I know how powerful reading positive birth stories can be when preparing for your own birth, and I am so excited to share my birth story with you! This is a loooooong birth story but I wanted to share all the details with you. Hitting post on this still feels so surreal after sharing so many of clients births over the years - it is finally my turn!
So the short version - spontaneous onset of labour at 40+4 weeks, first time mum, hypnobirthing, 6 hours active labour, waterbirth at home, big baby, positive postnatal journey.
But if you want to read the full story with all the details plus some incredible photos, keep reading on!
Working as a midwife I knew what I wanted for my birth experience, so when we found out I was pregnant we booked in with our beautiful private midwife Nikit and started planning our homebirth. For me, having a physiological birth with the least medical intervention possible was really important, and home felt like, and statistically was the best place to achieve this. I was lucky that my pregnancy was relatively straightforward other than developing gestational diabetes, and I felt really good overall. I loved my appointments with my midwife and felt so lucky that I could have true continuity of care from when I found out I was pregnant, right through to six weeks postpartum. I was practicing my Hypnobirthing techniques with my partner Alex and was so excited to experience labour and birth myself 💕
From 39 weeks I started getting lots of pre labour signs - more braxton hicks, my mucous plug started to come away and I definitely felt like my belly had dropped. I had the nesting urge and went crazy cleaning our house. I was excited that things were changing but also knew baby could still be a while away. I was having weekly chiro with Amanda @nestbirthwellbeing , acupuncture with Bree @drbreebennetts, massages with our doula Sonja @sonjanewtondoula, and seeing our midwife weekly. I still felt really good physically and was enjoying the downtime, but I will admit I was frustrated when my ‘due date’ rolled around and things still hadn’t progressed into labour. Even though I’d mentally prepared to go to 42 weeks or beyond, I started wondering when labour were going to happen because I’d been having these pre labour signs for weeks.
On the 18th of June (the day labour started) I woke up feeling really good and like I had my positive mindset back. The affirmation ‘I trust my body and baby’ was super helpful and I surrendered to waiting as long as my baby needed. Knowing that labour is likely to be initiated by baby helped me to remember that if labour hasn’t started yet, there was probably a good reason and maybe our baby needed more time. I was healthy, and so was our baby so there was no hurry.
I went for a slow walk in the arvo and then had a nap. During the nap I had lots of tightenings but didn’t think too much of it as this had been happening most afternoons for weeks. When I went to the toilet after my nap I noticed the mucous plug that was coming away was now blood streaked and I had a slight backache - this was different and I started to get excited that just maybe today was the day.
We ordered Thai for dinner and just after I had finished eating I had three surges in about a 20 min period. This was around 7 or 8pm when things started. I hadn’t said anything to Alex before this point because I didn’t want him to get too excited if it wasn’t the real deal! I let him know I thought things were happening but it was still early days. I rang our midwife at 8:38 pm to let her know things were starting. I had three surges while on the phone to her that I could *just* manage to still talk through. I also contacted our doula and birth photographer between the surges. Things were ramping up quickly and I found it hard to focus on anything else during my surges.
Alex started setting up the birth space. He did such a great job - I cried when I saw him setting it all up just as I’d envisioned. The surges were coming fast and I was surprised by how regular and intense they were from the start. I couldn’t decide whether to put my tens on or get in the shower (a sign my neocortex or rational brain was switching off), but I eventually decided on the shower. The hot water felt so good on my back. I was using my Hypnobirthing breathing and looking at the affirmations I had up on the glass in the shower. I was working with the surges but felt like things were progressing quickly, although I was doubting myself and kept thinking ‘what if this is just early labour, I could still have days of this intensity’. I wanted my birth team here so I could switch off my midwife brain as I felt like I was analysing everything, and instinctively I think I knew things were progressing quickly.
