“I was terrified of giving birth because of mainstream media. Thanks to your classes I now know there is another way.”
Amanda Christman wanted to share her story after hypnobirthing helped her overcome her fear of giving birth.
“One Monday morning I woke up like it was any other day… because it was just any other day. No signs of labour or anything significant coming my way. I had lost my mucus plug in the past few days, but that doesn’t mean much. I had two more weeks until my EDD, and while I was secretly hoping my baby girl would show up early (and I was doing some natural induction methods at home to help her along) I didn’t expect much.
I went to my weekly OB visit at 11:45am and after my doctor checked me (still 2-3cm and 80% effaced) he told me I was going directly to the hospital and most likely having this baby. Severe pre-Eclampsia signs had flared up – high blood pressure and swelling. At the hospital this was confirmed with more high BP readings, even more swelling, lack of reflexes, and protein in my urine.
I was at the hospital at 2pm and the doctor was explaining the plan of action by 3pm. Since I was already 2cm dilated they would start me on magnesium to combat the pre-Eclampsia and use a Foley Balloon Catheter to help me dilate more. I agreed. They told me the balloon would help me dilate to 3-4 and then just fall out, it could take 1 hour or 12 hours, but they would remove it at 12 hours.
At hour two I was so uncomfortable that I was actually begging my nurse for a cesarean. The idea of experiencing this balloon for any longer period of time just disrupted my mental state entirely. She very nicely told me no, and then gave me some IV medicine that promptly knocked me out. (She told me afterwards when she came back to visit that it was like giving her child a dose of Benadryl and then leaving for date night… she felt terrible, but her shift was over.) I was immensely grateful because I passed out until from 6pm until about 3am, giving me some much needed sleep and a mental break.
When I woke up I still had the balloon in and the doctor was experiencing a particularly rough night – so the doctor didn’t check on me until 12 hours after the balloon was put in. I was at 7cm when my waters broke. I was upset that it took so long for the doctor to check in on me, but I was in a hospital and I was not as important as the woman who needed emergency surgery. That I can understand, regardless of the my mental state.
Throughout my time awake I practised TCBS methods that I had learned with Brian, my husband. We breathed together, laughed, and focused on being in a relaxed state as much as possible. I used some essential oils like Wild Orange to help keep me feeling the love, rather than any fear that might be creeping in.
The worst part of this entire experience wasn’t the pain, but my lack of ability to move. As soon as I sat down in that bed and they started the magnesium I was not allowed to stand up. It was horrible. My contractions were not very strong, they didn’t cause me real pain. I asked for an epidural about 6am, and it wasn’t for the labour pain, but the severe back pain. The epidural didn’t hurt and it made everything so much better. I am grateful I got it and grateful I got it so late in the game.
When Dr. Goldstein came in to check on me at 8am I was 8cm along He noted my contractions were weak and said he would come back and check on me soon and see how I was progressing.
The doctor came back at 12pm and I was fully effaced and 9.5cm along. He was surprised. He told me I could push at 2pm, but not to expect much because pushing could take 30 minutes or 3 hours – or it could result in a cesarean. He was trying his best to be practically minded about the situation. I have been on magnesium for nearly 24 hours and while my body had progressed in many ways, my contractions were still not considered strong.
The clock ticking down from 12pm to 2pm was filled with a mixture of excitement and fear. Brian reminded me that fear would reverse all the good I had accomplished and to focus on my breathing. I was beginning to lose my zen state of mind, but Brian wasn’t and he kept me rooted. He was there the entire time and never left me once; he held my hand and helped me breathe and even made me laugh a few times. I tried being angry a few times, but even that didn’t last long. I knew how much he loved me and was there to support me. He reminded me of things we had learned together during TCBS classes – that fear and adrenaline would slow me down and I needed to breathe and relax.
The nurses told me to let them know if I started feeling “pressure” and an urge to push. About 1:45 the pressure started building in an indescribable way – as a first time mum, I had no idea if what I was feeling was right or wrong!
At 2pm I got on my hands and knees and pushed a few rounds, but wasn’t able to really focus because my nose was so stuffy. I got down on my back and put my legs in the stirrups and we really focused on breathing, counting, and pushing. I recalled everything I could from TCBS as best I could in the moment and Brian held my hand and talked me through what I forgot, practicing his breathing with me to help me mimic it. I recalled various mantras such as “I believe in myself”, “my body is strong”, “I can do anything for six seconds” and “just breathe”.
The pressure became really intense and Brian announced he could see hair, but it all became very real and terrifying in that moment. Dr. Goldstein walked in and announced I should stop because he wasn’t ready. The next 15 minutes were chaos: I recall saying that I couldn’t do it and some cursing and more proclamations about getting her out and repeatedly saying ‘no no no’.
All the while my nurse was instructing me to push and Brian was holding my hand and I breathed and pushed and breathed and pushed, the pressure built and suddenly I felt a warm wave and I heard “she’s out”. A warm body was placed on my stomach.
I realised that while some part of me held on to the mainstream idea that I couldn’t do it, all my training and practicing with the TCBS methods had kept me focused where it really mattered.
All it took was 33 minutes.
Elizabeth Rose Christman was born at exactly 2:33pm on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. She measured 20 inches long and weighed in at 8 pounds 14 ounces. Brian stood next to me in pure delight; he had a far more hands-on approach than we had expected, but I am so grateful he was there in every way. He cut the cord with the doctor’s encouragement and I am so happy he did.
The doctors and nursing staff spoke with me after, each of them asking me how I had prepared, how I had trained myself, and how in the world did I manage to push out a baby while being on magnesium for so long with such weak contractions in thirty minutes. Dr. Goldstein informed me that he truly had no intention of me delivering vaginally when he first saw me because my contractions were so weak. He had no expectations that I would be able to labour and deliver vaginally due to the magnesium, but was ecstatic that he was entirely wrong. He laughed that he thought he had “plenty of time” when he heard that I had started pushing at 2pm and then walked in 15 minutes later to discover the baby was half born and he had to rush to catch her.
When I told them all that I prepared by taking hynobirthing classes with The Calm Birth School online and through the book they were all very impressed. They said it was clearl I had practised something because I was so efficient at staying at focused and breathing through the entire process, even when it appeared (verbally) that I wasn’t. Super efficient, even with all that cursing I did!
So while I did not have a “textbook” hypnobirth, I know that I was in control, I used my brain, I breathed, and most importantly – I had the birth that I needed to have. My baby girl is happy and healthy. She didn’t lose a single ounce of weight in the first 48 hours!
So thank you Suzy and everyone on the TCBS Facebook page for answering my questions and being such a wonderful community. Before I found you I was flat out terrified of giving birth because of mainstream media. Thanks to your classes and books I know there is another way. I found it. I will find it again in a few years if we are blessed again.”