of peace about the pregnancy. It was a go. We accepted our unexpected gift.

As we talked about the kind of birth we wanted—a hospital or home birth—I made it clear that I am against any kind of pain
medication or anything that interferes with the natural birthing process. I don’t understand why people would take care of themselves during their pregnancy but allow drugs to enter their body, and the baby’s, during labor. Our bodies are made for birthing. Labor pain won’t last forever, and there is such a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Although it can seem unbearable at times, I see labor as such a small window of time compared to the bigger picture of growing and birthing a child.

We were aware of the problems that could arise if we chose a hospital birth, but I didn’t know anyone who had given birth at home. We talked with friends about our dilemma, and they knew of a midwife who had been in practice for over 20 years and delivered over 1,000 babies. Encouraged by this sign, we contacted her to set up an interview. She answered all of our questions and talked with us about our philosophy on birthing. She advised us to not make a decision right away, to think about our conversation for a week or so.

We figured it would be smart to talk with my Ob/Gyn about home birth. So we made an appointment, but before we could see the doctor we had to fill out a stack of paperwork. Oh, brother! Then the nurse proceeded to go through her routine, or as I call it, “pushing us through like a herd of cows.” She gave us the “pregnant packet” full of propaganda, which annoyed Rich and I to no end. We just wanted to TALK to the doctor, that’s it. Finally, we were led to an examination room and I was told to get into a gown. I said, “I’m sorry, but I’m here strictly to talk to the doctor. No examination is going to take place.” Thank goodness Rich was there, or I wouldn’t have felt brave enough to stand up for what I believed should happen during that visit.

My doctor, a woman I really liked and had been to for five years, came in a few minutes later. We talked about the possibility of working with a midwife and having a home birth. While she was open to a midwife, she objected to a home birth because of the fact I had herpes. (Herpes can be passed from mother to baby during birth, but only if the mother is experiencing a breakout.) I was so
grateful that I had already discussed this with my midwife. She had put my concerns to rest right away, educating me on foods and immune-boosting supplements that would suppress breakouts. She had safely delivered many babies with moms who had herpes. To hear my doctor try to scare me with the herpes angle did not make me happy. She said she respected our feelings about whether or not to vaccinate our baby, and other choices we wanted to make, which made me feel better. However, she couldn’t guarantee she would be on call when I went into labor, and she warned me that the other delivery doctors wouldn’t be as open-minded. That was all I needed to hear. I wasn’t going to give birth under such uncertain circumstances.

After we were done with the question-and-answer session the doctor said, “I see you didn’t want an exam.” I confirmed that we were just there to talk, so the office charged us for a consultation, which our insurance does not cover. That was the cherry on top of the whole unpleasant experience.

The next day we called the midwife, Yolanda, and told her we were ready to work with her. We met the following week to fill out some paperwork and exchange expectations, and just to talk. She told us that she did not conduct vaginal exams until the home visit, which is two weeks before your due date. She had a 0% infection rate. She does not offer any drugs for pain and will only do episiotomies if absolutely necessary. During the birth she uses oil and massage to help stretch the perineum and make it more elastic. Yolanda also advised me to use ginger for morning sickness… those ginger tablets were my best friends for months. Peppermint oil was also helpful for my tummy. Our next appointment was in two months, which would put me at 13 weeks along.

Our first real appointment with a midwife was astonishing. The wealth of information she had blew me away. My husband has children from a previous marriage and even he was flabbergasted. He told her that no doctor had ever taken the time to include him in the prenatal discussions, or teach him how to help prepare a woman’s body for the birthing process.

In my second trimester I was feeling so much better, now that the nausea had left. But that is also when the fear set in… I was so scared of the pain of labor. Some days that’s all I thought about, and I knew I had to take control of my mindset. I told Yolanda about my low tolerance for pain, and asked what I could do to cope with my fears. She encouraged me to read Birthing from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz, an excellent book. It was key to helping me manage the pain issue, but also so much more. It is perfect for women planning a home birth, or a hospital birth.

I needed to hear the baby’s heartbeat, and we finally did for the first time at about the 17th week. Until that day, a part of me was still in denial about being pregnant. I didn’t want to get my hopes up in case something went wrong during my first trimester. Once I heard that little heart beat I was overwhelmed with happiness. I really was pregnant! There really was a little person growing inside me. The reality of having a baby finally set in.

