Read Part I Of The Series Here:
Profile: Wahiba Naeem
Natural birth experience:
I found out I was pregnant with my second, seven months after the birth of my first child. I must admit though, that I was petrified after my first experience. However, I was in a different country this time around. Taking a lesson from my first experience, I started walking since the beginning of my 3rd trimester for an hour to an hour and a half at least 3-4 days a week outside the house. When I didn't walk I danced, not more than half an hour though. I did deep squats 3-4 times a week but not more than about 40 squats a day. I sat on a birthing ball for about 10-15 minutes daily in the last trimester. Based upon my independent research, I drank 3 cups a day of raspberry leaf tea, from 34 weeks onward, to tone my uterus for effective contractions. I also used to take 2 evening primrose oil pills a day, 36 weeks onward, to soften my cervix to prepare it for the baby's birth and to minimize potential perineal damage. I sat with my back tilted forward a lot at the repeated insistence of my sister in law who was traumatized by my first birth.
I was eight days overdue but I didn't even bother to inform the doctor. I did do everything to induce natural labor though (walking, squatting, cinnamon/date/cumin teas, pineapples, acupressure, nipple stimulation, etc.) but nothing worked and it was only when I stopped and let my mind go, did I actually go into labor almost instantly.
My early labor started around 12:30 pm and I thought it wasn't real until the contractions started intensifying around 2 pm. By 3 pm they were getting closer and more intense so I knew this was it. By 4 pm, I was in enough pain that I had to stand and grab onto something to let the waves of pain pass. Even though the surges were 15 minutes apart, this time things were definitely progressing fast. We didn't leave for the hospital and decided to bear the pains at home. My doula was by my side the entire time holding my hand, massaging my back, applying essential oils to my back, telling me to hold on for just a few more seconds while I grabbed onto anything and everything; trying to deal with the intensifying contractions that were reverberating from my back to my thighs. Not only were they getting closer, but I had resurgence of pains every 3-4 minutes, which were less in intensity but still debilitating. I couldn't walk because the contractions were so close together. My body demanded to stay as still as possible when they hit. I ate dates, drank glucose water, honey, and milk consistently for energy.
By 6:45 pm, I approximated that I was nearly 6 cm dilated and was almost ready to push, while still being at home! Right before I left the house another wave hit me, and with nothing to hold onto, I hugged my sister in law and I discovered my pain cut in nearly half. The Oxytocin release (the hormone needed for dilation) was so immediate and so profound it nearly cancelled out the pain of transition. Yes, I was in the transition phase! While in the car, the counter pressure from the seats helped a bit for my aching back, and grabbing onto the bars at the top of the windows while pushing my feet against the back of the seats was turning out to be a good coping mechanism. As soon as we got to the emergency department, I jumped out and hugged my aunt who had also been by my side for the entire time as well. I discovered hugging was working really well for my pain. However, I dreaded sitting in the wheelchair to the maternity ward.
As soon as we got to the ward, another wave hit (they were 2 minutes apart now) and as I writhed in the wheelchair almost 8 nurses attacked me literally:
"Madame can I take your height and weight, Madame?",
"No madame, we have to check you Madame!",
"Madame, lie down Madame",
"We have to give you insulin, Madame".
My doula almost physically pushed them all away, and screamed at them:
"Wait! Can't you see she's having contractions?!",
"Can you not wait till they are over?",
"Her birth plan is signed by her doctor, and it says that we do not want any IV cannulation or interventions."
To which one of the nurses replied,
"Aye, no Madame, you don't understand, she might deliver here Madame!"
My doula continued to advocate on my behalf. She fought all my battles in the hospital, and was great support. She absorbed all the negativity coming at me from the medical personnel and let me labor peacefully. During this time somehow, my aunt changed me into the hospital robe and I lay down halfway to be checked after gentle coaxing by my doula; we discovered I was nearly 7 cm dilated. I was terrified: 3 more centimeters?
"How was I going to bear any more pain?" I thought to myself.
