Women’s Stories on the BirthRite Birthing Seat

(See also comments from Midwives, Obstetricians and Others.)


Our Birth Story
by Ana Arcos

My partner Grant and I heard of the BirthRite Birthing Seat on a TV program months before we got pregnant. At that time we thought it was a really good idea. Then when we got pregnant and I had a severe sciatic back pain, I said to Grant that we should see if we could use this Birthing Seat at the birth. So I contacted Monika through her Web site and started to talk about the options.

Our first idea was to get the midwives at the hospital to have a look at the Birthing Seat and maybe get a few women into it and see if we could hire the Seat all together. Cost was a bit of an issue for us but we really wanted to try. Always thinking of my backache.

Monika sent us a video and some written information to give to the hospital. I took it there and also talked to the maternity unit boss to have permission to use it when I was in labour. All was OK for us to do so, so we went ahead with the idea.

We watched the video, and the most impressive part was the birth of a baby by a woman who was at home and completely concentrated on her job. She was “breathing her baby out”. That really impressed me, and after that I noticed that I had the picture of this woman on my mind all the time. I used to say, “If she can do it, I can do it, too. Why not?”

All started on Saturday, the 10th of February. My due date was the 14th of February. I was going to give birth at the Pambula District Hospital, 22 minutes from Wyndham.

That morning, I started with a few contractions at 8 o’clock: nothing really painful, but uncomfortable. Grant and I started to check the timing: 12 minutes apart and lasting 15 seconds. We had to get Grant’s son Adam to a camping area that morning, so we went. Everything was OK, so there was no hurry to go to hospital. We said that we will take it as it comes and see what happens.

After leaving Adam, we went to my sister-in-law’s house and stayed there for lunch, just to let the time pass. The contractions were now 8 or 10 minutes apart, lasting 30 seconds. They were getting a little bit stronger. Because we live in Wyndham, we didn’t want to go back home, so we rang the hospital to let them know how we were going. The midwife said not to come yet because there was no sign of labour yet.

We decided to go to the beach at Eden, go for a little walk around and have a look at the great view. We had lunch at a lookout and took some photos, checking the contractions from time to time. Now they were 5 minutes apart and lasting 50 seconds. After a few hours we decided to ring the hospital again. The midwife said that we could go and check if there was any dilation or just wait a bit more for the contractions to get stronger and longer. All seemed well on the way so not to hurry. OK, so we kept walking around. I started eating a few energy snacks and drinking lots of water.

Just after 5pm, we headed to the hospital to get checked and see if we should go home or stay. We got there at 5:30 and the midwife checked. I was only 2 cm dilated, contractions were strong with a good pattern, and the baby’s heart rate was good: no stress. So that was good news for us. Now he had to decide whether we should go or stay. There was a huge thunderstorm coming, so the midwife talked to the doctor and he decided to let me stay. There was no point going home with that weather, and maybe when we got home we’d have to turn around and come back to the hospital, so we stayed. I had all my things in the car, all ready for when the baby came.

First I had a shower, and then the doctor turned up to tell me that I wasn’t even in labour yet and not to worry. He would give me a sedative if the contractions slowed down, so I could sleep through the night and keep going the next day. I felt down when he told me that. I had started at 8 o’clock that morning and I “wasn’t in labour yet”! I went to my bed and started crying.

Anyway, I told Andrew, the midwife, and he said that my contractions were strong and that I should get out of the bed and go for another shower. So I had tea and then had another shower. The contractions were still the same — 5 minutes apart and 60 seconds — well, a bit longer now. Grant and I sat on the closed veranda and watched TV. I started to walk backwards and forwards; sat sometimes; got the rubber ball to rock on. This was really good; this ball was just perfect and comfortable. The only thing that wasn’t good with it was that if a contraction came the ball would roll forward a bit and I couldn’t concentrate on my breathing. So I needed to have something in front to stop it from moving. Then I got off and sat on the Birthing Seat. I had Grant sitting on a chair behind me with a few pillows between us. I stayed on the Seat for a few contractions and then stood up and walked a bit, then went back to the Seat.