I decided to get out of shower and moved to leaning over the CUB (comfortable upright birth - I hired from @birth_mother ). This was SO comfy and I actually ended up spending around 2 hours in this position. I was feeling more pressure in my back so Alex started doing hip squeezes too. I kept telling myself ‘I can do anything for a minute’ and continued with the breathing.
At 9:40pm I told Alex to ring Sonja and ask her to come and to let Nikita know the surges were regular and intense. I continued leaning over the CUB on the bed, squeezing my acupressure comb from @mybirthplace and breathing through. Alex was amazing - running between me and doing the soft touch and hip squeeze, and back to the lounge to finish setting up the birth space and filling the pool.
Sonja our doula arrived and sat on the bed next to me. She quickly let our midwife and photographer know to get here ASAP. She was encouraging me and telling me to let everything go at the end of each surge which was really helpful. Both Sonja and Alex would do the soft touch, hip squeezes and holding a heat pack on my lower back which was great. I went to the toilet and the surges amped up in intensity again.
Everyone says it’s hard to describe what a contraction/surge feels like and it really is. I remember I was feeling them more in my back than belly, and felt lots of bowel pressure. They would come like a wave with a definite peak, before slowly easing off. In between though I was totally fine and calm. It’s amazing how your hormones alter your state of awareness. Time was going so fast. It literally felt like I was in labour for two hours total, when in reality it ended up being about 6 hours of active labour.
Around this point I remember I was shaking and it crossed my mind that I might be in transition. My doula later told me that I said to her ‘I don’t know how much longer I can do this for’ which is classic transition! 😅I hardly have any recollection of saying this though. She just replied ‘I don’t think you’ll have to for much longer’ as she could tell things were progressing.
Nikita arrived and I felt myself let go as I knew she was here and I knew I could really switch off my midwife brain. I was vocalising with my surges which felt productive and like it was helping (I always say Hypnobirthing doesn’t mean you have to be quiet!). Nikita suggested putting on the tens machine which we did. I had planned to out it on when I got out the shower but completely forgot. The tens helped so much, and I’m so glad we used it. It hugely reduced the intensity in my back. Our photographer arrived too.
Alex was doing the soft touch, and waving my essential oil blend under my nose. We had my chilled birth playlist playing (I had a more upbeat one too but we didn’t end up playing it). I felt calm and relaxed between the surges and so supported. In my mind I kept telling myself I can do anything for a minute and to ride the waves, which were two of my favourite affirmations that I had used during my pregnancy.
We ran out of hot water which we knew may happen, so they were boiling pans to fill the birth pool. I so desperately wanted to get in the warm water, but stayed on the CUB until the pool was ready. I started making lower pitched grunting noises at this point, and my midwife later said to me that she was worried the pool wouldn’t be ready by the time I birthed him.
Finally the pool was ready! 🙏When I got in it was so nice to be weightless but I felt like I couldn’t get in a comfy position. After a few surges I got in a good position on all fours leaning over the side of the birth pool. I missed the tens on my back though so Sonja started pouring warm water over my back which was heaven. In the bath I felt like I could fully relax and go with the pushing urges that I had been getting. I’d been feeling lots of pressure for a while but I think I was hanging on a little until I was in the bath.
Within 15 mins of getting in the pool the midwives could start to see the sac of waters emerging (my waters hadn’t broken yet). This was so cool and I was able to reach down and feel the bag myself too (we have some epic pictures of this!). I was breathing through some surges, and really pushing with others - completely following my body with no coached pushing from our midwives. Nikita was using the intermittent Doppler to check his heartbeat throughout labour and when I was in the pool and it was perfect the whole time.
This part of labour literally feels like minutes, and the time just disappears but I kept working with my body, and each surge we could see more of the membranes. It was 1.5 hours from when I got in the pool to when he was born but felt so much quicker.
Alex was such an incredible birth support - he kept telling me I was doing amazing and that he was proud of me. Positive encouragement made such a huge difference. He was holding my hand and doing the soft touch on my back still. From practicing the hypnobirthing knew exactly what to do.
