As I got out of bed on a beautiful Tuesday morning, I felt the sensation of water trickling down my leg. With unparalleled excitement and elation, I called out to my husband in the other room, knowing that my journey was about to begin.
Not for a minute that day did I feel doubt or fear of the birthing process, only joyful anticipation. I knew I was ready and capable of having a beautiful, blissful, pain-free birth, because I had spent my entire pregnancy consciously preparing my body, mind, and soul for the coming experience.
The pregnancy, itself, felt like proof enough that miracles did exist. We had been trying for three years, and though the struggle was truly painful at times, I trusted in the Universe that what was meant for me would show up in due time. It was my job to stay as mentally positive and as loving as humanly possible – towards my body and soul in the meantime.
When I finally found out I was pregnant, I was beyond excited. But naturally, once the newness wore off a bit, fear arose, and I became more than a little anxious about the idea of childbirth. Like the majority of women in westernized nations, all I had ever heard were stories of horrific pain. All I had seen in movies and on TV was trauma and screaming surrounding the birthing process. Of course I was freaked out – who wouldn’t be?
Somehow though, even with all those frightening images swimming around in my head, I knew I wanted a homebirth. Considering the inundation of beeping machines, nurses and doctors in and out, unnatural lighting, and austere hospital bed did not leave me with warm and fuzzy feelings. Instead, I felt my body shutting down at just the thought of it all. Having learned the importance of listening to my physical reactions, I realized I was more scared of the hospital environment than I was of the physical pain. I knew then, that I wanted to be in the comfort of my own home when birthing my baby into the world.
So I began to educate myself through any available means. I knew there had to be more to this rite of passage than most of us are aware. I became insatiably hungry for the answer, the secret, if there was one. I immersed myself in anything “positive birth”-related: magazine articles, books, documentaries, workshops and lectures. And the effort did not go unrewarded; I found the treasure I had been seeking. The answer, the secret – was in retraining, resetting the mind. Wiping the slate clean and letting go of our society’s internalized preoccupation with violence and pain. It didn’t have to be that way. The power was in my hands, or rather, my head.
I became committed to this resetting of the mind. I worked daily at setting clear intentions for my birth, visualizing it, and repeating affirmations. I worked at it, because I truly believe that the way we bring our babies into the world makes a huge impact on their future personalities and approaches to life. I wanted my baby to feel nothing but peace and love as she left the womb.
I learned from the book, Childbirth Without Fear, that the only reason we feel pain in labor is because of the fear of the pain, which causes tension in the body, and in turn, brings on the pain itself. When we become tense, we go against what the body is naturally trying to do – birth the baby – the result is pain. When we allow the body to do what it needs to, to push the baby out, it becomes pressure, which is sometimes intense, but it actually never needs to be painful.
This changed the way I viewed labor, big time! But what really helped prepare my mind for labor was a course I took called Hypnobabies. This course went hand in hand with Childbirth Without Fear. It teaches you how to relax into each sensation using gentle self hypnosis, and also feeds your brain with everything needed to have a positive birth experience.
Though I felt certain that I had all the knowledge and tools I needed for my ideal birthing plan to be a great success, getting my husband on board was going to take some effort. He was very fearful of the possible complications of homebirth, and for a time, there was some tension around the topic. No one we knew had done this before; it was uncharted territory. I did not waver though. I mentally set my intention and didn’t lose sight of it, knowing that there was no other option for me. Thankfully, after sharing the wealth of information I had collected through all my research, his fears loosened their grip, and in time, he came to support me wholeheartedly. This was a good reminder of what could happen if I just patiently followed my heart – that it would always guide me, so perfectly, to the experience that was right for me.
Back to baby’s birthday: Once I felt the water run down my leg, I immediately called my midwife to tell her what was happening. My excitement wore off a little when she said it might just be a puncture to the sac. It might still be another week until I would meet my little girl. The water did not stop trickling, so I thought, “Better play it safe. Just stay home and relax, in case the labor actually starts today!” That’s when I came across Katrina Zaslavsky’s book, A Modern Woman’s Guide to a Natural and Empowering Birth, which just so happened to show up on my kindle that very day. It was full of inspiration, and as if divinely synchronized, by the time I finished reading, labor had definitely started!
