Chelsy Arnett shares with Adriana how her husband nourished her during pregnancy. She also talks about the wonders of the double-hip-squeeze during labor, why she’d push in a completely different way the next time, as well as what’s helped her get through the surprisingly intense identity shift and breastfeeding challenges of the postpartum period.
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What we talked about:
- Preparing with hypnobirthing, prenatal yoga, massage, and good food made by husband
- Did the Indian head massage do the trick?
- Chanting in the bathtub
- Setting her labor rhythm and contraction ritual
- The relief of the “double hip squeeze”
- “Drive quickly– if her water breaks, drive faster”
- Checked to being 8 cm!
- Quietly asking for gas, but politely being ignored
- Setting up all the things: music, oil diffuser, washcloths, getting in the shower
- Agreed to have water bag ruptured
- Meconium happens!
- Feeling pushy with a lip
- Pushing with squat bar and towel
- Getting tired, needing a rest
- Contractions pick up again, baby is born!
- “It’s a girl!” “Are you sure?”
- Doula tips that helped
- The steep learning curve of breastfeeding and life with baby
- Anxiety from the violent identity shift
- What helped get her through postpartum
- HypnoBirthing website
- Hypnobabies website
- The Complete Guide To Shiro Abhyanga – Procedure & Benefits, Vēdix blog
- Aromatherapy during Labor for Pain Relief, Evidence Based Birth
- Evidence on Essential Oils during Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum, Evidence Based Birth
- Women’s Health Aromatherapy: A Clinically Evidence-Based Guide for Nurses, Midwives, Doulas and Therapists, by Pam Conrad
- Double Hip Squeeze – What Is It And How Is It Used? BellyBelly
Related Birthful episodes:
- What’s HypnoBirthing Anyway?
- Do You Really Need to Stop Eating Sushi?
- How to Time Your Pain Relief Options
- Straight Talk about the Effects of Electronic Fetal Monitoring on You and Your Baby
- Rethinking the Pushing Stage
- The Identity Shift of Becoming a Mom
[Birth Story] A Nourished Pregnancy, Flowing Birth, and Jarring Postpartum
Adriana Lozada: Hello, hello, Mighty Parent or Parent-to-Be. Welcome to Birthful. I’m Adriana Lozada and for today’s episode, my guest is Chelsy Arnett, who is going to be sharing her birth story as part of our Nutrition and Nourishment series.
Now, I really appreciated that during her pregnancy, Chelsy didn’t have to focus on her nutrition alone— it wasn’t just up to her— because her husband decided to take on the responsibility of making sure she was well-nourished, got lots of yummy food, and in that way, he was also able to more closely participate in the pregnancy. It made it more real for him. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he’s the cook in the family.
Then in terms of the birth story itself, this is one of those that just flows. Which isn’t to say that it didn’t have its challenges— it’s called labor, not vacation, right?
So, as Chelsy looks back on her physiological experience, she’s gonna share what worked and what she’d do differently, as well as what helped her get through the immense identity shift and breastfeeding challenges that came with postpartum because more often than not, the postpartum period can catch you by surprise.
You’re listening to Birthful. Here to inform your intuition.
Adriana: Chelsy, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you here.
Chelsy Arnett: Hi, Adriana. I’m really excited to be here!
Adriana: Good, it’s very exciting. I love when people reach out and tell me, like, “I want to share my story because it was really good, and I want to balance things out with the bad stories.”
Chelsy: Totally. Absolutely. Exactly.
Adriana: Yay! So why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, before we start?
Chelsy: I am a massage therapist in my little town on Vancouver Island and, yeah, I play soccer and do all sorts of fun things
Adriana: And I’ve always wanted to go to Vancouver and I’ve never made it out there. Maybe one of these days!
Chelsy: It’s beautiful, yeah.
Adriana: I’ve always heard! I did my undergraduate in Montreal, so there’s a little bit of a rivalry in terms of which city is nicer.
Chelsy: Yeah! Yeah, totally. Yep.
