Dear Nadia, my daughter Maia was due on the 2nd August but she decided to arrive on the 11th August, 9 days after her due date. Both at week 40 and 41 hospital check ups, I was offered the swipe of the membranes, which I refused because I did not want to be induced. The baby’s heartbeat was regular, she was growing and moving fine, so I could wait for natural contractions to kick in.
However, during week 39 up to 41, I looked for some support by visiting a reflexologist and an osteopath. They reassured me that everything was ok, my tissues and ligaments were softening. In addition they gave me some homeopathic remedies to take: the Caulophyllum 200c pre-labour (after week 40), and the Arnica 200c and Hypericum 200c during and after labour.
Besides, I was keeping up with yoga practice, having sex with my husband Geo, drinking regularly raspberry leaf tea, massaging my belly with olive oil + clary sage essential oil and listening daily to the natal hypnotherapy CD.
Finally, I do not know if there is any correlation, but my mother arrived from Italy on 9th August, I lost the show early morning on the 10th and on the 11th I woke up at 4 am with a tingling sensation in my belly that there was something going on. I filled the bath with warm water and I comfortably plunged myself in for around 2 hours, asking myself if I was finally experiencing contractions. At 6 am I decided that although mild, I was experiencing real contractions, as they were kind of regular and strengthening up in intensity. Finally!
Gently and smoothly I tried some positions by sitting and kneeling in the water and the best one for me was kneeling on all 4. I was happy and felt reassured that the process had begun. At around 6 am I woke up my husband and asked him to start taking the timing between contractions. He was very excited too! Although he wanted to wake up our mothers who were sleeping at the lower floor, I asked him to wait and just focus on me. For one hour until 7ish we monitored the contractions: each of them was lasting from 40/45 seconds to 1 minute with intervals of 3, 4 up to 7 minutes between each others.
At this time, the bathroom was my nest: I came out of the warm water and was standing in the middle of the room, focusing on my breath: inhaling from my nose and exhaling from my mouth. Mentally I kept repeating ‘relax’, so that the contractions could become regular and consistent as they were working to open up my cervix. Also, I noticed that I was having some minor discharges of bloodish and gelish kind of show and I was happy because that was a sign that my cervix was softening.
At 7.30 am I could no longer refrain my husband from waking up our mothers and telling them the good news. However I put a condition: I did not want to see anyone but him until I feel I was ready. Thus I asked for some water, biscuits, and the usual tables of vitamins and minerals, so I could keep them busy and myself well nurtured.
Geo called the Labour Ward at the hospital to tell them that I had contractions. However, I did not speak with the midwife as I knew it was too early.
At 9ish am we finally had a regular pattern of contractions, 1 every 3-4 minutes, so I called the mid-wife, who asked me how strong my contractions were. Well, I could certainly cope with them. Therefore the mid-wife asked me to wait at least a couple of hours and then call again.
Two hours past. By 11am, I was experiencing very strong contractions to the extent that I was finding difficult to stay in one position for long. So I walked downstairs in the living room and I tried different positions on the ball, walking, standing and kneeling. I greeted my mother and my mother in law, as at this stage there was very little that they could say to distract me from my own zone. Geo kept timing the contractions and supplying me with water, massages on my lower back and breathing with me to encourage me to stay focused. Breathing was the key! The stronger the contraction was, the deeper was my breath. The feeling was that nothing or no-one could step in my zone. My breath was a sort of boundary all around me and the contraction was working to open up my cervix. Mentally I thought my baby was finding the right position and gently moving lower in my pelvis.
At 11am I called again the mid-wife I told her that not only the contractions were regular, but also that they became really strong. She asked me to wait again and to walk up and down the stairs to encourage baby lowering. I told her that I would eventually wait for half an hour or one hour maximum, and so I did walk up and down the stairs and doing the exercises I learnt during the birth preparation course.
At this stage I asked for the TENS machine. This helped to relieve the intensity of the contractions during the peaks. I kept breathing thoroughly and I mentally substituted the word ‘pain’ with ‘power’ every time there was the need.
At 12 o’clock we called the mid-wife and both my husband and I spoke with her. She suggested again waiting, but I firmly conveyed that there was no reason for me to wait any longer; I was ready to go to the hospital. My husband booked a car and by 1 pm we were at the hospital waiting to be seen outside the assessment unit. And here I waited for another hour.
