Giving birth in Russia

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My fear of childbirth started three and a half years ago, when we decided to try for a baby but ended up having to go through four IVF treatments to get there (a separate post about this can be found here). During these years I’ve listened to thousands of podcasts with birth stories and read everything you can to prepare for this moment. When I tried to break down what the phobia really was based on, I realized that I was not afraid of the pain itself (I had a great deal of respect for it tough, because I had no idea how I would handle it) but the part of the birth process that frightened me most was the tearing part. With that insight, I did everything in my power to prepare myself. I bought a special perineal balloon (Epi-No) with which I stretched my pereneum every other day since week 30, I was also advised by my doctor to get a special lubricant (Dianatal Gel) that the midwife could use during childbirth, both of these are said to reduce the risk for tearing. Since I understood that epidural increases the likelihood of tearing, I decided to take a hypnobirthing course which is said to help deal with the pain. Because we were giving birth in a private hospital in Moscow, I also had the fantastic opportunity to have an individual midwife who would be with me during the whole process.

01:00

Coming home from a girls dinner on due date November 15, I was just ready to go to bed. Everyone had told me that I would be overdue for at least one week since this is my first pregnancy and a boy (very scientific) so I was totally into this and nothing else. When I laid down in bed, I felt that the baby’s head suddenly was very low. I emptied the bladder for the fourth time before bed (those who know, know) but couldn’t relax with the pressure down there.

02:00

The first contraction starts. I was convinced that it was just another pregnancy related symptom. It felt exactly like period pain, but less intense. When this did not end and I also felt that there was some kind of pattern in how these contractions behaved, I started to time them with an app. They lasted for about 45 seconds with breaks of 2-3 minutes, not a lot of breaks in other words. I put on a hypnobirthing meditation and imagined that I was one of those strong natural-birth women who gives birth at home in her bath tub with her three older kids in the bloody water.

03.00 – 07.00

I tried to fall asleep but because I was extremely aware that things had apparently begun, I decided to wake my husband and deprive him of his night’s sleep as well. We watched a couple of episodes on Netflix after which I felt like trying out the bathtub. We lit some candles, put on some cozy music and I started putting together my Blessingway necklace of little talismans that my friends had brought with them during my two Blessingways. While I was in the water I basically felt no pain so we just had a good time going through each piece of jewelry while I told the story behind every piece and what it symbolized.

Making a necklace out of all the talismans from my bessingways in the bathtub

07.00 – 09.00

At seven o’clock I thought it was time to inform the doctor that today was probably the today. I explained that the pain was not intense but that there was not a lot of breaks in between the contractions, the doc said I should come in to the hospital for a check. We took our stuff, ordered a taxi and went to the hospital. The taxi driver didn’t notice that I was in labor, nor the staff who received us at the hospital so I had to convince them that I would actually give birth soon. They examined me and told me that I was 3 cm dilated, that the head was extremely low and that there was no water between the head, the amniotic sack and the cervix, which meant I had to stay in the hospital.

The mandatory selfie on the way to the hospital. Having a sugar lollipop
to 
prepare for the big event

09.00 – 10.00

Now that the pain started to grow stronger, I had to go through the classic Russian bureaucratic process for checking in at the hospital. I signed maybe 50 different documents, filled in my personal data in five places and then I had to put a signature on each sheet in each document to make sure you fully agree with what I just signed but didn’t read. Then I was sent into a special room for lavement. This is apparently a standard procedure in Russia, they don’t want a lot of poop in the way. They also explained that this was a good thing to do because my husband would participate in the birthing process, apparently Russian men do not handle poop very well (and rarely attend their partner’s childbirths)

10.00 – 12.00

I was supposed to meet with the individual midwife on November 17th, but we met for the first time there and then. Fortunately, she gave a secure, knowledgeable and sympathetic impression, which became a relief. She was already informed on what I feared the most, so she assured me they would do everything in their power to avoid this.