Adriana: Yeah, you guys have the better weather!
Adriana: Cool. So let’s go back to when you were pregnant with your daughter… And what were your thoughts about birth? And how did you prepare for giving birth?
Chelsy: Really, y’know, it’s what you’ve seen in movies and what your friends have told you and that kind of thing. So as soon as I found out that I was pregnant, it happened pretty quickly for us. And as soon as they found out, I knew I wanted to get a midwife.
And there’s a couple in my little town that work together, so I contacted them right away. And through them I found a book called Hypnobirthing and that kind of really set the tone for my pregnancy and how I was going to think about giving birth. Really, it was like the first page or two, and it was just the doctor kind of describing how he would go to women that were not as well-off, and they’d be giving birth and not expecting to have any pain and not expecting to have any drugs. And that kind of made me start thinking about, “Well, maybe it doesn’t have to be this scary thing that you hear about and how horrible it is.” And it’s kind of what your body’s meant to do.
And women do it all over the world with and without help. And mammals do it all over the world, for that matter, and they don’t have help with it too a lot of times. So I just kind of tried to keep that in my mind. And also, as a massage therapist, knowing how staying relaxed really helps your body not be tense and it keeps your muscles relaxed— and thinking about that, that’s going to cause less pain, especially during delivery, if you can keep your muscles from fighting against what you’re trying to do.
Chelsy: Yeah, so that’s kind of how I was trying… that was everything I was trying to keep in my mind, going through pregnancy and into labor and delivery.
Adriana: And you read the book, you did like sort of the Hypnobirthing course. Did you do any other classes, aside from that? How are you preparing your body and your nutrition? Like, was there anything that you started doing differently because of pregnancy?
Chelsy: Yeah, I was pretty active, all leading up to that— like I played soccer and then I was actually doing some volunteering with a therapeutic riding group (so, kids with disabilities riding on horses and I was leading horses), so I continued to do that once a week. So, I was walking about 10 kilometers-ish once a week, and I did that… I delivered on September 1st and I did that up until the middle of June.
And I also started doing some prenatal yoga once a week, which was lovely. And my yoga instructor was so wonderful and just kind of adapted things for me, ’cause it wasn’t actually a prenatal course, or a prenatal class (it was just kind of a gentle hatha yoga). And I definitely started becoming more aware of what I was eating and, kind of, my husband’s a key part of that because he’s the cook in our family. So he was making sure to get me full of all sorts of healthy, yummy things.
Adriana: Ah, see, I love that way of having partners connect with baby. Especially at the beginning, when you’re pregnant, you can feel all these changes in how your body’s kind of hijacked (literally!), but they’re like… there’s definitely a disconnect and then they… it takes them a little bit longer to feel real. So having him be, like, “What I cook are the building blocks of my child,” I love that.
Chelsy: Yeah. Yeah, and he was super encouraging, and reading, and I think he was listening to podcasts— so just a lot more about nutrition and how it can affect baby and me, going through all that. So it was really… that was really helpful. What else?
Adriana: Otherwise it was pretty much an uneventful pregnancy? It seems like nothing— no high-risk, no problems?
Chelsy: No problems. No, I know! I would go see my midwife and she was like, “Oh, you’re fine.” It was just like, “Okay, that’s great.” And “Just keep doing what you’re doing.” So, being a massage therapist, I’m on my feet all the time, and I think that kind of helped too. And just being aware of different changes and things that were going on, but I was so fortunate. I didn’t have hardly any morning sickness, no discomfort, really. It was all pretty smooth sailing. Pregnancy was kind of the easy part and you have your baby… and I didn’t prepare for that part.
Adriana: Yeah, about that…
Chelsy: I found your podcast after I had her. And I was like, “Oh, it would have been nice to have that before.”
So now I tell everybody, “You got to go listen to what they have to say. You’ll learn a lot.”
Adriana: Thank you so much! So let’s fast forward to, then, end of pregnancy: How did you know you were in labor? What were the signs?
