Why Does Breath Work With Labor?
Rachel’s choice for a natural birth took practice, intention and a lot of patience with her body. As a massage therapist she understood the power of the mind- body connection and the importance of breath as our biggest asset and tool in life. Hiring a doula was one of her best tools and biggest allies for the unexpected hiccups during labor. With her husband, a doctor in the medical field, taking classes that help shift his mindset towards Rachel being a healthy mom and in a medical setting made all the difference. Going with the flow of how your body and baby are working together is a factor that needs to be decided on before labor ever begins.
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– My whole intention for having a natural birth was to really put into practice everything that I teach my clients and everything that I practice in life, my yoga classes and massage therapy, and really putting into play the power of the mind body connection and the power of our breath, which is our most valuable resource that’s available all day, every day. And a lot of us, myself included, sometimes forget to tune into it, to really get out of my head, and to, like root deeply and be grounded in our body and in our heart space. So I really wanted to give myself the opportunity to feel the whole spectrum of emotions and feelings of birth and also to tune into that feminine power that I know exists in all of us. And so I was pretty excited that I was able to feel that.
Hi, my name is Rachel, I had really hoped for and envisioned a natural birth and an empowered birth with the least amount of intervention possible. My husband is more Western medicine as an internal medicine doctor, and I’m a massage therapist. So to my Eastern medicine mentality. So in my ideal original plan, I probably would have gotten more like home birth or birth center route, but my husband wasn’t comfortable with that. So we kinda met in the middle, which I felt comfortable with. And we ended up getting a doula and then delivering at a hospital in La Jolla. Actually, looking back, I wouldn’t have really changed a thing. And so it’s a really good one to have kind of more natural approaches while also having all hands on deck, if needed.
So, yeah, so we decided to get a doula. Originally, my husband wasn’t sure how he felt about it cause he said he wanted to be my doula. He wanted to be kinda my number one support but the more we talked about it and after we met with our doula who’s amazing, her name is Willow, he felt so much more comfortable, and actually felt very at ease that he could kinda take off the doctor hat and just be the dad and be my husband. And she could kind of be the liaison between all the doctors and the medical professionals and help us make decisions when we needed. So he ended up doing kinda a full circle and feeling really psyched about having her support, and kinda having the best of both worlds.
So yeah, we went into it feeling really good and it was really important to me to feel really connected to Jimmy and have that be a big part of just the feeling looking back on the birth and we definitely were able to do that with the support of Willow. So she, again like I said, really played a huge part in supporting Jimmy and myself, but she kind of always had Jimmy be the number one kinda cheerleader and the one that I got to see and look at throughout the whole process. And she’s kinda in the background giving tips and kinda cheerleading from the back while also managing kind of being the liaison with the medical professionals. I am definitely one with things like huge transition in life, I like to prepare as much as I can. So I kinda did a little bit of everything.
I started by reading, it was actually the book that our doula co-wrote with another nutritionist, and it’s called “How to Conceive Naturally: “And Have a Healthy Pregnancy After 30.” So that was kinda my go to book throughout the whole process and it goes all the way into like the fourth trimester after a brace up in five trimesters actually. So that was really really helpful as far as helping my body stay nourished, kinda my mind, body and soul stay nourished throughout. So that was a really good book I used. And then Willow had really recommended Hypnobirthing and I’ve heard great things about it as well. She also said that the Birth Education Center and specifically cares class, really focus on the connection between you and your husband, which was huge for me.
So, yeah, we decided to do that. And it was like above and beyond what I had hoped for. And my husband, it was a little outside the box for him at first. And it was really cool to watch his kind of transformation from the first class to the end. And just yeah, realizing the power of the mind body connection and how incredibly powerful it is. So, yeah, we learned a lot of breath work and we learned a lot about releasing fears and not taking them into the birth cause whenever we have fears, we go into that fight or flight mode and we tense up and we slow things down. So the class really supported the process of not focusing on the fears, which I loved, but really identifying them and releasing and letting them go. So you could work them out before you’re in your actual labor in the birth. So that was two huge takeaways from the class along with so many other tools, which we eventually apply I think together.
So yeah, the class was was really incredible for creating the mindset and the empowerment piece and the connection between Jimmy and I to really feel confident going into the birth. So I made it till 41 and four days, those that we can have to pretty long, but they did try to schedule actually two inductions and we pushed them back both times, which we’re so grateful that we did and we really were in a state of trusting that she was gonna come into this world she was ready. And you know, looking back that time was pretty special just having to kinda mentally emotionally prepare and just be together with my husband. So it all worked out kind of in the best way it could have. 41 plus four days and she yeah, I think she was holding up for Mother’s Day. She came two hours into Mother’s Day.
And yeah, it started her early in the morning, I was just cramping and very mild contractions that were three minutes apart. One minute each, but very manageable. I could talk through them and I just focused on nourishing myself and eating and drinking and kind of getting in the, the mental strong state that I wanted to be in. I ended up reading through my whole blessing book, which was from all my close friends, which is what really needed. And while things were still pretty calm my husband, he knows me well, he put on all of my favorite live music concerts on the TV and I was rolling out on the ball behind the couch and our dog was there for emotional support.
