The Birthplace at St. Vincent’s in Bridgeport with Sarah Najamy

Sarah1Hudson Joseph Mastropole was born naturally on June 8th at 4:36 am with the incredible support of my loving husband, midwife Sarah Najamy, doula Ashley Ortelli and of course the Hypnobirthing methods and education from you that led us down this life changing path in our birth plan. We are so blessed and completely in love and overwhelmed with joy. Please share my story and thank you for changing our lives! – Sarah Mastropole, Easton CT


Cynthia, I’m thrilled to tell you that on October 2, my daughter was born.  My birth story could not have gone better, and my husband and I have you to thank in large part for that.  I had a completely natural birth–no epidural, no interventions.  And the nurses and attending OB at St. Vincent’s could not have been more supportive of my birth plan. I felt like a sort of celebrity that morning, as the nurses in later shifts remarked how they heard about my daughter’s natural birth.  Apparently a woman next door to me, upon hearing my baby cry with her first breaths, could not understand why she didn’t hear screaming from me while giving birth.  Before taking your hypnobirthing class, I was scared of labor, couldn’t imagine going through it, and definitely never thought I could do it completely naturally.  Throughout my pregnancy, I remained calm and relaxed because of what I learned and practiced from your class, and I realized I wasn’t scared anymore–I actually looked forward to labor! I went into labor around 1:50 am on October 2 (my guess date was October 1). Around 4 am I decided that it was time to go to the hospital; I was admitted at 4:30 am, and they told me I was 4 cm.  By around 6 am, I was 8 or 9 cm. My membranes broke naturally soon after that, and my daughter was born at 7:11 am. My labor was only about 5 total hours. Throughout the surges I focused on my breathing and staying relaxed–at one point, I even verbally said out loud, “relax, relax, relax,” while focusing on a point on the wall, and listening to the hypnobirthing CD.  There was definitely a point when doubt started creeping into my mind as to whether I could do this…but my husband was enormously supportive and helpful. The labor came so fast and so hard, so I just tried focusing on breathing and getting through each surge. Thank you again for all that you taught us and for helping to make this experience so amazing. I’m so grateful for you. – Lauren Sylling, Stratford CT (Birthed in St. Vincent’s)

Lauren family

Hi Cynthia!! I wanted to let you know about my amazing birth with my son Connor! He was born on Monday (10/6/14) and what an amazing experience it was! I know I couldn’t have done it without the hypnobirthing techniques that I learned in your class! I can’t thank you enough for all of the wonderful information I learned in your classes.

I started laboring Sunday morning at 4am.The surges weren’t bad at all, but I could tell something was going on. My surges stayed pretty mild and sometimes I would go 20/30 minutes without a surge. I went in to get checked, and I was close to fully effaced, but my water didn’t break. I went back home, and eventually my surges stopped (around 7pm). I went to bed because I had a feeling baby Connor would be coming soon. A couple of hours later (11pm) I woke up with much more intense surges. These were all a full minute and around 5-7 minutes apart. I used my hypnobirthing techniques to breath through the surges, and let my hubby sleep a couple more hours because I knew it was going to be a long night . Around 1am I woke him and continued to breathe through the surges until 3:30 am when I called my doula. She arrived shortly after. Around 6:30 am I called the midwives and went to the birth center. At this point my surges were 3-4 minutes apart and all a full minute long. They checked me at the birth center and I was only 4 cm….so they sent me back home to continue to labor. I went back home and continued to labor. I was very glad I was at home. I continued to breathe through my surges and take advantage of the breaks in between. In between I would talk to my husband or doula, laugh, relax, etc. Knowing the breaks were coming made the surges not seem so bad. We walked around through my backyard, picked veggies in my garden, relaxed on the couch, just did various things to pass the time. At 10:30am the midwives had me come to the office. I was still only 4-5 cm, so I stayed at the office for another 1.5 hours to labor some more, then they checked me again and said I was ready to go to the birth center. When I got there I was 6cm, and it was 12:30pm. I went into the tub for awhile, which was soooo amazing and relaxing. Around 2/2:15 they checked me again and told me I was 9cm! I couldn’t believe it! I labored out of the tub for my last cm, and then they told me I was ready to get Connor out. I ended up pushing for only about 40 minutes, and out he came! Connor James Ferris was born at 3:22pm, 8lbs 3 oz.

