Sunday, 16 December 2012

A Blessed Birth

Every birth is a blessing and it has been 10 months ago when I experienced mine. Just thinking of giving birth is dreadful. Plus, watching YouTube videos did not help to calm my nerves either (tell me if you did it too). What helped me though was reading about the process of birth. My forethought was if I am informed about the process that my body will go through then I won't freak out as much. Monthly pregnancy check-up passed by with good news and as I reached 37 weeks of my pregnancy I was diagnosed with hypertension. My blood pressure skyrocketed and my midwife found protein in my urine. My midwife explained that this is something that just happened when you are pregnant even if I took great care of your health. So, from then on, I was monitored by the OBGYN until my daughter is born. As it so happened in The Netherlands, monitoring does not mean you will be sleeping on a hospital bed for days. So, unfortunately for me, I have to go back and forth to the hospital to have my baby monitored for heart rate, size and movements. Praise to Allah, they were all fine. The thing about having hypertension during pregnancy is I am at risk of having a risky birth, even death. However, I have faith that my birth will be going well. The only bummer was I could no longer give birth at home. From then on, the hospital will take over and I was determined to have my birth as natural as possible. Fast forward, I was moments away from being a mother, from having this wonderful bundle of joy and also from having countless sleepless nights. It was 5.30 a.m on 19th February 2012 as I rose from bed slowly when I heard a popping sound. Then I thought “Ow, my water just broke.” I was going to the toilet anyway, when I saw my mucus plug. I woke my husband up and he quickly rang the midwife. Even though my water broke, I did not feel any contractions whatsoever. So we had our breakfast and took the bus to the hospital where they tested my amniotic fluid and monitored my baby and my contractions. I walked around the hospital to speed up the process but I can only do as much. The birth is certainly not progressing. The gynaecologist gave us the permission to go back home and come back when there  is real contractions. And so we did and we even attended our Chop’s and Ilah’s  lunch party bringing along our baby’s car seat and my hospital bag in case the birth pursued. We were just happy to have lunch provided for us after what seem like a long day at the hospital. We stayed quite long that it seemed like we won’t be heading home any sooner. And then I felt something , a kind of a cramp in front of my stomach. I thought to myself, “This is it!! The baby is coming!!!” I remained calm, prayed for Maghrib and Isyak with my husband being the Imam and recited Surah Maryam . It was just nice having everybody around as you are having your contractions. We were brought to the hospital soon after by Uncle Alan . I was checked by the gynaecologist and she said the contractions were not strong enough. I knew she was right because I could still talk and laugh through my contractions and there were still quite far apart and short. The doctor asked me to rest and to have a good night sleep to retain my energy for pushing my baby out. The next day I was already 4 cm dilated. The contractions were stronger, longer and more intense this time. However, the birth progress was still quite slow, so the team decided to give me some Pitocin to speed up the labour. The amount of Pitocin was very low because I did not feel a sudden intense pain from it. It felt like a normal labour to me and I could clearly tell the phase I was in. It was painful but it was not as painful as I imagined it to be. The room was cold but somehow I was sweating from the pain. Breathing certainly helped and chanting words that reminded me of my Creator never stopped leaving my lips. I held my husband’s hand tightly while he recited the Koran by my bedside. I was determined to go through the pain because I knew that Maryam a.s and Hajar a.s  went through a greater and harder ordeal giving birth to Isa and Ibrahim. The pain got so intense that I felt I was in an entirely different world. I felt a state of nirvana, of being “high” as if I was on drugs. Somehow, the pain was so painful that it turned into something so soothing. I read somewhere that it was the endorphin working. Endorphin is released naturally as painkillers to help women coped with labour pain. It is something very crucial for a birthing women to experience because as with many drugs, endorphin created a state of dependency. This is what give mothers the feeling of being attached to their babies.  As mentioned by Lothian (2005):

“The hormonal orchestration of labour and birth sets the stage in a more immediate way for the process of breastfeeding for both the mother and her baby. During labour, surging levels of oxytocin are responsible for increasingly strong and effective contractions. With rising levels of oxytocin and the increasing pain that accompanies the strong contractions, endorphins are released. High levels of endorphins help women cope with painful contractions and contribute to their becoming more instinctive and entering into an almost dream-like state. As the baby moves down the birth canal, very close to the actual birth, catecholamines are released. The surge in catecholamines creates an energy boost for the mother. Additionally, the baby is born with high levels of catecholamines (Newton, 1987; Odent, 2003). The result is a bright, alert baby and an energized mother ready to greet him.

Anyway, it was just the two of us in the labour room while the nurses monitored my contractions in the other room. Suddenly, I let out a big sigh and in came the nurses and the gynaecologist. I was fully dilated at the moment. I felt the urge to push and so I did. Moments later, out came Najla, bright-eyed and scared of the new world she was about to experience. The gynaecologist congratulated me for being so strong. Truthfully, we were just grateful that we survived it. I was told that I did not bleed heavily during birth (approximately 500 ml) and I had no tearing at all which could be due to the perineal massage.  Alhamdulillah it turned out to be the kind of birth that I hoped for. How was your birth experience? Let’s share it.
See you in the next post.

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