A Hypnobirthing Story | Flagler Hospital | St. Augustine Birth Photography
Photography & Story by Dallas Arthur Photography
Birth Place: Flagler Hospital
City: St. Augustine, FL
Doula: Emily Wannenburg
In the birth world, third babies are known to be "wild cards." They can take their sweet time, or they can quickly rush their way into the world. This darling little boy is so lucky to have one patient mama, because she weathered two long days of contractions at home before he was born! Dani's smooth, empowered Hypnobirth was, in her doula's words, "textbook." It is an honor to tell her story with images!
Dani and I met through her talented doula and friend, Emily Wannenburg of 4th Trimester Fitness. She and I chatted over the phone and she told me all about her birth plans, and I jotted down some notes while we talked. When we hung up the phone and read some of the notes I had written…Hypnobirthing, hot tub, mimosas, low-intervention room at Flagler, custom leopard print birth bathing suit…this was going to be a fun birth!
Dani texted me one evening to let me know that she was having timeable contractions, about seven minutes apart. She kept me updated through the night, even texting me “Planning a labor is hard work! Ha!” It certainly is, but I assured her that her plans were going to go smoothly and that she could count on me! I had my gear ready to go, but I headed to bed early just in case I got “the call” in the middle of the night. But the evening and morning passed and labor was still progressing, slowly but surely. We kept in touch through the day and into the night, and I suddenly got a text at 11pm saying, “Headed to Flagler!” I was excited to finally hop in the car and head to them!
Although Dani and I had chatted via phone and texting, I didn't have the pleasure of meeting her face-to-face until she called me to Flagler Hospital at about 7cm dilated. Even with her two days of on-and-off contractions, she was so upbeat and fun to be around! Her husband, parents, and Emily were there to support her, and they were a delight to spend that late night and early morning with.
Nothing relaxes the body and opens the cervix like laughter, right? In between contractions, Dani was chatting and laughing, and at one point said, "Wait! I have an idea for a picture!" She grabbed 'Ina May's Guide to Childbirth' out of her birth bag! Since a good portion of that (wonderful) book is dedicated to positive birthing stories, I feel like Ina would be proud of that silly moment!
But the night wore on, and as Dani's labor intensified, Emily's support became more and more hands on. She suggested different positions to get things moving and to help this little guy on his way.
I loved seeing a birth ball used in a hospital setting! I was a huge fan of the birth ball in my pregnancy and labor, and I've seen how incredibly versatile they can be.
Patiently and calmly waiting for the next contraction, bringing her baby one step closer to her arms.
So this swimsuit, yall. She had this custom designed JUST for birth! It was awesome, and so cute!
There are so many benefits to having a doula, and this image shows one of them. When you've been in labor on and off for days and it's the middle of the night and you're approaching transition...a doula's strong touch and soft words of encouragement are powerful. And as I've seen several times now, some of the best advice to get labor going is to turn off the lights, quiet things down, and curl up in bed.
So that's what she did!
Even though this wasn't the low-intervention room at Flagler that this family had hoped for, there was still a tub for mom to labor in. And this room was particularly special anyways, because it was where her last baby had been born!
I loved all of the details that adorned Dani's arms; some medical, some sentimental, some for comfort. The gray arm band is a hospital sock cut to cover her antibiotic IV port. On her left arm were her hospital bands, but also a neat little bracelet that absorbed essential oils for her to inhale for peace and calm. I also have so many pictures of her beautiful rings; I know that I had to ditch my wedding rings from my hand and move them to a necklace around the beginning of my third trimester, so I was surprised and happy to be able to include images of her beautiful bands during labor.
I was so impressed with how in-tune Dani was with her body. She could sense that she was approaching transition and spoke so clearly about how she was feeling.
Doula-ing is a sport. Period. In fact, I'd venture to say it's an extreme sport; one in which the players perform with grace and poise, even if they haven't slept!
As Dani's contractions intensified, she started to breathe her baby down. She was ready to meet her baby! The energy in the room sparkled as everyone got into place and prepared for what was to come. I watched the clock, knowing that the sun would be rising soon. I hoped that the St. Augustine sunshine would welcome a new baby soon!
At this point, Dani asked her husband, "Is Missy [the midwife] suited up? You know it's for real when the goggles come out!" Missy was such a patient and positive person, encouraging mama with each push that her baby was inching his way down.
Beautiful, relaxed hands. Hypnobirthing encourages moms to breathe their baby down in a practice called "birth breathing." Dani was a champ and absolutely rocked the "pushing" stage!
I loved that they included her dad in the birth room! He sat around the corner of the bed to give her privacy, but he was listening so intently. I could feel the love!
You could tell this dad was so excited to meet his baby boy!
And here he is! He was just as calm and peaceful as his strong mama.
I just love all of the hands in this picture! 7 of them! Mom's hands reaching down for her baby, baby's hands all curled up, the midwife's gloved hands supporting baby, and the doula and nurses' hands supporting mom. Perfection!
Teary-eyed daddies are just my favorite!
It was honestly really neat to see a new life coming into the world at sunrise. A new day in so many ways.
Soon came his name! Otto Zax, born with perfect blonde curls.
Skin-to-skin with daddy!
I cracked up when I saw this little guy peeking up at me! "Um, excuse me, lady, I'm chillin' with my pops right now."
Love that postpartum belly!
He was just the sweetest little thing. The morning light bathed his perfect face while we waited for his big brother and sister to arrive.
Baby noses = all the heart eyes.
Big brother and sister were so excited to meet Otto! And to snuggle mama!
A proud big sister and a curious big brother.
And a proud doula!
Welcome to the world, little Otto! Your presence is another beam of light to your family's life! It was an honor to witness your first moments.