Still happy before the real thing

They broke my waters and the contractions began to become even more intense. The midwife put the first tube of Dianatal Gel and just as I had wished I was offered a room with a big bathtub that I immediately dived into. I put on my noise canceling headphones, got a back massage and disappeared into myself while listening to spiritual house music at the highest volume. It worked out quite well so I stayed in the bathtub for maybe two hours. Everything felt so surreal. Partly because I hadn’t slept but mostly because all of this time that I had prepared for this moment. Mentally, I’ve had like five hundred births as I’ve imagined different scenarios of what my birthing experience would look like, but now I was suddenly there for real and my brain had difficulty grasping that this was actually it. I was amazed at how calm and harmonious I felt while I laid there and relaxed into the music. Just as I suspected, I was not frightened of the pain, but I had great respect for it and listened to my body’s reaction after every contraction.

12.00 – 15.00

Every now and then the midwife and the doctor came in to check on us and soon they began talking about epidural. Since I wanted to at least try for a medication free birth, I told them that I still wanted to take the contractions on my own for a while. My word was respected, but I thought I heard the word “epidural” at the peak of each contraction which killed my hypnobirthing bubble a little. After a while it was time to get out of the bathtub to check the heart beat and examine the dilation. Now the contractions were really intense and outside the bathtub they were even worse. Mentally, I thought I could still handle the contractions quite well, but now I couldn’t laugh and joke around while having one. The doctor had difficulty examining me as everything was very tense down there of all the pain, something that apparently could happen to people with lots of muscles (thanks, figure skating). Turned out I was 4 cm dilated, which made me quite frustrated. It had been six hours since the last examination and some intense development of the contractions, but only one cm dilation. The doctor explained that the contractions were very intense, but that the tension slowed down the progress and that if things would develop like this there wouldn’t be much fuel left for the pushing stage. I visualized an exponential curve of the intensity of the pain I was in now vs centimeters and realized that I would not make it through six more centimeters. And then the doc said something crucial – that if I would be this tense during the pushing phase things would definitely tear down there. “Davajte epiduralku!” (get me the epidural) I cried and in just a few minutes I got the magic elixir dripping into my spine.

15.00 – 18.00

I was told to go to rest and catch up with my lost sleep, but this was not a easy task for a neurotic woman with sleep problems in her normal life. I laid there and tried to meditate but failed. On the right side of the bed I could hear the baby’s heartbeat and my own pulse on my left, only this fact gave me a palpitation that I later tried to control. I thought that if my pulse went up, the baby’s heartbeat also went up, which got my pulse up even more, etc. I guessed this was only happening in my head and therefore I didn’t share this information with anyone. At 17:00 and two hours after the epidural I was examined again which showed that I was 10 cm dilated and ready for the pushing. Apparently I really needed to relax down there, laboring 12 hours without epidural resulted in a 3 cm, while in 2 hours with epidural I dilated to 6 cm. I was instructed to eat a powerbar while various people came in and started preparing for the child’s arrival.

Laying and obsessing over heart beats. I used a medical mouth mask as a sleeping mask, but clearly it did’t help

The panic spread within me. Now the end was near which usually is a positive thing in this situation, but for me it meant the crucial tearing moment was close. I explained to the staff that I was eventually having a panic attack and wondered if there was anything they could give me to calm down. The midwife proudly came in with the hospital’s signature cocktail made out of valerian root, which they brew themselves, she explained. I drank it all like a shot and hoped it would start working in the near future. The last tube of Dianatal Gel was applied together with a mixture of oils and other messy things, and I received a perineal massage that I didn’t feel because I was completely numbed (that it’s called “massage” is btw quite misleading).

18.00 – 18.21

Now the valerian root had kicked in and took the edge of the anxiety. My husband was instructed to stand behind me and help holding my back up when it was time to push. The super flexible bed turned into a chair and it was tipped down to let the gravity help with the pushing. I got instructions with mental pictures on how to push, from blowing out the lights on a cake to push out constipated poo and went down to business. There was a glass plate above my head on the ceiling on which all of my lady bits were reflected, not very patient-friendly, I thought and made sure to keep my eyes closed during the whole pushing stage. I knew that the pushing stage would take about one hour (and with epidural I knew it could be longer than that) so I was quite surprised when suddenly in between two pushes I heard my husband say “OMG, he’s coming!”. I open my eyes and there he was, our perfect baby boy all pink, fresh and super cute! I didn’t get it, there I was laying with closed eyes and didn’t even push and he just came out all by himself. They put him on my belly where I could take a closer look at him and I just fell in love immediately while he was looking at me with his bright eyes. I guess all parents say this, but he was the cutest newborn baby ever!