The more I read my book, Birthing from Within, the more thrilled I was and the more confident I became that I could have a perfectly wonderful home birth. Birthing at home can be a very daunting thing for most people. My mom and friends resisted the idea at first. All I heard was, “What if, what if, what if… hospitals are safer and better equipped to handle emergencies….” I told them to educate themselves about home births and hospital births
before making a judgment call. As I shared more and more information with them, they gradually opened up to the idea.

Two weeks before my due date, our midwife came for a home visit. She examined me and confirmed that all was well with the baby and me. She checked our birthing supplies to make sure we had everything we would need. Rich and I were so ready to have a baby… we were just waiting for the baby to be ready to join us.

And then, the day came. It was about 3 a.m. when I started feeling uncomfortable so I went downstairs to lay on the couch. By 4 a.m. I was sitting at the table, reading a chart in a book, trying to determine if those sensations were fake contractions or true contractions. I honestly didn’t know. According to the book, I was having some of each. I timed them, but there was no consistency. By 5 a.m. I knew they were true contractions, coming about one minute apart. An hour later I yelled upstairs, telling my husband to call our midwife.

I lay over the side of the bed, breathing and talking to Yolanda. She asked me questions, trying to discern if I was in true labor. She was just finishing up with another birth and was about 30 minutes away, but said she was on her way. Rich called my mom to tell her I was in labor and asked her to pray for us.

Yolanda arrived at the house at 7:30 a.m., bringing with her an energy of calmness. I was safe and at peace with her there. I felt the safest in our bedroom, so that is where we stayed (along with our dog and cat). I can’t remember much of what she said to me but I remember that Yolanda’s voice was very soothing. Rich was at my side the whole time. Whether I was in the bathtub or on the toilet wanting to throw up, he was there. He was my rock.

My midwife would not let me stay in any one position for too long. She believes that different birthing positions encourage the baby to move into the birth canal. She was right. By 8:30 a.m. I was dilated to eight centimeters. My water still had not broken; it never really did, it just leaked a little at a time. By 10 a.m. I was fully dilated and ready to push. My husband was a great coach, and I
clung to him like never before. I needed him, and he came through like a knight in shining armor!

Yolanda listened to the baby’s heartbeat one more time before I started pushing. Believe it or not, I asked her if she could tell what sex the baby was by the heartbeat, and she said yes.

With each contraction I pushed deeply… I wanted the baby out and I wanted it out now! For the first 20 minutes of pushing I was on the bed, and then I moved to a birthing stool. That was perfect. As our baby was crowning, she told me she could see the baby’s head and that it had lots of hair. She lowered a mirror so I could see, and then I put my hand down to feel the hair. How incredible that moment was! To feel part of the baby before it entered this world was just magical. Yolanda gave me specific instructions, telling me to stop pushing. She was preparing the baby’s opening with oil, massaging it to stretch with the baby so there would be no tearing. I started pushing again, but had to stop—as much as I didn’t want to, I knew what the consequences would be if I didn’t. With one final push, the baby emerged face up. Yolanda told me to grab my baby girl and pull her out. What a glorious experience, to pull your child out of your body and welcome her into the world!

Shea Kiley lay on my chest with the cord still attached for 10
or 15 minutes before Rich cut it. I was helped up onto the bed and started nursing my precious angel. God was good to me. Every­thing went exactly the way it should have—perfect.

A Mother’s Guidance: Having a home birth with a midwife was my key to a great birth. Birthing is difficult, that’s just reality, but to give birth in the comfort of your home can make it an awesome experience. Choose a midwife who explains everything to you and lets you know how your pregnancy and labor are progressing. She will reassure you that you are doing a great job, and you won’t be stuck in bed or have monitors hooked up to you. (That idea scared me, and felt like we would be anticipating problems.) What a story you get to share with your child—that they were born in their home!

Additional Thoughts: One of the most important things you can do at the beginning of your pregnancy is to carefully interview doctors or midwives. If you do not feel comfortable with them at the beginning of your pregnancy, you probably won’t feel any different when you are giving birth. You can find a great list of interviewing questions in the appendix of this book.

Michele Zeck is a stay-at-home mom to one daughter. Her husband Rich has managed a chiropractor’s office for the last four years.

