Elsa Hosk is grateful for the beauties of childbirth.
The supermodel, 32, welcomed her first child, daughter Tuulikki Joan, with boyfriend Tom Daly last Thursday, and in a new series of essays shared on Instagram Tuesday alongside maternity photos, Hosk details her home birth story. Hosk recalls a play-by-play of labor pains and the joy of meeting her newborn.
Hosk says she and Daly moved from New York City to Los Angeles when she was seven months pregnant, and once there, they changed their birth plan, preparing instead to have their baby "naturally and drug-free at home, in water."
"I've always loved and felt comforted by water. Any time in life where I've felt sad, upset, needed to relax, needed comfort, the bath has been my place," she explains.
The new mom says she had two days of "manageable" contractions before her active labor. Her doula guided her one night trying to induce labor through exercises and positions, like walking, doing yoga and pumping breast milk. Hosk also had acupuncture that night, and her water broke shortly afterward.
"Right after [the acupuncturist] left I went to bed to try and sleep and I felt a pop in my belly and some water started to come out," she recalls. "I texted Tom who was working in the other part of the house 'baby, I think the water broke' and in that instant I felt the strongest contraction I had felt so far. And they kept coming."
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Hosk found some relief from the pain by resting in the shower under hot water, she says. As the wave of pain intensified, the model says she felt like she was only "surviving at this point."
"I'm breathing and trying to stay calm like our hypno birthing coach has taught me and finally I'm led to the birthing pool. I know from the plan that usually the birthing pool is the last stage and this is where I'll push the baby out," she explains. "The contractions are now the strongest they have ever been but I imagine that with every one my baby is getting closer to me. The second I stepped into the birthing pool I don't remember opening my eyes again for a long time."
Hosk says a minor issue arose when her cervix became caught between her pelvis and the baby's head.
"It's the most painful moment so far but I remember feeling so grateful for these techniques and open to try anything natural to get this baby out quicker," she says. "I remember feeling so devastated that I still have to go through the pushing down the birth canal. It feels like she will never come out. I start doubting if I can do this, hang in there, get her out. Then I remind myself that I can't just stop, there's no way but through the pain."
To help the lip of her cervix to open, Hosk moves to the bed, where she says her body "goes into complete shut down and sleep" in between waves of pain.
"In this child's pose I'm able to find enough power to push away the lip, and this is where my water breaks fully, flowing out all over the bed. I don't care," recounts Hosk. "I imagine Every sensation of pain is her pushing a little further down the birth canal."
The star muses that "birthing is really confronting yourself, your fears and doubts and coming through the other side."
"It's the worst pain, fear, and darkness I've ever experienced in those moments. I feel like an animal," she adds. "I have given up every sense what you're suppose to look like, what anyone would think of me, what was normal many, many hours ago. I have left my ego, my pride. I'm just getting through, getting closer to my baby."
There's a few more hours of pushing, she continues, and at one point, the birthing team brings a mirror so Hosk can view the baby's head crowning — which gave her more energy to keep pushing.
"Later, when a patch of her head is visible they bring a mirror so I'm forced to look, the team of course knows this will motivate me and to my great surprise it gives me such strength and power and it comes from somewhere hidden and deep, never in life has that power gear in me been accessed before and I push deeper, harder, to get that head out."
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Hosk describes the relief she felt after fully delivering her baby. The newborn was then placed on her chest.
"All bloody and fluids are everywhere and she is pooping all over me, and she is looking for my nipple. And the most pain I've ever felt is forgotten, I am overwhelmed with love, proudness, happiness," says the new mom. "She is here. I talk to her. I tell her I'm so proud of her. Her mom has been through war and yet she is so chill, her heart rate so stable."
Hosk adds that "the room shifted from what felt like a horror movie darkness into a light sun-filled dream."
The supermodel concludes her emotional essay by sharing what she learned from childbirth.
"A few days have passed since and sometimes I look at her and I cry when I think about what we went through together," says Hosk. "I feel such gratitude for the women around me, I look at the mothers around me with such deep respect and admiration and I feel such gratitude for the beautiful profession of the midwifes and doulas and I realize birth can be easy or hard, beautiful or dark, but every woman's story is so sacred and so important. I love you."
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