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"Even though things didn’t go to plan I still had an empowering and positive experience".

Florence Maeve

Born 532am at 40+5 on 15/06/22 after a long 55 hour labour!

3.51kg, 55cm long, 34cm head circumference

This was my first pregnancy and I opted for care through the Midwife Group Program. My

midwife, Sarah was incredible. Her values aligned with mine and I felt safe and supported

with her. The program was wonderful for the continuity of care, education, access, having

extra support and trust in my midwife as she got to know me and my birth preferences. At

28 weeks we started the hypnobirthing course with Shari at Belly2Birth. This course was


I was surprised how much I did not know about my own body until the education

that was provided in the course. Before learning about hypnobirthing I had a lot of fear and

doubt about labour and birth. I left the course feeling empowered and excited to birth my

baby. My general birth plan/preference was for a spontaneous labour and unmedicated

birth with minimal intervention. I wanted a calm, empowering and positive experience.

Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 28 weeks. I was worried what

that meant for my preferred birth plan. Sarah really advocated for me to have the birth I

wanted and always provided me with all of my options and never made me feel like I was

making the wrong choice or being judged. In relation to the diabetes, I was generally diet

controlled but required metformin for my fasting blood sugar levels. Bub was tracking to be

44 th percentile at her 34 week growth scan. In my personal circumstances there was no

medical reason to be induced by 39 weeks as baby and I were doing well. I opted for closer

monitoring from 40 weeks and hoped to go into spontaneous labour.

Saturday: At 40+1 I went out for a lunch with my girlfriends where we ate delicious Greek

food along Brisbane river and watched the sunset drinking cocktails (a mocktail for me). This

feel-good afternoon got the oxytocin flowing and I started having mild contractions that

evening from 11pm-2am. They were about 7-15 minutes apart. I was so excited that things

seemed to be starting on their own. I was also feeling a bit scared about what was ahead of

me, but I tried my best to feel relaxed and positive.

Sunday: I did some curb walking & sat on my ball doing a few exercises. I tried to go about

my day fairly normally – we went to the shops to get some last minute things and also went

out for lunch. That night at about 11pm contractions restarted and they did not stop until

baby girl was born about 55 hours later! I used a heat pack for most of my early labour. I

found heat and water wonderful pain relief. I also tried my TENS machine the following day,

but I didn’t like it. My husband, David, also did counter pressure on my hips/lower back.

Sometimes this would increase my pain though. I laboured all night on Sunday night. I was

able to lie down for these contractions but I also kneeled on the floor and leant against the

bed. David slept through most of this as we knew it was early labour and I needed him to be

well rested for active labour. I also lost my mucous plug and had my bloody show so I

thought I would be having my baby the next day! My contractions got to 6-7 minutes apart,

but soon as the sun rose they became more sporadic and there were spaces of up to 20-40

minutes between contractions.

Monday: We went to the shops again, walked around and got lunch. I was able to have an

afternoon nap in between contractions, but I had barely slept since Saturday night. I was

able to breathe through these contractions and go about my day mostly normally. I was

dreading having another night of frequent contractions and then having them ease off in the

morning again. Once the sun set they started increasing in frequency again going from 10

minutes apart and by sunrise they were 2-3 minutes apart.

Tuesday: My contractions app told me it was time to head to the hospital, but I had a gut

feeling that I wasn’t quite there yet as I could still breathe through the contractions and I

was managing them ok. But the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and I hadn’t slept

longer than half an hour at a time for almost two days. So I was starting to worry if I would

have the stamina to get through the rest of my labour and birth. I called my midwife and

said contractions were close together, that I was exhausted and I think I should head to the

hospital to at least see where we were at. Contractions slowed right down once we were at

the hospital. I was assessed by Sarah and was unfortunately only 2cm dilated, but I was fully

effaced. She gave me all of my options which included inducing me, staying in for pain relief

or going home.

As I wanted a low intervention birth I opted to go home and was given

codeine & a sleeping tablet to help me get some rest. I continued to have contractions

throughout the day (they had slowed right down again and were sometimes up to 30

minutes or so apart). The medication helped me sleep in between contractions and I rested

for most of the day. I had started to lose faith in the process and doubt my body’s ability.

Once the sun set contractions increased in frequency. David ran me a bath with candles and

put on my labour playlist. My dogs lay next to the bath to keep me company. My female

dog, Willow, was often close by throughout my labour at home. She would lie on me or by

my side. My male dog, Kipper, would sleep through all my moans and groans, but would let

me hold his paw during my contractions. My preference for pain relief was the shower, but

strangely my contractions would slow down in the shower and feel less intense. By 10pm I

was becoming distressed. My contractions were really painful, I was exhausted & they still

weren’t close or consistent enough to head to the hospital (5 minutes apart and then 8

minutes apart and then 3 minutes apart and then 7 minutes apart– they were all over the

place). I was sobbing and having a lot of negative self talk so David called my midwife to let

her know I was no longer coping at home and that I wanted to go to the hospital to get the

extra support.

