My due date was March 12, 2017. My second son was born 40 weeks 5 days, 3252 g, 51 cm.
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Situation and circumstances
My second surprise pregnancy. It was not planned. But the idea of having a second child was not frightening to me anymore.
My first child was a very calm and content baby. We did have long days and nights, it was exhausting and overwhelming on many levels but also so much more rewarding. After my first birth, the fear of postpartum depression slowly dissolved. I felt calm and confident, most days. Of course, I went through challenges and personal changes. It felt lonely at times.
My relationship with my partner was going through changes, all the challenges you would be warned about during pregnancy. With time, I realized that I had been expecting him to do certain things and to behave in certain ways. He was not being the person I wanted him to be and I struggled with feelings of resentment because he was not meeting my expectations. Our communication was not great at times. I tried to bury down my bitter feelings. They stayed blocked and bothered me. It was not until I made conscious efforts to better understand myself and my partner`s experiences, that I came to realize and appreciate the fact that he was doing his best and he was going through his own struggles to adapt to parenting and his new family. We both needed time. And mutual understanding.
As our baby grew we had to quickly adapt not only to his always-changing needs but to our own growth spurts. Staying on top of things was not easy and it took us many efforts to consciously keep learning and being more understanding, all by trial and error. Mostly on survival mode, we still managed to have some open discussions about our future plans of having more children. I always knew my partner would like to have more kids, but I had to grow a lot until I was ready. Till my older child turned 2 and a half, the thought of getting pregnant again gave me panic attacks. And the shame and the self-blame I was experiencing because I had it all- a good life, stability, supportive husband, a beautiful son that was growing happy and healthy. Why would I not want another child? Being honest with myself and with my partner is where I started. It took us both some time to process it all. At some point, my partner was ready to give up his dream of having more kids so that he could emotionally support me and our family. I believe now this was the changing point for me- when I felt cared for, accepted, and forgiven. Not long after I got pregnant.
At this point, I had been navigating my life in Japan for a few years, focusing on family, parenting, redefining my own identity, exploring my soul desires. I had been a stay-at-home mom till my older son turned 3, partly by choice, partly because of circumstances. By the time my son started kindergarten, a few exciting projects were already in progress- volunteering, teaching and translating. When I learned we were expecting I remember I was excited, worried, and shaken. I had to adapt again and yet, I was ready to take the leap. As my belly grew, so did my love and devotion to my family.
Choosing a provider and a place to give birth
One option was to use the clinic where my older was born. But now that we had moved, the clinic was a bit far and we decided on another clinic, which was more convenient. It was a bigger fancy place. This time I saw a different doctor each time. Three doctors working there so it was still ok to build up some trust and familiarity. It felt a little less personal than the first time when I saw the same doctor every time. I also considered midwife-led clinics, my preferred choice, and home birth, but the options were very limited and it was almost impossible to make it work so I had to give up.
I had regular check-ups, blood tests, and 4D ultrasounds. I was busy with work and family and the time passed fast. At the beginning of this pregnancy, similar to my first one, I had morning sickness, feeling drained by the end of the day and needing a lot of sleep. It was a hot humid Asian summer, I was feeling quite weak and dizzy but I had made some work commitments already and I just could not let people down. I had to push through and we all survived. This time I had my son to care for and the guilt of not being able to do the best for him was often lingering about.
What bothered me a little- sometimes, one of my doctors did not directly address me during the consultations but talked to my husband and I felt a bit stressed, and my presence- ignored.
My second pregnancy was normal and uneventful, so grateful for that. About 19w I had a scare, as I was not sure if I had peed my pants or my waters had broken. Fortunately, it was all ok. Except for a little scar on my pride.
The pregnancy weight gain limits in Japan are lower than in the western world and my doctors often reminded me to try harder to control my weight. I gained 15 kg during my first pregnancy and I lost 7-8 kg right after delivery. I was able to return to my pre-pregnancy weight three weeks postpartum, thanks to my mother-in-law cooking and three-meal no-snack regime. Needless to say, my body was different, my body shape has changed. I gained 14-15 kg during my second pregnancy.
Shorty before and after my due date, I had to go in for monitoring every other day. The doctor discussed induction right after my due date passed and he did not seem very flexible about the idea to wait longer. I was a bit worried and felt pressured for induction in week 41 but I stayed calm and said nothing. I wanted to better prepare before my next appointment and to try to negotiate with the doctor. My wish was to wait until week 42. Meanwhile, they offered acupressure and acupuncture treatments to help start labor naturally, which I was really happy about. I had one appointment and got some moxibustion sticks to use at home.
Four days after my due date, I was trying hard to stay calm and I was mostly successful- staying focused, present, walking, doing yoga, moxibustion. After a long walk in the afternoon, we were all having dinner- my older kid, my mother-in-law, who was here to support us for the birth, and my husband who just came back from work, unexpectedly early. It was about 7 pm.
