I am a HypnoBirthing Practioner. Not only was I practicing my HypnoBirthing techniques from 15 weeks pregnant I was teaching other couples and reinforcing my learning. I had experienced one HypnoBirth with my eldest which was a really gentle and calm experience. I knew what I was in for – or so I thought.
My second and last birth was so very different to my first. With a longer labour first time round I was able to get into my head and I laboured calmly and quietly as I bought my first son into the world. This birth was less than 8 hours from first surge to placenta delivery. Four and a half hours in active labour and less than an hour in tub bearing down and this time yes some pushing – 3 to be exact. I pushed and I roared this baby into the world.
I woke at 12.15am on my eldest’s 5th birthday. I went to the loo as does any respectable pregnant woman within her due time. As I came back to bed I felt a surge. I had so many practice surges and at 41 + 1 was a bit over it but this one was different. I felt the pulling open of my cervix. I nearly laughed out loud – this was it. My son was right the baby was coming on his birthday. I hadn’t had much sleep and thought there was no point timing surges I may as well sleep while I could.
Two hours later I woke to regular surges and thought I should time these. They were already five minutes apart. My midwives had given me dire warnings about coming in when the surges were five minutes apart as this was my second baby and second babies come faster. Still I was concerned they weren’t consistent so I woke my husband and kept timing them. He had a shower, I had coco pops (a labouring lady has gotta eat) and they weren’t consistent - they were getting shorter and shorter. I called the midwife and told her I was coming in. I’m not sure she was convinced I was ready as I was talking and breathing through surges but I said I was coming in.
We arrived at the hospital at 3.30. The car ride was difficult as I was obsessed with the clock and how far apart my surges were. In the end I covered the clock and just went with it. The car park was closed and my husband freaked out about parking in the no parking area (even though it is recommended by the hospital) so he parked on a street adjoining the hospital and I walked and laboured and walked and stopped and breathed and walked to the hospital. You might note from my first birth story my husband left me in a similarly awkward position while he went to fetch a wheelchair. This time I knew better than to let him leave me.
If you ever want to get through emergency quickly tell them you are having a baby. We had to use the emergency department entrance as the regular entrance was closed. A quick word to admin and they were rushing us through to the main hospital – they don’t want to deliver babies down there!
I arrived in the birth centre and a new midwife was on (due to circumstances 2 of the three midwives in my MGP were on leave). Midwife 1 was lovely but a bit inexperienced with birth centre / water births. When I arrived she noted my surges were approximately three in ten, she checked my uterus during a surge and offered a vaginal exam which I declined. Then she left as another Mama had just birthed next door. She also called another midwife with water birth certification, to attend so I could get in the bath. I am very grateful to Midwife 2 for coming in when she wasn’t on call to help me have my ideal birth. Certainly puts the care into care giver!
My husband and I were left alone so I set up my diffuser with Clary Sage oil, got my playlist ready to go (Music for Deep Relaxation by Harry Henshaw on Spotify) and grabbed my affirmations out of my suitcase. Then we lay down on the bed and I did calm breathing between surges and surge breathing as the waves came. My husband fell asleep so good is that playlist. I only lasted a few surges here as I was moving very quickly through labour and I needed to be up. I hopped on a birth ball and bounced my way through a few surges while focusing on my affirmations but was still uncomfortable so I decided to move to the shower.
In the shower I sat on the birth ball and stood during surges with my husband either running water down my back or pressing into my back during surges. Here I really connected with my body. I could feel each surge really opening my cervix and I quickly changed from my affirmation of preference ‘I am the storm’ to ‘Each surge brings my baby closer to me’. Compared to my first birth these surges were incredibly intense and I had such complete awareness of what was happening in my body. Instead of staying in the zone with calm breathing between surges I was chatting and joking between them.
Marion arrived and started filling the bath around about the same time I entered ‘transition’ or nearly complete. My baby decided to arrive on his brother’s birthday which was a day before my grandmother’s funeral. I was overcome with grief between surges and started sobbing. I realised this meant I was nearly complete and was amazed at how fast things were progressing. I just let those emotions out. The surges kept creeping up closer and closer together and I couldn’t believe how fast they were coming and how intense they were. I moved to the affirmation ‘My surges cannot be stronger than me because they are me’ at this time because it felt like I wasn’t getting much rest between them.
At 5.50am the bath was ready! I was so happy to get in. Malcolm joined me and I started by sitting with my back into his chest and vocalising through surges. My vocalisations were more aggressive than the first time round to counteract the strength of the surges and the incredible feeling of my cervix opening and the baby moving down. I tried quite a few positions and while bearing down I moved into a position on the side of the bath on my knees leaning over. I whispered to my husband ‘Don’t tell the midwives I am bearing down.’. Of course they knew. Midwife 2 advised Malcolm he would have to catch the baby if I stayed in that position for birth – which was funny because he had no desire to and I really wanted to. I stayed in this deep connection with my body and felt the baby move down the birth path fully aware the whole time of where he was at in my body.
Once he had move through my pelvis I flipped back around and braced my legs against the opposite side of the bath when recommended by Midwife 2. I breathed and yelled and growled the baby right down to crowning. As baby crowned Midwife 1 grabbed a mirror for me to see. Towards the end of a surge his head was opening up my vulva about an inch and the pressure was incredible. Fortunately as the surge ended he moved back up relieving the pressure at which point I yelled out ‘Thank Christ for that’. The next surge I felt him moving back down and the midwife suggested I push which I was very much feeling. So I pushed his head out during that surge. I reached down and placed my hand on top of his head which was so soft. During the next surge he turned to allow the shoulders out. Being so incredibly in tune with my body this time round and having my hand on his head I could feel him between the two worlds which was weird – and I told everyone so. The next surge I pushed to get his shoulders out which didn’t quite happen and I was told to push again as the surge was coming to an end. I did and he shot out into my hands I had to pull him out to release his legs and then up onto my chest. I did it! I caught him. I also said ‘I’m not doing that again!’. It’s pretty rare you look at baby’s genitals as they come out so it was about a minute before we looked and found out we had been blessed with another boy.
Midwife 1 observed I had a minor bleed and we had to leave the bath. Another part of my birth plan was a physiological third stage. We kept baby attached to the cord and even managed a feed to try and release my placenta. It didn’t happen so we cut the cord (which had stopped pulsating) at 40 minutes so my husband could have skin to skin. I was done by this stage. I was so tired and so ready to give up – I was actually begging for the Syntocinon so I could rest. Fortunately Midwife 2 knew my goals and really coached me through the delivery of the placenta. She could see it had released as the cord was growing longer and I just needed some help. She recommended gently tugging the cord and eventually encouraged me to do a big push which really got it out.
The baby was a very healthy 4.43kg and on the 97th percentile. My son arrived with my Mum about an hour after the placenta was delivered. I was showered and tucked up in bed having baby snuggles with my husband. His attendance was the only part of my birth plan that didn’t pan out but I think that was for the best as the noises I was making this time round may have scared him!