Tuesday 1030pm – We arrived at the hospital and things really ramped up. Contractions

were coming hard and fast. I felt I couldn’t walk to the birth suite on my own while David

found a park so Sarah found us on the street with me leaning over the car bonnet trying to

manage my contractions. She helped me get to the birth suite & David met us there shortly

after. She examined me and to everyone’s surprise I was 7cm dilated. I was so relieved! I am

glad I was able to labour at home for so long, but being 7cm dilated felt rushed to get

settled into the birth suite. David hadn’t even brought up my hospital bag. We headed

straight to the room I would give birth in. My midwife set up the tub for me, put on a diffuser &

fairy lights and dimmed the lights in the room. David put on the birth playlist I had

put together.

In hindsight I think I would have preferred my affirmations playlist at this point

to help keep me grounded and get through the transition period. I continued to breathe

through contractions, but I found I needed to breathe out using a low moan. I definitely did

not labour in silence like you see in some hypnobirthing videos! Sometimes I would lose

control (my vocalisations would become more high pitched and my breathing would fasten)

and David and Sarah would try to ground me again. I then clearly went through transition

where I was vomiting, crying out for help, begging for the epidural. I knew that this was

transition, but it was really hard to refocus myself. Sarah told me it was transition, but at my

request she did enquire about an epidural for me. The anaesthetist was in an emergency c

section so I was going to meet my baby before I could have the epi. My birth preference was

to have an unmedicated labour, but I did say I would consider the epidural if I had a really

long labour and felt I was too exhausted to continue. I am really glad the epidural wasn’t

available to me in the end as I didn’t need it and I feel it would have led to a cascade of

interventions. I also tried gas, but I didn’t like it. And morphine was not an option as I was

too close to delivering at the time I requested it.

I remember a period during my labour in the tub feeling like I was going to fall asleep and

my head was dropping into the water. I remember it being a calm period of my labour even

though I was almost fully dilated. After about 2 hours in the tub Sarah suggested I change

positions. I think hospital policy is to get out of tub every 2 hours for a short break. Also, due

to my gestational diabetes the recommendation is to have monitoring. I consented to this as

it was wireless so it meant I could still be in the tub and be mobile. Unfortunately, the

reading was dropping in and out and picking up my heart rate instead of the baby’s. Sarah

asked for my consent to place the coil on baby’s head, but explained that it would break my

waters. I declined for now as I did not want my waters broken and baby was doing well so

far. I got out of the tub and onto all fours next to the bed. Shortly after I felt a lot of

pressure and then felt a pop and gush and my water finally broke. Almost immediately I felt

the urge to push and told my midwife & husband “I’m pushing!”. I had asked Sarah for no

directed pushing. She did assist me with making suggestions for position changes though. I

pushed on all fours, then standing up leaning over the bed, in a squat position on the bed &

also kneeling on the bed leaning over the back of the bed. I think I had been pushing for

about 1.5 hours at this point. Sarah then checked my dilation (she also placed the coil while

doing this) and it turned out I still had some cervix that I was pushing baby’s head against.

During my post labour debrief I learnt that first time mums can often have the urge to push

before they are fully dilated and this can also happen if the baby is in an odd position. Sarah

advised me to stop pushing as baby’s head was getting swollen as it was being pressed

against my cervix. It was incredibly hard to fight against the urge to push. It was agony. I

found it interesting that the active labour part leading up to pushing was more difficult than

the pushing stage (except for when I had to fight against pushing). Sarah was able to

manually clear the rest of the cervix so the clock was then essentially restarted for pushing. I

wasn’t aware of this at the time, but its most hospital’s policy to only ‘allow’ pushing for up

to 2 hours before the doctors want to intervene with interventions like an instrumental


During my labour I found mobility really difficult which surprised me. I thought that my body

would instinctively move into optimal birthing positions or I would want to keep mobile to

bring the baby down. However, I found it really mentally and physically challenging to move

from one position to another. Perhaps this was an indication that the baby was in a poor

position as moving around caused me a lot of pain. Sarah was really encouraging and

guiding me into different positions. I also found communicating in labour really difficult. My

poor midwife probably thought I was ignoring her most of the time. She would suggest a

position change and it would take a long time for me to follow through. The best I could do

was nod when I was spoken to. Even to ask a simple question such as requesting water

seemed impossible. However, I was able to express that I was getting exhausted and say

things like “I can’t do this”. If there was one thing I would change about my labour it would

focus on not letting the negative self talk take over. My midwife told me that difficulty with

talking is really common in labour. I also think that part of it was my hypnobirthing

techniques that assisted me in going in towards myself and blocking out what was

happening around me.

