Criselda shares with Adriana the details of her three-day-long birth, which she describes as amazing and transformative. It also truly illustrates how birth is not linear, as it can easily go from prodromal to precipitous! Find out what helped her get through the frustration of not knowing when it was really going to start, the joy of having her partner catch the baby, and why tearing was the one thing that really took her by surprise.
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- How Long Does Prodromal Labor Last? Birth Terminology Explained, Lamaze
- Waterbirth International
- Believe It Or Not, You *Might* Be Able To Sleep Through Labor… Sort Of, Romper
- Wait for White campaign
- Optimal cord clamping: what’s the evidence? Dr. Sara Wickham
- Birthing the placenta: women’s decisions and experiences, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
- Active versus expectant management for women in the third stage of labour, Cochrane
- An actively managed placenta may be the best option for most women, Dr. Rachel Reed
- Evidence on: Pitocin® During the Third Stage of Labor, Evidence Based Birth
- Placentas and cord blood, The Midwives’ Cauldron
- What Is Uterine Atony? VeryWellHealth
- Perineal Protectors? Dr. Rachel Reed
- Effectiveness of nitrous oxide for postpartum perineal repair: a randomised controlled trial, European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
- Acupuncture or acupressure for induction of labour, Cochrane
- Acupuncture To Induce Labor | Does It Work? BellyBelly
- Benefits of Massage During Pregnancy, American Massage Therapy Association
- Prenatal massage: what are the benefits and risks? LiveScience
- Calmbirth antenatal classes
Related Birthful episodes:
- Water Birth— What Is It Exactly?
- Understanding Acupuncture From a Physiological Lens (and Why You Shouldn’t Fear the Needles!)
- Baby’s Position and Labor Flow
- Protecting Your Perineum
- Real Talk About Vaginal Tears and Episiotomies
- The Baby’s Birth Experience
- Delayed Cord Clamping
- [Postpartum] Hemorrhages Explained
All photos are used with permission, courtesy of Criselda F. and ©Robuck Photography.
[Birth Stories] Prodromal… and Fantastic?!
Adriana Lozada: Hello, Mighty One! We’ve got another lovely birth story for you today as we continue on our break from topical interviews, and you may remember that we are going to be doing that until September. Enjoy the episode!
Adriana: Welcome to the Birthful Podcast! I’m Adriana Lozada, and today we continue on our birth stories for the summer series. Criselda Fernandez is here to tell us about her three-day-long birth that she describes as “amazing” and “transformative.” Find out what helped her get through the frustration of not knowing when it was really going to start and how tearing was the one thing that caught her off-guard.
Stay tuned. The Birthful Podcast, talking to maternity pros to inform your intuition.
Hello, Mighty Mamas and Mamas-to-Be. Thank you, as always, for all the love you give the show, the messages you sent me, telling your friends about it. I truly love and appreciate it all. So thank you, thank you. Alright! So today on the show, we continue with our Birth Stories for the Summer series.
Hopefully this will help balance out the dramatic and often scary view of birth that is so often presented by traditional media and unhelpful strangers. So today’s story comes from Criselda Fernandez, who lives in Sydney, Australia, and she wanted to share her fabulous story of prodromal labor.
And those are two sentiments that don’t often go together, so I can’t wait to hear all about it. Criselda, welcome.
Criselda: Hi, Adriana! Thanks for having me. It’s great to share my story.
Adriana: Oh, thank you so much for being here and agreeing to do this! So, you sent me the request to share the story… You also sent me a bunch of pictures of your birth, and, oh my goodness! It looks like such a fabulous…! We were commenting, before we started recording that […] obviously birth is hard, but I was struck by how much smiling and laughter there were in the pictures.
Criselda: I think it was just my personality coming through in the birth, which was really good, yeah. I could just relax and enjoy parts of it.
Adriana: I’m so glad. So let’s jump right in. Tell me: How did this all start? And you said it was a really long birth. So how did you even know you were in labor?
Criselda: It started when I was 39 weeks. I had a pregnancy massage on the Tuesday afternoon. The next morning I woke up, it was Wednesday, I felt a bit off, really uncomfortable.
And I felt like I had some, like, period back pain– just feeling really hot and crampy. That morning as well, I went to the bathroom and I had lost my mucus plug. So I knew that was a definite sign that labor was approaching. We called the midwife at that point, just to let them know that things are progressing with the mucus plug.
