Beautiful encaul birth of Tracy's first baby
When J & I found out that we were pregnant, our first course of action was to make an appointment with the Obgyn which was recommended by my colleagues who delivered their children with the doctor. In my mind, I was set to have a natural childbirth with minimal medical intervention / drug free where possible.
As this is my first pregnancy, I felt that a doula would help J & I in our birthing journey so that she could assist to minimise our nervousness during labour. I was also worried that J may not be able to coach / guide me during my birthing in case he was to pass out in the middle of the birth or we both become kelam-kabut. I searched online for information on doulas and came across terms which was unfamiliar to me – gentle birth and HypnoBirthing. That’s when I came to know of Nadine and what she does. I started to contact her to find out more before my visit to the doctor. I had prepared a series of questions to ask before the visit. One of the questions was if they allowed doula during labour. The doctor was very careful in responding to most of my questions. On having a doula, the doctor responded that the hospital would need to check the duola’s credentials. Subsequently, I concluded that the hospital is not receptive to alternative birthing method. Therefore, we decided that it was best to change Obgyn after our first trimester.
Meanwhile, Nadine had given several hospitals that were supportive of doulas and gentle births. I researched on one of the hospitals that were offering water birth. When I asked my friends if they know about water birth or know people who had experienced water birth, there were none. Also Chinese shun getting wet during confinement. Therefore being partially submerged in water during birthing was a no-no either. I guess I will be the only one among my friends to experience water birth. When most of my friends and relatives found out that I was going for water birth their reaction were all too similar, “Aren’t you worried of getting body ache or joint pain later in life?” Despite the known issue, I proceeded with my decision.
My pregnancy was rather smooth and I did not experience any morning sickness or tiredness. I reckoned that being active prior to my pregnancy had helped me boost up my energy level. While I have stopped most of the strenuous sporting activities, I continued to go for Zumba sessions every week.
J & I had attended the HypnoBirthing class with Nadine. At every class sessions, we watched videos of women giving birth to their babies while they remained calm and relaxed. I was in disbelief that it is even possible and it gave me a different perspective in child birth in comparisons to the stories I hear from friends or the dramatic effect of child birth on television. I hoped that I can be as calm as the women in the videos.
In preparation to my birthing, I listened to the Birthing Affirmation and the Rainbow Relaxation tracks in preparation to the birth before going to bed and while driving to practice on the breathing techniques. We learnt about perineal massage and its benefits in a natural birth. At week 30, I began to apply olive oil and calendula to soften and moisturise your perineal area. I wasn’t sure if it helps but it was my nightly regime until the arrival of my baby.
On J’s part, he was ready to be my birth companion after understanding the role that he will be playing. I was happy that he was very involve in my birth journey. He drafted our birth plan while I reviewed the plan. We also discussed the plan with our Obgyn. Birth plan was something that we thought was not possible as we had the impression that the doctor will be the one calling the shot. We felt empowered that we were taking charge of the arrival of our baby.
We had known earlier that my Obgyn doctor was going away for planned week-long vacation during the time that I will be giving birth. My Obgyn doctor had discussed with us earlier that if I’m in labour during the vacation period, another doctor will look into my delivery. Another option made was to do membrane sweep to initiate labour if I have not given birth after my estimated due date (EDD). I messaged Nadine and seek her advice. The following day after my EDD, I returned to the clinic for review. The Obgyn doctor examined that I was already 2 – 3 cm dilated and proceeded to do a membrane sweep. I felt the sweep lasted for less than 3 seconds and there after I have mucus and blood discharge. We then returned home.
The next morning at 6am, I had wet the bed. I woke J up and told him that I may be in labour. Since I wasn’t in any pain yet, we proceeded to go back to sleep. I woke up around 9am and started to feel some stomach cramp. It was the surges that started to kick in. I downloaded the Contraction Timer app and monitor the surges. While I was still in bed resting, J called the delivery ward to book the delivery room. After lunch, we left for the hospital.
We reached at the delivery room at 2pm. I lied on the bed while the nurse took my blood pressure and strapped the CTG on my belly. The nurse told me that the staff are aware of our birth plan and will adhere to it and refer to both of us for any medical decision. By 3pm, the nurse did vaginal examination (VE) and I was already 5cm dilated. The midwife told us that we can get into the water if we wished. I changed into swimwear and the warm water in the tub put me at ease and relaxed. The delivery room lights were dimmed and music playing in the background helps to keep my mind away.
Once I was in the water, I have lost track of the time. After a while, I started to have surges that were complimented with back ache. I had to have J giving me a back rub when it happened. The midwife was pouring warm water onto my body, constantly sieving any residue out from the tub and also refilling the tub with warm water. The surges were making me more and more uncomfortable. I tried to do breathing relaxation but failed. At every surge, I was unable to control myself. I was grunting and howling in pain. During that time, I was wondering why I can’t remain calm and relaxed like the women I watched in the video during class. Was there something that I was doing incorrectly? The midwife told me to breath and not to use up my energy or I won’t have to push. It was getting tough to control myself as I was letting the surges take control over me.
After a while, the midwife performed another VE. I was at 8cm in dilation. I was trying to control my breathing but my every attempt failed when surges happened. In my mind, I was beginning to give up and want to call out for pain relief medication. I started to feel my baby trying to make her way out from the birth canal. J & the midwife were able to see the baby’s head pushing her way out. I was totally not in control of my body. My breathing became heavier complimented with grunting and howling at every surges. The midwife called the delivery team and my Obgyn doctor to prepare to receive my baby. The doctor told us that the bag is still intact and had not ruptured. Once it was time, I was ready to push my baby. On my first push, I felt the baby’s head have come out. On the second push, the baby body was out partially. And on the last push, the baby was out with the sac covering the face. I was relieved that the surges that I was experiencing had stopped too. From the time I was in the water till my baby was born, it took less than 4 hours.
The doctor then brought my baby to me for skin to skin contact. After resting for a while, while still embracing my baby, I have to be moved from the tub to the bed. During the process, the placenta had detached itself from my womb and fell into the tub. One of the nurses had to scoop the placenta out from the tub and put beside the bed until it has stopped pulsating. J cut the umbilical cord. The nurse weighs the baby and then returned the baby to me for more skin to skin contact. After the doctor had stitched me up, the delivery team and the doctor left the delivery room so that J & I get to spend time with the baby. We get to be alone time, skin to skin with the baby for more than 2 hours before the baby and I were transferred to the ward.
I feared pain all my life. I had underestimated myself that I was even capable of giving birth without pain-relief medication. Having attended Hypnobirthing class with Nadine, there are relaxing techniques and birth preparation I've learnt that made my birth process as smooth as possible.