Chelsy: It was so funny. I thought all along, I was like, “I’m going to be early.” I don’t know why. Maybe just first-time, expecting, hoping? But I ended up being 40 weeks +3. And yeah, leading up to that, my parents were living out-of-town, so they’d come over and we’d kind of all get together and everybody’s like, “How are you feeling?” “Fine. Normal.”
And, so actually the day before— well, actually a couple of days before, y’know— we went swimming. We were doing all these things to try to encourage baby to come out. And I actually ended up going for an Indian head massage on… it was the Wednesday night, and I ended up having her on a Thursday, so I kind of attribute it to that.
Adriana: And I got to say, every single time I speak to somebody about their birth story, and when we’re talking about when it started, people say, “Well, yeah, that was on a Thursday, so on a Wednesday…” It’s incredible to me that always people know what… they remember what day of the week it was that baby showed up.
And I remember my daughter, like, labor started on a Wednesday, since she was born very early morning on a Thursday.
Adriana: It’s that important!
Chelsy: It is, and, like, you ask me anything else about what days things happened, I have no idea! But I will remember that.
Adriana: I love it! And that head massage sounds fabulous.
Chelsy: Oh, it was lovely. It was so good. And it was actually the same yoga instructor that I had for my prenatal course— she does the head massage as well. And she’d done one earlier in my pregnancy and she said, y’know, “I’m going to avoid these certain parts because they can stimulate labor,” and that.
So she avoided them the first time, and then the second time I actually contacted her and was like, “Do you happen to have any openings?” She’s like, “Y’know what? I just had somebody cancel and I was just about to put it up, but it’s yours.” So it was fate. It was meant to be.
Adriana: Yeah, totally meant to be. Awesome!
Chelsy: Yeah. So when I went in to see her, first, like, y’know, “I’m going to spend a little bit more time on these spots we avoided last time,” and yeah, so I texted her the next day, I was like, “She’s here! It happened.” But yeah, so the Thursday morning I woke up, and I had slept great.
It was just kind of like a regular morning, had a little bit to eat and then just started to feel a little bit crampy and that things were just kinda changing. And, kind of, as the morning went on, cramps just started getting a little bit more intense. So I decided that I was going to have a bath. When I was in my bath, Dad came to our house because he’s like, “Oh, I’m going to clean up the yard for you guys a little bit.”
And my husband’s like, “Hmm, maybe not right now. It might be a better idea to come do that later.” And yeah, the bathroom’s really nice. I had downloaded some music that I thought would be nice and relaxing for going through labor, so I was kind of listening to those when I was in the bathtub. And after that I came upstairs and would just kind of be walking around— we’ve got this big, huge chaise in our house, and that was kind of like my landing zone when I was starting to feel like I was having a contraction. So I’d just kind of go over there and lean over on some pillows.
And we had downloaded an app so that we could time them, so my husband was timing my contractions and he kind of contacted the midwives to let them know that things were kinda happening.
Adriana: Do you remember what they were like at that point?
Chelsy: At that point, it was still just really strong cramping. Because I had always thought, like, “How am I going to know? What’s it going to feel like?” And so I just… “really intense,” like, “menstrual cramps in my abdomen” is how I would describe it. It wasn’t, like, excruciating pain or anything like that. It was just… I needed a minute to like, kind of breathe through them, and then I could kind of carry on and walk around and hang out for a little bit. But I feel like they were… it was happening quite regularly, quite quickly.
Things were kind of continuing and they’re starting to last a little bit longer and happening a bit closer together. So then he called the midwife and didn’t hear back from them for about an hour.
And so he was doing really good and he wasn’t panicking— staying nice and calm with me. And as my contractions started to feel more intense, he would do this hip squeeze thing.
Adriana: Mhm. The double hip squeeze, like on both sides? I’m going to put a link up to that double hip squeeze!
Chelsy: It really helped get me through my contractions and gave me some relief, which was awesome!