It was sooooo amazing and unbelievable. Breathing him down through the contractions got me through the labor. I think that at some point I thought the laboring was going to get much worse, but it never did. It was very manageable. Taking advantage of the breaks in between the surges helped me get through the labor. I was also lucky enough to have a birth photographer there who is doing a project on midwife and doula support “From labor to Love”. I tagged Hypnobirthing CT in the slideshow she made for me. If you haven’t seen her page I would definitely check it out. She was amazing….like a second doula who also happened to have a camera.

Anyway, sorry for the long, over detailed email, I just wanted to make sure I didn’t leave anything out. THANK YOU so much for everything, and I can’t wait for you to meet little Connor!! xoxox! – Lauren Ferris, Stratford CT (Birthed in St. Vincent’s with Sarah Najamy)

Dear Cynthia, I wanted to tell you about our birth! It was so great! My due date was on August 28, and our baby Anastasiya arrived on 8/23. The morning of 23rd, I felt little weird. All day my belly was tight. Then around 7:00pm we took a w…alk with my mom and my sister. I continue feeling that my belly was getting tight from time to time. At 9 pm I felt first surges, I call Sarah, she said that every surge should be one minute. We start timing them…they were 40-50 seconds, but very frequent and strong. I used all our techniques, breathing and visualization. At 1:30 AM I realized that we had to go (as you said at one of our classes – there will be a point when you feel you just have to get to your birthing facility and to trust that instinct). So, we got to St. Vincent Birthing Center at 2:00. Sarah didn’t tell me how many centimeters I was dilated for, she just said that I am ready, and with the next surge I can just let it go and start pushing. So, our baby girl was born at 3:25, and I was pushing not even hour and a half. When she put her on my chest I just start laughing…I just couldn’t control my emotions. It was the best moment of all my life! Unforgettable! I cannot thank you enough for all your support and information! I just want to kiss her little cheeks all the time! Evgeniya Fedotava, Orange CT (Birthed in St. Vincent’s Birthing Center with Sarah Najamy at Circle for Life Midwifery)

Kelsey experienced HypnoBirthing at Circle for Life Midwifery in Bridgeport CTWe welcomed our beautiful baby girl, Azelie Carleen Skidd, on Tuesday, August 6th – a full twelve days after her guess date! As you can imagine, we were more than ready for her appearance, especially since the threat of induction loomed large. I was actually scheduled to be admitted to the hospital to begin the induction process at 6 pm the day she was born, but she beat us to it!  As it turned out, her birth was better than I had ever allowed myself to actually believe that it would be. I woke up Monday morning feeling decidedly “different,” but a visit with my midwife that morning indicated that my cervix was nowhere near ready to allow the passage of my baby. My husband and I returned home determined to do everything we could to start labor – I mean everything. Walking, squatting, climbing stairs, bouncing on my birth ball, getting acupuncture, eating incredibly spicy foods, etc. By 7 that night I was having surges every five minutes or so, and by 3:30 am I had to wake my husband to help me through them. We called our doula, who arrived a little after 4, and continued to labor at home. I had no idea how far along I was in labor, since this was my first baby, but I kept using the breathing techniques to relax between surges and visualization to focus through them. Time really did seem meaningless at that point. Around 6, I told my husband to call the midwife, it was time to go. She met us in the lobby of the hospital at 7 am, hurried us upstairs to the birth center, and checked me – I was fully dilated! I was full of such awe and joy in that moment! My membranes released right then, I got in the tub, and after about thirty minutes of pushing, little Azelie was born. She weighed 7 lbs, 11 oz. and was 20 inches long. I am still overcome with gratitude that I was able to have the birth I wanted, in spite of every indication that it was not going to happen. I thank you, Cynthia, for helping us learn to stay positive and work with our bodies to give life to our children. Everyone I speak with seems to be amazed at our birth story, but looking back, I realize that, as momentous as it was for us, it really isn’t that outlandish. It is what my body was created to do. One of my little nieces came to visit the baby and asked me if “it hurt,” and I was so happy to be able to tell her, with complete honesty, that it didn’t. I do not associate that event with pain at all – it was one of the most exhilarating and wonderful experiences of my life.  – Kelsey Skidd, Norwalk, CT  (Birthed at The BirthPlace at St. Vincent’s Medical Center with Sarah Najamy at Circle for Life Midwifery Group)

