This is the HypnoBirthing Story of Chrissy Steinhardt and her son, Kalen Ryker
My birth didn’t go to plan, but in the end I got the result I wanted.
I don’t like pain. I like drugs and chemicals even less. So when my husband and I decided to have a baby I knew I would be seeking out every available method of drug free pain relief.
And I did. I had never considered a home birth, but as soon as I watched the DVD ‘The Business of Being Born’ I knew in my heart I wanted a home birth. My husband thought I was crazy when I mentioned the idea to him, but less than half way through watching the same DVD he turned to me and said – “I guess you had better go buy a pool then!”
He knows me, and that I would not have coped well at all, with all the tests, monitoring and drugs that are now common in many hospital births. The more research we did, the more convinced we became of our decision to make a natural and gentle birth happen for us, so I set about finding every possible method of having an easy birth. We bought a pool for me to labour in, we did the HypnoBirthing course, we did Moxibustion every day for the last 3 months of my pregnancy. I did EFT around releasing my fears and we did a lot of deep massage of my buttocks to release stored tension there. I also did yoga and exercised. We both did 12 months of pre-conception care and I took the full recommended doses of vitamins and minerals. My diet was brilliant both before and during pregnancy – there was nothing else I am aware of that I could have done. I even had my homeopathic birthing kit handy!
So, when my waters broke at 2am on the 3rd of March 2011, I was totally excited. I went back to bed to try and get some sleep but had another gush of water at 2.30am. (Luckily I had put a towel on the bed before lying back down!) I made it to the toilet and was calling out to my husband to wake up and come and help me clean up, but no luck – he was sound asleep – so I got myself back to bed and woke him. When I had a third huge gush of waters at 3am my husband and I were beside ourselves with excitement. We had done everything possible to prepare for this birth and this baby, and we were ready. I was not scared at all. I have had terrible period pain most of my life, and have read stories where women experienced labour as much less painful than period pain. I was expecting the same for myself.
We rang my support team to let them know I had gone into labour, as I was expecting this baby to be out in around 4-6 hours. By 4am the contractions had started and wow, the pain was worse than my period pain had been! I was not expecting that. But I had my breathing techniques worked out and I was prepared – or so I thought! The contractions started off at 5 minutes apart and were lasting about a minute. It was hard work, but I was getting through them and by 5am I was sure this baby was going to be out by lunch time. Everything was going to plan and around 7am we moved downstairs to where we had everything set up. I was vomiting from the pain and continued to do so all morning. My support team were awesome – one would rub my back and another would hold my hands and help me to focus and breathe. Mid-morning I got into the birthing pool but it made no difference at all. I was devastated! To say I was coping with the pain was not true at all and it was getting worse.
But there was no way I wanted drugs of any kind; I have had an epidural previously for a knee operation – and it left me with 12 months of severe back pain. Around mid-afternoon I decided to try the pool again. The vomiting had finally stopped but I had eaten nothing and drank very little all day and thankfully, the pool was heaven! All of a sudden I could relax a bit and it made the pain so much more bearable, but by early evening I was starting to get a bit worried as a labour this long was not in my plan. My baby was supposed to be out by lunch time and the contractions – although still as painful, were starting to come a bit further apart. (They had remained a consistent 5 minutes apart virtually all day). I had been toning and mooing like a cow much of the day. It helped. I had been moving, swaying my hips, praying and crying. None of that helped. I went outside in the evening to be on the grass. I did step ups and tried different positions. We sang, kissed and everything else I had ever read about or heard.
When none of this worked, I knew there was a problem. Baby was stuck and I needed help. My husband was getting concerned and was saying things like “if baby is not here by morning, we will have to consider going to the hospital”. As far as I was concerned hospital was not an option, so we moved to our plan B. I decided to have an internal exam to see where things were at and if we could determine the problem. It was about 9pm by the time we got this organised and the midwife was thrilled with the results – I was 8cm dilated. I was appalled – only 8cm?!! What we did find out, however, was that baby was posterior and the head was bent in the birth canal and that was why it was hurting so much. It was at this point that I begged my support team for help, “there must be something we can do?” So, armed with the knowledge and a name for my ‘condition’ they went on-line and found a manoeuvre called a side-lying release. Basically, I had to lie on my side on the edge of a flat surface. Luckily I had some wide steps in the lounge room that we used. I had to lie straight.
My top leg was then pulled over and down. My head was held straight. And then the top of my hips were pressed down on – hard. We did this and it actually felt good. Then they realised I had to do this during a contraction! OMG! I had thought my contractions were painful. This was way worse. I screamed and screamed and my husband was in tears at the amount of pain I was in. We were supposed to do 3 on each side but I couldn’t. So we did 2 on each side. What this did was open up my hips wider so that baby could fit through.
Within an hour I was pushing. I pushed for over 3 hours, and at 3.29am the next day my baby boy Kalen Ryker was born underwater, at home, with no drugs, no doctors and no hospital. The pushing was probably even more intense than the contractions, and certainly at the time the most painful bit of the whole experience was the actual birth. But it’s funny how the mind works. Even during the day, between contractions, I could see how easily it would be to forget the pain, as in between each contraction I was very calm and relaxed.
The bit that stands out in my memory is the side lying release we did, but I know if I was in a hospital I would have been given Pitocin or Syntocin, and that would have been way worse,not only for me, but for my baby as well. I would happily do it all again if it meant no drugs given to me or my baby. He is the perfect baby boy. He is an angel baby. He had apgar scores of 8 and 9, weighed 3.3kg (7.25pounds), was 52cm long and his head was 36.2cm.
We got out of the pool and lay on the bed and put him on my chest. He did the breast crawl and gave us a big smile before latching on beautifully. By 5am I had not birthed the placenta– I was still lying down and figured it would come out when I stood up but it didn’t. Getting me to the toilet with everything still attached seemed like a logistical nightmare so we decided to cut the cord, and as soon as I sat down on the toilet and started to go, the placenta came out – 1.5 hours after the birth.
In summary, the pain was bad, but I am sure that it was my preparation, commitment and determination to have a drug free, gentle birth at home that got me through. My birth certainly didn’t go to plan, but in the end I got the result I wanted – a perfectly healthy baby with no drugs in his system – and for that I am eternally grateful.