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‘Strong Mamas’ Calm Water Birth of Bella Jayne

Birth Stories

By Rachel Giampietro

Founder of ‘Strong Mamas’ Health and Fitness, Rachel Giampietro, proved just how strong and capable her body , mind and support network was to help her birth her baby, Bella Jayne, at home in a calm water birth using all the Calmbirth techniques of breathing, visualisation and focusing on birthing her baby the way she wanted. 

“I couldn’t have visualised a better birth or a better way to bring my beautiful girl into the world.

“The love and energy in the room and in my heart the whole time was just out of this world. I could cry tears of happiness thinking of how blessed I am to have her and to have the support team I had. Every single person in that room helped me be able to have this birth as what I can only describe as a “dream birth”.

“I felt incredibly empowered, beautiful and strong the whole time. I only hope and dream all women birthing all over the world get to feel what I felt.

“A mother will birth best where she feels safe” is the BEST thing I learnt from Calmbirth and it is SO true. Home is certainly a place where I feel safe so a homebirth was perfect for me and it can be for you too if you feel safe, believe in yourself and have the right people around you!”

 

THE FIRST SIGNS

WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 12th 2018

07:00AM –I had a “bloody show“. 

I notified my midwife who said it was a positive pre-labour sign.

For me, this was a predominantly clear and “gel-like” vaginal discharge with light red tinge which continued to “show” all day. I knew this was a sign baby was coming for me as in my last pregnancy I went into labour 2 days after my “bloody show” so I was excited and knew it could be any day now! I had also had my regular acupuncture session done the day before with some extra moxibustion (aimed to naturally induce labour) so I felt like it was all coming together now!

I spent the day with my mum and my 3 year old son, Lucas, instead of working on my business  and also managed to squeeze in lunch with my best friend for her birthday whilst Lucas slept at my mums.

I had a feeling it might be my last day of this beautiful pregnancy journey so I really savoured the day, was truly present in every moment and mentally surrendered to the next phase of my journey – knowing life was about to completely change VERY soon!

08:30PM – I had some short, dull contractions (period pain type feelings that were coming and going very lightly) and an increase in the watery/bloody discharge which was now strong enough I had to put one of my maternity pads on so I didn’t leak! I had also emptied my bowels various times during the day.

I texted my midwife again who said these were all great pre-labour signs as well. A positive sign baby was coming soon BUT still could be any day so she said to go to bed and get rest –  which I did.

11:00PM – I woke to what I knew was my first “real” contraction.

It lasted about 20 seconds long and was more intense than the period pain type feelings I had hours earlier.

I KNEW THIS WAS IT.

I tried to go back to sleep but I couldn’t. I was not only wide awake now with excitement but also lying down made my contractions worse and made me feel uncomfortable so I got up.

My hubby, Nick, now woke too and couldn’t get back to sleep so we decided to call my Mum to come over so we could move Lucas into his bed and she could lie with him in case he wakes up (he normally sleeps in our bed) . I also decided to call my niece, Ebony, (who was filming for me) so she could sleep here and not run the risk of having to call her during early hours of the morning or during peak hour traffic.

11:15PM – I began setting up “my birthing space” in our room. A space I had visualised from the very beginning of my pregnancy journey. 

 

 

My labour postitive affirmations were already up on the wall in our bedroom (they had been up for weeks so I could read them everyday and remind myself of how capable I was of birthing from home).

Nick and I laid down the tarp and sheets down on the floor and blew up the birthing pool in front of our bed in our room.

I lit candles, put on my “labour” playlist on Spotify, laid out the crystals from my “mama blessing” pack  on my dresser and put some essential oils in the diffuser (DOTERRA Lavender, Frankincense and Balance).

I had waited for this day for MONTHS and it was finally here.

I wanted to be fully present and aware of the magic that was about to happen so I took about 30 mins (in between a few contractions) to just soak it all in. Reflect on the journey I took to get here and the one that was about to unfold whilst listening to the songs I had listened to all my pregnancy visualising this very day. I walked outside every single day during my pregnancy listening to all the songs on my labour playlists visualising an empowering, liberating birth and I really wanted to take the time to remind myself of how that felt.

At this stage my contractions were coming every 10-15 minutes and lasting anywhere from 20-30 secs long with an intensity of about level 5/10 but I was mostly just feeling so much excitement.

With each contraction I just got on my hands and knees and breathed deep, long and hard (using the breathing techniques I learnt from Calmbirth) visualising my cervix dilating and baby coming down in my mind.

