After completing the Hypnobirthing course in November 2018 my partner and I felt more confident about what our options were when approaching birth and throughout our pregnancy. This was really handy as there were a few unexpected moments throughout the pregnancy that could have made the whole process less enjoyable if we had let it.
We had a cruisy pregnancy overall, some minor nausea early on in the first trimester, but nothing that impacted my day-to-day function. I felt really well during my second trimester and was carrying so well that I was able to continue to do many functions that I had done pre-pregnancy.
At the 28wk mark I found out that a >0.1mmol/L fasting glucose result meant that I would be considered a gestational diabetic (GD), even though my 1hr and 2hr post absorption levels were well within normal limits. Being a good sport I followed up with monitoring blood levels and maintaining my normal diet and lifestyle throughout the rest of my pregnancy. I knew there were no other clinical symptoms to indicate GD so I remained focused on the positive birth I knew my body was capable of. My partner was extremely helpful in reminding me of the BRAIN process during this time and this helped me to challenge some of the flaws in the diagnosis criteria and also to remember that my body was feeling great and there were no issues with the baby at each check up.
At the 36wk mark I also found out that I tested positive for Group B streptococcus (GBS) and that antibiotics given during labour was the best course of treatment. I was advised that when my membranes released I would have to go to the hospital so that an IV could be put in. After doing some of my own research I decided that it was a low risk to delay going into the hospital and so I kept my initial plan to labour at home as long as possible before going into the hospital.
In the final few weeks of my pregnancy I stayed active by walking regularly, doing some pilates/yoga and having twice weekly chiropractic adjustments. I was a bit worried that we hadn’t practised the Hypnobirthing techniques enough but was also very confident that my body would know what to do in the moment. We had been planning to use the aromatherapy oils, heat packs and music during the birth, as well as some light touch, sacrum massage and the TENS machine.
The day before my due date I got up early, had a walk, went to the chiro and baked a half dozen hot cross buns. The weather was unusually cool after a two-week heat wave and I was relaxing on the couch watching TV. When Dan came home for lunch at 1pm I noticed that the cramps I had been feeling on and off over the last two weeks were becoming more frequent and I had the thought that this could be it! I had Dan put on the TENS machine pads for me (just in case I was actually in labour) and said that I would call him if I needed him to come home.
Over the next three hours I watched a movie, sat on the fit ball rocking back and forth, got on the ground and leant over the fit ball at times during a surge. By 4pm the surges were becoming more frequent (approx. every 3-5 minutes) and more intense. A couple of friends from work rang to come over and I said that I might be in labour but to come over and keep me company for an hour or so (I think I was still in denial and thought that labour would be a long process). When they came over we discussed what I was feeling and when the conversation was flowing I just tuned in and out of the discussion during each surge. By 4.30pm one of my friends who had had three children asked if I wanted to call Dan and the midwife as the surges were coming every few minutes. I thought I should probably get him to come home now so I rang his work.
When Dan got there my friends left and then I continued to do what I had been doing for the past few hours (walking, rocking, breathing through). We rang the midwife at 5.15pm and she needed to get another midwife on if we planned on coming in so she asked when we thought we might be in. Not wanting to be there any earlier than necessary, I replied, “Oh, maybe 6.30-7pm.” She advised us to have something small to eat before coming in and Dan got everything packed and ready as I did my own thing (I hardly noticed what he was doing to be honest). After Dan had just heated up something for dinner, I went to the toilet and noticed I was starting to bleed so we thought we better get to the hospital (apparently he didn’t have time to eat). Dan rang as I breathed through a couple of surges (we live two streets from the hospital in a rural town so we knew we would make it there within two minutes). We arrived to check-in at 6.22pm and I had three surges from the carpark to the waiting lounge.
The midwife Nic greeted us and took us into a room. She explained that both birthing suites were currently in use. After the initial check to see how far dilated I was (6cm), we continued to labour standing bent over the hospital bed. They gave me the IV for the antibiotics and if I was thinking clearly I would have told them not to bother, as I didn’t think the labour would be long enough for the antibiotics to be effective (I was right). The TENS machine was great for surges but I no longer had the capacity to press the trigger button as the surges were so fast and intense. Luckily for me Dan was a great birth partner and continued with the light touch, sacrum massage and pressed the TENS trigger button when he knew I was experiencing the next surge. I didn’t have to worry about a thing. Dan also fielded questions from the midwife as things progressed.
Soon after I needed the toilet and I knew that it was getting close to the end as the surges were so close that I didn’t have time for a break between each one. Whilst sitting on the toilet breathing through each surge, things suddenly stopped and I had a break to rest. I had the fleeting thought that this was the calm before the storm so we got back up and into the standing position over the bed to bear down. It felt exactly like what was described in the course- I needed to do a poo and I knew that we would be meeting our baby soon! I heard the midwife advise Dan to step to one side so he didn’t get wet and then I felt my membranes release not long afterwards (Dan was lucky the midwife was onto it). I heard the midwife tell the doctor (who was running between three labouring women) that she had seen the head but the heart rate was dropping. They asked me to get onto the bed (which I was more than happy to do at this point- my legs were like jelly) and get ready to push. Honestly, I couldn’t have stopped pushing if I tried. My body forced me to push involuntarily anyway so it wasn’t hard to do what the doctor needed me to do. I wasn’t panicked and with three or so prolonged pushes, out came our baby. The official time was 7.58pm.
It was a really surreal moment as when I refocused, I saw that the doctor was there, two midwives and Dan (with his phone light on so the doctor could see clearly- no birthing suite means no big lights available ha) and our baby was resting calmly on my tummy/chest. While Dan and I began to come to terms with actually having a baby earth side, the midwives asked us what we had had. We must have looked perplexed at first before we realised that we hadn’t even looked. It was great to finally find out that we had a beautiful little boy who we named Parker.
Once the placenta was delivered and I was checked (no stitches required- winning) we were left alone to have some family time. After some peaceful skin-to-skin and breastfeeding time, Parker was measured and weighed. We were delighted with the doctor and midwives as they checked to see if we needed anything, how we were going, but didn’t linger. We popped on the salt lamp, diffuser and music on to keep the peaceful feel of the room going all night. I am glad we finally got to use these things as we didn’t have time during the labour.
After a couple of days in hospital we were able to go home and begin our life as a family of three. I loved the birth experience so much that as we walked out I said to Dan, “I would get pregnant and do it all over again tomorrow.” I have no doubt that the time and effort we had put into doing our research, taking care of ourselves and maintaining a positive approach to birth all helped to make this experience what it was. I am very grateful for programs like Hypnobirthing Australia as they empower women to take back the natural approach to childbirth. Medical intervention is great if necessary, but I am glad I followed my gut and listened to my body, it knew exactly what it was doing all along.
Apryl & Dan.
I absolutely love receiving emails like this! Congratulations Apryl and Dan - you absolutely embraced the hypnobirthing philosophy and should be so proud! Birth story and photos shared with permission. Apryl and Dan attended a group Hypnobirthing Australia course in 2018.