I first met Carina on the information evening. She was carrying her second child, and determined to find her way to experience this birth differently than the previous. Together with her husband they enrolled to a HypnoBirthing course, and the journey within has started. Her special journey is beautifully displayed throughout her story and images. Thank you for sharing this, Carina, as It will for sure inspire and serve so many of us who wish to experience birth as it is and can be.
Normally, I don’t like to share on social media my personal experiences, however, I had a wonderful one that I cannot keep only for myself. And I think it is worth to share here!
I want to start telling you about my first pregnancy in Italy, and then, I will tell you about my second pregnancy in the Netherlands, one of the most wonderful experience I have ever had.
I started to practice pregnancy yoga with Maria Laura in Milan in 2015, a wonderful teacher, who plants a ‘seed’ in my mind, as she always said: ‘birth is much easier outside the hospital, in a maternity house (or at home) without medical interventions and the large quantity of controls. There you can relax more and the delivery goes much smoother, quicker and less painful.’ So, I started to read more about it, talked with some friends, and I was convinced that I wanted to make it in a more natural way: in a maternity house, in the bath, with a doula. However, my husband did not like the idea as he thought that it would have been safer in a hospital. Since it was my first delivery, I did not know exactly what to expect, I didn’t insist and gave up this idea. So, I chose to go to the hospital for my delivery. I also decided to prepare my body (yoga, special positions, breathings) to have at least a delivery without any pain killer, in the most natural way it could be, inside a hospital.
When I was 40 weeks, I went to the appointment in the hospital, and they told me I had not enough amniotic fluid (later, I realized that it was not true, since I was feeling my daughter moving a lot like always). They wanted me to induce my labour with oxytocin at that moment! I was terrified! I told them I was feeling my daughter moving a lot, and they decided to make the electric controls on my belly. They noticed that she was moving well, but I still needed to sign that was my responsibility to do not let them induce me. However, I accepted to make the rupture of membranes (since they convinced me it was the most ‘safety’ solution for my case). At 3:30am next day my labour started. Resuming, it was a very painful and traumatic labour of 14 hours. I gave up my idea of making a real natural delivery and I decided to have an epidural in the hospital. But the anaesthetist came very late. The expulsive phase was very long and tough, I was exhausted. At least the birthing has the maximum Apgar score, the most important thing in the end.
It was very far away from the delivery I was dreaming to have. I came back home telling everybody that my daughter would have been my only child! The postpartum was a hard time as well.
*Only to be clear, I would like to highlight that my first birth was as it was not because happened in Italy, but because of the circumstances. So, I could have been in any other country, and it would had the same end.
After six months, we moved to Amsterdam, and by the end of the year I got pregnant for the second time. And here the nice story starts… Instead of a gynaecologist, a midwife (a trained health professional who helps healthy women during labour, delivery, and after the birth of their babies) was making my monthly ‘checks’ only by checking my belly, my baby heartbeat and measuring my pressure once a month; I had 3 echography during the whole pregnancy (instead of 8 that I had in my first pregnancy); I had only 1 blood exam (instead of 8 during my first pregnancy). The midwives were always so kind and warm that I began to feel secure, even though I never went to the hospital (neither after birth). The most surprising for me, was when I had any cramps, pain, headache, nausea or whatever could disturb me, my midwifes team told me just to listen to my body and make what he was asking for (relax, sleep more, sit, do not walk much…) with no medicines at all. Meanwhile, in my first pregnancy, the doctors were always ‘prescribing’ me medicines for every kind of pain or symptom (which I never took since I do not like to take medicines if it is not strictly necessary).
Looking for a prenatal course, I found the wonderful ‘Isis HypnoBirthing course’. It teaches a new vocabulary to describe labour and birth, to break the traditional association of birth with pain. Its theory holds that when a woman feels fear during childbirth, her body releases stress hormones that trigger the body’s “fight or flight” response. This causes muscles to tighten and increase the duration and the pain of the birthing process. By training the subconscious mind through meditation, breathings, affirmations and visualizations, it teaches you how to have a safe, gentle and smoother birth. It can happens at home, at a birthing centre or in the hospital, whatever you feel safer.
I practiced almost every day in the last 2 months of my pregnancy at least one of their techniques. I tried my best to change the experience that I had in my first delivery. This time, I trained my body (yoga, exercises) and my mind (which I didn’t do in the first pregnancy, but it was the most important factor, in my opinion, to have a smoother birth). And the wish to give birth in the bath, without any painkiller, was coming back. Since a lot of women give birth at home here, I mentioned this idea to my husband again. He continued to said that he would prefer a hospital. Fortunately, I found the best solution: a birthing centre (a place with rooms with baths very well decorated and equipped, endowed of every comfort to deliver the baby in a safe place with a home feeling). This one was connected to a hospital, where I could have gone if any problem happened or, if I has decided for a painkiller in the last moment. So, we were both satisfied!