To purchase Journey into Motherhood (48 more birth stoires), contact Sheri Menelli at 760-930-0913.

A Birth Story by Susan McClutchey

October 30, 2008

Cherishing Every Sensation

By Susan McClutchey

From the moment David and I dis­covered our pregnancy, we were awash in blissful excitement… tainted only by my fear of childbirth. After a lifetime of hearing birth horror stories, I was worried about how I would handle it. But at the same time, I didn’t understand why it should hurt. After all, pain is usually a way for our bodies to tell us something is wrong, yet pregnancy is a natural and healthy process. If Mother Nature provided us with only one way to (naturally) complete a preg­nancy, why would She make that one method painful?

With that question in mind, I began earnestly researching childbirth… and I soon found answers. The more I read, the more I realized that childbirth is not inherently painful. It is, however, extremely intense and can be overwhelming without proper preparation and support through labor. When a woman is unprepared for that intensity, she is likely to tense up and resist the process, which leads to pain.

Armed with a new understanding of childbirth, I found a course called HypnoBirthing that taught relaxation through self-hypnosis. My husband and I enjoyed the classes, but when they were over we still felt unprepared. Fortunately, we found supplemental resources on http://www.hypnobabies.com. Armed with these wonderful techniques, we settled confidently into a routine of practicing our relaxation, and waited for the big day with eager anticipation instead of fear.

We didn’t have long to wait! Four days before our due date, our sweet little man came into the world and completely stole
our hearts.

I first began to suspect that labor was close when I noticed a little bloody show late one Friday night. The show was still present the next morning, and I was having easy little surges (that’s hypno-speak for contractions) every seven to ten minutes for the first several hours after I awoke. I was so excited to know labor was starting, but I tried to remain calm, knowing it could take awhile.

I wandered downstairs, had some breakfast and made brownies for the labor-and-delivery staff. By 9:30 a.m. the surges were four to five minutes apart, but still gentle. I knew I wasn’t making dramatic progress, so I just napped and relaxed, enjoying time with my husband.

When the surges intensified, David called our doula and she joined us by noon. We were all happy and a little giggly with excitement. In the midst of our mirth, David pulled out the video camera to get some funny footage of me struggling to put socks on feet I hadn’t seen in months. He turned the camera on our doula and asked her to tell the audience who she was and why she was there. Her dazed response: “Dude, I don’t know anything about babies… I just brought the pizza!” The jovial atmosphere helped to keep me relaxed, despite my excitement, and for the next few hours we just hung out, chatting and laughing, while I used the birthing ball and listened to my relaxation tapes.

To this point, I had been concentrating on staying relaxed and visualizing my cervix opening easily. In the beginning, I worked on using deep, relaxing breathing, but soon it just became second nature. I spent quite a lot of time on my birth ball (which was really a large exercise ball). When I felt a surge beginning, I would place my hands palm-up on my knees and try to release all tension from them. I found that if I kept my hands loose and free of tension, I would automatically relax my shoulders, and the rest of my body followed the trend. After doing this a few times I could feel a tingling sensation in my fingers, and would picture all the tension in my body flowing out of my fingertips. It wasn’t something that I practiced prior to labor, I just found myself doing it.

We continued to relax and joke and have a wonderful time while we waited for me to feel that I was making progress. My surges grew more frequent, about two to three minutes apart, and lasted well over a minute, sometimes peaking twice. The double peaks concerned my doula, making her wonder if the baby might be posterior. But thanks to my relaxation, the surges were still comfortable, despite the fact I was experiencing back labor. I knew I wasn’t very dilated, but with my strange pattern of surges and the fact that they were well under five minutes apart, I decided to go to the hospital and make sure that the baby was well. When I felt ready, I had a light snack and we headed to the hospital, elated with the prospect of finally meeting our first-born child and finding out if we would have a son or a daughter!

When we arrived at the hospital, we found that we had a full moon working against us. With occupants in every Labor-and-Delivery room, we found ourselves sequestered in a tiny triage cubicle. Monitoring confirmed the healthy, happy state of the baby, but despite strong and frequent surges, I had only dilated three centimeters. My bag of waters was protruding down the birth canal and was so taut that the baby couldn’t make any downward progress. This was the reason my dilation stalled at three centi­meters, and it was causing the back labor. The bag of waters had the baby pressed against my spine, unable to descend. This awkward situation caused a lot of pressure on my urethra, which inhibited urination, but the relaxation techniques kept me from agony. Using self-hypnosis, I was able to relax and stay comfortable.

