When I fell pregnant this time (I am now 41 years old), I had planned on birthing the exact same way as the last two. I never considered doing it any other way. There were two problems however. The first was that we had moved to a new area and even if we hadn’t, our doctor had suffered a very bad injury and had brain damage, so wasn’t practicing anymore. The second was that our health fund put us on the wrong plan 2 years earlier without our knowledge (they made the mistake but we had no proof of that as so much time had passed) so that meant I couldn’t claim for a private hospital and obgyn. I could have gone to a private hospital but it would have cost us thousands, even more if there was a problem after the birth. I now had to go to a free public hospital. They don’t do early epidurals/inductions there!
So now I was faced with having my 5th baby, probably a very quick delivery, with no hope of pain relief until probably too late.
What to do?
I went googling desperately for ways to deal with childbirth naturally and at first found the Marie Mongan HypnoBirthing book on Amazon. I bought that book and felt that yes, I could do this, but that there was not enough info in the book without having to do a class and also the CD that came with the book was insufficient for what I wanted.
I then found Hypnobabies and liked what I read about it. I ordered the homestudy as there are no classes yet in Australia.
I got the course at around 28 weeks I think and started working through it, but as I am so lazy getting started with things and also as I was homeschooling our other 4 kids and didn’t have much “me” time, I found I wasn’t able to get much done at all.
I picked up doing the course again at around 34 weeks. I fell asleep during every single track! I felt like I was such a bad student but I kept on,listening to something every day and night. I don’t know what I was taking in but it must have worked!
One thing I did for my “bubble of peace” was that I told no one besides my husband, mother and children that I was doing Hypnobabies. I didn’t want to deal with the negativity and with other people’s opinions. I also didn’t want to have to admit later that it didn’t work, just in case it didn’t! I didn’t want to look silly as my friends and family know I like my drugs when giving birth!
Wednesday 29th October:
I was 2 days past my guess date. I had another appointment with the midwives at the hospital. I’d seen the obgyn’s there a couple of times, but I much preferred the midwives. They were lovely (and more gentle) and would sit with me and answer questions for over an hour. The doctors would just do my checks and usher me out asap.
This time I’d made up my birth plan and took it with me. The midwife I saw thought that was wonderful and fully supported my wishes for a waterbirth, drug free, no interventions,even though I didn’t think I could actually go through with it. She made a note of it on my file on her computer so whoever was working when my birthing time started would know what I wanted and didn’t want.
I’d asked what would happen if I didn’t give birth by the following Wednesday appointment. She said I would then go on visits every few days, so no worry about having to be induced. That was good.
Monday 3rd November:
I was 41 weeks pregnant.My husband George had taken me for a few walks, but tonight he decided we needed a longer one. We must have walked almost 1 mile (approx. 2Km) which doesn’t sound like much, but I had been feeling ligament strain for months,actually since I was 10 weeks pregnant this time and I felt so heavy and uncomfortable, walking wasn’t easy.
I had also been having Braxton Hicks for several weeks on and off, so all the time we were walking, I didn’t worry too much about the mild pressure waves I was feeling.
We got back home and put our younger kids to bed. My mother had arrived 1 week before I was due so she could help and also so she wouldn’t miss the birth, so by now, she’d been staying with us for almost 2 weeks.
I got online later that evening and used the Contraction Master website to time my pressure waves. They were coming every 3 – 4 mins, at 1 min long, which should have alerted me that something was happening, but they were so very mild, I didn’t worry about them much at all. As I had been sitting at the computer and the pressure waves were continuing for around 3 hours, I decided that if I got up and walked around and they kept going that this was it. I got up and got ready for bed and they stopped abruptly. I went to bed and slept pressure wave free all night (except for toilet visits of course).
Tuesday 4th November:
I woke up around 6am and went to the toilet. I noticed slight spotting,very light blood. Some time later there was a bit of mucous in the blood. I had heard that some women have their show days if not weeks before, so again, I didn’t worry too much about it but kept an eye on it.
