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I also found this birth healing and I know it was because of Hypnobirthing!

My Birth Story

By Catherine Lee

Eloise Lee | 9 June 2023

In the week leading up to labour starting, I experienced lots of signs that my body was preparing for birth; I lost some of my mucus plug one week out, my Braxton Hicks - although not painful - were relentless and I had some back pain (I found using the TENS machine during this period provided incredible relief). I went into spontaneous labour at 40 weeks, 2 days around 6.30pm on a Thursday night. I was in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner while my husband Andy did the bedtime routine with our two-year-old.

Labour started nice and slowly, with fairly mild contractions every 15 minutes or so (I didn’t want to get in my head and obsessively time them). By 8.30pm, I had the TENS on and was sitting on the birth ball watching TV with Andy. The contractions were still manageable and only coming every 10-15 minutes but I was needing to close my eyes through them which made for confusing TV viewing given we were watching a fast paced murder mystery comedy with a complicated plot!

After an ultra marathon 3-day long labour with my first born, I had prepared myself for another long labour so I wasn’t even sure if we should call my Mum to come over and take care of our toddler, in the event we’d need to go to the hospital in the middle of the night. But ultimately we thought it would be safer if we did, so at 10.30pm, we phoned her and my midwife Joyce to let her know labour had commenced. I showered and we decided to go to bed to try to get as much rest as possible. I kept the TENS on and was able to sleep in between contractions, which were still roughly 15 minutes apart. While spaced out, my surges increased to around 90 seconds and were intensifying over the course of the night. By 4am, I couldn’t stay in bed so I got up and jumped on the birth ball again. As soon as I was active, I started having contractions around 2-3 minutes apart. Although they got shorter (50-60 seconds), they were intensifying quickly. During this time, I felt calm and in control. I also felt a huge sense of excitement that things were starting to unfold and soon we’d meet our baby girl. At 4.45am, I called Joyce again and she suggested we come into the hospital, given we had a 30 minute drive from Palm Beach to GCUH.

We quickly finished packing my hospital bag (all the last minute items) and made our way to the hospital. I was so grateful it was still dark and there was no traffic on the road. During the car trip, because I was sitting down again, my contractions spread out to around 5 minutes apart but they were more intense because I was confined to my seat. Again, the TENS proved golden and the birthing affirmations soundtrack helped me stay in the zone.

Once we arrived at the hospital, my contractions ramped up considerably, the walk into the birthing suite proving incredibly tricky. Luckily a lovely hospital worker saw me struggling to walk and brought me a wheelchair.

We met Joyce at the entrance to the birth suites around 6am. I went through the MGP program this time around and found it so comforting to know who would be supporting me in labour. Joyce - who is also a calm birthing teacher - knew my birth preferences and I felt that she was fully committed to helping me try to achieve my dream birth.

Once inside our beautiful birthing suite, I was back on the birth ball; Andy was doing light touch massage and we had our wedding playlist on, which helped release oxytocin. I found I couldn’t eat or drink much in labour but managed a Hydralite ice block and small sips of water to keep rehydrated.

After an hour or so on the birth ball, I needed to change things up. Andy and I got into the shower which was immediately soothing and helped me to stay relaxed. I felt my surges really step up a gear - without the TENS on, I don’t know how close or long they were but they were intense. On reflection, during my time in the shower I was also going through transition. Andy was a great support, reminding me of my affirmations and supporting my body during surges.

At around 7.45am, I requested my first vaginal examination (again, given my last birthing experience, I figured I may still have a long way to go and I needed to mentally reset). Getting onto the bed for the VE was almost impossible and as soon as Joyce did the VE, I could tell I was very far along. Joyce didn’t tell me how dilated I was, instead, she moved quietly over to the bath to start filling it (as it was my goal to birth in the bath). At this point, I did a silent hip hip hooray, realising I must be at least 8cm. Little did I know that I was already fully dilated. Joyce also told me after birth that she had seen the reddish/purple line on my natal cleft before she did the internal examination, indicating that I was going to give birth soon.

On all fours on the bed, I immediately had a huge surge and my waters burst in one big gush. Unfortunately, there was meconium in my waters which meant I could no longer give birth in the bath… But to be honest, I’m not sure I would have physically been able to climb in at that point. I actually felt comfortable on all fours on the bed and it was clear that I needed to start to bear down.

During the pushing stage, I tried the gas. While it helped me manage a few contractions, I found it interfered with my breathing. Holding a comb in the palm of my hand was more effective. Poor Andy’s knuckles and hands became a good pain management tool too (I may have bitten down on his knuckles, this was entirely unplanned and a primal instinct). Joyce, while applying a warm compress on my perineum, gently coached me on when to bear down and reminded me to breathe, which I personally found very helpful. After around 20 minutes of pushing, our little girl Eloise entered the world at 8.22am on Friday morning and we experienced the pure elation of holding her for the first time.

As well as the absolute joy of meeting our little girl, I felt a sense of accomplishment of achieving the physiological birth I’d aimed for and birthing her without any pain relief. I know this was down to a huge amount of preparation, from the Belly2Birth Hypnobirthing course, informative podcasts to boost my knowledge and reinforce the path I was choosing and listening to as many positive birth stories as I could.

I opted for active management to birth my placenta and experienced a beautiful golden hour of breastfeeding with Eloise. Although I was still on cloud 9, I started to feel quite off and my stomach felt uncomfortable and almost lumpy. I asked the midwife to feel my stomach and on pressing down,I passed several large blood clots very quickly. I was having a postpartum hemorrhage. The lights went on immediately and within seconds, more midwives, an obstetrician and an anaesthetist (in the event I’d need to move to theatre) had entered the room. I lost 1.2L of blood but it would have been far more if it wasn’t for the excellent care I received. While this could have been scary, I leaned into hypnobirthing to stay calm; I knew I was in the right place, with the doctors and nurses telling me what was happening every step of the way. I had also listened to a podcast on PPH, so I felt I had some level of understanding of what was happening and that everything would be okay.

The PPH didn’t negatively impact how I felt about my birthing experience. It was brilliantly managed, I avoided theatre and Eloise could stay by my side in Daddy’s arms for the duration of my treatment. Fortunately, I’d needed an iron infusion at 36 weeks so while on the low side, my haemoglobin wasn’t so low that I needed a blood transfusion. Within a couple of days, I felt my energy levels return.

Despite the PPH, the recovery from this birth has been so much easier - a shorter labour, no tearing or stitches and a positive mindset from start to finish! I know my positive, calm mindset is a testament to going into birth feeling more informed and prepared for labour, with hypnobirthing being at the core.

I also found this birth healing. I realised on entering pregnancy for the second time that I was still carrying some birth trauma from my first experience. While I had a positive outcome with my first birth, and on reflection I know we made the right decisions, I felt my birth was tarnished by fear and anxiety and a total lack of control. While I had done some prep for my first birth and went into it feeling calm, we didn’t have the tools or knowledge to help us through what turned out to be a long and gruelling back labour, and without any continuity of care, I found I experienced a lack of support. I was determined to not feel this way after my second birth.

I can’t wait to tell Eloise the story of how she entered the world and how she helped to create one of the most empowering experiences of my life!

Catherine & Andy - Gold Coast, Australia

To book into a Hypnobirthing or Childbirth Education Course on the Gold Coast CLICK HERE

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