I could not believe that they made me wait again!! I was kneeling on all 4 on the floor of the corridor ward, breathing in and out all my soul, with the tens machine on and praying, singing and hanging on my husband arms throughout the contractions. Although I was happy that the contractions did not diminish, I was a bit concern by the waiting time and the apparent lack of sympathetic behavior of the mid-wife in charge at the assessment unit.
A couple that we met during the antenatal class was passing by and they stopped by us to talk about her just being induced by drip because she was 5 days overdue. I could not believe it! What could I say? My husband sheltered me immediately by saying that I was already experiencing strong contractions, so I was not able to engage in any conversation.
Finally at 2 pm they admitted me in this room for the assessment. They asked me to sit on the bed. That was a very uncomfortable position! They assessed that my blood pressure was a bit high, but the fetal heartbeat was ok. The cervix dilatation was 3 cm and the mid-wife congratulated me because it was rare for a first time mother to dilate so quickly. So quickly?? I told her that I thought to be even more than 3 cm at this stage. I wanted to change my position, being on all 4 and be transferred to the birthing unit and having a water birth.
The mid-wife said that this was possible, however she should transfer me to another team of mid-wives. Agreed!
By 3 pm, I walked to the birthing unit and met the new mid-wife who took me on charge. I moaned with Geo (where I could find this energy I do not know) that I could not have chocolate or flapjacks any more and I wanted something savory and fruit instead. He left me here and run out to call in our mothers and buy food for me.
The mid-wife decided to fill the pool straightway. As soon as this was ready, I undressed in a blink, took off the tens machine and jumped into the water. Heaven!! Warm, dense and so comfy!! The pool was unexpectedly big as I felt that part of me could almost stay afloat. This soothed immediately my latest distress of the waiting time and made me feel so at ease!
It was 3.30 pm and the mid-wife assessed me: I was 8 cm dilated. In that moment my mother looked at me and asked whether I wanted anything, “a sip of water maybe?” My answer was more a pray: “yes, my husband quickly please!!” I could not bear having our baby without Geo. Thus, she run out to look for him.
I had to keep focus on the breathing as contractions were keeping their pace. I chose to stay on all 4 again and fetched the handles on the edge of the pool. My sense of time was completely lost.
The mid-wife kept monitoring my blood pressure and the fetal heartbeat between contractions and all was fine.
I know my husband arrived and I asked him to sit inside the pool. He wore a pair of shorts given to him by the midwife and the moment after I was facing his chest and breathing into it. I felt like an animal, grunting with my throat in search of something. At the peak of contractions I kept repeating in my mind “I surrender”.
The waters broke and immediately the mid-wife told me to keep on going, that they were clear and everything was fine.
After a while I felt the urge to push and I said so, but the midwife could not see the baby head yet and I tried a different position. I turned upside down so that I was facing up as I was lying on my husband’s chest and he could held me in his arms. My pelvis was suspended in the water and the mid-wife could now see me better. She told me to push throughout the contractions.
I felt my anus was on fire and I imagined my hemorrhoids exploding. How could I be bother about my anus when my daughter was just on the point of coming to this world??
I heard the mid-wife saying to push as I was going to the loo.
I said to my husband that I was not sure to make it; I was afraid of tears. But I immediately found the right thought in my head thinking about my daughter: “my love, I give you the freedom to come to this world as this will be your home. For such, I will push as much as it takes.”
I pushed and I clearly felt her head passing by my vaginal canal. It was 3, 4, maybe 5 pushes.. I don’t know exactly; it was a quite liberating feeling that led her way out. And with a last push I felt her head out leaving me with all her body easily following out.
A second later, the midwife placed her on my chest. It was 6.23 pm. I looked at her and she was breathing brilliantly, with no cry, her eyes slightly open and her mouth in search of my breast. This was so good!
I heard everybody around me in tears for the great emotion, while I was staring at her and, as I thought to welcome her, I started singing.
I was peacefully resting in my husband’s arms with my daughter on my chest. This was heaven!
We checked the umbilical cord and it already stopped pulsating so it was clipped and Geo cut it.
Then I was able to get out of the pool, sit on a near mattress and finally breast-fed her.
After half an hour circa, I had to kneel and with an easy and mild contraction I delivered the placenta in one go. That was it, also the third stage of labour was gone without any intervention.
Unfortunately I had to wait 2 hours for a doctor to sue a minor tear on my labia. This was the only time I tried gas and air as pain relief while I had local anesthetic.
I am happy about this birth experience and amazed by what my body was able to perform. Maia is a content baby and we feel blessed by this.