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Childbirth Interviews

Childbirth Interview : Sarah Appleby

@oksarahappleby

Who are you / what do you do in life?

I’m Sarah Appleby and I’m a make-up artist.

How old are you?

I am 34 years old.

In which city do you live?

Brooklyn, New York.

Is this your first birth?

Yes, I have one son, Otto (he’s 10.5 months old).

Are you rather a living encyclopedia of childbirth or do you live in total ignorance and rely on your instinct?

Approaching pregnancy for the first time, what really resonated with me and gave me a peace about it all was the fact that women, for thousands of years, have had similar birth approaches, relying on the wonder of how our bodies were made for this. It has only been in the last 50 or so years we have started to change the way we birth. I did not read many books, or obsess too much with scenarios - I kept present and got to enjoy the continuous amazement of pregnancy. One book that was quite powerful was Ina May’s “Guide to Childbirth”. Although I do not agree with everything, I loved her approach. We, as women, were made for childbirth. Unfortunately, media and society have lent to this notion that birth is scary, painful and dramatic, like the movies. It was important to me to carry out my pregnancy with gratitude, for it is all such a gift. I was extremely excited for the moment of labor, birth and to meet my baby, my future.

Childbirth with or without epidurals? Why?

Of course, I knew that medically an epidural may have been necessary in an emergency situation, however, I really wanted to feel it all. My instinct was that I am a strong woman, physically and mentally, plus I was made for childbirth. I had a girlfriend that had a wonderful home-birth, I was really encouraged by this. I knew if she could do it, so could I. Although I was not interested in having a home birth in Brooklyn, I found an amazing Birthing Center, LOMA in Lower Manhattan - it was as close to a home birth I could find, in NYC. I was incredibly grateful to able to work with the midwives. My husband Daniel and I went to a (mandatory) Birth Class and the woman said to our group there are two ways women feel in control; one was to feel everything (me) and the other was to not be in pain (some other women) - therefore we choose our birthing plans around that. One thing I wish I could change about pregnancy and birth is the judgement felt on all sides. They is no superiority in childbirth, no matter HOW you got to the place of holding your little cub, YOU are a WARRIOR. I wish women would stop feeling less or more depending on their birth story. Women are powerful and what matters is we all carry and nourish our babies and bring them into this world to love them, it’s all so personal.

Your level of stress / fear compared to childbirth between 1 and 10?

I was not naive to the birthing process, some women have complications, it can be extremely stressful, but I welcomed the entire experience. I did not feel stress at all. I think it was more anxiousness, to finally feel those labor pains, to utilize all the tools Daniel and I had learned, to stay inward, to bring my first child into the world in the best way I could, and finally, to meet the little cub! It was all very exciting, as we did not find out the gender. The curiosity of the entire process leading unto my first contractions was enjoyable.

What have you ever been told about giving birth, and what would you have liked to know? And what did you find the hardest? Pregnancy, childbirth?

The one thing I did not know, I wish I had, is that breastfeeding for the first time can be really, really hard. It was very challenging for me! Of course, you have a new baby who is teaching you so much so fast, you are focusing on healing and recovering from birth and trying so hard to make breastfeeding work! It takes two of you and your wee one is also trying to learn! It took around 4/5 weeks for Otto and myself to be a confident feeding/eating duo. That was after many days and nights of cringing in pain when he latched (Otto had a tremendous latch, but it took time for us to both figure each other out), this all compiled with the emotional stress of being Otto’s sustainability! I am a huge advocate to putting in the time and work to breastfeed, it is worth it all and more. I have said to my first time Mama friends since going through this that it is worth the effort to making it work, patience and perseverance is key. Breastfeeding is beautiful and so rewarding for both Mother and child. I am still breastfeeding Otto morning and night, and I am thankful we have this together, it is something I cherish very much.

How did you prepare for your delivery?

I strongly feel that pregnancy and birth is the most important ‘marathon’ you will train for in your life, physically, mentally and emotionally. Both pregnancy and birth require a lot from our body. It baffles me how some women stop everything when they are pregnant, (of course with the exception of women who experience complications!) this is the time you need to be the strongest in every aspect of life! Throughout pregnancy, I kept doing all of my normal workouts. Although I noticed my breathing changed, my endurance changed, my stamina changed, my BODY changed, I felt powerful and strong. I ran through 35 weeks, did spin class through 37 weeks and yoga up until birth. Although at times, I dreaded working out as my body felt tired at times, I was best and happiest post work out. To prepare for birth, my husband Daniel and I went to the Birthing class, the instructor made mention of Oprah Winfrey running a marathon and BREAKING 4.5 HOURS! Who knew! But she commented that Oprah also had a large group of her people running all around her cheering her on. Her time was testament to the team she surrounded herself with. Hence why putting together a birth team is crucial to having at the experience you hope for. Daniel and I worked with an amazing Doula who was extremely helpful in preparation and setting up our expectations. She also gave Daniel wonderful tools so he was equipped to assist and support me. I also put together a birth plan, which essentially put everything I had hoped for during my labor and birth, on paper, so everyone was on the same page. With that said, I was extremely flexible as there are so many components to birth. It sometimes does not turn out the way you want. I really felt as though both my husband and my Doula knew what was important to me, and they both worked really hard for me to be supported in all of it. In terms of diet, I wasn’t really strict, everything in moderation, the only thing I really changed was that I always had food on me at all times, it is incredible how quickly you become ravenous when pregnant! Finally, I did not drink. It was a personal decision, I love my wine, but was much more conservative when carrying my wee one. All of the above gave me so much confidence going into my last weeks pregnant to feel as ready and prepared as I could be. The anticipation was tangible and I continually felt so blessed to be building/carrying, my first baby.