Callie practiced HypnoBirthing in Connecticut at St. Vincent's with Sara NajamyDear Cynthia, Grant’s due date was October 22; however, he decided to come a week later and during Hurricane Sandy! Your hypnobirthing class absolutely opened our eyes. We learned so much from you that, at week 36, I switched from my OB …practice to a midwifery. We hired our lovely doula through you, Laurie, who made the journey even more enjoyable. While pregnant, I also took a lot of yoga classes and had monthly prenatal massages. Our goal was to have as natural and safe of a birth as possible and to have a healthy baby. At midnight on Oct. 29, I woke up.  I could feel surges, but went back to bed.  Of course, before I fell asleep, I asked my husband if he was ready to be a dad today… that quickly woke him up! As the storm rolled in, I could feel my surges getting stronger and closer together. I let our doula, Laurie, know what was going on and was also in touch with our midwife throughout the day.  It was VERY windy, rainy and cloudy out. Roads and interstates were starting to be closed. Although it was still early, Laurie came over because if she didn’t before the I-95 was shut down, then she probably wouldn’t make it! I laid down and listened to my Hypnobirthing meditations and birth mix, and tried to sleep despite the noises of the storm. That evening we lost power & decided with the midwife that it would be best that we go to the hospital at 8 p.m. We arrived to the hospital at 8 p.m. As the night progressed, so did my surges and my body continued getting ready to give birth.  I used hypnobirthing, the shower, tub, yoga positions and massage techniques to relax. At about 4 a.m., when I was 9 cm dilated and my cervix was starting to swell, we, along with our midwife and doula decided that an epidural would be the best option to help relax my body, allow the swelling to go down, and give the baby a chance to descend. After, we all napped for a couple of hours. Early in the morning I was checked again, and  the baby still wasn’t coming down.  We had one more chance (I did not know this at the time, but the back-up OB and staff were prepping a room for a C-section.)  I napped for about 30- minutes while listening to my Hypnobirthing meditations.  I relaxed and began to feel pressure, which I happily told everyone in the room about. The midwife came in and checked me again. They brought the cart in for the baby & Sarah announced that we were about to have a baby! After about 10 minutes of pushing Grant arrived.  And boy was everyone in the room taken back! His arm was wrapped around his head and when he came out, his arm whipped around his body (called a compound presentation). That, along with his size is what made it difficult to descend. He was HUGE and had a head full of hair.  He immediately went to my chest and then began breastfeeding. Ricky cut the umbilical cord.  After all that, Grant was taken to the scale where he weighed in at 9 pounds 9 oz! We are so grateful for all the support in getting him safely into the world.  Cynthia, thank you for your guidance and everything you taught us. What we learned from you led to such an amazing experience. We’re especially thankful that you motivated us to switch from our practitioner & connected us with Laurie.  We could not have asked for a better midwife; Sarah made us feel so comfortable & was so supportive of our birth plan. Having a doula was wonderful; we greatly appreciated Laurie’s support before, during and after the birth.  My experience at St. Vincent’s with Sarah & Laurie could not have been better – I’d recommend those ladies and the facility to anyone! Between them and my husband I had the best support team possible. We are so in love with our little man and are enjoying every minute of being parents. Thank you again & best wishes, Callie, Ricky & Grant Ferrari, Fairfield CT (Birthed at The Birthplace in St. Vincent’s Hospital with Sarah Najamy, CNM)

