Arya shares her story of having two babies at Birthvillage, and having a strange twist in the tale both times…
“Three years ago, when I got pregnant, I had never heard of Birthvillage. It was 2014, my husband,Vinu and I were living in Singapore. During my early pregnancy, I was in Kerala, and went to several institutions, for checkups etcI have to also add I am a qualified nurse by profession and knew precisely ins and out of the healthcare system . But I found it a far from satisfying experience. It was always that they were asking me all their questions, but there was no space for to connect, or talk and ask my side of things. But since I had no idea about any other option, I continued with it. I went back to Singapore after the first few months, and yes, the situation was different there. The careproviders were much more friendly…but everything was heavily medicalized. I was still not fully comfortable with the state of things.
Then, one day as I was looking up something on Youtube, I cam across a video by Dr. Pradeep Challiyil, where he talked about the natural birth that his wife had for their baby. I found it very interesting, informative and was inspired by that story. And I began to search for how I could have a natural birth in Kerala. As that search progressed, one day I came across information about Birthvillage.
I called the centre, and had a long and detailed conversation with Priyanka. That one conversation where I got to talk and clear all the questions in my mind…it gave me so much confidence that by the time I hung up the phone, my mind was made up that this is the place I would want to have my baby at. And so, I arrived in Kerala at Week 29 and my first appointment at Birthvillage happened at Week 31. It was a great experience. I felt so relaxed and confident. When I used to consult at the institution, I got a maximum of 2 or 3 minutes with the careprovider, but here all my doubts were cleared, I was told in detail about the diet and the exercises I needed to follow, and I followed all of it.
My native place is at Piravom, about 30 km away from Ernakulam. But I made sure that twice a week I would travel down for the workout classes. The thought of having my husband with me for the birth was a huge plus point for me. I had never even thought that it would be possible, and we were both very happy and looking forward to this experience that we could share together. A few weeks before my due date, my husband came down from Singapore, and we spent a wonderful few weeks, preparing for the baby’s arrival. As the due date came, and went…we began to have a small concern. My husband had a prefixed official meeting in Norway, which he could not miss. But we waited, and much to my relief 3 days before he would have to leave, I had the mucus plug discharge, and slight back pain started. The baby’s head was down but in a posterior position is what we found out. Over the next couple of days, it was a slow progress. And sadly, it was time for my husband to leave. He left for the airport, and that night the contractions intensified.
I called my midwife, who told me to come in to the centre. When I got there I was 7 cm dilated. I stayed back there in the center,Priyanka ,Donna and Paula was with me all the time helping me with each contration .I was blessed to be with those beautiful souls and even now I feel so connected to three of them. The labour was not progressing ,even though I was fully dilated but had no urge to push. I was quite tired, and when the next stage of birth was not happening on its own, it was a bit disheartening. My midwife, who knew I was disappointed at not having my husband with me, and in a labour that was going so slow.(we had crossed allmost 14 hours by now in the same state)..told me that although technically there was no problem with the labour, she asked if I would like to go in for any other interventions at a higher facility. I didn’t want to take that choice, after working so hard for a natural birth. We decided that if nothing changed in an hour, then we would take a decision about that.
After this conversation, I felt my resolve getting stronger. I was able to focus on the birth, and really step into that space with a strong intention. And soon, the urge to push began to happen! It was time to get into the pool to birth. But after I got in the pool I found it so relaxing that I began to doze off. My midwife was firm about what to do next – I was to be out of the pool and get going with this birth. I got out and used the birth rope, and felt the baby’s head when it crowned. This moment gave me a fresh surge of focus. I remember thinking ‘I’ve got to get this baby out anyway…so might as well focus and do this right now instead of spending more rime prolonging this.’ I really focused on my surges to bear down and in a little while my son entered the world. And I remember feeling this amazement that my body has this magnificent and powerful ability!And another point to note is that I birthed in the caul.(My son was born with the amniotic sac intact)
Part II: My Fast and furious water birth and Lotus birth
I conceived my second baby in May 2017. This time there was no confusion about where to go or how to birth, of course! The only difference was that in the second pregnancy I took no tablets or supplements…and focused only on eating healthy. My early pregnancy was affectedby severe morning sicknesss , lost few kilograms from my prepregancy weight so there were absolutely no food restrictions at the beginning of the pregnancy! I could eat what I wanted, when I wanted. My desire was to have a water birth and a lotus birth.
I arrived in India in my 11th week, and although there was much morning sickness, by the 20th week or so, this had cleared up. This time around, I was doing a meditation process that I found helpful to me, and somehow there was a deep confidence in me that I would have a good birth. I came to workouts, taking a bus with no problems or tensions. And since I was at home with my parents, there was nothing for me to responsible for, or be in charge of. In all it was a really relaxed and peaceful pregnancy.
Then, at week 36 I began to feel a discomfort at night. I waited till early morning, and then called my midwife. She suggested it may be a good idea to tell my husband to fly home to Kerala. He got a flight immediately and got home. And the contractions stopped! After a few weeks of waiting, he flew back to Singapore. And I continued the wait. I was on my 40th week and on 25th January, I had to come to the centre for my weekly checkup. The same day morning around 6.30am onwards i had a slight discomfort with back pain so mentioned to my midwife during check up section. Since it was a long weekend for Republic day, she suggested that I stay in the city instead of going the two way travel on the same day, when traffic was bound to be bad. I had my checkup and then headed to workout. In the middle of workout, Ii started to feel the discomfort intensify. After the false alarm weeks before, I was in two minds whether to call my husband, but then I did. And asked him to get back here asap.
I stayed at my cousins flat that evening, and felt like taking a hot shower, which gave me some relief, but I also felt like labour was establishing pretty well. So I called my midwife, who had just got back to the door of her house after attending several back to back births, but she turned the car around and headed back to the centre, telling me to head there.
The traffic was crazy that evening. It took me an hour and a half to reach Birthvillage. Meanwhile, as I was stuck in traffic, the birthpool was being prepared for my arrival and Donna sent me a picture of them doing so. I reached the centre at 8.10pm around 8.30pm I called Vinu, who was waiting in the airport to board, and got into the pool, very quickly I got the urge to push, and by 9.13 pm the baby was born! Another beautiful boy added to our family.
From the pool, we did a Whatsapp video call to Vinu who was shocked out of his wits to see me in the pool holding our son just after 40 minutes of my last call ! At least this time, he really wanted to be there! It was such a smooth water birth – I did my breathing as I was used to doing in my meditation practice, and some mudras that I was confident would help. I don’t if it was that or how much that contributed to the ease of the process, but it was a wonderfully smooth experience this time around!And this time around i birthed in the caul again!!!
And to end it all, that delicious cup of hot chocolate – was the most satisfying thing my body received! That night, I was resting peacefully with my baby, and his placenta next to him. I don’t know if this is true or if it has a significance, but I had heard that lotus birthed babies are generally calm -and I have found this to be true in the case of my second son. By morning, my husband arrived. My midwife and the nurse Bincy stayed overnight to make sure I had all the help I needed. I had a deep and calm confidence that this birth would be a smooth one, and it was! Thanks so much to the team at Birthvillage who made sure it was so! Thanks a ton BV team… without you my journey of birth wouldn’t be this beautiful, I am missing Donna’s ,the energy packed workout sessions… LOVE YOU ALL !!