Also during the last weeks of pregnancy, my mother who was here with me, guided me with the methodology of ‘Homeostase Quântica Informacional ‘(HQI) created by Prof. Sergio Ceccato, with the Quantum Institute (www.institutoquantum.com.br). This methodology leads to the elimination of our limiting beliefs and emotions. So, gradually I was eliminating what came to my mind and still generated fear, restlessness and insecurities, when I thought in natural childbirth without anaesthesia. It helped and to maintain my inner serenity before, during and after childbirth.
When I was 40 weeks, I had my check-up with the midwife, in her office. She only asked me if I still was feeling the baby moving like always (not less than normal), how I was feeling and if I had any doubt about my delivery. She touched my belly to check if the baby position was still right, checked the baby heartbeats and measured my pressure. Without any echography or electronic fetal monitoring, she told me control the movements of the baby (should not decrease) and to trust in my body that it knows the right time to give birth, and go back home to relax, meanwhile I have time (!).
After 1 week, no signs that my daughter wants to come out, I had the 41 weeks check-up. The midwife did the same procedures that the last time, and also suggested me to make a rupture of membranes when I would be 41 + 3. If it does not work, again with 41 + 5. If it still does not work after 2 days, I would become a ‘medical pregnancy’ with 42 weeks. It means, I would be directed to a gynaecologist and need to decide with the doctor which hospital (not in the birthing center anymore) to give birth, and what I prefer to do if my daughter would still not come – artificial oxytocin, etc.
When I was 41 + 3, I had no signs at all. A lot of friends and family were asking me how I can be that far without any further check-up, that the baby could be suffering in my belly, the baby would grow more than my body could support, my placenta would be old to feed my baby, etc… So, I called Inbal, my teacher from Isis Hypno Birthing, to ask her what I could do to stimulates my daughter to come out. And she answered asking me ‘Are you feeling well? Is your baby growing well?’ I answered positive for both questions. ‘ So, if you have no medical reason to rush things forward, you could ask your midwife for alternatives beside the rupture of the membranes, and discuss with her what else can be done, like the non-stress test. Plus, practicing some of the Hypno Birthing tools, will support you to be in a more relaxed and calm state, the best to set the ground for a natural onset of birth’. So, I decided to wait one more day and increase the meditation time (!!). The day after, 41 + 4, I was very anxious, I confess. I booked 1h30min of reflexology (with Hilde from De Voetnoodt), to help to unblock any emotion and whatever was necessary to have a better labour. I came back home full of energy and feeling very relax, and with more patient and trust to wait for my daughter. 41 + 5, I started to have some mild contractions. My husband stayed at home, since we thought the day arrived! But the contractions lasted all day long, without any further progress. I called the midwife to tell her, and she told me that it could also mean nothing… And she agreed with me to come next morning to my home, to make a check-up and the rupture of membranes – if I do not want to become a medical case. Since if I had become a medical case (in the case my daughter does not arrive before 42 weeks), the birth should have been in the hospital, it could have not been in the birthing centre anymore. So, the rupture of membranes would have been my last chance to have my dreamed birth in the bath. However, it also means not to have a ‘natural birth’, since the rupture does not respect the natural time of the baby (it takes out a baby who is still not ready to be born). I had many doubts which way would be better: respect my baby time, or try to have my water birth in a natural way anyhow before the 42 weeks.
In that evening, I tried to relax and visualize my water birth, very calm, with some relax music and candles. I also would like to mention that in the last months of my pregnancy I was a little bit afraid to have a water birth without any pain killer. However, after waiting for that long (every day after 40 weeks seems an never ending day), I was dreaming with this moment without fear anymore (!). I slept in that night very anxious.
Around 3/3:10am, I woke up with stronger contractions. I was still not very convinced, since they could not progress like the day before. Anyway, they were bearable, so I went into the living room to make some exercises in my yoga ball. My husband woke up with me, and I told him to go back to sleep, since it could take long time (it is said the second labour could last half the first, so I was expecting around 7 hours). I counted the first contractions, and they were still irregular. Around 3:30am, they became more often and stronger, so I decided to wait for at least 30min to check if they were really regular. My husband was worried and came to see if I was fine. I told him again to go back to sleep, as I thought it was just the beginning of the process, still not painful. After 15 min they started to be a little bit painful, so my husband wanted to call the midwife (here you do not go to the hospital alone, you need to call your midwife to check you first at home, and then you go together with her to the hospital/birthing centre chosen). I would have waited more since those contractions were similar to my first daughter early labour, where you still need to stay at home. After his insistence (fortunately!!), we called the midwife at 3:51am, and she came in around 20 min.