katie1Hi Cynthia!  I have been dying to message you and let you know that my birth went amazingly!! I am so grateful to God. My water broke around 9:30 am on 11-21, and when I called the midwife she suggested I come in to the office around 1 pm to get checked. WELL by the time 1 pm came along the surges were in full swing and there was NO way I was getting in the car to go to the office. So my midwife kindly called me every half hour to check in while I labored at home as long as possible (in the shower and over the birth ball.) Finally I went to the birth center around 3 pm. I was a little discouraged to find I was only 2 cm at that point because you can only be admitted to the Birth Center at 5 cm or more. But the midwife knew how awful it would be for me to get back in the car and drive home, so she said I should take another hour (she actually gave me 2 hours,) get in the shower, relax etc. When she checked me again 2 hours later and I was at 5 cm! I was psyched. 3 hours later I was at 8 cm. The whole thing was very calm and quiet and I tried to relax as much as possible through each surge. The HypnoBirthing breathing techniques are really helpful! Labor was terribly challenging but I never hit the point that so many people talk about: the “I-need-drugs-or-else” stage.  The end of labor before pushing was the hardest. I was super tired and starting to feel like “How will I possibly ever relax enough to get a baby out?” Then my midwife started to encourage me in a way that really helped. She knew what I needed to hear. She said the perfect things. She encouraged me to relax and told me that she was going to leave the room and I had to figure out how to let the baby out. She reminded me that it was up to me, and the end was really close. She put me in bed (I couldn’t stay put though) and after about 20 more minutes I felt the overwhelming urge to push. I got in bed (not on my back!) and Thomas was born 15 minutes later at 10 pm! I could not believe how quick the pushing was! We are loving him! All in all the birth was wonderful and I am doing really well. I cannot thank you enough for your class. It was amazing. I believe it was your class that gave me the courage to have such a calm, relatively quick, and natural birth. I wish there were instructors like you all over the US. If there were, I think a lot of the horror stories surrounding birth would go away! Everyone deserves to know the things you told us: birth really can be a wonderful, peaceful experience. Thank you so much!
– Katie Lloyd Martin, Derby CT (Birthed with Sarah Najamy at Birthplace in St. Vincent’s Birthing Center in Bridgeport)

tracyHi Cynthia! I’ve been meaning to write and share our birth story with you. The day before Labor Day, I had woken up to what felt like warm-up surges, only now accompanied by pelvic pressure. They eventually subsided that afternoon, so it was only a false alarm. On Labor Day I was again awoken by surges at 6:30 am but this time they didn’t subside. They continued to come frequently but weren’t regular until that night. Our doula came in the evening, and we finally made the call to go to the birth center around 1:30 am Tuesday morning. I was 5 cm when we arrived, and I spent the next 2 or 3 hours in the shower, which was the only thing that could ease my back labor. I progressed to 6 cm by 4:30 am but was still only 6 cm about 2 hours later (and 24 hours after things had begun). That was disheartening to hear, but Susan, the midwife, was wonderfully patient and didn’t give me any reason to doubt myself or the process, and things eventually picked back up. I should mention that I listened to the affirmations a lot during labor, which helped me to relax and was especially helpful in refocusing my mind whenever it wandered to the question, “why is this taking so long?!”

