October 21, 2010

Birth Stories From Our Community

Last weekend in our Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training, we were reviewing the homework and going over assigned readings. One of the books (a personal favorite of mine) Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth includes a selection of birth stories that took place at The Farm Midwifery Center in Tennessee. While these stories are inspiring and help demystify many fears of childbirth, they may not be relevant and relatable to the circumstances our New York mamas face in a more “medicalized” setting.

Because of this, I reminded our teacher trainees that it is important to be open minded as we teach, and it’s essential to be supportive towards all sort of birth scenarios. It is unrealistic to think that everyone will have the “text book” labor and delivery, and more likely for there to be some twists, bumps and detours along the way. No matter how labor unravels, hopefully our students can still draw from their experience in the yoga room to address what is happening in the labor room. Our job as teachers is to offer unbiased information and tools so our students feel educated, empowered, supported and prepared for whatever unfolds.

I wanted to share some of the stories that I have received recently. I think it is so valuable to hear about different birthing experiences and what was helpful during each.

“Everyone’s descriptions about birth were quite accurate. It was unlike any pain I’ve ever known. Getting on top of a contraction with a deep breath helped tremendously. On the flip side, if I was trying to finish a sentence as one began, it was a lost cause and the contraction “won” and kicked my ass!

Although I had some mental tools prepared (visualizations, mantras, etc), they only served me at the beginning when my head was more engaged. I was able at the start to think about how this isn’t negative pain (ie. I’m not hurt), and how they only last 60 seconds, etc. But once the pain was at a certain threshold all reason went out the door for me. I was in a purely physical state- withdrawn but not in a heady/intellectual way. More physical/primal than that. I’d say that towards the end- the only comforting thing is hearing that “I’m ok, and the baby’s ok”, and that I’m doing great- and that I’m “really doing it”, I’m laboring naturally like I wanted.

The best part? Pushing- it felt like a good workout. Something so rhythmic and perfect about them being 60 seconds long, 5 minutes apart- like my body was following a perfectly choreographed dance of nature that so many woman have felt before me.”

~Sandi H

“I had to have a C-section, much against my wishes, because my baby was breech. We also found out, during delivery, that he had the cord around his neck so its a good thing we went with the C-section. Not to say you can’t come out vaginally with the cord around your neck – I was born at home with the cord around my neck – but I think with him being breech it was the safest thing. ANYWAY, what I want to say, and I invite you to share with your classes, is this:

In class you often talk about how you don’t know what labor and delivery are going to bring. And although I had a planned C-section, so much of what I prepared for still mattered. I used breathing techniques before and during the surgery to help me stay present, calm and in my body despite the spinal. I know, for a fact, this helped me feel more like the delivery was mine. I was so afraid that the cesarean surgery wouldn’t feel like I really *had* the baby, but because I was able to stay present and feel him coming out of me, I was able to connect with my delivery and still feel like I had a real labor experience.

Also, we can’t underestimate the help yoga has on recovery. All the nurses were blown away with how quickly my recovery progressed. I was up and about the day after the cesarean and my body was doing all its normal functions by the following day. Of course its a long road, but I do feel that coming into the surgery in good condition really helps.”

~Wendy H

“When the Birthing Gods Give You Lemons …
You still get a beautiful baby!

So I wish I could report a lovely laboring at home birth while snacking on frozen grapes in the bath and an 8cm arrival at the hospital. Not so.

The Sunday before last I had a bad headache all day which concerned me as my blood pressure had been slowly on the rise. The following day I went to see one of the midwives who shares practice with Moritz/Lee etc – I was 40 weeks and 5 days and after an exam, sweeping, etc she said “hold on you need to go to L and D this evening” loads of protein in urine, preeclampsia, all doctors concur. I went home, was a bit scared because of the dreaded pitocin but was still resolved to have a med-free and/or positive birth to the extent possible. Called my husband and doula, took a shower, ate dinner and gave my cat a huge portion of food and a big kiss.

As luck would have it – i went into labor on my own in triage while we waited. I was thrilled. By the time I was admitted into triage I was having contractions every 2-4 mins, a min apart for well over an hour. However my blood pressure was soaring now up to 170/150 and they were now calling it “severe pre-eclampsia” or just eclampsia.

I was on several IVs now – magnesium to prevent seizures/epilepsy (and potentially death I was told ;-)), antibiotics for GBS, a saline drip, a foley catheter eventually, and at last pitocin after they got around to it once I was 4.5 cm about 4 hours into labor.

They brought me to L and D all hooked up and I resisted the epidural and insisted on laboring like this despite the blood pressure concerns for a while. It went from uncomfortable to borderline awful but here is where all the prenatal yoga came in handy. I turned over on to all fours and stayed that way for 4 hours and found comfort in cobra and distraction from the burning in my triceps. The hands-on of my doula, husband and mom were also great additions as well as the visualization and breathing techniques as i was physically quite limited. And most importantly I felt educated and knew when to call mercy!

After hours of this, breaking my water and then an internal fetal monitor enter stage 2 of emergency – baby presenting face first chin up and was jammed and therefore I could not/would not move past 4.5. 5 hours later.

At this point they finally mentioned the “C” word. I was grateful for being at Roosevelt in that it took them 12 hours before they said it. Grateful that I had read your (Deb’s Blogs) blog and been to countless classes to know when it’s a BS C vs a medical necessity. I am most grateful for the quote from Francis that “a woman meets herself in pregnancy”. Because anyone can have a great experience when circumstances line up in your favor. But when they don’t and you’re strong and fight – in a good way – till it’s not smart to do so anymore. Well then at least I can say, I didn’t like the circumstances that landed in my lap but I liked the woman I met and felt I hung in there spiritually and physically with every challenge that presented itself.

So you know the rest of the story, emergency cesarean was declared necessary and an hour later our beautiful baby girl Arabella Caroline Angerer was born, Dec 29th, 9:06 a.m, 7lbs and 13 oz.

And finally I feel great now – mentally and physically – only a week later and know it’s partially attributable to a wonderful prenatal yoga practice throughout my pregnancy. And all that ab work will certainly come in handy as i look forward to recuperating.”

~Lori M

So there we are. Three totally different stories from three marvelously inspiring women from our community. Each mother had to face her own situation and make her own decisions. And at times when the decisions where in the hands of the care provider, the mother had to then decide how she was going to react to the circumstances. It is so beautiful to see these women come out strong and powerful from their experience.

If you would like to read more birth stories, please visit our Birth Stories page. Also- please feel free to email us or post your own story on the PYC website.



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