An amusing story or not during your delivery?

During labor, as my doula warned me, you think you know what you will want (positions/space/ambience etc.), but it may be very different. I went into it very openly. My husband purchased me Noise Canceling Headphones, which I wore almost my entire labor! I went from a birthing playlist, to classical. In early labor, I was pacing at home and when my contractions started getting more intense, I would labour kneeling, on all fours. I was content going inward, listening to my body and focusing on my breathing. I wanted to be in tune with my body. I wanted to feel everything.

When Alix + Onur were pregnant with Ellis, our Goddaughter, before we knew who she was, we were at dinner and they told us the boys name they loved was Otto. Then there was Ellis and then we stole Otto (with permission!) and made him ours.

And if you had to do it again?

I am not sure I will do anything differently on round two. I am sure I will have to be a little more flexible having Otto around now, but I look forward to being pregnant again, it was such a joyous time in my life. I feel extremely fortunate to have had a healthy, happy, supported pregnancy. I am very aware this is not the experience of every woman.

A tip for our readers?

There are many things I love to share with women about birth, it is powerful, ethereal, hard - it is very hard (the hardest thing I have ever done!), but it is the most transformative and a life changing experience. It is a gift. I am astounded at the strength of the female body.  Probably the most upsetting misconception I would love to clear up, is that it does not have to be enveloped in fear. I wish I could speak to women that fear birth, empower them to really believing that their body is more than capable. To first time Mamas to be, I would say surround yourself with some like-minded women that had a birth experience you admire, talk with them, be encouraged by them, find people who view birth the way you do and then find your team - surround yourself during birth with people that love you and support your vision for birth, after all this is the moment you meet your future.

Childbirth Interview : Dora Saint-Germain

@yogadooo

Who are you / what do you do in life?

I am a mom and a yoga teacher. I put it in this order because I changed my job, my pace to spend as much time as possible with my children.

How old are you?

30 years old and a bit.

In which city do you live?

Boulogne-Billancourt.

Give us an essential info to know about you?

That I always have an essential oil on me to cure the small evils of everyday life.

Is this your first birth?

Second.

Are you rather a living encyclopedia of childbirth or do you live in total ignorance and rely on your instinct?

In total ignorance for my first, and for my second, I had become an expert, well almost.

Childbirth with or without epidurals? Why?

With and without.

The first time, I did not even ask myself the question because I was triggered. The artificial contractions were so sharp that I gasped. So, epidural. We had to put it back three times because it only worked on one side. And I had so metered that my leg remained stiff for a few weeks.

For my second, I had prepared for a natural birth. The option of the epidural was not an option.

But after 15 hours of work, with a collar of 10 for 6 hours (normally the baby comes out in the hour at this point), I was at the end of the roller. My baby did not come down and was blocked by something. It was caesarean or epidural. I quickly made my choice. And accept that this delivery happens differently than I had imagined and planned. The anesthetist stayed next to me until the baby arrived. She dosed the epidural and reassured me: "There are not 9 out of 10 people who would have endured what you just endured."

Your level of stress / fear compared to childbirth between 1 and 10?

First time 0. I was swimming in a soft focus. I wanted to know nothing and see. Live my own experience.

Second 8, I had too many expectations compared to everything I had read. Everything is not going as planned. For example, I could not guess that my tailbone was hooked and that it was preventing my baby from going down. We must leave space for the unexpected.

What have you ever been told about giving birth, and what would you have liked to know?

You are an actress of your birth. You decide what you want. Nobody can impose it on you. Listen, of course, but if you are not in tune with what you are offered, especially talk to the midwife and the doctors. Only you know what's best for you and your baby.

What did you find the hardest? Pregnancy, childbirth?

Childbirth. I had very long deliveries. It takes a good mental strength and a nice husband who massages me, speaks to me, cuddles me to hold.

How did you prepare for your delivery?

For my second I did the tutti quanti. Haptonomy, sophro, acupuncture, homeopathy, osteopathy, hypnensity, swimming, Bonapace method, sound vibrations, playlist, positive thoughts and yoga practice of course. Was all this really necessary? No. Choose what's important to you.

An amusing story or not during your delivery?

For the first, we were already in the hospital for 3 days before I was triggered. I have the first contractions (artificial) at 2 o'clock in the morning. They were so strong that I could hardly handle the pain, I was shaking all over. The moment I was put on the catheter, my husband came back with his coffee. Livid, he loses consciousness and suddenly falls stiff as a stake on the ground. A pool of blood appears. I scream. I thought he was dead. "What am I doing here? Oh, I'm bleeding" he told me with a big, bloody smile. "Do not move" I said panicked. Midwives and doctors help my husband get up. State of play: broken nose. We left each other on our side in a wheelchair, he in the emergency room, me in the delivery room. A new nose for a newborn. I assure you he did not miss anything despite the 5 hours he was absent. Our loved ones come to see our wonder. "My poor Gérôme, did you have pain?” Hello friends, it was me who gave birth.

And if you had to do it again?

I can not imagine not being pregnant anymore, and therefore not giving birth anymore. YES, bring it on! But not right now, I let my body rest. It's a real marathon to give birth for me. 23h work for the first and 17h for the second, it's really a lot! For the third, let's hope he comes out like a flower.

A tip for our readers?

Trust yourself, whether for a natural birth or not. Prepare yourself psychologically if you wish and assume your animal side. And repeat a little mantra, a short sentence "Everything I need to succeed, I already have it in me". Your body knows what to do, trust it.

PS: I found you a little summary schema ;)


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