Saturday, January 3, 2015

Giving faith, mothering instinct and knowledge to take charge in childbirth

DISCLAIMER : Permission obtained from the rightful owner of this birth story and no editing is done to maintain its originality for education purpose. Kindly seek permission from site owner if you wish to share amongst your network.

I don’t know where to start, but since it’s already a long article as it is, here goes.

We went to a lot of hospitals in deciding which is best for my 1st labor, but couldn’t make a decision. Probably it was “takdir”, meant for us, that every hospital we went to did not fit my preference (Of course my hubby’s tight budget delisted a few L - why you cheapskate you). I even broke down and cried at one of the private hospitals we went to for no reason . It’s just one of the instincts you have as a mother. Proven a good instinct, considering a friend’s labor experience there, a few weeks later. So we decided it would be HKL - the most recommended natural birth government facility, so they say. Largely since the private ones (those reasonably priced), more often than not have bad reputations. It seems like money= good natural birth in Malaysia.

So here’s our amazing, wonderful, unforgettable, God-assisted home-water-birth story…

Blood show. By then we were uncertain (obviously NOW we know :D ) whether it was blood show or just spotting. However, considering contractions were still mild and bearable, although were consistent throughout the night, we’d decided to go to the hospital in the morning. To note, we planned to go to HKL, using my sister’s apartment in Kg Baru as the ‘waiting lounge’.

That night, I couldn’t put myself to sleep as I was too anxious anticipating. At this point I was watching Running Man, for the ‘good feel’ vibe as hubby puts it, and was vigorously applying deep breathing routines. I also tried every birth position learnt (medically tested and impossible ones too!), in hope of lessening the sensation, and to find out which position I’d likely choose.

So as hubby was sound asleep (annoyingly  enough), I was on all fours, bouncing on the gym ball, hip rolling, sujud (prostrating), etc. to pass the stage. For what it’s worth, the best position for me was on all fours.

In short, it was a long sleepless night. Although I’ve had sleepless nights well before the blood show. Which was probably why I was not too worried.

Hubby wakes up. Like any other day, gets prepared for work. Clueless as usual.

After discussing with hubby, we decided not to go to Kg Baru just yet. There was a concern with my frequent contractions but judging from the intensity, and that there was yet water-break (also the fact that we did not consider last night as blood-show), we decided (well mostly hubby decided - darn you!) that the baby may come either tonight, or tomorrow. So hubby decided to go to work in the morning, get stuff resolved and arranged to prepare for the anticipated paternity absence.  

So for the entire morning, I continued with the on all four + deep breathing routine to help ease the process.

Afternoon (Around 12):
Contractions started getting stronger. Called hubby at work and told him to come home immediately, or else..

After realizing things are getting real, I headed to the hot shower, hoping that it might help ease the sensation.

After a while, sensations started getting sharper and heavier, not too nasty, but enough to signal that I’m nearing labor. Tired of standing, I then tried sitting on the toilet bowl. I noticed more blood spotting as I sat. Yes, by now I’m sure it’s really blood show.  I told my mom to get the tub filled with warm water, so I can dip in to ease the pain while waiting for hubby to arrive.

In case you’re wondering; NO, I didn’t count the contractions. Graduated AMANI classmates mentioned prior that the “511” count may not be really the case, hence it’s best not to depend on it too much, and rely more on how you feel ie. the contraction’s intensity.

Where are you HUBBY?!!

Hubby arrived. 

I asked him to join me in the shower and massage my back (we learnt a useful massage trick to ease contraction pain from AMANI class). He jumped in.

After a few minutes my mom came in to tell us that the tub is ready. So we both went out the shower and into the tub. Yes, the shower was in one room and the tub was in another. Massaging continued.

Since we were at home, with only hubby by my side, (Mom was not allowed close as I felt it bothered my “zen”. Not in a negative way, she just panicked too much), I got to focus more on getting through the contractions, rather than worry about where I was, who’s touching/watching me or what I was wearing or doing. This was probably the best condition I wanted to be in, to get through the pain.

Then I felt the urge to push. So I just pushed.

I remembered peeing twice & pooping a little, according to hubby after about 30mins, hubby was alarmed with brownish stool presence. Not a lot, short strains, luckily because I just had a big one in the morning. So he cleared the tub to clean it - of course to my outrage. After a scolding, he filled it back again with now not-so-warm water (The tap had been running so long that it ran out of heated water.  Note that until this point, the water in the tub was always left running and the tub unplugged, so as to keep water flowing).

As the massage continued, contractions got shorter but more intense. The massage worked like magic, and every time hubby stopped I’d scream so he’d work those hands again.

One time I tried touching, to see if I can feel my baby’s head or hair. Still none. False alarm. No crowning yet, but this time around I can feel my … soften!

Massaging continued to wonderfully provide an illusion that I was not having labor pain.

Contractions were getting heavier. Hubby and mom were constantly persuading me to go to the hospital. Everything was in the car and ready. But I couldn’t. It was probably mother’s instinct. I felt the “transition” period nearing.

At this point, I was a monster (according to my husband). But for me, I was in my own zone.  The next sensation, I pushed again. Only after hearing my mom telling me to breath, that I recollected myself, then held from pushing. I remembered - Breath the baby out, don’t push. So I told myself “Breath Phya, Breath”.

Breathing was key and I was doing it, but for everyone outside I was making animal sounds. Not puppies. More like turkeys. Much to the concern (and a bit amusement) of hubby.

