Written By: Umm Aaqib

بسم اللّٰہ الرحمن الرحيم

Let's start this from the beginning...

A woman's role as a mother is a highly-regarded, as well as an under-appreciated one; all at the same time. In this flawed world, we verbally admit the virtues of a mother, while disregarding her instincts and choices right from the time she conceives. Pregnancy is no longer treated as a natural process of propagation of the human race. It has become a new profitable industry, which is the result of "fake" modernization of medical industries.

With two previous C-sections, I felt that I was betrayed by the medical authorities whom I trusted for the birth of my babies. Firstly, I would blame my ignorance about the birthing process. Secondly, doctors didn't leave any stone unturned in making me believe that my body wasn't capable of giving birth to a healthy baby without their help. Thus, leading to two Cesarean sections. The best part was the kids I had as a result of it.

As time passed by, we as parents started educating ourselves to become conscious parents. During this process, we learnt good parenting starts from a natural and conscious birthing. Allah ta'ala honors some of us and makes us parents, granting us His amanah. Through giving birth, nurturing, providing, educating and bringing out the best slaves of Allah out of these kids, we raise ourselves in the sight of our Lord. Parenting is an ibadah- it's all in the intention. This was the beginning of our journey into natural birthing, which led us to AMANI Birth.

Alhamdulillah! I conceived..

In September-2020, I was diagnosed with PCOS. I started my routine treatment pattern, which was more diet-based rather than medicines. When I missed my periods, I thought it was the result of my PCOS. Allah had a miracle stored in for me. I found out I was pregnant! After a few discussions with my husband about having a natural birth, I approached my friend - Mehnaaz Noori - who is an AMANI Birth certified Doula in Sharjah. She encouraged me and advised me to take up AMANI Birth classes.

AMANI Birth classes help us strengthen our decision for natural birth. My husband and I were thrilled and amazed as the classes reached its completion. We were determined to go for natural birth against all odds. "Shopping for the doctors" (Mehnaaz loves to call it that!) began. Finally, with her help and
contacts, we found the right doctor and scheduled a meeting with her to explain our birth plan. The doctor complied with most of my requests, for which we (my husband, me & Mehnaaz) agreed. The birth team was ready. Alhamdulillah.

The foods we eat make a difference

During the AMANI Birth sessions, special focus was on the diet. It is important to eat well and avoid supplements. I filled my extra requirement of folic acid, calcium, iron & other minerals through diet. Intake of eggs and milk was increased and maintained throughout. Because of these dietary changes, I felt different in this pregnancy when compared to my previous two pregnancies. I was more active and healthy; I didn't feel lethargic or weak. I didn't have to take any artificial supplements. During my 9th month of pregnancy, I was low on iron. My doctor wanted me to start iron injections to increase the
levels. After discussing it with Mehnaaz, I started taking goat's liver, beetroot juice, Amla (Gooseberries), raisins and dates, along with 1 pill/ day of natural iron supplement. After 10 days, my iron levels rose, and kept increasing until the day of my birth. Alhamdulillah.

The big day arrived?! Or not!

19.06.2021: At around 4 o'clock, I had stabbing pain around my abdomen. It progressed into mild contractions which were 30-40 seconds long, spaced 20 minutes apart. This continued the whole night. I informed Mehnaaz, she advised me to use hot packs and wait for pains to increase. I was very excited and started packing for the hospital and preparing kids for a stay over at a friend's place. I slept at around 3 or 4 am that night.

20.06.2021: I woke up late, no contractions for an hour or 2. We thought it's better to visit the doctor, now that we are approaching the time. I did istikhara, and scheduled an appointment for that evening. The doctor was happy that baby was ideally positioned and that my cervix was dilated up to ½ to 1 cm. She performed a procedure called stretch & sweep. She asked me to go for long walks, eat dates and rest. I had irregular contractions with varying intensity that night. Alhamdulillah I could get some sleep.

21.06.2021: I leaked a good amount of amniotic fluid at around 11 a.m. The contractions on the other
hand were still mild and widely spaced. Upon the doctor's insistence we went to the hospital, she wanted me to be admitted. Mehnaaz was very sure that this is not "the time". We asked the doctor for CTG and checked the leakage. There was no leakage, and CTG was fine. No regular contractions, either. So, we came back home, signing the refusal form.

22.06.2021 - 05.07.2021: This was the most critical time for me. On the 22nd morning, my mucus plug came off. All these days, I have had varying intensity of contractions. I also had long periods of
Braxton Hicks contractions, the abdominal contractions lasting up to 20 minutes. I was getting
exhausted and was losing hope in natural birth, fearing that I might end up in a repeat C-section. I was in touch with my doula, she did her own research and assured me that this is called prodromal labor. It's the beginning of the first stage of labor, so I had to relax and rest a lot. So, basically - "I had to ignore it until it wasn't possible to ignore it." I had an appointment with the doctor to check on the health of the baby through CTG. Baby was doing fine. Meanwhile, I was having a lot of dates, walking along
the seaside every morning, and doing exercises like squatting, forward leaning using the birth ball.