I jumped up and hugged my aunt and cried out in embarrassment, "I peed, I peed".
Turns out, it was my water bag that just broke right at the last stretch alhumdulillah, along with my mucus plug and bloody show. Literally 2-3 contractions later I was screaming, "I have to push, I have to push!"
The doctor in the ER said, "Don't push, wait for 2 minutes. We'll wheel you into the labor room."
However, on my insistence, when she checked me again she exclaimed, "She's ready. She's fully dilated."
Everything happened within minutes. My own gynecologist arrived just in time. I was screaming and following my own instincts and pushed when I felt the urge. My doctor let me do what I was doing and literally about 3-4 minutes later, at 7:45 pm, barely half an hour after reaching the hospital, I pushed my daughter out in the ER! My aunt was holding my hand saying,
"You did it, Wahiba! It's over! She's here, Ghalia's here!". And I could only respond with, "Ouch, Ouch."
From 21 hours to a total of 7 hours for this labor. Whoa was it different from just a vaginal birth, subhanAllah?!
We waited for the umbilical cord to stop pulsating while my daughter was given to me for skin to skin, and I cut the cord myself after it stopped about 8 minutes later. I got a natural 2nd degree tear with about 4 stitches. My doctor was smiling and said, "Alhumdulillah, this is an ideal home birth situation. You wanted a natural labor and that's exactly what you got."
I was completely in my senses and was on such an Oxytocin high I jabbered non-stop for nearly an hour after the birth and in the recovery room. I was and still am in awe of my latest experience. After being wheeled into my room I met my daughter, fed her enthusiastically, ate like I hadn't eaten in months and actually went to the toilet, and still didn't want to sleep. I was in such a good mood, on pain reliever yes, but I could move around and I had control over my consciousness. I could bond with my daughter when I needed to and I felt more empowered than I have ever felt in my whole life. I felt like I could conquer the world. I woke up the next morning and took a shower. I defecated peacefully! The next day we came home alhumdulillah. By one month postpartum I felt completely healed. In fact, healing from the natural tear had healed the damage the episiotomy did to my pelvic floor as well. I'm still on a high and find natural birth to be one of the greatest blessings of God.
Importance of doula/support person:
What I cannot emphasize enough is the presence of a support person during labor. An advocate who is there for you, fighting for you with everyone else while you fight with yourself physically. I do not know how i fought the nurses off despite not having any strength for it. All I was able to say to the nurses was, "No I will not lie down, no I will not get cannulated, no I don't want insulin," even when I was experiencing the worst pain of my life. I would not have been able to do that, had I not had my support persons with me. I would have given in way before. I would have gone to the hospital way earlier too, but thanks to the fact that I had a doula I did not. She was able to take me to the hospital at the right time by being able to know how far along I was through my demeanor and by tracking how far apart my contractions were.
Being given positive affirmations by your support person really, really helps as well. When you think you can't do it anymore, someone tells you that you are incredibly strong and are almost there, and they're there for you. That's what keeps you going. Having a support person is what helps you through a good 50% of the labor. While family works, if they are very well informed, having a doula literally cuts down your chances of a c-section by a whopping 50%. What's more, some doulas provides classes to you along with your husband/mother/sister and gets your husband/mother/sister etc. to be your support person.
What worked for my natural labor experience:
- AMANI birth program! Educate yourselves ladies! This is an incredible program which teaches you everything about pregnancy. From what to eat and how to exercise, from mental, physical and emotional growth and support for mother and baby to preparing for an optimal natural birth experience. Kay Hashmi was my teacher and later my doula, alhumdulillah.
- Walking, squatting, sitting regularly on a birthing ball and sitting tilted forward. All of these done from the onset of pregnancy work together to give you a positive labor experience.
- Miracle pain-reliever during labor: HUGGING! Hug anyone! You will be astounded by the release of Oxytocin and how your pain is cut down nearly in half and even more.
AMANI Birth is proud to feature this incredible mother's story of strength and determination, and wishes all the mothers around the world an empowering birthing experience!