Yeah, so he hadn’t heard back from the midwives for about an hour and then finally the one that was on-call and was going to be there with us, she called and wanted to talk to me and I’m now realizing she just wanted to talk to me, like, through a contraction to see how things were going.
And after she talked to me, she’s like, “Okay, I’ll be there as soon as I can.” So I think she got there about 20 minutes later, and that was probably around noon? And I would say this all started around 8:00 or so. And so when she got there, she wanted to check me, and in the back of my mind, I was like, “Oh God, she’s going to say, ‘You know, you’re only so far along and this is gonna last for a lot longer.'”
Anyway, so she checked and I was at eight centimeters already.
Chelsy: Yeah. She’s like, “You’ve done so much of the hard part already. This is awesome.” And I planned to go to the hospital. So she told my husband, y’know, “Don’t speed, but drive quickly. If her water breaks drive faster!” And up until then, like, my water hadn’t broken, I hadn’t had any other signs or symptoms.
And at that point I got up and went into the bathroom and a bit of the bloody show, I guess it was, happened. And then we just kinda got all my stuff that I’d had packed up and got into the car. And the hospital is about a 25 minute/half hour drive. So it wasn’t the most comfortable drive that I’ve ever been on.
Adriana: Not when you’re eight centimeters along! No, I would say, no.
Chelsy: No. Yeah, I was really just trying to focus and breathe and keep myself calm. And yeah, so we parked and walked up to the hospital. I think we took the elevator, probably? And got up there and my midwife was there. So we met her in the room.
And all along, I wanted to do things as naturally as possible, but not knowing what things were going to feel like, I didn’t want to set anything in stone. Like, if I felt like I was going to need interventions or drugs or anything, I wanted to leave that open, just because I didn’t know how things/what things were going to feel like.
So I do know at one point, I kind of quietly asked for gas (and, I think, a little bit politely ignored because it was too late at that point). And they just got me kind of changed into a hospital gown and showered— the shower was good. We’d also… part of the plan was we wanted to have some essential oils and the music going in the room, so my husband set up my diffuser and he diffused lavender and Thieves, I think to kind of help cleanse the air.
And we knew if that kind of got shut down, that we just wanted to have at least that part, just because the hospital is being scent-sensitive, we weren’t too sure how much they would let us do it. But everybody, the nurses and everybody, was awesome and they let us do that the entire time.
Adriana: In my experience, they love it. I mean, sometimes you’ll get a nurse that has sensitivities and they might switch out you (or you arrange for it), but usually they walk into the room and they’re like, “Ahh, it smells so good in here!” So it helps set the tone for them too.
Chelsy: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And we had also some washcloths, that one had peppermint and one had lavender on it, so just in case, then at least I could have those two smells as well (depending on what I wanted and what I needed). And yeah, so when we were there, my husband kept doing the double hip squeeze whenever I had an intense contraction.
And at that point I’d still say they were just… it was just really intense, but not pain, not something that you couldn’t, like, focus through and know that there’s going to be something else on the other side. So that was, that was really good. And the nurses and my midwife, they’re all just awesome. And I had my mom in the room and my sister was trying to get there— and my water still hadn’t broken at this point.
And I… my midwife asked if she could break my waters. And so she did, and we found out that baby had pooped while she was still in there. So they put the fetal monitor on to do the continuous monitor thing at that point, just to keep an eye on her. And her heart rate was kinda changing depending on what position I was in.
So they’re playing around a lot with positions for me— at what was good for her and what was kind of good for me (on my side, on my hands and knees, well, that kind of thing). And, I’m trying to think now… we got there at 1:30 or so, and probably around 2/2:30, I was starting to get feeling like I needed to push, but I was still at about nine centimeters. She said there was just a tiny little bit of a lip still, so I was trying not to push.
But now thinking back on things and I know the one woman you had on your podcast and talking about if you’re getting that feeling, to just think about pushing gently, as opposed to not doing it. So knowing that for next time, I think I’m just keeping that in the back of my mind.
