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Inner strength: The birth of Raphael

“When you change the way you view birth, the way you birth will change.”
Marie Mongan

Awakened by a vigorous pain of rhythmic contractions orchestrated by an enchanted force to push a tiny body pulsating within into a new world and connect to a soul dwelling across an infinite space.

Giving Birth is liberating, but holding my newborn for the first time was like getting introduced to a new life. I got introduced to a new power within, a gift I wasn’t even aware of … it’s the gift of motherhood and endless unconditional love …

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I prepared my body and mind for birth in six steps.

1. Yoga, yoga and more yoga
Yoga supports the accelerated change that is happening in our bodies mentally and physically. It tones the physical body, especially the pelvic floor, hip, and abdominal core muscles in preparation for the birthing process. It’s mentally relaxing and allows our mind to trust that our bodies will open up and give birth instinctively.

I haven’t experienced any back pain or any tension throughout my pregnancy, and I always slept well. The only thing that used to wake me up was having to go to the toilet.

2. Intention matters
Believe me, the power of intention is miraculous. Set your intention for a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Believe in it with all your power, live it, visualize it and it will just happen.

Limit your exposure to negative birth stories. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen (C-section)? It’s OK even with that, and you can still enjoy your birth and accept what comes along while preparing yourself ahead of time. Just don’t expect a C-section or tough delivery because you heard it from someone (you will be attracting the same story and same energy). Each woman has her own path, but you can do whatever you can do and let go of the things you do not control. Practice acceptance and peace of these things.

3. Research birth and pregnancy
Louis Pasteur once said, “Chance favors only the prepared mind.” Knowledge is critical. You don’t want to end up having others making decisions on your behalf in the delivery room. Get to know how things go and weigh your decisions. Attend childbirth and breastfeeding courses so you know what to expect. The more informed you are, the more empowered and relaxed you’ll be during labor. Fear of the unknown creates pain, which elicits more fear and produces painful deliveries.

4. Support system
You will encounter positive and negative comments. However, keep the belief within, and it’s better if you have a support system to help you out. My husband was very supportive and was there during each and every step. I had some breakthroughs, but his presence healed it all.

5. Meditation
It works wonders if you are persistent in the practice. Meditation decreases the production of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline and gives the fetus a signal that it is safe and protected. When implemented daily, an inner silence and space for confidence is created, which teaches you and your baby to avoid reacting negatively to stressful situations.

I had the great opportunity to attend a meditation retreat during my pregnancy that was given as a special gift from a friend. No matter what your meditation practice, keep it up. You will need it in your down moments. If you’ve never practiced meditation, then it’s the best time to learn. You can attend classes or check online courses, too.

6. Mindfulness is key
To sum it up, it’s mindfulness—bringing awareness to what we’re directly experiencing via our senses, state of mind, our thoughts and emotions.

Mindful birth allows us to experience labor as intense physical sensations that arise, peak and pass. Using meditation to stay focused during childbirth gives us the mental and physical stamina for a successful outcome. Just be present with all your senses and life will give you wonders.

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Birth story
I went all natural with no epidural, IV or medical interventions. I labored in the warm, relaxing and supportive state of water.

I was due on November 12th, but I thought I would take an extra week until delivery, as I wasn’t feeling any kind of close labor signs. The day before birth, I went with my husband, Alaa, to shop. It was a nice sunny day, so we decided to take a walk and eat lunch. After I got home, I did my daily yoga practice with lots of squats while hoping Raphael would arrive sooner than later. I then went for a chiropractic session and I picked my brother from the airport.

At around 9 p.m. in the evening my water broke. I wasn’t feeling any contractions, so I called my Dr., and he advised to come to the hospital for a check up. When the resident OB checked me out, I was dilated 1 centimeter. She suggested I receive Pitocin to get my contractions going, but I refused and told her I was in no hurry. As long as the baby was good I preferred to keep it natural. I handed the staff my birth plan that clearly stated all the natural steps I wanted to follow and they were very supportive. My OB advised that we move to my room, try to relax and wait for more dilation.

While being monitored, the nurse came rushing in to see how I was handling the contractions. I had to smile, as I did not feel a thing. From 10 p.m. till 1 a.m. I was just relaxing with Alaa and my mom while listening to music and chatting. After 1 a.m. I started feeling slight contractions, but they were not painful. At 2 a.m. I was 4 centimeters dilated and from there, I began feeling stronger contractions. My contractions were in my lower belly. Luckily, I didn’t feel any back pain (I can tell it was the effects of yoga, not luck). It felt like period cramps but much more intense. But because I was laboring in water, the contractions were less painful compared to being out of water.

At 6 a.m. they checked me again, and I was 8 centimeters dilated—the baby’s head was also properly engaged. At 7:41 a.m. Raphael came out easily assistance-free with couple of quick pushes. It was like natural self of defiance by my little one telling the world, “Hello, I can make it on my own.”

The final stage was the easiest as the urge to push felt very relieving, and my hip alignment allowed the baby to move out quickly without strain. It was in the final stage (10min) that I used the bed. We directly did skin-to-skin bonding which was the best part. You just know that it’s worth it all. I delayed all medical procedures for my little one until we had bonded. Alaa got to cut the umbilical cord after it stopped pulsating (giving the dad a share of his son’s birth).

A few tips on how I managed my labor pain.

  • Water, water, water. Being immersed in a hot water tub helped me to simply go with my contractions and relax during the interval in-between to gather my energy.
  • Walking. I know it seems odd, but at the beginning of my contractions, walking was so relieving.
  • Yoga poses. Lunges, all fours and child’s pose were a few I personally used. As a yoga teacher, I couldn’t help but add in a few yoga poses to my birth plan to relieve pain.
  • Silence. I’m a person who enjoys silence, so having a peaceful ambiance during labor was beneficial. It allowed me to focus on my contractions and meditate in-between them.

Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to birthstory@pnmag.com. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!

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