And they were like, “Oh, that’s fine. You could have a baby, you know, tomorrow or in a few days’ time– just keep it going about your day and relax as normal.” During that day, that’s when the contraction started, so they really just started really slowly and weren’t really that uncomfortable at all. So I just went about my day as normal.
I tried to walk around a lot. That was one thing I wanted to keep doing, was, like, keep active, keep upward, keep moving around with each contraction. By the end of the day, when my partner came home, she was like, “Oh, we better start timing these! These are starting to get more regular.” So we timed them and they’d actually start to come every 20 minutes. And then every ten minutes. So once they hit every ten minutes, they stayed that way pretty much for all of Wednesday and all of Thursday, and then until Friday morning.
I actually had my scheduled 40 week midwife appointment. Actually, that morning I was really exhausted, because I hadn’t had any sleep– like, I couldn’t really sleep, like I’d rest through between the contractions, but I couldn’t actually fall into a sleep at all.
Adriana: Right, because they’re coming every ten minutes!
Criselda: Yeah, exactly. So when I’d start to doze off, there’d be another contraction again. And so with each contraction, I actually had to get up and I would move to the end of the bed, and I would put my head down and sway and sway my hips and really focus on my breathing at that point.
And then my partner would also apply counterpressure to my back, and that’s the way I could find I could get through each contraction, by doing that.
Adriana: Because they were uncomfortable enough for you to not just ignore them. You had to focus during them.
Criselda: Exactly! So, basically, I kind of… because I was so exhausted, I think I just had a moment and I kind of broke down and started crying and saying, “I can’t do this anymore! I’m so over this!” because it had been the two days already. And that’s when my partner really… she kind of grabbed me and refocused me and said “I really believe you can do it.” And I think at that point I knew I had to keep going. There wasn’t any other way! So I just kept remembering that. I would say, in my mind, “surrender, surrender,” and I would just let go. And I think that really helped with my mental focus.
Then I went to the midwife appointment and, of course, because I had changed environments, the contractions had slowed down. So I actually had a contraction before I went into the appointment, but during the whole appointment, they were actually waiting to see– ’cause I wanted to assess, you know, where I was, how far along I was– but I didn’t have a contraction at all. So they thought I was just having some cramping! [Laughs.]
Adriana: And you’re like, “No! No!”
Criselda: Exactly! They sent me home and they gave me some Panadeine, which was, like, a, you know, pain-killing drug and said, “Take the Panadeine and try and get some rest. Try and get some sleep.” But if you’re having real contractions, this just won’t work! It won’t take away the pain.
After the midwife appointment, I actually went to my acupuncture appointment– I’ve been doing acupuncture all throughout the pregnancy– and I found that really helped. So, I actually sat down in a chair and had the acupuncture needles put in, but then the contraction started up again. So I would have to jump up, and my acupuncturist would actually do the counterpressure on my back to help. So, that was really good. But they started up again every ten minutes and she was, like, quite excited, because she’s like, “This is really progressing along!” and she was really happy to actually give me acupuncture because she’s so into birth as well. And she’d never given acupuncture to a woman in labor before!
Adriana: I find that it’s funny that you bring it up because, when you have, like, days of birth like this, that you’re talking about that “things are kind of going, but not going” and not jump starting, I find that an acupuncture field trip can be really good. So I love that you’re in the same boat with that.
Criselda: Yeah, a lot of stopping and starting. That’s how it felt– like, it would just stall, and just felt kind of a bit frustrating. But I think acupuncture really helped things progress, ’cause when I went home that night, and about 10:30 after contractions every ten minutes, I jumped up with one of the contractions and I actually felt a pop, and my water broke! And it was just relief at that point, because I knew things were progressing.
So that was at 10 p.m. So we called the midwife again and she was just like, “Stay home as long as possible, and then you can come in in the morning at 7 a.m. to have a check and assessment then.” And we’re like, “Okay!” So we just kept on going. I think I kind of wanted to go in, but I was happy. I knew that it’s better to labor at home where you’re most comfortable, rather than in the birth center or hospital.
So I think after that, the contractions started to really ramp up– so they were coming every three minutes, sometimes two minutes, sometimes one and a half minutes. And I could feel they were getting, like, quite a lot stronger, and longer as well. So I’d really have to take all my focus to get through each contraction.