I began having mild Braxton Hicks again all day. They kept going so I had my mother time them. They were around 15 – 20 mins apart, so no big deal still.
We took the 4 kids to the park and the local shopping centre after lunch. All the while I was still having Braxton Hicks (or so I thought).
I had Mum time them while at the park. It was at this time that I began using my lightswitch and putting myself into center in between pressure waves. They were strong enough that I had to stop and concentrate and breathe through them, but as I hadn’t really experienced this before (my first was a very early epidural too), I didn’t know just how much more intense they would have to get until I knew this was “it”.
While at the park, I put my ipod headphones on and started listening to my Birthing Day Affirmations CD.I listened to this all afternoon until evening.
A friend called me while I was at the park on my mobile phone and I told her I was counting pressure waves. She kept talking to me for a while. That was interesting trying to talk and needing to switch “off”!
We went home and got the kids showered early and had an early dinner “just in case”. I couldn’t eat anything but had a sandwich a couple of hours later. My husband is a crane driver and could be working in any part of Sydney any given day. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to call him from work as he might not have made it there on time. I hoped that our baby would arrive during the evening when he was at home.
When my husband got home from work that evening, I breathed a sigh of relief as things seemed to be getting closer. At around 7pm, my pressure waves were coming anywhere between 6 mins and 10 mins apart. Still nothing I couldn’t handle. I stayed in center the whole time and switched off when I felt a wave coming while I was watching TV. I was beginning to think it was just more Braxton Hicks as they were nothing like I’d thought they’d be.
I told my husband to go to bed at 9pm in case we had to wake him up later on. He starts work very early and had already been up since 4:30am. He ended up going to bed at 10pm after getting his clothes ready. He was fairly certain this was it even if I wasn’t.
I got back online at 10pm and did some banking and also read some birth stories on the Hypnobabies yahoo group. All the while I was still timing pressure waves on the Contraction Master website (Mum was also timing them on paper). They were coming regularly now at 10 mins apart. So much for my fast 2 hour birth that I’d envisioned! Still, I could handle these slow steady pressure waves and maybe that’s what my body needed to get me through. Short fast and hard might have scared me! Lol. At this time, I started listening to Easy First Stage on my ipod.
Mum was starting to get concerned and wanted me to call the hospital. I didn’t want to as if they said to come on in and things didn’t progress, I didn’t want them to suggest being induced. I decided to wait until my pressure waves got closer together,although I knew I was taking a chance being my 5th pregnancy that I might end up giving birth at home or in the car.
At 11pm, I had some pressure waves only 5 – 6 mins apart,lasting up to 1.5 mins long, some even over 2 mins long, so I decided to call the hospital. The midwife I spoke to, Alexis, was very calm and said I could come in if I wanted to. It was up to me.
I decided that as the pressure waves were getting stronger, I should probably make a move to get there soon as I didn’t know how I would travel and stay in hypnosis if they got too much stronger.
I woke up my husband and he very calmly sprang into action. Mum and George packed the car while I stayed on the lounge staying in “off” and “center”. Our eldest Tiffany was to come to the birth too and she was getting very excited. We got our neighbour on standby to babysit and off we went.
As soon as I got in the car (it was now 11:45pm), I had a pressure wave that was very strong. The drive to the hospital was interesting.I still had my ipod on Easy First Stage and was able to go to center and talk to my husband and daughter (Mum was following in her car) in between pressure waves. I had 4 more on the way, 5 mins apart. It’s only a 20 min drive to our local hospital. I had a travel neck pillow that I’d been using while doing Hypnobabies so I took that with me in the car and leaned up against the window using my finger drop. I started to find that annoying so just said “release” to go from center back to off. That worked just fine.
Wednesday 5th November:
We pulled up in the Emergency bay parking area at the hospital just after midnight and I had another pressure wave, much stronger this time but still manageable. No pain, just pressure and a feeling like very strong menstrual cramps. I walked into Emergency with Tiffany and all the bags,CD player and my neck pillow and very big body pillow! George went to park the car.
