I was a certified delivery room nurse in one of the most prestigious private hospitals in the country. I have met a lot of amazing doctors and medical professionals along the way, most of them are very patient centered and sincerely try their best to give the best possible care they are trained to give to all of their patients. Back when I was still a budding student nurse, I have viewed labor and delivery as something so gruesome and painful that needs to be done in a hospital laced with interventions and drugs to make it better or may I say possible. One of my most dreaded clinical nursing rotation, must I openly admit just now, sorry ma’am Sherrie Mae Quizora (my clinical instructor) was our Shiprah Birthing home rotation. I felt that nothing being done there or happening there was essential enough to equip me for the competitive modern nursing world. Everything was so primitive and McGayver-ish, women were laying on the floor with their nipples being stimulated by the husband for more contractions, amniotic fluid everywhere, poop and all the mess before the baby comes out. It was just so yuck for me way back then. There were no high tech equipment or sophisticated machines being used. So I was so thankful that I only get to be there for one full rotation no more no less, little did I know, contrary to my obscured view of childbirth, it is where labor and delivery is at its finest.
When I became a labor and delivery nurse, my view did not change at all. I perceived intravenous lines, fluids, synthetic oxytocin, external fetal monitor and infusion pumps as part of the labor and delivery process, so necessary that I have syntocinon and syringe in my pocket before my duty starts. I silently laughed at women coming in with their birth plans, futile attempts to delivery via Lamaze ending up in cs or stat epidural anesthesia at 8cm, crying and wailing for their lives. I together with my colleagues have dreamed of a painless signature cesarean birth when it’s our turn to be moms. No surprise births for us! No shouting or panic at the site of mucus plug or amniotic fluids suddenly popping! I was actually “wow-ed” at when I pulled a normal delivery stunt with my first-born. It was viewed as a stunt and something to be wow-ed at, really. All of these beliefs I held dear in my heart until I had my own child. My first-born was delivered via normal vaginal delivery. Normal, not spontaneous because my bag of water ruptured even before my labor started, since I have seen this so many times, I confidently went through my morning routine, took a shower, blow dried my hair, slathered on my facial moisturizer and make up primer, put on my waterproof make up and prepared my dress, ready to check in for delivery. Looking back now, I was SO MISPREPARED haha so there I texted my obgyne checked in or may I say CLOCKED into the hospital and went through the process, had my I.V. fluid in my arms, Demerol shot through my veins at the slightest sensation of discomfort, external fetal monitor hooked on my abdomen, and I, contentedly laid there on the bed. Epidural anesthesia was conducted at 3cm dilatation, too early yes, but seeing so much of labor and delivery just did not prepare me to experience what labor truly is, so yeah give me those drugs, I even requested for Cesarean Section level analgesia, with fentanyl drip and all. They stripped my membranes, did the whole cervical dilatation for me. I went through the whole additional oxytocin and more anesthesia cycle. Then suddenly I heard the fetal monitor going from the confident lubdub.lubdub.lubdub to a slow lub….dub….lub…dub…., my dear obgyne walked through the door, said that the baby was in distress so we needed to deliver him A.S.A.P., I have seen this one too many times, wherein if the mom was not yet fully dilated and the baby was not low enough, she’ll surely end up in the O.R. table and a cesarean birth. My obgyne have determined that I was already fully dilated, in came the medical team with their sophisticated tools and terms, and I just laid there numbed, retouching my face powder and lip gloss. Everything was going as planned until my baby came out blue, limp and lifeless. As soon as he was born he was placed over my chest, complete with 10 fingers and toes, perfectly chiseled face and nose, he was exactly how I prayed for and more ONLY WITHOUT A HEART BEAT. He was immediately taken to the baby warmer where a team of pediatricians rescued him from the valley of the shadow of death. After a few gruesome seconds he gave out a good cry, and the day was bright again.
