November 2015: Nothing goes as planned
In 2015, I got pregnant with my first baby and was very excited by the whole new experience of childbearing. I trusted my body, which was doing a very good job so far, and decided to have an unmedicated, natural childbirth. I wanted to live this unique experience to the fullest, to prove myself I was strong enough to do it, and last but not least, I didn’t like the idea of my baby entering the world with so many chemicals in his tiny body. I prepared for it alone, by reading books and online testimonies of beautiful natural childbirths. My due date was around the corner and I felt ready to meet my son, confident everything would go like described in my books: Maybe my water would break, and/or I would have contractions that would slowly become stronger and closer together, preparing my body to accompany my baby on his way out. I would labor at home as long as possible and then go to the hospital, where a nice midwife would be by my side as I would decline any form of pain relief, needing only her and my husband’s support.
At this point, my doctor found my baby was measuring big, so big I was scheduled for an induction one day after he was due if he didn’t come by himself. He didn’t, and so I was induced. I didn’t realize what induction meant until I was in the maternity ward of Ljubljana’s hospital, given an enema and an intravenous catheter to provide me with fluids because I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything. The doctor there tried to convince me to have an epidural or another kind of pain relief as induction is rather painful. I refused and she told me I was going to be in a lot of pain… And then it all started. An intern broke my water and my body never had a chance to slowly prepare for giving birth: A very short while after my water broke, I was given a dose of synthetic oxytocin to kick start the labor. Shortly after, I got another dose. Because I had been given such a high dose of that hormone in a very short time, contractions were right away very strong and close together. I still wasn’t allowed to eat, drink or even move from the bed: I had to lie flat on my back with the monitor’s belt fasten tight around my belly to check on the baby’s heart. The lights were too bright and a lot of people I didn’t know, were in the room as I allowed medical students to be present beside the doctor and the midwife, which I later really regretted. I was in total agony. After a while the doctor told me to push (In natural childbirth stories women all mention an urge to push – I never felt it). After 5 or 10 minutes of pushing and without even telling me, she did an episiotomy because she found the head was big. When my baby was finally born, I was in shock from everything that had just happened to us both. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I was happy to meet my son but his birth was far from what I had wanted and the whole experience left me very disappointed.
May 2018: An intense, beautiful and natural childbirth
When I got pregnant with my second son, I was again very excited and happy, and still wanted a natural childbirth. I was determined not to let my first experience repeat itself, so I decided to prepare better with the help of a birth professional. Often in natural childbirth stories, they would mention the presence of a doula. I searched online for doulas in Slovenia and found Simone’s web page. She looked professional and kind and I had a gut feeling she was the right one for me. It was early in my pregnancy, around 13 weeks, which would give me time to really prepare for the birth and get to know Simone. I contacted her and she replied very fast. We met and talked about her work and my expectations. After this meeting, I knew she would be by my side for my second childbirth. The preparation with Simone was great, efficient and reassuring. It was based on my personal history, which was important. Not one birth is equal and our history plays a huge role in it. She included my husband as well, who for the birth of our first child was as powerless as I was when the medical staff took over my birth experience. She provided us with a lot of information about physiological birth and was always available by email or SMS to answer any of my questions. One week before my due date approached, I started to have on and off contractions. They would gradually become stronger and closer together, but after a while they would just stop… It was very tiring and frustrating as I didn’t know what to expect. Simone was of a great help. We were in touch several times a day at this point and she was checking on me regularly. She helped me to go through this pre-labor phase by reassuring me and giving me tips to relax and go on. After a week, one day after my due date, I woke up at 4am with a contraction that was different from those I had previously. I knew my baby would be born this day. I called Simone and she advised me to rest and sleep as much as I could, to take showers… Contractions were becoming stronger and regular. My husband drove our first son to his grandma and after talking to Simone, we decided to go to Jesenice’s hospital after they started being about 2,5 minutes apart. Simone was already there when we arrived and we went together to the maternity ward. The doctor checked me and I was 7 -8 cm dilated. As I was admitted in a delivery room, contractions were becoming stronger and closer together. I felt them in my lower back, they were very intense and Simone suggested that we walk up and down the stairs to help things move. It worked, and soon even stronger contractions would be only 2 to 5 minutes apart. The delivery room was dark and quiet, and we were left alone, my husband, Simone and I. A midwife was present as well but she was very discreet and didn’t disturb my labor. I didn’t have an intravenous catheter as the pregnancy wasn’t risky and I could eat light snacks and drink water and juice as much as I wished. I could take showers and be in any position I wanted. As the labor progressed and became really intense, I started to lose control and thought I couldn’t do it. Simone reassured me, pressing her hand on me gently, which gave me some relief, and told me that I could do it, that all this was my baby arriving very soon … Her words really encouraged me and reminded me why I was there. The midwife checked me and I was 9 cm dilated. At this point I was laboring for 5h in the hospital and my water still hadn’t broken. Suddenly, after a few more contractions, my water broke and I instantly felt an urge to push. I just couldn’t fight it, I had to push. It was an extremely intense feeling. I pushed and the head was born, but due to coming in an asynclitic position.
(as the picture above shows), consequently the baby’s shoulder got stuck and the midwife had to react really fast to get it out, which she did brilliantly. At this point I wasn’t conscious of it, I actually almost wasn’t conscious at all… The whole thing was so intense, it blew my mind… In less than 10 minutes after my water broke my baby was born, healthy and quiet big: 4,140 kg for 54 cm. I barely teared and it was superficial, I needed only 3 stitches that healed very fast. My first son was 3,810 kg for 54 cm, his head presentation was ideal and the head of both babies were the same size… I guess my first episiotomy, that took ages to heal, really wasn’t needed. This second experience, despite being extremely challenging, was beautiful and I felt good and proud in the end.
I am very grateful to Simone, Jesenice’s staff and my husband as they stood by my side the whole time. I couldn’t have had a better experience and outcome as we faced a quite serious complication, with the baby’s head being turned the wrong way and the shoulder getting stuck. Everything was perfectly managed. Thank you!