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What Mattered and What Didn't in this truly "mindful birth experience" for first time mom


Mindful Birth labor doula

I will never forget the moment my raw, lanugo covered baby girl was transferred onto my chest. She was warm, foreign yet familiar - and best of all, alive!


As she cried and miraculously wiggled her way up to my right breast, it was in that very moment that I too became alive and we were suspended in a bubble in time. Nothing else mattered … WE made it.


As I held her close to my heart and skin, all my previous fears, misconceptions and insecurities washed away, one thought at a time… and it was in that moment I made peace with what was my unique birth experience.


And making peace looked something like this:


It didn’t matter…

that my baby girl didn’t get the delayed cord clamping as originally intended, because my compassionate team facilitated what was utmost necessary to deliver my baby girl safely and smoothly.


It didn’t matter…

that I “ended up” with an epidural, because I chose it. And I requested it the very moment I was acutely able to decipher the difference between pain and suffering in my own body. And in that moment, despite all my preconceived notions, I chose peace and I’m so glad I did.


In the end, it didn’t matter that my birth plans ultimately shifted, because that’s what “birth” is. It is a massive shift that is both unique and unpredictable.

——-


Going into birth I didn’t know what to expect but the thoughts that were looming in the back of my mind were:

  • What if I can’t do this?

  • What if my body fails me?

  • What if my doctor fails me ?

  • What if the system fails me

  • And worse… what if I die?


Today the black maternal mortality rate is grossly unsettling, standing at 3x the rate of other ethnicities in the United States. Even as recent as a few weeks ago, a US maternity hospital was shut down due to a tragic, and preventable maternal death, which denied doula support to this now deceased mother.

With these bone chilling statistics and heartbreaking stories in mind, I knew I couldn’t “live, laugh, love” my way into a positive birth experience but I had to make it my mission to do whatever I could within my power to foster a positive experience for me.


This involved taking the drivers seat on my health and wellness, asking the necessary follow up questions at my obgyn and most importantly getting the prenatal, birth and postpartum education and support I needed.


And I’m so glad I did.


During my birth, I witnessed the collaborative magic that was not only possible in theory but was happening right before my eyes in real time between my doula Tara, who worked side by side with my amazing hospital nurses and my trusted doctor to facilitate a positive birth journey for me, my husband and my baby and for this I am so grateful.


With a combination of luck and a lot of preparation, we achieved a birth experience that married my preferences of achieving a natural as possible birth in a medical, hospital setting.


And a huge part of this was due to bringing an experienced doula with us to our first birth experience and I thank G-d every day for this decision. My doula Tara brought her dynamic wisdom, and deep compassionate care to our family in the most vulnerable of moments.



Tara Hoverson

While I will never forget the moment my 16 hour bearable labor experience, took a sharp unpredictable turn that resulted in excruciating “bone breaking” back labor and pitocin contractions, I will also never forget that I was not alone. I had my most trusted doula Tara right there with me, communicating our real time options with myself and husband when things got challenging. My doula Tara displayed unimaginable stamina throughout a nearly 24 hour birth experience, applying acute pressure and massages on my lower back back during the most intense contractions, assisting me with crucial position changes post epidural and more. She comforted me with essential oils that brought a calming aroma and energy into the hospital room, and most of all she was my biggest cheerleader in reassuring me that I could indeed do this, and I was not a failure regardless of what would unfold. These are just a few ways I can put into words how deeply supported I was in the most fundamental way. And I truly wish this for every woman.


I don’t “think“ I wouldn’t have gotten through labor without Tara’s doula support and prenatal preparation, I know I wouldn’t have.


Having a support system was a crucial component of my birth experience and dare I say, non- negotiable. In the end, what truly mattered is that when things took an unpredictable turn and the pain was unbearable, my soul was at peace knowing that I had the support I needed to get through. Regardless of my deepest fears, I knew I was in good hands and I was going to be okay.


And as it turns out I was more than okay.

———

childbirth classes SWFL

When I look back at my wondrous birth experience as a seasoned 4th trimester mama I realize one of the greatest gifts Mindful Birth Services & Doula Care gave me, was the gift of self-compassion and acceptance.


I never thought that I’d be sitting here writing this in the ripe early hours of the morning, breastfeeding my baby girl with so much joy 10 weeks later.


I never would have thought that I’d be supported with so much love and understanding during the postpartum experience which helped me dodge what I always felt would be inevitable postpartum depression after experiencing the death of my father just a few months prior.


