Ben and I found out in August 2021 that we were pregnant with our first. I had been off contraception for a few years by that stage however, this news came as a wonderful surprise to both of us. Newly engaged by that stage with a wedding planned for October 2022, we were looking at having a 5 month old little boy at our wedding and while we had envisioned us having children after our wedding, the thought of having him present for the special day made our hearts melt.
Right from the beginning of my pregnancy journey I had wanted to be apart of the midwifery group practice program within the public hospital setting in Adelaide and due to my low risk presentation, I was accepted into the program.
Thankfully the entirety of my pregnancy journey was uncomplicated and apart from the food aversions and fatigue in the first trimester and the heart burn and two low blood pressure episodes in the third trimester. I remained able to play an active role as Director and Principal Exercise Physiologist at my clinic Align Health Solutions right up until 37 weeks while also dancing at my companies Fringe show and hiking up until 41 weeks.
In my third trimester I enrolled into Hannah’s Hypnobirthing Zoom Program and Ben and I found the content covered in this program equipped us with the knowledge and ultimate confidence needed to be our own biggest advocates when it came to birth. Having been accepted into the MGP program and working with our allocated midwife all the way through, we knew our values when it came to birth aligned with not only the program but our Midwife personally and to be made to feel supported in our decisions really enhanced our prenatal experience.
Once exceeding the 40 week mark, mentally I was ready and nervous at the idea of an induction discussion. An induction was something that was not a birth preference of mine but I remained thankful that under the MGP and given my low risk, they would support a spontaneous labour beyond my due date.
At 41+1 6:30am, a day before an induction discussion was scheduled at the hospital and after 3 failed stretch and sweeps that week, the remainder of my mucus plug was lost and shortly after contractions began to which we notified our midwife.
Given our plan was to stay home as long as possible, I was intent on keeping the day running normal and so Ben and I set out on our morning walk which was noticeably slower for me! As we returned home I mentioned to Ben that I would need to set up the tens machine upon our return as the discomfort from the contractions was mounting.
From lunchtime onwards contractions had increased lasting 45 seconds-1 minute and 3-4 minutes apart, I was using a combination of the tens and a wheat bag and at this stage our midwife suggested she send a nearby member of her midwifery team to our home to perform a vaginal examination and provide support to us both. This happened 4 times over the course of nearly 12 hours and the first 3 visits I had only progressed from 2 to 3cm. At that stage I was physically ill and struggling to relax. I was finding the tens no longer helpful and the shower, wheat bag , clary sage personal inhaler and Hypnobirthing hip squeeze weren’t taking the edge off the pain like I had wanted. By this stage at the third visit, our home midwife suggested taking a drowsy antihistamine to relax. At 11:30pm the fourth and final visit came around and our home midwife declared I was 6cm and it was time to head to the hospital.
Upon arriving at the hospital at 12am I was shown to the birthing centre, jumped into the shower and on the gas and shortly after the birthing pool was ready. Upon entering the pool, I requested a sterile water injection be administered into 4 locations of the lower back to relieve the back pain pressure I was experiencing. Whilst it stung to receive, the pain of the injections took my mind off the contractions and it didn’t take long to subside the back pain experienced. By this stage my primary midwife had arrived whose face was warmly welcomed.
Hours rolled by from 12-3am where I lay in the water using gas and the breathing techniques learnt in the Hypnobirthing course. I was in what I can now say was a trance like state during this time, very inwardly focused but on the occasion, I was able to look to Ben and my midwife and around the room at the fairy lights that were hung up and listen to the Spotify birth playlist playing in the background which provided me with comfort.
At 3am my midwife performed a vaginal examination combined with an assisted stretch and sweep and I got to 10cm. I was then shortly after instructed to hop onto all 4s in the bath and then a squat position as I felt the urge to push, but after some time and minimal progression my midwife suggested I move to the bed.
From here I was so close, yet felt so far as I kept feeling my baby’s head descend as I pushed through the contraction, only for him to ascend shortly after the contraction had eased. It was the support of my midwife and Ben who got me through this phase and by 5am exactly, our little boy arrived, via vaginal delivery where he let out a cry and was promptly placed upon my chest. Delayed cord clamping was performed however after nearly 2 hours of pushing I elected active management when it came to delivering the placenta.
I couldn’t believe it, our baby had finally arrived and I had had the exact birth experience I had hoped for, minimal intervention, vaginal birth centre delivery, without a tear or stitch in sight.
Weighing 3.46kg and 50cm long our William Robert arrived healthy, and coupled with a positive delivery, we were discharged from hospital that day and have since gone on to receive and arrange wonderful home based MGP and Private Midwifery care to which we enlisted Hannah’s post natal package over the 6 week postnatal period.
As a first time Mum, 3 weeks in, I could not have had a more positive prenatal, labour and postnatal experience. I have learnt so much about myself during this time and I truly believe that the education I received around birth and the ultimate support that surrounded me during this time contributed to this positive outcome.
To Hannah and Nerissa, thank you for playing such a part in my birth story, your work is so incredibly empowering and I can’t thank you enough. You helped to teach me that as a woman birth doesn’t need to be feared and we as women are so incredibly capable and strong. Photos and birth story shared with permission.