When we called the midwife, it was really funny because she wanted to speak to me to see if I could talk through a contraction. And she actually said to me that “You’re too polite to be in labor.” [Laughs.] Which I just… Yeah, I just always remember that. So… And I mean, hearing that at the time was kind of frustrating because it’s like, “Yes, I’m in labor. I’ve been in labor for three days!”
Adriana: Right?! And I think it’s that distinct– “distinct,” I can’t even say the word– distinction between early labor and active labor. Go ahead!
Criselda: So, I kept on going through the contractions. At about 3 a.m. I started to feel an incredible pressure in my back and my bottom and I started to get really panicky and that’s when my partner noticed, “Okay, I think we better go in.” She noticed a real change. So we called the midwife again and she was really reluctant, but she’s like, “Okay, you better come on in.”
So we went to the birth center and just set up the room and I was just walking around and still going through my contractions. And then she did a check to see how far along I was. And when she did the check, she said I was six centimeters dilated and that my cervix was completely soft. So I, you know, I thought I did a really good job!
Adriana: Yeah, absolutely!
Criselda: So then after the check, I think I just… She actually suggested, or kept suggesting, to get in the bath, but I don’t know! I wanted to have a water bath and I knew that I would get in the bath at some point, but I was just really focused on walking through each contraction and doing the hip sway.
I did try and get in the bath, but I thought it was too hot and, like, really uncomfortable. But then eventually I got in and I stayed in. And there was a bar above the bath and I was like, “What is that there for?” And then I realized, ’cause what I did was I grabbed onto the bar and it really helped when I started pushing, because I just focused, faced the wall and just focused and held onto the bar for dear life.
So basically, yeah! I went through… A bit after that, I went through the pushing. It took me a little while to get a hang of that, but I mean, it was just an hour and a half. And then Lily was born!
Adriana: Yay! Welcome to the world, Lily!
Criselda: Yeah, it was really good.
Adriana: Fantastic! Let’s take a quick break here, and when we come back, I’ve got so many questions for you.
And we’re back! And I said I had a bunch of questions for you. How did you know when to switch to pushing, or how did that feel?
Criselda: So, when I got into the bath, there was no more pain. It was just really a lot of just pressure, or uncomfortableness– was a lot of pressure in the back area.
So the midwife is kind of guiding me through and she’s sort of suggesting how to push, you know, and to push with a contraction, ’cause, you know, if you put more effort into it that way, you’re going to get more out of it. And then she was sort of explaining how the baby’s head sort of comes: it moves forward and then it goes back again and then it moves forward a bit more and then moves back again, but it doesn’t move back so much.
Adriana: Yeah. I call it “the baby cha-cha!”
Criselda: Yeah, exactly. “Cha-cha.” I like that one! One thing was when her head came out, would have probably just been before the picture you saw, she had a nuchal hand. So her hand was up by her face, and she came out that way. So I think that’s what the whole early labor was all about, the fact that she had a nuchal hand.
Adriana: Yeah, that her head wasn’t putting equal pressure on the cervix, but actually her hand was kind of in the way, you mean?
Criselda: Yes. Yes, that’s probably why the stopping and starting of the contractions and why they didn’t speed up and become regular.
Adriana: That makes sense!
Criselda: The student midwife actually got a bit of a shock when she saw that the nuchal hand was there. She was kind of like, “Oh, what do we do with that?” But they didn’t do anything because she came out like that.
Adriana: She just comes out saying “hello,” waving “hello.”
Adriana: And I’m glad you mentioned when her head was coming up, because that reminded me of that awesome picture. And I want the listeners to go to the link or the picture that I’m putting on the show notes. We’ll make it so that you guys can see it. I’ve never seen that picture before! So you describe it.
Criselda: So it is Lily’s head that’s emerging, and it’s through a mirror, and I guess the midwife is holding the mirror underwater and it captured Lily’s head.
Adriana: Right, because you’re in the tub and you’re kind of, like, on your knees leaning forward.
Criselda: Yeah, so on my knees kneeling, that’s how I did most of the pushing. And I would sit down to rest in between contractions, but it got to a point where I couldn’t sit down anymore because her head was there.
Adriana: Yeah. But it is incredible because you’re kind of… you know, you can see most of her head is out. And then there is how since you were leaning forward, as you say, the mirror is sort of underneath the water pointing towards the head so that the midwife could see it, but the photographer took the picture from above, so you can actually see her face in the mirror.
