My first birth did not go to plan. I am not sure that I even really had a plan for the first birth, even though I thought I did at the time. I thought that I was prepared, that I had all of the information I needed heading in.
Without going in to too much detail, my daughter’s birth was traumatic. 25 hours of “not progressing” and being “still only 3cm” led to an epidural, an oxytocin drip and then eventually an episiotomy and forceps delivery. 33 hours from contractions starting to holding my baby in my arms. I have the utmost respect for every single doctor and midwife that assisted with that birth and I am grateful to them for what they did. When my daughter was born I was filled with relief and happiness – I had
my baby and she was safe and healthy! But the weeks and months that followed the
birth revealed just how traumatised I was by what had occurred that day.
A diagnosis of mammary hypoplasia (underdeveloped breast tissue, meaning that I
cannot exclusively breastfeed) in the days following the birth further added to my
feelings of inadequacy. That I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t strong enough. I couldn’t
push my baby out without intervention, now I can’t feed my baby on my own. It was
all too much.
2 and a half years down the track and my husband and I had a beautiful thriving
daughter. We started to seriously discuss having another child, but I was petrified. I
wanted so badly to give my daughter a sibling, but the thought of giving birth again
sent me spiralling into anxiety. I tried so hard to be happy when I found out I was
pregnant, but there was an overwhelming sense of panic knowing that I would have
to get this baby out somehow. I couldn’t talk about how I felt or my first birth
experience without crying.
It was in my first appointment with a midwife that she suggested Hypnobirthing. Now,
I didn’t know much about hypnobirthing and my first instinct was…no way. That
sounded way too ‘hippy dippy’ for me. But when the midwife offered further
explanation of what hypnobirthing was, I started to think that it might be helpful for
me. Hannah came very highly recommended so after discussing it with my husband,
we enrolled in her course.
We completed 2 sessions with Hannah – one in person and one via zoom (thanks
COVID). I was pleased to find that in addition to all things hypnobirthing, her course
also gave a lot of general birthing information. I kept thinking that the course would
be outstanding for first time parents as the amount of information given was
extensive. It would leave parents much better prepared than we were for our first
The thing that we found the most beneficial about the course was the avenue it
provided to discuss with your birth partner exactly what you both want out of the
birth. For example, I was able to identify and tell my husband that unnecessary
talking would annoy me and break my focus, so he knew not to do this on the day.
We felt that the course not only prepared the mother, but also gave the birth partner a clear and defined role for the labour. My husband says that he felt much more prepared and informed, that he knew exactly what was required of him on the day.
The weeks leading up to my due date went quickly and I practised my tracks as
much as I could – although this was normally before bed and I never got to the end
without falling asleep. I still don’t know how ‘Surge of the Sea’ ends! I had gestational
diabetes and the doctors did not want me to go past 40 weeks, so I was booked in
for induction on the 14th July (my due date). From 37 weeks onward I was trying ALL
THE THINGS to try and get my body to go in to labour naturally, but my little man
was too comfy in there.
On Monday 13th July (the day before induction) I went to the hospital for an exam. My
midwife told me that my cervix was dilated enough for them to break my waters, but
it was still quite long. She recommended staying in the hospital overnight and having
the Cervidil tape inserted.
I couldn’t sleep that night – I never sleep well when I am not in my own bed. At about
2:00am a midwife came in to tell me that I had to move rooms because the woman I
was sharing with was in labour had gone back to birthing, and I wasn’t allowed to stay in
that room by myself. I went to the toilet and realised that my Cervidil tape had fallen
out (I have no idea when!). Once settled in the new room (in the birthing centre) I
went back to sleep.
At 5:15am on Tuesday 14th July (due date and induction date) my surges were strong
enough to wake me up. I lay in bed timing the surges – they were 4 minutes apart. At
6:30am I felt a ‘pop’ and my water had broken – keep in mind I was scheduled to
have my waters broken by the midwife at 7:00am! My husband and MGP midwife
arrived at 7:00am as planned, and I could excitedly tell them that I had already got
the ball rolling on my own.
My husband began busily setting up the room for a hypnobirth – candles, speaker and mp3 player, affirmation posters, door sign, etc. At first I was comfortable walking around the room. About an hour later I started to feel like I was going to vomit, and moved in to the bathroom.
Bent over the sink with my forehead on the cool porcelain, I felt quite calm and didn’t
want to move from this spot. My midwife brought in a birthing ball which I sat on at
the sink, it was the perfect height to keep my forehead against the cool sensation of
the sink. I listened to the birth affirmations track which I found worked better for me
than the guided meditations because it didn’t matter if I zoned in and out of the track.
At 8:30am I had to lie down on the bed to have a scalp clip applied to monitor the
baby’s heart rate. I found laying flat on my back incredible painful and this broke my
hypnobirthing focus. I had put in my birth preferences that I did not want to be told
how many cm’s dilated I was unless I specifically asked. I didn’t think that I could
continue my labour and asked for an epidural. My midwife asked if I wanted to know
how dilated I was and I said yes. She told me that I was “almost 7 centimeters” which
I knew instantly that, bless her, meant I was only 6 cms (maybe even 5). Knowing
what I wanted from my birth, my beautiful midwife encouraged me to try the shower
or bath and the gas before getting the epidural.
As the bath in the birth centre takes almost 40 minutes to fill up, I got in to the
shower while my midwife prepared the bath. My husband held the shower head on
my lower back while I was bent over at a 90 degree angle resting on the grab rails.
He says his part was easy – like watering the lawn. I laboured in the shower with the
gas for approximately 30 minutes. This was the most difficult part of my labour,
which I believe is largely related to the fact that I could not hear my hypnobirthing
track over the running water which was playing just outside the bathroom.
When the bath was ready I transferred straight in, still accessing the gas through my
surges. Everything became very calm and quiet. I could hear my tracks clearly and
was focussed on my breathing. I progressed quite quickly after this and soon was
feeling the urge to push. I got out of the bath and positioned myself on all fours on
the bed. Still focussed on the birth affirmations, I breathed the baby down through
every surge and could feel him emerging.
At 10:43am I held my baby in my arms. In just 5 and a half hours I had achieved the
beautiful, calm, natural birth that I had longed for!
I am truly grateful to Hannah and the hypnobirthing program. I really wanted to know what it felt like to birth naturally. I know that sounds strange – who wants to feel pain? But it was just something that I wanted to experience in my lifetime, and I honestly do not think I could have done it without hypnobirthing. I felt like a superhero, and I rode that high for weeks.
Although my husband and I believe we are done with kids now that we have our
pigeon pair, this birthing experience makes me want to do it again. Thank you, thank you, thank you Hannah!
Photos and birth story shared with permission. Kerry and Vinny attended my March 2020 Hypnobirthing Australia™ Course half in person/half via Zoom.