I think now that I'm past the two-weeks-post-birth-window my hormones are chilling out, and the realization of my VBAC is just starting to sink in.
I've started to float back to my labor (like before I take a nap, or go to bed) and I can not believe how amazing it was.
I am more and more grateful to have been allowed to experience something like that.
Like I said before, it wasn't pain free, but it was much, much, much more comfortable than I had been anticipating. And I think back on it with utter amazement, to the extent that I nearly remember it as painless.
I've been thinking through the different positive things that went into helping it be such a great experience.
Here's what I think they were:
- First and foremost: This was the birth God had for me this time --- part of our journey through life together; part of the way He planned to reveal more of himself to me. (Just like when He walked me through my first daughter's birth.)
- I'd experienced pitocin-contractions in the past. I was expecting similar ones this time, and was pleasantly surprised by what natural contractions feel like.
- I went into this birth committed to it. Ready to surrender to whatever I had to -- any level of pain, any level of disappointment, any level of disapproval from others. I went into this birth saying, "Do what you will to me, I'm ready. I'll go through it. I'm not backing down." (I knew going into a home birth, there were no pain medications available, unless I transferred to a hospital... I committed to that.)
- I decided not to fight any part of this birth. I welcomed each part of it, because I knew it had to happen, there was no point in trying to avoid it. I decided to see each part as a positive-forward-moving experience.
- I didn't try to distract myself from the experience (I did in my firth labor) I only paid attention to my body and my mind. I focused inward. I think this may have helped things move at a nice pace.
- I had music playing to keep my mind from getting too in control, I wanted to stay more instinctual and less cerebral.
- I decided not to "clock watch." I decided ahead of time I was willing to labor "forever."
- I committed a head of time, to taking one contraction at a time and no more than that.
- I talked with Blake ahead of time about the way in which I'd like him to support me. I didn't have any specific coping ideas of what I wanted from him ahead of time. But I told him my fears, my concerns, my hopes, and the type of emotional treatment I knew I would need. (Example: I knew I didn't want anyone laughing during my labor. I knew that would hurt my feelings.)
- I decided to trust everyone there at the birth. (And I chose carefully who I had at my birth, particularly my care provider.) I knew that would help me be open -- both emotionally and physically.
- I decided to trust my body. (That wasn't easy, as I had some serious doubts about my body's ability to do it. But I made myself trust that it was possible, and I stuck to my guns even when I wanted to say that I was crazy!)
- I really tried to listen to what my body was asking me to do, and I did it. (For me that was mainly swaying my hips. Having looked into belly dancing during pregnancy really helped me to believe in how beneficial that could be, and to be willing to let lose into it.)
- I stayed physically active during my pregnancy, which allowed me to have the stamina to keep up with what my body was asking me to do.
- I let Blake help me. I didn't let myself do this birth alone. I was constantly asking him to do whatever I felt would help. (Encouragement, counter presser, and prayer.)
- I was honest in the moment, I told people when I was about to let something overwhelm me, and let other's walk me through it because I didn't always have the mental capacity to do that during the moment.
- When it was to the point where I had to chose (and no one else could help me) to be afraid or to believe I could do it -- I MADE myself chose to believe I could do it. (I didn't fully emotionally feel like I believed it, but I chose not to believe that I couldn't.)
- I took Ina May's advice and kept a good attitude, including an attitude of love towards my husband. And kept my mouth lose. (She really promotes the idea of keeping your lips lose as a huge help in keeping your whole body (especially birthing parts) lose. (Singing "ahh" was my way to ensure I kept my mouth open and that I continued to breathe.)
- I also took Ina May's advice to not think of a contraction as a painful experience, but just "an interesting sensation that requires your full attention."
- I also think using the Hypnobabies program played a huge part in allowing me to truly believe in all the positive thoughts I now had towards birth. And believing those thoughts, I think allowed my body to relax into this process.
- Also, I really do believe having seen a Chiropractor through my pregnancy made a huge difference in allowing my baby to be in a easy-to-get-out position.
So those are the things I really believe helped me to stay relaxed enough to labor efficiently and quickly. (6 Hours: which my care team really seemed to be impressed by for a VBAC, since it's sort of like a first timer's labor.) (And it felt much shorter than 6 hours to me.)
And I think staying relaxed helped all the sensations I had feel very bearable and non-treatening.
So I just thought I would share, in case you find these things helpful for yourself.