Criselda: It’s amazing that she was actually able to catch that photo! It was great. I think because they were doing checks a lot– like, after each contraction they would check the progress, and they were doing a lot of checks with the Doppler as well on her heart rate, just to make sure everything was okay.
Adriana: And when you say “check the progress,” were they doing vaginal checks or just looking with a mirror?
Criselda: It was all… it was completely hands-off. When I was in the bath and they told me that, they said they don’t… They have a “hands-off policy” while you’re in the bath until the baby comes out, and then “we kind of step in and help out if necessary when the baby’s born.”
‘Cause I tried to reach down and pick her up, but I couldn’t actually– like, I was holding onto the bar so tight that I felt like if I let go that I would just fall over. So I think my partner actually picked up the baby and gave her to me. And she didn’t breathe straight away. She took a little time to breathe. So they kind of rubbed it down with a towel a bit and got me to blow on her as well, so to sort of stimulate, I think, the breathing reflex.
Adriana: How did that make you feel?
Criselda: I was a bit anxious in those few moments when she didn’t breathe– just a little bit anxious, because you’re in Laborland, so everything kind of happens in that slow motion time. So I kind of just followed instructions and blew on her. And then there was that really slow cry that came out, and it was fantastic to hear that.
Adriana: I bet! Of course. And sometimes, yeah, it could take them a little bit too. And when we say a little bit, it’s just… We’re talking… seconds, not… maybe a minute or two, and it doesn’t… But you want to hear that cry right away, so sometimes that can be disconcerting. But when you consider that they’re going from a complete– that’s always so fascinating and amazing to me!– that they’re going from being fully immersed in water, having all their nutrients and oxygen and everything coming through the umbilical cord, and then coming out to the world and having to quickly develop this whole new learning to breathe. And new systems come in, and lungs fill up, and air comes in, and figuring out all that being in the air world, right? It’s a whole lot of things that need to happen.
Criselda: And you could tell by the look on her face– she seemed a bit shocked by it all.
Adriana: Yeah, and it’s so sweet that your partner picked her up and handed her to you.
Criselda: Yeah, and she got to cut the cord as well. So we had to delay cord clamping. They didn’t clamp the cord straight away, which was good. That’s what I wanted. I guess the other thing was the placenta!
So I really wanted to have a physiological third stage. So when I said that, they explained to me that they… hospital policy was that they only allow, you know, 30 minutes and then they actually have to surgically remove the placenta or manually remove it, if it doesn’t come out. And I did not want anything like that to happen.
So they allowed me, like, 15 minutes to see if I would push it out, but I think I was just so exhausted by then that eventually I just had the shot of oxytocin, and I think they actually pulled the placenta out. The midwife– the student midwife– actually did it, pulled the placenta out and inspected it.
Adriana: With that… I’m still trying to learn more about the fabulous placenta because placenta is up in the uterus, right? And it’s attached to the uterus. So it kind of, once it releases from that, it still has to get out from the uterus into the vagina and then come out.
So sometimes it needs a little bit of help just going from the vagina to out, out to the world. So I’m still not quite… and I will ask somebody. I will figure out this question at some point. But of that traction, there’s a difference between “I can feel that there’s a certain tug of the placenta still up in the uterus and attached” to “It’s just sitting there in the vagina and needs to come out that way,” you know what I mean? That it’s just sitting there and it needs to be pulled, but just somebody to go and get it in, but it’s really not attached.
Criselda: Yeah, so I guess that was the only thing– but, I think by that stage I was just so exhausted. When I read about it, I was a bit upset about that. But then, I’ve come to terms with it. And reading about it, I think it’s because of the postpartum hemorrhage risk that they’re quite worried about, the laboring mother having a postpartum hemorrhage, that they want the placenta out quicker.
Adriana: That’s usually the reason. And sometimes, they get really concerned about that moment where the placenta is detached and all these blood vessels in the uterus are kind of opened and the uterus needs to reduce in size and clamp down to that, you know, like, from watermelon-sized to grapefruit. So, if it doesn’t do it quickly enough– and it’s hard to say what that quickly enough is– they get really concerned because that’s a potential weakness, potential moment of where blood keeps coming out. So, it is common. But at least you had prophylactic… you didn’t have prophylactic oxytocin, meaning it wasn’t just protocol and “we do it no matter what,” she did wait and see to see what your body would do.
Criselda: Exactly. Yeah. I was given that chance, yeah. That’s true. You’re right.
Adriana: Yeah. And sometimes, like… So let’s recap, your contractions started Wednesday, did you say?