Post delivery, I felt numb. Literally and figuratively, I can’t feel half my body and I do not feel anything at all, well…except for the intense need to vomit, uncontrollable body chills, and the unwavering itchiness on my face because of morphine. I felt nothing, I just wanted to sleep, the nurse asked me whether I would want to room in my newborn or not, I said no in a heartbeat. I did not want to room-in my son, I did not do so for a week, I even requested for an extension of his stay in the nursery after the removal of all my medical contraptions. They only brought him in every 3 hours for breastfeeding and I immediately ring the nursery every after feed.
My journey through natural childbirth was not straightforward at all. It all started with my desire to breastfeed, which lead me to look for a breastfeeding advocate pediatrician and at the same time a homeopath for my son’s baby eczema and cradle cap. As a nurse who delved into pharmacology for a year, I have deemed corticosteroids untrustworthy for newborns or any adult for that matter unless it’s to be used for life and death situations. From homeopathy to organic food to organic household cleaning supplies then, just then, to natural childbirth. I had myself added to two facebook groups that talked about natural childbirth, one from here “gentle birth Philippines” and one from abroad “homebirth and waterbirth”.
As I researched more about natural birth, I learned that cord coil doesn’t always harm newborns, that the legendary “fetal distress” amidst labor nowadays, is possibly caused by too much contractions caused by synthetic oxytocin. A line from an article discussing it struck me, it said, “it just so happen your baby is too healthy for modern medicine to kill”. After that article I reached out to midwives from the homebirth and waterbirth group, one of the few I spoke with said that in her 10 ++ years of midwifery experience, she has delivered babies with multiple cord coils and yet the baby comes out pink and void of fetal distress in the womb. After this eureka moment, I have decided to undergo drug-free, au natural childbirth, just like that.
Then I scoured the Internet for resources that can help me go through it successfully. My obgyne, Dr. Martin Manahan, who happens to be one of the top OB’s in the country that delivers via water birth, was very supportive of my newfound idea and even recommended, the wonderful, Irina Otmakhova as my birth doula.
She gave me all the resources I needed, the tracks, the affirmations even lend me books on hypnobirthing and taught me daily exercises to do because I really cannot find time to do yoga. But unfortunately due to my busy mommyhood / mompreneur life, I was not really able to do or imbibe much of it. During my birth, all I had was my conviction to do it naturally. I am not encouraging no or little preparation; all I’m saying is it is possible to go through it with little preparation but then in order to be zen from start to finish rigorous preparation is a must! I learned that the hard way. Labor was tolerable but the last leg of it especially after the bag of water ruptures, the pressure waves became tsunami like. And when the head popped out as the contractions wanes out, I realized that no matter how much you try to push the baby out, it just won’t slide out without that tsunami like contractions, behind my warrior like cry I actually wished for ONE BIG TSUNAMI WAVE. Then finally it came, and the baby popped out like magic. I felt everything! And I’m glad I did! According to my latest ultrasound she’s 6.6lbs but when she popped out, I knew she’s more than that. She’s 7.5 lbs. I must say, all the things I laughed about when I was a clueless-about-real-birth delivery room nurse, the birth plan, the presence of my husband, my ever supportive obgyne and my birth doula, the dim light, the warmth of the water, soothing smell of lavender oil, and relaxing music really did make a difference.
Post delivery I felt tired but energized to care for my newborn, we did a semi lotus birth and I had my placenta encapsulated. As compared to my first birth, I made it a point to room-in my newborn and not have her leave my sight from the time she came out until we were discharged. She’s a calm, easy to feed newborn. My breast milk came in right away, by the 48th hour she was expelling yellow seedy poop and her umbilical cord came off on the 4th day. Until now she’s very easy to care for, it’s as if I do not have a baby at home.
Natural drug free childbirth was overall a wonderful experience. Birth is meant to be felt and labor pain is overrated. It is not as deadly or gruesome as I thought it would be, definitely not like in the movies but to be 100% honest the last part of it wherein after the water bag ruptures and the baby’s head pops out, that one, you need to prepare for that, definitely. Definitely need to prepare for that, indeed. Conviction to do it naturally is also very important.
