My Pregnancy Journeys Hypnobirthing, Water Births and C-Sections.
Updated: Jul 7, 2022
Giving Birth in Dubai.
I gave birth to my first child 10 days before my 40th birthday. It was the best birthday present I could have ever wished for. In fact, I didn’t even celebrate my birthday because giving birth to a healthy baby was more than enough of a celebration. It was just as COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and quarantine had started to trickle into society in the UAE.
I only met ‘the one’ when I had just turned 37, so it really was a dream come true to have fallen in love, settled down, marry, and have a baby – all in two years! But let me get to the point of this blog and tell you about my actual pregnancy and birthing experience.
Hypnobirthing was always something I wanted to do. I also wanted to do a waterbirth. Fortunately, I had connected with Jasmin Collins who is an incredible teacher and woman. She really helped my husband and I learn more about natural methods for pain relief and mindfulness labouring. We were loaded with meditation techniques, birthing empowerment mantras and visualisations to stay calm, rational, relaxed, and educated during labour and birth.
Back in 2020, when water birthing was still relatively new in the UAE, not all hospitals had the facility for a water birth labour. Even today, in 2022, women can’t give birth in their homes. It must be in a hospital. Thankfully, at the time there were three hospitals that had water birthing facilities and one was Mediclinic City hospital. I had found an obstetrician who had mixed reviews from the birthing community in Dubai, but she was the nicest person and I felt very comfortable with her whenever I met her for a check-up appointment. She welcomed me after 36 weeks of pregnancy because I had a fall out with my previous Swedish obstetrician based in Umm Sequim, who had fat shamed me on my last visit. She told me that putting on 13 kg at 36 weeks was a lot. She said I should not be asking her ‘silly’ hypnobirthing questions on delayed cord clamping. Instead, I needed to not eat too much and focus on my weight and diet. And she even added, “French women only put on 7-8 kg.” I was very puzzled and very upset, because I had heard that between 11 kg to 16 kg was the average weight gain. Also, considering I was not French, and I was a very hormonal pregnant woman about to give birth, I felt very unsupported and disappointed in her approach.
Moving on, on the day of my birth, I had all the tools and techniques at hand. I had the following equipment packed for hypnobirthing at the hospital:
A stability ball for bouncing on and moving to help with pain management and getting the baby in the right position.
Mood lights, such as fake candles or colourful ceiling lights to calm my nerves.
An oil burner with essential oils to help my mood and create a safe and relaxing environment. I practically loved lavender, rose and frankincense essential oils.
A thin comb to use for pressure points in my hands, which alleviates pain.
A long wide shawl for lifting my belly and this was used on me with help from my husband or doula.
Massage and soothing strokes from my husband and doula to keep me focused and relaxed.
A speaker to play my meditative music during the labour.
It was 18 hours of contractions with no pain relief medication or gas and air, at all. I didn’t eat anything during this time because I was so focused, I wasn’t hungry, and I didn’t sleep. Both of which I do not advise doing because you need all the energy you can get for labour.
For six hours, I was at home practicing hypnobirthing and when the pain grew more intense and the contractions were about five minutes apart, lasting about one minute over one hour, I knew it was time to go to hospital. This is known as the 5:1:1 technique in hypnobirthing. I then was taken to hospital by my husband Yousuf, and we were in the labour room for another 12 hours. I got into the water when I was six inches dilated and eventually, I gave birth in the water to our daughter, Noura, at 4:24pm on January 8th.
In hindsight, I wish someone had told me that giving birth was like pushing in a way that was like doing the biggest and toughest dookie of your life. No one ever said that to me, but had I known I would have pushed in a way that could have made my daughter come out faster, I think. Also, I soon realised that pushing on your side, with both feet on one side of the tub, or pushing with both feet on the bottom of the tub, in a squatting position, really helped speed up the birth once I was 10cm dilated. Fortunately, my doula Louise was by my side throughout the whole process holding my hand and supporting myself and my sweet (but slightly panicked) husband. Having a supportive and experienced woman who has seen many births, helping me through the pain, really highlighted my gratitude for the female community because this is how I had found her, through a network of women.
My second birthing experience, by C-Section
One thing I will say is, never expect anything to turn out as you plan because my second child was a far cry from a natural water birth. I had found a wonderful obstetrician, Dr Braithwaite, who at the time was at King’s College Hospital in Dubai Hills. They also have a wonderful water birthing room. But just like Mediclinic City hospital, it is a first come first served basis so there is no guarantee you will be able to use the room on the day. Dr Braithwaite is known for being one of the best pro natural vaginal birthing doctors in Dubai. She was known for water births which is what I had hoped for again. She is applauded for fantastic work with difficult births, and even delivering breech babies vaginally. She was one of the most wonderful doctors I had met in Dubai who was very supportive of my hypnobirthing vision of birthing.
I had been slightly disappointed with my first obstetrician who delivered Noura because she wanted me to get out of the water after an hour of active labour. No doubt, if it hadn’t been for Louise, my doula, and my midwife, who were very supportive in telling me and my previous obstetrician that I should stay longer in the water, my birthing experience would have been very different indeed. I felt like she would have taken me out of the water and made me feel stressed eventually perhaps used forceps. This is because I have heard she had used them on others and some mothers were not happy with this experience.
But back to Dr Braithwaite, and my second pregnancy. At 38 weeks my baby decided to turn into a breech position. I was told to try looking into ways to naturally turn my baby back into the best position. I retreated to ‘Spinning Babies’ with a plethora of information on how to turn breech babies around. I also tried acupuncture during the last 10 days, but sadly, none of these solutions worked and I had several questions and options about my birth to consider. Do I try an external cephalic version? Would I be prepared for an emergency C-Section if it does not work? Or do I opt for a planned C-section? After weighing all the possibilities, at 39 weeks, I decided to go for the caesarean. Dr Braithwaite was the most supportive, calm, and caring doctor throughout my decision-making process. She was even very supportive in doing a vaginal breech birth. Maybe I should have had more faith in my body to do that but the worry of having an emergency C-section was too overbearing for me. In the end, I felt that if my baby was healthy, and we were both safe, any way of giving birth was the best way. And perhaps my second daughter was teaching me a lesson in life that is that I don’t choose the birth she does.
The delivery was fast and relaxing. I am not one to like any needles going into my body, so I must admit the spinal anaesthesia and epidural was not the most pleasant of feelings. But nonetheless, I was grateful to be in good hands and that my baby girl was doing well during the C-section. I still implemented some hypnobirthing tools, and we did a delayed cord clamping so the baby would continue to get the blood flow form the placenta for longer. Did you know one minute allows baby to receive 80 ml of blood from the placenta and after three minutes this increases to 100 ml and benefits for the baby are vast? (For further information visit here).
Dr Braithwaite allowed me to put soothing music on in the operating room, she was even singing with Yousuf, my husband. After baby Nyla came out, she handed her to daddy for skin-to-skin bonding, to soothe her into the world, then later I held her in my arms, skin-to-skin, for most of 24 hours. The endorphins and oxytocin produced holding my daughter was the best feeling in the world. She was also left in vernix caseosa to help her build her immune system with antimicrobial properties. It also moisturises her skin and helps regulate her body temperature.
If anyone is looking for Dr Braithwaite, she has recently moved to HMS Mirdiff hospital. If I have an opportunity to have a third healthy birth, I will be visiting her there.
About my birth
My favourite birthing hospitals in Dubai: Mediclinic City Hospital and King’s College Hospital.