Sheri's Birthing Story
In 1986, I married a wonderful man and in 1988, I became pregnant. Things progressed normally with the blessings of an easy pregnancy. An ultrasound told the doctor we were having a girl and we were so excited! My mother gave me a book to read on the upcoming event – Childbirth Without Fear by Grantly Dick-Read (1953). I’d like to say that I actually read the book, but that would only be the partial truth. I glanced at it (I wasn’t much of a reader back then). I suppose the title was enough to convince me that I should trust my body and the process, even though my OB kept telling me that my baby was VERY big (so was I – I put on 65 pounds during this pregnancy!). During the last trimester, we attended the hospital's series of ‘birthing classes’. There was some pretty scary material that they routinely covered, explaining what one can expect from the impending experience. They also tried to give us some suggestions on how to best cope with the "inevitable" pain - not very comforting thoughts.
One night, while sitting on the toilet (very conveniently), my water released. The birthing classes had taught me that I needed to immediately go to the hospital. The surges (contractions) had not started yet and I was comfortable, but I did what I was told. My husband was there for support, but my sister, who had just had a baby, was my birth coach. When I had settled into the hospital room, a feeling of tightening started high in my abdomen. When I tried the technique that the birthing classes had taught me – to focus on a spot on the wall – I felt disconnected to what was happening inside my body. That didn’t work! My instincts told me to try to focus my attention within and try to understand what my body was doing. Every time a surge would start up, I would close my eyes and relax into it as deeply as I could, letting the muscles do what they needed to do. Having my sister at my bedside was invaluable. I imagined her as a protective shield between me and all the distractions in the room (nurses, etc.). That let me be free to close my eyes, shut out the rest of the world, and slip into a state of really deep relaxation and conceptualize what my baby and my body were doing. I visualized a dark tunnel gently widening and the baby easily sliding down. The surges that I felt were no more than tightening muscles that were slowly thinning and opening my cervix and gently pushing the baby down. There was no pain that I’d heard so much about. At this point, I’d been in the hospital about 3 hours. My sister knew that the surges were more frequent and lasted longer and she asked the nurse to check me. The nurse saw how quiet I’d been and her response was, “Oh Honey, this is her first baby. It’s going to be a long night. You just relax.” My sister demanded that she check me and the nurse finally acquiesced. To her surprise, I was fully dilated and the baby was almost crowning! She immediately got on the intercom and called for “Any doctor to the Birthing Center, STAT!” My OB was nowhere near the hospital, because he knew that it would be many more hours (since it was my first). Things went into a flurry at that point and with just a couple of pushes – I had my precious baby BOY in my arms – all 8lbs. 9ozs. of him!
I’ll never forget a comment made by one nurse the next day, “Girl, you were made for birthin’ babies!” The more I thought about that, the more I realized that all women were made for birthing babies. Trust in your body and the process; relax and go with it, and you too can have the birthing experience you desire.
Two years later, pregnant again, I had another wonderfully similar experience. Utilizing the same techniques, this arrival took half the time of the first and my second baby boy came peacefully into the world at 8lbs. 3ozs.
As the years went by, I would always try to pass along, to the pregnant women that I encountered, my experiences and positive techniques. I wanted to attempt to overcome the horror stories that so many women feel they need to share with expecting mothers.
Fast forward the story 19 years (the timing was right in my life) and I made a decision to follow a calling to help women have the same gentle birthing experience that I had. Reflecting back, I realized that I had put myself into a state of self-hypnosis that facilitated the easy birth process. I researched online to see if anyone else had used this method too, and to my surprise and elation, I found HypnoBirthing®! It combines the relaxation advantages of self-hypnosis with the knowledge of natural childbirth. It is based on the proven theory that when the mind is free from fear and tension, the body can be free of pain and will function as it was created to do. You truly can birth your baby safely, without drugs, and be able to do it in comfort. My experiences mirror their teachings and techniques, which is why I feel so strongly about their organization and in 2008, received my HypnoBirthing® Childbirth Educator Certification. I have also received extensive Doula Training from DONA, and was a compassionate labor assistant in birth rooms for almost 4 years (attended more than 50 births) and am currently a student midwife (AAMI - Ancient Art Midwifery Institute). Apprenticing with Aspiring Birth Midwifery from 6/10 to 12/11, my participation provided educated support, and helped to create a fabulous homebirth team. This gives me a rare perspective of natural birth among professionals.
My training also includes a certification for Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers from the American Heart Association and I have been trained in Neonatal Resuscitation.
I was also a Co-Leader of Truckee Meadows Birth Network for 7 years and published the local Resource Guide for Expecting Parents.
Receiving certification as a Lactation Educator, I am inspired to support mothers and babies with the breastfeeding process and am just as passionate about natural birth.
Helping women understand the natural physiology of the birth process and how to trust in nature’s undeniable orchestration of birthing is what makes the most difference in achieving a peaceful arrival and I'm so excited that my influence and teaching really does make a difference. :o)
(My babies now!)