Naomi, Aaron & Leonard's HypnoBirth® Story
Birthing a 10lb baby at home with no stitches!
Naomi's Birth Story... My long awaited home HypnoBirth... No 3!
My story begins 14 days past my due date. The fortnight since my EDD had dragged along very slowly and I was looking forward to arriving at 42 weeks as my previous 2 babies had both been born at exactly 42 weeks. My whole pregnancy I had been telling everyone and myself that it was likely that I would carry right to the bitter end as this is clearly how long my body took to cook its babies. However, with having 3 babies in 3 years I was secretly hoping that my body would remember what to do and give me an early surprise. But as my guess date came and went and every day slowly dragged by, I soon realised that I was in for the long haul and felt confident that my baby would again also be born on day +14.
I was therefore very happy to field off offers of induction from my midwife and explain to all my well wishing family and friends that I was happy for nature to decide when my baby should be born. My daily mantra became "baby comes when baby is ready".
I did let my midwife book me in for a planned induction on day 14 though, as both of my girls had arrived on the night prior to planned inductions, so I thought that perhaps I needed that threat to let go mentally and let my birthing begin. Ha ha! Not the case this time, as I awoke on day +14, still pregnant and absolutely no sign of anything happening anytime soon.
As a HypnoBirthing practitioner, I was super keen to avoid induction as I was desperate to have another home birth and also I knew that by interfering with, what I believe to be, a very natural process, I could perhaps send my birth into a different direction which could eventually lead into invention being required. I had supreme faith that my body was in charge and that my baby should decide when the right time to be born would be. I did however understand that there are risks involved in prolonged pregnancy but felt that whilst my baby was strong and active and my health was fine, I was happy to take each day as it came. So when I phoned triage at 8am that morning I explained that I was cancelling the planned induction but willingly agreed to attend the hospital for monitoring.
The monitoring process involved being strapped up to a machine that measured baby's heart rate, uterine tightening and baby's movements – all of which were perfect. In fact, I was having surges (The HypnoBirthing word for contractions) that I couldn't even feel. I agreed to a vaginal examination as I curious to know if things were getting started and "hurrah!" my cervix was 1cm open. Perhaps the baby would be here soon, I started to think.
As I was now +14 days, before I was allowed to leave Triage, I had to endure quite a pressurised conversation with the doctor who was trying to persuade me to be induced there and then as planned. I found the language that he used particularly threatening and fear inducing. In fact, at one point he actually told me that I HAD to be induced. I had suspected that I would need to have some difficult conversations about my decision to continue with my pregnancy past 42 weeks, so was prepared with all of my answers and very firmly and politely explained that I fully understood the risks of prolonged pregnancy and that I did NOT have to be induced that day, I was aware that he had to offer me the CHOICE and I could respectfully decline. I agreed to return the next day for monitoring and to discuss the option of induction again. However, the whole experience of attending Triage which reminded me of the dramas in "One born every minute" and the intimidating nature of the doctor made me even more determined that I was going to have my baby at home in a loving, peaceful, positive environment where I could focus on my beliefs that birth can and should be normal and natural.
My husband dropped me over at my mum's house in the early afternoon so that I could spend some time with my 2 girls, aged 19 months and 3yrs old. As soon as I was in a safe, calm environment, my surges suddenly became more apparent and I spent the next couple of hours playing with girls and distracting myself by sorting out a huge box of Duplo that my dad had found in the loft.
By 3.30pm I felt that things were picking up quickly so called my husband to drive me back home so that we could prepare for our homebirth. I spent the next couple of hours doing some last minute housework (I wanted a clean orderly house before baby arrived!) whilst Aaron prepared our beautiful birthing area by moving furniture, inflating the pool, setting up the music and lighting candles everywhere.
Given that my last birth had been an amazing calm, quick and relatively pain free HypnoBirthing experience which only lasted 5 hours from the 1st surge to my baby girl being born – just 2 ½ hours of established labour, I honestly thought that this baby was going to fly out. I'd joked the whole was through the pregnancy that I was just going sneeze this one out and had even prepared my husband for the possibility that the baby may be born before a midwife was in attendance and had explained to him how to check if the cord was round the baby's throat! So I was deadly serious when I spoke to my 2nd birthing companion and my best friend at 5pm and said that I was sure we'd have a baby by the end of the day. Little did I know!
