My second birth has healed the experience of my first in more ways than I knew I needed.
Check out this empowering and healing birth written by mum Cath and the beautiful photos that dad Rudi took of these special moments.
Good morning Kerry,
I finally got my birth story written down!
Thank you so much for the work you do. I am still thrilled by Charlie’s birth each time I think of it.
I’ve put in a few of the pictures Rudi took. The first for me is what hypnobirthing gave to me. The strength to approach childbirth with such a positive mindset.
Charlie will be 6 weeks this Sunday, I’m enjoying her growing out of the newborn stage now. Getting some cute smiles and she’s chit chatting away with us now….
“At 39 weeks I started getting stronger Braxton Hicks tightenings and thought things may kick off any day. Having my first daughter, Abigail, come spontaneously at 41+3 though I knew best not to get too excited. I was right. Unfortunately this time the pressure to induce was much stronger. Abigail was born in Malaysia and our obstetrician was happy to wait. This time though there was a lot of talk of stillbirth risk. We found it very strange as I was healthy and I had no doubt baby was doing well. We refused induction at 41+3 and agreed instead to do wellbeing checks at day stay. Her movements were good and blood flow through the cord was good, there was no concern beyond the dates.
Regardless the strong recommendations were to do the induction and by 41 weeks and 5 days we decided to go ahead and were booked in to start the next day (Saturday) with cervical ripening. I’d had had 4 stretch and sweeps, had been doing daily exercises to get baby in the best position, was drinking raspberry leaf tea by the litre, acupressure and massage with clary sage oils. The ongoing tightenings with no labour were starting to drive me nuts. I was happy I’d given baby the extra days and had utilised well the BRAIN technique we had learnt in the hypnobirth course.
I was more than ready to meet her and her Dad was supportive of my choice. From our research it didn’t seem we could do much harm giving her the nudge at just a day shy of 42 weeks. Kerry, our hypnobirthing educator, gave advice that if we were to go ahead then just give it everything and don’t look back and that’s exactly what we did!
I let go of the image I’d had throughout pregnancy of birth starting at home, labouring in our apartment and Abigail being part of those early hours before we went to the Birth Centre at RPA. We went into hospital as if checking into a hotel. It was Saturday morning. I was examined to see if Cervidil pessary would be necessary. If not I’d have the choice to go straight ahead with ARM (artificial rupture of membranes) either the same day or coming back the following day (at which point I’d be 41+6). I was 2.5cm dilated and we decided even though I could go straight to ARM, it would be beneficial to try and see if the Cervidil would get labour going. It went in around 10am.
My husband and I went for a walk, spent some time at a nearby cafe. By late afternoon he went home, expecting the big day to begin early the next morning with the ARM and possibly oxytocin drip. Even though induction was something I’d wished to avoid, we were excited to know this baby would be coming out the next day!
That evening labour began!
Around 6pm contractions started coming on and within an hour I was getting 2-3 every 10mins. I noticed a phone call from my brother stalled them, as did change in midwives. I decided to lock down mentally, nothing was going to stop this labour progressing! I put headphones in with hypnobirthing tracks and blocked everything else out. In hindsight I was so lucky the bed was empty next to me and I had a room to myself. When midwives came in I just closed my eyes and let them check my blood pressure etc without talking. They were all great and barely entered the room. I really appreciated the privacy, At 8pm I went to the bathroom and the pessary dropped out, a good sign!
Things really started to kick off from there, at 10:25pm I messaged my husband to come back, I was starting to need him. I didn’t want to have to deal with anyone or make any decisions. I felt my full concentration going inwards now and was using verbalisations to get through.
Looking back I’m so glad of the discussion I’d had with Kerry after our hypnobirthing weekend. I told her how the relaxation techniques she taught were so wonderful. How with Abigail I used Juju Sundin’s active Birth Skills to manage the pain but I was really looking forward this time to using just the hypnobirthing techniques. I had a rosy picture of giving birth in a real zen mode. She advised to have all the tools I can in my toolbox as I may need them still. She was right!
The hypnobirthing carried my through the early stages, kept me calm and focused listening to the tracks and reserving energy. It gave the mental strength, the affirmations were absolutely fundamental to how I managed up until the the final stages and even after with the after birth pains. But around 10pm I really needed something physical. The Birth Skills were great at this point. I used stomping and clapping matched with visualisations. Before I knew it, my husband was there, I was in the shower. I remember the TENS machine. We got it out and put that on. Things were really ramping up. The first contraction with the TENS machine was super strange and then a big pop and my waters broke, I ripped the TENS machine off, I did not like the sensation.
The midwife called delivery ward and we made our way down. The Birth Centre was not available as the midwife was attending to two other women in the delivery ward. By now I was not at all concerned where I gave birth. From there it was not long at all. Once we got down there and got the antibiotics in for the StrepB, not many more contractions and I knew transition had arrived.
Again all the hypnobirthing tracks I’d listened to and the positive affirmation cards came to full use, doubt and fear did not enter my mind. It was powerfully intense like nothing else, yet I had flashing bright words in my mind saying I am STRONG, I CAN do it, I AM doing it. It was an incredibly empowering experience.
I asked for the bath and a few more contractions then I had the overwhelming expulsion reflex. The midwife had a look and said 8cm and suggested panting. Babies heartbeat started dropping and I had to get out of the bath. Doctors came in. I had my eyes closed but from the experience with my first (vacuum delivery), I knew either I pushed or that vacuum was going to do the job. I gave it absolutely everything I had, it was one of the most important moments of my life and I knew it. If I wanted a healthy baby and a good recovery I had to push with everything I had. I used the coffee plunger technique from Birth Skills that I’d also used with my first. I released tension by screaming out how painful it was and then screamed at baby that it was time to get out!
I locked eyes with my husband and I swear I was drawing strength from him through his eyes! Her head came out, I looked down, I saw her. The doctor asked me to hold off as she eased babies shoulders through. Then I had her, she was there on my chest.
We then got to stay in the delivery room for 3 hours as the ward upstairs was full.
It was 2:23am. It was magical.
Later we moved to a free room in the Birth centre where we stayed until later in the day when we went home. It was a treat. A big room and familiar midwives I’d met during pregnancy. The best part was having our 4 year old be able to come in straight away to visit in the morning and jump up on the bed with us.
Meeting Charlie Rose was wonderful, but this time, the most incredible experience was my own feeling of empowerment. I cannot describe just how powerful it was.
After 4 years of processing Abigail’s birth and wondering if things could have been different. I now felt in my body just how different they could be. The birth was just 2.5 hours with 12 minutes of pushing! I never would have believed that possible after the days of early labour and long active labour with Abigail that had ended with vacuum and an episiotomy, followed by difficulty breastfeeding, hospitalisation of our just 3 days old baby girl due to jaundice and long recovery due to the stitches.
This time we went home the same day and stayed there.
Just as I had dreamed, my second birth has healed the experience of my first in more ways than I knew I needed.
I’m so glad we took the time to learn hypnobirthing. It provided a positive mental framework that enabled me to overcome any fears or doubts and relish in the experience. It was intense, it certainly was not quiet or calm towards the end like some of the videos I’ve seen. I was very loud and very physical but not out of fear. It was a strength this time that has taught me I can conquer any mental or physical challenge. Empowering, mother-led births are no longer a theory I preach in a society fearful of childbirth, but a lived experience I can truely own. “