I am so honored to have supported this family in achieving this beautiful expat birth story.

They attended my Hypnobirthing meets What To Expect When You Birth in Sweden workshop (click for more info about upcoming workshops) and as their doula, we prepared together during their pregnancy.  I am very grateful for this guest post written by the mother.

Chris Patrick’s Birth Story by his mother, Rebecca Blanchfield

May 2015 was an eventful month for our family. My husband, two young sons and I

moved from the suburbs of Boston, MA, USA to the city of Stockholm. It was also the

month we learned we were expecting our third child. While we were excited about

our expat adventure, we were also a bit apprehensive about birthing in a foreign



My desire for all of my births was for them to be as natural as possible, but with our

first two births in America we faced some adversity trying to achieve this. We were

concerned that we might be up against similar obstacles in Sweden, as well as the

added challenge of a language barrier. It was for these two reasons that we decided

to hire a doula, who we were hoping could be instrumental in our goal of an

empowering, natural birth on our own terms.


My parents arrived in Stockholm from the states on Sunday, February 14, 2016 in

anticipation of the birth. My last day of work had been Friday, February 12 and my

due date was February 21, but I knew from experience with my first two that this

date held little meaning. I expected to go past my due date as I had with my first, so

I’d compiled a list of errands and to-dos as well as some Stockholm sightseeing to

accomplish with my parents in my final days of pregnancy.


During the first two days of their visit I was experiencing sporadic, mild waves. I

recognized these as my body practicing for the big day, but knew they weren’t actual

labor. I enjoyed these waves and was appreciative of my body’s preparations for

what I hoped would be an easy, natural birth. On the afternoon of Tuesday, February

16 my usual energy and desire to be out and about was curiously absent, and I opted

to rest for a few hours instead of running the errands I’d planned.


On Wednesday, February 17 we awoke to a chilly, cloudy winter day.

My husband took my older boys to school and I devised a plan for my parents and I to walk 15

minutes to a baby store in the morning and pick up some last-minute items and then

stop for brunch on the way home. On the walk to the baby store I experienced

another wave, but this time with increased intensity, where I had to pause on the

sidewalk and breathe through its peak. When we arrived at the baby store and

started to browse, another wave hit and I had a sudden and strong desire to be in a

cozier environment closer to home.


I decided we should head straight to the brunch restaurant, which had a warm,

peaceful atmosphere and was only three blocks away from our apartment. I

reasoned that if I had more waves during brunch and felt like I should be home, it

would be an easy and fast exit. But another wave gripped me as we approached the

restaurant, and I sat on a nearby bench and informed my parents that perhaps it

was best to just go home so I could greet any more waves in a familiar, relaxed



We arrived back at our apartment and I parked my birth ball in the kitchen and

began to time my waves as my mom prepared lunch. They were eight to ten minutes

apart and about one minute in duration. I rotated my hips slowly on my birth ball as

each wave came, and met the increasing intensity with feelings of relaxation and



I felt a strong hunger in between waves

and when my mom served me a grilled cheese and apple sandwich, I devoured it while perched on my birth ball.

At about 12:30pm I called my husband at work and told him my waves were starting to come

with some regularity and perhaps he should come home. I then called our doula and

described my current state, indicating that although I wasn’t sure this was it, I did

have a strong feeling that “there was nothing false about this labor.”


While waiting for my husband I decided to move my birth ball to our bedroom and

shut the curtains, dim the lights and turn on my birthing meditation tracks. I started

with the birthing affirmations track, and rode out each wave feeling confident that

my body was doing what it was designed to do and that each wave was bringing me

closer to meeting our baby.


By the time my husband got home around 1pm my waves were ranging from two to

six minutes apart and over one minute in duration. I felt peaceful, relaxed and happy

as I continued to rotate my hips on the birth ball, listen to birthing meditation tracks

and signal my husband to massage my lower back during waves. He called our doula

and reported that I was comfortable and happy, but felt it was time for her to come.

She had an hour’s drive into Stockholm and said she’d be in touch as she got closer

to see whether she should meet us at our place or at BB Sophia, which was the

birthing center we’d chosen for our baby’s birth.


After speaking with our doula, my husband called BB Sophia.

He described the situation and they simply asked that we let them know when we were ready to

come. This response was in stark contrast to my previous birth experiences in

America, where the hospital requested every detail and urged me to come in

immediately. Having the choice to listen to my body and come to the birthing center

when it felt right was refreshing and liberating.


At about 3pm my parents left to pick up my boys at school, and I instructed them to

bring the kids back to their hotel so I could continue to labor at home until I felt I

was ready to go. Around the same time, our doula was approaching Stockholm and

asked whether she should come directly to us or meet us at BB Sophia. After a brief

discussion my husband and I decided we were comfortable and content at home.

While waiting for our doula, I decided to take a break from the meditation tracks

and birthing affirmations, and requested that my husband play Joni Mitchell. He

turned on Both Sides Now, and her smooth voice guided me through my next wave,

melting the tension and easing the intensity. This song segued into her more

modern, jazzier pieces and I suddenly felt strongly that I needed to hear her Greatest

Hits album instead, firmly insisting that I wanted “folksy, not jazzy!”


Our doula arrived at 3:30pm while I was riding my waves to Joni Mitchell’s folksy
greatest hits.

By this time the peak of each wave was becoming more heightened

and prolonged, and I was so grateful to have our doula there to help guide me

through them. She took deep breaths with me as each wave hit, and gently

whispered “open” as the wave swelled, both of which made me feel more relaxed.

