How Prenatal Corrective Exercise And Hypnobirthing Helped Me Labor Naturally

*DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or medical professional. Always consult your care provider with any health-related, pregnancy-related, birth-related, or postpartum-related questions and before performing any physical activities.

*Note: This is a BIRTH STORY and it includes some verb-age and graphic detail that might make some readers uncomfortable!

On January 11, 2019… I had an OB appointment at 38 weeks, 5 days gestation. Little did I know, it would be approximately 48 hours before heading to the hospital to deliver my beautiful baby boy. I can confidently say, how I underestimated just how important the exercises I practiced leading up to this point prepared me for the delivery I had dreamed of.

Before my OB checked me, she measured my belly and checked baby’s heart rate. She brought up talk of induction and that I had the option to schedule it. I told her I didn’t have any interest in induction – unless it was absolutely necessary. Given my history of low amniotic fluid with my daughter, I knew I had to keep an open mind.

My plan was to labor naturally – or as naturally as possible.  She said we could sweep the membranes to move things along. I declined but told her I’d consider it at the next appointment (on my due date). 

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32 weeks, baby number 2

Ready Or Not?

As she checked my cervix – which was 3 cm and 90% effaced – she again was trying to encourage induction should I make it to 40 weeks without progression. Again, I declined and told her I wanted to go naturally. After more chatter… and some miscommunication, she did end up sweeping my membranes…That wasn’t what I wanted at the time. However, I wasn’t too upset – I was eager for my little man to be born. After a little bit of discomfort, she told me it was done… Adding that labor could potentially start within 48 hours. 

As I left the office… I had butterflies in my stomach. I knew there was now a chance that I could be holding my little boy in just a few days.

Let’s back up…

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32 weeks, baby number 2

My first birth story (Abbreviated)

With my first child, I exercised throughout and had a healthy pregnancy. Once I hit 40 weeks, 5 days gestation, I was not progressing at all and my amniotic fluid had gotten “too low”, according to my OB’s standards. She said we had to induce and get the baby out. I had it in my head that I wanted to go naturally for the sake of the baby’s health and ability to thrive. I felt so defeated once induction was scheduled.

I was induced on a Monday evening around 5 p.m. and my daughter was born around 6 a.m. Tuesday – September 29, 2015. 

Labor, as it is, is no walk in the park… And when you’re medically induced, things intensify much more rapidly. So, I opted to have NOS on standby, just in case. I held strong to my plan to stay away from getting an epidural, but the NOS was nice to have nearby for when things got really intense. It wasn’t exactly the natural labor that I wanted… but I had safe delivery and a healthy baby. I was grateful she was able to be born vaginally, so she could benefit from the good bacteria in the birth canal. 

First-Timer’ Challenges

As goes the story for many first-time moms, you don’t know what to expect and you tend to think you don’t have a choice in the matter of how you want to birth or what interventions you can elect to have or deny altogether. I kept an open mind as best as I could for a natural hospital labor, but didn’t realize there were certain procedures or exams I could have denied. Looking back, I would have requested more of an explanation and reasoning for the procedures that were administered.

That being said, I was just excited to meet my baby. I didn’t care too much about how to get the baby to come out!

Side note:

I am absolutely not judging ANYONE who elects to have an epidural or drugs during labor and delivery. And sometimes – they are absolutely necessary! Simply put, if I could avoid using those interventions, I was going to. They’re just not for me.

I see it as this: One intervention can lead to other interventions and more drugs… and I just wanted to avoid it altogether. Also, I have a sensitivity to being poked in the back and fear I wouldn’t be able to stay still when someone is touching my back and placing a giant needle in my spinal column!

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Our daughter, Alex, helping us announce that we were having a baby boy!

My Second Birth Story

With my second, membranes were swept midday on Friday, January 11, 2019. I went home and tried to treat the rest of the day as I normally would. We sent my daughter to my in-laws house that night so that hubby and I could have some alone time before the arrival of the new baby… and also to help me remain in a relaxed state so that I didn’t have to stress about taking care of our daughter. 

When we woke up Saturday morning, I felt some mild contractions but they didn’t have any rhythm and weren’t too strong. We decided to try and help move things along ourselves and were intimate that morning. About an hour afterward, I definitely noticed things starting to pick up. 

