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Age 38 and “Past Due.” Here’s How I Still Had My Dream Natural Birth

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My baby’s due date came and went.

“Maybe I missed some age-related complication,” I thought. At age 38, my mind churned with bleak what-ifs, especially after my miscarriage.

Worse, people around me buzzed day and night about when Baby would get here...

My gal pal texted about twice a day, riveted by the drama.

My apartment neighbor kept knocking to ask if Baby was kicking or if I “noticed anything.”

My mom-in-law called (and kept calling). “Has Baby arrived yet? What will you do if Baby is late?”

I didn’t have good answers.

So there I was, “past due,” like some kind of lost library book racking up fines.

Yet My Midwife Wasn’t Worried at All

“We’ll talk about naturally inducing labor at 41 weeks,” she said.

Here I was at “only” 40 weeks, which was already nearly 10 months.

But she reminded me:

Delivering up through week 42 is normal. It wasn’t purely her opinion, either…

That’s the official opinion of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM).

AND, turns out there’s an extra week of error margin (even with the best ultrasounds) since due dates are based on the first day of a pregnant woman’s last menstrual cycle.

So my due date was a blindfolded-dart-throwing guesstimate at best. The reality was more like a due MONTH.

But my head still went numb from stress thinking about waiting around. I couldn’t just sit there!

That’s when I remembered how a woman’s body does most of the birthing work for you if you can boost one hormone to jump-start the process...

My New Mission: Naturally Induce Labor

I wobbled to the table and plopped down at my laptop.

I asked the Google genie all about how to naturally boost oxytocin -- the lovey-cuddly-feel-good hormone that also makes the uterus contract to give birth. (I talked about that in depth in the last blog post.)

I also tore through every book on my bookshelf about pregnancy, birth, and labor.

Then I started testing like a mad woman. Here’s a partial laundry list of what I tried to up my oxytocin:

Appreciation

Appreciation - I closed my eyes, put my hand on my heart and felt deeply thankful for people I loved.

Giving

Giving - I started giving neighbors and friends simple, homemade gifts. I also sent emails infused with love and appreciation.

The icing on the cake? I gave to causes that really moved me. Even small amounts here and there made me feel great.

Baths

Baths - I soaked daily in warm, relaxing baths. I like using Epsom salts, but even simple warm water can be heaven.

Long Hugs

Long hugs - I often asked my husband for 20-second hugs. It felt a little strange at first, but that warm-n-fuzzy feeling kicked in every time.

Walking

Walking - I walked every day on my lunch break. More on walking later.

Laughing

Laughing - I binge-watched Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and I was glued to the blooper reels on YouTube for my favorite TV shows.

Deep Breaths

Deep breaths - Slow, conscious, easy, toes-scrunched-into-warm-beach-sand deep breaths. (You can imagine the beach part. You don’t have to go.)

Lounge-Style Relaxation

Lounge-Style Relaxation - I lounged on the couch. I yawned and sighed. I stared through the window. I gazed at the trees. You get the idea!

Meditation

Meditation - I’ve been meditating the ages-old way (focusing away from thoughts) for decades.

That said, while I was pregnant, I did my favorite visualization instead…

I simply closed my eyes and imagined my dream birth over and over again. I saw my baby in my arms for the first time, until I felt love flood my body. Tears often flowed with the love.

Music

Music - I made a 5-hour playlist of love songs and ballads for labor, but it helped me way before labor ever started. Every song tugged at my heartstrings. It helped calm me and warm my heart.

Massage

Massage - I asked my husband for many hip and foot massages. Mmmmmmm...

Reese Leyva

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Cuddles

Cuddles - I also asked Hubby for oodles and oodles of cuddles.

Nipple stimulation

Nipple stimulation - Because... oxytocin!

Indulging in awe

Indulging in awe - Y’know that feeling you get when you see a picture of a stunning sunset? Or a swirly galaxy in outer space? Or any sort of stunning scenery? That spine-tingling, soul-tickling awe?

Yeah, that boosts oxytocin!

In the list above, I enjoyed the music and hugs most.

There’s also a simple physical movement (not on the list) that was great for boosting oxytocin. And it was priceless for easing labor later.

Yet after five days of labor not kicking in, I wanted to do MORE!

My Next Adventure to Naturally Induce Labor ASAP...

I started walking. Not leisurely walking, either... (And no, this isn’t the movement I mentioned a few lines above.)

Holding Hubby’s hand, I hiked through a hilly park with gentle slopes and inclines to massage Baby down onto my cervix. That triggers oxytocin and helps open the cervix to prep for labor.

For two days, we left close to dusk each day and found our way back in the dark. We’d walk and walk until I was tired and happy, and Hubby was exhausted.

The walking was working! Or so I thought...

I had strong contractions both nights until I went to bed. They were yummy, like Baby tapping Morse Code in my belly to say, “I’m coming!”

But in the mornings, the contractions were gone. I was speechless.

So, after those two days of walking (while still meditating and hugging and cuddling with music), I was spent.

“I give up,” I said. I HAD to give myself a break.

“No more meditating. No more walking. No more thinking about labor. Baby will come when he or she (I didn’t know which!) is ready. No sooner. If we end up in the hospital getting induced for whatever reason, it’s okay. It’s time for me to stop trying so hard.”

And I did. I went to sleep in peace that night.

What Happened the Next Morning Surprised Even Me

I got up to go to the bathroom around 5:30 am.

When I climbed back into bed, my water broke. YESSSSSSSSS! (And thank goodness for plastic lining beneath the sheets!)