Eventually my midwife said that she could see his head through the membranes so I knew I was close. I remember feeling so excited at this point as I knew we were so close to meeting our little man!
I started to feel stretching as his head emerged. I kept breathing through and focussing on releasing and relaxing any tension in my pelvic floor. I had read an affirmation somewhere during pregnancy that said ‘floppy face, floppy fanny’ 😂 which made me laugh at the time, and it popped into my head at this point of labour. I could slowly feel more and more of his head emerging, and I reached down and touched his head. The membranes still hadn’t broken but eventually they did, and his head emerged about a minute later!
This part of labour was honestly much less intense than the surges - I could feel lots of pressure and stretching but I only really felt stinging for a few seconds just as his head emerged. There was no ‘ring of fire’ at all. I couldn’t believe his head was out! Alex went around the other side of the pool to have a look and could see his face under the water. I remember feeling super aware at this point - I knew we were so close. The next surge came, and his body emerged! Our midwife guided him between my legs under the water, and I leant back and picked him up! We had done it!
Seeing his little face and receiving him myself was the best moment of my life 😭 As soon as his face broke the water he let out a big cry and I placed him on my chest. Seeing Alex’s face and having this moment captured by our wonderful photographer was the best! I can highly recommend having a birth photographer! What’s also amazing is that while in the photos the room looks very bright, it was actually quite dim and we just had a lamp on.
I leant back on the side of the pool and we had skin to skin while I waited to birth the placenta. After about 45 mins I started getting cramps again and got out of the pool as it was getting a bit cold. I thought once I stood up gravity would help and the placenta would be birthed easily, but this wasn’t the case. We kept having skin to skin and Archie had his first feed.
The contractions to birth the placenta were intense. We put my tens back on which helped, and I was using my Hypnobirthing breathing, but I was keen to get the placenta out so we tried a few little tricks - doing a wee, squatting, resting, privacy and warmth, sitting on the toilet etc and finally a few hours later it came. During this time my observations were stable and bleeding normal so my midwives and I were happy to wait to birth the placenta naturally (physiological third stage). It was such a relief when my placenta was out.
Our midwives checked to see if I had any tears and thankfully my perineum was intact, I just had a small peri-urethral tear that didn’t need any stitches. I popped on some disposable undies and a frozen pad to help with any swelling and discomfort, and hopped into bed.
Our midwives and doula then tucked us up into bed with some tea and cake (that our lovely doula baked - I had heard about this cake from many clients so was very keen, as was Alex 😂). Nikita weighed Archie on our bed and I was so shocked to hear he was 5.1kg! I couldn’t believe I’d birthed a baby that big! We checked his blood glucose level because of the gestational diabetes which was perfect.
Archie then had more skin to skin and another feed. Our doula and birth photographer headed off. Nikita finished her paperwork, tucked Archie into the bassinet for us and headed off too at around 9am, with the plan to return that evening to check in on us again.
And that was it - we had birthed our little boy and we’re now a family of three! It was so surreal. I couldn’t believe I had done it, and I honestly was bloody proud of myself. We FaceTimed our parents and siblings to tell them the news and tried to get a few hours sleep ourselves. I don’t think I slept, I was just staring at little Archie and couldn’t believe he was ours. We were 99% sure on his name during my pregnancy but wanted to wait a day or so before officially deciding. We both felt that Archie was perfect and suited him so that was that!
We put so much planning and preparation into our birth and I am so happy that we had an incredible experience. From practicing the Hypnobirthing techniques, working through any fears and doing the mindset work, choosing to birth at home to support my hormones and physiology, and having the most incredible team with our midwives, doula and birth photographer - it all paid off. Being able to put these techniques into practice after living and breathing Hypnobirthing for so many years was also amazing. This was hands down the best day of my life and I can't wait to do it again one day!
Photos from our incredible birth photographer Ashlyn from @focusedonlovebirthphotography.