Claire Holt is getting real about her birth story.
The actress, 31, opened up on Thursday’s episode of Dr. Berlin’s Informed Pregnancy Podcast — just over three months after she gave birth to her first child, son James — of how a balloon was used to induce her labor, which Holt remembers as nothing short of “torture.”
After The Originals star arrived at the hospital alongside her husband, real-estate executive Andrew Joblon, doctors opted to use a Foley balloon to place pressure on her cervix and increase her dilation timeline.
“They insert the balloon and blow it up once it’s inside and it’s obviously supposed to help you dilate,” Holt explains. “The placing of it was not painful. It was a little uncomfortable, but it just felt like a regular pelvic exam.”
However, it was not long before the then-mom-to-be found herself in severe discomfort.
“It was so unbelievably painful for me and I feel like I have a pretty high pain threshold, in general,” Holt recalls. “There was pressure. So the contraction was so strong for me for that minute and … I basically contracted constantly for two hours, is how it felt.”
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She continues, “It was really tough for me. And at this point my husband and my sister were there with me in the hospital room. And of course they were filming me and thought it was hilarious and I was like, ‘No, I’m serious guys, this actually really hurts.’ “
Despite the physical agony, Holt refused to take pain medicine at first. She wanted a non-medicated birth — but was quickly learning the downside in choosing to do so.
“No pain medicine. And so at that point I was like, ‘Okay, I’m just going to white-knuckle it and I’ll be okay but this is crazy, like this is so painful for me,’ ” The Vampire Diaries alum recalls.
“They told me it could take up to six hours to dilate me to 4 centimeters and after two hours of it, I remember the nurse coming in to check how it was going and I was like, ‘I can’t take this much more. This is unbearable. Like, maybe I’m just going to cancel the induction,’ ” she adds.
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Come 7 a.m. — seven hours after the actress checked into the hospital — the nurses decided that Holt, who was now 4 centimeters dilated, no longer needed the balloon assistance. However, removing it was not a pleasant experience.
“I was like, ‘Okay, I’m ready,’ ” she recalls. “I was just gripping the edge of the hospital bed and she yanked and I yelled — I’m not really a yeller, but that warranted a squeal. But when it came out, I felt such relief.”
Holt continued to struggle in dilating enough to give birth, leading her doctor to try an unconventional method that the actress deems an “aquadural.”
“She said to me, ‘Let’s get you in the shower,’ ” Holt shares. “She said, ‘I usually don’t do this until someone’s right on the edge of not being able to handle the pain anymore because it’s like a natural epidural, the warm water.’ “
“She had actually texted my husband and said, ‘Put her in the shower, I’m almost there,’ ” Holt continues. “And my husband said, ‘She just had a blowout. She’s not going to go in the shower.’ “
“I finally, reluctantly, agreed to ruin my blowout. I jumped in the shower and it felt great for a second,” she says. “I got out of the shower and I remember just leaning on the bed and tears were streaming down my face. I couldn’t control it. … I was suffering.”
After Holt asked for a walking epidural, her pain quickly subsided even as her contractions grew closer together.
“I was thrilled with my decision at that point,” she notes. “I really was. I could still move around, which was great. And I felt like I had the ability to try and progress my labor that way, by rocking and bouncing, but it just took the edge off the pain.”
Later that night, Holt and her husband welcomed their son James, which she announced on March 29 on Instagram.
The new mom’s photo showed baby James sound asleep, wrapped in a hospital blanket and wearing a striped newborn cap as he lay in his mama’s arms.
“Everything they say is true. There is no love like it ❤️,” Holt captioned the touching snapshot of the couple’s first child, who came along a little more than a year after Holt revealed that she had suffered a miscarriage and underwent a consequent dilation and curettage procedure.
Joblon shared his own image, of Holt cuddling their newborn in her hospital bed, writing, “Claire — you are my hero. Thanks for doing such a good job cooking this sweet little boy,” and sharing that James arrived the previous day.