Criselda: I think, yeah, Wednesday morning. But it was really early, like about 3 a.m.
Adriana: Okay. And then she was born Friday evening? Saturday?
Criselda: Saturday morning at 6:26 a.m.
Adriana: So that’s Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Four days!
Adriana: Okay. And so that’s a lot of work for the uterus, you know, also! You were tired, but this uterus probably was tired, too, so sometimes that can be, like, the uterus has been working so hard that it’s a little… I don’t know what they would call it in Australia. Here, they call it “boggy,” meaning it’s having a harder time just getting down to that size.
Criselda: Ah, right, so you think the long labor might have been the cause of the not contracting as quickly to get the placenta out?
Adriana: Yeah, maybe.
Criselda: That makes sense, yeah.
Adriana: Yeah, so it just needed a little help. But I mean, no kidding! It was tired. You were tired. I love the fact though, and let’s talk about this: When you wrote to me, you said that your birth was (and let me find here) that it was an “amazing, incredibly transformative experience,” and that you loved it. And I want listeners to hear that you’re saying this at the same time that this was four days of labor!
Adriana: Right?! Hearing it’s four days of labor, the first thought is, “Oh my goodness!” you know, kind of shocked. But the fact is, that first day was kind of just doing stuff and walking and kind of every 20 minutes and cramping and–
Criselda: Exactly. It was easing into it, like a big warm up. Which I think is nicer, because I’ve heard people… you know, they’ve told me stories of where they have, you know, a four-hour birth and it was just quickly thrown into these intense contractions. So I think a build up is kind of nice, too!
Adriana: Because you… so your water broke Friday at 10 p.m., and then she was born… What time was she born Saturday morning?
Criselda: 6:26. a.m., eight hours later.
Adriana: Right. So that might have been more of your active process.
Criselda: Yes. Yes, I definitely think from the water breaking, that’s when the active labor stage really started.
Adriana: Very cool. So, Criselda, what would you say was the hardest part of all this?
Criselda: I think it was just the three days, ’cause once the water broke and I had that sense of things moving along, I didn’t really have time to worry about anything or have all those negative thoughts going through my head.
So, and then the three day build up is when, you know, you think, “Oh, is the baby stuck? What’s happening?” So I think that the real mental and emotional journey going through those three days was hard. I had to really focus.
Adriana: What would you recommend moms that are kind of… to moms that are kind of having or will have that experience?
Criselda: Acupuncture was really good for me all throughout my pregnancy and labor. I really think that helped also. Pregnancy massage when you are in the last few weeks of pregnancy and you’re huge and then you’re all swollen, that really helped because I had some pain as well in my pelvis area– so the lower back– so that really helped release that, I think. And I think she worked on induction points as well, which I think worked. [Laughs.]
Adriana: Do you think… Did anybody mention anything about baby’s presentation? Do you think maybe, like, you were having a lot of back pain, maybe she was posterior or any ideas on that?
Criselda: At my midwife appointments, they did check by palpitation, feeling the head where the head was. And she was actually saying the head was in a really good position because you know, the baby’s head was engaged and it was so many fifths down. When I went to the appointment, I don’t know if they could tell. I mean, can they tell there’s a nuchal hand if they feel?
Adriana: Not necessarily the hand– maybe, I mean– more like, so, with the head down and engaged, right? It depends if she’s facing towards your front or facing towards your back.
Criselda: They could definitely feel that, couldn’t they?
Adriana: That, they could get a better idea about that, yeah.
Criselda: No, they always said she was in a good position, so I assumed not posterior.
Oh, the other thing was when I did, I did the Calmbirth course here in Australia– and that course just gives you all the basics of having a baby and explains, you know, all the medications you can have– within that course, they had some birth photos of someone’s natural birth. And I just thought it was really beautiful seeing those photos and that’s what I wanted. And I think it really focused me on and wanting to achieve that.
And they also had someone come in who had a recent birth and she did it all naturally as well, and she actually had a lotus birth, and she spoke and she actually said that every day she’d do a daily meditation. And that inspired me. So from that point on, I also did a daily meditation. So I think that really helped! I just found it on YouTube, where they play relaxation music and then they get you to say the positive affirmations, like, you know, “My body knows how to birth my baby” and that type of thing.
Adriana: And you mentioned also that you, when things got really tough and you thought you couldn’t do it or were doubting a little bit, your partner helped focus you and said, you know, she did believe that you could do this. And then you started working on a mantra of “surrender.”