Adriana: Was that the one with Whapio? “Rethinking the Pushing Stage,” I’ll link it on the show notes too.
Chelsy: Yes. That was a really, really good episode. I really like that one. Yeah, and then, I guess things kind of progressed enough. They had the OB and the pediatrician all kind of came in, just to kind of keep an eye on things, but my midwife had it all under control with the nurses and everything.
And they didn’t feel like there was any reason for them to intervene. So I was pushing, and my husband is using, like, an essential oil blend that was supposed to help with labor and the contractions. Once we got to the hospital, he started using that. And I can remember at one point having to ask him to stop, ’cause I felt like it was making my contraction way more than I needed at that point.
Adriana: Mhm. Where was he putting it or how was he using it?
Chelsy: In a rollerball, and so he was putting it on my lower back and then also on the inside of my ankles, so I just had to say, “I need a break from that.” It was… I feel like it’s making things too, too intense right now, and I need a little bit of a break.
They had me— oh gosh, I was pushing in all sorts of positions— but they had the bar up on the bed with the towel, and so I was pulling on that, and I can remember in my in-and-out state, them kind of, like, giggling, ’cause they’re like, “You’re so strong! You’re pulling yourself all the way to the end of the bed.”
Adriana: You are doing more than the tug of war— you were, like, going all the way. Yeah!
Chelsy: Exactly. I can remember there being a point where I was getting tired and I was just kind of taking a bit of a breather and they were (I could hear them talking) and I heard her saying, “Oh, it’s too bad. The contractions just aren’t… It’s like, they’re not lasting long enough,” to kind of help push her through, because she was definitely kind of, like, coming down and then going back and coming down and going back. And my midwife actually was also… had been doing some perineal massage throughout, which was awesome. And she asked if she could, and I said, “yes, please.”
And I think… so I think that that helps a lot too, ’cause I ended up having no tearing or anything. So when I remember them saying that the contractions weren’t lasting long enough, then I asked my husband to start using the oils again, to help give me a bit of a boost with that. And I remember them saying to push through the pain, but thinking, “I’m not having pain, I’m just tired!” and I was just needing to have a bit of a rest.
And then in the next few pushes, things started progressing and then she came out and it was just all of a sudden a big sense of relief and it wasn’t… there was no more of that intense cramping. And we didn’t know what we were having: they brought her out and they said, “Do you want to find out what you’re having?”
So my husband looked and he said, “It’s a girl.” I was sure we were having a boy, so I was like, “Check again!” Sure enough, we have a beautiful little girl and she was just, don’t know if it was, what it was, but she just came out and she was… she’s quiet. She just kind of took it all in and looked around. We’ve got this awesome picture of me holding her and she’s just looking up at both of us and she didn’t cry right away. I found out later that nurses and midwives were kind of like, “Okay, cry, cry, cry,” and then eventually she did. They were like, “Okay, everything’s good.”
Adriana: And it takes them a little bit, y’know, there’s a lot that needs to go— they go from living in water to breathing in air. That’s a whole lot of physiological things that need to coordinate!
Chelsy: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, so, yeah, she was there and she said, “Do you want to do skin-to-skin?” And I said, “Yeah,” I hadn’t really thought about it. So I just kind of stripped my hospital gown off and I was kinda like, “Oh, yeah, right. Okay, here she is!”
Adriana: Mhm. I love that.
Chelsy: Yeah, it was really, really incredible.
I think one of the more uncomfortable things is actually delivering the placenta afterwards and they’re, like, palpating my stomach and I can remember that being uncomfortable.
Adriana: I love that you say “palpating” and around here, we say like, “They’d tell you ‘And we’ll do the massage, your tummy.'” That is not at all what it’s like.
Chelsy: No. No, you’re poking it.
Adriana: Yeah. You’re really squeezing in there, and I don’t appreciate it right now!
Chelsy: Yeah, no, just went through a lot!
Adriana: Yeah. Did they do it several times? Like four or five times? Every 15 minutes?
