Pain-free birth – myth or truth?
March is women’s month in our Intuitive Healing Community, and I think the timing is perfect.
Every month is an opportunity to shine a light on the importance of women’s health and all the barriers this world creates for women who strive to be healthy and empowered. But March is special.
March is when spring begins. Throughout many of the world’s climates, March is when the ground starts to thaw so that new life can spring from the soil – plant life that passes its life force onto us as it matures.
Spring is a time of renewal, of possibility. Spring is when mothers in the animal kingdom mate and conceive.
What better illustration exists of women’s contribution to the world than the Earthly Mother exploding with new life?
I thought this was a perfect time to tell the birth story of each of my three beautiful daughters in a three-part blog series.
Women’s birth stories are so rarely told, even amongst women. We can learn so much by sharing our experiences to empower other women with knowledge of their bodies and how this sacred experience can be.
For example, there is power in knowing that birth can be free of pain and alarm and surrounded by an envelope of peace.
Hearing stories of women who experienced frightening births – maybe due to a lack of understanding of their bodies which led to unnecessary medical intervention – can be motivating so that we can learn from each other and redefine this beautiful process Nature has designed to bring new life into being.
With this series, I want to demystify and celebrate birth.
I’m honored to share my stories with you.
I’ve created a powerful EIGHT-WEEK program to educate and empower women on every stage of their life cycle.
Click here to learn more about REVIVAL: AN 8-WEEK PROGRAM TO SUPPORT WOMEN FROM FERTILITY TO POSTPARTUM & BEYOND
While pregnant with my eldest daughter, I was beginning my journey as a health coach and entrepreneur with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) to become a Certified Holistic Health Coach.
During my studies, I studied dozens of health and healing modalities through my training and personal exploration. I learned about HypnoBirthing as I researched methods to support childbirth, and it resonated. I knew it was for me.
I found a practitioner in my area and completed my HypnoBirthing classes while moving from my first to second trimesters. I was comfortable with hypnosis and deep meditative states. Still, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to maintain deep focus and relaxation in a hospital birth center surrounded by staff and amid labor surges (“contractions” are a misnomer – a woman’s body does not contract to birth a baby)!
I was committed to creating an environment as free from fear and pain as possible for my baby and me, so I continued to prepare through many weeks of practicing labor and HypnoBirthing techniques.
I knew intuitively then and experientially now that childbirth does not have to be an emergency. It can be beautiful and peaceful.
After preparing to the best of my ability, labor with my oldest daughter began around 1 pm.
My labor surges were strong but inconsistent. To maintain a sense of calm with all my excitement, I listened to the relaxation tracks provided by my HypnoBirthing Class.
I ate a big lunch and napped with my hubby in the afternoon. We checked our hospital bag and prepared a few final things, knowing the time to head to the hospital would be soon, and decided to watch a movie.
After a lovely dinner, we went to bed as the labor surges continued off and on. I fell asleep listening to the Relaxation meditation.
At 1 am, I woke desperately needing the bathroom. I noticed something released and wasn’t sure if it was my uterine seal (mucous plug) or membranes releasing (water breaking) as the labor surges started. It was time to call the midwife and check in with her!
By 3 am, we were on our way to the birth center, and I met my midwife there. I was required to be hooked up to an electronic fetal monitoring system (EFM) for 20 minutes, which took much longer because the staff could not get an accurate reading of my baby’s activity. They realized that she was asleep – there was no activity to monitor!
Meanwhile, my birth team directed me to drink sugary drinks to nudge the baby into wakefulness, but it didn’t work. I was dilated 4 cm with no more surges taking place.
By law, I could only disconnect from the EFM once it had given a satisfactory reading, so I stayed connected to the machine. I had to consciously decide not to let this circumstance rob me of my calm. I tuned in again to the relaxation meditation and fell asleep, tired after all the excitement.
NOW IT’S REALLY TIME!
