When Kristin Gaspar went in for her 38-week checkup in June, she expected nothing more than a routine visit. Little did she know, she would be giving birth to her baby girl just hours later.

Upon discovering a leftover stitch from her recent cerclage removal and a dilated cervix of 4cm, Kristin was sent to Labor and Delivery to have the stitch removed. Cervical cerclage can be necessary to keep baby inside if your cervix starts to shorten and open too early (often considered a high-risk pregnancy), which could result in a miscarriage or preterm birth. The cerclage is removed as the due date approaches. With very little belongings and no hospital bags, she trekked to L&D alone (cue COVID-19), hanging on to the hope that her plans for a natural birth could still come to fruition.

“I called my husband, Marco, and told him to bring everything and get in the car. He passes out easily, so we honestly had to have some serious discussions as to who would be in the room with me — him or my doula,” she shares, noting the one-guest-allowed COVID-19 precaution at the time. “We’d still hoped our doula could labor at home with us, and then we would be able to FaceTime or call her if needed.”

It was after a challenging birth with her first child, a son (now 2 years old), that led Kristin to make the decision to go the natural route with her high-risk pregnancy — it even inspired her to pursue a career as a fitness instructor with 4th Trimester Fitness Method, specializing in pregnant and postpartum women.

“My recovery was difficult with my first,” she admits. “No one talks about the postpartum period after birth. I had terrible hemorrhoids and a lot of stitches on top of trying to breastfeed for the first time with a son who had a lip and tongue tie. I knew I wanted to do things differently if and when I got pregnant again.”

Upon getting pregnant, Kristin hired a doula and practiced some breathing techniques to boost her mindset, with the goal of laboring at home as much as possible with her doula before going to the hospital to give birth.

Fast forward to June, and Kristin found herself laboring on her own in Triage while waiting for an available room where her husband could join her. Upon being placed, she began using her birth ball to try to move her daughter into a better position (the baby was occiput posterior, meaning head-down facing the abdomen, which can lead to back labor pains). Armed with a calming playlist and essential oils, Marco helped Kristin breathe through the quick contractions. At this point, she got on the bed on all fours and began to push.

“I knew from everything I learned through my teaching that I need to listen to my body and push when I felt it,” she says. “The pain was so intense that at one point, I believe I screamed, ‘What the heck, why isn’t she coming out?’ Dr. Peter and the nurse I had were amazing and let me do what I needed to do during birth. I then held onto the headrail in a squat position, and she was born within 10 minutes of active pushing.”

Kristin, Marco, big brother Luca, and sweet baby Mila Grace.

Kristin credits mental preparation and the maintenance of personal fitness levels for having a smoother labor and delivery.

“I felt I was a better advocate for myself and my birth plan the second time around. With my first, I didn’t necessarily have a plan. I was open minded and said I would figure it out on the way,” she says. “The second birth, I had a written plan, knowing I still would have to be flexible if needed. I changed my mindset and focused on how amazing the human body is and that I really can do this naturally if that is my goal.”

She adds that for her, recovery was much faster having a natural birth and knowing what to expect the second time around.

“I knew what I wanted to do and listened to my body. I tore a lot less and was up and walking after giving birth. I know all women have different experiences, but for me, going natural was so much easier,” Kristin shares. “I was in control, I was in charge, and I followed the cues and listened to my body. Women are strong, amazing and can do anything. If it is something you wish to do, believe in yourself that you can do it, and you will.”

Join Kristin for her next Postpartum Recovery Fitness series, kicking off October 14! Learn more about 4th Trimester Fitness Method at 4tfit.com.

Here at Beaches OBGYN, we believe that all births are beautiful — from natural methods to c-sections to those with an epidural. Always discuss your birth wishes with your provider. Call (904) 241-9775 or leave a message through our online portal to make an appointment.