The real contractions started quickly. I tried to sleep after Hubby removed the wet sheets, but the contractions wouldn’t let me.

By 7 am, they were so strong we called my midwife. She said to rest a little more and to call her back in an hour.

My uterine muscles stunned me with their power. It was so strange to feel my own muscles contract on their own.

They knew exactly what to do!

But realizing I had no control over these contractions was both fascinating and a little frightening.

I clung to my husband. He was my rock and my grounding cord.

Around 8 am Hubby, called our midwife a second time to let her know the contractions were strong and frequent.

By then, time already stood still for me. The morning light was frozen in my windows. The air was still and quiet.

Anything more than 18 inches away from me didn’t matter anymore. I was in Labor Land.

Hubby held my hand almost the entire time.

The ONE time he left my side -- the only time during labor when we weren’t touching -- my contraction shot through me like a lightening bolt.

I felt soothed as soon as Hubby returned. Then…

Here We Go…Time to Ride the Waves!

Then came a build-up, pressure rising.

For 1-2 short seconds, it felt super intense. Not painful, but I couldn’t stay silent as the contraction peaked.

As each contraction crested, the sensation faded. Ahhhh... That little break lets me breathe and rest before the next wave.

All in all, contractions lasted less than a minute each. I kept reminding myself, “I can do anything for a minute!”

When each contraction stopped, I let it go. I didn’t dwell on the last one. I didn’t worry about the next one. I sank into the easy space between until the next wave came along.

With Hubby still beside me, I labored in chairs, while standing and also in the birthing pool.

In every position, the simple physical prep work I did during pregnancy paid off big time, even though it was no cakewalk.

One time, when I got uncomfortable, my midwife put it all in perspective...

The Ah-Hah in My Midwife’s Snap Reply

When my midwife suggested I get out of the pool to change positions, I said, “I can’t find a more comfortable position.”

She said, “Sometimes, it’s not about being comfortable. At a certain point, it’s about getting the baby out.”

Made total sense. Labor wasn’t meant to be 100% comfortable. I stood up in the water and felt my body working Baby down.

I’ve never felt stronger in my life than when I was standing there in the birthing pool. My body was wrapped around power and wisdom that’d birth my baby for me. I simply had to surrender to it.

Hubby and I spent the next I-don’t-know-how-much-time laboring in our bathroom with the door shut, in the dark.

One of our midwife’s team members came to check the baby’s heart rate every now and then.

Other than that, it was just us. Alone. In beautiful darkness. Moaning. Dancing. Hugging.

Apparently, I spent the transition phase of my labor (the final phase before pushing) in that bathroom. It’s the most difficult phase for many women.

Amazingly, it was the easiest part for me, thanks to the dark, the intimacy, the love and how I prepped my body way in advance.

Then came the pushing…

Why Pushing Was Such a Relief

I sat on a birthing “chair” in my bedroom, although it was barely even a chair frame. The cold metal dug into my thighs and wedged into the hind end of my booty.

When my midwife said I could push, I was thrilled! It felt so good to push. Actively riding the waves of energy felt better than being dragged along for the ride.

That said, pushing wasn’t easy. Thankfully, when it seemed like I couldn’t push hard enough, my uterus contracted more to nudge me along.

When Baby started crowning, I was shocked at how long I had to wait between contractions. Like waiting for labor to start, I wanted to hurry it up!

I begged my body for the next contraction... and the next... and the next to finally push Baby out.

After hours of wishing, I had more time between contractions, I willed them closer together.

Then She Emerged...

She cried out. We met her.

Hubby “caught” her. She was born right into his hands, into the quiet and calm of our bedroom surrounded by love and peace and tenderness.

I finally noticed the light had changed. The sun had moved to the other side of the apartment, so the room was dark. It felt almost like night, but it was 3:39 pm in the afternoon.

I gave birth to an 8lb. 6oz. baby girl, my baby Dahlia.

I held her in my arms, took three steps to my bed and reclined slowly with her on my chest. She latched on and nursed almost immediately.

I pushed out the placenta about 20 minutes later.

The most painful part? When my midwife pushed down on my belly to expel the remaining blood and fluid. It didn’t last long, thankfully.

Dahlia and Me

The Birth of My Dreams?

Cliché as it sounds to say, I really did have the birth of my dreams. Pretty close, at least.

I know, because of all those visualizations!

Dahlia’s first hours in this world were in my arms, attached to my body, the place she called home for 9 months.

Dahlia is two years old now. She walks and talks. She’s adventurous and inquisitive and crazy smart. (I know... I know... almost every Mom says that about her baby. But it’s true!)

Most of all, Dahlia is cherished, honored and respected. Someday, if she chooses to become a mom, I hope she decides to trust her body as much as I trusted mine.

But What Gave Me Such Confidence to Trust My Body?

The prep during pregnancy. No question.

The research and also physically preparing myself.

For example, I didn’t start walking only when I got frustrated in week 40. I walked nearly every day for an hour during my pregnancy.

There’s also another simple movement I did which REALLY helped -- and did NOT take an hour a day.

That movement opened my hips, strengthened my pelvic floor and other muscles (the uterus is a muscle!) while loosening those muscles, so they weren’t stiff.

That all helped get baby Dahlia out when labor finally did kick in. And it would’ve helped just as much in a hospital as at home.

Reese Leyva with Dahlia 2

Dahlia walking

I learned the movement and its nuances from a top woman biomechanical scientist, and I’m sharing it with you soon on a FREE live training. All you have to do is sign up here.

Then make sure to be there live, to ask your most burning questions. It’ll be fun and productive. Promise.

See you there!

SHARING IS CARING!
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