And that was really one of my favorite parts of labor, I think. It was just being home in the comfort of our own home, just with my husband and our dog, listen to our favorite songs. And then yeah, it’s kinda slowly started to pick up from there. And soon I was not able to breath, or not able to. I could always breath through the contractions, thank Gosh. But I wasn’t able to talk through the contractions and that’s just kinda continuously ramped up. And eventually I’d say from like 7 a.m. until 3 p.m., my husband and I kinda did everything that we knew from the birth class and then we ended up calling the doula who came at around three.
All right, so yeah, Willow arrived around three once things were really picking up. I think when she arrived, we were listening to Florence and the Machine, rolling out on the ball, trying to yeah, tap into the feminine empowerment feeling. She got a kick out of it. And she just immediately started going around the house. She was like getting hydration drink. She was making sure I was eating while I still was up for eating chunk cold washcloths. So she kind of kept just handing everything to Jimmy so then he could ultimately support me. And so looking back, I know she was doing so much but in the moment, it really at times did just feel like Jimmy and I. Yeah, at one point, she looked at me cause she saw I was getting emotional and she said, what are you thinking about right now? And I like just kinda lost it in tears and I was like, I just, like, feel so supported and like so loved by like the collaborative energy of women, which we really got to feel on the class, being with so many other women who are pregnant and I had a really cool image of my nana coming in and kinda being there, and my mom who was on the other side of the country, but like her presence was there. So it was just a really special moment.
And I don’t know, Willow somehow sensed that I was having like a really emotional experience and it was cool that she kinda brought it to the surface for me to really experience it. So then she helped us kinda transition. She just was letting everything flow throughout the house. She brought us into our bedroom, every ball position that I remember with Jimmy on the bed and she would be playing the different breath playlists I had going. She would be massaging my neck and my low back while Jimmy was like holding my hand in front. So it was just like I felt like just supported from all angles. And then she would start the shower and said, Alright, let’s, you know three, two, one, next interaction, we’re gonna go over to the shower. So just we didn’t have to think about logistics. And we just couldn’t be more in the moment with each other, which is, I think, really huge and a whole experience.
So eventually, things were amping up a bit more. So at 7 p.m., we decided to pack our bags and get in the car and go to the hospital. So she, set up pillows in the backseat. So it was on all fours as comfortable as it possibly be. And then yeah, showed up at the hospital. So, yeah, I had been in what felt like active labor for a good few hours at that point, 12 hours since like the initial first cramping contraction, And we show up at the hospital, I’m thinking we are like, well on our way, and we get there and they checked me and they said, not dilated enough to be admitted. So my heart kind of sank because I felt like we had been doing a lot and I thought we had made a lot more progress than we had.
But again, Willow stepped in and looked at me eye to eye and gave me a really good kind of empowering pep talk that you have made progress. The numbers don’t mean as much as you think they do, you’re fully effaced. That’s actually the biggest progress you can make. So that was something that kind of transformed my whole state of mind cause I was feeling like we were basically starting from square one again, and she allowed me to let that go right away. So they luckily gave us an exam room to basically do our thing. They kinda gave us space, closed the door, and then we’ll come back and check you in an hour and basically kinda do what you can do.
So we basically started pulling every tool we possibly could, like all the softening, all the opening images, really working to help her to drop down into the birth canal because she was still really high. So Willow started implementing some of the spinning baby techniques. I think it was called a belly lift. Again, she had Jimmy do it. It was like Jimmy and I are eye to eye and it was really intense. So we had like lifted my belly up and then really imagining her kind of drop down to the birth canal. My water still hadn’t broken yet. So we’re kind of hoping that what might happen soon to let things kind of progress a little bit more. So we did a lot of belly lifts and then she put down again my breath playlist and was like, just go for it like dance, get those hips moving, just like get everything moving and flowing as much as you can. I had my 40 Blinks on.
So Jimmy was kind of like slow dancing with me. There’s some really cute pictures having all that . I may not even remember I said that she took them pictures. So again, eventually I think it was two hours later came and checked me and I was enough. Again, I didn’t want to know the numbers. But she told Willow and Jimmy and then I was diluted enough. I felt like graduate to like the labor and delivery. It was like, yes. So that was like a really, really just uplifting feeling knowing that we were ready to go to our final destination. So they kinda wheeled me over I believe, or I forget, maybe I walked.
And as soon as we got to labor and delivery room, and I went into the bathroom, and sat down, my water broke, and it was like the biggest relief of just so much of that pressure was relieved. And things started to progress a lot more at that point, ramped up the intensity for sure. I had no choice but to call on every tool that we learned in class and I was just so grateful that I had them. So a lot of the deep deep breathing, we didn’t shower, we went into the shower, which really helped. And like the warm water on my back really, really helped. So then they kind of kept checking me, I think every hour or so.
Again, I really had no concept of time. And it was like, inch by inch, or like centimeter by centimeter, you know, slowly progressing, 77 centimeters and 80 centimeters. And I kept thinking I would be ready to push and not yet, not yet, so. I had the long beautiful mantras written out and they were way too long. So I had shorten them. I know I dissolve this comfort was one of them. Every surge brings me closer to meeting Lyla. I think those two are kind of in the constant rotation.