18.21 – 19.00

The baby was taken to the pediatrician’s table, meanwhile, I received instructions on how to push out the placenta. I pushed just like before, assuming something came out, but suddenly the atmosphere in the room changed, more staff came in and the doctor explained that half of the placenta remained in the uterus and that she had to go in there with her hand to take it out manually. That didn’t sound very pleasant, I thought and felt a bit nauseous. They added more anesthesia, prepared for surgery and in the meantime, the doctor examined me for possible tears. “Without a single scratch!” the doctor exclaimed. Lord, I thought, this was exactly what I had wished for! Not a single scratch, “It’s a total victory!” I said, throwing my fist above my head. With these good news, she pushed her arm into me and began to pull away pieces of the placenta which felt somewhere under my ribs.

I couldn’t have had a better birth experience, I laid there thinking while an arm was scratching around inside of me. The cutest baby in the world AND no tears, that’s unbelievable! Three years of preparation had finally ended. Everything went well with the removal of the remnants of the placenta and soon after I finally got to hold our little angel in my arms, wrapped as a little package in a classic Russian way. He began to suck my boob straight away and our little new-born family was left alone for an hour while we marveled over everything that had happened.

27 comments
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27 comments

Jennysvardag Friday December 7th, 2018 - 07:08 AM

Stort grattis till eran son. Så spännande att få läsa din förlossningsberättelse 🙂

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★ Orsakullan som blev mamma vid 20, nu specialpedagogstudent och doula ★ Friday December 7th, 2018 - 07:10 AM

Det är verkligen det finaste man kan få i livet att bli förälder :). En riktig gåva, roligt att du delar med dig också 🙂

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Johanna Friday December 7th, 2018 - 07:23 AM

Verkligen de häftigaste jag varit med om ! Att föda barn ! Finns nog inget bättre 😀 ! Så otroligt söt liten kille ♡

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Elisa Friday December 7th, 2018 - 07:34 AM

Stort grattis, och skönt att det gick så bra!
Blev också chockad av att min krystfas var så kort och att min son liksom bara gled ut efter huvudet, haha.

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Pärla Friday December 7th, 2018 - 07:58 AM

Herre vilken resa du gjort men en sådan fantastisk känsla när det är över så att säga

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Fnulan Friday December 7th, 2018 - 10:52 AM

Men se där jag tyckte väl att det varit lite tyst om dig. Ett otroligt stort GRATTIS till dig och ditt mirakel. KRAM

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Emelie Friday December 7th, 2018 - 12:24 PM

Så häftigt att få läsa din förlossningsberättelse! Alla förlossningar är ju olika så man vet ju aldrig vad man kan vänta sig. Så skönt att allt gick bra och att nu fick en söt och frisk liten Theo! Stort grattis! ❤️

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Chanelle Friday December 7th, 2018 - 12:35 PM

Började gråta! Stort GRATTIS!! SÅ himla fint och kul att läsa!
Måste också säga att WOW vilken häftig header! Aldrig sett en header som är en film! Jätte fint och snyggt gjort!

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Madde Friday December 7th, 2018 - 12:42 PM

Ett stort grattis till er son. När man läser din berättelse verkar du så lugn hela tiden. Jag var lugn, men inte så kan jag ju säga.

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Hanna Friday December 7th, 2018 - 01:16 PM

Stort grattis jag älskar att läsa förlossningsberättelser. Jag förstår att Theo tog er med storm

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Lis Frennler Friday December 7th, 2018 - 02:49 PM

Så fint att få vara med på resan i din födelsehistoria , full av beundran över din förberedelse . Jag som själv fött tre barn kan ha ett igenkännande men vården var annorlunda då . Grattis till er vackra son och vilket vackert namn han har fått.
Kram Lis ( Mikkan mamma )

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Anja Held Friday December 7th, 2018 - 03:27 PM

Grattis! Härligt att du fick en så bra förlossningsupplevelse! Intressant att läsa hur förlossningsvården är i Ryssland.🌸💕

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Hannas krypin Friday December 7th, 2018 - 03:36 PM

Stort grattis till bebisen och till att ha fått en sådan fantastisk fin förlossning. Verkligen en sån där förlossning som man önskar att alla fick.

