My healing birth after loss and a caesarean
After many pregnancy complications, our firstborn daughter was born prematurely. It was a traumatic birth, to say the least. I will never be able to explain the absolute heartbreak it is to carry, and then to birth a baby you know who is only going to stay with you for such a short time; minutes, in fact. I truly feared pregnancy and birth after this.
8 long months after the birth of our firstborn we found out we were pregnant with our now 3-year-old little boy. After everything that we went through with our firstborn, I just wanted to have my healthy baby in my arms. The 9 long months that I carried him for was the most stressful time of my life. Every single day of pregnancy was hard.. sometimes I just had to live minute by minute just to get through it. We scheduled in an elective c-section with our new amazing private OB for 38+5 weeks. I just wanted him safe in my arms asap.
At 37+3 weeks he had other plans to surprise us before we were expecting him. Labour had commenced but I still opted for a c-section because I still mentally wasn’t prepared for a natural delivery. His birth was beautiful and I was just over the moon that we finally had a little healthy baby in our arms.
23 months later, we found out we were pregnant again with my now 7-month-old daughter. I’m still not sure what came over me, but I just remember thinking I really want to enjoy this pregnancy and birth. I’m not sure if it was because this may just be my last baby or the fact this one was a little girl like the baby we lost... or maybe it was because I needed to know that not all natural births are traumatic. But I do know I really felt a shift and I just had to do everything I could to make this a positive happy, experience.
I listened to the podcast Australian Birth Stories nearly every day in my early pregnancy and there was so much talk about hypnobirthing. I knew this was what I wanted to do and I knew that I really wanted to have a VBAC. This is where I tracked down Shari! We told her about our previous births and she was just so lovely and caring about everything. She really went above and beyond to make sure we were comfortable. She discussed how this pregnancy and birth could really be a beautiful healing process for us. And it was... It was just that.
Given my history, my OB was a little on the edge about us birthing vaginally, but of course, supported our decision. Being a VBAC this time around, there were a few more things to worry about. I hit 37 weeks and was expecting this little one to make her arrival soon; considering my little boy came at this time. 37, 38 and 39 weeks passed and still no sign from her! I trusted my body and baby would go into labour when they were ready. Every single night I listened to my hypnobirthing tracks to keep me calm and bounced on the exercise ball.
At my 39 week appointment, my OB put some doubt into my mind. My cervix wasn’t dIlated nor was I effaced. Basically ‘nothing’ was happening he told me. Given my history, he wasn’t going to let me go over 40+2 so I booked in a c section for this time.
I had another appointment at 40 weeks which he told me the same thing; that nothing was happening and he would see me in 2 days for my c section. Well... that early evening I went into labour!!
I was bouncing on my exercise ball which I did every night religiously since probably 34 weeks. I remember feeling a few little tingles and was like maybe this is actually it this time (we had many false labour starts from 37 weeks). I had a hot shower and then things really started to ramp up. I was having regular contractions 10 minutes apart. Then, of course, things slowed down a little bit so I decided to go try and get some sleep. 2 hours later at 12 am (my due date day!) I woke up with contractions 4 minutes apart lasting 30 seconds.
I got myself out of bed and back on my ball and watched tv while breathing through my contractions. I was timing my contractions but I was still in doubt I was actually in labour! I called my Mum to come over around 1:30 am because she was watching our little boy for us and she reassured me that I was in labour and this is defiantly happening now! I finally decided to call the hospital and wake my husband around 2:30 am.
3:30 am we arrived at the hospital. My contractions were strong lasting 1 minute and around 3 minutes apart. At 4 am my midwife insisted on an internal and I agreed. 4 hours of labour and ‘only’ 1cm dilated. I was over the moon but she was not. She called my OB and they agreed they didn’t think the labour was progressing. This doubt from them, of course, affected me and therefor slowed things down a little bit. I wasn’t contracting enough in a 10 minute period to make them happy and the word c section kept popping up.
I remember Shari discussing how your cervix has to shorten before it even starts to dilate. Well about 12 hours prior to where I was now, ‘nothing’ had even happened. So I knew in those 4 hours that just past my body doing just that! I secretly knew I had this!
From about 4 am-7 am I was just calmly chatting away to my husband who was rubbing my back and keeping me hydrated. I was bouncing on the exercise ball while resting my upper body on the bed. I should mention, this entire time I was plugged into the monitors which my OB felt was best considering my history and VBAC. I was limited to barely moving around and I couldn’t use the shower as I planned.
This entire time I was so calm that my midwife thought that nothing at all was happening. She was telling me there weren’t strong enough to be doing anything. I knew they were pretty intense but I think they were just so manageable that I didn’t look like I was in ‘actual’ labour.
Just after 7 am I remember saying to my husband that if they check again and I haven’t progressed, I’m having a c section because I’m over sitting here with contractions but nothing happening in my body. I went to the bathroom and that’s when it clicked... I was in transition. I remember just looking at myself in the mirror and giving myself a little pep talk that I’ve got this haha! I really didn’t make it obvious that I thought I was in transition because I knew that only 3 hours ago I was only 1cm dilated so there was a bit of self-doubt there.
My OB came and did an Internal and I was so excited when she told me I was just over 7cm dilated. She then broke my waters which I agreed to. This is where things started to take a turn and my contractions were lasting for what felt like forever and were pretty much back to back. I started to lose my control a little bit, so my husband gave me my earphones and I listened to all of my hypnobirthing tracks.
I pretty much stayed on the ball the entire labour until I had an urge to start pushing. I got up on the bed and could not find a comfortable position at all. My husband set up the bed so I could lean on the bed head but be on all fours. I was just constantly breathing through contractions while listening to my tracks. It was intense but I was still calm. Just before 8 am my body started pushing by itself and I remember my midwife yelling to another “get her OB the head is right there!”. I really didn’t think I would birth on my back. But I actually found it really comfortable.
My body told me when to push and my midwife and OB just encouraged me along. As the head was started to crown, her heart rate started dropping alarmingly low. I didn’t know this at the time. My midwife was about to cut me which I frantically refused because like I said I didn’t know what was happening. She said to me “you have one more push to get her head out or I have to”. Still not knowing that her heart rate was dropping the fear of her cutting me made me push her head out in one huge push. About 3 seconds later her entire body came out to!
After 15 minutes of pushing, she was placed right on my chest and words cannot describe how happy I was that my little girl was safe in my arms but also because I had such a beautiful, calm, drug-free natural delivery.
She was born at 9:05 am on her due date!
I really feel like without your amazing hypnobirthing course it just wouldn’t have been possible. You completely changed my mindset. Thank you!
If you have experienced Still Birth or Miscarriage and would some support through this time contact The Stillbirth Foundation
If you would like to learn more about how the Hypnobirthing Australia 'Positive Birth Program' can help you heal from a traumatic birth and prepare you for your next birth CLICK HERE to book into an upcoming Gold Coast Group Course or purchase the Hypnobubs Online Course HERE