I can’t believe my baby is already turning ONE! This year has gone by so fast. It really is true what they say… the days are long, but the years are short.
I have been wanting to share her birth story for a while now, so I thought no better time than her first birthday!
Before I share our story, I think it needs to be said that we all have amazing birth stories, no matter how you brought your baby into the world. Every birth is natural, whether medicated, unmedicated, or through c-section. Every woman who has grown and birthed a baby is a FORCE to be reckoned with.
So let me tell you about Sloane’s story…
Sloane’s Birth Story
My reasons for doing an unmedicated birth
Before I was ever pregnant with Sloane, I knew that I had wanted to have an unmedicated birth with as little medical intervention as possible. I had learned about the benefits of doing it this way from my friend, who is a chiropractor who had already had two unmedicated births herself.
Other than her, I had never personally known anyone who had done it without meds (on purpose, at least). She told me all about her experience using Hypnobabies during her pregnancies, and she absolutely loved it and recommended that I look into it.
So, I did lots of research on unmedicated birthing programs, and Hypnobabies really resonated with me the most. Now, I will be completely honest with you and admit that I was a little skeptical. The thought of hypnosis seemed a little strange to me. But then I learned that it is not the kind of hypnosis that you see in the movies. They use something called somnambulistic hypnosis, which means that you are fully awake and aware of your surroundings the whole time.
I also read the testimonials of HUNDREDS of other moms who did the Hypnobabies program, and I was sold.
Here are some of the benefits of doing an unmedicated birth using Hypnobabies…
- most women end up using fewer drugs, or no drugs at all, which means less risk of side effects for them and their babies
- helps you release fear and tension during pregnancy and birth
- most moms have shorter labors since there is less resistance of the birthing muscles
- the birthing environment is much more calm and peaceful when the mother is comfortable, relaxed, and confident
- it “deprograms” your brain from the usual negativity of birth stories, thus releasing fear and anxiety that is normally related to childbirth
- it allows you to go into your birthing experience with confidence, believing that your body knows exactly what to do
And those are just a few of the benefits…
The two main reasons that I personally wanted to attempt an unmedicated birth were 1) I wanted to bring my baby into the world peacefully, calmly, and with confidence and 2) I wanted to minimize the risk of side effects that can come along with medication, for both me AND the baby.
A lot of Hypnobabies moms do home births, but I decided that I wanted to be in a hospital because I just felt safer doing it that way. I knew that IF anything went wrong, I would be taken care of by my amazing doctor and the nurses at the hospital.
The Hypnobabies Program
I won’t go into every single detail about the program in this post, but I wanted to give a quick description of how you prepare during pregnancy.
Hypnobabies sends you a book with all of the information you need to prepare for an unmedicated birth. It has everything about the body during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. It goes into the benefits of the program, and the mental preparation as well.
You are also given tracks to listen to throughout the six week program. They give you a schedule for when exactly to listen to each track. There are hypnosis tracks that you listen to while pregnant, affirmations that you listen to that aren’t hypnosis, and also hypnosis tracks that you listen to on your birthing day.
A Small Change of Plans
My original plan was to have a completely drug-free birth, no Pitocin, no epidural, as little intervention as possible. But my husband worked in college football at the time, and we were having this baby in October, right in the middle of football season. Perfect planning, right?
This meant that my plan of wanting to go into labor naturally could potentially leave us in a less that ideal situation if I happened to go into labor while Kenny was on the road for an away game. So, as we got closer to the due date, I had to make a decision. We were two days away from my due date, and Kenny was supposed to go to Iowa like 6 days later. I knew that there was a very good chance that I could go well past my due date, like a lot of first time moms do.
So, we decided to give it a few more days, and that we would induce three days after the due date.
I’m not going to lie, I was kind of devastated. All I could think about were all of the horror stories I had heard about Pitocin. I had always heard that Pitocin is a beast and can make the contractions so much worse. So of course I was scared that this was going to ruin the rest of my plan too.
I had to do lots of praying and soul searching in the days leading up to the induction. I went onto the Hypnobabies website and found testimonials of other moms who had to (or chose to) be induced for various reasons. It gave me SO much hope and reassurance that I could still do this the way I wanted.
The day was here. This baby was cozy in there and didn’t want to come out on her own, and I decided that I was more scared of Kenny not being at the birth because of a road game, than I was of being induced. So it was time to coax her out instead of wait on her.
We checked into the hospital at 6am, and we were taken back to get prepped and settle into our delivery room. I felt calm yet nervous all at the same time. They got my IV started and hooked me up to the fetal heart monitors. Both were things that I didn’t want because I didn’t want to be tied down, I wanted to be able to move around more. But, I accepted it and told myself that it was going to be fine.
They started my Pitocin at about 7:45am, and I really didn’t know what to expect. They start it low, and then slowly increase it at certain time increments. I was kind of expecting the contractions to start pretty quickly because that’s what I had always heard. But that didn’t happen for me. Kenny and I just kind of hung out for a while, talking and trying to pass the time because nothing was really happening. They had also checked my cervix around the time they started the Pitocin and I was already dilated to 3cm, so I definitely had that going in my favor. I had been dilated to 2 cm for like 2-3 weeks before my due date, so I knew my body was definitely ready.
