Rebecca, Steven & Dillan's HypnoBirth Story
HypnoBirthing helped deal with special circumstances and a positive c-section story!
There was controversy over our estimated date of arrival from the time of our first scan back in January. For the last ten years I have been a strong advocate of natural family planning methods and in the past have used a persona machine as well as the more old school method of morning basal temperature taking to chart ovulation and my menstrual cycles. Therefore I was pretty confident that my LMP (last menstrual period) date was correct, knowing that I always ovulate on day 14-15 of my very regular cycle.
Stephen and I discovered that we were pregnant in November 2010 and our first scan was delayed slightly because of the Christmas and New Year's holiday, meaning we didn't actually have the first scan until the 13th week of pregnancy. However, when we actually went for the scan they dated me as 14 weeks pregnant and moved my EDA back from the 25thJuly 2011 (based on my LMP) to the 18th July 2011. Because there was a whole week's difference between my date and the scan date the medical profession insist on going with the scan date because of the supposed potential irregularity of a woman's cycle, time of ovulation, time of conception etc. This whole week discrepancy proved to be quite significant as our official guess date loomed...and then predictably came and went.
I had a midwife appointment booked for the morning of the 18th July and was disappointed that my regular midwife was off sick, as we had already discussed our birth plan and she had been reassuringly supportive and had even reminded me at my last appointment that first babies are routinely 10-12 days late. This particular midwife wasn't on the same wavelength at all and the appointment was quite disheartening. To her disbelief I refused a sweep and was promptly booked an appointment to discuss my options at the hospital for Wednesday 20th July. I felt quite belittled as she made it clear that she thought I needed to make sure I had a plan and shouldn't just be prepared to go on indefinitely – even though I had only JUST reached my guess date.
The appointment on the Wednesday at the hospital was fine and although I refused any intervention I was happy to book in for daily monitoring where they checked my blood pressure, the baby's heartbeat and whether I was having any surges. Happy that everything was still fine I continued with these daily check-ups until I was booked in to see an obstetrician on July 29th. I was completely unprepared for the conversation that followed with the consultant. He was very keen to push induction on me and happily drew out a line with his finger indicating the increase in death rate as baby's go over their due date. I didn't really have my answers ready as to why I wanted to hold out on induction and came back with a silly answer of "Because it's not very nice," luckily Steve was there to save me and explained that we were trying to keep everything as natural as possible. After the consultation I had agreed to have a scan done to check the function of the placenta. I asked the radiographer a couple of questions about the size of the baby and she said the machine didn't go past 41 weeks so she had to look up the size of the baby in her hard copy manual and confessed that "we rarely see people this late on in pregnancy," which made me feel even more like I was the only woman to have ever gone past her due date!
Saturday the 30th July I booked in for some acupuncture. I tried reflexology, I tried sex, I tried going for a curry, I tried loooonnnnnnggggggg walks, I tried listening to audio birth rehearsals designed to get your oxytocin levels flowing but the baby was completely on its own utero-time and still showed no sign of being anywhere near ready to be born. In the end I decided that this 'extra' time I had been given was a gift and I began to relax and was very content to enjoy my last few days of pre-mummydom.
I was booked in for another consultation with the obstetrician on Monday 1st August. This consultation was a million miles away from my previous one the week before with the scare mongering Dr who had made me feel quite belittled for not wanting to be induced. I was seen by a Dr Buddha (with a name like that how could I not like her!) and through discussing my case she sensitively discovered that I had had a bad experience with a painful smear test in the past, which is another reason why I was reluctant to have a cervical sweep. However, with her completely different approach, her reassurance that she had "the smallest hands in the department" and Steve's support I decided to give consent for a membrane sweep. It wasn't as bad as I was anticipating and I was hopeful that this would be enough to get things going.
Finally, on Thursday 4th August I felt my first surge at about 11am. They continued regularly at about 3-4 per hour for most of the afternoon. By about 6'o'clock in the evening I decided that it was definitely happening as the surges were coming more regularly. Steve and I started to rally round and get the house ready. We checked that the hot water was switched on and then that's when I realised we had a problem...the heater was on BUT there was no hot water coming out through the taps. I made a panicked call to my friend and second birthing partner Jade who's Dad is a retired plumber and lives up the top of my street. He came round within half an hour and confirmed that the immersion heater had gone and that he could fix it but it would be a 2-3 hour job and at 7'o'clock at night it might not be so easy to get the parts.