Criselda: Yes, exactly. That really helped too. So you need to have that support there with you. So whoever you can find to be your birth partner– whether it is your partner or a doula, or any of your family as well– you need to have someone that can focus you like that. ‘Cause I wouldn’t have been able to get through it without her helping me along and refocusing me whenever I needed it.
Adriana: Yeah, I’m so happy that you were able to have a rewarding experience and that was how you wanted it to be. It’s always unexpected and you can’t really define it, right? I’m sure you weren’t like, “Oh, I want four days of labor.” [Laughs.]
Criselda: Yeah, you kind of just have to accept that that’s your birth journey. I was so happy because at no point did I ever think or want, you know, felt like I needed to have an epidural at all, or to have that sort of pain medication. So, I mean that I’m really happy that, you know, I was able to do that, yeah.
Adriana: Anything… I was going to ask you, like: What was most unexpected about the whole process for you?
Criselda: I think probably just the long early labor. I think that was really unexpected, because everything else kind of went to my plan, yeah. Even though I didn’t have a written birth plan. I kind of just knew I wanted certain things like a waterbirth and that kind of thing. Oh, the other thing I expected was, I know most first-time mothers, you know, have the tearing, but that just really… like I had that as well, and I think it just really shocked me. And having stitches as well. I think that was the most negative part of the whole experience.
Adriana: The repair afterwards?
Criselda: Yeah. I found that really, like… I guess, really horrible, ’cause I had to go into the… They took me over to the, I guess the day surgery part?
And, I was just so… Didn’t want to be touched in that area anymore because of having gone through the birth, that the doctor actually said to the– ’cause the midwife, student midwife came with me, which was really good, she was so supportive throughout the whole thing– and she actually said to her, “I’ll give her the gas.”
And I actually had to have the gas to calm me down, to have… to be able to stay still enough for the… to have the stitches done.
Adriana: And was that… How long between your daughter being born, and how long, how much time had passed between when she was born and you got the stitches?
Criselda: I think probably an hour to an hour and a half. So I had to wait for the doctor to come in and do the stitches. So… And that seems like it took a long time. Also, I had the skin-to-skin! So I had the hour of skin-to-skin with her beforehand.
Adriana: Do you have any idea how bad…? Like, what… The tearings have different degrees, depending on how deep they are.
Criselda: Yeah. It was second-degree tearing. So not so bad. Yeah, not so bad.
Adriana: But it is! I mean, with the sensation of the contractions, like, that has a rhythm to it that comes and goes. And when it goes, it’s gone– and there’s a flow to it and you can prepare for it. Whereas I find, with the stitches, it’s just disconcerting, because you don’t know when that’s… what’s going to hurt, when it’s going to hurt, how it’s going to hurt. And everything’s very tender, like you say.
Criselda: Yep, exactly. Exactly.
Adriana: Yeah. Did you feel…? Go ahead.
Criselda: That’s why I think, […] ’cause after that I felt like […] accepting that I kind of felt like my body let me down in a way, that I… because I tore after the birth. I went through this perfect birth and then I had this at the end of it, so that I really felt like my body let me down. So it was kind of hard for me to accept that that had happened. And so when I discovered your podcast– and I think the very first episode I listened to is Protecting Your Perineum. And that was… It kind of helped me realize all these different things, you know, like your body’s actually designed to tear in a way to help. And that’s, you know, the way you birth.
Adriana: Yeah, tearing is very common.
Criselda: It really helped me accept that, which was good. And we’ve passed that.
Adriana: Good! Good. And I think it’s important to make the distinction that you don’t necessarily feel the tearing when it’s happening.
Criselda: No, not at all. That’s why I was so surprised and shocked when they told me about it.
Adriana: Yeah, there’s so much going on there that, you know, beforehand it feels like, “Oh my gosh, that’s going to tear. I’m going to feel it. It’s going to be horrible.” But there’s so many other things going on, that… There’s lots of blood in the area, meaning it’s creating… the tissues are more… a little bit swollen, so there’s less feeling of the specific tear. You don’t… You’re feeling a baby going through. You’re not feeling the tearing happening.
Criselda: Exactly! Exactly. And, I guess just the sense of achievement that you feel after birthing the baby and, you know, for days or even a few weeks after, I could still feel that sensation of the head moving through. It’s just amazing.