I had some contractions. Practice contractions, I thought.
2017.03.16 20:00 h- I went to the toilet and got my mucus plug. The labor was approaching. But just in case, I didn’t have my hopes high.
22:00 h – my waters broke, I felt the stream and it seemed a lot; pinkish color; chills all over and trembling. I was leaning on the table, telling everyone to give me some time to breathe and calm down. I needed to get mentally ready. I was not in a hurry to go to the hospital.
A special moment between me and my 4-year-old- a strong hug, letting him know the baby was coming soon. He was overexcited.
22:20 h – called the clinic; 10-15 mins on the car, having contractions on the car was not fun
22.45 h – arrived and had an examination. I had to admit I was disappointed I was only 1 cm dilated. But I managed to stay calm and concentrated, focused on my breathing and on here-and-now.
22:00 to 23:00 h – the contractions, 4-5 times, were getting more intense. I stayed with my husband in a tiny room, it was dark and cozy. In my birth preferences, I had mentioned I want dim lights and aromatherapy, it was great they had those options. My husband went to get some water; my mother-in-law and my older son could use the room I was about to stay at after birth. I had been worried about my older son, as he had never been separated from me before and we had planned that he would stay with me while we were in the hospital. But after we arrived at the hospital, we decided he would go home with his dad and grandma- it was a Thu night, my husband would take a day off on Fri and then there was a long weekend off, which meant my husband could be home for a few days and support my older son. And he had his grandma, too. (Taking a paternal leave is not a thing in Japan. Hopefully, things are slowly improving.)
23:00 to 00:00 h － contractions got stronger and stronger; dilation 1cm to 10 cm. I drank a lot of water. The regular contractions continued. I felt pressure in my lower back. I stayed on all fours during contractions, it felt most comfortable in this position and it was bearable. My husband was giving me water and a low back massage. I was asked to lie on my back between contractions so that the baby’s heart rate can be monitored. The monitor was always attached to me but it stopped working while I was on all fours. I breathed deeply during contractions. Breathwork really helped me stay focused and grounded. My husband continued to give me low back massages and apply pressure during the contractions.
03.17 00:00 h to 00:32 h – Lying on my back on the bed. They asked me to turn and lie on my back. This was the part I desperately wanted to avoid. I had to work hard to clear the fear of lying on my back. I asked the head of the bed to be in an upright position, but they just pulled it up a bit; then I started to feel pain. Before that my labor was intense but not painful. I just hated lying on my back. I worked hard to overcome the panic and fear of having to lie on my back. It was the worst position to give birth in, at least for me. Strong low-back pressure.
I wanted to urinate and told the midwife, I should not have told her. She was very fast and drained my urine bladder without telling me what she was going to do, it was not what I wanted and it was quite uncomfortable.
When it was time to push the doctor and two midwives were there- one with the doctor, one by my left side, my husband-on my right. The first practice push. The body in C-shape (the pressure on my back was very strong, I arched my back trying to avoid the pressure but was reminded that it was wrong and then could keep in C-shape. I could touch the baby head before he came out. The baby came out after four or five pushes. The last part- the pushing- was hard and intensive but ended fast.
The baby came on my belly, on a mat, which surprised me. I would never imagine they would put a mat so that I could have asked them to skip the sheet. I later realized that when my first was born, there was also a mat.
00:40 to 01:00 h- The placenta was gently delivered by slow pulling; I didn’t feel much. The midwife showed me the placenta, the sack, the cord and explained- I was happy I could see the placenta. Then time for stitches. I naturally tore during labor.
Meanwhile the baby was in the cod next to me with daddy to get measured and checked.
Until 02:30 h- I lied for two hours on the bed and chatted with my mother-in-law. The baby was very calm, lying on me. After that I was able to stand up, slowly went to the toilet, I went to my room. I could walk and move. I remember I could squat to help my older son put on his shoes when he was going home.
Very nervous when my waters broke
Was there for me and supported me all the way through
Listened to me
Gave me water, ice and some sports drinks (he bought it in the hospital, I had a straw prepared in my bag)
Gave me massage during contractions
Breathed with me, but we both kept or own pace of breathing
Touched me gently and hold my hand
Was encouraging me: “ You are doing great”, “The baby is coming soon”, “The baby is almost here” etc
Cut the cord after the baby was born
Hugged me, thanked me
Went to check and measure the baby together with the midwife when the baby was placed on the small bed with the light. ( I found it really nice that they involve the father and let him be with the baby in the first minutes of baby’s life)
My older son, 4 years old
He was very excited when the labor started
Fell asleep on our way to the hospital
Woke up after the baby was born and could see and touch the baby, he was really excited
Wanted to go back home with me and the baby right after the baby was born
Was sad to say goodbye to me and the baby, but he could hold his tears and promised to come to see us the next day
Was with my 4 year old
Stayed with me two hours after the delivery while I had to lie down on the bed with an ice pack on my belly. We talked about her three births and what she remembers and how things were for her.
