An average of 250 babies are born around the world every minute, and not one of those births are the same. Every mom-to-be enters childbirth with their own personal goals and desires for how it will proceed—be that with low intervention, a scheduled c-section, or plenty of pain meds—and there's no guarantee everything will go as planned. To pull back the curtain on the life-changing process of childbirth and the superhero moms who go through it, we’re asking women to tell their stories—with all the messy, miraculous details.
Julia Wadsworth has two kids and lives and works in the North Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area.
My second baby’s due date fell on the full moon, and I strongly believed that he/she/they would be born on that exact date. You see, my daughter was also born on the full moon (she was a week late), and because of that, I feel strongly connected with the celestial stars and constellations above. I was convinced that this would indeed be baby's path—and I proceeded to tell everyone that that's how it would all go down.
And sure enough...On the due date, I woke up at 4:30 in the morning and went to the bathroom. I was feeling light contractions. I got back in bed, but a few minutes later, I was right back in the bathroom—and my water broke on the toilet. It completely went inside, no mess! I was excited: It was my due date and I was expecting it and ready for it.
I started timing my contractions immediately, and I went to turn on the oven. I had bought some cookie dough the day before because I really wanted to bring cookies for the nurses, but I knew I wouldn't be able to make them from scratch! (This is just me, haha.)
Through meditation, self-coached hypnosis methods, and visualizations, I learned to be physically *in* my body.
Here's another reason why I was so sure about my full-moon baby: About a month before my due date, I started having heavy contractions. I went on my regular morning walk before work, but this day I had to literally stop in the middle and just breathe it out. It continued for the whole day, and I was confused (and a little concerned!) because I still had a month to go. When I was driving home that night, I looked out the window and it was a full moon. I said, "I hear you baby. Message received." My full-moon baby was talking to me. The contractions subsided. It was like I had a preview of the birth.
Now let's back up a bit. My daughter Sylvia was born three years earlier, and I was blessed to have an unmedicated birth—no interventions, no drugs, and I labored with a midwife and doula. After delivering her, I was sure I'd had a perfect birth. Everything went according to plan, there were no problems; I labored for nearly a day, and then I had my baby. But when I became pregnant again, I wondered if I could have an even better birth experience (for me). I had heard about hypnobirthing from a woman in a mommy and me yoga class, and decided to read a book about it. I was instantly convinced that I wanted to try it.
Okay first off, my experience with hypnobirthing wasn't about getting hypnotized. Well, at least not how you picture it. There are varied teachings related to this process for childbirth, and I specifically participated in the Hypnobabies method. Through meditation, self-coached hypnosis methods, and visualizations, I learned to be physically *in* my body. The goal is a completely baby-led and body-first birthing experience.
I could literally feel my body opening-up, my baby’s head lowering, and I just deeply breathed through it.
I listened to audio tracks on my iPhone from Hypnobabies—picture guided meditation sessions, but you do them alone—every day for the five months leading up to my birth. I learned how to breathe deeply and focus my thoughts and energy and how to enter a state of deep relaxation utilizing different movements and positions. I trained my body and my mind to connect. It's a lot like meditation. You also do a lot of visualizing and repeating of pregnancy affirmations: “This pregnancy is moving along.” “I’m totally comfortable in this amazing pregnant body.”
One of the teachings on the audio features the facilitator's voice taking you through a prompt where you enter a state of self-hypnosis. I would hold my finger up in the air, then drop it onto my leg and instantly enter a state of being that was tranquil and completely void of all external influence. The sessions lasted for about 30 minutes every day. These lessons guided me to a state of consciousness that, come go-time, would allow me to transcend everything and let my body open up for the birth of my baby.
So now you know how I prepared—back to my labor. At about 6 a.m., I woke up my husband Michael and he called my doula. We got our things together and I prepped my mother for what to do with my daughter, who was still asleep. (My mother had arrived from Ohio the day before. That's how sure of my full-moon baby I was.) We were out the door by 7 a.m. The cookies were done (priorities!) and I had my headphones. In the car, I was listening to my audio and I was breathing but also making deep, guttural birthing sounds. I was certainly in a hypnotic, quiet, calm state. We checked into the hospital around 8 a.m. and they did 20 minutes of fetal heart monitoring, which is mandatory. That's 20 continuous minutes, and the baby was moving a lot so it took a while for them to get their 20 minutes. They checked me and I was 5 cm dilated (out of 10).
We got into our room around 9:30 a.m. The hospital knew right away what hypnobirthing was (NorCal, FTW) so they turned down the lights and asked me for the sign to put on the door. (Hypnobabies provides you with a sign that requests quiet voices and low lights for the hypnobirth happening inside the room.) I had my headphones in and was sitting quietly on the hospital bed, holding my husband's hand. I could literally feel my body opening-up, my baby’s head lowering, and I just deeply breathed through it.
My doula suggested I get in the shower, so I did, and the nurse, midwife, and my doula all left the room. After just a couple of minutes, I called for my husband to get me out. Again my body was telling me what was happening. He tried to help me get dressed (I'd brought special, comfy birthing clothes) but I looked at him and said, "No. This baby is coming NOW."
The midwife rushed in and at that exact moment I couldn’t stop my body from doing what it, of course, knew how to do best.
He brought me, naked, to the bed and I got on all fours. Michael was hitting the call button and he told me later that at the same time he saw the baby's head crowning. I didn't even feel it. I reached down and touched the head. CRAZY. The nurse returned and he told her the baby was coming! She was skeptical but quickly realized she was very, very wrong. The midwife rushed in and my doula returned with a sandwich (she was right on time, ha!) and at that exact moment I couldn’t stop my body from doing what it, of course, knew how to do best.
I could feel my whole body just opening and the head coming down. It was amazing because I knew the feeling and it and allowed it. I felt so in tune with myself. My first birth I didn't feel that; I felt split in three. I had no idea how much I was fighting my body. Not this time. I felt so connected to my body. I don't know if I was hypnotized or what but I went from 5 cm to fully dilated and there was no pushing. My body technically pushed the baby out, but I didn't try. My son was born at 9:53 a.m.
What was truly incredible about this birth was that I felt one with what my body was doing. It was a sacred experience. If we decide to have another baby, I’ll certainly do it this way again. We'll see.
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