At 6 am, the midwife woke me and asked that I drink another cranberry ginger ale to wake the baby so they could remove the monitor, but she would not wake up for anyone! They told me something was wrong with the baby and that I may need medical intervention.
I had now consumed more sugary drinks than I did during my nine months of pregnancy, and they made me nauseous. I had my favorite green juice on hand to help neutralize my system, and within ten minutes of drinking it, my baby was kicking! I was finally disconnected from the monitor at 7 am.
The HypnoBirthing techniques helped me to stay grounded and calm. We had veered off our birth plan, but I remembered what my practitioners had shared many times: the only thing predictable is that birth is unpredictable!
The effect of the green juice on my baby’s alertness sparked huge interest from my nurse, midwife, and doula, given that sugar couldn’t get her moving! The next hour, amid surges, I happily explained the benefits of greens and fruit and how they provide the body with real energy via electrolytes, minerals, and glucose.
In contrast, processed sugar gives us a short boost followed by a crash. Plus, my baby was used to daily green juice and not at all accustomed to sugary, GMO’d soft drinks.
In the morning, my surges – though still irregular – took on a new intensity, and while standing, they were coming on less than a minute apart. I was monitored intermittently, forcing me to lie down each time, which would inevitably stop my surges almost wholly.
I maintained a state of calm and relaxation and would steal a bite of food when no one was looking. After all, it is not called labor for no reason! At my next check by the midwife at 4 pm, I was dilated 7 cm. I started to feel nauseous and threw up about seven times. Everyone cheered – the baby would arrive soon!
I spent most of the moments after on my feet, pacing and surging away. The labor surges were strong enough now that I could not speak through them anymore – they had become longer, stronger, and more frequent.
By 6.30 pm, I was fully dilated. My midwife, doula, and nurse quietly observed me in the dim room. I held onto my husband through my surges, leaning on him for support. He kept whispering my birthing affirmations in my ear and acting as my guardian and advocate.
The hospital nurse wanted to put me back on the monitor, but my midwife successfully advocated that it was unnecessary. My midwife trusted my labor would progress quickly without the need for monitoring or intervention and that avoiding interruption of the flow of the birth would allow my mind and body to take care of the rest. She was right.
After a whole day of standing and walking, I was pretty tired. My husband arranged for the nurse to bring an overhead bar for me to hold onto for the second stage of labor. I was excited that the baby would soon be in my arms!
At this point, my labor surges changed distinctly, taking over my whole body. The sensations and noises that accompanied them were very guttural and animalistic. I don’t have a clear memory of this part of my labor – I was using my breathing techniques and working with my surges.
I remember my midwife telling me that for a first-time mother, my instincts about when and how to push were as though I had done this many times before! I attribute that knowing to my HypnoBirthing practice and the faith it helped instill in me that my body knew how to birth my baby. I cannot overstate how crucial this relationship between women and their bodies is – we should speak about it much more than we do.
A HAPPY ARRIVAL
After four breaths (“pushes” – but I was not violently forcing anything as is often depicted in the media), Hanaan was born that evening. She was immediately put on skin-to-skin with me – the most amazing feeling in the world. She even did the breast crawl, nuzzled her way up my breast, and started to nurse on her own. What a miracle!
Her father cut the umbilical cord after it stopped pulsating, leaving baby, mum, and dad to bond as a family. We spent almost an hour with Hannan before the nurses checked her vitals. Dad kept his hand on her the entire time to let her know we were close.
It was an unforgettable day. The first life that came into the world through me.
Beautiful baby Hanaan.
WHAT I DON’T REMEMBER
I remember feeling my entire birth experience intensely. I remember the ups and downs of dealing with medical staff. I remember the joy and peace of those moments after Hannan arrived. I remember anticipating what was coming on our way to the hospital.
What I don’t remember: debilitating fear, horrifying pain, or emergency alarm bells sounding from the moment it was clear I was going into labor.