At this point in my labour Sarah was coming close to her maximum allowed time of 12 hours

on shift so she called in midwife Sophie who I had met a couple of times. Sophie arrived and

I was now lying on the bed with my feet in stirrups. This goes to show that ‘birth plans’ can

go out the window! Sarah and Sophie were both generally against lying down on the bed on

your back to birth. They advocate for standing/squatting and kneeling as it is now widely

known these are more optimal positions for birth and there is reduced risk for tearing. Sarah

also acknowledged lying down can feel degrading for the labouring woman. Because I was

so exhausted I was struggling to push effectively in standing and squatting positions. I

remember my legs shaking and feeling very weak. Lying down, surprisingly, gave me some

relief and felt I could regain some energy. The midwives also later explained that they got

me into this position as a last resort because we had already tried all the other positions and

I had been pushing for a really long time. When Sophie took over she started to give me

directed pushing. Sarah had been following my birth preferences with not giving me much

directed pushing. But at this point in my labour I really did need this even though I wasn’t

aware of it at the time. Another example of being flexible in your birth plan! I was really

exhausted and at this point I needed someone to boss me around haha! I started to think I

wasn’t doing a good enough job at pushing and was worried that something wasn’t right. I

was wondering why it was taking so long and scared I wasn’t making progress. We soon

found out why I had prolonged pushing! Sophie showed me the progress with a mirror – I

found this really motivating. It was helpful to see the baby’s head when I was pushing and it

encouraged me to try harder. Sophie observed that I was holding back with my pushing

when baby’s head was stretching my perineum. She encouraged me to push past the

burning feeling to deliver my baby’s head. I tried my best, but I could not get her past the

last bit. I was nearing the 2 hour mark of pushing again. Sophie asked for my consent to

perform an episiotomy. She explained that there was a ring of my perineum that was failing

to stretch over the baby’s head, baby was starting to show signs of distress and that doctors

would present shortly to request to do an instrumental delivery. I said ‘no doctors’. I really

trusted my midwives and really felt the episiotomy was the best option in this situation.

There is a place for interventions and this intervention was necessary for me and baby. She

performed the episiotomy with local anaesthetic and within a matter of seconds my baby

was starting to crown. I felt so relieved. With a few short breaths she was earth side!

Florence was born sunny side up! This explains why I struggled to get her to crown – she

was trying to exit with the largest part of her head! She didn’t cry when she was born or for

the 24 hours after birth. Her cord was loosely around her neck. The midwives said my

umbilical cord was much longer than what they usually are! It was incredible to view my

umbilical cord and placenta – the organs that my body had created to grow my baby. I

wondered how all of that and baby fit inside of me! Only 5-8% of babies are born in sunny

side up position. Her position explains a lot about my labour. She was in the perfect position

before labour and also when my midwife checked me when I first presented to the hospital.

So at some point she turned! It also confirmed for me that episiotomy was the right decision

for us.

I should also probably mention how my husband, David supported me during my labour

and give him some credit! He really took on board what he learnt in the hypnobirthing

course. He provided me with words of encouragement, brought me water and rubbed my

back and face with a wet cloth. He held my hand and didn’t leave my side! He also helped

me keep control of my breath. David was very supportive of all of my birth preferences and

decisions. He ensured he was educated and prepared with what to expect for labour and

birth. I couldn’t have done it without him. David came out unscathed with me only yelling at

him once to ‘stop asking me questions!’. Birth partners: don’t give the birthing mum options

for unimportant things! Leading up to going into labour he was activating my acupuncture

points regularly, giving me soft touch and massage, and ensuring I was relaxed and calm. He

does think I am a bit nutty from wanting to go through it all again so soon haha. And to go

again without any pain relief!

After her birth we did at least an hour of skin to skin and she had her first breastfeed. It was

a busy night at the hospital! All the birthing suite’s were full so there was no doctor

available to suture me. Eventually after 3 hours a senior midwife attended to suture me. The

adrenaline had worn off by that point so I needed the gas and even with extra dose of local

anaesthetic I was experiencing pain. Sophie handed me my baby and as soon as I held her all

my pain went away. The post birth hormones are incredible. We stayed in hospital for about

36 hours to monitor her blood sugars due to my gestational diabetes. She did have one low

sugar and I was relieved that I had stored some colostrum in my pregnancy so she didn’t

need to be given formula. Despite the hospital being understaffed and really busy I received

excellent care.

I am so proud of myself! I birthed my baby with minimal intervention and no pain relief. I

was on such a high after my birth and I am so excited to do it again. It was really beneficial

to debrief with my midwives a few days later. They answered all of my questions and were

able to explain some things I was confused about such as her position. I don’t think it was

not apparent that she was sunny side up to anyone until she was crowning. My midwives

both commended me on how I managed my difficult labour and birth. I feel like if I can do

that – I can do anything! I am so grateful for the hypnobirthing education and techniques.

Even though things didn’t go 100% to plan I still had an empowering and positive

experience. Our bodies are incredible and women are capable of amazing things!

To book into a Hypnobirthing Course on the Gold Coast with me CLICK HERE

To book into a Live Online Hypnobirthing course through Zoom CLICK HERE


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