Adriana: That’s so cool! That’s so cool. So yeah, the stitching sucks. It does. There’s no two ways about that one. But… and it’s unfortunate that, like, I find every place does it a little bit different, like, here in the States, they wouldn’t wait an hour or so to do it, they would do it right away.
Adriana: And sometimes, like, the midwives will stitch. So it’s interesting that… all the nuances of the different places.
Criselda: Yeah, they had to call a different doctor and I think he was more the expert in stitching.
Adriana: Well, you got some really nice stitches, I am sure!
Criselda: Yeah, exactly!
Adriana: Fantastic! Criselda, is there anything else that you would like to share about your story or in your experience?
Criselda: I think the only other thing was the postpartum period. I think I prepared so much for the pregnancy and getting through the pregnancy and then for the birth– which was the main event– I didn’t really prepare at all for the postpartum.
And I think that, really, I was shocked by that, having to look after a newborn and dealing with the lack of sleep (and I still had a bit of insomnia after the birth as well). But, I think I kind of overdid it in the postpartum, like I got back to just doing normal things straight away instead of taking that time to rest mentally, emotionally, and physically after the birth.
And so that’s why I was like, if I did it again, I would take that, you know, like saying “the fourth trimester”– really devoting that time to having that rest.
Adriana: Yes! Oh, so vital.
Criselda: Exactly, yeah.
Adriana: Yeah, and we just want to get to life as normal and consider that we’re not quite doing anything, when it’s important to reframe that where you are doing incredible things. They’re just happening… it’s not your brain doing it, it’s your body and emotions and, you know, other parts of you doing it.
Criselda: Exactly, yeah. Because I… you know, I didn’t stay in the hospital. I was… I got released, and we went home the same day, about three or four o’clock that same day.
Criselda: Yeah, exactly. So I felt like, “Oh, you know, you can just go straight back to normal!” But, no! It’s like a whole new chapter of your life, because you’ve got this brand new newborn baby to hold and learn to love.
Adriana: Yeah, and that requires your attention, constantly, night and day, 24 hours.
Criselda: Exactly, yeah. And the “breastfeeding every two hours” as well. I think that that’s a new experience.
Adriana: Yeah, and I think, just like with the contractions that we say “every five minutes, every three minutes,” but what we mean is from the start of every contraction. So what one is starting every five minutes, every three minutes, it includes the length of it, so the actual resting time in between is a lot shorter, right? With breastfeeding, it’s the same. When we say “every two to three hours,” it means that the baby’s going to start eating every two to three hours.
Criselda: Exactly. And if they take however long they take to feed, if it’s 45 minutes, then you’re starting again another hour and 15 minutes!
Adriana: Exactly. And then if you needed to change, and if you needed to change them and whatever it is, yeah, that off time really gets shorter and shorter.
Criselda: Exactly. That was a bit overwhelming, I think, yes.
Adriana: Yes, you are correct. So, but I’m glad you had such a beautiful birth experience, and I can’t wait for the listeners to see the pictures and get a visual to go along with what they’re listening to, because it was… you can tell it was incredibly amazing and rewarding.
Criselda: Yes, definitely!
Adriana: Very good! Thank you so much, Criselda, for sharing your story. I really appreciate it.
Criselda: Thank you for allowing me to share my story. I think it’s really empowering for women to be able to do this. And so your podcast allows women to do that and just provide so much helpful information for us all as well.
Adriana: Fantastic. Thank you! I’m glad it does, because that’s the point of it. That’s what keeps me doing it.
Criselda: Thank you!
Adriana: Mighty Ones, I love to hear from you. Go to birthful.com, where you can learn more about me, the show, send me messages, and more. This episode was produced by me and made possible by you.
The title song for this podcast is Vive Ace by Kevin MacLeod and the sponsorship song is Air Hockey Saloon by Chris Cebriski. Find them both at freemusicarchive.org. I’m Adriana Lozada. Please join me next week when I’ll be talking to another maternity pro to inform your intuition here at The Birthful Podcast.
Thanks so much for listening!
Lozada, Adriana, host. “[Birth Stories] Prodromal… and Fantastic?!” Birthful, Birthful. August 23, 2023. Birthful.com.
About Criselda F.
Criselda lives with her family and two cats in Australia. She loves listening to podcasts in her spare time, anything from true crime to history and science. As her waterbirth experience was such an intense and amazing one, she felt compelled to share it on this wonderful podcast.
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