Chelsy: Yeah, they did do it a few times, and there was no issues with that, with delivering that, either— it was all intact and everything was fine.
Adriana: Right. So you did not tear?
Chelsy: I did not, no. I had a couple, like, surface tears, but nothing else.
Chelsy: Everything, yeah, I know, it was lovely.
Adriana: So what made delivering the placenta not so great?
Chelsy: I don’t think it was actually the delivering part. I think it was just, like, the palpating part and just how that part just felt so uncomfortable, just ’cause they were just poking and everything was so sensitive at that point and kind of the adrenaline had run off. And I think it was just kind of more aware of what was going on, at that point.
Adriana: And you said you started feeling like you wanted to push around 2:00/2:30. What time was she born?
Chelsy: She was born at 5:31. It was super fast. I was shocked!
Adriana: ‘Cause it all started, like, 8:00 a.m. you had your first contractions?
Chelsy: Yeah. Yeah.
Adriana: That’s such a nice, tidy, flowing story!
Chelsy: It really was. And who knows if the next one will be that way, but it’s nice to have that in my mind— how it can go and how it can be. So just kind of keep focusing on that part!
Chelsy: I mean, there’s things that, looking back on it, that I would kind of try to keep more in the forefront of my brain.
I’d forgotten about kind of the hypnobirthing, the breathing part, ’cause I read the book, but parts of it didn’t really resonate with me (some of the imagery stuff that they’re talking about). But I really liked the breathing aspect of it, and just the idea of keeping everything nice and calm and relaxed and that part. But I kind of… I forgot about some of the breathing techniques when I was actually pushing, that I think would help next time. ‘Cause I kind of remembered, right at the very end, and started doing that. And that’s when she progressed a bit further and then eventually came out. So I think, trying to keep that in my mind sooner.
And then actually, after listening to that podcast with you, just knowing about the “quietening.”
Adriana: Yeah. The “Quietude,” the “rest and be thankful” phase.
Chelsy: And just knowing that there’s part where you might just need to take a minute, while maybe she’s moving positions or they’re turning and everything before they’re actually the birth. So, just knowing about that part too I think is helpful.
Adriana: Yeah. And I find, when you think about it that way, that then you actually end up pushing for less time, like, the actual you-exerting-yourself tends to be less.
Adriana: Yeah. So that’s a beautiful bonus, of course.
Chelsy: Yes, exactly.
Adriana: If it takes the same, y’know, start-to-finish, but the amount that you go “aughhh!” isn’t.
Chelsy: Exactly, exactly, that I’m actually, like, pushing really hard or whatever it is. I’m not exhausted by the end of it.
Adriana: Yeah. Chelsy, what are some of the things… I mean, it is a very low-intervention, flowing, physiological birth that you had for sure, and it seems like the things that you had as mantras to focus on really helped you out because you didn’t have tons of things. It was more like, “Stay calm and relaxed.”
Chelsy: Yeah. Yeah, it was really… that was my main focus and just, we had done like one weekend course with a doula and just did, like, some breathing things, and thinking about experiences that you’ve gone through that could help you with the labor and delivery part.
And we’ve done a big hike a couple of times, and it’s, like, a 21 kilometer hike. And it’s not a hard hike, but it’s just long and you’re carrying your pack and like all that kind of stuff. And you have points where you’re like, “I am so done. I just don’t want to do this anymore.” And just knowing, you just have to have the go inside yourself and into your brain and just push through the body part. Yeah, overcome it mentally, ’cause you can’t just come out of it. There’s no escape through the hike or in the labor part. And when we finished our hike, we’re at this beautiful beach and it’s gorgeous. And at the end of labor, you have your baby.
I was trying to keep those kinds of things in mind, and really just staying calm and not being scared, ’cause I know how much being scared causes your body to tense and then it’s just fighting against yourself. So even when labor started, just trying to keep the positive and stay calm about it, and not be afraid of what your (kind of) body is going through. And just knowing that it’s a natural thing and just to kind of let things happen as they happen.
