Bethany and Dan did the Hypnobirthing Australia course with me online during lockdown. They were supported by Midwifery Group Practice midwives after changing their model of care to one that they felt was going to give them the best chance of achieving the birth they wanted. Here they tell us about Harvey's long but positive birth experience...
Our beautiful little boy Harvey was born on Thursday 9 December at 6:52pm, 2 days before his due date.
In the 3 weeks leading up to the birth I was on maternity leave and spent time relaxing and preparing for birth with daily meditation, visualisations, yoga and breathing techniques and every night we practised the massage and acupressure together. We prepared a birth plan that we discussed in detail with our MGP midwife. I had a 41 hour posterior labour which started with my waters breaking. I was so grateful for all the preparation and birth education we’d done so that we could still have a beautiful birth despite our challenging circumstances. Looking back over our birth plan I was surprised how many of our wishes were still able to be honoured and I’m so glad we prepared it. We’re so proud of our birth experience and the outcome we were able to achieve, it’s enabled us to get off to a wonderful start as a family.
My labour started at 1:30am on the Wednesday morning when I woke to my waters breaking. I was pretty shocked as it’s not how I expected it to start and thoughts started to cross my mind that things wouldn’t be as straightforward as I’d hoped. After calling our midwife we went to the hospital for monitoring. The baby was well and while we were there I started to have contractions. The OB came to discuss booking an induction and I told him that I wanted to avoid induction especially because of the commonly occurring cascade of intervention that follows and for now we’ll stick to our birth plan of a spontaneous natural vaginal birth. We agreed to return on Thursday morning if he wasn’t born by then for further monitoring.
Then we went home and started to get into our birthing zone, Dan ran me a bath and put on relaxing music. We decided to go to our planned appointment with our midwife at the clinic that morning for some support and reassurance. We found out our baby was still posterior and knew this could mean a long and challenging labour. When we went back home in the afternoon we focused on relaxing, doing exercises to try to help him move, listening to music by the Christmas tree lights, distracting me by watching the Great British Bake off, during contractions Dan massaged by back, and I used my TENS machine and heat packs. The pain was more intense than I’d expected but still manageable with all the tools we had available.
At 8pm we called our midwife to see if we should come into the birth centre as the contractions were strong (but still about 5 mins apart). She said we might be better off trying to stay home a bit longer and get some sleep. So from 9pm to 3am we focused on sleeping, I sat upright on the lounge and woke every 5 minutes for contractions, had a sip of water, spiralled around and repeated affirmations to myself “I can do anything for a minute”, “each contraction brings me closer to meeting my baby” and “every contraction is a reminder to relax and go deeper”. By the morning the contractions had slowed down and so had the baby’s movements and we started to realise we’d have to go back to the hospital that morning for the monitoring and to plan the next steps. I had a shower and Dan finished packing our bags to bring to the hospital.
We met our midwife at the hospital around 9am on the Thursday for the monitoring and the baby was still doing well. At this stage I wasn’t recommended to have a vaginal exam due to risk of infection after membranes have ruptured. We had a discussion with both our midwife and the OB about our options. Since labour had been going over 34 hours with ruptured membranes, contractions had slowed, baby was still posterior and I was getting exhausted I decided to be admitted to the delivery ward for augmentation with a syntocinon drip rather than return home. I was worried that it could lead to further unwanted interventions or the need for medical pain relief but fortunately because of our preparation and MGP support neither eventuated. I also knew it meant deviating from some of my plans to birth in the birth centre, have intermittent monitoring and a physiological third stage but I was confident that we could still maintain the essence of our original birth plan as much as possible.
When we got to the delivery room Dan set up fairy lights, our music, the yoga mat and birth ball and the midwife brought me a heat pack. I started on the drip around 2pm and the CTG monitoring was irritating me as it kept losing the baby’s heart rate when I moved around. I decided to have the fetal scalp clip for monitoring instead so I could maintain the ability to move around freely. When they put the clip on they discovered I was already 10cm dilated and the baby’s head was right there, which was such a relief because before that I had no idea how far progressed I was. Around 3pm I started feeling the urge to push so I got down on all fours on the birth ball and yoga mat.
Whilst pushing the drip kept falling out so I had to have the cannula reinserted several times, which was painful and disruptive and I had to try really hard to stay focused. I was getting exhausted and Dan changed the playlist to upbeat music to try to give me some energy.
After I’d been pushing a while the OB came in and asked to check the position of the baby, so I moved to the bed in side lying position and she used an ultrasound and saw he was still posterior and also that my bladder was extremely full so I agreed for her to empty it with a catheter.
The whole time I had Dan’s unwavering support and confidence in my ability to birth. At that point it’d been almost 4 hours of pushing and I knew that if I wanted to avoid an assisted birth or any further intervention I’d have to really focus and find the strength deep within myself to push him out right here and now. So I held Dan’s hand tightly and in the next couple of contractions I pushed his head out and he came out facing sideways. My contractions stayed 5 minutes apart the whole time so his head was out for about 5 minutes until the next one came to push out his body.
It was an instant relief and they passed him straight to my chest. I was elated, so proud I’d done it and so happy to finally meet Harvey. He was a bit stunned and needed some oxygen then they returned him straight to me. The placenta came away easily and we had a skin to skin cuddle while the OB repaired a small tear. Then the room was finally quiet just us 3 and our midwife again and we did the breast crawl and Harvey had his first breastfeed. Then he got weighed and measured at 3.8kg and 54cm long, we were surprised how big he was because I’m only 149cm tall.
We stayed in the hospital for monitoring for 24 hours, then we returned home and our MGP midwives visited us at home over the next 2 weeks. We were so grateful to have had such wonderful care from the MGP midwives throughout our pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
We had some initial issues with feeding because he had a tongue tie but we sought support from a lactation consultant and had the tongue tie released and he’s been breastfeeding brilliantly ever since. It was lovely to celebrate our first Christmas together as a family. He’s such a beautiful happy baby and we’re so in love with him.
Thank you so much Kerry for providing us with such valuable knowledge and tools to help us bring Harvey into the world in such a beautiful way. We loved Hypnobirthing!
Bethany, Dan & Harvey