Now with my successful natural delivery and newfound belief I pledge to join the natural gentle birthing movement to encourage women to take back the power that was unknowingly taken from us, the power to give birth. The power to give birth is a gift especially given to us, women, for a reason, we should embrace it, own it and be able to feel it. It’s nature’s design, we should go along with it, every pain, sacrifice and sweat happens for a reason, it leads to a whole new level of motherly instinct and yearning for the young. Happy natural birthing, mommas! When faced with a dilemma, unless you have a medical condition, the answer should always be “YES I CAN!” because indeed you can!
Originally written for Glam-O-Mamas website
When I was pregnant with my daughter I thought I had chosen the most informed approach to childbirth - I fed my mind only positive stories, I went out of my way to stay fit and healthy and I had a firm plan for a wonderful home water birth. I am very blessed everything worked out exactly as I wanted and I had the most wonderful home birth experience that I could possibly imagine. However, the news of hypnobirthing somehow did not cross my path on my pregnancy journey. It was only after when still high on oxytocin (hormone of love) from my home birth I went ahead and became a doula to accompany other mamas in their births, the whole new world of birthing “hypno” opened up for me.
Or how about independently adjusting your level of hypnosis in order to be able to interact with the medical staff while keeping your sensations in check? Or my favourite – breathing your baby out instead of the hard work of pushing!
When I was taking my certification for Hypno-doula with Hypnobabies this sounded to me as a farfetched theory. Honestly, it was quite hard to imagine this in practice despite the evidence of thousands successful hypno births world-wide. It was not until the first hypno-birth that I attended as a hypno-doula that I was completely sold to the method.
The first time mom, who prepared herself during pregnancy using a self-study hypno course from Hypnobabies, walked in the hospital all smiles while clearly in active labor. She was checked and found to be 5 cm dilated. To the question whether “she had any concerns” she replied again with the smile that she did not have any and was excited to see her baby soon. Then what followed was a night of magical zen-like labour and a beautiful birth to a mother who stayed relaxed, confident and in control of her experience.
To my delight I discovered that it is a pattern with hypno births – no matter the surroundings, be it a water birthing suite, a regular labor room, a delivery room or a home birth setting – the mothers seemed to be having the whole show under their control, they would remain calm, confident and very relaxed, and many indeed would breathe their babies out! While I recognize hypno birth is not a magic bullet to a birth of your dreams – especially if you dream of an un-medicated birth – I can testify that going “hypno” would definitely empower you with certain tools to make the dream birth a much more easily achievable goal.
If this got you to be hypno-curious, here are 5 amazing facts about hypnobirthing that will make you understand the hypnobirthing even better.
1. Hypnobirthing is not a labor pain-coping technique; it is a totally different approach to childbirth.
While most childbirth preparation classes focus on pain-management by natural means, hypnobirthing will affirm something completely different. It will invite you to re-program your views and expectation of childbirth and will condition your mind to perceive childbirth as “an easy and comfortable process”. In Hypnobirthing you will learn that your mind controls your body completely and that if you let go off the commonly held conditioning about pain in childbirth, you will be able to condition you mind that birth is easy and comfortable.
2. Words used to describe childbirth define the ultimate childbirth experience
Now pose for a second and register your feelings when you hear the words such as “labor”, “contractions”, “delivery” when talking about birth. How do they make you feel? Calm or anxious? Most likely these words do not convey a very comforting feeling, don’t they?
In Hypnobirthing one of the first things you learn is to choose your words wisely and to have your support team speaking the same positive language about birth that will reinforce, not undermine your conditioning to see birth as easy and comfortable process. So, for example, we are no longer talking about “contractions” but “surges” or “waves”, it’s no longer “labour” but “Birthing Time”, then definitely not a “delivery” but “birth” and by all means we drop the word “pain” out of the vocabulary and talk instead about “pressure”, “sensations”, “tightening” and so on. As you become accustomed to this language, you will become more aware of the importance of this mental transition.