These cues invoked the color meditation track, and I pictured a beautiful blue flower

opening as my waves surged through my body.


I’d remembered we’d bought two spray bottles of Flower Emergency, a natural elixir

our doula had recommended during her birthing class, and suggested we try it for

my next wave. I signaled as my next wave approached and our doula spritzed the

herbal remedy in my mouth, and my body felt immediately relaxed as my husband

massaged my lower back and my wave peaked.


I mentioned to my husband and doula that I was feeling pressure in my lower back

during my waves and was concerned the baby might be positioned with the back of

his head aligned with my back. Our doula suggested a position to help him turn, and

I experienced my next several waves standing up with one leg up on the ottoman at

the foot of our bed. When I resumed my position atop the birth ball, the pressure in

my back had indeed disappeared.


With my back pressure at last relieved,

I spent my next several waves identifying

tension in my body and consciously relaxing those tense areas. Specifically, I noted

tension around my eyes and jaw, and rode my subsequent waves with my entire

face in a loose, fluid state. I continued to tune into my doula’s whispers to “open”

and imagined the blooming blue flower.


At 4:45pm I decided that although I was very comfortable at home, perhaps it was

time to head to the birthing center so my parents could bring the boys home for

dinner. My husband and I had toured the birthing center a few weeks prior, so I was

aware that I had many options for a continued relaxed, enjoyable labor. I envisioned

experiencing my waves in one of their birthing tubs or clutching one of their

squatting ropes hanging from the ceiling.


My husband called a taxi and helped me get my shoes on, which suddenly felt like a

herculean task. I had been in such a relaxed, blissful state in our bedroom that I

wasn’t aware of my diminished capacity to complete simple tasks.

I walked down the two flights of stairs with our doula, and we joked about how my

two sons had already named their unborn baby brother “Hoobiebatch” after a frog

in one of their storybooks. We shared a laugh and she headed to her car to meet us

at the birthing center.


The cab arrived at 4:50pm and I was suddenly seized by an intense wave

as my husband opened the door for me. I clutched the door and bent over to ride out the

wave while my husband massaged me, and then we climbed in the back seat. As the

cab pulled away from the curb, another wave struck with even greater intensity, and

knowing I no longer had the luxury of changing positions I buried my face in the

crook of my husband’s neck and moaned in his ear. He offered me the Flower

Emergency, which had been so helpful with my previous waves, but since these

waves had changed in shape and intensity I decided it was no longer needed. I flatly

refused it, bellowing “NO!” when my husband asked for the second time if I wanted



We hit some rush hour traffic and the driver took a wrong turn, so the cab ride to

the birthing center took 15 minutes. My waves throughout the ride offered me little

break in between, and I felt a great urgency to no longer be forced into a sitting

position. When we exited the cab at BB Sophia, I immediately slung my arms around

my husband’s neck and experienced another strong wave standing outside the

birthing center.


My husband then guided me inside and I was surrounded by midwives coaxing me

to sit in a wheelchair so I could be taken to my birthing room. I was incredibly in

tune with my body, and it was telling me that I couldn’t be in a sitting position again,

even for a short wheelchair ride. One of the midwives suggested I perch on the

wheelchair seat on all fours, which felt more natural and comfortable.


When we arrived in the birthing room seconds later,

I immediately stood up and leaned over the bed. My body was telling me that I needed to start using the strong

waves to push, and when this became clear to the midwives they quickly helped my

husband remove my pants and set up a nest of towels on the floor between my legs.

I channeled my waves to power my pushing and instinctively made deep, guttural

noises with each surge. I imagined myself as a child swimming the length of a pool

underwater, proud of the stamina of my lungs. I felt a mild burning and then a gush

of warm liquid on my legs as my water came out first as a bubble and then burst.

Each successive wave resulted in a push longer than I thought I was capable of, and

by my third push I felt my baby’s body sliding from my own and knew my labor was

over and it was time to meet our new son.


According to our cab receipt, we had arrived at BB Sophia at 5:05pm and our son

was born at 5:16pm. Chris Patrick had entered this world just 11 minutes after

arriving at the birthing center.


I craned my neck around in an effort to see my baby and heard my husband

murmur, “he’s beautiful.” The midwives urged me to climb on the bed and remove

my shirt, and I immediately put our newborn son to my chest. He was indeed perfect

and we enjoyed our very first cuddle time while I delivered the placenta in one easy



While we were marveling at his tiny fingers and toes, his flawless, vernix-covered

body and his thick, beautiful cord, our doula arrived. Although she had missed the

actual arrival of the baby, we were grateful she had played such a key role in

enabling our amazing, empowering birth, and we were happy she could share the

euphoric post-birth experience with us. The midwives delivered a celebratory tray

of sandwiches and non-alcoholic champagne, and we recapped our birth story with

great joy and wonder.


My husband and I spent Chris’ first night at BB Sophia, with our new baby nestled in

the bed between us. We headed home the following morning less than 18 hours

after Chris’ birth. Chris Patrick met his older brothers the following day, who

immediately offered hugs and kisses to welcome our precious fifth family member.


Hypnobirthing Meets What to Expect When You Birth Abroad! Be understood and respected so you can relax and birth your baby :-). Click here for more information about my workshops.

How and why to include delayed or optimal cord clamping in your birth preferences? Get the guide!

At about 12:30pm I called my husband at work and told him my waves were starting to come with some regularity and perhaps he should come home. I then called our doula and described my current state, indicating that although I wasn’t sure this was it, I did have a strong feeling that “there was nothing false about this labor.”