My HypnoBirthing practice had turned into a reality!
Our baby boy came into this world about 12 hours after my contractions started. I was 38 weeks and 1 day, and Henrik was 7lbs 2oz , 20 inches. I had seen my midwife that morning, and she had told me that I was dilated to 3cm. For the rest of the day at work, I sat on the birth ball and moved my hips in circles. I was excited that I could go into labor at any minute, so I wanted to help the process along. I tried to remind myself that I could also just as easily not go into labor and end up waiting three more weeks for the big day to arrive. I had occasional little “twinges” in my cervix, but I wasn’t sure if they meant anything, so I dismissed them.
My husband Jake and I ate dinner, and then around 7pm I started to feel exhausted, so I decided to go to bed early. I laid on our bed and started listening to the HypnoBirthing tracks like I had done for the past many weeks. After a while I started feeling little “cramps” (I had never experienced a contraction before). At first I thought nothing of them, but as they continued, I realized that it was the beginning of labor! Jake came in the room and I told him the news! He said, in denial, “they’re probably Braxton-Hicks.” He admitted that he would be shocked if our baby really was coming!
My contractions increased a little by 9pm, so Jake filled the tub and I sat in it for an hour. I told Jake to go to sleep at 11pm because I knew I would need him to be well rested to support me through the delivery. I didn’t feel I needed him to sit with me during the early part of labor, as I was feeling fine just meditating on my own. I also didn’t want both of us to stay up all night. He downloaded a contraction app so that I could keep track of how long they were lasting and how frequent they were occurring and he went to bed. In the early part of labor, the contractions lasted 30-40 seconds and they occurred every 6 minutes. Then, towards the end of my laboring at home, they were lasting about 60-90 seconds and were 3-4 minutes apart. From 11pm-3am, I alternated between laying on my left side in bed, rolling my hips on the birthing ball, walking a little, and doing some “cat and cows.” Somehow my husband slept through all of my moving about. I breathed through each contraction and rested during the breaks. While breathing through an intense contraction, I would place my hand on my lower abdomen and make sure my hand was moving up and down with my breath; this way I knew I was relaxing and staying loose. During the night, my bowels definitely cleared out (if you know what I mean), and I felt that I passed my mucus plug (it looked like a mucus/clear/blood tinged glob and It seemed to come in stages- smaller at first).
At 3am I felt the contractions were increasing in intensity. I had to really focus to breathe and relax, and the contraction app reaffirmed that they were longer and more frequent too, so I knew it wasn’t my imagination! Knowing that I had been “a 3” earlier that day, I was confident that I had made progress after the many hours of laboring at home, and I felt that I wanted to be at the hospital for the rest of the laboring. I excitedly woke up Jake and we packed our bags in the truck (with a few contractions in-between) and left! It was such an exciting moment! Knowing that we were driving to the hospital for the final stretch! I had a few contractions in the car on the way there and also on my walk into the hospital, for which I had to pause and let pass before I could continue walking.
We arrived to the birthing unit at 4am and I was happy to find out that I was dilated to a 6. It was nice to know that my “work” of relaxing and breathing through contractions had paid off. The nurse checked on the baby when I was admitted, but then let me move around the room, go on the birth ball, and sit in the tub as I pleased. The midwives and nurses were amazing! They told me about all of my options, but gladly supported my wish to deliver my baby naturally. I didn’t have a birth plan or instruct them to avoid any certain vocabulary, and I didn’t feel I needed to. They were all very respectful, and allowed me to take the lead. They told me I could eat lightly and drink too, so that was nice to know I had the option. I had a bite of an energy bar, but other than that I didn’t have an appetite.
I focused inward and used my husband as my main support. I would talk between contractions, but once a contraction started up again, I would stop talking and focus on my breath. I didn’t want to spend any energy by talking during contractions. Jake played meditation yoga music in the background, which I realized I liked for the final stages of labor. I had a hard time focusing on the HypnoBirthing tracks during a contraction, and just thought of the affirmations on my own as it worked for me. I sat in the tub for about an hour, and then for the rest of the time I laid on my left side in bed or stood up and folded over the raised bed so Jake could massage my lower back (which tightened up whenever I had a contraction). If I felt any nausea, Jake would hold peppermint oil near my nose. The smell really seemed to help. I threw up a few times, but I didn’t mind, as I knew it could mean that my labor was nearing the end. I was amazed at how great I felt in-between contractions; it was what I could look forward to after a contraction. Towards the end, when my contractions were quite strong and more frequent, humming calmed me and kept me focused; it let others know when I was experiencing stronger contractions, too.
At about 8am I was full dilated and effaced. The midwife offered to break my water, and after about 15 more minutes of contractions, I decided that I was ready for that. I continued to breathe baby down until about 8:45pm, when the midwife told me that I could start pushing if I wanted to. At first I declined and continued to breathe baby down, but the pressure started to increase and I felt that my body was feeling ready to naturally push at that point. They could see his head too, so after about 3 pushes, Henrik Jacob was born! The last few minutes of the delivery were so amazing to experience. So much preparation... and the time had finally come. When my midwife placed Henrik on my chest just seconds after he was born, it was the best feeling I have ever experienced. The feeling of his warm (so warm) and waxy skin on mine is something I will never forget.
My baby did so well on his journey into this world. Jake was an amazing birth partner and was just as amazed as I was that our baby had finally come. We felt so blessed. After enjoying our baby for a while, the midwife showed us that all of the blood had been pulsed out of the umbilical cord and it was ready to be cut. I did the honors, since Jake has a weak stomach when it comes to things like this. Henrik stayed lying on my chest for at least the next hour and a half and my nurse patiently helped me through learning how to breastfeed right away. The entire birth was a blessing. I was so grateful that I was able to deliver Henrik naturally. My HypnoBirthing practice had turned into a reality. Right after Henrik was born, I was amazed at how great I felt physically. Mentally, I was exhausted, as I had been awake for over 24 hours by the time he was born. I didn’t have any tearing either which was really nice. I had done perineal massage throughout the later part of my pregnancy, so that may have helped me avoid it.
The goal for my son’s birth was to deliver naturally. I used a well-rounded approach that incorporated things I had learned throughout my life, including what I learned in the HypnoBirthing class. I chose a midwife as my provider so that I would feel more support in my goal to deliver naturally. I encourage everyone to seek a care provider that aligns with your birthing preference and thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions about the birthing process. But whether you plan to deliver with an OBGYN or a midwife, with epidural or naturally, I feel that Erin’s HypnoBirthing classes can provide some wonderful tools for making the birthing process more enjoyable. The relaxation techniques, confidence-building, and increased knowledge about the process can help anyone in the early hours of laboring at home, and beyond. Erin empowered me to follow my dream of delivering my child naturally and gave me wonderful tools, both physical handouts and then mental preparation practices, which I was able to utilize when it came time to deliver my baby boy. The birthing affirmations that were in the HypnoBirthing tracks were great too. They were calming, and gave me a good energy for my pregnancy and birth.
I would highly recommend Erin’s class to any pregnant mamma! It was money well spent. Thank you for everything, Erin!
Erin Stertz-Follett, Flutterby's Owner, is a Certified HypnoBirthing® Educator, Certified Hypnotist, and Certified Birth Doula who has taught and assisted hundreds of families. Feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!
Erin Stertz-Follett, Owner