I definitely transported to the beach at one point to just try to get in my happy place and visualize her going down as I was visualizing the sun going down, which got my husband and Willow to have a little laugh, I think. Yeah, so breath work and the visualizations, the opening, the flower blossoming, like the J breathing. Well, that was a little bit later on, but a lot of just breathing to help the energy move down. I did have this like funnel image, like this funnel of energy coming down and kind of dissolving any discomfort, dissolving any with resistance and kind of moving everything down and out. And that made a big mantra in mind is like where your attention goes, your energy flows. So rather than focusing on the pain or the intensity, which to me like what we resist, persists. So rather than resisting that, I kept trying to shift my focus to like, I have the powers to breathe through the discomfort. The powers within me like trust my body.
So it just kinda keep coming back to focusing on my power to move through the discomfort rather than focusing on the discomfort, which seemed really helpful. Then when we finally got the okay to push. It was one of the best feelings to hear from the doctor and then yeah, I feel like my body just kinda took charge and I kind of just surrendered to what it was able to do and I really enjoyed the pushing phase. It was only 20 minutes. I don’t even recall pain. I was so excited that we were on the final stretch and we were literally gonna meet her within like minutes, or at least I hoped, and it was. It was 20 minutes and it was five surges. And I mean, I was, I think holding Jimmy’s hand in one and Willow’s hand in the other and like Jimmy was holding my foot. I think I almost threw his back out, but he made it through. And yeah, my body just did its thing.
I think it’s just incredible like our hormones know when to peak or our adrenaline knows when to peak and knows when to fall and our muscles knows when to contract and when to hold back. And I think that was something that I’m really glad I didn’t have any medication because I feel like I was able to just tune in and feel it all and know when to fall back and know when to go all in. And I didn’t have tearing at all, which I was shocked and excited about. And I remember in the final moments when I needed like that last just like full kind of burst of power, I remember reaching down and feeling her head, which I care has adjusted and it did exactly what she said. It just like lit me up and like the final push she came right out. And yeah, the umbilical cord is actually a little bit short so she couldn’t come up here, but here’s right like on my belly and it was just like pure euphoria.
I like it’s here, I thinking about it. It was the best feeling in the entire world and she like right away made her way to snuggle and not latch, but like put her mouth like right there and her hands held my finger. And it just was complete bliss. And Jimmy was right there. And like yeah, I remember just looking in his eyes and looking at her and it was like we’re here. Like the moment where we’re waiting forever, well, nine months plus a lot more was here and it was like far more than I could have imagined. But yeah, I would say I was like euphoria, and just like elated and the smile show from the pictures that looks back up.
My best advice would definitely be to prepare mentally, emotionally, physically. And the best way I found was by taking the class. I don’t think I ever would have dedicated, I think it was five weeks, three hours each week. So 15 hours to like connecting with my husband and connecting with Jimmy and taking what we’re reading into practice. So it just was like that dedicated time and it really helped me and I be on the same page and just be so in sync. And also identify things that we didn’t even realize about each other, like identifying fears and releasing those fears, to me was probably the biggest transformative tool from the class. Again, we didn’t focus on the fears, but we took time to identify them and then really release them together. So we didn’t bring them into birth.
And then all the hands on like we do practicing massaging and help really identify what touch I really liked. And then also relating to all the other parents was huge and just feeling part of a community where you felt just so supported and never alone in any of the feelings that you had. All that stuff you just can’t get from just reading a book. So that was huge. Definitely highly recommend that class. And then getting a doula was huge. I felt like it just allowed us to really get out of our head and kind of more be in the moment with each other and then me more be in my body. So we weren’t thinking about all the logistics leading up to the birth and the logistics during the birth. And there’s so many times when we were trying to prepare where we’d say, “Well, what about that?” And I go, “Willow will be there.” And what about that or what if this happens, “Well, Willow will be there?” So just like allowed us to take all that out of our like head space and then just be excited and not really be concerned with the what ifs cause we knew she was there with so much experience.
And then another big advice and tip I would say for parents that we learned in the class, and that completely spoke true was that you have so much power of choice in every step of the way. And unfortunately, there are a lot of interventions that naturally will just be done or just happen, and they don’t necessarily need to. And it was really transformative for my husband who is in the medical field to realize like, it’s okay to just stop and take a moment with your husband and ask for a minute to make a decision together. And at the end of the day, you have full trust in the medical professionals and the doctors that if there is an emergency, they’re gonna take charge and they’re gonna have your safety and the baby’s safety above all else. But you never hurts just to ask for a moment or just slow things down or to ask if we did nothing, what would happen. And so really, the class really helped to just make us feel really empowered, and that we had the choice in every step of the way, and they honored it, too. I think it really made a difference when you went into it and they knew that you were educated, like knowledge is power. Knowledge is definitely power. So I think that really helped things to flow and we’d look back and have just all good feelings about it all. Really happy feelings, actually.