My second son, Ezekiel Deon Halili, was born last January 19, Tuesday, 2:59pm at Shiphrah Birthing Home.
In hopes of inspiring other moms who are also aspiring for a gentle birthing experience, here’s our story:
My first child was born via CS. My birthing experience with him may not have turned out the way I wanted to but what is important is that I now have a healthy 2-year old boy. And now, I know better. So when I became pregnant with my second child, I decided that I want a different birthing story. I started doing some research about Vaginal Birth after a Caesarean operation (VBAC).
In one of my postnatal checkups with my OB, she made it clear that vaginal birth is not an option. That’s when I knew that I have to find a new birthing partner.
I started looking for a doctor who supports VBAC. I joined the Gentle Birth Philippines (GBP) group in fb where I found several recommended OBs who are known to support gentle birth. Most of them though are affiliated with hospitals that are either very far from home or too expensive. So I kept researching — reading blogs, forums, articles, etc. I made an appointment with every single doctor who supports natural birth based on my research. Lo and behold, in my entire pregnancy, I consulted a total of 12 OBs. Sadly, only 2 of them agreed to a Trial of Labor (TOLAC).
One thing that I learned about gentle birth (thanks to GBP) is the importance of knowing what your birth wishes are. I had several birth wishes but here are my non-negotiables:
- having my husband beside me during labor
- birth without any medication (unless medically necessary)
- unang yakap
- delayed cord clamping
- breastfeeding support
These were my requirements when I was looking for a birthing facility. Thankfully, through my researches, I came across Shiphrah Birthing Home. I did not instantly shift to Shiphrah though because of several considerations.
My pregnancy was not as smooth-sailing as my first one. I had several threatened abortion and preterm labor incidents. These made it harder for me to decide if I can risk giving birth outside of a hospital facility. Concerned family and friends also expressed their doubts. So I prayed not just for physical strength, but also for the determination to pursue the birth that I wanted. I also attended a birthing class conducted by Pinay Doulas Collective which helped convince me and my husband to finally consider Shiphrah as an option.
I went on with my regular check-ups with my OB but also started visiting Shiphrah. My midwife is Ate Lornie and we aimed for water birth.
In one of my prenatal check-ups, my OB who initially agreed to TOLAC, scheduled me for CS by January 8. I would only be 37 weeks by that time. I never came back to her.
January 2 – I went to an OB who has a lying-in clinic near Shiphrah and is also affiliated with Taytay Doctors Hospital. She will be my backup OB in case of emergency. She did an IE and surprisingly, I was already 3cm dilated. She advised me to go back to Shiphrah. She told me that doctors would normally admit pregnant women when they start dilating specially if they previously had a C-section. I texted Ate Lornie but she asked me to go home instead and relax because we will wait for true labor to start.
Fast forward, 17 days later, January 19 – My husband dropped me off to work around 8am. I was having mild and irregular contractions which I did not mind because I’ve been having them the entire week. Around 930am, the contractions became a bit stronger so I texted my husband and asked him to standby for updates. I started timing my contractions using a mobile app. I noticed that the contractions are starting to pick regular duration and intervals. I texted Ate Lornie and informed her that the contractions are still more than 5 minutes apart but no longer hitting 6 minutes. She said that if the contractions do not stop, I can already head to Shiphrah. I felt an urge to pee so I had to go to the restroom. I had to stop twice on my way back to my work station because of the painful contractions. That’s when I asked my husband to come over.
He arrived around 11am. I asked him to drive through Burger King so we could have our lunch on our way to Shiphrah. I managed to eat the fries (and drink the mocha frost 😛 ). To our horror, the traffic was a complete standstill. My husband had to use his emergency lights and counter flow so we could keep moving. He was so tensed while I was munching my fries through the waves of pain. Kudos to Mr. Traffic Man who assisted us so we could cross the road on a red light after realizing that we were on emergency. He probably didn’t want to witness a birthing scene on the road 😛
We arrived at Shiphrah at around 1230pm. We were asked to sit down and wait for Ate Lornie. The other ates are trying to help me relax by asking a few questions. It was already very difficult though to focus on the conversations because the contractions are becoming too strong. Ate Lornie kept on asking me to eat but I couldn’t really manage to do so because I could barely relax in between contractions. Deborah’s mom, Nanay, sat with us and reminded me to smile through the contractions because that will help me relax. She also instructed my husband to massage my shoulders when I get tensed. She asked, “what time did you start feeling contractions?” so I said around 9am. She said “you are approximately 3cm”. I smiled. Deep inside, I was like, “Please make it more than 3cm. If 3cm is this painful, I don’t think I can make it to 10cm.” Nanay left after a while but her short presence really helped me relax a bit.
I started feeling like I wanted to poop. I was about to tell Ate Lornie when she seemed to have read my mind and asked if I wanted to be checked already. One thing that I appreciate with Shiphrah — they don’t do an IE without your permission. I said yes but requested that I use the restroom first. Inside the restroom, I saw that I was bleeding already. My knees were also shaking because of the pain. Ate Lornie did an IE and was surprised to find out that I was already 9 to 9+ cm dilated. I was like, whew! I knew it. Apparently, my waterbag has ruptured already without me noticing it.
I was advised that we could no longer aim for water birth because preparing the pool and water would take some time but I am about to give birth soon. Ate Lornie then endorsed me to another midwife, Ate Belle, but still stayed inside the room to assist me all the way. When Ate Belle declared that I was already 10cm dilated, she asked if I wanted to make use of the birthing stool. This is how it looks like (pic from google):
I said yes, though I wasn’t sure if I could still get up from the bed. Thankfully, I managed to do so with my husband’s assistance. I sat on the stool while my back was leaning against my husband who was sitting on the bed. His presence was empowering and irritating at the same time, haha! Well, I hated it when he kept on reminding me to breathe while I was doing my pushes. I even had to put my hand over his mouth to shut him up! 😀
After several pushes, at 2:59pm, my little soldier came into this world. He was immediately placed in my arms. It felt wonderful. Unang Yakap is a magical moment and I pray that every mother be given the chance to experience it. Cord clamping was delayed until it stopped pulsating. After savoring the wonderful feeling of having my little one in my arms, he was placed on my breasts and he started breastfeeding.
During labor, I felt the pain of each contraction. There was never a time though that I thought of giving up. I wanted to give my baby unmedicated birth because I believe that’s what’s best for both of us. I knew I can do it.
I thank God that my husband was with me all throughout because he made me feel secured and loved. I will also always be thankful to the midwives of Shiphrah for their kindness and for helping me believe that I can do it.
Through my experience, I learned how important it is that as a mother, you know what you want for your child’s birth. Prepare for it. Believe in it. Pray for it. In the end, whatever the outcome may be, be happy and grateful knowing that you gave your all and that God’s plans are always best for you.
Happy motherhood 🙂