We started the LoveBirthing course whilst working in the UAE and travelled back to our home country for holiday. Due to Covid travel restrictions at the time we ended up staying in South Africa for our baby's birth which was due in a few months. We then had to search for a new birthing team in SA who supported our vision of a natural unmedicated birth, and with Jasmine's guidance and encouragement, I felt a lot more confident doing so.
Fast forward to 39 weeks pregnant - I was experiencing intermitted early labour symptoms for about a week. I was feeling uncomfortable, emotional, anxious and excited at the same time - ready to meet our baby. Then on a very rainy winters day I started feeling light contractions mid morning (39w6d), which I started to measure about half an hour after the onset and saw a pattern after 30 mins. That's when I told Ruben I think this is it - I'm finally in labour!
In between surges we finished packing the last items of my hospital bag. I put the TENS machine on, which helped tremendously to keep me more comfortable. We used our tools from the Hypnobirthing course while labouring at home – we focused on creating a quiet, dim environment with our playlist in the background, and I was breathing through each surge, taking it one at a time. We also incorporated some movement and comfort measures during and between surges.
Ruben was fantastic throughout. He supported me during surges, made sure I stayed hydrated and gave me something to eat in-between. He also stayed in contact with our doula.
Contractions picked up in intensity quite quickly, much more than I expected or were prepared for as a first-time mom (especially since all the other moms in my group took much longer with their first labour).
I took a long warm shower that provided temporary some pain relief. About 4 hours after surges started, my was at 4:1:1 and we decided to head to the hospital.
We chose a Dr and hospital who supported our envisioned birth, however this was an hour and a half’s drive away – quite an intense drive while in labour.
When we arrived at the hospital, I was checked and at 3cm dilation with my waters bulging and baby's head very low. Although I was expecting to be further dilated considering the intensity of my contractions, I was still relieved for where I was at.
We were left to labour with our doula, continued some movement and using the birthing ball. Surges became even more intense, I even beared down once or twice during a surge. Our doula encouraged me to move around or get in the shower, but standing became too difficult. I laboured on the toilet for a while, which helped to relax as much as I could at that stage.
I started feeling the need to get support, so I asked for gas & air, whilst we waited for the Dr to come. By now I was fully in birthing land. The gas took the edge off the discomfort and I managed to continue for a while.
When the Dr arrived and examined me, she broke my waters to encourage further dilation (I was still at 3cm 2 hours after arriving at the hospital) and it provided some relief for a while, but soon the intense surges continued.
I tried move as much as I could once my waters have been broken, to speed up dilation as the surges were very powerful. About half an hour later the Dr examined me again and I was still at 3cm. I knew then I needed some support to get through the rest of my labour considering I had to dilate more but with the intensity of the surges, it became very challenging to relax and rest between the surges coming on top of each other.
Ruben and I agreed with input from our doula we want to proceed with an epidural which was suggested at this stage, we both realized it was the best tool for my labour at the time.
We stalled the epidural for another while to try and get some more movement, however it came as a much needed relief and a surrender to the path my birth was taking when the anesthesiologist finally came.
The epidural primarily only numbed my right side, which meant I had still had feeling on the left side and it stayed that way till birth. I was actually really happy about this, as I felt engaged during the rest of labour and had movement in my legs, therefore I was able to get in different positions whilst being on the bed.
I was able to feel pressure and baby move down in the birth path. The fetal monitors were a bit of a hindrance though, as they would lose contact whenever I was moving.
We rested for about 3 hours, whilst the surges became even stronger and closer. I used my visualizations, music and dim lights to create a comfortable atmosphere. Just after 11pm I was checked again, and I was almost fully dilated, at 9cms! This progress felt like such a relief, and we were all really happy about it.
As the contractions became more intense during the next hour or so, baby's heartbeat dropped a bit and eventually Dr became somewhat concerned about him getting distressed. She suggested when I'm ready and feeling the urge, that we start pushing as I was fully dilated by now.
My surges came in waves of 4 or 5 at a time, with a few moments of rest in between. My birthing team was amazing, and each person encouraged me in their own way. It’s all in the name of ‘labour’- really hard work but with such a big and amazing reward awaiting you.
When Dr mentioned she can see baby's head, I touched him- what a wonderful euphoric and emotional moment. Ruben commented afterwards how motivated and inspired I was after that. A moment written in my heart forever.
After about 20 minutes of active labour, our baby boy was born healthy, safely and most importantly in a gentle and unassisted manner. It was one of the biggest, proudest moments of my life being able to birth our baby the way I did and meeting our special little boy! I felt strong, capable, confident, supported and so satisfied to have had a vaginal delivery I was hoping for.
We are so thankful for the privilege to have had a positive birth outcome and bringing our baby gently into the world. Reflecting back only strengthens our decision-making at the time, which we made as well informed parents being able to advocate for ourselves and our baby. I'm really proud of being able to handle those powerful contractions the way I did. The epidural served as a tool in our tool kit, one I was happy and thankful for (although we only agreed in using it when we’ve exhausted our other options), as it enabled me to get some much needed rest and in doing so encouraged dilation.
We can wholeheartedly recommend Jasmine's course to any expectant couple globally who is looking to get informed about birth and labour. Jasmine is knowledgeable and presents information in such an engaging manner, which leaves both partners informed and prepared for whatever path their birth takes on the day.
She instilled confidence in me and my husband, and he was able to support me in such a fantastic way because he was prepared for his role in the birth of our baby. Jasmine also empowered us with knowledge and confidence to be able to advocate for ourselves and our baby and get the right birth team to support the type of birth we were looking for in a very medicalized environment (South Africa has an 80% C-section rate in private medical sector).
Thank you Jasmine from the bottom of our hearts, we couldn't have done it without you and will forever be grateful!
A few words from Ruben:
You don’t know what you don’t know about birth and labour - until you do Jasmine’s LoveBirthing course. Initially I was concerned for Christelle and the baby’s wellbeing and safety during labour. One of the first things from the course was how natural and safe the birthing process can be and that in fact she would be capable of having a safe natural labour. It also opened my eyes to how skewed and medicalized society portrays labour in general.
On the day of labour I felt confident and informed. I was able to support my wife both at home and at the hospital. I effectively shielded my wife from unnecessary conversation with the medical staff and more importantly, I was able to push back (or delay) medical intervention in line with Christelle’s preferences.
The other main take away from the course was the importance of finding the right doctor (and/or doula) in a medicalized setting to support the birth you’re looking for.
Thank you Jasmine for the confidence you instilled in us, it was an incredible privilege meeting our baby boy and I’m so proud of Christelle making the birth look easy.