Hypnomama Alli couldn’t wait to contact me after the birth of her baby girl Daisy! She said she it was “the perfect birth…every single thing she hoped it would be” and that she “absolutely smashed it…Gerard was the only drug I needed!”.
I am writing my birth story whilst lying in a hospital bed 2 days after giving birth which even I know indicates my birth may well not have gone 100% to my plan but I cant help feeling how important it is to share my story so other women facing birth can be prepared for a range of outcomes and know that they do have options in their birth, after all, it is theirs and theirs alone. I also feel that when something does go very close to perfect for the birth of your child you should be singing it from the rooftops to give conﬁdence to others not hiding behind those with a more traumatic story to tell.
My birth story started when I found out I was pregnant at 4 weeks and thinking very clearly…”oh my God this means I have to get this baby out and well I cant do that because I’m weak and useless with pain and giving birth just isn’t going to work for me”. This was lamented by people actually telling me I had a low pain threshold and should opt for all the drugs because simply, I wouldn’t be able to cope.
During the early months I discovered Hypnobirthing, again thinking of the negative, I thought trying to have mind over matter would also be quite hard for me to achieve but I was running out of options. As not giving birth clearly was not in the running, I had little choice so I invested some time reading through literature on Hypnobirthing and ﬁnding out exactly what it was about. I quickly discovered it wasn’t all airy fairy and that actually there was some really good reasoning behind it.
So I wrote out my aﬃrmations and I talked it all through with my partner and we booked our 2 day course with Kerry after a recommendation from friends. This was the point my birthing mindset changed from something I thought I probably wouldn’t achieve to something I was going to put all my energy in to making sure I was going to achieve it to my plan, or be able to make peace with it if I didn’t. The course and Kerry were wonderful and really increased both mine and my partners conﬁdence. Suddenly he could see his role and he knew what he could do to make this as easy for me as possible. He backed every suggestion I made and supported me through out the whole pregnancy and birth.
I was lucky enough to get into the midwife led group practice in my local area which really helped to set me on the right path. I had a beautiful pregnancy and a wonderful midwife who listened to all of my plans and concerns and never once made me feel like I was expecting something unrealistic. We decided we wanted to have a natural water birth in the birthing centre with low lights, candles, music etc. We had some pretty speciﬁc stuff in our plan such as my partner to receive the baby and announce the sex, for optimal cord clamping and I wanted to birth my placenta naturally. I didn’t want any interventions, minimal examinations and sporadic fetal monitoring.
At 39 weeks I was convinced I felt baby’s movements slow on my last day at work. I called my midwife team and was advised to go in to be monitored and have a scan. I did this and all results were good. The doctors advised that induction would be a good idea if I didn’t feel movements increase to where they had been that night. This was something I desperately wanted to avoid and so I used my BRAIN and decided to go home and monitor this for 24 hours to see what happened. Baby’s movements picked up considerably and left me wondering if the stress of ﬁnishing work had meant that I just wasn’t as aware of movements that day as I had previously been.
My guess date came and went and the braxton hicks contractions and cramping I had been having for the past few weeks increased considerably. I saw my midwife who offered me a sweep 3 days later to try and get things moving as she knew how desperate I was to avoid induction. Again we used our BRAIN and decided to accept this and so it was booked in. The following night I started with fairly strong braxton hicks but didn’t really think anything of it as it had been a regular occurrence so far. I went to bed as normal and woke up at 2am just aware something felt a little different. 4am my surges started, 5 mins apart varying between 60 seconds and 130 seconds. I rang my midwife and was advised to do as much of my labour at home but when the surges went down to 2mins and lasted between 60 and 120 seconds and bleeding started I decided it was time to go in and get checked as I was not expecting surges to be so relentless so quickly.
When I arrived at the hospital I was expecting to maybe go backwards a little bit as I knew this was common but when I was examined I was told I was 6cm dilated and surges just kept ramping up. I was taken into the birth center and me and my partner were just left to settle in and work through the surges. I used an eye mask and hypnobirthing music and lay on the big double bed with my partner and just breathed through them. I kept calm and relaxed and rode out the pain. My midwife would come and check on us but ultimately it was just me, my partner and our baby working as a team.