We tried walking around to see if we could encourage my membranes to rupture. Occasionally we would have to stop so I could lean on the wall while the doula and David pushed on my hips during surges (what relief!), but the nurses kept coming over and trying to have conversations with me while I was con­cen­trating. This was so distracting that we decided to forgo the benefits of walking and head back to triage.

It sounds weird, but while I didn’t actually feel any pain, I was well aware of its existence. It seemed like my relaxation acted as a wall between me and the painful sensations that some women
experience during childbirth. If anything started to shake my concentration, I would feel a dark shadow looming over me, and I worried that it was the pain about to come crashing over me like a huge wave. Luckily, that thought always made me come up with another way to relax, and the shadow never reached me.

While in the triage area, we heard three women deliver in cubicles around us, but I was determined to hold out for a room! So we just continued the relaxation, concentrated on visualizations of my cervix softening and expanding, and endured the holding pattern. David rubbed my back and shoulders when I needed it and I continued listening to relaxation tapes. By this time my surges were continuous, with no down time in between, and I knew I wasn’t progressing. But David and our doula kept me calm and comfortable, and took turns pestering the staff for a room.

I continued using the birthing ball and taking walks to the bathroom. I guess I was being overly optimistic by going to the restroom all the time—I still couldn’t urinate. Eventually I reached the point where I needed to remain on my side with my eyes closed to stay relaxed. I hadn’t had a break between surges in a few hours, and it took all my concentration to stay calm. At some level I knew that I had every right to be frustrated by not having a room, but I just kept telling myself that I would be holding my baby very soon, so a few hours didn’t really matter. I found myself thinking about getting angry, then realizing the harm it would do, and consciously deciding to be patient.

Finally, around 10 p.m. we got a birthing room! Once we were settled in and had the lights turned down to a comfortable level, I knew my body needed my water to break in order to progress.

I discussed the situation with my doctor and we decided to intervene. It was the right thing to do, according to what my body was telling me. She broke my water just after 11:00 p.m. I remember being surprised by how warm the liquid felt when it came out, and somehow that warmth helped me relax even further. I was dilated to five centimeters, but after my water was broken I actually regressed to four centimeters. Again, I had the fleeting thought that I should be frustrated by my lack of progress, but decided such thoughts were not helpful and remained patient.

Having my water broken was a huge relief to my body, and I was lucky to experience a rest period when my surges were only occurring every five to seven minutes. I took that time to go into deeper relaxation, and I napped. With the membranes having released, the baby could finally move down. The pressure on my cervix really got things moving. When I awoke, I was in transition and things became more intense. I was having trouble staying calm, but David and the doula were miracle workers. They helped me regain control by telling me how well I was handling the surges, and reminding me that I was not going to experience anything more difficult than what I had already handled. (They also kicked out the rude anesthesiologist, who laughed at us when we declined an epidural and said to let him know when we needed him.)

By 12:30 a.m. I was dilated eight or nine centimeters. Only a few minutes later, I began feeling my body push with the surges and asked for the doctor. When she arrived, she confirmed that I was completely dilated and told me to push when I was ready. I was relieved to hear that—my body had already begun pushing without my consent!

When I shifted from my side into a sitting/reclined position, the surges stopped almost completely. I was in absolutely no discomfort and felt no surges, but since so many people were standing there watching me expectantly, I still put on a show of pushing from time to time. I felt like a stage actress who made a grand entrance in front of a full house and promptly forgot all her lines! Everyone was so fixated on me, and absolutely nothing was happening! It sounds silly now, but I was so embarrassed about not having any surges after asking for the doctor. I tried to discreetly use the technique of breathing the baby down when I
wasn’t actively pushing. Despite my being ridiculous and trying to do it without anyone noticing, it worked! The baby was nearly crowning, but I wasn’t working with my body anymore. I was annoyed that I had to do all the work, since I wasn’t having surges to help things along. I finally asked to roll onto my side again, and instantly relaxed into a wonderful surge that brought the baby to crowning without any work on my part.

