Hungarian Mama Anna Csanadi describes how she used what she learnt from the difficult birth of her first child to make the delivery of baby number two a contrastingly positive experience.
My First Birth Experience
I got pregnant with my son in July 2012. We were really happy, busy moving house and midwife practice, and planning our new life. I felt good throughout my pregnancy, no problems at all. All I knew was I wanted to give birth in a hospital, and that I would probably need pain relief as my pain tolerance is quite low. I tried to collect some information about breathing techniques and birth positions. I thought I was prepared. Now I know I wasn't prepared at all.
Finally the day came: One day short of 40 weeks. It started at night; we were still watching TV, so hadn't slept. After around four hours in labour, we called the midwife. She was busy with someone else, and, as I wanted to go to the hospital anyway, we agreed she'd arrange the room and we'd go there directly and the hospital staff would assist.
We arrived there before five in the morning. As it started to get very painful, I asked for pain relief. It was a relief for a while; I could almost sleep a little between the contractions. Just before nine o'clock, I started to feel the need to push. First, I had to wait for the midwife, then finally I could start. But it was not going well. I tried to push while standing, but I couldn't rest between the contractions, so I went back to lying. I was trying for 1 1/2 hours, but I was not even close to giving birth. My son's heartbeat was also dropping, so the midwife called the gynecologist. He came and used the vacuum to get my son out.
So, after twelve hours, he was there. But I was just not happy. He was lying on my chest, and I didn't know what to do with him. He was warm, had that weird, sweet smell and was not crying very loud, just sort of groaning. The only thing I felt was that finally I was done, had no more pain, and just wanted to be left alone and get some rest. I expected something else, like a catharsis.
The doctors took our son to the neonatal care, put him in the incubator, and gave him extra oxygen to support his breathing. During this time, the midwife stitched me - I didn't even know until this point that they had given me an episiotomy. Anyway, we spent one more day in the hospital due to his condition, and the next day we went home.
Although the experience was not traumatic, for a couple of months, I kept saying that I would not have a second child - it was just too much for me. Also, I couldn't really forgive myself for not being happy with him when he was finally there. Of course, as time passes, you obviously change your mind.
A year later, we felt ready for the second one. We didn't have to wait long, but it was not our time. Between the 7th and 8th weeks I had a miscarriage. I thought it could never happen to me, but it did. I tried to find reasons why it happened, but I couldn't. I had to let it go and focus on the future.
Fortunately, three months later, I was pregnant again. Between the 7th and 8th weeks, just like before, I started to bleed again. It happened again on a Friday evening; I couldn't believe it. I just went to bed and hoped for the best. Fortunately, the bleeding stopped but I was not in a good mood. I felt I needed to change something in my life. I decided to eat more healthily and go to prenatal yoga.
After my son was born, I read recommendations about a yoga teacher who came from the same country as me. I checked my notes, and I think it was destiny, as Julia was giving classes in a studio just ten minutes' walk from our home. Julia is not only a prenatal yoga teacher, but a doula, a psychologist, and she gives birth preparation classes as well. I took all her services. We met a couple of times before my due date. We talked about my first experience, my fears and what I wanted to do differently than before. I still had fears, but this time I was prepared, and I felt the power to do it my way.
Birthing with a Doula
It was my birthday on a Friday, three days before my due date. We went out for dinner and had some cake at home. I went to bed before midnight. I woke up two hours later when my partner came to bed. I had to go to the bathroom, like every night, but this time I felt something else. Soon, I realised that this was it. I had some plans for the first few hours, but it started so intensely that, after just one hour of contractions, we had to call the midwife. She didn't really believe that I was already that far, but finally she came to our home. I was 6cm dilated.
After a friend arrived to babysit our son, we went to the hospital. Julia, the doula, couldn't be there, but another Hungarian doula, Aliz, came. She and my partner helped me to reduce the pain during the labour. It was such a big help. After one hour in the hospital, I felt I had to push. This time I was sitting on a birth stool, my partner and midwife either side of me, and my doula behind me. It still took one hour to push and it was the hardest thing I have ever done - but I did it! After just five hours, our daughter was there. I was happy with her and pleased that I had done it without pain relief, all natural.
After she was born, I immediately felt that I could stand up and walk home. Of course, it was not case: when the placenta was born, I lost too much blood, so there was a little bit of an emergency situation in the room. We had to stay for an extra day, like last time, but in the end, it all turned out fine. Our daughter was with us the whole time, skin to skin with me or my partner, and I couldn't be happier. Having a doula at the birth, and the mental work we did before, was the best thing I could have done. I can't recommend enough having a doula with you; for us, it made such a difference. After my first experience, I knew it didn't have to be that way. And now I know I was right.
Anna and her partner are Hungarians who have been living and working in Amsterdam for more than three years, and have no immediate plans to the leave. When Anna is not working, she enjoys baking and crafting.
photo credit: Anna Csanadi