Andrew, the midwife who was there for the day, had to go home, and then another midwife, Kay, came in for the night shift. The time went and at 11:30pm we agreed to go and check how the dilatation was going. I was a bit surprised that nobody checked me before: I mean, from the first time at 6pm to 11:30pm I didn’t know what was going on. The contractions were coming a lot stronger: I could now feel what a real contraction was and I had to focus on my deep breathing. All that mystery that I felt before, not knowing what contractions might be like, was gone. There they were, pushing my stomach and pelvis up or forward (or seemed to), and I tried to keep breathing deeply all the time. So I said to Grant that we should go to the labour room and see how we were going. Then Kay came in and said the same.

I felt a bit like we were on our own there. Well, I suppose there is nothing else anyone can do, really.

Walking to the labour room with Grant, I had to stop because another contraction came, so I couldn’t walk. I hung on to the wall. The nurses at the nurse station were watching me. We got to the labour room and Grant put the Birthing Seat near the bed, with a chair behind for him to sit and a few pillows ready.

I got on the bed and Kay put these belts on me to check the contractions and the baby’s heart beat. Then she checked the cervix and it was 7 to 8 cm dilated! How good that was! I couldn’t believe it! I was so excited. After a few contractions, my waters broke. This was a funny feeling: I felt this warm water coming, and then another contraction, and then more warm water. I thought, “Ha, this is what it is, the bloody waters!” All was new; I was discovering these new emotions, too. Next, I felt my baby coming down and I said, “I can feel him coming down!” I was so excited!

Then I said to Grant, “Now what should I do? Should I sit on the Birthing Seat now?” I didn’t wait for any answer: I just sat on it and he got ready behind me. I didn’t really know how to properly sit on it. First my right leg went numb, so I pushed my pelvis forward and lifted the leg up to sit more comfortably. That helped. I knew that I had to roll my pelvis a bit forward, as I’d seen in the film I got from Monika.

When Kay saw that I was 7 or 8 cm dilated, she was so surprised that she had to rush to get ready! She said, “Don’t you push, Ana. Just wait. I need to get ready!” Jajaja. I said, “Yeah, no worries. I’ll try.” I didn’t know if I could try or not — I didn’t know anything. Imagine that! Grant from behind me kept telling me, “Breathe, Baby, breathe!”

The midwife put all she needed on the floor where the baby was going to come out: her gloves, the little mat from Monika for her to kneel on, and the mirror, positioned so I could see my progress.

I had prepared a paper with some sentences that were on the sheets and in the video Monika sent me, such as “Breathe your baby out gently”, to encourage me to keep breathing. At that time the paper wasn’t there, of course, but Grant remembered to tell me, “Breathe your baby out.” I could hear that, and it was enough to help me to keep concentrating on the deep breathing. I wonder why the midwife did not speak to me in that way. I thought that is what midwives do! But she was too busy preparing her equipment, I guess.

Another contraction, and we now were all ready. These contractions came really strong and I kept breathing deeply, but I couldn’t do the abdominal breathing that I did before, trying to make more room for the baby: it didn’t work any more, so I had to do chest breathing. And that is what I did. The pushing was just a little — not much — on the peak of the contraction.

Kay was asking me if I could see through the mirror. That was good: I nearly forgot to look! So I looked and I could see the whole thing. I thought, “This is me, here and now, giving birth.” (It is much easier to watch the video, jeje.) Kay said, “I can see the baby’s head. Can you see it?” Oh! I could! That was amazing! That was our baby coming through my bloody pelvis! What a feeling! I could hear Grant telling me to “breathe the baby out!” Then another 3 or 4 contractions came. I looked as much as I could through the mirror and I could see his head coming. Once, with one of these contractions, the head was just there, nearly out, and then the contraction was gone! I thought truly, “How am I going to hang on to not push?” But I didn’t have the urge to push, so I waited for the next contraction. Then with the next one he was out, and I had him straight on my chest. I didn’t realise, it was so fast. I mean, I was there, but suddenly I had our baby with me on my chest!

The doctor turned up late, of course. It was too fast. He checked if he had to put some stitches in, but no — no tearing at all! How good that was. I couldn’t believe it. So really, we had the best birth we could have asked for. We are glad we hired the Birthing Seat. And did I feel anything on my sciatic nerve on my leg? Nothing! I didn’t feel any pain during labour or at birth.

This is our story. Marcos is 2 months old now and healthy and sleeps very well, too. I wish all women could have the opportunity to use the Birthing Seat and have a good experience giving birth.

Thanks, Monika.

— Ana Arcos
Mother
Wyndham, NSW, Australia



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