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Labor begins…

Remember To Relax!

I did my best to relax and carry on with our Saturday… I ate a light breakfast, sat on my birth ball and watched some Conan and FRIENDS. Although things were picking up a bit, it still wasn’t too intense, so my husband picked up our daughter so she could spend some more time with us before baby’s arrival. As soon as he got home with her, my contractions intensified and got really close together. She was home for only about an hour before we decided to send her back to his parent’s house. 

The contractions were so close together now… They were consistent for more than an hour, so I told my husband maybe we should go to the hospital. 

To The Hospital!

As we drove, I noticed my labor was regressing. Though my contractions were strong, consistent, and very close, I should have picked up on the fact that they weren’t unbearably strong – something I clearly forgot about from my last labor!

When we got to the hospital, I told my husband that maybe we should turn back and that I don’t think it’s actually time. However, he suggested, ‘hey, we’re here, let’s just get checked out.’ Long story short, I was still only at 3cm, but now about 95% effaced. We headed back home. 

Back At Home…

I took a warm shower to help me relax, ate some light dinner, and we watched a movie. 

When I went to bed that evening, I could feel things slowing down again, which was disappointing. So, I put on my headphones, listened to my Hypnobirthing meditations, and just breathed.

 I remember getting up around 2 or 3 a.m. feeling like labor had just stopped. I was bummed. At this point, I was so anxious for this baby’s arrival! But I reminded myself to stay relaxed and let my body do it’s thing. As I sat in bed wide-awake, I decided to start Googling: What to do if labor feels like it stops… I found a lot of useful things I think helped a lot. One YouTube video suggested sumo squat holds – so that baby would put pressure on the cervix. I did a couple of sumo squat holds for 5 minute each and then did some side-lying positions in bed and relaxed some more. Shortly after, I noticed things starting to slowly pick back up. 

The Next Morning

That morning, I lost more of my mucus plus and felt more mild contractions. 

Since we didn’t have much food in the house, my husband suggested we go grocery shopping to take our mind off of things. As we walked around Trader Joe’s, I concentrated on my breathing. We moved slowly through the store… and every now and then, I had to stop and rest. 

When we got back in the car, I knew labor had kicked back up into gear. It seemed the more I took my mind off of labor, the more labor progressed.

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When we got home, I sipped on some chicken broth and nibbled on some crackers. I put FRIENDS on the TV, sat on my birth ball and just told myself to let go, stop thinking about labor, and laugh. This was at around 1 p.m. As I watched I could feel things leveling up. I decided to get down on the floor and to lean forward on my birth ball while sucking on a lollipop. The contractions were now getting to the point where I had a more difficult time talking through them. I also started noticing the contractions were in my low back – something I did NOT have with my first baby. 

Back Labor

I had always heard “back labor” was horrible. Everyone who has said that is absolutely right! I started becoming really uncomfortable. I asked Tim to bring me the heating blanket to help ease the back labor. For about an hour, Tim rubbed my back during each contraction to help take some of the pressure off. This helped a lot! Around 3:30 p.m., I told Tim I think it’s time to go. Contractions were less than 3 minutes apart, about a minute long each, for well over an hour. I had a hard time talking through them and I felt ready. 

This time, when we went to the hospital, I did not feel myself regressing. 

Back At The Hospital

I saw one of the same nurses I saw the day before. I told her: This time, I was ready and not going home! She checked me… I was barely at 4 cm! I couldn’t believe it. At this point, I was frustrated but still confident. The nurses monitored me for an hour, just as they did the day before. They said I was then 100% effaced, but hadn’t dilated anymore. Also, that the contractions were definitely strong and consistent. So they recommended I walk the halls of the hospital and they’d check me again in about 45 minutes. 

We took a couple of laps, I ate a popsicle (thanks awesome nurses who offered!) and then headed back to the room about 15 minutes before they wanted to check me again. I decided to do some more of the sumo squats I had done the night before. I sat in them for just a few minutes at a time so that I didn’t wear myself out too fast. This definitely helped. But the next time she checked me, there was still no change. Ugh. Again, I felt defeated. But I knew I felt different and that my body was doing its thing. 