Steve and I sat down and discussed our options for a couple of hours as I procrastinated over the decision. Should we see if we could relocate – take the pool to my Mum's or maybe to Jade's, should we stay put and attempt to fill the pool with kettles and saucepans of boiling water, should we ask the neighbouring flat whether we could run a hosepipe from their tap or should we go into hospital? We had had a home, water, hypno-birth planned from the beginning of the pregnancy and I had never had any doubt about our decision but finally Steve and I decided that both of our gut instincts were telling us to go to Worthing hospital and I was hopeful that we would also stand a good chance of getting to use the pool there. I didn't even have a hospital bag packed so at about 9.30pm we abandoned our home birth plan. I ran round and gathered up everything I needed, called Jade to tell her the decision and asked her to stop off at the supermarket en-route to pick up some snacks. As the surges intensified we called the hospital a couple of times and finally headed in when they were regularly 2-3 minutes apart, which Jade was religiously keeping time of on her i-phone (I knew I'd asked such a pragmatic yet empathetic person to be my second birthing partner for a reason!)
We arrived at the hospital and I was examined at midnight and told that I was 4cm dilated and therefore in established labour and allowed to stay at the hospital rather than being sent home. I felt quite chuffed and was convinced that I was going to be with babe in arms just a few short hours from this point. My mum had already told me that she'd had really uncomplicated, quick and easy labours with both me and one of my brothers. I had eaten well all through the pregnancy, I'd stayed fit and active and had prepared for the birth as much as I could with HypnoBirthing, yoga and positive affirmations. I felt ready, unafraid and actually looking forward to the experience.
We were shown into a private room and I continued to experience regular surges. I moved around the room, used the birthing ball and found all fours and kneeling up against the bed frame the most comfortable positions. Once the surges began to intensify I found myself naturally taking deep breaths in and releasing the breath through my mouth with a resounding AUM. And this continued for each and every surge. I hadn't particularly planned to use sound but instinctively this tool felt very right for me and I quickly got over any embarrassment of being so vocal and continued to move inward, finding myself in quite an introspective and meditative state.
From the moment I was shown into the room I asked about the birthing pool and in my naivety thought that I would be given the pool more or less straight away. Because of the fact that I was now 40weeks+18days according to the scan date, the protocol required me to have continual foetal monitoring. I declined this because I knew movement was going to be really important for me but struck a compromise of being hooked up to the machine every 2 hours for 20 minutes of monitoring. There was doubt over whether I would be allowed the pool at all because of how 'late' I was but after yet another request to be allowed in the pool my midwife said that it was being filled for me and I would be allowed to go in it soon. I was over the moon and couldn't wait for the soothing properties of the water. I was offered gas and air and although I didn't really feel the need just yet I was curious more than anything so decided to try some to see the effect it had on the surges. And then it happened – I turned into one of the women from 'One born every minute'! I went from being completely in control of the surges and my breath to an addict of the mouthpiece. Retrospectively, I wish I had held out longer for the gas and air as it made me feel quite spaced out and I felt that it made me loose some of the control I had over my own birthing techniques.
My midwife went off on a break and she explained we would be looked after by another midwife who would be between two rooms. During this hour break things really started to hot up and I began to feel an intense pressure in my back passage. I was convinced the baby was minutes away from being born and this was my quick and easy birth coming into fruition. I frantically asked Jade to help me off with my clothes as Steve pushed the panic button. Unluckily for us the second midwife was half way through birthing a baby in the room next door so didn't come to our rescue. Steve pushed the button again and a nurse rushed in from triage and to my shock and horror inspected me and left again – didn't she know the baby was about to be born?! After this false alarm our midwife came back to the room, hooked me up to the machine again for monitoring and finally, finally at 7.30am I was allowed to go into the pool room. The midwives swapped shift and 9 hours after arriving at the hospital I clambered into the pool with a HUGE sigh of relief. After 9 hours of active labour the water was heaven and although I couldn't describe the surges at any point being painful they were definitely intense! The water really helped me to relax and I carried on with my glugs of gas and air on the in breath and my OM-ing on the out breath. Occasionally, if the surges intensified the perfectly formed sound of A-U-M would morph into more of an AAARRRRHHHHHHH sound but still I found the release of sound through an open mouth incredibly therapeutic.
At some point during my time in the pool again I had an intense feeling of pressure in the back passage and was again convinced I was minutes away from holding my baby but it was another false alarm and 2 hours in the pool came and went. At 10am I got out of the pool for my monitoring and was strapped up to the machine once again. As the midwife listened to the sound of the baby's heartbeat I started to realise that there was a problem. When I was experiencing strong surges the baby's heartbeat was dropping. Steve's eyes were glued to the monitor and although I couldn't see the screen his face told me a thousand words. I asked Steve and Jade whether everything was OK and even though they were reassuring me I started to get anxious (Steve confessed after the birth that the baby's heart rate was dipping from a health 150-165 down to as low as 86 at some points. This was the point when I agreed to another internal examination, even though my birthing plan had specifically said I didn't want these.
