It was on the first day of the new year that Cis saw the light of life. His mother, Joke, describes his more or less unexpected home delivery and shares suggestions about how she prepared during pregnancy for the birth.
It is with great joy and happiness that I am writing about the birth of our son Cis, born on the magical date of 1st January 2020.
On New Year’s Eve (the day I was due to give birth) we decided to accept our neighbours’ invitation for a drink. About seven other couples were present, mostly people we weren’t acquainted with, but the evening was filled with happiness and warmth.
Before handing out the presents there was a pleasant quiz which enhanced the joyful atmosphere and raised our curiosity. Laughter increased and competitiveness grew. I felt my little one move letting me know he was there, which made me control my breathing and avoid engaging too excitedly in the different games (Singstar and Just Dance). I was able to soothe him simply by putting my hand on my belly, thus creating contact…
When the quiz was finished many women wanted to tell their own story about childbirth. I was prepared for some less agreeable stories and tried to create some ‘fillers’ because I wanted to feed myself only with positive stories and images. But in fact all the stories were really beautiful, among them also three home deliveries. These stories actually gave me strength and trust.
‘During dinner I felt the contractions intensify. In need of some privacy, I went to the toilet. When I noticed that I was losing blood the thought that immediately crossed my mind was: “Hopefully everything is fine”.‘
Timme had just put some meat on the gourmet plate, but I pointed out to him that it might be better to go home.
Around 10.30 p.m. I dialled the number of the midwifery centre on duty “The Source” and I got Ambre on the line. Don’t worry too much, she said, the loss of blood could actually point towards a burst blood vessel in the womb or loss of amniotic fluid which meant the onset of labour.
She advised me to take a bath so that I could relax and ease the contractions. I added a few drops of lavender oil to the water and felt the contractions recur at a regular pace. However, I tried to focus on my breathing, namely by practising hypno birthing as I had learnt at yoga classes for pregnant women.
Around 1.30 a.m. Ambre appeared by my side and sat down beside me. She asked Timme to dim the lights and lit some candles so as to create a more intimate atmosphere. I was told that the delivery would happen before the end of the day. At first I didn’t like the idea of giving birth on such a special day but I quickly abandoned the thought.
After half an hour I decided to step out of the bath and find some comfort downstairs in the living room. Timme had lit the fire and I decided to sit down there. Ambre and Timme put two rugs in front of the fireplace with a white blanket on top of them. I assumed the ‘cat position’ to cope with the contractions.
‘I especially tried to stay close to myself and my body by controlling my breathing and by bringing positive images to my mind. Images I had visualised beforehand so that they became my own.’
In the background Timme had turned on some relaxing music which we had listened to beforehand.
Ambre examined me to establish how much dilation already had occurred. As I had already reached complete dilation, Ambre advised me not to make the twenty-minute drive to the hospital anymore but stay at home. As I was open-minded to the idea of a home delivery and was mentally prepared for it, it didn’t appear to be frightening at all. On the contrary, the contractions occurred every two minutes so I could no longer imagine myself driving to the hospital. Moreover, the drive could put a stop to everything.
As a home birth requires he presence of two midwives Ambre called Lidewij. In the mean time I experimented with several yoga poses to cope with the contractions which made them bearable. I moved from cat to lion position and tried to rest at intervals on the exercise ball by letting my arms hang over the ball.
During the contractions Timme massaged my back in the region of the sacrum which felt extremely good and his presence was important to me. I took hold of his hands as the contractions became stronger and changed my breathing to the o-sound. During the yoga classes this particular sound had felt uneasy but now it felt comfortable. I tried to stay focused and to let go everything so as to ban all feelings of fear and shame and find my own strength more and more.
‘The presence of Lidewij and Ambre was soothing and Timme’s touching was relaxing. My body was vibrating but I knew this was the result of the adrenalin during advanced labour.‘
Around 5 a.m. Ambre suggested to take a break as it had already been a long night for everyone. They put me on my side with Timme behind me. In this way I could have a ten-minute rest, but I already felt how intense everything became. As I experienced huge pressure on my perineum I changed from the cat to the lion pose to deal with it. Also now I made use of the o-sound which became more powerful with the increasing pressure.
Lut (from yoga classes) had suggested to push only when my uterus indicated it and the urge to push started spontaneously. Whenever the urge to press emerged I felt very comfortable in the lion position. I noticed that the labour contractions were much more intense than the earlier ones. So I tried not to focus on the time but rely on my own body.
The midwives proposed to sit on a birthing stool with Timme behind me on the sofa by the fireplace. In that way I could rest with him behind me. Once on the stool everything happened more quickly; the pressure intensified which created a burning feeling. I experienced how our little one lowering more and more and it gave me confidence to know that it wouldn’t take long anymore before we would be together.
‘After the next contraction the midwives advised me to stand up for a while. For a moment I was thinking “I can’t do this”, but they boosted my confidence by saying I really could.‘
So I pushed myself upward with both legs and tried to sway my hips. I was thinking about the spiral movement I had been taught at yoga classes. Two more times I changed position from sitting down on the stool to standing up and then he was there.
Ambre suggested to take hold of him. First of all I felt a slimy little head, followed by a shoulder and then he was there. As he looked up at me I couldn’t control my emotions any longer.
‘I felt such great happiness and gladness but especially gratefulness for the strength of my own body that felt one with our little one.‘
There he was, our little Cis, born on 1st January 2020 at 6.40 a.m.
Then I was put on my back with a breastfeeding cushion behind me so as to let the placenta come. In my birthplan I had already indicated that I didn’t want to cut the umbilical before the arrival of the placenta. I had to push once again (to let the placenta come), though this almost didn’t work. All of a sudden the placenta came quite fast and I cut the umbilical cord.
There was only one thing left that I wanted to do: take a close look at him from head to toe and then start cocooning. Now I was feeling complete and so proud of ourselves. Of him, little Cis, because he had come so smoothly. Of Timme, because he had supported me so well and made me feel comfortable during labour. And, of course, I felt so grateful to all people who had encouraged me so much during this journey.
Finally, I hope to be able to inspire people, offer confidence during pregnancy and make women believe in their own strength. I want them to be able to create a birth plan that feels good to them and be surrounded by people who can offer support.
I would like to thank:
Midwifery practice ‘De Bron’: Ambre, Lidewij, Catherine, Tess en Sophia
Pregnancy yoga: Lut Van Melle
Gynaecologist: Anne De Vits
Osteopath: Charlotte Borremans
Acupuncturist: Elmira Erstukajeva
Doctor: Hajji Amale
Midwife’s friend: Minke Siesling
What I read during pregnancy:
‘Birth Reborn – What Birth Can and Should Be’ – Michel Odent
‘Bollebuikenboek’ – Leen Massy
‘Ik ga Relaxed bevallen – Minder pijn / Geen angst / Meer controle en zelfvertrouwen’ – Georgina Kwakye
‘Liefde & geboorte – Mindful zwangerschapsyoga voor koppels’ – Lut Louisa Van Melle
‘Van buik tot baby’ – Ouders van nu
Relaxing music as background during pregnancy and labour:
Michael Kiwanuka – LOVE & HATE
Lianne La Havas – ‘No Room for Doubt’ (feat. Willy Mason)
Tina Malia – ‘Sound Of The River’
Alexia Sunshine Rose – ‘I Release Control’
Agnes Obel – ‘Riverside’
Norah Jones – ‘Sunrise’
Norah Jones – ‘Don’t know Why’