Birth does not have to be a four-alarm fire. Click To Tweet
We are trained by culture to associate childbirth with panic. TV shows and movies have turned childbirth into a chaotic parody of itself. This isn’t how it has to be.
A woman’s body is designed to give birth without putting her in danger. Mammals of every species give birth in the wild. As in nature, a human mother should not be incapacitated while giving birth to her baby.
As Karen Walton (@painfreebirth on Instagram) says on her website, “Childbirth should be a natural event that occasionally needs medical help, not a medical event that occasionally happens naturally.”
I’m not saying childbirth is a walk in the park – it’s an intense experience. But I truly do not recall feelings of intense pain, and my birth looked nothing like the adrenaline-inducing (if sometimes hilarious) Hollywood hospital rooms with sweaty, screaming mothers on the edge of sanity.
HOW TO EXPERIENCE PAIN-FREE BIRTH
As women, it’s time to reclaim our birth stories. It’s time to reclaim knowledge of and trust in our bodies. It’s time to learn from other women, not from doctors, how birth can, should, and will be.
As part of this three-part series telling the stories of each childbirth I have experienced, I want to offer empowering tools to you. (sign up here to receive the rest of the stories in the coming months)
Below are three essential pieces of supportive nutritional info to help prepare the body for pain-free childbirth. Part two of this series will offer more guidance critical to my successful birthing of three beautiful, healthy daughters without pain.
Hydration is essential under any circumstances, especially when it comes to childbirth. Replenishing ourselves before and after birth’s natural stress helps keep our bodies strong.
Beneficial sources of hydration offer healthy sources of electrolytes and mineral salts to support our nervous systems, including celery juice, coconut water, and cucumber juice.
The adrenals are critical for childbirth. They act as the engine behind your body’s process to bring the baby out of the uterus. Weak adrenals can lead to difficult labor, sometimes prolonging labor several times over.
Strengthening the adrenals by following the below guidelines has a massive impact on childbirth:
Consistently eating at least every one and a half to two hours
Bringing in clean sources of glucose, potassium, and mineral salts (apples combined with dates and celery sticks is a perfect adrenal-supportive snack)
Avoiding caffeine and other stimulants
Adrenal-supportive snacks protect blood markers which help to prevent medical interventions like glucose or saline drips, which limit a mother’s mobility during childbirth.
For more guidance on properly nourishing the adrenals, check out my FREE Healing Adrenal Snacks guide, which includes specific food combinations ideal for these powerhouse glands.
And for an in-depth deep dive into adrenal health, explore my Adrenals Are the Energy Powerhouse masterclass.
Magnesium supports our nervous system and calms our adrenals. This supplement also supports labor surges – the movements of the uterine muscles to facilitate birth.
Ensuring you are not deficient in magnesium before labor is extremely helpful. Be sure to choose a high-quality magnesium glycinate from a reputable source. My favorite source is linked here.
OUR BODIES, OUR STORIES
As with so many other aspects of health, we as women are rarely given the proper tools to build strength and confidence in our bodies. We are trained to listen to medical authorities over our intuition, eroding trust in Nature’s design.
Women were not meant to give birth in fear. Conceiving a child is often done in love. Carrying a child can be an indescribably beautiful experience, and raising an infant is full of joy despite the many (literal) hiccups along the way.
Why should childbirth be the one aspect of creating life shrouded in fear and danger?
I invite you to join me in challenging this narrative so that with more and more stories like mine, we can shift the belief system around pregnancy and childbirth from uncertainty and panic to trust, deep knowing, joy, and empowerment.
I created a Women’s Health Masterclass to help you redefine your relationship with your body from a loving, intuitive foundation. I would be honored to support your health journey by connecting with you through this program.
Many western psychological professionals believe that how a child enters the world has a powerful impact on their psyches. Imagine if more children spent their first moments in peace, surrounded by love, rather than what has become normal in our societies today.
That’s an image I would like to see become a reality.
To your health and peace,