My pregnancy was perfect, loved every minute of it and along the journey we were considered low-risk. This meant we were eligible to join the Midwifery Group Practice, which means a continuity of care for up to 6 weeks post birth. It is an incredible service part of the public system that feels so private as all appointments were done from home. However I was looking for something more than what the public system offered in terms of birth education. This is when I discovered hypnobirthing... a term that sounds a bit hippy but is actually all about training the mindset to prepare for a positive birthing experience as well as fully understanding what goes on in your body when labour starts right through to giving birth. After a full 2 day workshop by private midwife Hannah Willsmore, with my husband Remco, we were feeling so empowered and excited for birth, as before this course I only felt fear to be honest!!
At our 36 week appointment, everything was still low risk and we were actually feeling so positive about birth that we thought... let’s try a home birth! Knowing that we’d have 2 midwives with us, all the medication, oxygen & other hospital equipment, and being only 5 minutes from hospital, we were in very safe hands. So we prepared for a home birth whilst keeping an open mind to go to hospital if need be.
After we made this decision for a home birth I decided not to tell family & friends because I was afraid of other people’s opinions. I knew what I wanted and what made me feel most safe, confident and empowered was giving birth in our own beautiful calm environment amongst the presence of professional midwives. I really wanted to give it a red hot go!
In terms of hypnobirth preparation, I listened to the guided meditations every couple of days and affirmations whenever I’d take a bath. I had my favourite affirmations stuck to my shower glass door. I also loved listening to and watching positive births... mainly home births!!
Alright so here’s our birthing story...
On the 13th April I went to bed with period like cramps, they started to build up so just after 3am I decided to get up, eat some food , take some painkillers and have a shower. When I reached up to the cupboard to grab some crackers... pop... my waters broke!! It was clear fluid that kept pouring out like a heavy wee I couldn’t control. I was SO EXCITED! This is it!! I yelled for Remco who later I found out had only one hour sleep after going to bed so late from working... he came out and I laughed.. “my waters broke!”
He got right into action set up the birth pool, cleaned the kitchen and then went back to bed. Meanwhile I let the midwifery group know what was going on. I tried to go back to bed but from 5:30am, my surges really started to kick in, before I knew it was experiencing a 45 second surge every 7 minutes, and then about 45 second surges every 4 minutes from 9:30. This is when I put the TENS machine on and really found this SO helpful!! I liked being able to counterpart the surge sensation with the waves from the machine. These surges continued at this pace until about 2:30 and then they increased to every 2 minutes... but it wasn’t consistent, sometimes they’d happen every 8 minutes. I had clary sage on my temples and listened to the hypnobirthing guided meditations every once in a while. Every time I surged my husband was with me, holding me, touching me... he was the best support partner, truly amazing 🥰
Eventually my surges became quite consistent and my midwife arrived about 6pm, I was on the toilet backwards leading on a pillow (my favourite position) and cried when she came into the room. I was so happy to see her. She inspected my dilation progress, which I’m glad I made the decision to do so. I was 5 cm. My student midwife arrived a couple of hours later when I was in the bedroom on the carpet leaning on my bed... again I also cried to see her, a familiar face!
Well the surges continued at this pace, 2 mins apart for a while longer. Then I felt the urge to push, and headed into the bath. Oh my gosh, the bath was the most incredible feeling!!!! I popped on another guided meditation, sniffed clary sage and my husband held me. I was so calm... in fact, too calm! My surges started to slow down back to 8 minutes apart! So I hopped out of the bath, I had another inspection, still 5cm and baby still not fully engaged nor had he turned. A long way off!!
Knowledge is power and knowing this did not bring me down, it just gave me a kick into the plan for next steps. This is when we decided to go into the hospital. It had been 20 hours since my water had broken and my surges had slowed down. Thank god for the 5 min trip to hospital, I only had one surge in the car, we then made it to the birthing suite where I had access to laughing gas. At this point I was starting to feel quite down, my husband too... the environment of the hospital was no where near as comforting but I felt safe and still remained positive that in the end it’ll al be ok. After another internal exam, I was 6cm and baby still in the same position. We needed to speed this up because I & bub were just exhausted. So epidural it was (which I was so confident previously that I’d never get to this point)! I needed this as we were going to boost up the surges with an oxytocin drug. The epidural actually wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be, by this stage all I wanted was to do anything to get our baby boy out safely. Once the epidural kicked in, the surges were intensified however we soon found out that George’s heartbeat was declining every time I surged. He was one stressed baby and still I was only 6cm and he wasn’t engaged.
Meanwhile my husband was trying to have a sleep on a thin mattress beside me and little did I know at the time but he was experiencing quite a bit of anxiety as he overheard the doctor and midwives discuss the issues we were facing. After an honest discussion with the doctor & midwife I think it was about 3am when my husband and I decided that a C-section was the only way to get our little man out safely with as little as stress as possible for him. When we made that decision it had been 24 hours since my water had broken.
Within 30 minutes I was rolled into the theatre with the kindest operating team, I truly felt like we were in the safest hands. I felt so incredibly calm and ready. It was amazing!!! Which was crazy because my husband and I didn’t even think we’d get to this point! We couldn’t see the need for C-sections if you were so low risk. All the hypnobirthing did pay off because my mindset remained so positive. Whilst they were preparing me for the operation I listened to the affirmations and went into a state of calmness. To make it even more magical I felt my grandma’s presence in the room and I knew both George and I would be ok.
Well, under the knife I went with my husband holding my hand. I felt zero pain. About 20 minutes later out George came screaming his head off! I burst into tears and felt this wave of emotion I had never felt before. His cry... he was alive & here!!!! They immediately put him on my chest whilst covered in thick white vernix and some blood, he stopped crying instantly and grabbed my nose.
This skin to skin was without doubt the most magical feeling I’d ever had. My husband held my head and I sobbed and sobbed with joy and relief. Our little man was here... George William! I know he’ll be a strong character because of the messages he was signaling us... “I can’t come out the natural way. trust me!”
Whilst we couldn’t delay the cord cutting amongst many other things that were in our original plan... the hypnobirthing affirmation that stood strong in the end was “I am prepared to take whatever turns my birth may take.”
I look at my birth story still as a positive one even if it has to result in a c section. I think that with all surges I experienced and the immediate skin to skin triggered so many hormones that actually it was ok in the end that our cord was cut early, because our little man fed off my breast almost instantly! We continue to have skin to skin, we’re doing well breast feeding and he is as perfect and healthy as can be! We couldn’t ask for more. So proud of our family team of 3 and grateful for our midwife, student midwife and all the support at our hospital.
We believe that Hypnobirthing is an essential part to ensuring a positive birth no matter what. People ask me if I’m upset that we didn’t have a natural birth and honestly couldn’t care less knowing George is doing so well! Loving our new born bubble and so looking forward to our journey as new parents. 💕
One thing I must mention though is a message for partners... whilst I was buzzing on a high and so happy in the end with my birth, my husband really struggled to process our birth journey. He struggled to see me in labour for 24 hours. Struggled to see me through each of my roughly 300 surges. Struggled with the hospital environment (as he set up the most beautiful calming environment at home). He struggled with me in the theatre and even when George was born he still worried about me and my state. He said it was the hardest thing to witness someone you love go through so much. A message for partners that it’s ok to feel like this & speak to someone especially your partner about your feelings.
Birth story and photos shared with permission. Congratulations Milly and Remco!