Having A Positive Mindset Made A Significant Difference To Our Birth!
Aaron and I attended our hypnobirthing course with Shari on the first weekend of my maternity leave at 31 weeks after a glowing recommendation from a friend. Prior to this I had been very occupied with work and had not dedicated too much time thinking about or planning the actual brith. Aaron had to be convinced to give up his weekend to attend but there were no regrets as we both left the course feeling informed and empowered with knowledge. As first time parents this was extremely important as there was so much we didn't know (and didn't realise we didn't know). I was very excited about finally having the time to start preparing for our birth. Over the next couple of weeks our we practised what we had learnt and I listened to the positive birth affirmations and guided meditations daily. I also had time to research topics that were brought to our attention during the course. Thanks for the tips Shari!
At 32 weeks I flew from Gladstone to Brisbane to spend time with family and friends. My sister flew up from Melbourne to throw me a lovely baby shower and from then on I made plans to tick things off my growing 'Mat leave to do list'. On Wednesday October 4, I took my two nieces, 5 and 3, to the cinema to see the Lego movie when suddenly I felt a lot of liquid between my legs and it did not appear to be stopping any time soon! I called my mum (after being told off by my 5 year old niece for missing the movie) who luckily was close by. She came into the cinema and I called my midwife in Gladstone who said to go to the Mater - and from there our birthing journey began!
Once back at mum and dads I calmly packed a bag for the hospital, making sure I had my Hypnobirthing handouts with me (I hadn't had time to personalised them...it was on my to do list!) and the positive affirmation visuals I had made earlier that week and off we went. I had to tell mum to calm down as she was in a panic!
The staff at the Mater Public were simply incredible. I was admitted straight away and seen by midwives and doctors. Mild surges had begun by this stage and were progressively getting stronger. I was given a steroid injection for the baby's lungs, antibiotics and medication to slow down the labour and told to wait and see what happens. The surges continued and I was brought to the birthing suite. Aaron, at work in Gladstone, unable to book a flight began the drive down. Luckily the surges calmed down during that evening and when Aaron arrived just after midnight I was transferred up to the ward. From then on it was a daily journey from the ward, down to the birthing suite and back to the ward again as surges would strengthen and then die down again. Aaron was incredible. He put into practise the techniques learnt and he confidently communicated with the medical staff to discuss what was happening and our options. One example of this was having the knowledge and confidence to ask questions. The baby was constantly being monitored which made it difficult to move about the room and change positions so we asked if there was another way and the midwife changed the monitor to a cordless one. I was then able to use the exercise ball and move into more comfortable positions instead of hours confined to the bed.
6pm Saturday we were back down to the birthing suite for the final hoorah. Aaron had his cheat sheet out, the Hypnobirthing tracks were playing, back rubs and gentle touches were given, I couldn't have asked for a better husband and birthing partner and I truly believe this is a result of attending the Hypnobirthing course. Due to being 34 weeks, we were not able to have the water birth we had planned for but we were still able to use many of the Hypnobirthing techniques, especially the breathing. While I must admit it wasn't easy and I was extremely tired after three nights with little sleep - having a positive mindset made a significant difference. I did end up using gas and air at times when surges were particularly intense. Im not sure if this helped, but more than anything it was another reminder to breathe! The surges were certainly intense and on numerous occasions Aaron reminded me about my breathing and during transition I felt a moment where I wasn't sure I could do it but Aaron was there reminding me of my chosen positive affirmations, giving me the determination to go on. The baby's heart rate was dropping significantly each time I had a surge and I was told intervention might be required. I really didn't want that to happen so with support from Aaron and the team around me (and my own belief that my body was designed to give birth and the knowledge that very soon I was going to meet my baby) I was able to successfully push and deliver naturally.
At 11.29pm that evening our beautiful, healthy little girl was born. Those first moments were ones of utter relief and disbelief that she was here. Unfortunately we were not able to have skin to skin as she was taken away to be examined but it did not seem like long before she was in my arms. That is a moment I will never forget, she just looked into my eyes and I could not look away. Absolutely amazing.
Isabelle was then taken up to the NICU. After quite some time delivering the placenta (it did not want to come out!) and some minor stitching we were able to go up and visit her. Before she left, our wonderful doctor Dee mentioned how impressed she was with Aaron's cheat sheet. Well done Aaron!
It was all so surreal - seeing her in the humidicrib, knowing she had arrived but unable to be together just yet. We both placed our hands into the crib and on her back still in a bit of shock that she was here but absolutely in love. We were actually inspired to name her Isabelle after one of our incredible midwives - Bella. The next two weeks were another adventure, staying at my parents in Brisbane, spending our days with Isabelle at the hospital and learning how to feed and take care of our precious bub but Isabelle went from strength to strength and we were back home in Gladstone in just over two weeks.
While we were not able to have the birth we had originally hoped for, Aaron and I felt equipped to manage the unexpected. Isabelle was born exactly three weeks after we attended the course, which demonstrates that even having a short amount of preparation time can have a positive impact on your birthing experience. I can only imagine what else we could have achieved with more time.
Hypnobirthing definitely helped prepare us both mentally and practically for birth. Thank you Shari!
Maree and Aaron