'I had my first birth in NYC which ended in emergency c-section after a 24 hr labor, and 5 combined hrs of pushing on epidural. I thought I was fine, but in the years that followed symptoms surfaced showing that there was an emotional and physical toll left (important to note: this was my personal experience, many of my friends who also had emergency c section were completely fine). The experience left me feeling depleted, lower in energy and I was slow to recover. I began the process of mental healing as well as the physical healing related to my scar tissue which allowed me to slowly move on.
So for my second pregnancy, I decided I wanted to make my best attempt at having a VBAC. The first thing I changed from my first pregnancy is that I surrounded myself with the team that believed in my vision. This is why I decided to work with a doula this time around to coach me through the experience and act as one constant and my voice in ever changing hospital environment and fortunately, I met my wonderful doula Denise van Eeden. I also decided to go with the OLVG west team who had been supportive of my plan and I felt a reassuring connection with. Unlike my first pregnancy, I practiced prenatal yoga daily using Kasia Pokrop (Seventh Series) videos and Spinning Babies package. Furthermore, I went to Thamar for pelvis alignment every few weeks to make the path easy for the baby once he was ready to come out. Also I listened to the positive birth stories on podcast: The VBAC link, The Birth Hour etc. Finally, I used a hypnobirthing app regularly called GentleBirth, worked with Kasia from Mamamoon Retreats on hypnobirthing and made sure to take more time off from work prior to birth date to be able to mentally and physically prepare for what was ahead.
My second birthing experience turned out to be completely different from the first. I was relaxed and feeling in tune with my body. It was sending me messages days ahead of the birth. I was starting to lose my mucus plug three days before I went into labor and that continued and transitioned into a bloody show one day before labor began. The Braxton Hicks contractions that began the last few weeks of pregnancy, became more frequent as my labor approached. And the afternoon before the delivery, I was starting to have cramps. I went to bed that night at 10pm as they intensified and I notified my Doula that I wasn’t sure if these were surges. They were 6-8mins apart and 30-60 sec in duration. I was breathing through them using hypnobirthing techniques. Out of all the affirmations that I prepared, the one that I kept using, and the one that worked for me is: "It's not pain, it's power." Every time I said it, it allowed me to embrace the discomfort of surges and see the surges as the power to bring my baby into the world. I was also visualizing my cervix opening like a rosebud.
When the surges first began to intensify, around 11:30pm I called my doula and the hospital as well as our friend to watch our older son. We took our neighbor's car (trying to avoid uber due to corona) and drove the 15 minutes to OLVG west, arriving at around 12:20am. By the time we got to the hospital room, I could tell that surges were getting much closer and were going up quite a bit in intensity. The team checked me and confirmed that I was 8cm dilated. I was ecstatic because last time the progress was much slower and resulted in having to return home after the first trip to the hospital. But then again I was not at all prepared or relaxed during the first experience, which probably didn't help. The other great news when I arrived at the hospital was that the birthing tub was available, which I was really hoping for. Having grown up on a beach in Croatia I loved the possibility of being in the water. So the team got me into the tub right away, which helped with the rest of the dilation.
Within what felt like minutes for me I began having strong urges to push. Everything was happening very quickly. The intensity felt like the power of a giant waterfall rush wanting to get the baby out of my body. I couldn't follow the advice from hypnobirthing to breathe through these and resist the urge to push because my body completely took over and it felt like it wanted to expel the baby out. The noises that came out of me during this time surprised me and sounded very primal. But unfortunately, like the first time around, the baby was making very slow progress in moving down my canal. I was surprised that even with such power of the body, the baby was still not coming out. The wonderful midwife that was on duty that night was very encouraging and asked me to hold my breath and bear down and this was the only thing that seemed to help, but still, the progress was slow.
With each push I made, I gave it my all. It literally felt like I was pulling a truck that was stuck in the mud (when squatting w rebozo), which felt like an impossible feat. And after an hour of seeing no progress, I started getting tired and discouraged. The old fears started sneaking in on me: “Maybe the baby is too big for me? Perhaps my body is not powerful enough to push it out? I should probably just have another c section.” And this is where the encouragement and guidance from the midwife and doula were crucial. They gave me focus and clarity when I needed it the most and helped me overcome my fears and stay positive that I could deliver the baby on my own. The midwife confirmed that the baby was deep down in my pelvis and that it can fit. That I can do this. My doula and I tried different positions to help with the progress, all four turned out to be very effective at different times. And the midwife gave me small doses of oxytocin which gave me a new wave of energy. I was able to push harder and felt a ping pong ball within my body growing in size each time I pushed. She also gave support to my pelvic floor muscles, stretching them a bit to help relax and open up, which hurt like hell, but gave me a point to push towards.
After another hour of giving it my all I felt the baby's head move further in the canal until I could feel it crowning. They could see his long hair and the team was excited. The pain was immense, especially when the little one decided to turn his head once it was out. While waiting for the next surge and for the rest of his body to come out, which felt like an eternity, the midwife guided me through this part in order to avoid the tear. And this guidance helped because in the end I had only one stitch. The rest felt like a blur. All of sudden he was there, floating in the bathtub next to me at 3:11am. Still attached to me through the umbilical cord even until the placenta came out a few minutes later. My husband then cut the cord and I was able to relax a bit in the pool until I was ready to come out. I loved that we were not rushed and were able to soak it all in while connecting with our baby.
