Finn Anthony is here! If you've read my previous blog post, you know I'd been eagerly waiting for the little man to arrive - and he did the day after writing that post. At 38+6 at 22:44, our beautiful son made his peaceful entrance into the world, almost 4 kg heavy and 52 cm long. Compared to his sister's birth, he took his sweet time and kept us on our toes for 12 hours, but the birth was such a massively different experience from Lily's. In this post I will share how I prepared for my second birth and how it went in the end.
When I was pregnant with Lily, I read two books on Hypnobirthing and we did a weekend course as well. I was intrigued by the notion of a pain-free birth and the whole theory about the vicious circle of pain and fear. I was convinced I could "breathe my baby out", and, honestly, was completely steamrolled by the actual birth. I vomited, had painful contractions, and felt entirely disassociated from the birth itself.
This time I wanted to prepare even better. I was still convinced that it could be different, but I wanted to change a few parameters. First of all, I chose a birth house rather than a hospital as my place of birth. The most traumatic part of Lily's birth was that were just left alone. The hospital had all delivery rooms full at the time I gave birth and we only had a frazzled midwife looking in intermittently.
At the birth house, I knew I'd have two midwives with me - one staying with us at all times. But I also wanted to prepare mentally. Instead of hypnobirthing, I opted for a course called "Die Friedliche Geburt" (the peaceful birth), designed and taught by Berlin mental trainer Kristin Graf. It's an online course, which was ideal because with Lily around, it would have been hard to visit a course once a week in the evening.
So what's different about this course. While the basic theory behind the connection between fear and pain at birth are basically the same as in hypnobirthing, the hypnosis with which you delve into a trance are inasmuch different that they always employ the same method to get into trance. In hypnobirthing, different techniques are used - and I, personally, preferred using the same technique over and over again this time because it gave me more of a feeling of control over stepping into trance.
I started the course at around 24 weeks, so I had plenty of time to prepare. Apart from the fact that the hypnoses, ideally, help you experience a much more self-reliant and peaceful birth, the hypnoses were already invaluable to relax during pregnancy. Despite having a toddler on the loose, I tried to do them three times a day (there are many different hypnoses, so plenty of options), and I cherished every time I could delve into a deep state of relaxation.
So, the big question is now - how did the preparation change my birth. It all started Sunday at 3 am. I felt something trickle down my legs and when I went to the toilet, I realised my underpants were soaked wet. Even though it turned out later that it WASN'T my waters, apparently, it definitely kickstarted the birth for me mentally. I started having surges, but they weren't yet very regular. However, in the morning, I called my midwife and we went to the birth house to write a CTG and see what's going on. But, so far, nothing happened. Disappointed, we went home and the surges stopped completely.
I had some lunch and lay down with Lily for her nap. As I was lying in bed, drifting into a sleep, the surges took up again and I started tracking them. Two hours later, they were a regular five minutes and my parents took Lily with them and Jakob insisted we drive back to the birth house - he was stressed we would be on our way very late like we were with Lily.
Settled at the birth house, the surges kept coming and I employed the special breathing technique I'd learnt from the course - and it was epic. I really didn't feel any pain, just a stretching sensation and some pressure downwards, but no pain. I was completely calm and breathed through all the surges. I welcomed the surges instead of being scared of them, and I could literally feel how my son slowly made his way down. It was incredible!
In fact, I was so calm that the midwife asked me at some point to tell her when I had a surge because she couldn't tell. Jakob told me later he was actually quite bored during the birth because I was just lying there, seemingly asleep, breathing. But inside me and the little man were working hard, but it wasn't painful at all at this point. Eventually, we went for a walk to speed things up a little, and a part of me regrets a little that I let myself be stressed instead of trusting he'd make his way either way, but, thankfully, I managed to get back into hypnosis after the work, back into the tub. There I breathed through the more intense surges, which were closer to the pain threshold, but still completely bearable.
And then I snapped out of hypnosis during a shift of positions, so they could listen to baby's heartbeat and it was like a slap. Suddenly, the pain was excruciating because I hadn't felt it at all before, and I panicked. I vomited once and shouted I couldn't do this anymore, but thankfully it was then time to push and the midwife calmed me down with breathing techniques again. I could feel his head going through my pelvis and my vagina, it was incredibly intense because I was so connected with him. I had an incredible need to push and I wasn't quite anymore. I was screaming, but it was a powerful scream - and then it was over.
If you haven't given birth vaginally, you cannot imagine the incredibly powerful and intense feeling of pushing a baby out. I touched his head on his way out, and with the next push, he just rushed out into the water and put onto my chest immediately. We transferred to the bed, umbilical cord still intact, and he latched on very quickly. It was perfect compared to Lily's birth where I was wheeled away for surgery and she only could breastfeed two hours after being born.
After he was born, we cuddled and bonded, then quickly went to hospital to get me stitched up (second degree tear this time instead of third, so I'm getting better at this), and we went home, tired and happy, at about half past three in the morning (poor Jakob had been up for 24 hours). While Jakob dropped into bed, I felt empowered and wide awake. I introduced our little man to my mum and then went to bed as well where Lily met het baby brother in slightly less than ideal circumstances - in the middle of the night, confused about us being away for so long, and terrified of this little thing in our bed - but how she's grown into being a big sister is for another post - as a mama of two now, there's always one little munchkin with a need, so I'm off for tonight.
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