Adriana: Would you do anything differently?
Chelsy: Like I said, the breathing part, and I think some of the pushing part too (maybe changing positions a little bit different and not like pushing so hard, a little on your back, ’cause like because I hadn’t researched any of this beforehand, finding out afterwards, like the different positions that help with pelvic opening and all that stuff). Just trying to be a little bit more of an advocate for myself and maybe trying those kinds of positions— so, like, squatting or standing and that kind of thing instead for next time. And kind of really working with your contractions and pushing with them.
And even my midwife at one point, I remember her saying like, “You can use your voice.” Like, I was very, very quiet the whole time. I remember after, my husband’s like, “You weren’t… you didn’t yell, you didn’t do anything! Like, there wasn’t really any crazy loud noises, you weren’t screaming.” And even like the nurses had commented about how calm and peaceful the room was.
Adriana: And I really find that that is the case often. Like it’s just, y’know, anecdotal on my part, but that I see it very often with people that have prepared using hypnobirthing, that they tend to have quieter births. Which is… as a doula, it can sometimes be a little disconcerting because you’re like, “I can’t read you that well, where are you at?” And you get things like this, of like, “Wait, you’re eight!” Which is great, right? But, yeah.
Chelsy: Yeah, it’s a nice surprise.
Chelsy: Even my husband, he said I was there, but I definitely at points I was just very much inside myself. And to me, as much as everybody else could help, it was more about what I can do for myself and being in my own head. And that was going to be the biggest thing, was just keeping myself in a good space.
And I know that that works really well for me. So, having that internal conversation with myself and, y’know, “you push through this,” and “it’s all good.”
Adriana: Oh, and I love that focus cause you’re the one doing the work.
Chelsy: Exactly, exactly. Everybody else is there and is worrying and encouraging; you’re the one that has to actually go through and do it.
So, knowing that and just knowing, y’know, my body— my body is capable of awesome, amazing things. So, this is just another one of them.
Adriana: Yeah, so good. Good! So tell me a bit about postpartum. How did that go?
Chelsy: Postpartum is a whole other story. It’s something that nobody can really prepare you for. And, so you’re on somebody else’s time clock, all of a sudden, which is kind of funny. I tried to stay with the whole, “keep myself nice and calm and relaxed,” but I definitely had I wouldn’t say any postpartum depression or anything, but definitely some anxiety.
And, I definitely… I felt foggy for a little while. And breastfeeding was pretty good, but I… she had fairly, I guess, it was a painful latch? And I needed to get some medication and ended up having to use a nipple shield, for a little while, until everything healed. And then after that it’s been wonderful, it’s been a really good experience, now.
Adriana: Oh, yay. And I think that’s really important to underline that, y’know, just because it’s natural doesn’t mean that it’s easy. And breastfeeding, I find, always has some hiccups. It always has some— yeah, you’ll get it, but it requires… it’s a learning experience for both of you.
Chelsy: For both of us. Exactly. And again, not, I had really focused on, like, the pregnancy part and didn’t do as much about the newborn stage. So I hadn’t looked into breastfeeding or any of that stuff, so wasn’t really even too sure what to expect. And it’s a steep learning curve, becoming a parent.
Adriana: It’s a super steep learning curve! And I think part of why people are like, “There’s no way people can prepare you for this,” is because we focus on the baby, but we don’t focus on what’s happening on your own transformation. Like the identity shift is insane.
Chelsy: Oh my gosh. It’s crazy when… yeah! And just how fast of a shift it is. Yeah, the way that I think now is completely different than what I thought before.
Adriana: Yeah. And I think that’s the part we don’t talk about and we don’t realize, that you’ve been forever an “I,” and you, like, spend your twenties finding yourself and who you are and defining all this. And then suddenly you’re part “parent,” y’know— your mom, your dad, your whatever.
