Annabel is a bubbly 26-year-old mom who gave birth to little Mia just over a year ago at the GHOL maternity hospital in Nyon. Her state of mind and positivity enabled her to approach her birth with serenity. "Women have been giving birth since the dawn of time, so why shouldn't I?" she told us with a big smile. With a great deal of humility and humor, discover the BirthStory of an authentic woman who feels good about herself.
Annabel, can you introduce yourself in a few words?
I'm 26 and come from Germany. When I was 19, I decided to take a year off to improve my French, and came to Switzerland to study literature at UNIL. During that year, I met the man of my dreams and never went back. After 7 years together, we became the happy parents of Mia, who has just turned 1.
How did your delivery go?
Mia arrived 8 days late. When I arrived at the GHOL maternity hospital on my bike in the morning (true story), they did a membrane detachment to start labor. I had a few more hours to myself and my family before returning in the afternoon to put in a balloon, which in the end was not necessary as my cervix had already dilated enough for this method. They installed me in the natural room I wanted around 5pm, the first contractions started around 8pm and Mia arrived at 5.35am in 18 minutes flat (smile).
Did you feel mentally ready?
I'd say so! Of course, as this was my first birth, I didn't know what to expect, but I reassured myself that women have been giving birth since the dawn of time. Some at home, others without assistance or epidurals, so why not me! I had visited the maternity hospital 1 month before Mia's birth, and I couldn't wait to get back for the big day. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by my husband and the wonderful midwife Laura. I really clung on to her and her unfailing support.
To manage the pain, I conditioned myself by imagining my birth as a marathon. I tried to make the most of each stage, telling myself that I had to make it to the end. I stayed in a hot bath for as long as possible to relax before trying acupuncture and then gas. The latter helped me to breathe between each contraction. I felt a bit woozy, as if I'd had 3 cocktails (laughs).
Throughout the birth, I kept repeating to myself the following mantra: "Don't let yourself be overwhelmed by pain", visualizing each contraction as a wave that comes and goes.
A few weeks before giving birth, I did some physical preparation with EPI-NO to stretch and soften my pelvic floor muscles. This enabled me to be less stressed on D-day - with a clearer idea of the sensations to come - to push the baby's head out more easily and to prevent tears. It worked, so I can only recommend this method in combination with birth preparation classes.
Did you have a birth plan?
Not really. In an ideal world, I wanted a physiological birth, without an epidural, but that's about it because I didn't want to be disappointed if it didn't go as planned. The only important thing was that Mia and I came out of this adventure alive (smile).
If you could go back and change one moment of your birth, would you? And if so, which one?
During the birth, I controlled my emotions as much as I could to get through the marathon. Not expressing them didn't allow me to let go and enjoy skin-to-skin time with Mia once she was born. The three of us were lucky enough to be able to stay in the delivery room for 3 hours before going back up to the bedroom, but I was still too much in my head. It was only later, once the pressure had eased, that a wave of emotions came over me.
What was your postpartum experience like during your stay in the maternity ward and when you got home?
I stayed in the maternity ward for 4 days. I could have left earlier because I was in good shape, but I insisted on staying (laughs). I knew I needed this break, this transition before coming home and starting a new life... for three (smile). Once I got home, I felt very zen. For me, it went really well.
What did you find particularly good about the GHOL maternity hospital?
I found the whole team wonderful, especially the midwife who delivered my baby, a real gem. I felt listened to and supported in my choices, without fear of being judged. During my stay, the team ensured my physical and mental well-being, with a view to preventing any baby blues or even post-partum depression. I received useful information on returning from childbirth, contraception and advice on breastfeeding Mia. I have wonderful memories of my birth and my stay.
Annabel, what's the best thing we can wish you/you for the future?
To feel fulfilled in my new life as a stay-at-home mom. To cherish all the moments spent with Mia, the good ones and the not-so-good ones, which are also part of the "life as a parent" package (smile). But above all, I wish us to be and stay healthy.