As I was having pain consistently with no let up in between surges, my midwife sought advice from the doctors. She came back and said the doctors would prefer me to move to the delivery suite…this was not an option for me partly as the thought of moving was unimaginable but my plan was always the birth centre and I’d need a very good reason to move. I asked why and she said it was for closer monitoring but that she actually didnt see any value in it and was happy with how I was progressing. It didnt even require me to use BRAIN this time, I was staying put.
At around 12pm I sat on the toilet for a few surges… I highly recommend this position to help relieve tension. The pressure at this point was really building and with the next contraction I had a slight urge to push, I went with it and my membranes ruptured (handy as there was no mess to clean up for my poor midwife). I got back on the bed and agreed to my 2nd vaginal examination as I was keen to know what was happening. Unbelievably to us all I was fully dilated! Oh shit was my ﬁrst thought followed by joy that this was actually really happening, I was getting to the end.
Very shortly after I had the very strong instinct to push and so I did and kept pushing for the next 3 hours. Baby was doing well, I was doing well but nothing felt like it was happening. “Push into your bottom” the midwives kept telling me “I am pushing into my bottom” I would yell back…it turns out I wasn’t but it sure felt like I was to me. Shortly after, baby’s heart rate was a little low on 2 separate monitoring’s and I was told we needed this baby out and if I couldn’t get do it myself they would have to intervene with an episiotomy. It was safest for the baby and for me. Well, there was no way I had gone that far on my own with no pain relief for them to intervene now. I dug down to somewhere I didn’t even know I had and I said to my baby, it is me and you now and you are coming out so get ready.
I pushed (into my bottom) with everything I had and all of a sudden in one push, little head and gorgeous body were there. The midwife passed baby up to me and my partner and we could see for ourselves we had a beautiful baby girl. I don’t think there has yet been a word created for that feeling when I ﬁrst held my little baby in my arms.
The elation that I had had the birth I wanted and that my baby was there safe and warm in my arms was consuming, I have never felt such happiness, power and strength in myself as I did in that moment. I never made it into the water and my partner was behind me when baby arrived as it turned out I couldn’t let him be 2 seconds away from me at anytime during the labour, he was my strength and my pain relief all in one go. It wasn’t until afterwards he told me he needed the toilet the entire time but ﬁgured it wasn’t as bad as what I was going through so he kept quiet which made me laugh a lot.
Being handed our baby together was actually a much nicer way of starting our new life together so I made peace with those two things. I had the perfect 1st hour with our little girl and my partner, the midwives left the room and we all lay on the double bed and just laughed and kept checking that that all had really happened. I fed her and my partner had skin on skin with her, it is a time that I will cherish forever. However soon after my midwife asked to examine me as they thought I had torn during delivery. It turns out I had and quite badly at that and I had lost a larger mount of blood than is ideal. The doctors examined me and conﬁrmed it was 3rd degree tear and would need repaired in surgery under a spinal block. At ﬁrst I was devastated, I’d done all that work with not so much as a paracetamol and now I was probably going to have all the pain relief they could throw at me.
My partner had a very strict word with me and reminded me I had done the hard part for our baby and now it was time to look after me to make sure I was in the best state to look after her. So I eased up on myself and had all the pain relief…it was needed!! Seeing my little girl being held by my partner (my hypnobirthing visualisation) as I was wheeled away made it all worth it. I actually really believe the time I was away from them helped him form the best bond with her.
I was in hospital for the next 3 days which was the best option for me as I got lots of help with feeding and advice was on hand when I needed it and as a result we got breastfeeding off to a wonderful start as well as allowing me to have a good rest.
I really do credit my birth to hypnobirthing and the strategies it teaches you and I cannot thank Kerry enough for giving me the tools to achieve exactly what I had in my head for my daughters birth. I had the best team around me including my partner, my midwifes and hypnobirthing and I would not change one single thing…even the fact that I can’t sit down for the next 2 weeks without a ring of towels under my bum!”.
Hypnomama Alli & Hypnodad Gerard