I was experiencing very erratic surges, they would be very intense for 40 – 50 seconds or so and then drop off to weaker shorter ones but the whole time I could feel my cervix stretching open and my muscles working together. I was so happy that things had finally started of their own accord.
HypnoBirthing works on the theory that by being totally relaxed during birth a woman's body behaves in a different way to that if she has fear or anxiety within her system. This ensures that the uterus behaves in the way that nature intended and eliminates the FEAR – TENSION – PAIN syndrome.
Therefore, I knew that I had to totally relax and surrender to the birthing process in order for my body to be able to get on with the job in hand, so I lay on my sofa surrounded by candles, listening to my HypnoBirthing affirmations and relaxation CD on loop for a couple of hours until my surges finally felt more intense and productive. During this whole time I focussed on staying calm by using HypnoBirthing breathing.
We called out the 1st midwife who arrived at about 9pm by which time I was in a blissfully calm state, totally chilled out. After examining me, she informed me that the baby was still in unfavourable position as its back was round on my right hand side rather than the optimum position on the left or front. I had been aware that the baby was OP since my 36 week appointment and had been doing yoga positions, hypnosis sessions, using affirmations and had even purchased a doughnut shaped beanbag to encourage gravity to be able work with the baby whilst I lay on my front, but this baby was determined to stay put until it had to move! I was 3cm open at this point which was great news, things really were finally happening. The midwife explained to me that while the baby could be born in it's OP position it would be a much easier birth if it moved round before descending down the birth path.
As time went by I felt that it was time to get in the pool as I clearly remembered the wonderful relaxation properties that the warm water had from my previous birth. I got into the pool and was delighted to find that the water assisted my comfort levels considerably! I happily floated in the pool holding onto the handles in various positions, mentally willing the baby to turn. After 90 minutes the midwife examined me again and to my absolute dismay, I discovered that I was still only 3cm! I was completely devastated by this news, especially as the midwife had been requesting the baby's changing mat and warm towels only moments previously! I really had felt like we'd been making progress.
It was now midnight and I couldn't help feeling that the last 8 hours had all been in vain. My midwife was brilliant at this point, as my positive mental attitude started to dissolve. She explained that I was doing brilliantly by remaining superbly relaxed and that the reason I hadn't made any progress was that my body was trying to turn the baby to make my birth easier for me. We decided that she would go home to get some sleep and that I should try to get some rest and call her again when things picked up again.
The next 3 hours or so were really tough. I was very tired and my HypnoBirthing skills were really tested. I had moments where I totally lost faith in myself and even at one point considered going to hospital. As soon as the doubts and anxieties crept in, I lost control of my breathing and the panic and pain would spiral. I kept bringing myself back to trusting in my body, that body knew what to do and my determination returned. I spent this time doing various yoga positions and trying to relax on my "bump bag" when finally I decided to sit on my birthing ball learning forwards onto my dining table. I was circling my hips and pelvis on the ball when suddenly my waters popped and gushed everywhere. I think at this point the baby also moved round. I was elated! Just as I was about to give up, my body gave me a signal that actually my labour of love was advancing. I had a "show" at this point too, so I was finally reassured that the baby was on its way.
We called delivery suite and the same midwife came out again. My husband and birthing companion spent ages getting the birthing pool back to temperature while I focussed on becoming deeply relaxed again with my CD's on loop. Once again getting in the pool was magic. Everything finally came together and happened relatively quickly from this point. I was 4cm when I got in the pool and within 2 hours I could feel the pressure in my bottom and as my surges continued to grow in intensity I knew the baby was making its journey down the birth path. I used my HypnoBirthing breathing techniques to assist this process but don't mind admitting that the urge to push really took over at this point. So I followed the lead of my body, however I was extremely tired by this point and found this made the sensations incredibly intense. I kept losing control mentally, I requested some gas and air which really helped ground me again. The mouth piece was particularly useful to help me control my breathing techniques. I used the gas and air at the start of the surge and then used the power of the surge to assist my body with moving the baby down the birth path. It took about 90 minutes to reach the birthing stage. I had some moments of doubt again at the "transition" stage as my cervix became fully open but my birthing companions were brilliant at using HypnoBirthing prompts and getting me back in control and relaxed again.
