I began toying with the idea of birthing drug-free at home for my second child when I saw two of my friends post photos on Facebook of their deliveries. One of them even had a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean), which I longed for myself since I had a very traumatic caesarean delivery with the birth of my son eight years ago.
We’re all told “once a C-section, always a C-section” by doctors and nurses, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. More information is out there and women are choosing to birth on their own terms. Some even birth on their own without any assistance from doctors or a midwife, which is kind of what happened to me—a “free unassisted birth” is what they call it.
Is this merely a trend, as some claim? I beg to disagree. Women have been birthing their babies naturally, unassisted for millenia. Didn’t God design our bodies perfectly for birth? What has happened to our bodies throughout evolution that we can no longer birth naturally?
Hurdling the birthing pains
Though I had read enough books to nearly obtain a PhD in Natural Birthing, I had to go through more obstacles before having the birth of my dreams. One big challenge was convincing my husband to get on my positive birthing dream team.
Another major obstacle was to find a suitable place to birth. At the time, there was a bill banning home births in Quezon City (the ban has been lifted, but with concessions), which was where we were living. My midwife didn’t want to risk losing her license, so we had to find a place to birth, just like Mary and Joseph did for Jesus. The adventure never stops for those who go against the grain, it seems.
After deciding to move back to my parents’ home in San Juan (no bill banning home births there!) weeks before my estimated due date, more nesting and waiting began. At 40 weeks, I was on the receiving end of hundreds of “haven’t you given birth yet?” inquiries from friends and family. I reckon that if I had gone to a regular doctor’s visit at this time, I would have been chemically induced. Thankfully, I waited patiently for my daughter to choose her own birthday.
Preparing for B-Day
Exactly a day after my husband’s birthday, I started having real contractions progressing to four minutes apart. Staying at home gave me the comfort and the freedom to move. I needed to diffuse the intense surges with the luxury of space and privacy. Seriously, who doesn’t want that?
We informed my midwives, Deborah and Lorna, and my doula, Irina, to come because we sensed the time was near. Upon their arrival, my contractions started becoming weaker until they completely stopped. For natural induction, we tried nipple stimulation and acupressure massage with clary sage essential oil. Nada.
My birth team decided to leave.
Yes, they left during my labor, which might have been a false labor. Minutes after they left, however, the intensity of my contractions came back with a vengeance.
Being a yoga teacher really helped. The years of practice honed my mind to be calm and my body to move intuitively for the birthing process. I stayed on all fours for the better part of those long hours, transitioning from bed to toilet to birthing ball.
Just like in Yin yoga, my mind was focused on my breath, riding the waves. Softening my muscles all over my body helped me let go entirely after surges to save on energy. At one point, vocalizing (aka moaning) released the intensity of this force inside of me that wanted to come out. In retrospect, birthing is a lot like meditation. You are almost forced to get into this tranquil zone.
Letting my body take over
A picture of myself as a serene, whale-like momma began to fade when I started getting annoyed at my husband and birth partner for just about everything. “The water is too cold!” I complained as I attempted to labor in the pool. I was irate once more when our music playlist ended and random upbeat tunes began to play. The irritation built up some more. The final straw was when he started checking his Facebook feed.
“You’re doing that now?!” I barked.
Then suddenly, I lost control of my zen. I began shaking like I was being possessed as my contractions no longer had resting periods. Miraculously, my doula Irina arrived just in time as my husband and I had no idea on what was happening. “You are in transition!” she said. Time to finally move to the birthing pool!
Again, I positioned myself on all fours, hands over the edges of the pool—the only position I could get myself into. Suddenly, I felt a jolt of energy. My sleepiness and exhaustion went away as if someone had injected me with mega doses of upper drugs. My eyes dilated and I had difficulty breathing. I was no longer acting human. I truly felt like an animal. My husband panicked, saying that I was cross-eyed and wasn’t breathing so much as hyperventilating.
He kept urging me, “Breathe! Breathe!”
But my body was taking over at this point. All the holes of my body were in spasms, opening in short surges: my eyes popped out, my mouth wanted to vomit, my anal sphincter wanted to poop (this was the only time I felt grateful for being constipated as one of my fears was that I would poop in the pool during birth!), and my vagina wanted to expel my baby all at the same time.
I reached down and felt my baby’s head crowning! My whole body attempted to expel violently three to four times, which worried me because it was happening so very fast without the midwives there. I felt like I was going to explode! I tried to breathe my body calm or at least to slow down the process but to no avail. It all happened so fast.
Within minutes, my daughter emerged from me and into the water beautifully at 2:50 a.m. on March 14, 2014 at 41 weeks and 2 days. The total length of labor was over 24 hours.
After this experience, someone asked me, “Would you do it again?”
In a heartbeat.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.