Ioanna's Birth Story

Starting from my pregnancy well I was quite lucky to have a very easy and comfortable pregnancy. What helped me greatly is that from the very beginning I was using a good lot of positive psychology staff. For example, I remember, when I first realized that the pregnancy test was positive after the first seconds that I was shocked I remember very clearly that I welcomed the baby and I told “since you decided to come I will try to offer you the best house in my body and take care of you in the best possible way”. That very first reaction of mine was very important because that sense of care stayed and followed me throughout pregnancy and also because in this way I set my intentions for expecting a normal and healthy pregnancy. Another thing I remember doing a lot was practicing many positive thoughts and affirmations every day concerning the good progress of my pregnancy and in every chance I was using them repeatedly. I had gone so far with that, that I had leaflets in my bathroom so I was really taking good use of every minute I could!! Since I have this background in psychology and also training in therapeutic hypnosis, I was applying hypnotic techniques to myself very intensely after the second trimester. I was using hypnosis for everything, for relaxation, for tiredness, for constipation, and of course for training myself to learn to relax and to be in control for the big show!!

Since I had decided with my husband and I was hoping for a home birth I knew I had to do a good lot of work to prepare myself physically, emotionally and mentally for this. So I was putting a lot of my energy on that preparation especially the last months. I was overly careful with my diet, I was doing a lot of yoga exercises for pregnancy and for helping the baby to take position and I was walking for at least an hour every day!! I was using special massage oils for the perineum so as to develop elasticity (luckily that proved very useful as my perineum remained intact after the birth). Also to prepare myself mentally, I was using visualizations of the actual progress of my expectant labor, along with pain control and breathing techniques I could have at hand when the time was ready and I was using these also to keep myself calm, confident and reassured when I was facing lots of fears and agony around in people that were projected onto me and my baby. Also I did not read a lot throughout pregnancy because I realized that most information in books were around things that could go wrong and most were creating more fears and anxiety. But what I chose to do instead is participating in various supportive groups for pregnancy and sharing with people that had experienced, so I am really grateful for reaching out ,finding the support I needed and also getting the right information so as to make the right decisions for me and my baby.

As the time was getting close I knew it was of utmost importance for me to communicate more intensely with my baby, so I was allowing myself for half an hour every night before I go to bed just to sit and talk with the baby in her room, letting her know what I expected her to do, and encourage her to birth herself. I was hearing a lot of music, and doing things I liked and I allowed myself to become very creative with this labor preparation, I remember I had even paint symbolically my cervix opening and I had written down the story of baby’s birth as I expected to happen. (if you can believe it, I came across with these notes a couple of months after the baby’s birth and I realized that the actual birth was so close to the story I had make up, amazing!!)

The actual birth process it was quite difficult and lasted long almost 40 hours total, so I guess all that preparation I had made really paid off. I managed to go through all the steps of labor and now that I am thinking I am amazed with how deep I allowed myself to go and surrender completely into the process. Throughout labor I felt I was constantly in absolute communication with the baby as each contraction came and go. I even visualized myself holding the baby in my arms and passing together each contraction as a wave. I did use the water in the bathtube both of the two nights that I was in labor as it seemed to be proven useful, but after a specific point it did not make any difference to the cataclysmic pain I was experiencing. It was not easy it was completely overwhelming, but I managed to go through that, as I believe every woman can do that, supposing that she gives permission to herself for that experience.

Now that I am writing, I am longing especially the first few hours, these were quite amazing and I was blessed to experience an absolute state of bliss after the birth. I have kept in my heart a picture of me, my husband and my newborn baby in my chest , as we all shared our family bed and drift into deep sleep. It was as if the time has stopped completely and we were all transcended in another level of being. I feel I was very lucky to experience fully and in all levels the birthing of my baby, and this experience is something I know it will stay forever in me as well as my daughter, a gift that I know that it would have been stolen from us otherwise. The actual experience of giving birth at home was amazing and transformative for my life, and I believe it shaped greatly the kind of parent I have become/ becoming.

The period after the birth was quite demanding especially with breastfeeding full time. For me that did not come very easily, as I understand now this is also a skill and something totally unknown that needs time to be learned. Again a lot of information and gatherings with other moms in groups proved valuable. As hard as it may be it’s the best for the bonding with the baby. I managed to continue breastfeeding for 16 months and the way I managed this is by telling myself every month that this is going to be the last one, and then the next month is going to be the last one, and so on...

If I would go back now I may have done some things differently, but for most I know I would do again the same way, as parenting for me is very instinctive. ..

So here I am now having complete or at least try to put into words all that experience I have gained the last 3 years...

Ioanna Nikolakaki
Counseling Psychologist