I couldn't believe it, we did it. I got the birth I wanted. My body was shattered like a wounded soldier but my spirit was high. I was so thankful for my "yes" team. They helped make my dream a reality and create a happy ending to my healing journey. ❤️'
Dina and her husband joined us in Amsterdam during Mamamoon One Day Retreat March 6th, 2020
Born May 1st, 2020
This sweet little girl started her first moves towards us on a Tuesday, April 28th.. shy at first, yet not letting her mama think for a second that it is anything else than actual labor.. when her parents got to a hospital for a check it turned out that Kasia was at a stage when she can stay for labor.. from here things moved way faster than before.. She entered a bath, which felt like a bliss. With every surge she focused on her breath and that made her stay calm throughout the whole process. To the point when she had to reassure her husband that she felt no pain. Yep, that's her own words, 'at the stage when we were in the hospital I felt zero pain, I was so excited to meet my baby soon that I may have been vocal at times what got Danny scared a little, so I had to tell him I'm absolutely fine, and didn't feel any pain, but that releasing sound simply felt good..' At a certain moment Kasia felt that baby turned spine to spine. She had to step out of the bath to a bed for the final birthing phase. She was asked to lay on the bed flat but refused, knowing and feeling that a side position worked more for her.. At that moment she was offered a number of options to speed things up. She refused all of it, because she felt it was ok. Every hospital has their magician. It turns out the one in Denmark as well. Kasia was joined by a lady who helped her with the final stage of labor, to position Kasia and her baby for birth. In no time Abigail was born, this sweet little girl that you can see in the photo.. The midwife who assisted Kasia during labor and who was offering different interventions came to apologize to her at the end for doing so 'You didn't need any of that, you did it all by yourself and you did so well'.. She did, she absolutely did! What a strong and amazing mom she is, a first time mom who trusted her body and her gut and was given to experience a beautiful, calm and empowering birth, just the way she was hoping for before..
Kasia and her husband joined us during Mamamoon Online Retreat April 25th, 2020
Born April 13th, 2020
“The night our daughter was born, I spent around 4 hours completely focused on my breathing, allowing my uterus to tighten up and relax without fighting against the pain. Visualization worked like a charm to me, also changing positions and getting some lower back massage from my husband.
By the time we called the midwife, contractions became so strong that I felt the urge to push. I was hoping for a water birth so I asked my husband to fill up the bath for me. We only made it to the edge of the bath without even having time to get in the water. By the next contraction I pushed and our lovely little daughter came out to her father arms. The midwife was on her way so we spend a couple of minutes there, the 3 of us without knowing exactly what to do but amazed by the power of nature and enjoying the magical moment of birth.
Your body knows exactly what to do! Don’t let your fear interfere with the magic of life and enjoy the moment!” - Pamela
Pamela and her husband joined us in Amsterdam during Mamamoon One Day Retreat March 6th, 2020
Born March 27th, 2020
"During the time proceeding labor I had 2 sessions of acupuncture, I used teas, essential oils, I massaged my calves every day, walked a lot.. Then on Friday at 10 am I lost the mucus plug.. I started some batch cooking for the next days, full of hope.
12 pm first surge.
1 pm I put my boy in bed for his nap, I found lying down position very uncomfortable, I needed to breathe through 2 or 3 intense surges.
2 pm the surges were long and intense, every 6/8 minutes
3 pm the surges became very long (1min 45sec) every 3 minutes, I couldn’t really manage anymore. Breathing through was really hard. When the midwife arrived, I was already 4 cm dilated!
She rushed me into her car to the VU (I wasn’t able to deliver at home because of my history of hemorrhage from the birth of my boy)
4 pm at the hospital, I was 9 cm dilated and I thought I have lost control. At that point, no position was making things easier, the surges were too close for me to refocus, I was not able to keep it together and I became vocal... although I really didn't think it would be my style. I was transformed, I asked for an epidural 100 times but of course it was too late.
Then at 4.30 pm my body started to push. It burned, but at that point I knew I could do it, that I was really close.
Daphné was born 10 minutes later. 3,6kg. A few stitches only.
I was incredibly happy to have done it.
After birth of Daphne I had an hemorrhage (it was very likely given my history and my mom's history too). This is the ‘funny’ part, after dealing with the birth without any pain killer, they sent me to the ER and put me to sleep for the surgery! What a pity. But I really didn't mind. I guess I knew my baby was safe, and I was probably high on happy hormones because I didn't mind at all.
By 8 pm I was back in my room and gave my baby the first breast feed.
I went home the next morning.
Thank you for all the tools that you gave us. So far Daphné is an angel, she sleeps well, eats a lot and gives us no trouble at all. She doesn't seem troubled by the noise her brother makes all day locked down at home.
I thank you both for you warm encouragement, and I hope you and your families are keeping well.
Stay safe and take care! - Solange
Solange and her husband joined us in Amsterdam during Mamamoon One Day Retreat March 6th, 2020
Born October 20th, 2019
"My contractions started at 11pm every 5 minutes so I got out of bed and started to use my big sitting ball and doing lots of yoga poses to keep My pelvis in motion. Also making everything ready for home labor to have something to do!
After 3 hours I woke up my husband cause then contractions came every minute so he started to massage my back and telling me to breath deeper or giving me water. We had made clear instructions upfront what he could do or say!
Every contraction or wave like they called it in hypnobirthing got me closer to my daughter. After 38 weeks pregnancy I was so excited to finally meet her that was all I could think of. So every wave I said to her mentally ‘you are safe come to me little one into our arms’..
It s so lovely to not be afraid of giving birth but to see it as a day you finally got to meet your baby and to welcome your baby to this World!
So what helped us most were a lot of breathing techniques, meditation, yoga poses, massages and positive mental talks.. Our midwife came 5:40 am and I gave labor to our girl at 5:51 am :) so my husband and I did the most of the labor by ourselves like we wanted it :) - Ellen
Ellen and her husband joined us in Ermelo during Mamamoon Weekend Retreat May 17-19, 2019