They told me I had the option of going home or being admitted. Knowing how my labor went with my daughter (slow at first and then zero to 60 once in active labor), I thought I should probably stay. I didn’t feel like going back and forth, even though I would have been more comfortable in my living room… My husband asked if I was eligible for the labor tub, since he knew I wanted to use it. They said I was… So we asked to look at the room with the tub and then we’d decide if we wanted to be admitted. Once I saw the big tub, I decided we should stay so that I could get comfortable and zoned in. This was around 6:30 p.m.

I was so glad I was eligible for the tub. Once we got in the room, I met my nurse and told her we wanted to get in the tub right away. 

Best Labor Nurse Ever!

Our labor and delivery nurse, Shane, was the best nurse ever! She took into account my labor plan fully and just let me do my thing. She got me set up in the tub, made sure I was comfortable, and told us she was going to give us some time. 

Labor Tub

As soon as I got in the tub, I turned on my meditation music, took out my essential oils, and felt my body zone in. I breathed through each contraction with purpose, told my body to let go, and visualized my uterus doing its job to open the cervix. Guided meditations came to mind, which I had learned in my Hypnobirthing book. I used these along with my own personal affirmations. I had my tools and they were working! Within about 45 minutes in the tub, something happened. Not to be to graphic (but hey, this is a labor story, after all!), a big clot of blood and mucus came out. Seeing this energized me. It reassured me I was doing the right thing to keep things progressing smoothly and comfortably. 

I felt empowered now! Shane came in, removed the mess in the tub, and left me to continue doing my thing. At this point, she hadn’t checked me, but I’m going to assume I had dilated a bit more. 

Out of the tub

After about what I’m guessing was an hour and a half or so in the tub, the back labor really started to get uncomfortable and I felt like I needed to move around or get into a new position. Shane came in, helped me out of the tub and she checked me again. I was between 5 and 6 cm at this point – not exactly where I wanted to be, but at least I was making progress! 

Shane hooked me up to the monitor so they could keep an eye on me and the baby for a little while. I sat on the ball and put my music back on. I had Tim plug in my heating blanket and wrapped it around my lower back. 


The back labor at this point was kicking my ass, so I had Tim massage my low back with each contraction just as he did at home. He stood with me for about an hour doing this. At this point I was so distracted by the back labor (It had me swearing and saying “I just want this baby out” and “I can’t wait until this is over!!) that I totally had forgotten to concentrate on my breathing and was letting the pain in my back get to me. 

Time To Zone In

I reminded myself to zone in on the breathing techniques and affirmations I learned in Hypnobirthing. Tim noticed I became a bit more relaxed again and decided to take a break. 

I clearly had zoned in because he went and laid down on the couch for a few minutes. I could see he was getting tired (Ha, if only men knew what being tired during labor was!)… I’m not sure what time it was at this moment, but let’s just say it was likely around midnight now. Tim was passed out and I was in my own world breathing through contractions. The affirmations going on in my mind got me through each one. 

Breath And Affirmations

As I started to feel a contraction coming on, I began telling myself to ‘open and release’ and that ‘I can do anything for one minute’. I breathed, I circled my hips, and I meditated. Between each contraction I would put my head down on the bed and rest. It was like I was doing an interval workout! I’d get the work done, rest, and repeat. Breathe, “I can do this”, and relax. 

Getting Tired

After about an hour of this, Shane came in to check on me. She asked how I was feeling and if I needed anything. I told her I was starting to get tired, so she suggested dropping the end of the bed so that I could lean forward and rest on the bed between contractions. I attempted doing that for about 10 minutes or so, but it wasn’t comfortable, so I got back on my ball and continued as I had before. After about 30 more minutes or so, I felt like I needed a new position to rest and to relieve some of the back labor.

Shane came in and helped me get into a side-lying position and put a peanut ball between my legs. I did 15 minutes on one side before I needed to move to the other side. As it was so uncomfortable, it made it hard to rest between contractions. 

Side-Lying For The Win

Shane came back and helped me turn over to my other side with the peanut ball. After about another 15 minutes, I needed to get back up. As she got me out, she wanted to check me again but I told her I first really needed to go pee. So she helped me to the bathroom. As soon as I sat down, shaking, I peed and then immediately, it felt like I had to go poop – I knew the baby was down now. 