Sarah took over the shift at 8 am and helped me rally for the home stretch. I was happy to discover that I was 8 cm and went back into the shower for some relief for my back. When I was 9 cm, she offered to release my membranes, to which I happily consented, eager for anything that would speed things along. (It turns out my back labor was caused not by the baby’s positioning, but by having so much amniotic fluid. Releasing my membranes instantly eliminated my back labor!) Pretty much right after that it was go time! No time to run water for the tub, and no desire or energy to even move from the bed at that point. I pushed for less than 30 minutes! Ella Rose was born at 10:56 am on Tuesday, September 2nd, exactly 2 weeks before her guess date and 4 days before my birthday. (Incidentally, history had repeated itself: my mother had labored with me on Labor Day 31 years ago, and I was also born the following day!)

Dan and I are so grateful that we took your course, and we recommend it to everyone. It was truly an empowering experience. We found ourselves invigorated after each class with all of our new found knowledge, and we became even more passionate and more committed to our goal of natural childbirth as a result of everything we learned. We’re also happy to have found a great, like-minded community and look forward to taking advantage of your postpartum offerings in the near future. Thanks again for everything!
– Tracy, Dan & Ella (Birthed at The Birthplace with Circle for Life Midwifery at St. Vincent’s)

MargoAs soon as I became pregnant with my third child I knew I did not want a third cesarean section. I was told how dangerous it would be to do a trial of labor and that I would have to change hospitals if I wanted a vaginal birth. I left in tears despite the fact that everything was progressing perfectly in the pregnancy.

I attended my first ICAN meeting and found out it is never too late to change providers and also that I was not alone in my experience and others had gone on to have safe, successful VBACs after multiple cesareans. I began the search for another provider and discovered most local hospitals have policies against vaginal births after more than one cesarean even though there is no evidence to support such a policy. With the help of your ICAN group, I found Circle for Life midwifery who were not afraid to take on the challenge of supporting my choices.

I didn’t know just how badly I wanted a natural birth until I attended my first HypnoBirthing class with you, and was asked to state my intention. Just thinking about stating it aloud closed my throat and brought on the flow of tears. While most people I spoke to seemed to think I should “just schedule a cesarean” and avoid all the difficulties of trying to “take on the system”, here I was with a group of people who believed I could and should birth the way I wanted to. Fear and doubt slowly became hope and determination and the final result was more amazing than I could have ever imagined.

Mild surges began on January 29 around 1pm. They continued that way until early evening when they seemed to get stronger. I called Ashley, my doula, and by the time she arrived I was using the “balloon” breathing technique and sometimes would go on my hands and knees to breathe through a surge. Surges were not painful and but they were definitely getting stronger and closer together. We called the midwife and set out for the hospital knowing we had to get to Bridgeport from Norwalk. The membranes released just before we rounded the last corner to get to the hospital and once inside Paula found I was open to a full 10cm and ready to go. There was a strong bearing down sensation with each surge that took no conscious effort on my part so I tried to add my own “push” to that to help the baby along. Once I began to feel a stretching sensation, I knew the baby was close. Little did I know, he was very close! I saw stars with my last push and had to be convinced to open my eyes to see the baby (I knew he wasn’t entirely out, but did not know his entire head was!) I watched as his body slid gently out and Paula turned him to face me. She had me reach down and help pull him up onto my lower abdomen as he and I stared at each other with shock and disbelief. The placenta came out on its own time and the cord was cut after that.  It was a truly magical experience!

I cannot thank you enough, Cynthia, for all that you do at HypnoBirthing of CT! Your class is not only extremely informative but truly inspiring and empowering for all who attend. You are so experienced and approachable and you know how to make everyone comfortable enough to ask questions of any kind. On top of that you have created a community of like-minded individuals and couples where people can connect on many different levels. The ICAN group you run is such a supportive group of women that I was instantly at ease relating to them. Your work is vital to the health and well-being of families you touch.  I sincerely hope that all women get the birth they desire! It was life-changing for me to realize that birth is beautiful and not scary and painful like so many would have us believe. I will be forever grateful. Much Love, Margo Puma from Norwalk CT (Natural birth after two cesareans at St. Vincent’s Hospital)