3. You have absolute control over your hypnosis
And all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. When you are hypnotized, you are aware of all suggestions given to you and will not do anything against your will or your moral principles.
For instance, using a technique “Lightswitch” as thought in Hypnobabies hypnobirthing self-study course you can regulate the level of hypnosis you prefer to maintain. While riding a wave you can go deep into hypnotic relaxation and in between the surges you can adjust the level of hypnosis so that you can interact with you care providers, change positions or have a sip of water while still staying calm, relaxed and in control. ‘
4. Deep relaxation is the foundation of self-hypnosis during birth
What is the first image that comes into your mind when you are thinking of a woman in labour? Mostly likely you imagine a woman profusely sweating and tensing up every muscle of her body to push the baby out.
Women who trained themselves in Hypnobirthing or Hypnobabies methods do exactly the opposite. They relax deeply and unconditionally. By entering the state of outmost relaxation they do not fight the birthing sensations, but absorb them and ride out one wave at a time.
Deep relaxation is an acquired skill. This is why Hypnobirthing methods offer a range of specially developed tracks and scripts that a hypno-mom should listen to daily in order to train her body to go totally limp and deeply relaxed. Cue words and additional scripts can be used during the birthing time for additional deepening of the relaxation.
5. Hypnobirthing facilitates “foetus ejection reflex”
Have you ever wondered why other mammals give birth seemingly without much effort? Calves, lambs and fawns seem to jump out of their mothers before getting straight onto their feet. While by nature’s design human babes won’t be standing within minutes after birth, human mothers are, however, as capable of easy and speedy births as out mammal counterparts. When the woman is confident, supported, relaxed and undisturbed – like animal mothers are in the animal kingdom – the normal physiology of birth will eventually lead to the moment when her uterus swell in one last surge and expel the baby into her loving hands.
This is the most exciting and delightful part of the undisturbed birthing process which I am eager to witness every time I go to attend a hypno-birth. Hypno-relaxation and mother’s sheer trust in the natural ability of her body to give birth make the babies slide out through the birth canals easily and uneventfully.
Now if you think that Hypnobirthing is something for you, go ahead and check out the Hypnobirthing self-study materials that will help you get prepared for the hypno-birth of your dreams.
Hypnobabies self-study course
Hypnobirthing by Marie Mongan
For your inspiration here are the links to the accounts of hypno-birth experiences by several Filipino mothers who studied the method and gave birth the hypno-way.
My Gentle Birth Story by Martine de Luna
Our Daughter’s Birth Story by cat Juan Ledesma
In our present day culture the pregnancy and birth journey ends …well, at birth. After the birth of the baby, the focus shifts fully to the baby leaving little or no space to the mother’s state of well-being, feelings and emotions. And consider this - she has just been through the major rite of passage. Her birth might have gone as envisioned or might have completely changed the course in the process leaving her with many questions, mixed emotions and sometimes even birth trauma. Postpartum period is a delicate time for the mother and how she is cared for will largely determine the quality of her bonding with the baby and the brightness of her memory of her pregnancy and birth experience.
This is the reason why my collaborator Monica and me teamed up to regularly hold the space for postpartum mothers. In this space mothers can re-live their birth experience, voice their thoughts, claim their victories and release any lingering doubts or hurts.
An amazing format for this process is creating a collective birth story mandala. It is a powerful process that brings women together in a creative spirit and compels them to create beautiful geometrical patterns of flowers, petals and colorful stones while they share their most intimate memories and voice their cherished dreams and wishes.
After the birth story closure it is time for the mothers to be pampered and spoiled to pieces. We proceed to the Rebozo Tuck-in ceremony inspired by the ancient Mexican traditions. Think of this – every mother in the traditional ethic communities in Mexico still receives this postpartum treatment from her comadrona (midwife). We start by forming a circle around the mother who is placed on six sturdy rebozos (scarves). The mother then receives a full body massage from her sisters who soothe her with aromatic oils and gentle strokes under the accompaniment of relaxing music. Afterwards the mother is wrapped up in rebozos according to six energetic points of her body with each part of the body being blessed with a message for blissful and balanced motherhood journey.
