I woke up at 5am feeling like there was something different. I am an early riser so it wasn't difficult for me to stay awake. I could feel the flow of the amniotic fluid soon after and instantly knew today was going to be the day I would see the face of my little angel!
I told my partner right away that my water has broken and even though he's been through the drill one time and even though he was mentally prepared it could happen anytime, he panicked at first. He wanted to call the hospital right away and I was pretty sure we needed to wait until my surges (contractions, yes that's how delicately I treat my birthing experience, no use of words with a negative connotation) had progressed further.
By 7.30am I was really hungry and because my doctor had mentioned not to eat anything during labour, I gave her a quick call to check if I could have breakfast. She asked me to go ahead and I ate idlis and drank some warm milk with saffron.
By then my doctor was worried about the road traffic increasing and labour progressing too fast and wanted us to be at the clinic by 9am. So we looked through our hospital bag one more time, called our doula to reach home by 8.30 and got in the car with the hospital bag, our doula and the birthing ball and made way to the clinic (which would turn out to be my best friend that day!).
We were checked into a room which was rather home-ly and I continued to walk around and talk to my husband and our doula. There was a big corridor which was bright and airy but unfortunately very noisy too. I walked along there and up and down the stairs until about noon time. I was surprised at how mild and easy my surges felt and was beginning to feel like that's how easily I will give birth to my little one too.
Since I had opted for a water birth and my doc had hopes I would be the perfect candidate for it, she kept offering me to get into the water tub. With all the noise and the talking and questions, I found myself unable to follow my body's lead. I told myself that I would get into the water when the surges got a bit more intense so that I would be able to progress quickly to third stage.
By 1pm I found my surges starting to get a little more intense where I needed to stop talking, stop walking and just breathe and be with it. This is when I decided to go into the pool. Unfortunately, this is also when things started to go downhill.
As soon as I got into the water my doc was there in her hospital gown tracking every breath I took. She was curious to know what exactly was happening. She wanted to keep track of everything. They took about half an hour to adjust the water temperature and level to my comfort. Buckets of water which didn't feel very clean were poured in to see if I was able to get comfortable. By the end of it, I felt drained and very hopeless about the way my labour was progressing.
I decided to get out of the water and labour outside to see how it felt. She wanted to do a pelvic exam yet again to see how far I had gotten and announced I was about 7cm dilated. I spent the next hour or so with my birthing ball leaning forward and breathing through each surge. I followed my doula's instructions on breathing and took a cleansing breath in between each surge. They were getting more and more intense and the gaps between each was seeming way too short for me to gather enough energy to give instructions or talk to the people around me.
By around 3.45pm when the urge to push became very obvious, my doc and nurses asked me to move to the table to the birthing room. It was clear she wanted more control and visibility and the best way to do that would be to have me lie on my back. From then on, I experienced everything that I had learned and understood as being unfavourable during labour, one by one.
I was lying on my back and had to work against gravity during the pushing stage.
I was under bright hospital lights so there was no way my body could relax enough to work with my surges. Instead I was pushing hard to try to get over the intensity asap.
I was surrounded by my doctor, 3 nurses, my husband and my doula. So I was in a room full of strangers.
Because I was on my back and the surges were working against gravity I had terrible back pain even in between surges. That made me lose track of my body's wisdom and feel even more exhausted. (Lean on a birth ball, take your partners support, go on all fours but try your best to not get on your back for as long as you can help it!).
Finally, what felt like an eternity (but was actually the most intense 25mins of my life) later I saw the beautiful face of my baby all slathered in vernix. That divine moment that I will never forget ever in my life. (just like I'll never forget the moment I met my first born in the water tub).
I am sharing my birth story in the most neutral way possible in the hopes that this sharing will benefit someone, inspire someone or even caution someone.
This is how anyone can have a pain free labour and birth -
The biggest lesson from my second birth experience was the understanding that I cannot have a fully natural birth that feels pleasant, unless the atmosphere supports me FULLY. The top most elements that I realise I need, in order to follow my body's lead and allow my mind to process the surges without feeling pain or desperation are:
- To stay as quiet as possible so I could stay connected with my breath
- To have dim lighting and a soothing atmosphere so I could feel comfortable and not activate any stress response
- To have an understanding with my doctor to not allow for a lot of talking or interference from people around
- To not have any extra people coming into the labour/birthing room than are absolutely needed
- To request for the least amount of pelvic exams as possible to allow for comfort of the mother
Here's hoping more mothers around the world can have a beautiful birthing experience!
P.S: In the 30 Day Passion + Purpose program we examine ways to get into your body so that you can create a life and career that brings you joy, freedom and abundance. Click here to read more and register.