Editor’s note: We believe that all birth stories and all birth experiences matter. This post is part of our ongoing series of birth stories featuring a diverse range of women and their birth experiences. Uma has kindly allowed us to repost her birth story originally shared on her blog, Maiara Living. She prepared for her daughter’s birth through nutrition, pelvic floor exercises, ancient Ayurvedic treatments, and meditation, and her home water birth went just as smoothly she had hoped.
If you would like to share your own birth story, visit this post to learn how.
THE RITUAL OF SHARING
I believe that sharing our birth story is an important ritual for every mother to take part in. This is a practice that was honored in ancient times. One that would allow mothers’ the opportunity to process through the experience and heal from any traumas that may have taken place during the labor. I personally found that reading other women’s birth stories was a key aspect of preparing for my own birth. It allowed me to feel educated about all of the possibilities, but especially gave me trust that my body was capable of fulfilling this process in a gentle and natural way.
A NEW PARADIGM SURROUNDING BIRTH
Being the youngest of ten children, I have always been in awe of my mother and how she was able to birth so many babies while maintaining the health of her body. In our culture today, there is a mass fear and false idea that labor is a horrifically painful and traumatic experience that requires hospitalization and medication. Although my mother did not have her babies at home, she still spoke positively about her birth experiences. Not remembering pain so much as an intense sensation that brought her baby closer to being born. This was certainly a different paradigm than most people held in regard to birthing pains, but one that certainly helped to set the tone for the positive experience that I was blessed to have during the birth of my Daughter.
Looking back, I am in actual awe of how gracefully and with ease everything took place. For this I am fully confident that I can attribute it to the fact that I had so much support from the women around me, including my older sister who is a doula by profession. In addition there were many ways that I prepared my body physically and mentally that I know led me into the birthing process primed and ready to allow my body to do what it was meant to do without intervention of any kind. There are so many aspects to this process that I will be sharing with you in great detail and abundance, but for now we will stick to the “actual” birth story.
It began at 1:00 am on January 31st. Day of the first super blue blood moon eclipse in 152 years (apparently!). It was 10 days after our anticipated due date. The exact day that the psychic (who approached me and my very pregnant belly) informed me that SHE would come. Although at the time the gender was still a mystery to us, I felt that this woman could be right because I too had an inkling that our baby was a girl. What I was skeptical about however was the wild flaming red hair she predicted my baby would have. I knew it wasn’t entirely impossible, but with her father’s Afro-Cuban roots probably unlikely. As I felt the emerging rhythmic, contracting sensations with the massive moon gleaming through my windows, I knew the psychic was right. Today was the day.
My contractions began about 10 minutes apart and were quite manageable at first. I was able to just breathe through and lay restfully with my eyes closed between each one. When early morning came, I texted my sister and midwife to inform them that pre-labor had begun. It was deep winter and the outdoors was bitter cold and thickened with a solid white snow that had fallen weeks before. This may have been a concern for me, but my mind was at ease knowing that my sister literally lived next door, and my midwife only 3 blocks away. I had created a birthing sanctuary out of my sunlit living room. Equipped with my birthing tub, flowers, essential oils, a curtain for privacy… and just the right lighting. I am a very visual person, and knew that my surroundings would be key in allowing me to relax and be at ease.
I remembered my midwife telling me that when contractions first begin that I should go about my daily routine and keep myself (restfully) busy. So I did just that. I took it easy in the morning and meditated and stayed present in my body. Not knowing how events were going to unfold, but just trusting in my body and breathing deeply to remain present and mentally calm. My sister came over with fresh flowers, Ethiopian food for lunch, and green juice. My mom ran some last minutes errands to prepare for the home birth, and Teddy and I even managed to bundle up in the freezing cold and take a refreshing walk outside. We were feeling a lot of excitement as we knew we were finally going to meet our baby.
My contractions had spread apart during the day, with a longer duration between them, but as evening time grew closer I felt myself having to be more inward in order to get through each contraction. This was my cue to call my midwife over to check on me. She usually could tell where a woman was in her labor process just by her behavior and the timing of her contractions, but was not sure where I was because I was deceivingly calm, while at the same time, my contractions were close to being only five minutes apart. Pre-labor can take hours or even days for some women, so often times she would advise them to drink some calming tea and go to sleep for the night. My behavior hinted that I was either just beginning and had many hours to go, or that I was already fully dilated and about ready to push.
I had prepared my body and mind for so many months, using nutrition, pelvic floor exercises, and ancient Ayurvedic treatments. It had clearly made a difference because when my midwife checked my cervix (to our surprise and amazement) I WAS already fully dilated and past transition. She also commented at how supple and open the tissues were, as if this was not my first birth, which I fully attribute to the birth preparations!
At this point I just needed to wait until the baby descended into the birth canal. We promptly prepared the birthing tub, filling it with warm water. Before I got into the water I could feel a lot of pressure on my pelvic floor and had a resistance to fully letting go and relaxing into it. Entering the pool of warm water completely allowed me to relax and let go. I believe it also helped that it was quiet and dark in the room and I felt very safe, supported, and nurtured.
The hour following was absolutely the most intense. The pressure and sheer power of the contractions triggered the urge to push with unstoppable force. My entire being was consumed by this primordial mechanism.
…And then I would get a beautiful break between each push.
A moment to breathe, to drink, and even to laugh! Even in the depths of the most intense experience of my life, I felt nature’s compassion in design by giving me the opportunities to catch my breath.
After only an hour of pushing the baby was finally crowning, and with one last push I roared like a lion and she emerged, whole body at once.
It was 11:00 pm on this full moon night. Her cry was strong and her eyes deeply present. The baby girl I new would be named Prayma (the Sanskrit word for divine love) was in my arms at last.
Uma is a holistic nutritionist, a keeper of women’s wisdom, and (most of all) a mother to her beautiful baby girl, Prayma. Uma believes it is her mission to revive the sacred wisdom of the wise women around the globe. Her vision is to introduce a more nourishing and empowered way of living to modern women. Visit Uma at Maiara Living or follow her on Facebook and Instagram.