I felt crowning. I tried touching again and felt a layer of soft balloon-ish surface.

Then, a stinging sensation. Yes, this is what they call the ring of fire.

I just know the baby is coming out. Told husband to get ready.

Alarmed, hubby noticed a gush of water (of different color), which he described as “smoke-in-the-water”. He suspected my water broke. At this point my lower body is still submerged. My position since I entered the tub up to this point had always been crouching with both hands on wall, relying on gravity to do most of the job, with most effective pain-lessening effect.

A few seconds later I felt the baby’s head coming out. Swiftly, spinning a little and swooped out. “Baby keluar!”. Alarmed, but calm, hubby who saw the baby coming received by placing his arm below the head, and the other under body, still in water, and guided our baby out of the water. A process that took at most, 20 seconds, from the point of water-break. Hubby described that he was instinctively drawn to receive the baby the way he did, almost as if someone had guided his hand.
Our baby cried, loud. The sky rained, soft. It was a miracle.

Hubby held the baby on his chest, thanking god – Alhamdulillah – and me for the amazing gift. We were happy and relieved that the baby looks healthy after identifying that she was in good shape. Yes, our baby is a girl. A bit blue, but we’d learned that it was normal for the first few seconds after birth.

Naturally, my mom went hysterical.

After repositioning myself in the tub (which at this point was almost drained), hubby passed the baby to me, and I had my first unforgettable contact with my daughter, chest to chest. My mom gave a towel to cover the baby, and after a few seconds, I started breastfeeding. Hubby recited Azan, and Iqamah.

The feeling - Beautiful, calm, relieved, glorious.  Was in no pain.

After a few minutes regaining my strength, my mom and hubby helped me out the tub to get to the bed. Baby was still on breast, calmer now. However as we reached the side of the bed, I felt another urge. I figured possibly it was a signal to push the placenta out. With hubby pulling me up from the back, the placenta dropped down, spreading on the floor, by the bed, again thanks to gravity.

My mom, an ex-nurse, carefully checked to make sure everything was out. Baby was still connected with the umbilical cord, and at this point her skin is already reddish pink, a good sign she is getting valuable blood from the cord.

My mom called the ambulance some time during the commotion in the tub. About 30mins from the point of labor, the ambulance came. After hubby checked that the cord is clear of blood, we allowed the nurse to clamp. They inspected me, and my showed my husband the tear. Small, 1st degree, but they insisted to stitch out of fear of infection. Although hesitant, we submitted. A small sacrifice we figured, considering everything else went well so far (Although the pain from the stitch later on brought a little regret).

Baby was calm. Hubby held her and recited prayers.

We headed to Sg Buloh, not a choice WE made, but rather because the ambulance was from there. Warded for a night, for monitoring – difficult – but with all that had happened we were just happy that the baby and I were in excellent condition.  In all honesty, the ward and nurses were ok.

Returned home the next day with no complications.

Named the baby Wan Maryam Humayra Binti Wan Mohd Fariz 7 days later, per Sunnah, along with Aqiqah ceremony at Rawang, attended by all grandparents.

Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah.


In light of recent outrage towards homebirth and natural birth alike, we’d like to clarify that ours, although prepared, was an accidental homebirth, unplanned, in fact very weakly planned. Hence the story is in no way an encouragement, but merely a story, OUR story.

Although we do believe in natural births, we also recommend sufficient enough understanding of it, mentally, physically and medically. I had done much preparation during my pregnancy, both researching on Hypnobirths and attending AMANI classes, both which I had found very useful in helping me and my hubby prepare for labor, in a sense that it provided us a good understanding of the process, how to face it, and more importantly, its risks.

We would also like to emphasize that no birth is without risk, be it at a hospital or at home, natural or induced. Which is why it is considered Jihad. But if there is any way to help us prepare for it, we should.

We also believe that mothers who support natural birth are not anti-hospitals as most perceive, notably with so many hospitals already practicing pro-natural-birth policies. In fact, everyone wants a good experience, coupled by safety precautions.

However, all of us can agree that there are shortcomings, both in public and private facilities, and there is more that can be done to improve this. So instead of taking a negative approach by condemning one another, there needs to be an effort to find common ground. This, of course, cannot be done with intention of making profit. After all, water-births (a form of natural births despised by some professional practitioners), and natural births, are both offered at some professional institutions, albeit at a higher cost (some outrageously high in Malaysia). So, natural birth is really a matter of choice for discussion by both hospitals and mothers, rather than a debate of technicality or feasibility, which only widens the gap. After all, we all aim to avoid tragedy, be it in form of a traumatizing experience, or loss of life.

For us personally, aiming for natural birth, and attending the classes helped tremendously in preparing us mentally, spiritually and physically, so as to allow us to keep a calm approach to the unusual case of my 1st labor experience, an experience that can well go wrong, but didn’t, thankfully.

By God’s will, everything happened in a way that it could not have happened in any other way. So although we may want my next labor to be in a fancy water-birth pool with a highly paid specialist monitoring, we could not have asked for more during this one, as everything went, at least to us, more beautifully and easily than we expected.

Although it was by Allah’s will, we cannot deny preparations did play a part in ensuring that the process went smooth, the transition - fast, and that we knew what needed to be done.

So we thank the Almighty for it, along with everybody that made it possible. That includes our family, friends, Sg Buloh General Hospital ambulance, nurses, doctors, books, Ina May, the GBG Malaysia and not least, Hanz of AMANI Birth Class.

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