As you notice most of the postpartum work has to do with closing, sealing, "getting back together". The pregnancy and birthing are the processes of major expansion – physical and on the energy level. By holding this ritual sacred space for postpartum mothers we facilitate a ceremonial closure, calling the energy back to feel whole again and move on from here further into the motherhood journey honored and reinvigorated.
The postpartum workshop would not be complete without one of its most important ingredients - postnatal yoga practice. Monica did an amazing job of guiding mothers from relaxation into gentle flow of asanas aimed at strengthening mama's bodies and even promote good lactation and leading back into total relaxation in the long waited for Savasana.
Feeling curious? Inspired? If you would like to process your birth story and / or simply feel honored as a mother, please stay tuned for our upcoming Sacred Postpartum: A Mother's Honoring workshops and join the next batch of blessed and honored mothers.
The night of March 12, just a day after my husband, Montri’s birthday, I started having cramping sensations very similar to PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome). They were surely contractions but were still far apart with no real pattern. In the previous days, I also saw a series of ‘bloody show’ (blood tinged mucus from the softening of the cervix) in the toilet. I felt that the arrival of our new baby was near… I just needed to wait it out. We used a contraction timer app which I downloaded in both my ipad and iphone. When I found it too much of a hassle to be right next to my gadgets after each contraction, I just manually took note of the intervals with pen and paper. The last book on birthing I read was Hypnobirthing.
I used the breathing techniques during surges/contractions to keep me present and calm. Then I started self-administering remedies from the birthing homeopathy kit and scanned some prayers from the Zohar specifically for labor and birth.
I sent a text message to both my midwife, Deborah and my doula, Irina at 3:21 am that contractions were already 6-8 minutes apart and that I could no longer sleep. I knew that Deborah was going to come when I could no longer talk in between contractions (which wasn’t my case because I could still concentrate and speak in between them) but since she would be coming all the way from Antipolo, my husband and I wondered whether we should set up the birthing pool so at least it would be ready when they came.
Read the FULL STORY on Monica's website Birthing and Beyond. Monica recounts her birth experience - a successful unassisted home VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) in a series of three articles.
I got up extra early on that Friday morning, feeling good and rested. It was a big relief, as I had been getting really strong, yet sporadic, contractions for 3 consecutive days prior to that morning. Surprisingly, my back wasn’t as sore, my thighs didn’t feel like they were going to fall off, and my heels didn’t feel like they were ready to explode. To celebrate, I whipped up a big breakfast of banana-peanut butter-chocolate pancakes (like the super sinful, unhealthy kind) to cure my hunger pangs. I remember very clearly making 3 big ones for myself and a little Mickey Mouse shaped one for the 40-week and 5-day hitchhiker in my belly.
A little after breakfast time, and for about the 20th time since I got up, I used the toilet and saw blood-tinged mucus in my underwear.
“Oh joooooy!!! It’s bloody show time! Baby is coming any day now!” And just as if on cue, the familiar sensations of contractions kicked in. I sent an SMS update to my midwife, Deborah, and doula, Irina, assuring them that I was still feeling ok, and that I would let them know if anything would progress from there. Nanay, who was my yaya/nanny when I was a baby and living with us now, left shortly after breakfast for work. Migui, my husband, went upstairs to the gym. I was ok on my own and used this alone time to do my morning house chores.
By around 9am, I noticed lot of pressure in my butt area ....
Read the FULL STORY on Birthing and Beyond website
Irina is a birth
keeper, mother and an advocate. As a certified Childbirth Doula and
Hypno-Doula she accompanies mothers through pregnancy, birth and postpartum to
ensure a joyful, balanced and pleasurable experience. It is her greatest joy to
see mothers to come out of birth feeling empowered, proud and honored.