I was examined and told that I was 6cm dilated. I spent a couple of stunned seconds absorbing and translating what that meant before bursting into tears as the realisation of the situation hit me. 10 hours after being examined upon arrival, 11 hours of established labour and I had only dilated by 2 cm, the baby's heart rate was dipping and I was exhausted. This was the only point in the whole birthing process that I lost myself for a few minutes. I allowed all the fear, apprehension, disappointment and frustration to leave my body in huge heaving sobs before deciding that by me being upset I wasn't helping the little being inside me and I pulled myself back together. There and then I decided that the most important thing was to get my baby out, healthy and with the least amount of trauma possible and I let my aspirations for a natural birth go.
I consented to my waters being broken and as suspected very fresh meconium was found. I had already resigned myself to the fact that a C-section was probable and by this point I had had a 180 degree turn around in opinion as I actually wanted one immediately as I felt it the safest option. I was left for a further 2 hours to see whether I would naturally dilate anymore or whether labour would take its own natural course. I spent the 2 hours listening to the HypnoBirthing positive affirmations and some deeply relaxing chanting and music. I tried to completely rest in this time and allow my body and mind to recover. 2 hours later I was examined again and told I was 6.5cm. Taking everything into consideration as I had known 2 hours ago, a C-section was deemed the safest option.
From here on in everything ran like clock-work. I met the anaesthetist and the surgeons and had the process explained to me. We didn't know the sex of the baby and opted to be shown rather than told when the baby was delivered. Steve was allowed into the room and Jade waited in the recovery area. The surgery itself was quick, painless and a very positive experience. With at least 10-12 caring professionals in the room, the familiar face of our amazing midwife Jo and Steve by my side I felt so well looked after and an enormous relief that I would soon get to meet the little one I had been carrying for all this time. 20 minutes later our beautiful baby boy was delivered safely into the world weighing in at 8lbs 8 and a 1/2oz. He was perched on my chest and shoulder and we savoured that first meeting with joy. I have never felt such overwhelming love, happiness and gratitude. Finally, 18 days past my scan due date and 11 days past my LMP due date our little bundle of joy had arrived and he was worth the wait. He was born at 2.15pm on 5th August, which held particularly special significance as it was also my birthday and the best birthday present I could have wished for.
Although my birthing experience completely defied all the careful preparation and detailed plans that I had made it was still a profound, amazing and overall surprisingly calm experience. Before giving birth I had heard horror stories from women who had ended up with emergency C-sections. One friend whose story isn't a million miles from mine was so badly traumatised that she talked her partner into having a vasectomy after their first child as she NEVER wanted to go through the experience again. I couldn't feel more different and although I would have obviously preferred to have birthed Dillan naturally it wasn't to be and I really feel that my yoga practice and HypnoBirthing preparation allowed me to remain open minded, calm and able to go with the flow of the situation even though it wasn't how I envisaged it would be. Particularly, by practicing HypnoBirthing prior to the birth I managed to clear any negative feelings or fear leaving me feeling confident, calm and actually looking forward to the birth, which was invaluable. Yoga, sound, meditation, breathing techniques and audio relaxation and affirmations kept me present and connected during the birth and provided me with fantastic tools to keep relaxed even when things got tough.
My recovery from the surgery has been good and my scar has healed fantastically well. I'm loving being a mummy and Dillan is such a well behaved baby. He's calm and sleeps well at night usually just waking twice for a feed. He took to breastfeeding amazingly well and is a little piggy so he's growing fast. I don't feel as though I'm harbouring any negativity about my birthing experience even though it couldn't have been further from my envisaged experience and would it do it all again in a heartbeat. A couple of years previously I had undergone a small laser procedure on my cervix to remove a few abnormal cells. This could have possibly been the reason behind why I was slower to dilate but it doesn't really matter either way as the most important thing is our baby is here safe and sound. I'm actually really looking forward to doing it all over again in the not too distant future as we would love a little brother or sister for Dillan and I hope that I will be able to have a natural birth next time. But if not I'll be eternally grateful once again to the medical profession for assisting me to deliver a perfect and healthy baby and will still use all the amazing techniques that allowed me such a positive birth the first time round.
Good luck to all of you who are eagerly awaiting the birth of your babies. I hope you enjoy your delicious waiting time and experience a positive, happy and memorable birth in whichever form that may manifest itself!