I told her how I felt and she got me into the bed so she could check me. She smiled as she told me I was just about at 10 cm! Shane said she could feel the baby’s head and that he was really low. She said my water was still intact, but that if we broke it, she guessed he wouldn’t take too long to come out. She left to contact my OB and get things moving along.

Momma Zoned-In, Daddy Zoned-Out!

Remember how I said my husband laid down to rest? Well, that was around midnight… It was now almost 3 a.m. He slept for nearly 3 hours while I labored! I was clearly in my own world because I didn’t even really notice him in the room!

My OB arrived shortly after 3 a.m. She checked me and explained the procedure to break the water. I laid back and she ruptured it at 3:15 a.m. 

Time To Push!

My OB then left the room to prep for delivery. She was only out of the room for about two minutes when I felt ready to push. As I like to call it, my body went into its “demonic, out-of-body state” and I couldn’t help but push. Shane paged the OB and told her I was ready.

My nurse laughed as the OB asked, “well did you check her?” Shane replied, “Well, she’s pushing so I think she’s ready!”

He Wants Out!

During all of this, the delivery team was assembling things to prepare for delivery. As soon as my body went into “let’s push” mode, you could see the nurses scrambling to finish getting everything ready!

My OB came in and they helped me get into the squat position (though, I was pretty much already there!) and as I requested in my birth plan, they let me push on my own while “breathing the baby down”. I tried my best to just let my body do its thing. 

I wanted the baby to crown for a little bit of time to help stretch things out down there… But it took only 3 contractions before he shot out. I couldn’t hold him in any longer! 

He’s Here!

At 3:25 a.m. baby Boy Ellis was born. Just 10 minutes after she broke my water!

I’ll never forget seeing him come out and gently fall into the bed. It was surreal watching this. The image will always be ingrained in my mind. (Unfortunately, with my daughter, the OB had me deliver on my back and I didn’t get to see her come out.)

They immediately scooped him up and put him on my chest. I was instantly in love. After about 30 seconds, they had Tim cut the cord. I was so involved with staring at the new baby in my arms, I wasn’t really paying attention at this point, but I was hoping for a longer delay before they cut the cord. At any rate, nothing else mattered now. My baby boy was here!


In my birth plan, I requested that the baby immediately be put on my chest after delivery and to stay there for at least an hour. They asked if they could proceed to check him while he was skin-to-skin with me. I allowed it, and they did their thing while I just stared at him. After about 15 minutes or so when the nurses were out of the way, I offered him the breast, which he immediately took. He ate for about 10 minutes on each side.

I Was In Heaven

After about an hour, my nurse took him to be weighed, measured, and swaddled. She handed him back and Tim gathered our things so we could head to the recovery room.

Shane was chit-chatting with us as we were heading to recovery and she said to me, “I’m not gonna lie, natural births scare me a little! They’re so unpredictable! But you did amazing, you were so laid back and chilled out!” I laughed and told her she was the most amazing labor and delivery nurse. I thanked her for being so laid back about everything and for keeping things calm and peaceful in the room for the entire process. It may not seem like a big deal, but having a nurse that goes with the flow and let’s you do your thing and isn’t pushy makes a world of a difference in labor. Tim, of course, chimed in and told her he did all the hard work! 

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Best Delivery Nurse Ever!

Thanks for everything, Shane!

Bliss And Recovery

As we were heading up to recovery, I thought in my mind, THIS, this was the labor and delivery I was hoping for and I was beyond words. Happy and in love with my little baby boy… whom we would not come up with a name for, for almost 48 hours! Needless to say, Maxwell Jacob Ellis instantly stole my heart from the moment I saw him land on the delivery bed. And with my husband by my side during it all (kinda!!), I fell even more in love with him. Our little family had grown to a family of 4… and now we were complete. 

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My Reason For Hypnobirthing 

Something both Hypnobirthing and Prenatal Corrective Exercise taught me is the power of a positive mind.

“The power of the mind: the body is merely a hunk of meat – does absolutely nothing without the mind telling it.” – Katherine Graves, KGH Hyponbirthing                       

I was adamant about remaining in as relaxed a state as possible and filling my head with positivity both during pregnancy and in labor. Around 32 weeks gestation, I started listening to an audiobook about Hypnobirthing. I came across this one by Katherine Graves. I stumbled upon it while watching a YouTube video when I was doing some research on Hypnobirthing. The reason I chose that book is simply because the YouTuber who used it had great success with it. Also, I liked that it included guided audio meditations and visualizations.          