Yay! Finally the day has arrived, Alhamdulillah!

06.07.2021: I woke up at around 1 o'clock with sharp pains. They were regular but not close. I had started Surah Baqarah recitation which I couldn't finish, so I took that up and completed it. After Fajr as per our routine, we left for the beach. I didn't walk much as I had contractions. I didn't start timing them because of the previous experiences. During our ride back home, my contractions grew in intensity and were 2 minutes apart. We reached home, my husband and I made breakfast, and got the kids ready. The kids were dropped off at a friend's house.
● After breakfast, I started timing my contractions and sent them to my doula.
● Husband spoke to the doctor and she called me to the clinic to check dilation and said she would admit me if it were 7 cm.
● We reached the clinic to find out I was around 3 cm dilated. Doctor insisted on staying at the hospital as my contractions were intense and close by. She feared I might get into active labor anytime. She was concerned about my previous scars and wanted to keep a check. But we decided to go back home as I wasn't comfortable with the hospital setting and we lived just 10 mins away from the hospital. My
husband signed the refusal form and we left for home. (Trust me, this was the best decision and I, immensely, thank my doula & my husband for it).

At Home

● We stayed at home from 1.15 p.m. to 10.00 p.m.
● My pains were coming in double waves, but my water didn't break (we were waiting for that to go to hospital).
● I took warm baths, my husband was constantly by my side: rubbing my back, feeding me with coconut water, dates and zamzam. (Allahumma baarik!)
● At home, because the environment was relaxing I could focus on the contractions, submit myself to Allah's will. I had a list of Duas I intended to make during this time, but my mind went blank. All I could think of was each contraction as a wave and me passing through it. I could focus on the grand wisdom of Allah in granting such a high stature to a mother.
● At times, when I was getting exhausted and giving up, my husband kept on encouraging me and later he called for my doula- Mehnaaz.
● She came at around 8.30 pm. What a blessing her coming was! Allahumma baarik laha. She made me do lunges, squatting and forward leaning. She also performed a side lying stretch on me. After which, I started burping and Mehnaaz sensed that this was the transition phase and we needed to rush to the hospital.

Back to the Hospital 

● While on the way to the hospital and in the emergency, I had this urge to push. So, they hurried me to the labor room at around 10.30 pm.
● I badly wanted to push the baby out while standing. But, I was laid down as per the hospital "protocol" and I didn't resist (was too tired to do that).
● The duty doctor took over until my doctor came. We were elated to find out I was fully dilated and they could see the baby's head. The amniotic sac was intact, which was broken by the duty doctor. She gave me local anesthesia for episiotomy (without my consent).
● I had two strong urges to push which failed. My doctor had come and she pushed my legs behind and asked me to push during the next contraction.
Alhamdulillah, within a few seconds I had my baby in my arms. While the placenta was being expelled, I enjoyed skin-to-skin contact with my baby. I fed him colostrum.
● The doctor checked my previous c-sections' scar and assured me about its good strength. The funny part was the staff on duty couldn't believe it was VBA2C.
● After the stitches were done, the baby was taken for a health check up in the same room. We had denied Vitamin K injection and BCG vaccination for the baby and they respected our choice.
● We had to sign a series of refusal forms so that we could achieve that natural birth, we had set our eyes on the beginning of my pregnancy.

Few regrets:

● Not being able to choose the position to push the baby.
● Not being able to deny the episiotomy (it was rushed so quickly that we didn't have the time to respond).
● Cord clamping wasn't delayed as much as we wanted. The doctor was so much into her habit of doing things that she forgot our request.

All's well that ends well…

Despite the few regrets I have, I am thankful that my wish was fulfilled - a successful VBA2C. I am grateful to Allah ta'ala for granting me this privilege. I have no words to appreciate or thank my husband for his role as an active birth partner. His determination and faith in me has added new levels of trust, faith and commitment in our relationship.

I thank dearest Mehnaaz from the deepest part of my heart for making me trust myself and my instincts. The life lessons I learnt from her during this time are too precious to be forgotten.

I am truly thankful to Allah for guiding me to AMANI Birth classes. It changed our whole perspective TO birthing.

[Please note: I don't intend to belittle the effort of doctors and hospitals during true emergencies. But we must understand not all births are emergency procedures.]

Jazakumullahukhairan katheeran for giving so much time to reading this birth story. I pray that may Allah guide all mothers to the natural way of birthing, as HE intended. Ameen.