In between contractions, I got up and walked around, talked and laughed with everyone around me, sung and danced to my tunes and just kept the “love” inside and around me strong. Calmbirth had taught me this importance of feeling/producing oxytocin (love hormone) as much as possible as it helps the uterus contract so I just made sure I was doing whatever made me feel loved.

 

 

 

SHE’S HERE

THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 13th 2018 

12:00-04:00AM – I slept in between contractions or at least tried to get some rest (wise words of advice from my midwife as it’s SUPER important to reserve your energy where possible for labour). Mum, Ebony and I laid in my bed whilst Nick went and slept with Lucas in his bed.

At this stage my contractions were coming roughly every 7-12 minutes but still lasting anywhere from 20-30 secs long with still an intensity of about level 5/10. I would sleep in between but with each contraction I would wake, get on my hands and knees, rock and sway back and forth and just BREATHE DEEP in through my nose and out through my mouth and then go back to resting/sleeping in between contractions to preserve my energy.

04:00AM –The intensity of my contractions started to increase. They were still coming every 7-12 minutes and still lasting 20-30 secs long but the intensity was getting stronger at about a level 6/10. I could no longer comfortably lie or sleep between contractions now so I decided to get up and so did Mum and Ebony.

I texted my midwife again just to keep her updated on my progress and she told me to continue resting and let her know when the contractions were 3-5mins apart and lasting 60sec long.

05:45AM – Nick and Lucas woke up and came into our room. Lucas was VERY excited to see the pool in our room but a bit disappointed there was no water in there yet haha all he wanted to do was go for a swim but we told him not just yet!

06:00AM – My waters broke (view the exact moment in my BIRTH VIDEO here).

We had all moved to the lounge room to watch TV with Lucas and have breakfast when I felt a huge gush of waters come out and run down my legs (luckily I had moved onto the tiles). My mum freaked out straight away saying “omg call the midwife!!!” and I told her to “shut the fuck up and calm down” haha soz mum but no negative or fearful energy allowed in my birthing space!

Calmbirth taught me how much stress and fear during labour activate the sympathetic nervous system which has an adverse affect on the rise of oxytocin levels – which are essential for dilation – so I didn’t want anyone stressing me as I knew I had it all under control.

I also kept reminding myself that when you are in a state of fear or you are tensed your body pumps blood to your limbs and away from your uterus. If there is no oxygen in the uterus – it will produce pain! (Another thing I learnt from Calmbirth) so I made sure I stayed as calm and relaxed as possible.

I also knew once my waters had broken that protective layer was gone and things would progress quick so I did decide to call my midwife and the birth photographer and get them to come over to my house now!

06:15AM – In the meantime we decided to fill up the birthing pool .

I wasn’t going to get in the pool straight away as I knew getting in too early could possibly stall my labour but it takes about 30 mins to fill to the top and stays warms for hours so we thought we’d get it done now just in case things progressed super fast from this point on like it did in my last labour.

Lucas got in the pool straight away though and was having the time of his life whilst I continued labouring on my gym ball next to the pool. Everyone took turns putting pressure on my lower back during each contraction (an acupressure technique we had learnt in the Calmbirth Course) which helped SO much. The harder they pushed on my back the more it helped shift the energy and take the intensity off my contractions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

07:00AM – My birth photographer, River, arrived and boy was I relieved to see her face BEFORE baby was born. She missed my birth with Lucas due to how quick it happened so I was beyond grateful to have her here now knowing she was going to capture this beautiful journey for me from here on in.

07:20AM – My midwife, Emma, arrived and the first thing she did was come straight to me to rub my back, see how I was and to let me know she was here. A prime example of the incredible soul she really is and how important she knew it was for me to feel as much love and support as possible from her & everyone around me. I was so relieved she was here and I subconsciously felt the love in the room increased tenfold which I knew was helping me and my body do what it needed to do.

She then checked baby’s heartbeat with the doppler (which was perfect) and got stuck into her paperwork (writing notes and documenting my labour) chatting with everyone in between.

07:30AM – I got in the birthing pool.

I had asked Emma if she thought it was ok to get it now and she said to trust my gut and get in when I felt it was right and that IF contractions did slow down I could always just get out.

I decided to get in and join Lucas and my contractions didn’t slow down which was great! Lucas and I had some fun together in the pool playing with his bath toys and splashing around in between contractions.  He gave us all so many laughs (he thought blowing raspberries on my back was HILARIOUS) and it was so nice to spend some time with him and keep the love and laughter around me strong.

She then checked baby’s heartbeat with the doppler (which was perfect) and got stuck into her paperwork (writing notes and documenting my labour) chatting with everyone in between.

