Updated: Apr 9, 2021
What's marvelous about this birth is that I felt so supported, respected, and listened to throughout the entire experience which has made it an incredible memory for me. I believe any type of birth can leave a new mother feeling this way - epidural, C-section, whatever way you give birth, it can be a positive experience.
I'm a mom of four and I gave birth to my fourth baby in 2019 at Hospital Nuevo Belén. I chose this hospital because I had two previous great experiences with the One to One team and Dra. Suarez and felt safe in their care.
After weeks of prodromal labor, my baby's due date approached. The night before his due date was a full moon. My family and I all joked it would definitely happen tonight! I had been having contractions all that morning, but they had stopped sometime in the afternoon and I went to bed thinking I would definitely not be going into labor tonight. Around midnight I woke up to go to the bathroom and when I sat down to use the toilet my water broke with a small gush and I saw I was losing my mucus plug. I was so shocked that I immediately texted my husband from the bathroom. I knew it meant this baby would be born in the next day or so for sure. Next I called the on-call midwife, and she said that since I wasn’t having contractions I should slowly start getting ready to go to the hospital and that when I had my first contraction I should call her so we could all go to the hospital.
About twenty minutes later my mom, husband and I went to the hospital when I started having light contractions. My other kids stayed with my in-laws. The midwife confirmed that my water had broken and she performed a cervical check and found that I was 3-4cm. I tried to rest all night with contractions every 20 minutes or so. I was happy to stay at the hospital due to a previous quick birth.
Around 7:00 in the morning my contractions slowed down. I took a shower, ate breakfast and my mom braided my hair. I felt defeated like the contractions weren’t going to ever start on their own. Dra. Suarez came to visit me a little before 10 that morning. I was so happy to see her. She gave me a big hug and said she thought the baby would’ve arrived earlier that morning. Then she sat down and told me that she thought I could get this labor going myself, but it wouldn’t happen if I was chatting and sitting in full sunlight. She advised me to send my mom and husband to the cafeteria for a little while, to put the blinds down, and to try to just get into myself. I didn’t know if this would work, but I was more than willing to try!
Off mom and my husband went to have a coffee and I started trying to jump start labor. I pulled the blinds down, put on calming music, and started trying different positions. I first got on the bed and leaned forward on my head with my hips in the air, swaying them back and forth. Then I sat on the ball and rolled in circles with my legs open to encourage baby to move downward into my hips. Then I would go to the toilet and pee. I did this in a sort of cycle, drinking lots of water all the while.
To my amazement, contractions started soon after I was alone. I kept the cycle up and soon started leaning over the bed while on the yoga ball when contractions came. I laughed during some of the contractions as they gained in intensity because I was so relieved my body was working with me.
I consciously breathed deep and relaxed my hands, arms, and jaw while I repeated birth affirmations like “My body is made for this.” and “Relax. Breathe deeply. Let go. Trust your body.” In this moment I became truly aware of how connected our mind and body really are. I felt powerful and so relieved to have gone into labor on my own.
Around 10:30 I called my mom to tell her that I thought it was time to move to the labor room. I called the midwife and we walked downstairs from the recovery/early labor room to the natural birth unit. The bright lights were a bit of a shock, but I knew getting into the delivery room would be wonderful. Once we were in the delivery room I set up the music and pulled out the yoga ball since it had been useful upstairs. I also called the birth photographer and told her now would be a good time to come to the hospital.
I continued to handle contractions well using the same coping mechanisms I had been using upstairs. The bath was being filled so I kept laboring out of the tub. Our photographer arrived about 10-15 minutes later, right when I got in the tub. My husband stayed by my side, giving me water and just being there for me to lay my hands on during each contraction.
He and my mom dabbed a cool washcloth on my face and I started to lose track of time. I was in labor land, but I was still fully aware between contractions. Nothing seemed too intense or to be too much for me yet.
I sat in the same position I had assumed during my third birth – on my knees leaning over the side of the tub during contractions. I felt at peace and nearly weightless in the water. Between contractions I would sit back some or just rest my head on the pillow provided.
During contractions I tried to relax my whole body and I kept repeating birth affirmations to myself – sometimes out loud! I remember once saying “You can do this.” and a chorus of voices (my husband, the midwife, my mom, the photographer) said back to me, “Yes, you can do this.” and “You are doing this!” I felt wonderfully supported the entire time.
At one point I asked the midwife if she would need to check dilation again since it hadn’t been checked since I arrived at the hospital the night before. She told me it wasn’t necessary and she could tell from my behavior and a small mirror placed underneath me on the bottom of the tub where I was at in my labor. She told me if I started feeling pushy I could just listen to my body.
When I started to grunt, I could tell I was reaching the end. I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore and I said so. My mom said, “Great! You must be near the end. Check that off the list!” I laughed and said I knew it was a good sign. Soon after this the midwife came to check the mirror. She quietly slipped away to the other side of the room and I heard her calling Dra. Suarez. She said, “Se le ve la cabeza.” and I knew baby would be here in a matter of minutes.
Dra. Suarez rushed over from the consultas and when she arrived I was beginning to push. I’m not sure how many pushes or how many minutes, but what seemed like quickly to me I could feel baby moving through the birth canal. The midwife told me there would be a moment when she would tell me to pant instead of pushing normally to avoid tearing and I prepared myself for the final minutes.
Finally I felt the ring of fire and I pushed hard while keeping in mind what the midwife had said about panting so I wouldn’t tear. I pushed my head down into the pillow on the side of the tub and moaned low and loud while pushing.
When his head was born I felt physical relief followed by a split second of dread knowing I still had to push his shoulders and body through. I had a couple minute’s rest before another contraction washed over me and his body slipped out. The midwife quickly pulled him up out of the water and I lifted my leg for her to pass him to me. I snuggled him to my chest. I felt elated. I had exactly the birth I hoped for - supported, respected, and magical.
Did you have a doula? If yes, how was the experience? If no, how do you think having a doula may have changed your experience?
No, I didn't have a doula, but my mom, husband, and midwife were all there to support me which was amazing. I don't think having a doula would have changed the experience, but I do think I wish I had had a postpartum doula because postpartum was a difficult transition with three older kids, a husband working long hours (he only took a partial paternity leave and was working quite a lot) and moving right when baby was born. I felt very alone and wish I had looked for someone to support me.
Did you feel supported in your chosen method of feeding your baby(ies)? Why or why not? How could this have been improved if you didn't feel supported?
Yes, but I also didn't have any issues. I breastfed and baby was a good eater and had a great latch.
All images are from the amazing Julie Haley Photography.
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