Chelsy: Exactly. And we kind of laughed ’cause we were… we weren’t… we were a little bit older. I was 32 when I got pregnant, so I was 33 when I had her. And y’know, we had all this time to be super selfish before that, so it came to having her where you’re like, “Okay, it’s about somebody else now.” But it’s definitely still like, “Oh, wow.”
Adriana: That’s so funny. I was 33 also when I had my daughter, and to me, I felt like, because I was older, I was so set in all my other ways of how I like things and having a baby was like, “Wait, what?”
Chelsy: Changing everything.
Adriana: Yeah, no, there’s something to be said about figuring out who this new person is: not only the one you gave birth to, but the one you became.
Chelsy: Exactly. Yes. Yeah, definitely. And I didn’t know that this would be who I was as a mom, but I really, I really like it. So it’s been a really good shift and a really good change. So it definitely took some time to get used to, but it’s been a really great learning process.
Adriana: Well, and it sounds like you gave yourself the space and grace to figure that out.
Chelsy: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, definitely. Yeah. And definitely having support from family and hubby and everything, it’s been really good too.
Adriana: What are some of the things you would tell… so people who are listening, new and expectant parents, after having this experience in doing all this, what are some things that you would want to suggest for them?
Chelsy: Do some research on the postnatal self, and being okay with accepting some help and knowing that things are gonna change and just being aware of it, and to be able to accept that part of it. And really focusing on keeping yourself calm and not being scared of what you’re going through and changes that are going to happen.
And just trying to keep your body in a relaxed way. It… I think that it just helps so much with my pregnancy and the delivery. And think about things that you’ve done in the past, that you’ve overcome and try to keep those kinds of things in your mind too, know, y’know, this is just another one of those things that you can kind of conquer.
Adriana: Before we close, I’m going to ask you, like, this last weird question: How were you transformed?
Chelsy: How was I transformed? I think it’s mentally big time, y’know, it’s not just about me. And I mean, I’d been with my husband for a long time before having baby. so we’ve been a “we” for a long time, but having this whole other little being to take care of and it’s just… it changes your outlook and your perspective on everything.
And it just, for me, it’s just… take a lot more appreciation in the now and what’s happening, and try not to worry about so much the future and the things that you can’t control. And that’s been… it’s been really, really good.
Adriana: Thank you so much for sharing your story and being on the show today.
Chelsy: Thank you for having me. I’m glad that we got to do this.
Adriana: That was massage therapist and mom Chelsy Arnett sharing how birth transformed her. I hope that your biggest takeaway from this conversation is the importance of preparing for the postpartum period as much as you do for childbirth, or even more!
So, was that your takeaway from the conversation? What was important to you? If you are not driving, it would be lovely if you would take a screenshot of this episode right now and post it to Instagram sharing just that: what your biggest takeaway was from the episode. And when you share it, make sure to tag @birthfulpodcast so we can see it and amplify it.
You can find the in-depth show notes and transcript of this episode at birthful.com, where you can also learn more about my postpartum preparation classes to help you get ready for life with your newborn, and download your free postpartum preparation plan.
Birthful is produced and created by me, Adriana Lozada, with production assistance from Aysia Platte.
Thank you so much for listening to and sharing Birthful. Be sure to follow us on Goodpods, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Goodpods, Amazon Music, and everywhere you listen.
And then come back for more ways to inform your intuition.
Lozada, Adriana, host. “[Birth Story] A Nourished Pregnancy, Flowing Birth, and Jarring Postpartum” Birthful, Birthful. June 8, 2022. Birthful.com.
About Chelsy Arnett
Chelsy is momma to a two beautiful children, a daughter and a son, and works as a massage therapist in her small town on Vancouver Island. After the birth of her daughter, Chelsy became intrigued by all things baby and amazed at what she didn’t know! She is hoping to help decrease the fear surrounding birth by sharing her positive birth experience. Following her appearance on the Birthful podcast, Chelsy and her family weathered storms before welcoming rainbow baby Sebastian in 2021, in a very different birth experience during the global pandemic!
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