The more I listened the more I knew it was for me! The author really drives home the importance of positivity and calmness when birthing to help keep our bodies in a relaxed state and mind. To put it simply, when relaxed, our bodies “let go” and make it easier on the baby coming out.

Guided Meditations

The guided meditations teach women how to stay positive through any discomfort and pain and how to use mind and breath to help open the cervix and push baby down. There are two breathing techniques the author refers to: the “upstage” of breathing and the “downstage” of breathing.

The “upstage” of breathing, for use during contractions (long slow breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth), is supposed to help you visualize the upper half of your uterus drawing up while the lower half of the uterus releases (and in turn, opens the cervix). The “Downstage” of breathing (Quick inhale through the nose and slowly out the nose), during baby’s transition, is supposed to help you push baby down and out. 

Once I started listening to the KGH book on audible, I used the guided meditations every single night before bed to help me practice being in a meditative and relaxed state for labor. The author emphasized how much easier it is to labor when stress is completely out of the way. Some women supposedly report feeling no pain at all during labor when using this method – Clearly, they were able to get in a much deeper meditative state than I could!

The author also points out the importance of calmness and positivity for the health of your unborn baby as they develop in the womb.

How Prenatal Corrective Exercise Ties In

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I became certified in Pre & Post Natal Corrective Exercise sometime in the midst of my second trimester of my second pregnancy. The course was so fascinating to me; I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone I knew and to start helping other pre and postnatal women!

With my second pregnancy came a whole new set of aches, pains, and discomforts. Throughout my first pregnancy, I don’t really remember feeling limited in my exercises. I was pretty much able to carry on with everything I did before. With this pregnancy, I quickly began noticing I had to restrict some of my activities. Running was no longer an option. Every single time I tried, I would get a feeling that my hips were going to separate and I would cramp up almost instantly.

I had to stop teaching my kickboxing class early in my second trimester, because it was just too uncomfortable (and honestly, not safe to continue due to the hormone Relaxin loosening all of the joints!). Teaching my cycle class was manageable, but super uncomfortable so I wasn’t teaching to the best of my ability. The only exercise I was able to continue teaching was mixed strength training up until I was about 33 weeks. And the only reason I didn’t teach beyond that was because my doctor had concerns about my placenta, so I decided to back off early and to focus on myself, rather than teaching.

Once I stopped teaching, I honed in on my prenatal corrective exercises (PCEs). I was already doing my PCEs every day… but now, I was focusing all of my energy towards them. I was paying closer attention to how they made me feel and analyzed what worked and what didn’t… And, I imagined how I would use them in labor. 

What I did:

  • Diaphragmatic breathing exercises
  • Pelvic floor Exercises
  • Hip alignment exercises 
  • CHEK 6 primal movement patterns

The exercise categories listed above are all designed to balance an “out-of-balance” body. A pregnant body tends put strain on all sorts of joints and muscles, for obvious reasons. It’s important throughout pregnancy to maintain a neutral balance throughout the body – which is exactly what Prenatal Corrective Exercise is designed to do. 

How Does This Help During Labor?  

Here are just a few benefits…

  • Helps get the baby into the best position for a smooth delivery
  • Aids in transition and pushing
  • Helps lessen the need for cesarean or other labor interventions (forceps, induction, etc…) 
  • Provides potential for more strength and endurance during labor and delivery
  • Assists in an easier recovery
  • And so much more…!
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Final Thoughts…

I can’t stress enough that EVERY PREGNANCY, EVERY DELIVERY, and EVERY BABY is different. Each woman’s capabilities are different… each experience will be different. With that said, we can all arm ourselves with knowledge and pregnancy-related exercises and practices (both mentally and physically) as we head into our pregnancies and labors.

For inquiries on how you can gain these toolsets to help you on your pre-conception, prenatal, and/or postnatal journey, book a Free Consultation here!

Together, we’ll form the corrective exercise plan that best suits you and helps you reach your long-term fitness goals. Join me in becoming the Supermom we’re all meant to be!

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