Tiffany wanted to get me a wheelchair but I didn’t think I could sit down as I could feel Jack’s head very low. I ended up sitting in one anyway and leaning over on one side. Tiff wheeled me through Emergency and around to the lift (elevator). We knew we could just go right on through without telling anyone in Emergency (thank goodness. I didn’t need that hold up). I was a bit concerned for George as he hadn’t been to the maternity unit through Emergency before but he’s a big boy and he had no trouble finding us.
I kept staying in “off”the whole time I was being wheeled by Tiffany to maternity, up in the lift to the next floor. When the doors of the lift opened, most of the lights were off. We couldn’t find anyone at all. Tiff wheeled me into maternity. No one was around. She started to wheel me into the delivery rooms but all was quiet and no one was there. Oh dear! I actually found that funny at the time.
I told Tiff to leave me at the lift so Dad could find me and told her to go into the delivery rooms as the most lights were on in there. She came back when I was back in “off” and I felt her wheel me through the doors and into a room. I heard water running and thought, gosh, they’re filling up the bath! They DID listen to my birth plan!
I finished a pressure wave and opened my eyes, back in center” and saw that I was in the delivery room I wanted to be in, the one with the big spa bath. I had been told that there were only 2 midwives who worked at that hospital who were accredited to do waterbirths and that if when I got there, there was not an accredited waterbirth midwife working at that time, I wouldn’t be able to have a water birth. That did concern me but I thought “just try and get me out of the water!” I didn’t need to ask Alexis if she could do waterbirths. I just knew all was fine as she was busily filling up the bath and leaving me to my hypnosis. I told her we had a sign to put on the door but Alexis said there was no need to use it as no one else would be coming in.
George arrived soon after and he told me to get comfortable. I left my clothes on but took off my long pants and climbed up on the bed while the bath was still filling. I still had my ipod going on Easy First Stage. I found by now I had to breathe quite deeply to get through the pressure waves.
George went and got me a warmed up blanket, but I was already hot so told him “just one”. He’d come back with an armful of them! Alexis used the hand held external monitor to check Jack’s heart rate. All was fine. She checked my blood pressure. It was fine. I did notice she waited until a pressure wave was over before asking me to do anything and was asking me very quietly. At this time, George told her to speak only to him and to please do it outside. She agreed no problem.
Mum arrived not long after George. She began timing pressure waves again, I suppose just for something to do as I didn’t need anything at that point. I had already discussed on the phone with Alexis that if things stalled, I could go back home, so I wasn’t bothered if things progressed or not. I was very calm.
I told George to go to the father’s room and find a couch to lie down on. He didn’t need to be told twice!He was only up the hall a little bit so not far away if I needed him. I had packed his swimmers and had already told him that if I needed him to, he WOULD be getting in the water!
Once the water was ready, I changed into a singlet top (for modesty as Tiff was going to video) and nothing else and got into the tub. The water was very warm which was necessary for the baby. I wriggled around trying to find a comfortable spot. I had visions of myself birthing in the water while squatting, but it really wasn’t deep enough and it felt awkward so I ended up laying on my back, floating a bit as it was fairly deep anyway.
I stayed like that for the next hour and a half, breathing through pressure waves. The only way Mum knew I was having one was that my breathing got heavier. I made no sound except when I came back to center in between if I wanted a sip of water.
George came back in at some point. I didn’t notice at first. Alexis checked Jack’s heart rate with an external monitor a few times. At no point did she try to get me out of the water to do anything else. She did ask me to float my belly up out of the water to check his heart rate which was okay. Later on, she got her underwater one. Why she didn’t have that ready from the start I’ll never know.
Tiffany was videoing at this time. I thought I’d feel self-conscious, but I didn’t care at all. I still hadn’t moved.
At around 2:30am, I decided that things had progressed to the point where I needed to know where I was at. I hadn’t had any internal exams my entire pregnancy, which was unusual in my experience, so my very first internal exam showed that I was at 8cm already. Okay, I thought… I can do this!