Took care of my 4-year-old together with my husband during our stay in the hospital and supported us for a while after we went back home
What I did to prepare for labor
Maternity yoga – ten minutes a day; from the second trimester
Walking, moving, staying active
Learning about hormones during labor and how they work (oxytocin, endorphins, adrenaline)
Learned about fear- pain- tension cycle, explored my fears (fears about birth and any other general fears) and worked hard on clearing my fears
Researched a lot about natural birth
Learned about natural body positions during labor (staying upright vs lying down, staying on all fours vs lying on your back etc)
Watched videos of positive calm births. Watched videos of animals giving birth (also together with my 4 year old; birth is natural, we are made to give birth)
Learned and practiced relaxation techniques and meditation
Practiced deep breathing, controlled breathing
Learned to listen to my body sensations and experiences; practiced how to stay focused on here-and-now; learned how to calm my body and mind and how to relieve my tension
Took sophrology classes at the clinic that mostly focused on relaxation and breathing practices but also explained in detail some of the clinic procedures
Believe in my body- my body made this baby, my body knows what to do to bring the baby out, I would let my body take the lead
Believe in my baby- my baby knows how to come out, I would encourage him and would not disturb him
Imagined what the perfect birth looked like for me. Shared with the baby what kind of birth I wanted for us. Shared with my partner the perfect birth I was envisioning.
Wrote down all the things I did not want to happen to me and the baby during labor. Accepted that even if these bad things happened, we would still be ok.
Worked on my relationship with my partner- open talks about us as a couple, as parents, sharing our fears, sharing how I was preparing for labor; he was not always in the right mood to listen to me but he always respected me. Shared with him my expectations of him supporting me. We took together a sophrology class for birth preparation. On daily basis, I appreciated my partner more and praised him for all the small things he did.
The last few days before labor I did all I could to stay calm, fear-free and positive
I had an moxibustion treatment to naturally start labor and did moxibustion by myself at home for three days
All the preparations I did worked amazingly well for me. We are all different, we all need different things. Find out what works for you so that you can create your beautiful birthing experience.
Read more about My recommendations for birth preparation.
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How I felt during labor
When my waters broke I got excited, but I could stay calm and concentrated
I was positive as my baby was coming
Had contractions on the car, concentrated on the contraction and breathed
Relaxed my pelvic muscles during the examination at the hospital
When the contractions were coming, I went on all fours, swayed my body left to right or back to front, breathed deeply
Focused on the moment, told myself the pressure and the contraction will soon be over
Asked for water when I felt thirsty
Could go to the toilet by myself once (because everything was happening so fast)
From my first birth experience, I was traumatized by having to lie down on my back for a long time, and by pushing for a very long time. This time I didn’t want to lie on my back. At the beginning of my pregnancy, I asked the staff at the clinic whether I can give birth in a different position and the answer was positive but it still depended on the midwife and the staff, they said. So I knew I might not be able to control that part of the labor and decided to work on my fear instead. I felt motivated and positive I could do it. During my whole pregnancy, I panicked just thinking about having to lie on my back during birth. During the sophrology class, we all were asked to practice lying down and pushing and I just could not do it, I got all shaky and was sweating. I had to take a break to recover. I kept working on my trauma and on my fear throughout my pregnancy.
This time when the midwife insisted that I lie on my back I was not afraid, I knew my baby was coming soon and I did lie on my back, asked for the bed back to be raised so that I was in a semi-sit position, but still not as high as I wished.
The pressure on my back was strong and uncomfortable; I stayed with the sensation and accepted it; I had no fear; I did all I could to stay relaxed.
The midwife on my left was very encouraging and caring; what she said to me was super kind, her words worked like magic- they made me feel supported and loved, I felt absolutely amazing and almost cried. A few days after the birth, I had the opportunity to thank her and let her know how much her encouraging words had meant to me.
For the last few pushes the pressure down was extremely strong, I had hard time, I can say that this was the only painful part of my labor, BUT I never thought that I could not do it, all I was thinking about was that it would soon be over.
My husband encouraging me was absolutely amazing, made me feel strong, able and supported.
Seeing the baby was a powerful experience that stays for life.
The pressure and the biggest discomfort all gone. The enormous relief.
During the whole labor I stayed focused, I stayed aware of my body experiences and sensations. I better understood and remembered what was happening in comparison with my first birth.
I am a believer, I trust the Lord. I was not praying to Him to save me from the pain, I was acknowledging His Power, His Might, and His incomparable Love. I know He is always with me. I called His name in the delivery room. He was there. Without Him, I could not have done it. He made me for this.
I did it and it was an amazing experience. My baby, my body did wonderfully well. I am not special, I am full of fears and anxiety. They do not easily disappear. I learned how to better deal with my feelings. If I could learn and could do it, anyone can. Get prepared by finding what works for you. Much love to you!