I rolled right back and started pushing with gusto. I loved this stage! Prior to the birth, I had done perineal massage while using relaxation techniques, and visualized crushed ice coming down before the baby’s head, cooling and soothing everything before it stretched around him. As a result, the pushing felt
wonderful and the smooth warmth of my son’s face and body emerging from me felt like a massaging caress. I could feel every magical little detail of him as he moved through and out of me. I marveled at the sweet warmth of his skin against my birth canal and cherished every sensation. It seemed as though the entire world came to an expectant halt and nothing existed except those of us in the room. Everyone responded to the sacred but joyful feel of those moments by using hushed tones to give me quiet encouragement and exclaim over the beauty of the event.

Our beautiful son Luke emerged peacefully into the dimly lit room and was passed immediately into my hands, where he lay while my husband checked to see his gender. The cord was very short, so he stayed on my stomach for several minutes until it stopped pulsating and we cut it. His brow was furrowed as he peered back and forth from my face to David’s with a look of both concern and interest. He had no interest in anyone else in the room, and the three of us just gazed at each other in awe as David and I told him how happy we were to meet him. From that moment we were so utterly in love with him that we could barely breathe as the weight of that devotion settled into our hearts. I will never forget the feeling of his warm little body in my hands and my surprise at how clean and soft he felt. I had braced myself for him to be slimy and bloody, but he was soft and clean and perfect.

Despite 19 hours of labor, I felt ready to run a marathon. Before I even delivered the placenta, I told David that I was looking forward to giving birth again—our doctor nearly fell over with shock! Both my doctor and doula said they had never seen a more serene and beautiful birth. Nurses from throughout the ward came by to discuss the hypnosis techniques we used. Apparently we were the talk of Labor & Delivery all weekend, and I like to think that hypnosis for birthing will be taken more seriously there in the future.

I had no soreness or aching whatsoever after the birth, never needing so much as an aspirin. I loved my pregnancy, but the joy of those 40 weeks pales in comparison to the exhilaration of Luke’s birth!

A Mother’s Guidance: We worked hard to create a wonderful birth experience. The HypnoBirthing classes, supplemented by tapes from the Hypnobabies website, were invaluable tools for us. Since our first pregnancy, we have made it our mission to let the pregnant women we meet know that they have options—that birth doesn’t have to be a painful, drugged and medically-controlled experience. We are currently expecting our second child and are using the Hypnobabies course exclusively this time.

Additional Thoughts: It really is possible—a pain-free labor with an orgasmic pushing stage. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin can provide additional information on releasing the fear of pushing.

Susan McClutchey is a chemical engineer and her husband is currently a stay-at-home father. He also acts and does development work for local theaters and charity organizations.

Excerpted from Journey into Motherhood: Inspirational Stories of Natural Birth by Sheri Menelli

My story of birthing this book

October 26, 2008

After years of teaching hypnosis for childbirth, I felt frustrated.

The fear of childbirth was an epidemic. Every client I had told me of times when they were approached by strangers who had noticed the big belly and felt determined to tell them a horror birth story.  My past clients who really had fabulous births – some with no pain told me that it was difficult to tell their stories. They felt the anger of other moms who didn’t have a joyous birth. They felt like keeping quiet about their stories.

The final straw came in September 2003 when I had a client sobbing in my office. She had heard 8 horror birth stories that week and she was already terrified of birth long before that week. Coincindentally or perhaps not, I had another mother come to me the next day who was also sobbing. She had heard 2 horror birth stories that week that really upset her.

I set out to the local bookstore to find a book on positive birth stories. I was certain that a few more positive stories would counteract the negative stories. I searched for 6 months and never found a book that was solely about stories and solely dedicated to positive birth stories. The closest I found had a lot of great home birth stories but my moms were giving birth at the hospital. They needed the wisdom from other moms who had something positive to share.

I remember telling my husband that I couldn’t believe no one had written a book on positive birth stories. I knew if I wanted one written. I had to do it. I didn’t want to. I’m not a writer and I knew it would be a large and expensive project. My daughter was just 2 years old at the time. I didn’t have time.

I tried to convince everyone I knew to do this project. It fell on deaf ears.

I tried to forget about this darn idea but it wouldn’t let me go. I thought about it daily for 3 years and it drove me crazy!

Who was I to write a book? I’m not a great writer. I’m a terrible editor, I’m not a detail oriented person. I have no background in publishing. Please God, don’t make me do this!

To be continued…


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