Just after that, I started to feel like I couldn’t do this anymore. I knew this must be transition. Funny how you can go from yes I can to um I don’t think I can so fast! I felt very slight chattering in my teeth, nothing like I was expecting and I got even hotter, but that was it. Nothing terrible like I thought it would be.
I then sunk back in the water too deep during a pressure wave and blew up my ipod that was high up on my shoulder! It crackled in my ear and went dead. Oh no!!! I came out of hypnosis and tried to get back in but it didn’t work. I think I would have been okay if Mum had been able to get the tape deck working right away but for whatever reason, it took what seemed like ages. Then when she did get it going, it wasn’t very loud. It was 3am by this time and I guess they didn’t want to disturb anyone else in the hospital. She told me this later and asked my why I didn’t say I couldn’t hear it. I wasn’t thinking about that, I just tried to get though each pressure wave.
George came and sat by the tub and held my hand. Alexis, George and Mum took turns wiping a cold cloth on my face which was lovely. I think it was Mum who tried putting her hand on my head and saying “relax” but I brushed her away. Whoever it belonged to, the hand was too hot.
I remember saying “I hate Medibank Private” (the health fund that mucked us up) and everyone laughed.
I started making these moaning sounds. I was determined not to make any noise and keep calm, but it just didn’t happen. I’d heard women describe the sounds as primal. That’s what they were. I was louder than my Polish background loud husband for once! Lol
I felt a bit pushy and felt some liquid squish out of me a few times during the one pressure wave. I told Alexis that I thought my waters had broken but it wasn’t all that much. She said it was either urine or water in front of baby’s head as it was too clear.
Then I started to really think I couldn’t do it. I’d never pushed a baby out without drugs before and I had no idea what to expect. I said I needed drugs, anything… what could I have? Alexis said no, you need to push. Yikes!
I was still lying in the bath on my back and knew that if I got up into a squat it would be easier, but I just couldn’t make myself move. I guess I was trying to stay “off” and simply lost my focus as I could have just gone into center had I been thinking straight. I ended up doing the purple pushing and making quite a lot of noise and felt like I was getting nowhere. I said a few times, it’s not coming out! I can’t do this! Negativity… I tried not to do that but couldn’t help myself.
George was a wonderful coach, telling me to relax, even though I did feel like telling him to get in and give it a try! He then told me to put one leg up on the side of the bath and Alexis held my other leg. He said I wasn’t opening up my pelvis enough and that the baby couldn’t move down… clever thing that he is!
Alexis said my bag of water was right there and was holding things up and did she want me to break them? I agreed and with the next pressure wave, she broke my water. I didn’t feel a thing.
No sooner had I opened up my pelvis and had my waters broken than Alexis told me to feel for my baby’s head. Jack’s head was just inside and felt all wrinkly. That gave me all the motivation I needed and I began bearing down hard.
I still couldn’t hear the Pushing Baby Out CD on the tape deck, but once or twice I heard a couple of encouraging words like powerful, strong or something like that. I then had the song “I am woman hear me roar” running through my head and felt empowered. LOL
It only took about two more pushes until his head was out. There was just a lot of pressure. I was worrying over nothing! On the video, you can see him moving and wriggling trying to help me get himself out. It is such a wonderful thing to see. I could even feel Jack pushing with his feet to try and get out. I pushed with the next pressure wave and he came out up to his chest and had the cord around his neck. Not choking him but up over one shoulder, around his neck and back down again. Alexis removed the cord and then I pushed a bit more of him out.
I stopped pushing and wondered why Alexis didn’t pick Jack up right away. George said his legs were still inside! Lol. I thought I’d pushed him right out and didn’t even realise there was still some of him inside me. I gave one more gentle push and he floated out into the water all by himself. Alexis picked him up gently and gave him to me right away onto my chest. Bliss!! My vision was to pick him up from a squatting position myself but that didn’t happen. No matter. I’ll try that next time. I was still ecstatic with how I birthed him.
