The 8 Changes I Made Between My First and Second Births
What does Queen in Training Mean to Me?
I have two precious little girls. I have had two incredibly different birth experiences. Before my 3 year old was born, I had never heard of BIRTHFIT and didn’t know what it meant to be a Queen in Training. I learned so much between these births, that for me they are a stark example of the power of the four pillars of BIRTHFIT and the Queen in Training mindset.
Here are the 8 ways I have transitioned from princess to queen in training during my second pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
1) Improved fitness – I was unsure of what I should be doing during my first pregnancy, so I quit my gym membership and solely walked for fitness. While walking was good during my first pregnancy, I gained the confidence to lift weights and move in an athletic way to train for my second birth.
2) Confidence in my movements – The class that I attended most often during my second pregnancy did involve some flexion movements that I knew were not ideal for pregnancy. Rather than doing them anyway because everyone else was doing them, or not coming to class, I simply subbed in BIRTHFIT’s Functional Progressions and other appropriate functional movements when necessary. I listened to my body and didn’t worry about what others in the class would think about me doing something different. I learned about many of these movements through the online BIRTHFIT Prenatal Program.
3) Chiropractic care – During my first pregnancy, I had no back pain. Because I had no pain, I did not prioritize getting adjusted. I didn’t think about chiropractic care as an opportunity to have my pelvis and sacrum in ideal alignment so my opening would be as large as possible and the baby could position herself ideally. My first baby was asynclitic (head tilted) and occiput posterior (sunny-side up). During my second pregnancy I prioritized my self-care including regular chiropractic adjustments even in the absence of pain.
4) Mindset preparation – I had virtually no mindset preparation during my first pregnancy. I did take a class to educate myself on labor, but I didn’t even think about practicing time in an intentionally relaxed state while I was pregnant. During my second pregnancy, I used the app Expectful to practice meditations throughout pregnancy and during labor.
5) Creating my ideal environment for labor – During my first labor, I stayed home in the early parts and then moved to my friend and doula’s home until it was time to go to the hospital. My only big concern about my environment was its proximity to the hospital. I remember feeling like a “watched pot” and felt a weird pressure for labor to progress since I had already involved so many of my loved ones (I know this sounds silly since my birth team loved me and wasn’t actually pressuring me in any way). Between labors, it was pointed out to me that no other species fears birth. They simply found a safe place and did their thing. If a predator approached, labor naturally stopped so that they could go into “fight or flight” mode, and labor began again when it was safe for the mom and her young. I knew that the second time around, it was important for me to labor more like a bear in a cave. In order for me to get into as much of a primal and relaxed state as possible, I labored in the comfort of my own bedroom. I meditated through most of my contractions while lying in my own bed, or in my own bathtub. This allowed me to fully feel comfortable vocalizing as needed. I even told my husband to sleep while he could and I’d wake him up when I needed him.
6) Trust in my body’s ability to progress during labor – During my first labor, I felt like I had to constantly change positions or else I wasn’t trying hard enough for labor progress. I squatted, walked, leaned, lunged, bounced, and did basically anything else you can think of to try to force labor to keep moving forward. While I do think it is important to move and get into comfortable positions during labor, throughout my second labor I truly trusted that my body knew what it was doing and that it was going to continue to progress as long as I was in a position that was working for me. I ended up spending much of my active labor laying on my side as I focused on my breath, breathing the baby down, relaxing, and allowing my vagina to open.
7) Trust in my body’s natural timing – During my first labor I had an app to time contractions. I’d look for my start and stop button, and between contractions would analyze whether they were getting closer together or longer to show myself that I was progressing. I would get frustrated if I had a large gap between contractions and think that I was doing something wrong. Little did I know, that every time I looked at my phone, I was kicking myself out of the primal state needed for labor and into a more sympathetic “fight or flight” state. During my second labor, I didn’t even look at a clock or timer. I trusted that labor would ebb and flow. I took longer breaks between contractions as a glorious chance to get some rest.
8) Mindset around the tub during labor – During my first labor, getting into the tub seemed to make contractions stop altogether. I viewed this as completely negative and was frustrated when it happened. When I decided to get into the tub during my second labor, I got in knowing that the same thing might happen. When contractions did space out and get less intense, I enjoyed the hour of rest. While the four or so contractions that I had while in the tub felt less intense, in hindsight I truly believe these were some of the most productive contractions that I had in moving baby down. By not getting in my own head about it, I was able to allow them to truly be as effective as possible.
Those are the major differences in my preparation and my mindset going into my second labor and delivery, but what were the two births actually like?
Baby 1- 43 hour labor. My plan going in was to have an unmedicated vaginal birth. I ended up having an epidural 37 hours in, and a forceps delivery. I had a second degree tear and was in severe pain for days and moderate pain for weeks following delivery.
Baby 2- 9 hour labor (maybe half or less of which was active labor). My plan again was to have an unmedicated vaginal birth. I ended up having my baby in the car on the way to the hospital. I had no tearing, and felt great as soon as she was born.
While I obviously didn’t plan to have a baby in the front seat of our car, if I could choose my favorite birth, I would, by far, choose my second. I credit so much of that to my preparation and the confidence I had from stepping into my role as a queen in training.
Jamie Thomure, DCBIRTHFIT Chicago Western Suburbs @birthfit_chicago_western_burbs