When the pressure waves (a more gentle word for contraction) started, around 5pm, I thought I just needed to go to the bathroom. It felt like gas, after about 4 or 5 uneventful trips to the toilet, I realized that maybe this was the start of my birthing process. I started timing the pressure waves, which were coming every 8 minutes or so. I was so present and aware, it was like a meditation. I don’t remember having any thoughts in my mind, only being in the moment, watching each pressure wave come and go.
By the time my husband came home, the pressure waves were every five minutes. He was timing them at that point, by watching my finger drop, which meant I was going into a wave. As unbelievable as it may sound, labor was pretty mellow, a result of all my training. I was totally calm and relaxed, just allowing my body to do what it needed to do. At one point my husband asked, “Aren’t we supposed to call someone or something?” Then it hit me, “Oh yeah, we should call the doula!”
When our doula arrived, I was in the bathtub, candles lit all around me, Enigma playing in the background, my husband by my side. The doula said I should get out of the tub and move around, because being in the water would slow down the labor. It was a warm summer evening, and we went into the garden.
The birthing process was intensifying for me, but never progressed to anything I couldn’t handle. When a strong pressure wave came along, I reminded myself, “Women have been doing this forever. Our bodies know how to give birth. I just need to step aside and allow nature to work its magic.”
Shortly after going into the garden, as I was on my hands and knees on the grass, our doula said, “You’re doing great, probably another 10 hours or so.” To this outside observer I was so mellow, she didn’t realize how far along I actually was. My first thought was, “No way, it will be sooner.” Though this was my first time in labor, I could just tell from the intensity of the waves that it wouldn’t be much longer.
Well, within minutes of her prediction, I suddenly got a strong urge to go number two. In the bathroom, expecting to relieve myself I went to push, and something miraculous happened. For a split second, it felt as if my soul left my body, and there were fireworks all around me. I was above my body, and I knew instantly that the baby was coming. I will never forget the beauty of that moment. Remembering that the midwife was not yet here, my soul came back to my body.
It was kind of funny actually, I jumped off the toilet and said “The baby is coming!” The doula instructed, “Back in the tub, ” and I followed, still calm, relaxing into each sensation rather than gripping or tensing. I was euphoric at that point, despite the waves being so intense. I laid in the tub in a meditative state and enjoyed each moment, staying present and focused.
Next thing I knew, my midwife had arrived. She was like an angel sitting in front of me, bringing loving, peaceful, and calm energy. It was now about 9pm, and I asked, hopefully, “Am I fully dilated, can I start pushing?” She laughed sweetly, and said, “Yes, you are fully dilated, and you are ready to start pushing!” How soon I would meet my baby!
I remember in between pushing, I kept joking around and being silly, and talking about how I hoped I wasn’t going to push out my hemorrhoids! I got everyone laughing. My husband, the doula, and the midwife were all there in the room with me; it was the perfect team, and I felt truly supported. One push before our baby arrived, I described my sensations to the midwife, “It’s not painful, it’s just intense.”
From the beginning of my pregnancy, I had told her I would have a pain-free birth. She laughed at me, in a cute kind of way. I knew she was thinking I was crazy, but she let me go with it. Well, that final push came, and out came my baby girl! The entire experience was pure bliss, beyond beautiful, and more incredible than anything I could ever have imagined. And to top it off, this crazy pain-free birth idea had been proven more than just possible, it was real. In my arms laid the most peaceful and beautiful little girl, and to this day – at two and a half years old, she is still as peaceful as ever – just like her grand entrance into this world.
MELISSA ELIYAHOO is a holistic pregnancy coach, lovingly and expertly guiding women through the stages and changes of the body and mind from conception to childbirth.