I started to feel some tightness in my abdomen around 10am, but nothing painful. They kind of felt like Braxton Hicks contractions. But then around 11:30am is when I really started to feel it. They were extremely manageable, but it was definitely more than just a crampy feeling. This is when I put my headphones in and focused on my birthing tracks. I knew that it was going to get intense pretty soon, so I wanted to make sure I was relaxed and calm before that happened.
The birthing day track was a life saver. I honestly can’t even tell you what she said the entire time, but those positive affirmations really get into your subconscious and truly help you calm your mind and body. I felt in control, and the contractions were totally manageable.
Then at around 1:30pm is when things started to get REAL. The contractions were starting to get closer together and much more intense. I had been laying on the bed the whole morning, and had been going through contractions while laying on my back for a while, but when they started to get stronger, I couldn’t lay in that bed anymore. I felt like I needed to get up and move into a different position. So I stood next to the bed, put my hands on the bed, and just leaned up against it and swayed my hips back and forth during each contraction.
Doing this helped SO much. All of the pain I was feeling was low and in the front, so it felt so much better to lean forward a bit to relieve some of the pressure in the front of my abdomen. I stood like this for a couple of hours, just riding the waves of the contractions. They checked me again at this point and I was at 6cm, so Kenny texted my doula, Pauline, to let her know that I was progressing.
She got up to the hospital pretty quickly after that, and she was such a huge help. The first thing she asked me when she walked in was “what do you need from me right now?”
And my response… “I think an epidural would really help a lot.”
She just looked at me, smiled, and handed me some ice chips without saying a word. And this is why I love her! When I met her for the first time a few months before my due date, I was telling her about my desires for a drug free birth. And I told her that if I started asking for an epidural, to just ignore me, and remind me why I want to do it this way. I told Kenny the same thing leading up to the birth. Just ignore me and hold my hand if I started asking for the drugs. And that is exactly what they did. I honestly didn’t have many moments where I felt like I really needed the epidural, but there were a couple of times that I joked about it, and they just looked at me and smiled.
She went and got me a heating pad that they would press on my lower back, and she also got me an exercise ball to sit on between contractions when I was standing next to the bed. My legs were getting so tired from standing at that point, that it was amazing to be able to sit on that ball to rest.
By about 4:30pm, I was getting very fatigued, so I decided to get up onto the bed. I realized pretty quickly that I could NOT lie on my back, so they raised the bed up to a 90 degree angle. I got up onto my knees and leaned over the back of the bed, this way my legs got a little bit of a break.
Dr. Devine got there soon after this, and when she checked me, I was at an 8. At this point, my water had not broken on its own, which I was grateful for because I have always heard that contractions get even worse after your water breaks.
We decided that Dr. Devine would just break my water herself in hopes that it would speed things up a bit because I was so close anyway. And it worked, those contractions were super close together after that and my body even started involuntarily pushing. That was a BIZARRE feeling. I was back up on my knees, leaning over the bed again, and I felt my body pushing all by itself with every contraction. It actually kind of freaked me out because I didn’t really know that was a thing. That happened a few times, they checked me again, and I was at a 10. It was GO TIME.
It was about 5:45pm, and at this point, they started getting the room ready for delivery. I remember the doctor and nurses moving around the room, but I was really trying to focus on my birthing track in order to stay calm. When they told me that it was almost time to push, I remember having a brief moment of fear. I thought “OH MY GOD, WHAT HAVE I DONE? WHY DIDN’T I GET THE MEDS? THIS IS WHERE THE REAL PAIN IS!”
But, I stopped myself. Took a deep breath, put my headphones in, and really tried to stay calm. This is where I told myself that I was almost there, and that I was about to finally meet my baby. The nurses were also extremely helpful at this point. They were always so encouraging, and I felt like I really had so many people there to cheer me on. Those nurses really are angels.
We started with the squatting bar. I told my doula that because I had the use of my legs, that I wanted to use gravity as much as I could to push. I pushed using the bar for about 30 minutes, but then I started to feel a little exhausted from having to go up and down in between each contraction. When you use the squatting bar, you pull yourself up to a squatting position for each push, and then lay back and try to relax in between each one, which is basically a workout in itself.
I looked at my doula and told her that I didn’t know if I could do it much longer, so she suggested that I just lay back and push because the baby was so far down the birth canal anyway. So that’s what I did. I pushed a few more times, with Kenny counting me down each time. I think that was my favorite part of the whole thing up until this point. Hearing Kenny’s voice counting for me while I pushed was so comforting, he was right there with me.
I pushed a couple more times, completely unaware that Sloane was almost out (I’m not joking when I say those birthing tracks work). Then all of a sudden, out she comes at 6:55pm. This kid had some strong lungs because she was LOUD. I actually remember laughing about it and saying “I love that she is crying so loudly!” as they put her on my chest.
In that moment, I had never been more proud of myself. I had always had this tiny skeptical voice in my head questioning whether I could actually have this baby without pain meds (and it didn’t help that I had people tell me that I was crazy), and I proved that voice wrong. Your body really does follow what the mind decides.
It was all so surreal. I felt like I already knew this little person that was laying on my chest. She was the cutest thing I had ever seen, and then I look over at Kenny and he is BAWLING. Like, I’ve never seen him cry like this in all the years we have been together. He was amazed and in love instantly.
We did it. She was here. All 7 lbs 3 oz of her.
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