07:30AM – I got in the birthing pool.

I had asked Emma if she thought it was ok to get it now and she said to trust my gut and get in when I felt it was right and that IF contractions did slow down I could always just get out.

I decided to get in and join Lucas and my contractions didn’t slow down which was great! Lucas and I had some fun together in the pool playing with his bath toys and splashing around in between contractions.  He gave us all so many laughs (he thought blowing raspberries on my back was HILARIOUS) and it was so nice to spend some time with him and keep the love and laughter around me strong.

After an hour – my contractions started to increase in intensity and decrease in distance between so I kicked Lucas out of the pool (only with the bribe of a kinder surprise egg – of course).

I knew I just needed to just focus on ME now.

08:30AM – I entered “transition phase” 

Also known as “LABOUR LAND”: eyes closed, no longer engaging in conversation between contractions and really just in my own world.

Contractions were coming probably every 1-3 minutes now and very intense at an intensity of about level 8/10.

I now had my “meditation” playlist on and the blinds in my room shut so I could really set the tone of relaxation and privacy and get in the zone.

I HAD to hold someone’s hand through each contraction so I could squeeze the shit out of it otherwise I felt like I couldn’t get through on my own.

No one left my side which just meant the world to me and enabled me to really feel strong, loved and supported.

Nick (my hubby) was so incredible and my absolute rock. I am so grateful he attended the Calmbirth courses with me as he was so confident in his role and I knew he had no fear or doubt in my ability. He never left my side, did his best to make me laugh in between contractions and then gave me immense support and told me positive affirmations during each contraction which honestly helped so much.

I was very vocal now during each contraction (which you can see a glimpse of in my BIRTH VIDEO here).

As much as I tell myself “I won’t be loud during my labour” something comes over me and I just NEED to use a good moan to help express the intensity and get through. It actually really helps and it’s not a painful scream – I like to think of it simply as expression of the intensity and essential in helping me get through each contraction.

09:00AM – In my midwife’s notes I reported feeling pressure in my bum. This a great sign to midwives as it means baby is right at the bottom of it’s descend and the head getting ready to crown.

This is also probably the stage I also pooed (gross – yep – ) but this is actually so normal and a great sign baby is at the last stage of descent pressing against the bowels and pushing out whatever is left in there.

It was my mum’s duty to remove any poo with the “poop scooper” – aka flour sifter LOL. What about how she’s waiting sifter in hand so excitingly for that poo in the photos above haha (thanks mum!)

Contractions just felt constant now – I had maybe a 30 second break in between and they were at FULL INTENSITY 10/10.

I started getting SO hot and sweaty so my midwife got me cold, wet towels for my neck and forehead and made sure I kept hydrated with plenty of sips of water.

I remember my midwife checking baby’s heart beat again (which was perfect) and she said softly to me “They’re really intense, that means you’re almost there” which was a big boost of confidence and motivation for me to just keep hanging in there.

The support around me at this stage was fucking INCREDIBLE. I get goosebumps when I think about it.

I had my own little cheer squad. Everyone kept reading my birth affirmations out aloud to me, cheered me on with encouraging words during each contraction like “Go Rach!” “You’re doing such an amazing job” “You’re so close now” “You look so beautiful” and they just kept the LOVE and SUPPORT around me SO STRONG.

There were no negative words said, there was not an ounce of fear in the atmosphere, my midwife never did an internal examination to see how far dilated I was (she could observe progress by just watching me) and there was no rush and no urgency in the room. It didn’t matter how long it took – all I had to do was just continue to breathe, tap into my mind and get through each contraction with everyone there around me for support. I was really struggling, it was tougher than I remembered but deep down I felt invincible knowing I had everyone around me and all I needed within me.

I kept looking up at my birth affirmations in between contractions and reminding myself of all the information I had learned in my Calmbirth courses. When you understand how the muscles in the uterus work and you are able to visualize that throughout each contraction it helps dramatically with birth.

Lucas happily popped in and out of the room with his Ipad, not overly concerned about me wailing- it’s like he knew I needed to be alone and what I was going through was completely normal.

09:20AM –After a few contractions of crowning – her head was now out!

I didn’t even realise my midwife was behind me with a mirror and torch but I do remember her calmly saying “baby’s head is out now” and then my cheer squad repeating her every word with such excitement!

When I could feel her head coming out, instead of breathing my usual long deep breaths, I breathed hard and fast pants. This enabled me to keep her head there and not let it slip in and out to allow my perineum to slowly stretch to avoid tearing.

