Birth Breathing

Photo Credit - Sara

My labor began at 3am when I heard a “pop” coming from my belly while I was laying in bed. I got up, curious about the sound, and a heavy trickle of water appeared at my feet. My mom was staying with me, and we were both already
awake at 3am because my mini dachshund Mia was indecisive about which human she’d share a bed with that night.  Mia ran through the house from one bed to the other, then back again to my bed right before my water broke. My husband Dave had driven 3 hours the night before to attend a work event. I called him immediately to let him know he might want to hit the road, another 3 hour return trip. Then I called my doula Jill, who said, “Ok, let’s have a baby!” I started timing my contractions, which were getting closer together. I kept needing to pause to focus on my breathing through each contraction. My mom thought things were rapidly progressing so she suggested we head to the hospital to arrive around 7:30am. Dave said he’d arrive by 7:40am. Jill was already there when we arrived. Mia was along for the ride too since we didn’t have dog care set up for another couple days (baby Sophie joined us earlier than expected).

Jill helped me walk to the labor and delivery unit, while my mom waited for Dave to arrive so that he could bring our bags and personal things to the room. Then, my mom headed back home with Mia.  As things progressed quickly, I breathed mindfully through each contraction. Due to an urgent situation in the triage
unit, we were in a tiny room with a standard hospital bed for about two hours, waiting to be assigned our own room. Jill helped me remain comfortable despite the lack of space and comfort resources available. A couple hours later, we
finally got our own room. Jill prepared the bathtub for me that felt more like a spa, with dimmed lighting, candles surrounding the tub, and relaxing music playing. With the warm water helping me to stay calm, the midwives didn’t think
I was progressing as fast as I was.

Jill strongly encouraged a cervical check, which was when it became apparent that birth was nearing, as I was 6cm dilated and 80 percent effaced.  The midwives began filling the birthing tub, with Dave helping to regulate the heat and navigate the hose attachment, all while being by my side and supporting me through the waves of contractions.

Suddenly I felt the urge to push. Jill asked, do you feel different, like the urge to push? I said yes and was worried I wouldn’t make it in time to the birthing tub. Jill must’ve read my mind because she then said that the midwives would be able to catch the baby in the bathtub and it would be ok if things went that way. That calmed me down a lot.  Finally, the birthing tub was filled just enough and Jill asked if I wanted to get in. Between contractions, Dave helped me exit the bathtub, and walk over and into the birthing tub. It was just 10 minutes later when Sophie entered the water and we welcomed her to the world. On my final push, one of the midwives said to me,  “Sara, are you ready to catch your baby?” While leaning forward on my knees, and over the side of the tub, Sophie entered the water behind me. The midwife passed her through my legs and I caught Sophie in my arms as she came up from the water. It was 12:10pm, nine hours after my water broke.  

Sophie and I are still glowing after our amazing natural water birth. Immediately following Sophie’s birth, as I got up and out of the birthing tub, the midwives noticed I was bleeding more than normal. They were worried about me losing too
much blood, so they expedited the delivery of my placenta by pulling it from the birth canal. Unfortunately, part of the placenta remained inside my uterus. I realized this had suddenly become an urgent situation, as OB/GYNs rushed in
saying I may need an epidural and surgery to remove the remaining part of the placenta so my uterus will contract properly after birth and the bleeding will stop. I was calm and relaxed with Sophie laying on my chest, and I pushed back asking,
“Is that really necessary? Can you try to get it out without any meds?” They said it would be very painful but that they could try a sweep with their hands. I said,
“let’s do that.” Thankfully, with Sophie laying on me the entire time, I focused on my breathing, and the manual sweep worked. When they were done, it was time for healthy baby and mama to get some rest.

I highly recommend hiring a doula (especially someone as professional and intuitive as my doula Jill). Also, laboring and giving birth in warm water as a way to mitigate pain and to relax was so helpful. The month leading up to Sophie’s
birth, I started swimming to stay active, and being anti-gravity helped my body stay healthy in those final weeks. The hands and knees position was the only position that made sense to my body throughout labor, so I stayed in that
position for every contraction. (I also slept on my belly during the entire pregnancy, using pillows to create a “belly hole” — I think this primed my body for a belly-down position for birth that cooperated with gravity.) And finally, to prepare for giving birth naturally, I learned three breathing techniques: Calm Breathing, Wave Breathing, and Birth Breathing. Calm Breathing and Wave Breathing guided me through the entire 9 hours of labor. During each contraction, or wave, I used Wave Breathing while thinking about being at the beach and looking at the waves with our baby who was about to be born. That was my main motivator. When it came time for the Birth Breathing, during those final 10 minutes in the birthing tub, I totally forgot how to do it. However, at that point, baby was coming no matter what, and I surrendered and trusted my body to do what it knew how to do best.

Sara said of the Birth Made Mindful Course, "This course was so helpful in preparing me for birth and guiding me into the mindset of trusting my body and surrendering to the flow of my birth journey. I felt very empowered and prepared for birth after taking the Made Mindful course."

Birth Story submitted by Sara - March 17, 2024

Sarah Ziroll

Sarah Ziroll