The first thing fellow moms asked me after I gave birth was, “Was your labor painful? Did you deliver naturally or have a C-section?” When I tell them I had a natural, drug free delivery, 97% of the time, the reaction is “What?! Are you crazy? Was that on purpose or were you too late to get the epidural?” It was by choice. I embarked on a yearlong teacher training, in Kundalini Yoga while I was pregnant, that prepared me to train my mind to focus on my breath when I felt uncomfortable physical sensations in my body.
I picked a Certified Nurse Midwifery practice that doesn’t offer epidural anesthesia. From the very beginning of my pregnancy I set the intention to have a drug-free, natural birth.
I chose to give birth in a baby friendly hospital in the Birth Center. It’s the best of both worlds. The suites are decorated to create a comfortable home atmosphere with soft lighting and rocking chairs for labor and post-birth. I wanted a safe and comfortable environment with the mental peace of mind knowing that should there be any complications, I didn’t have to get transferred to another location.
My due date was March 25th, 2015. As the day came and went, my midwife told me that induction would be possible if labor didn’t start before 42 weeks. I was motivated to try a range of natural induction methods to jump start labor on my own terms. I walked, squatted, ate pineapple and spicy food. I pressed acupressure points on my hands, massaged my feet with essential oils and relaxed in my baby’s nursery, inviting him to enter the world.
I can’t pinpoint what worked, but something did the trick. At 1:30 A.M on April 1st, 2015, I passed my mucus plug and that’s when the party began.
I thought I would labor at home, meditate and soak in the tub but I had consistent bleeding, so I headed to the hospital although the contractions hadn’t started. I listened to my self-hypnosis track to get into a deep relaxed state. I took a shower with the hopes of getting all dolled up for my post birth pictures but the minute I got out of the shower intense contractions started. From the very first contraction I couldn’t walk, talk or eat. They came on in strong waves starting at 5 minutes apart with short breaks in between.
When I got admitted at 5:30 A.M., I was already 6 cm dilated. With only 4 cm to go, how much longer would this really last? That’s when things stepped up a notch. After my cervix was checked, my contractions were 2 minutes apart and lasted about a 1 minute or longer. I couldn’t get any relief. With the rate and intensity of my contractions, my midwife was convinced I would give birth by the afternoon. My baby boy had something else planned.
On the outside, it may not have looked like my birth was intense. My eyes were closed, speaking only a few words, I reached a deep meditative state. I chanted OM or ONG to take the physical sensation in my abdomen and release it through my mouth. My pitch matched the intensity of the sensation. In my dimly lit room, I was raising the vibrations by listening to calming Kundalini tracks. I relaxed while my husband gave me light touch massage and my midwife encouraged me and guided me through different labor positions from standing, sitting, laying, rocking to soaking in a tub.
At 2:00 P.M, I was at 8 cm. My midwife was convinced once they broke my water, things would progress faster and the pressure would subside. I had set an intention to have a water birth but I wasn’t a candidate. Because I went past my due date, there was meconium in my placenta and concerns that meconium could be in my son’s lungs.
I trusted the midwife, trusted my baby and trusted the divine. I went with the flow. I didn’t think that was possible but I continued to chant it out after she broke my water.
At 6:00PM, I was at 8 cm, and my midwife, with tears in her eyes said “You are working so hard with no progress. We are worried you get exhausted before pushing, I think we need to give you and epidural to help you with your labor”.
I gave a thumbs up, even though not part of my plan, I trusted whatever the divine had planned for me was greater than my plans. The moment they told me I was getting an epidural, my son’s heartbeat dropped significantly into dangerous ranges. Worried about my son’s well-being, they began prepping me for a C-section. Again trusting the divine, my body and baby, I gave my thumbs up.
Completely exhausted I started to give up and started to pass out. I was given an oxygen mask and for the first time that entire day, my chanting stopped. My husband, worried tried to keep me awake and kept encouraging me to breathe. He whispered our son wants to meet you and wants to be born, hang in there you can push him out naturally. He encouraged me to continue chanting but I lost all my juice.
During the 1 hour it took them to prep me for the C-section, my contractions were the most intense. Lasting almost 3 minutes at times. Before taking me into the surgical room to get the C-section, the doctor said he wanted to check how far I was dilated to make sure C-section was our only option. I was 10 plus cm dilated. Miraculously my son’s heart rate naturally returned to a healthy range and he said “You are going to birth this baby naturally.”
Trying to shift the energy, as we transitioned to birthing, my husband changed the soft jams to Rihanna to get the energy pumping for me, the nurses and midwife. I didn’t open my eyes, but I could hear laughter, feel the energy shift to excitement and thus began the journey of breathing my baby down into the world.
I couldn’t understand how I was suppose to shift my breathing to releasing the baby out. They suggested I sit on the toilet to get a feel for the process and that worked like a charm. The doctor gave me a 3 hour window to deliver my son. 2 hours into pushing I wanted to give up. It was the first time I showed signs of defeat and said “ I can’t do this.”My midwife and the nurses continued to encourage and inspire me. “You are so close and you are going to have this baby naturally. This is how he wants to be born. You CAN do this!” Ayaan Aum Patel, was born at10:51PM.
It was 40 minutes later I was able to hold my baby. I couldn’t take my eyes off him the moment they cut the umbilical cord and started cleaning out his lungs. He was crying from the moment he was born. That was the first time my heart opened with unconditional love. I had never experienced that sort of pure love ever before. Not only were our auras connected, the humility of knowing how our souls are deeply connected in this life and beyond still brings me to tears.
The moment I held my son, we made eye contact and I thought we did this together. My calm, beautiful and alert baby was already looking to suckle on the breast. I thought how beautiful is the divine energy that created this child, helped birth this child and now transform my body to nourish him.
It was the greatest miracle and single most empowering moment of my life. My 17 hour journey of labor and pushing were filled with uncertainty, but through surrendering it was the greatest spiritual experience. It was an inner spiritual journey of tapping into the greatest depths of my power, trusting my intuition and flowing with the a divine plan that is unexplainable yet perfect.
I felt like a focused powerful warrior with nerves of steal. I know as a mother and powerful woman, I have the power to move mountains with determination and one-pointed concentration. When I doubt myself, I come back to that moment and remember I have the power to do anything.
Did I feel pain? Honestly, I can’t say it felt painful, I call it an uncomfortable sensation that were varied in levels of intensity. It’s all about perspective and the words we use. While I prepared for childbirth, I trained my mind to embrace labor by learning to ride through the intensity.
They say the spiritual journey of childbirth is exactly the lesson you need. My lesson was on surrender of control and trust. My journey was about trusting my own strength. Trusting my baby and my body to guide the birth without me getting in the way. Finally, trusting the divine that my birth journey would be exactly how it was meant to be.
Tejal V Patel is a former legal advocate who reinvented her life to become a spiritual advocate. Tejal is a mindfulness coach, Kundalini meditation expert, children’s yoga teacher and contributing author to 20 Beautiful Women and A Letter To My Mom. As a mindfulness coach, she inspires modern women, to transition through pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood with balance and confidence. You can receive free meditations and mindfulness tips by signing up for her Astitva Seekers blog.