“Birth isn’t a battle to win or lose. It’s the result of delving into your vulnerability and finding your true feminine power.”
A few hours after birth
On 11 Feb 2011 10.55am, my son Tanguy was born in a planned home birth that turned out to be unassisted. My new role took over me naturally the moment I pushed him out as my husband welcomed him to the world. “Rock a Bye baby on the tree top, when the wind blows, Tanguy will fall”, were the first words he heard as I cradled him protectively in my arms. Flooded with tears as I stood up in the bathtub, I held him close, touching and caressing his skin constantly, overwhelmed with the emotion of finally meeting him.
Shortly after this brief but intense moment, my husband, my son and I laid on the bed for an hour long uninterrupted skin-to-skin bonding, a sacred and unforgettable experience. Soon after, my son found his way to my breast. Only much later did I discover that, as I fed him for the first time, with the umbilical cord still attached to his tiny body, I was also unconsciously regulating his heartbeat and temperature the way nature intended -all the while. This first meeting lasted about an hour, until the midwife returned.
The night before, at 10.30pm, my contractions began. What started as mild Braxton Hick contractions quickly became the intense and painful contractions most mothers would undoubtedly remember. To relieve the increasing pain of the contractions, I wore the Tenth Machine provided by my midwife, and tried to relax myself on the birthing ball with my prenatal yoga routine. As my nervous husband could find little use of himself, beside holding my hands, he decided to fill up the birth pool as we prepared for the big arrival.
After 11 hours of agonizing contractions, the midwife arrived around 9:30 am, checked my cervix dilation (3cm) and instructed me to enter a warm bathtub to alleviate the pain. Convinced that I was going to deliver much later in the evening or the next day, she left at 10.30am and promised to return four hours later. As I was soaked in the bathtub, biting the disgusting bathroom mat (you wouldn’t want to know what it taste like) as hard as my contractions were intense, I immersed myself in the familiar lavender scent filled air, dim lighting, and soothing background music of “Le Grand Bleu”.
Full of anger and nasty thoughts (mums would understand), I told myself repeatedly I had to trust my body and focus on my breathing. Instinctively, I continued squatting and stretching my legs in the various prenatal yoga birthing positions in the bathtub, putting together all I knew as if I was sitting for an exam. Suddenly, I felt a surge as though my body was tearing apart. And with what felt like a giant spicy watermelon passing through my body, my son was pushed out of me only 20 minutes after the midwife had left. The not so expert hands of my husband were thankfully here to receive the new crying addition to our family.
The first family photo, the day after birth.
Unbelievably, we gave birth to our baby at home, all by ourselves. I owe this successful delivery to my unsuspected incredible inner strength, as well as to months of mental and physical conditioning. The continual practice of prenatal yoga immensely helped me cope with confidence during the labor. I am now another example that women are designed to give birth naturally.
My birth experience, as dramatic as it seemed, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We had the unique opportunity to have a prolonged birth bonding period which was of critical importance. Dr William Sears explained: “A close attachment after birth and beyond allows the natural, biological attachment-promoting behaviors of the infant and the intuitive, biological, caregiving qualities of the mother to come together.”
My son’s umbilical cord was clamped only an hour after his birth, after the midwife was back. Typically, the umbilical cord is clamped immediately after birth, but the benefits of delayed cord clamping are tremendous. Dr. Nicholas Fogelson, an OB/GYN physician, said that: “Delayed cord clamping is more akin to the natural process of birth that we have evolved towards, and to the birth process shared by all land mammals. Immediate cord clamping clearly reduces the amount of blood in the infant in terms of volume, blood cells, and iron content. In my mind, this action removes blood from the infant that the infant was “destined” to receive absent the intervention of immediate cord clamping.”
Still today, I am grateful for my unusual but lucky birth experience. Birth is a journey of self-discovery, above all, it’s a matter of getting things right, fighting your fear and finding the strength deep within yourself.