Below is the birth story of baby Zahraa by mum Fatima, it is a beautiful account of a listening to your body, working as a team with your partner and being informed in the lead up to birth…
My drug-free, intervention-free birth…
At 4am on the 23rd of January 2020 (my estimated due date), I started to feel light period cramps. I dismissed it as maybe Braxton Hicks or very early signs of labour. I went back to sleep and tried not to give it too much attention. I kept feeling a bit crampy till midday and at 1pm I was in the bathroom and saw what I think was a bloody show. I messaged my MGP midwife to let her know what I had seen. She told me it was a sign of labour and to keep her updated. So I knew then that what I was feeling were actually surges. I decided to stay calm and relax at home for the day. I got my essential oils going in the diffuser and rested as much as I could. I called my husband at work and asked him to come home a bit early. I was hesitant to believe that I was in established labour because I didn’t want to get disappointed if I wasn’t. Everyone was telling me that I would be late as it was my first pregnancy. But I wanted to be prepared nevertheless. I listened to my hypnobirthing tracks and read my affirmations that I had stuck up on my bedroom wall. I checked any last minute things that I need for when I would go to the hospital.
I kept getting surges all afternoon but they were very manageable. They were just like period cramps, gradually getting more intense. I practiced my breathing and just acted normal. Around 11pm, the surges really started to get more intense around my stomach and back. My husband helped a lot by pushing on the sides of my back during each surge and supporting me the whole night. I lit some candles and kept our home dimly lit the whole time. I got in the shower and laboured in there for a while. The hot water really felt good. We continued labouring at home till around 3am when the surges were a few minutes apart and pretty consistent. We called the midwife and told her what was happening. She said to try to stay home longer and have something to eat as she noticed I was coping quite well with each surge over the phone. I said ok and tried to continue labouring at home, but I felt like I just wanted to go to the birth centre so I could use the bath to relax a bit. I called my midwife again and told her I wanted to come in.
We got to the hospital around 3:40am the next day (24th Jan). My mum helped put up my affirmations on the wall and light some candles while my husband set up the diffuser with some lavender and clary sage. The lights were off in the room. I got in the bath around 5am after she did a vaginal examination and to my surprise I was already 5cm dilated! I sort of didn’t want to know how dilated I was, in case I would be let down. Honestly, I felt like I could’ve lasted longer, so I was very happy with 5cm!
Within about 5 minutes of getting in the bath, I started feeling an instinctual urge to push with each contraction. I couldn’t stop my body from naturally doing it. The feeling was new, but I just went with it and trusted that my body knew what to do. I surrendered to my body and as I would push, I would feel water gushing out of me so I assumed that was my water breaking. After a few surges with what sounded like strong pushing, my midwife asked me if I was feeling the urge to push and I said yes. She wanted to have a listen to baby’s heartbeat so they tried to listen while I stayed in the bath with the Pinard because that’s what I requested (no Doppler). It was a bit difficult but we worked together to get a good listen. After a few more surges, they requested that I get out of the bath and to the bed so they could hear baby more easily. I agreed and got on the bed to let them listen. I laboured on all fours while leaning on my husband for support while he was still pushing on my back with each surge. I believe he was labouring with me the whole time! He had sore arms the next day! I kept following my body’s natural urge to push with each surge until the midwife told me she could start to see baby’s head. I kept going. I started to get really tired, so I lied down on my side a bit but then changed to a squat position. Then I went back to all fours which was the most comfortable.
My midwife used a warm compress on my perineum as I had requested. It took a while of trying to push baby’s head out. She would come out a bit during the contraction, then go back in after. I didn’t want to push more than my surges were telling me to. But after a while, the midwife urged me to push a little harder and longer so I did because it was starting to take too long.
Eventually baby Zahraa came out and my husband caught her at 7:57am. They put her on my chest and it was the most precious moment so far. I asked for some privacy so my husband and I could just bond with baby for a while. She was perfect! We hadn’t done any ultrasounds during my pregnancy and it was amazing to see her for the first time. We did the delayed cord clamping as we requested.
I also wanted to try to birth my placenta unassisted, but that was taking too long so I consented to take the injection and then the placenta came out. I had a little tear internally and needed stitches for that, but my perineum was still intact. Tearing was one of my fears so I’m thankful my perineum was fine.
The whole experience was the most amazing, beautiful, miraculous, strengthening, loving and awakening experience of my life and I would totally do it again. The labour and birth was so empowering and I loved every bit of it. It was crucial that my husband and I had the right mindset to stay positive and calm throughout the whole experience. Not once did I want to give up or felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I thank Hypnobirthing Australia and Kerry Sutcliffe for all the preparation and support.
I believe the main things that helped me achieve a positive, successful birth were: