by their mom, Angela
When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I knew I wanted a painless childbirth. I knew I wanted a drug-free, natural birth. When I started looking into “natural childbirth”, I became a bit disturbed at the misinformation available. That’s when I found out that people didn’t know the difference between vaginal birth and natural birth. They think that if they birth vaginally, that it is a natural birth even if they use drugs, but this is not the case.
I believe that the reason a lot a people have pain in childbirth is because they don’t do the research and learn and prepare for it. When they are in labor they don’t know what is happening, they get scared, they resist, and they feel pain. I believe that childbirth can be painful when you’re not prepared physically and emotionally. Doing the research, practicing physically for several months before and preparing emotionally are important. People will prepare financially for a baby and they prepare their home, but not their bodies and minds.
My husband and I started researching what birthing support choices were available. I had heard about Lamaze, but it just didn’t resonate with me. So then my mom told me about using Reiki for Childbirth. I called Cori Nielsen for more information and learned more about Sacred Childbirth with Reiki and the Bradley Method. It called to me because it incorporated relaxation (allowing the body to do what it already knew how to do) and energy work (to help support the process instead of interfere with it).
Once we decided on Sacred Childbirth with Reiki™ and The Bradley Method, our main goal was to practice almost daily: massage, relaxation exercises, and visualization. I found that in order to have a successful birth, it is important that your birth partner (even if it is not your husband or significant other) is in tune with you and that you practice together for several months. There are a lot of details that everyone needs to get down: where you need to be massaged, how hard, relaxation cues, signs that you will need support, etc. I think it is important that you are with someone who supports you in whatever birth outcome you are wanting. It is very important that your partner understands the process even if he/she does not understand what you are going through physically.
Joe did that for me. We educated ourselves about what was out there and we decided months before what kind of childbirth we were going to have. We learned about the stages of labor, so when I went into labor, Joe was aware of the stages and was able to support me through them. Also, I didn’t have to worry about making any kinds of decisions when I was in labor because we had already agreed beforehand what was acceptable and what was not; including everything from a shot to a C-Section.
Physically I made sure that I was eating properly: enough proteins, folic acid, carbohydrates, healthy fats, fiber and calories. I was exercising. In the beginning I was going to the gym and doing cardio, weight training, and Pilates. After a few months, I stopped the Pilates and was started Yoga for Pregnancy. Toward the end, daily walks and yoga were sufficient. My muscles stayed strong and supple and my mind relaxed.
I did the research to understand what my body was going through (and what it would go through during labor and delivery). I surrounded myself with people that supported the fact that a drug-free, painless childbirth is attainable.
Joe and I also took Reiki I so we could do Reiki on ourselves, each other and the baby. Shortly thereafter we started the Childbirth sessions with Cori and learned the breathing, the visualization, the affirmations, and the precise Reiki hand placements for channeling the energy. I would get so relaxed during the sessions that I would fall asleep.
One hot summer night during July 2002, I had had my first really strong contraction. Up to that point they were pretty mild and they didn’t stop me from doing anything. But that one hit me. Everything just clamped up and stopped me cold. At that point I was really hesitant about labor because I realized that everything I was feeling before was child’s play and that it was going to get a lot more intense. That is when Cori gave me Reiki and talked my through the breathing, the visualizations, and the affirmations. As I relaxed, the contractions felt manageable. I even fell asleep later while she was doing the Sacred Childbirth with Reiki session. From then on as Joe and I practiced the breathing, the visualization and the affirmations I started feeling more confident, more secure in my choice in childbirth methods.
I took the information that was given me through the Sacred Childbirth with Reiki sessions and I kept reminding myself that information throughout the day, especially when others would tell me their painful stories. It was really important that I took the information from Reiki and kept telling myself that I was going to have a painless birth and the kind of birth that was important to me. First thing in the morning I would remind myself that my body already knew how to do this and because of that I was going to have a painless childbirth. Then, throughout the day, if I came in contact with people that reinforced the negative, painful childbirth idea I would remind myself that I could have the kind of childbirth that I wanted, and that I didn’t have to have the kind of childbirth they had. As I was lying down to sleep for the night, I would go over the visualization and the affirmations that were given to me during the Sacred Childbirth with Reiki sessions.
On September 4th, I was just about three weeks past my due date. I noticed that when the baby moved I would leak a little. My friends told me that the baby was sitting on/kicking my bladder. On September 5th, we were rear-ended on our way to the doctor for a check-up. They did an ultrasound and a non-stress test. The baby was doing fine. That night when I was lying in bed I noticed that although the baby had not moved I felt fluid leaking. It was considerably more than it had been before. I called my doctor that night and was told to come in first thing in the morning. We found out the bag was ruptured and I was leaking amniotic fluid. Because of the risk of infection, I had to be induced with Pitocin. I actually cried in the doctor’s office because I didn’t want to be induced. I was scared that by being induced I wouldn’t be able to have the kind of birth that I wanted. After a few phone calls to friends and family we got admitted to the hospital and I was induced.
My labor started about 5:00 p.m. I was induced with Pitocin. In the beginning, before transition, I had a lot of back labor. Joe knowing Reiki was so helpful. Not only could he walk me through the visualizations and remind me of the affirmations, he could give me Reiki on my back, which helped a lot. As the nurses kept upping the dosage, the contractions became very close together and so strong that I felt like I really didn’t have a chance to breathe or relax. It took all of my concentration to stay in the moment and to let go and flow with the contractions. There was a point where I didn’t think I could do it without medication. That’s when the visualizations came in so handy and to have Joe with me who was reminding me of those visualizations and affirmations, reminding me about the stages of birth and reminding me that I was almost there. I was able to relax and go with the flow of the contraction. In fact, during this time right before transition, I actually relaxed enough through the contractions to fall asleep for a half hour.
When I started to transition, we stopped doing Reiki because I had to focus just on what my body was doing. I kicked everyone out of the room (even the nurses). The lights went off. The CD was turned off. I had the urge to push but was told by the doctor that I wasn’t fully dilated (only 5cm). After trying not to push for the first couple of contractions, I decided to trust my body and push. I was told at 3:25 that I could not push. By 3:50, I was ready to push and ignoring everyone telling me not to. Makayla Nichole was born on September 6, 2002 at 4:01 a.m. weighing 8lbs. and 10oz. She was 20 ½ inches long.
They put her on my tummy when she was born. I still cannot accurately describe what I felt at that moment. Relief. Immense joy. Indescribable, heart-filled love. She was so alert. She was looking around. Her eyes were so bright. She looked so healthy. Pink, happy. She even smiled once. Her apgar came in at a 10. She roomed in with us the entire time (if I was in the bed, she was in my arms. If I got out of bed, she was with Joe).
Makayla has always been very alert. At 12 days old she was able to track a helicopter that flew over. She started rolling over at 1½ months old. She started crawling at 4 months. And at seven months old, she was already taking steps. She only cried when she got really hungry or really tired. Other that that she was a happy-go-lucky, loves everything baby.
Talking to my doctor, I was told that only 20 percent of first time moms can have a natural birth. Knowing what I know now, I truly believe it’s because they haven’t prepared. They do not have the support they need. Labor/childbirth really is like a marathon. You wouldn’t get up one morning and successfully run a marathon. You need to prepare. You have to exercise and eat right. It comes down to what’s important to you. It was important to me to eat right and to work out and stay strong so that Makayla would be healthy. It was also important to me to have a drug free birth to give her that extra boost in the first stages of her life. I think it is very important for a woman to know her body intimately so that she can listen to her body and know what it needs and what she needs to do to fulfill that.
I know that a pain-free childbirth is possible if educate yourself and prepare yourself, in all aspects, so that you can have the birth you want. I now have 3 children and all were born pain free and naturally. It really is doable if you have the right tools and support.
Makayla is now eight years old and is joined by two brothers. This is what Angela says:
Makayla is just so in touch with her world around her…she still loves Reiki. She uses it, occasionally, herself. She’s the one most “in tune” with the Reiki. We did use Reiki for both boys, but the births were so different. For instance, with Adrian, I did more very deep toning (humming) and rocking on all fours. It just felt right for me…and even to this day, a great way to help calm him is by doing that (humming and rocking). Aaron is perpetual motion. Throughout my entire labor I just wanted to move; walk and rock. We did use Reiki for Aaron, but not as much as we did for Makayla (I just couldn’t sit still long enough). Aaron prefers to be rocked or walked to calm down. It’s amazing at how different all of the births were and how the methods used to help ME relax during labor, are the same ones that help them to relax now.
Makayla and Adrian are both very gentle, very loving souls. They are much more sensitive to their environments. Aaron is a much more self-assertive. He’s very strong and while he is very loving, laid back, easy going and happy-go-lucky, he has no problem with asserting himself when he feels he needs to.
I am due with twins January 2011 and fully intend to have them naturally, as well. Labor/childbirth really is 90% mind over body. You have to prepare for it mentally as much as you do physically. It is work, but it is totally do-able and it is totally worth it.