When she arrived, she checked me and said: ‘you are already too far, we will stay at home!’. I said ‘ what???’ I can’t believe that! She said again ‘you are almost fully dilated, we do not have time to go to the hospital’. Me, my husband and my mother (that was here for the birth) were quite shocked! It was my early plan to give birth at home, but to be honest I didn’t really prepared myself for that. So, it was a very unexpected surprise! Of course, in my subconscious, I was happy that I could realize my ‘original dream’. Since I trusted in myself and in my body, the labour kept going even stronger, but not more painful (if I would have felt frightened to be at home, the labour could have blocked, diminished or have been very painful). During the entire labour I was practicing the techniques from Hypno Birthing.
We took our ‘krampakket’, a box that the insurance send when you are pregnant in the Netherlands, with everything you need in case you want/need to give birth at home. The midwife asked a few things to my husband: towels, clothes, things for the baby (which were all in my ‘hospital bag’) and others that I could not pay attention on!
I asked my husband to fill the bath with water. After 25 min the midwife was at home, my amniotic sac broke up, and I suddenly started to feel very strong pressure from the baby! The midwife told me to go into the bath (it was finally full).
After a few breathings and 3 contractions, in 5 minutes my daughter came out!!!! With an explosion of emotions in my mind, I could only cry of happiness holding my daughter in my arms and thinking how incredible the nature was! My body could make it! Alone, without any medical intervention, any painkiller, only me and my mind! And the best thing: I could erase all my past experience full of pain, and have a beautiful, smooth and with little and bearable pain, at home!
It was not my relax and quiet water birth, with some music and candles that I had dreamed. But somehow it was much better! My body worked well to delivery my daughter in a fast and smooth way. Everything was perfect. She was born with 4kg. I didn’t have any difficulty because of it, since I learned from Hypno Birthing that my baby size is perfect to my body (but I’m still glad I didn’t know her weight before the birth!).
It was one of the most wonderful experience I have had in my life: feel the power of my body, go beyond the birth beliefs of my culture (the Brazilian full of C-sections and the Italian with inductions and painkillers), trust in my body and fulfil a dream. A few friends said that my subconscious had planned everything to give birth at home without telling anybody (who knows??).
I also would like to highlight that this post-partum was much easier for me. My second daughter is much more calm and easy going than my first one. First of all, because I waited her to come naturally – without force her to come out with any kind of induction – , so everything in her body was ready to come out for our ‘world’; second, my daughter was given soon to me to have a skin to skin contact for the whole first 2 hours after birth, without any check-up (the vitamin K shot and the other exams was made after a few days), creating a stronger and very important first bonding; third, I had a Kraamzorg* for 8 days after birth at home to control me and my baby (we didn’t need to leave home for any reason during these days), to help with breastfeeding and whatever was necessary, also in the household. That let me much more relax and I could start our life in 4 in a smoother and restful way.
* Kraamzorg – The maternity care in the Netherlands is totally unique. No other country in the world has this kind of maternity care, where a professional maternity nurse looks after a mother and her new born baby during the first days after birth. Kraamzorg’s primary responsibility is to ensure that the mother’s recovery is quick and efficient, and that the baby’s development is evolving appropriately. The nurse will show you how to care for your new born baby, eg. how to breastfeed properly. She will look after older children and make sure that meals are prepared, take care of laundry and light household cleaning. If you have visitors she will help arrange a time which doesn’t interrupt with your own or baby ’s rest. If you have a home birth she will also be there after the birth to clean up.
I would like to come back to that day (I never thought to say this one day!), just to feel all the emotions again, to feel my body experiencing this home birth in the perfect way that it should be for every woman. This is how it was for our grandmothers. Unfortunately, now, the birth is already too much medicalized and our culture is full of beliefs that we need doctors, hospital, inductions, a lot of exams and to give birth, the most natural thing in the world*! Of course, there are cases where the woman really need some help and support from the doctors (which is very appreciated), but some of them (in Brazil most of them) are made without any reason. After having my second pregnancy in the Nederland, I have realized my dream and I am very glad to be here!
* The Dutch attitude is that pregnancy is not an illness, so it doesn’t require a special doctor. The Dutch want to medicalize birth as little as possible. Because of this, home births are very common in the Netherlands: 30 percent of all births take place at home, making the Netherlands the western country with the highest rate of home births in the world.
With my story, I would like to encourage other women to know and feel that their power of give birth is inside their body and their mind. My experience was in my second pregnancy, which also helped to be faster. I chose to have a water birth, and to give birth at home. But the women need to choose their place, and their way to do it. It is very important to choose a place where you feel safe: at home, in the birthing centre or in the hospital. Also is important to feel safe and at ease with the people that will be with you: midwife, gynaecologist, doula, husband, mother… and to let them know your wishes and desires for your birth. There are a lot of techniques and meditations to help you to feel more confident and relax. I shared with you the incredible Hypno Birthing– which also helped me to build much more confidence and trust in my body even outside the birth situation – , but you can choose another one that you feel more comfortable with. And enjoy the most unique, wonderful and magical experience that a woman can have!
I also would like to thank you to everybody who supported me somehow and made part of my pregnancy and wonderful home birth! ☺