At no time did anyone try to pull him out. Jack and I did that all by ourselves. He got the nickname “banana boy” from Tiffany as he looked like a bendy banana swimming out of me apparently!
I had no drugs, not even a panadol. I pushed for only 28 mins.
Jack Elijah was born at 3:33am on Nov 5th, weighing 8 pounds 14 ounces (4030 grams), 54cm long and 37.5cm head. He passed all his tests too.
I was left in the bath to cuddle Jack for a while. I tried to breastfeed him right away but he wasn’t interested. We did cuddle skin on skin and it was wonderful. I thought I’d be a blubbering mess, but I was just so chuffed at myself for having done it drug free! (When I watched the video later, I cried). I said “Thank you Jesus!” and still can’t truly believe that I did something that had previously terrified me and it was actually what I would call easy! I don’t know what I was so fussed about all these years.
George cut the cord soon after and Jack was free!
In my birth plan, I had also requested that I not be given any artificial hormones to birth the placenta, which was apparently routine and they gave you that just before birthing baby. I’d also said absolutely no IV unless medically necessary in an emergency, so I had no needles at all during the birth either. Alexis wanted me to have a routine IV when I arrived at the hospital just in case, especially as this was my 5thbirth, but I said the needle in my hand restricted my movement so I declined unless absolutely necessary. She agreed.
Alexis reminded me that I’d need to birth the placenta, not that I needed it as pressure waves began again after about 10 mins. I asked her whether I could birth that in the bath or if I needed to get out. She said she would prefer me to get out as she needed to make sure she got it all and that she could pull on the cord to help. I said no I’d try it myself. Alexis then said I could push it out on the toilet. I told her I’d do that.
She put a pan in the toilet bowl and George helped me out. He made a nice little pathway out of towels so I could climb out of the spa, down the couple of steps and onto the toilet and that I wouldn’t slip over.
I sat on the toilet while Jack was being weighed and in only one push, pushed the placenta out by myself taking Alexis by surprise! She wasn’t expecting that and said it was the very first time she’d had a mother push the placenta out without help! Go me!! Lol
After that, I got wrapped up in warm blankets and climbed up on the bed. Alexis asked if she could check me for tears at which point I said there was no need as I hadn’t torn since Tiffany, but I let her anyway and sure enough, no tears at all.
My recovery has been good. The bleeding is lighter too than it’s been in the past.
I was taken to the ward later that morning and the new midwives I met when I said I’d had a waterbirth said “oh you’re the one!”. Apparently it doesn’t happen too often at that hospital but things are changing.
We were sent home the next night. Gone are the days where you could stay in for 5 or 6 days like I did with Tiffany! That’s a good reason to birth at home… no packing and moving around with a 1 day old baby.
My entire pregnancy and birthing time, I only had 2 internals, one at 8cm and the other when Alexis broke my water. Plus I only had 2 needles. One blood test at 20 weeks and the other the day after I birthed Jack to check my white blood count as it was low. I only had the one ultrasound at 20 weeks also. Talk about minimum interventions!
I had earlier been concerned that my husband wouldn’t be quiet enough to allow me to stay in hypnosis, but when it came down to it, he was such a fabulous support person. He spoke quietly and softly and kept me relaxed and focused as much as possible. He also helped to keep me comfortable. At first after the birth, I felt that I hadn’t done it “right” as I’d started saying I couldn’t do it, but realised soon after that everything I went through was perfectly normal. George I know is proud of me too as he tells everyone I did it drug free in the water, like I just ran a marathon and came first!
Next time (and they’re just might be a next time now) I’m fairly certain I will get a midwife and a birthing pool at home. That way I can have the hypnosis on CD as loud as I want and not have the bother of having to move and travel to the hospital.
I know for a fact that it would have been a lot harder for me to go through this without Hypnobabies. I know I would have panicked and asked for drugs a lot sooner and would have been given them. I also know that I would still have felt like I was missing out on something that I’m now so very happy to have experienced!
from one very happy Hypnobaby Mummy! Kathy
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