I had read about this panting technique and my midwife and I had also spoken about it weeks earlier but on the day I didn’t even have to think about it – it was just something I intuitively did and it helped so much.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD, BELLA

09:23AM

After a big final involuntary push – out she came into the big wide world and right into my arms.

I pulled her up right from beneath my legs and up on my chest and immediately fell DEEP IN LOVE.

I DID IT.

I birthed my baby all by myself from the comfort of my own home just as I had manifested and dreamed about for so long.

I had to check if it was a boy or girl straight away as we didn’t know the sex. I was still in labour land so just stared at her vagina saying “What is it?”  “What’s that?” for what felt like 10 seconds and then my mum yelled “IT’S A GIRL” and everyone cheered in excitement.

I was really in my own world still, but I remember looking down at her and feeling pins and needles in my hands of what I know was an intense rush of oxytocin and endorphins.

Nothing will beat the feeling of a natural birth – I am sure there is no higher HIGH in life.

I just couldn’t take my eyes off her – she was covered in SO MUCH vernix but she was oh so beautiful, tiny and just perfect.

After a few moments in my arms she let out the CUTEST cry and then opened her eyes taking it the world around her. She was breathing perfectly, so calm and alert. I swear she looked right into my soul with those beautiful big eyes of hers.

Everyone around me cried tears of joy, took photos and celebrated but my midwife also ensured the mood and environment in the roomed stayed the same as it was during the birth. This is so important when having a physiological third stage as it helps keep oxytocin (love hormone) flowing to help encourage and enhance the placenta to come by itself in good time and avoid the possibility of having an injection of syntocin.

I stayed in the water for about 30 mins but then I wanted to get out as I was in so much pain. My uterus was aching which is common for subsequent births but something I didn’t feel last time so didn’t expect.

I had originally planned to cut the umbilical cord after I birthed the placenta but the cord was so short I couldn’t hold Bella on my chest comfortably. It had stopped pulsating now so we decided to clamp it and get Nick to cut it so I could move Bella around more comfortably (this is called delayed cord clamping and has so many benefits).

10:00AM – I got out of the pool and onto the toilet in my ensuite to birth the placenta.

10:15AM – I birthed the placenta in a bowl under the toilet seat whilst I breastfed Bella. I have to say – when I built my house I never thought I’d be using my ensuite toilet for that haha.

Birthing the placenta is gross and weird but being on the toilet was actually so comfortable and got the job done so I am glad Emma recommended to do it there rather than the bed.

Bella latched on to my breast perfectly ALL BY HERSELF when she was ready (I didn’t force her at all) . This was something I was hoping and dreaming for during my whole pregnancy – as I didn’t get with Lucas (he was tongue and lip tied) – so this moment meant the world to me.

10:20AM – After the placenta was birthed I then moved to my bed which was all set up for me.

My back-up midwife, Robyn, checked my blood pressure (she arrived not long after I gave birth) and then Emma showed me my placenta and the sac and explained each area to me. Sounds gross but it was actually so amazing to see where Bella spent the last 10 months growing inside of me. As Emma says – we must RESPECT the placenta! It looks gross, I know, but it’s really an incredible thing when you think about it.

Emma then observed my vagina and perineum for tearing. I had a very small first degree tear in the perineum but no suturing was required (WOOHOO) and there was no swelling and minimal post birth bleeding. I had a feeling I had minimal tearing as I didn’t feel any stinging or burning in my vagina (unlike my first birth where I report my vagina feeling ON FIRE).

Emma then measured and weighed Bella (2.9KGS and 53cm long)

11:30AM – After lots of skin to skin with Bella on my bed and a long breastfeed my midwife encouraged me to go to the toilet to wee which was effortless and pain free! I also had a look “down there”  and my vagina literally looked the same as always – legit no swelling at all. AMAZING what our bodies are designed to do given the right environment.

12:00PM –Nick bought me breakfast in bread(a bacon and egg wrap) and shortly after everyone left.

My midwifes were really happy with mine and Bella’s state so we were left to bond and take it all in and my midwife would come for a home visit the next day.

I ate my breakfast and laid in my comfy bed in absolute awe of what had just happened and the fact I my own perfect little girl in my arms.

I couldn’t have visualised a better birth or a better way to bring my beautiful girl into the world.

The love and energy in the room and in my heart the whole time was just out of this world. I could cry tears of happiness thinking of how blessed I am to have her and to have the support team I had. Every single person in that room helped me be able to have this birth as what I can only describe as a “dream birth”.

I felt incredibly empowered, beautiful and strong the whole time. I only hope and dream all women birthing all over the world get to feel what I felt.

 

 

 

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