At first, I didn’t want to write a blog on this topic. I want to dedicate my blog posts on random issues related to human emotions/psyche and to my field of work, i.e., clinical genetics. But, when I think about it, giving birth has been a journey of gaining wisdom and being self-aware of power within. It definitely works a lot around how one feels about self and feels about the life growing inside of her. Even if I try, I cannot describe birthing stories in general because there is no ONE birthing story. As many mothers you see on earth, that many various stories exist. Each to her own because the power each of them possessed came as a realization to them when they became a mother. There is no possible comparison of two mothers journeys through labor and delivery. Medically it could be the same but the way each woman responds is different, and it should be so.
The goal of my post is really not to share and award myself – ‘I did it, and I was great at it.’ I really just want to share my experience and hopefully pass on the wisdom that I gained with the future mothers. My experience would never be yours but my learning could be the same for you and may work to help your mental state during labor. So here it goes…
I delivered a baby girl on 16th July 2018 at 1:42am through vaginal route without epidural or oxytocin or any other medication. My contractions started at 10-20 secs on 13th Friday night at a difference of two hrs which decreased to every one hour by 14th Saturday morning. I had contractions full day Saturday which grew in intensity, reduced in a gap to 30mins and stayed longer than 30-45secs by evening. Saturday night contractions didn’t let me or my husband sleep and were every 8-10 mins by 15th Sunday morning. We went to the hospital on Sunday early morning to check for dilation. The emergency doctor checked and told that I wasn’t dilated at all, however, per protocol, they will conduct CTG testing for 30mins to monitor baby’s heart rate, movements, and contractions, before sending me back home. 15mins into the testing, baby’s heart rate started reducing to 80-70-64. Everybody panicked, and I was given oxygen and IV glucose immediately. Baby’s heartbeat came back to 140-165. My doctor was asked to come immediately. They made us also sign the admission form and c section form. When my doctor arrived, she asked me my opinion on getting operated. I told I want to wait/observe more and have my doula contacted. My doctor did a telephonic discussion with my doula and came back to ask me to take an ultrasound. According to her, decreased heart rate could be an indication of cord blood flow restriction which could be dangerous and will need c-section. Therefore, an ultrasound will help clarify the blood flow status of all parts inside the womb. Due to Sunday being a holiday for the hospital, we were referred to a different clinic for the ultrasound. The ultrasound was all good and no issues with blood flow to cord or baby’s organs. We came back to the hospital and got admitted. Not to forget our journey back to hospital involved tire puncture of our car and me standing in the middle of the road with contractions every 5 mins. My story, thus, includes a little bit of drama there.
After getting admitted into the hospital, I was given a heart rate monitor for baby, which I carried around my neck and I was told to do exercises. All waited for my contractions and dilation to increase. By early evening, another emergency duty doctor came and checked my dilation. I was dilated to one finger. I did sleep in-between for 15-15mins but overall was doing yoga ball, walking, hip exercises, etc. By midnight, contractions were tiring me too much. Duty Doctor came and again checked dilation upon request. She said to relax and not hold my body tight during contractions very calmly and peacefully. She took my mom and husband outside and told them that I’m not at all dilated beyond two fingers and she doesn’t expect any delivery until mid-morning Monday. She told them I have tired myself in the early labor so much that she fears I will have no energy to push during active labor. Therefore, they will give an injection to make me sleep. However, her words of wisdom got stuck in my mind. It is hard to relax the entire body when you are facing pain which you know would slowly increase, reduce and repeat itself every 4mins. I realized I was doing it all wrong by tightening myself to face the fear of pain. I wasn’t really enduring the pain, I was denying the pain and holding myself. As a result, I was experiencing more pain. I kind of cracked the mental code to start relaxing my entire body muscles when the pain begins, despite it being counterintuitive. Though some contractions, I could deep breath to relax, I was not really relaxing despite deep breathing because of my fear of pain. I started training my mind to relax the body in pain.
Around 12:30am 16th Monday, the nurse gave me an injection. Within 5mins, I reached the peak of my pain, and I started relaxing myself during pain, though at times, I was screaming. Noone could understand why I was acting weird when half an hour back my contractions weren’t that bad. I started having contractions every minute or lesser. So technically despite the injection, I didn’t sleep. At around 1:30am, while my mom was hugging me to help me cope up the pain, my water broke. Blood started oozing out. Everybody started panicking. Doctor nurses came. I was pushing on the room bed itself, and they discouraged me from doing that. They rushed me to the labor room by walk as it was close by. But I was having the hardest time of my life not being able to control the pushing. Once I was in the labor room, I felt the pain of my life as the duty doctor cut my Perineum, and asked me to push. Two pushes and baby was out. I have no clue after that what everyone was doing. I could hear cries and encouraging words from my husband and mom, but I couldn’t feel anything but relief at that moment. My doctor then came and congratulated me. The baby was given to me for skin-to-skin, and that was my moment of accomplishment. Then she was taken for observation. I was asked to push the placenta out, and then I don’t know what happened as they stitched me.
The subsequent learning about my Birthing –
I went to meet the duty doctor who delivered my baby and my doula for a photograph after a week on Sunday. The duty doctor revealed why she delivered my baby instead of waiting for my doctor to come and do it. Apparently, my water (amniotic fluid) had a lot of meconium (green colored first poop of baby). It is risky to have a vaginal delivery with meconium as the baby tends to inhale it through the nose into lungs. Thus, facing respiratory issues which may even lead to NICU (Link). To her surprise, I was fully dilated, and there was no other way but to conduct vaginal delivery. She was scared to conduct the delivery, but she had to hide the risk from family and me so that I do not get stressed while pushing. Luckily, my baby cried the very moment she was out and inhaled through the mouth. The excellent teamwork made them suction her nose and wash her stomach within seconds of her birth. I couldn’t be more thankful to the team.
My takeaway from this experience was birthing can’t be planned. I had asked for water birthing. However, I wasn’t even close to active labor to even get into the water. Medical intervention suggests that I possibly had fetal distress which was indicated by the heartbeat drop and release of meconium inside the womb. I had a great medical team to support my birthing. However, apart from the right side, for a normal delivery, you need willpower which can only come from three things – positive thoughts (I had mantras in the background playing which I chanted throughout my pregnancy), people you love and place your strength in (for me it was my mom and my husband), and ability to train your mind to relax (that’s the power I created from within). Your baby has already decided its womb, and it knows when it wants to arrive, you need to just embrace its decision and let go of anticipations/fears in your mind. You might face challenges unique to yourself or your baby. However, if you stay positive and keep calm, which is hard, given the stress our modern lives give us, your birthing story will always end on a happy note.
Picture description: My birthing Team from Phoenix hospital, New Delhi – Clockwise: Dr. Rashmi did stitches for me (top left), Nurse Sousama, my delivery nurse (top centre), Nurse Ranju, Baby Prutha’s nurse right after delivery (top right), Dr. Deepika, the duty doctor who did the delivery (center left), Dr. Urvashi, my Doctor (center right), Divya, my doula (bottom left), Nurse Bindu, who helped me with my contractions and preparation for admission (bottom center), helper (forgot her name, bad me🙄), she helped me with bath and toilet after delivery, (bottom right).