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Moa Friday December 7th, 2018 - 04:15 PM

Grattis till er, kul att ni delar med er av er förlossningsberättelse 🙂

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charlottelinden.se Friday December 7th, 2018 - 05:17 PM

Vilken fantatisk förlossningsberättelse! Och så fantastiskt att det faktiskt gick SÅ bra! Jag är, precis som du var, skräckslagen inför tanken på att föda barn. Men att det gick så bra för dig gjorde mig faktiskt lite lugnare 🙂

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Fru Elversson Friday December 7th, 2018 - 06:41 PM

Alltså jag älskar att läsa förlossningsberättelser trots att jag själv inte har barn. Men din historia är den finaste och ärligaste jag läst! Jag kunde inte sluta läsa!! Sängen såg ju lite mer speciell ut om man jämför med Sverige! Jag är en ny läsare, hur kommer det sig att ni bor där eller är du född där? Du verkar iaf vara en stark kvinna! Stort grattis till pojken!!

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Lillan Kind Friday December 7th, 2018 - 07:32 PM

Stort grattis!!😃 Vilken söt och fin liten son!!😍 Det var så spännande att läsa din berättelse om förlossningen!

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melissaskywalkz Friday December 7th, 2018 - 08:31 PM

Åååh stort grattis! Tack för att du delar med dig av din förlossningshistoria, jag är också livrädd för en förlossning hahah. Du ger mig lite hopp även om jag inte vet om jag vill ha barn eller inte ❤

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kamillaskamera Friday December 7th, 2018 - 08:56 PM

Stort grattis till er alla. Så fin berättelse du skrivit ner från din förlossning.

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Ida Friday December 7th, 2018 - 10:03 PM

Åh vad fint att du delar med dig, stort grattis till er! Önskar er all lycka, hoppas ni får en fin jul och nyår!

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Amanda Friday December 7th, 2018 - 10:14 PM

GRATTIS vad söt er son är! Jag vill också föda barn nån gång men jag är också lite rädd för förlossningen om det kommer göra ont när barnet trycker ut huvudet. Men så mysigt <3 grattis till er <3

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MartinaOlsson Saturday December 8th, 2018 - 10:46 AM

​Hej! Jag måste bara tipsa dig om dagens lucka i min julkalender, för jag tycker faktiskt själv att den är FANTASTISK, haha 😉 Idag har du nämligen chansen att vinna en superfin ögonskuggspalett från theBalm som faktiskt är en utav mina egna personliga favoritpaletter! Sugen på att vara med och delta? Klicka på länken nedan för att komma direkt till tävlingen 🙂
https://martinaolsson.myshowroom.se/126434/julkalender-lucka-8-7/

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Frugan E Wednesday December 12th, 2018 - 10:28 AM

Så spännande att få läsa om! Skrattade till lite där när du skrev om tarmtömningen och känsliga män, sådan lyx får man inte i här Tunisien kan jag säga.. 😛

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Marie Wednesday December 12th, 2018 - 07:34 PM

Wow… läste varenda ord. Innan jag födde barnen så hade jag knappt tänkt på hur det skulle bli, läste inte på någonting utan lärde mig andningsövningar och höll mig till dem. Alltså vilken styrka… i din berättelse. Tack för att du skrivit på ett sådant vis att jag fick tårar i ögonen och mindes sonens ankomst i april. Det är verkligen helt sjukt häftigt att föda barn, väldigt intressant att läsa om hur det går till i Ryssland. Och fet tumme upp på Nanny! Skulle inte tvekat en sekund om det var normen här och fanns tillgängligt.
Hoppas du mår helt suveränt idag och har myst med bebis i massor, stor kram!

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Ariella Landqvist Wednesday December 12th, 2018 - 11:58 PM

Stort grattis till er son och tack för din detaljerade förlossningsberättelse från Moskva. Det är alltid lika intressant att läsa om hur vanliga ting är olika i olika kulturer.

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Katja Monday January 7th, 2019 - 09:23 PM

Åh vilket fint inlägg och så skönt att du fick den förlossningen du ville ha!! Roligt med många bilder med!!

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Michelle Tuesday January 29th, 2019 - 09:19 PM

Vilken fin bild på dej och Theo . Måste va en underbar känsla . Jag kan nog oxå ha förlossnings skräck då man är rädd att det ska göra ont osv så jag förstår . Dock har jag ingen man än så det blir nog länge innan jag får barn men längtar efter det 💕😍

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