I have three kids: the first was a hospital induction for oligohydramnios that turned into a cesarean for posterior presentation. (so much heartache with this birth).
Second was a natural hospital birth. I used hypobabies home study course to learn deep self hypnosis techniques so I could avoid an epidural. (I wanted as natural of a birth as possible to avoid another cesarean). I was so deeply relaxed with hypnobabies that I labored at home by myself (my husband was sleeping) for hours in and out of the shower until I just felt so tired and wanted to know how much progress I had made. It was intense work and it took lots of concentration to stay so relaxed. We arrived at the hospital 20 minutes later and the front desk staff couldn't tell I was in labor. The midwife checked me and I was 9.5 cm!! I pushed out my 9 lb 7 oz baby girl 45 minutes later. It was the most intense experience of my life but also the most exhilarating!
My third birth was a home water birth. It was absolutely wonderful. I was surrounded by such loving people and it was quiet and quick and so surreal. (My baby was just born at home?? what?? and now I can lay down in bed and just go to sleep? This is amazing!) I still get giddy when I look at the exact spot in my bedroom where she was born.
To answer your questions:
" How did you give birth? Water birth (that's what I'm planning), or out of the water? If you did a water birth, what temperature was the water to be comfortable? "
I had a water birth. The water felt SOOOOO GOOD!!! I started pushing prematurely at the end of contractions involuntarily and my midwife made me walk around the house to speed dilation so I wouldn't push on an undilated cervix. The entire time (only like half an hour) I kept LONGING to go back in the water!!! The water was so relieving. It was so easy to change positions, I felt light and buoyant, and I was able to "catch" my own baby and have a nice relaxing undisturbed snuggle with her afterward for almost an hour. Also... the "ring of fire" is MUCH more tolerable in the water than land birth.
Temperature should be between 95 and 100 degrees. I found it most comfortable at 98 degrees. When they warmed it up, it was too hot for me. Here is from Waterbirth international's website: "Water should be monitored at a temperature that is comfortable for the mother, usually between 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit. Water temperature should not exceed 101 degrees Fahrenheit as it could lead to an increase in the mother's body temperature which could cause the baby's heart rate to increase." We used a floating ducky thermometer and just put boiling water in as needed. My labor was only 3.5 hours long, so it didn't lose much heat. I think its like .5-1 degree an hour that it loses? Maybe??
- What position(s) did you find most comfortable during the different points in labor and birth?
Standing and swaying during labor for sure. Laying down is torture. Sitting hurts. Walking... dancing...swaying... upright and active is the way to go!! For pushing, I naturally found myself kneeling.
- Is it painful the entire labor, or is it mostly painful when the head is coming out (that's how it seemed in the videos)? Any tips for easing pain?
Labor is not "painful" like a broken bone or paper cut is painful. It is a productive pain. it is not a sharp "oh my gosh, something is wrong" pain. It is intense and a lot of pressure. Muscle cramps. Tightening. What I love about labor is that it develops a predictable pattern so that you can "master" the contractions. You can expect when the next one is coming and you can expect when it will peak and be over. I won't lie and say it is an easy or pleasant experience, but it is very manageable if you are mentally prepared for it. I HIGHLY recommend hypnobabies!!! Pushing is actually my favorite part because you can actually DO something. It is so exhilarating to feel your baby come down and out! IMO, the actual contractions don't hurt as much when they are pushing contraction and not labor contractions. Crowning is intense and interesting sensation-wise, but it is over with quickly. My two vaginal births were 9 lb 7 oz and 8 lb 12 oz babies with 14.5 inch heads (BIG) and my first had just a tiny first degree tear from her 15" belly popping out quickly and I had an intact perineum with my water baby. Like I said, the ring of fire doesn't hurt as badly in the water as it did on land. DEEP relaxation is key to reduce tension which reduces pain. Keep your hands, jaw, eyebrows all loose and relaxed. Don't tense your body.
- Did you practice meditating beforehand? Did it help? What type of meditations did you do? What other ways can I help myself relax and find my "center" during labor?
HYPNOBABIES!!! (not hypnobirthing-- that didn't work for me. Hypnobabies is the best. It seems cheesy at first, but I'm telling you, it is so effective if you let it be effective for you!)
- When do they cut the umbilical cord? I know there is a certain amount of time they leave it intact, but I'm curious about how long that is? Do they tie it off first? I have a midwife but I am still curious about this.
My third baby (my home water baby)'s cord was pulsing at 12 minutes after birth and my placenta was born 17 minutes after birth. we didn't cut the cord until 52 minutes after birth (we just put the placenta in a bowl that floated in the tub)
- Does breathing any certain way help? Does it come naturally?
Deep breathing for good oxygenation. (No hyperventilating). in and out slowly. Relax the pace of your body (breathing, heart rate) and it helps you to relax. Don't think about it too much. Just do what comes naturally. Drift into "labor land"
- Did you use coconut oil or olive oil down there beforehand to make things more pliable so you didn't tear? How'd that work out?
With my first vaginal birth, I did perineal massage and I think it did help. My midwife used olive oil during crowning to massage and stretch everything. Like I said-- BIG baby and only a tiny tear. I didn't do anything with my second and I had an intact perineum.
- Anything else in particular that you had during labor that helped you? Any other tips or tricks a first timer should know?
Just enjoy the process! Know that your body was made to do this work and it knows what to do. Do not let any negative messages about childbirth into your mind. Only allow people who are TRULY supportive into your birth space.