Before I start, maybe I should tell you a little bit about the beginning of it all. I got married 24th of June 2006, I got pregnant in August but by my 7th week, the baby’s heart was not beating so I had to undergo a curettage. My heart was broken but I prayed that we will get another chance of being a parent soon. We went for an Umrah trip that October during the last 10 days of Ramadhan. They say what you wish for there will come true. We could only pray and leave everything to faith. And guess what, our prayers were answered, by November (which was my birthday) I was pregnant again. Thank you GOD, best birth day present ever! :)
Now comes the hard part. I always thought of giving birth as the images I often saw in movies. The mother cry, scream, is covered in sweat, pushing and holding on to dear life. Next image would be the baby came out covered in some sort of slime and some blood. Not a pretty and comforting images right? So even though I was very happy that I was pregnant again, I was worried about giving birth. Not to mention that people often say that a mother is sacrificing her life while giving birth because it’s a matter of life and death (later after lots of reading and attending seminars I found out that high death toll numbers of a mother giving birth happened in the old days where hygienic medical instruments and trained midwife were still rare) but if you have a normal pregnancy and is being taken care of by a trained midwife or OBGYN, then your chances of surviving the birth process are very high. Well that’s one fear I got to overcome but the other images were still in my head.
When I went to school in the United States I hear of water birth and thought, that’s how I want to deliver my baby. It looked a lot less painful and such a beautiful process. But I didn’t think much of it anymore until I was pregnant in Jakarta and one day saw a TV show about it. I began researching and found out that only a clinic in Bali and Sammarie in Jakarta actually performs water birth, I was excited with the thought of actually doing water birth for my delivery. With my good friend that was also expecting (our due date were only 6 weeks apart) I made an appointment to see Dr.T. Ottamar.S (the doctor I saw on TV) the very next week (I was in my 7th month already and was seeing a different OBGYN). We asked a lot questions about water birth process. It’s actually very simple and almost exactly the same as doing it on the bed. The only difference is, instead of on a bed, you’re immersed up to your waist in an inflatable pool (some place use a regular slightly bigger bathtub) filled with sterilized warm water (the temperature were kept the same temperature as your amnio water, so when the baby comes out they would feel like they were still in the womb). You get to sit leaning back and not having to hold your legs spread out. Another difference is that we don’t have to push the baby out but let nature takes its course on the baby’s time, so no force was used resulting less trauma for both mother and baby(trying not to push is hard work, but with determination you can take control). Then I asked, who can do water birth, and if we need to do something before. The Doctor said, it is the same process (you see your doctor regularly to get your monthly check up) we just need to have a blood test to determine if we can do the process (I’m sorry I forgot the exact test but it was simple and not expensive) and if the pregnancy was normal, baby’s head in the right position than we’re good to go. So I told my other doctor that I was going to do water birth and switch doctor from my 7,5month onwards. My friend ended up having a c-section because there were a slight complication with her pregnancy.
After talking to the Doctor, I also attended 2 seminars about water birth, met the doctor’s first patient who did water birth and her daughter, did more research on the internet and I now that I have all the information I needed, I was extra sure about my decision (it was still uncommon to deliver by water birth then, so I had to convince my family that is it very safe, etc ). From the video and pictures I saw, the mothers faces were calm, not in such agony as I always saw before. Plus I was told that the baby would benefit from the process as well.
Since I had a miscarriage before, I was determine to do everything I can to make this pregnancy as smooth as possible. I did prenatal yoga (www.bikramyogajakarta.com or www.rumahyoga.com) which helped a lot in my breathing and visualization process (they teach us that pain is all in our head and if we visit a “happy” place when we’re in pain we can feel less pain which will help a lot during the contractions). I also did the pregnancy exercise in the clinic with the midwife who will help me later, so I had some kind of idea as to what is going to happen in the delivery room. I always thought if you’re prepared then you will be less panic and can have everything under control. Remember, the more you know about something the more you can anticipate things and be confident. I think we’re scared because we think we won’t have any control in the delivery room and all we can think of is pain.
So then it comes the delivery day. I was having brown spots at 5 am, but I read that when you experience that, it is only the first stage of labor and you still have plenty of time. So I did not panic, took a shower and only went to the clinic 3 hours later. I got checked and it was only my 1st opening and I was sent home. I was having a bad cold so I was not feeling well and decided to stay in the hospital. They day went on and my contraction were still quite far apart until its time for bed. So, I slept by 9 pm and was awoken by a big contraction around midnight. By 2 am my water broke and the nurse called the doctor. I was rushed to the birth room where the pool awaited. I asked my husband to put rubber ducky (yes the yellow squishy kind) to my pool so it will be colorful and fun to look at (my “happy place” was looking at the ocean by the beach in Bali on a warm sunny day so the ducks helped my visualization). The doctor was surprised at 3 am seeing me with my ducks and just laughed (it also helped that he’s a funny guy so we’re not too stressed out). Before going into the pool (you can only get into the pool if you’re 5 cm dilated) I was in major pain and thought to myself 1 baby is enough if this is the pain I have to go trough. No wonder a lot of people asked for an epidural or ILA at this stage. The pain was off the chart!! But as soon as I got into the pool I felt so much better (remember if you put warm compressed in your stomach when you get your period and you feel better?) and then I thought, ok 1 more is fine after this. The warm water helps to ease your pain and the happy colorful surrounding also helped. I even brought in an iPod with speaker to play the songs I liked. Remember to always listen to your midwife when to inhale and exhale. I was only in the pool for almost 2 hours before Allegra Aaraya Thalib was born. It was such a natural and beautiful process. No screaming and drama as you would see or imagine. The baby came out clean, and only after she is fully out of the belly and into the water then the doctor took her and place her on my breast for the first initiation. Then he cut her umbilical court and got her cleaned up while my husband performed adzan to her ear. While she was being taken away, I was still in the pool and had to push for the “ari2” to come out, it came with blood. Only then that the water became red, but I got pulled up right after. I was put on a stretch bed, got a little stitches (if only I wasn’t having a bad cold and can hold my breath longer, I won’t be needing any stitches at all down there) and then I was in recovery. I can walk around within hours and breastfeed immediately.
It was everything I imagined it would be. Yes there was still pain but it was so much less than I imagined. After my second baby, I got a clogged milk duct, the massage trying to get it un-clogged hurt more than giving birth, can you imagine?. The baby came out clean, no forced anything, just natural. And some said water birth babies are smarter because they experience less trauma during birth. I don’t know if that’s true, but both of my babies are extremely bright (even the pediatrician said she was ahead of her age group). But regardless of the benefit whether it’s true or not, water birth has helped me in overcoming my fear of labor. Raya was baby number 37 in sammarie then. 2 years later I did another water birth for Alesha Ariana Thalib (this time I was only in the pool for 45minutes and the doctor wasn’t even there, he got stuck in traffic. But everything was ok at the end).
Raya & Rana
I highly recommend doing water birth. And it only cost a little bit more than normal birth, much cheaper than C-section, plus you get to keep the pool so you can use it when the baby is bigger (as you can see in mine, I have 2 different pool now). I’m going to try for a boy maybe in the next 2 years, after that I’m done =) Hopefully I can do another water birth, I can’t think of any other way to deliver my baby. So maybe I will have 3 pools in the end. Wish me luck ;)
Sent by Aan, Mommy from Raya & Rana