The final stage of the birth was quite unexpected. I could feel the baby crown and I was being very careful to take this stage very very slowly as I didn't want to tear. I tried to let everything unfold naturally. The wait in-between surges felt like an absolute eternity. I could feel the baby trying to twist its shoulders round but it seemed stuck. Suddenly, the midwifes were ordering me to get to my feet with my leg on the edge of the pool and instructed me that I needed to push with all of my strength at the next surge. The next moments are all a bit of a blur but when the surge finally arrived, the midwives assisted the baby and quickly cut its cord. My husband shouted "It's a boy!" but none of us could take in this news as our baby was very blue and floppy and the 2nd midwife was busy using rescue breaths and massaging him to bring him to life. Finally, after these heart stopping moments we heard the wonderful sound of his cry! The midwife later told me that his cord had been wrapped very tightly around his neck. They'd become aware of this when the baby's chin had failed to present when the head was crowning, hence the urgency of the end of the birth. The midwifes were absolutely brilliant and I can't praise them enough for remaining so calm and keeping me so unaware whilst they must have been having a minor panic.
I finally got to hold my gorgeous baby boy and feel the magic of our life long emotional bond. I was amazed at how big he was, however, I would never have guessed that I had been carrying a 10lb baby! (Well 9lb 15 ¾ oz) – Especially as I am only 5ft 2"! No wonder it had been such a mission to get him to turn and also to move down the birth path. He looked about 3 months old! He went straight the breast and fed easily for the 1st hour.
It took a while for the shock of the whole situation to wear off but eventually I felt totally empowered that I'd stuck with my intuition to have a home birth and felt incredibly proud of myself that I'd birthed a 10lb baby at home with no damage to my perineum (no stitches hurrah!) and no chemical pain relief. My total birth had taken 18 hours.... 14 of which were spent at 3cm trying to get him to turn and only 4 hours of established labour.
I must admit that the HypnoBirthing practitioner inside me was a bit disappointed that my birth wasn't the text book HypnoBirth that I'd dreamed of, but after discussing it through with the midwife the following day, I realised what an amazing birth I'd managed to achieve. I agreed with my midwife that if I'd been in hospital then it would have been highly probable that interventions would have been used, as if I hadn't of been calm & patient and allowed the baby to get into the best position, then birthing an 10lb OP baby would probably have had a totally different outcome. Having 2 other small children to care for meant that I was very concerned about having a quick recovery time and I can happily claim that after I got over the initial exhaustion I was feeling on top the world and was back to being a proper mum again within 2 days. I haven't even experienced baby blues as i've been so pleased with the way my birth played out and totally in awe of my clever body and baby who knew what to do. This is another lovely benefit of HypnoBirthing.
So I am writing this as Leonard (known as Lenny) is 12 days old. He is an absolute dream baby, I honestly couldn't ask for a better behaved chap! He sleeps and feeds, sleeps and feeds, even at night! I am getting more sleep now than when I was pregnant, which is an absolute blessing as I need all my energy for this crazy family life that I now have! It also supports the HypnoBirthing theory that calm pregnancy and birth = calm baby.
I've learnt a lot about birth from this experience, most importantly, about how all the tools that HypnoBirthing can be applied to birth, whatever path the birth takes. I also know now that birth doesn't have to be easy and straight forward for it to be empowering and positive. After achieving this challenging birth.... I now feel like I can do anything that I set my mind to, which is what HypnoBirthing is all about. The power of the body and mind connection.
I have had a lot of comments about how lucky I've been to have straight forward births but I do point out that is not all down to luck, I put a lot of work into getting myself in the best position to be able to achieve my wonderful births. I attended pregnancy yoga twice a week, practised daily relaxation and fully embraced HypnoBirthing theories which have totally changed the way I think about birth. I believe that all this emotional and physical preparation has helped take control of my birthing destiny.