Pregnancy Articles

My Labor and Delivery Were Fully Relaxed

Induction Apprehension behind Her, Mom Has 2nd Natural Birth

On Monday, August 3, 2009, I attended an appointment with my midwife to discuss induction because I was 9 days past my due date. I asked her if, induced, would I be still able to have a waterbirth. She stated that she didn't see why not, especially because I had had a waterbirth with my older daughter, Lily, and there had been no complications with my pregnancy.

The appointment for induction was scheduled for 8 the next morning at the birthing centre.

I didn't sleep well that night. It wasn't how I had wanted things to go--the word induction lit all kinds of warning signals in my mind. And although it was more "planned" than a spontaneous labour, it felt open now for interventions, and those were something I had always desired to avoid.

I had been reading (and rereading) a book called "Childbirth Without Fear" by Grantly Dick-Read, in preparation for this delivery. Out of the MANY books I have read relating to natural childbirth, his appealed to my instincts and intellect the best. His descriptions of the physiological process and the fear-tension-pain syndrome (as it relates to our cultural stigmas surrounding childbirth) intrigued me.

In preparation for my first delivery with Lily, I had concentrated on the hypnobirthing techniques and found them to be relatively good and easy enough to apply during labour. However, as Dick-Read explains in his book, the use of hypnosis isn't as effective as it claims (in his experience), and his "method" involves a conscious awareness rather than teaching women to trick the mind through methods of self-hypnosis. It resounded with my instincts regarding childbirth.

Having followed the hypnobirthing techniques once already, I felt the challenge of a new birthing experience awaiting with a more consciously, tuned-in approach.

The foundation of my desire was to understand the physiology of my uterus, remain completely relaxed throughout my body--letting go of ALL and any tension, and allow my body to expel my baby without interference or fear.

On Tuesday, the fourth of August, we left Lily with my mother and her favourite babysitter while we headed to the birthing centre, arriving at 8 exactly.

I was booked into the induction room, along with three other women. The attending midwife explained how the inductions normally took place:

  1. Prostin gel would be applied to the cervix and left for 6 hours to soften it and encourage dilation--and hopefully a spontaneous breaking of waters.
  2. If the waters had not broken spontaneously, we would discuss and go ahead with the procedure of breaking waters.
  3. If labour had not started after breaking the waters, we would apply drip of hormones to encourage contraction of uterus.
The Prostin gel was applied at 9:55 a.m., after which we were allowed to roam around the birthing centre for 6 hours at our leisure.

My husband and I walked down to the restaurant and had some breakfast. When we returned I decided to get some rest as I was already sleepy from lack of sleep the night before. I slept for about 30 minutes when I realised my lower uterus was experiencing mild contractions.

I had recently loaded the "Contraction Master" onto my iPhone so decided to start timing them. I found they were approximately 3 to 4 minutes apart, with my waters still intact.

The midwife, attending the induction room, checked in to ask if I needed anything. I mentioned that my contractions were already 3 to 4 minutes apart and showed her the history on my phone. She said it looked like I could be in early labour and to let her know the minute my waters broke.

She left the room at 12:13 p.m., and my waters broke at 12:15 p.m. My husband, who had been reading a book next to the bed, jogged out to tell her and she came back with a monitor to record my contractions.

Immediately my contractions were noticeable and I kept timing them at 3.5 minutes apart while she hooked up the monitor.

I asked if she would please check on whether I could have the waterbirthing suite for my delivery. She explained that protocol doesn't normally allow waterbirths for women who have been induced but in my circumstances, she promised to ask the question. She said they needed 30 minutes of recorded contractions on the monitor so that the consultant could make the decision. She actually left the monitor on for about an hour.

When she returned, I had been completely relaxing my body (face, shoulders, pelvic muscles) through my contractions and could feel them growing with intensity. I hadn't made a sound though, so when my contraction finished and I saw her standing at the end of the bed, she said "Looking at the monitor, you are having very strong contractions... and they are real. Are you OK? If you need any pain relief please let me know." I stated clearly that I didn't want any pain relief as I was using natural methods.

She informed me that, she would take the monitor readings to the consultant and try to push through the waterbirth request.

I could tell that things were progressing so asked if she would check me--I was 3 to 4 centimeters dilated and fully effaced.

One of the other women in the induction room was continually receiving calls on her phone and her whole family was present. I felt distracted so I asked to be moved to a more private labour room, considering labour was now underway. She agreed and moved me to a private labour suite.

I continued to progress through contractions. (In my mind referring to the word "contraction" as "expansion" rather than a "contraction." I found that word very negative to my physiological responses and the word "expansion" much more positive and allowed me to open my body.) I imagined my cervix as a huge door with a great light on the other side of it.

It was very interesting to me that I found each contraction build to a point, and at that point a rush of, what felt like an endorphin release would take over and flood my body, relieving the discomfort. The power of the mind to "let go" truly amazed me!

I continually reminded myself through each "expansion" of a few key things:
  • This is perfectly normal.
  • Surrender.
  • Let my uterus do its job without interference.
  • Let go.
  • Open the door and let baby pass through.
Each expansion was like a wave. First a climbing intensity followed immediately by a euphoric rush of liquid through my brain--nearly druglike.

In the delivery suite, I continued to process each expansion, welcoming every one with the knowledge that my baby was coming closer to my arms.

The midwife put me back on the monitor again, as per the consultant request. (They still assumed I had only reached 3 centimeters.) And after 20 minutes of monitoring me, she must have assumed I was being way too inactive for labour to progress (I barely moved an inch throughout my labour--only moving my hand to drink water or my head to ask a question), so she suggested I climb on a birthing ball or walk around. I asked if she would please check me first. She did and excitedly announced I was fully dilated.

She and another midwife sprinted off to fill the birthing pool as I had been given the all-clear to proceed as I wished.

As soon as they left I had another expansion. I relaxed through it, but felt her head pop through the cervix and enter my birth canal. I knew then that there was no way I would make it into the birthing pool for this delivery. I put my hand inside to feel how close she was and her head was half-way down. I told my husband she was going to come on the next one. (I had been resisting the urge to push because I wanted to deliver in the pool.)

He didn't realise I was that close, and had been quietly reading a book next to the bed throughout my labour. He too dashed out the door. As he re-entered, flanked by the two midwives, my body pushed down and the baby's head crowned and popped out all in the same fluid movement. The gloveless midwives nearly missed it.

A minute later, at 3:33 p.m, a final strong push and her body was expelled completely onto the bed.

My husband and I had wanted him to catch the baby, but in the haste of it all, he wasn't mentally prepared for that moment. He did however cut the cord, after pulsation had ceased. The placenta delivered without any difficulty 1 hour later.

Kathleen Veronica latches like a pro. Her big sister and brother love her dearly and she's made this world a better place already.

For her dad and me, we have added a final, perfect gem to our already exquisite collection.

This pregnancy was my last and I enjoyed it. Becoming a mother is the height of the human experience and I would practice the art of producing babies eternally if circumstances allowed, and we could afford it.

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