But that’s what Mindful Birth Services & Doula Care facilitated in my life, and it was absolutely transformative. Not only did I give birth to a new human being but I gave birth to a new me.


And today, I can tell you what truly mattered…


Christine Ghali Mindful Birth Services

What mattered was having all the knowledge and support I could to make the best decisions for my birth and looking back I couldn’t be more grateful to have taken the Birthing From Within course taught by Christine. It was through those incredible virtual classes that I was able to connect and dive into my pregnancy experience wholeheartedly. The rich warmth and guidance within those classes are moments that I will always look back on so fondly. It was a moment in time that every week my husband and I truly looked forward to. Group talks and connection was something that served as unforgettable and priceless.


It was there that I learned what it truly means to have a “mindful birth experience”, regardless of what birth experience you are given. With the tools and resources provided I was able to expose my mind to alternative birth outcome possibilities, and if things needed to happen in a way that deviated from my birth plan, I was mentally prepared having learned how to have a “mindful induction, epidural, c- section etc”. And this was truly priceless.


Between at home prenatal doula visits and heartfelt communication with my doula Tara early on in my pregnancy, I got to know the person who would be accompanying me on the most important journey of my life.


She coached me on holistic preparation from nutritional support like red raspberry leaf tea to physical preparation such as birth ball exercises and pelvic floor openers. She coached me through mindset changes and verbal shifts that would help expand the way I viewed my upcoming birth experience. And when decisions needed to be made, and my schedule became more and more packed, I felt comfortable going to her for advice, where she would provide me with the latest unbiased medical research available and fun and educational podcasts to help me make the best personal decisions for me.


I cannot imagine my husband and I going through such a raw and vulnerable time without her experienced and special support.


labor doula naples florida

When the pressure kicked in to “get that baby out” at 40 weeks, with a scheduled induction at 41 weeks, she helped me lean into movement and techniques such as the “miles circuit“ and more, that would help me promote and ultimately achieve what I wanted, which was a spontaneous onset of labor. But most importantly she encouraged me to lean back, enjoy those last moments and trust the process.


As I currently write my birth story, I am humbled and in awe at how far we’ve come. I’m grateful to have had the postpartum emotional support and encouragement to embrace this unique, beautiful and oh so fleeting experience. With Tara, I was able to honor the “first 40 days” and her weekly visits served as a reminder that I was still in that glorious moment in time - a time where rest, rejuvenation and healing of the “dinner plate” sized-wound within, was imperative. A time where relishing in the newborn experience was my birthright and not a luxury. She also helped me resist the urge to “jump back in”, and instead reminded me to take it slow.



When it comes to the postpartum experience, many of us enter this territory unprepared. And it’s partially due to the fact that pregnancy and childbirth takes all the glory but also because it’s hard to prepare for what you don’t know to expect on the other side.


I’m grateful to have been able to lean on my doula for breastfeeding support, resources and encouragement in the early days when it was very new and unpredictable. Today nearly 3 months into the journey I’m so glad I worked to achieve my dream of being a breastfeeding mama.


———

NCH doula mindful birth

Coming into the labor experience, we all have our plans and intentions - I certainly had mine. But I could have never imagined the detour resulting in something so beautiful.


With a combination of luck, preparation and spontaneity - I got the labor experience that was made and intended for me. My labor experience taught me that I can certainly control a lot but not everything. For me, my birth experience was less about cervical dilation numbers and more about making peace with myself and giving myself grace regardless of what would be my own birth experience.


——-

As pregnant women we hear a lot of stories. The good, the bad and the ugly. Some of which comes with judgement; some justified and some not.


What sticks with me up until this day and a lesson that I will carry with me for the rest of my life is that only you can decide what to do with the cards that you are dealt.


Taking the Birthing from Within course taught me to make peace with the unknown because that is precisely what birth is. It is uncharted territory that is unknown and unique to you.


I am grateful for it all and the journey just begins there.


For you new mama who’s reading this, I just want to say, you got this. Cherish this moment, prepare, but most importantly tune into your innermost self. This season will not happen twice and don’t be afraid to extend full compassion towards yourself. Fully lean in and know that whatever happens you can get through it and you will come out stronger and more beautiful than you could have ever imagined.


-Authored by Goldie, mother of baby Aliza, who changed everything with her arrival on 7/3/23


Tara is the doula in the post



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