First time parents Libby and Albi were recommended to me through their midwives at St George Hospital in the lead up to the birth of their baby girl. Initially a little apprehensive, but open to learning more, below is the special birthing story of their daughter Emma…..
I was still working and had intended to finish up on the Friday 24th of September. I found myself on a work conference call when I realised my waters broke. I didn’t mention it and finished the call before walking over to the other room to see my husband and declare: “don’t be alarmed, I think my waters just broke”
So we called the hospital who asked us to come in for a check. Because of covid-19 restrictions, Albi was not able to attend the appointment and could only play the role of chauffeur. The check went well, but towards the end of the appointment the nurse started telling me we needed to book in an induction and what would be my preferred time slot today. Being my first pregnancy, this made me quite anxious as I always intended to have a natural birth. I asked to see the doctor and to my surprise I actually applied the brain method and questioned the necessity of the procedure. We agreed that I would come back the next day for monitoring, should I not go into labour beforehand. This was probably the toughest part of the day, without my husband there I felt pressured into a procedure I didn’t think I needed, and I am forever grateful that I learnt what my rights and options were beforehand, to achieve my desired outcome.
Once we left the hospital, I was much more relaxed. We decided to go get a quick lunch from the shops, before heading home, having lunch and getting ready for what was to come. My first surges started to come in around 3pm. Though at that point it felt more like menstrual cramps. These started to intensify around 4pm and at that point we were already settled into the living room, had darkened our environment, put some candles on and were listening to ‘Surge of the Sea’ track. I tried different positions between the gym ball, leaning over the couch and squatting. The best remedy however was going into the shower and having hot water on my back and focusing on my breathing technique. My husband was there with me all throughout, making sure to time the surges and frequency, giving me loads of words of positive affirmation and occasionally light touch massage as well as keeping me hydrated. We also kept in regular contact with the active birthing team at St George hospital, who gave us reassurance we were on the right track. To our surprise I was physically sick throughout. Turns out it’s not a good idea to have a big lunch when your waters break.
After 6pm we were getting close to hitting 3 surges in 10 minutes and by the time 7pm hit, I shouted: “I need help. I can’t do this. It’s time to go”. This was the only moment of weakness during what was a fairly short labour. When we got to the hospital, (after a short 10 minute drive), we got into the lobby and were surprised to find a welcome desk that demanded we do a Covid check-in and temperature check. My husband was holding me, my bag, my pillow, and my vomiting jug. As he’s trying to get us organised I fell onto the floor, and said: “I think I need to push now. I need to push now!” This caused absolute frenzy in the lobby area, and within 30 seconds, 4 midwifes came running with a wheelchair. To their confusion, it was a false alarm and just a strong surge, I was back on my feet, and we were walking towards them.
After that little incident, we ended up making it into the birthing suites, supported by two of the loveliest human beings we have ever met who set up the room for us with gym balls, mattresses on the floor, dimmed lighting and a hot bath. As soon as I put my toe in the water, all pain faded away and I was instantly relaxed. My husband set up the speakers and started playing ‘Surge of the Sea’, as well as keeping me hydrated with ice chips. After only a handful of surges, I noticed the change in my body and it was time to start bearing down, for real this time. I was able to get myself into a zone of deep relaxation and let my body do what it instinctively knew how to do. I pushed when I needed to push and relaxed in between. Encouraging words from the midwives and my husband helped me know how far along I was and how hard I needed to push.
When I started seeing the head in the mirror, it really motivated me to push harder and gave me strength to keep going. I never asked for pain killers once and even halfway through crowning I said to my husband: “I thought this would hurt more”.
At 9.09pm, with a final two pushes, the head popped out, followed by the rest of the body.
The midwives had asked us about our birthing plan, which my husband went through with them during labour, and they honoured all of our wishes. At that point my husband spent some quality skin on skin time with Emma, while I remained in the bath to birth the placenta. The placenta came naturally and just required a small tug by the midwife, again we chose to not opt for the medication and were able to do it all naturally.
The 22nd of September will forever be the best day of our lives, it was a surreal but wonderful experience and one that we felt totally in control of. We were the main actors in this play and the midwives were supporting us, rather than leading us. Hypnobirthing gave us the tools and knowledge to make educated decisions and feeling confident about what our options are, ensuring we were in control of our journey.
Interestingly, Emma was nice and relaxed all throughout birth, with strong vital signs. She also didn’t cry much after being born, and in general the weeks after have been a breeze. We believe it’s all to do with the preparation we put into the whole experience, which allowed all of us to be calm, relaxed and in control. Both for the birth and first weeks that followed.
Thanks to Kerry, for instilling your knowledge and experience into us. We spontaneously decided to have a water birth on the day, which we now knew to be one of the many options available to us, which is ironic when we never thought that would be our preferred option and you consider a few weeks back we watched a water birth video in our hypnobirthing class and Albi asked “was anyone else worried about the baby drowning?