If you are familiar with HypnoBirthing you might be familiar with the concept of birth breathing. If you aren't, that's a-okay; it is a method of gently birthing a baby through the birth path using certain breathing techniques. Now, with introduction out of the way, let me re-introduce myself. I am Katie Tolbert, and when I see new birth techniques backed up by evidence of success, I normally pounce on the idea, research, and jump in to using the technique. However, I did not use any birth breathing techniques with my babies. Shocking, I know! Especially, since I now teach HypnoBirthing (which includes birth breathing). My reasoning for not using this technique falls under special circumstances: Sometimes there are instances where you do need to do active pushing directed by a mother.
My doula arrived at our house at 9:45 am while I was resting on my side in bed. I was listening to my Ocean Suite album (a mix of calming music and ocean waves), preparing myself for the birth of my daughter, Victoria. My husband (as I instructed) starting timing some of my surges and they were about 3-5 minutes apart. However, By 10:30 or so, I was terribly shaky, trembling with every move I made, so we called the midwife for advice and she asked us to come to her office to be checked on.
We rushed over to my midwife's office (Karen), yet it still took us 45 minutes to get there. We got checked in quickly, and Karen saw me on the spot, looked down, and found that I was already 9 cm dilated! Within seconds of her discovery, we began our move to the labor and delivery unit of the hospital. With how fast the process with moving, I expected the baby would be here soon but everything hit a wall after admission. We were admitted at around 11:30, and at 2 pm I started to feel the urge to bear down, but at the same time I could feel my baby was still high. To my doula, this was a call fro action: We did tons of position changes (most of which involved squatting, and sitting up on my hands and knees) and with each change, I felt I was rapidly losing strength and energy but I kept up with my surges, knowing that each surge would bring me one step closer to seeing my little Victoria. When my midwife came back from rounds at 5:30 pm she gave me the "choices" speech and I obviously chose the most natural method to me and started my active pushing when I felt the urge. With patience and determination my doula and I identified the best position for pushing (on my side) and my dear daughter, Victoria, was born an hour and a half later at 6:58 pm weighing a beautiful 8 lbs, 4 oz.
Now there were several other tactics you didn't hear about, that I used from my HypnoBirthing Circular to help my birthing process (you have to take my class to hear them all :) ), but was my birth a true "Hypno-Birth" even though I didn't use any birth breathing techniques? Absolutely! HypnoBirthing is a phenomenal system, but like many things in life, not all systems are followed in a perfect step-by-step order. It definitely doesn't always work like it does in the movies. ;)
HypnoBirthing involves understanding the capabilities of your body during birth and trusting it completely. It also involves trusting that your baby and your mind will do what it needs in order birth your baby. To be succinct, that is exactly what I did. I knew , when presented with my midwife's choices what I needed to do and what my baby needed to do. Given the timing and the circumstances, I felt that birth breathing wasn't a necessary step and I was very fortunate that my midwife never pressured me to rush things along. She took my response positively, remained calm and encouraged me. Her decision to allow me to decide what my next step was, gave m one of my fondest memories during my birth experience. I remember, in the midst of all the tension, I laid back in bed, straining to look up at my doula, who was gently stroking my forehead with a big smile on her face. Once we finally met eye to eye her expression and calm demeanor alone gave me the courage to keep going. It may sound a little strange to some, but it was beautiful and powerful experience for me.
Other circumstances where birth breathing is changed to active pushing or mother directed pushing (in my experience as a doula) is when baby's health may be an issue or mother's health is an issue. I have seen mothers do more active pushing and quietly and quickly calm their body in between surges. As a mom, you have to have the confidence to know what is right for all parties involved, and you need to have the right people supporting your decisions.
I want this blog today to have a simple story: the pressure and negativity of hospital protocol and birth providers can easily put a birthing woman into the Fear-Tension-Pain cycle. Find a paitent midwife, a calm doula, and your own inner confidence to birth, and you will have a beautiful and fulfilling birth.
Follow your body, follow your baby! Your instincts are powerful, TRUST them.