I’ve been meaning to tell you about Amelia’s birth, which was now nearly a year ago. Amelia was born on a Wednesday evening at 8.39pm on 15 July 2015. It’s hard to believe she will be turning one in a couple of weeks, but I thought I would still share her birth story, which might resonate for those who are considered “advanced maternal age” (38 years and over) as I turned 40 just ten days prior to Amelia’s birth.
Amelia was born at 42 weeks and leading up to her birth, my age was causing quite a stir amongst my care providers. I had always maintained that unless there was a medical reason for being induced, then I wanted to be left alone. In the final few weeks, I had to be quite strong about not being induced and to the midwifery team’s credit, they understood and went with my wishes. The duty obstetrician made the comment that “I should have been induced at 39 weeks” because of my age. I commented that unless there is a valid medical reason, I wouldn’t have gone along with an induction based on my age. As a compromise, I did agree to some foetal heart monitoring, which came back as fine.
My pregnancy and general health up to the day before Amelia was born was essentially uneventful. I didn’t have any issues and Amelia’s growth and heart beat were all fine. My blood pressure had increased at this point, which I would say was largely due to feeling pressured and stressed by the hospital to be induced and have regular foetal monitoring. On a number of days prior to Amelia’s birth I was experiencing some early labour and I was very excited about her arrival. I had also been going to my acupuncturist to help with the impending labour and birth. It was my acupuncturist who had pointed out to me that Amelia was in a right occiput anterior position (ROA), which was easier to turn posterior than a left side anterior position (LOA). I was regularly talking to Amelia about working together, listening to the hypnobirthing affirmations and relaxation CD, along with leaning and resting in positions to help with her foetal positioning. I also did some of the rebozo technique to help turn her to lie on the left hand side.
On the Tuesday morning before Amelia was born, I agreed to a stretch and sweep, which was an attempt to reduce my chances of a full induction and this seemed to have some effect along with the fact that she was close to 42 weeks gestation. In the early hours of Wednesday morning (from about 12.30am), I was getting regular surges and I was so pleased as I was due to go to the hospital for an induction at 5.00am that morning. I rang the hospital and they said to still come in, so Paul, my husband, and I drove to the hospital and went into the pregnancy assessment. During the drive over, my surges were really regular.
Unfortunately, when I arrived at the hospital, everything stopped. Thankfully, the hospital had ten (I know, seems ridiculous) inductions booked for that day, so I said I was happy to have more time to go into labour again. I was able to go up to one of the ward rooms and bide my time. Paul read affirmations and did some massage. We did a fear release as well because I was trying to calm myself down about the impending induction, which I had been trying to avoid based on my previous birthing experience with Jack. I also felt the need to walk and climb up and down stairs, which helped me go back into labour and I was getting regular surges again.
As each surge came, I leaned on Paul for support and then kept walking and climbing. I didn’t feel the need to rest too much. Thankfully, I had the rest of the day to go into labour.
At close to 6.00pm, we were taken down to the birth suite and the midwife examined me and ruptured my membranes at around 6.30pm. The midwife said to me that I was already about 6cm dilated, but she would write down 4cm to keep the obstetrician away from me for longer, which I thought was pretty funny. The midwife also said to me that “you’ll have your baby in a couple of hours”. I didn’t believe her at the time. At this point, I didn’t think Amelia would arrive until the following day, the 16th July.
Before the midwife left as it was the end of her shift, she put her hand on my head and said “don’t let that get away from you”. My surges got very intense soon after the rupture and I was really leaning on Paul for support and he also pressed acupuncture pressure points and did massage. I was leaning over a ball for a lot of the time until I decided to hop in the shower. Before I got in, I joked to the midwife that I assumed I didn’t need any syntocinon and she obviously didn’t see the joke and said in a serious voice that no, I definitely didn’t need any syntocinon.
I didn’t last that long in the shower and felt the need to get out again because I think I was in the transition phase. At this point, the duty obstetrician came in and started chatting to me about seeing how I was progressing and if I was at least 4cm dilated, they would leave me be. I replied that I’m definitely more than 4cm because I think my baby is very close. The midwife wanted to check the foetal heart rate (I was wearing a wireless monitor, which was a bit annoying) because she wanted to check that there wasn’t a deceleration in the heart rate or if the monitor had just slipped. She asked me to hop on the bed and I said I didn’t want to stay there for very long. So, after only a few minutes, I was insistent that I hop off the bed and lean beside the bed to give birth. I don’t think the midwife realised how close I really was to giving birth.
While kneeling beside the bed, I thought to myself, this is what Melissa was talking about with the rest and be thankful phase because everything in that moment seemed really calm. Not long after, I then realised I felt the natural expulsive reflex, which was quite amazing. I was determined to use gravity and let my uterus do most of the work. The midwife said to stop pushing and I said that I wasn’t really doing anything.
Only two hours and nine minutes after rupturing my membranes, Amelia arrived into the world with a little yelp while I was kneeling beside the bed. Paul helped to hand her to me and then I hopped on the bed with her to have a rest and some skin to skin. I tried for an hour to birth the placenta, but eventually got an oxytocin injection. Throughout this time, we allowed the cord to stop pulsing. I had some minor tearing, but no other issues. Amelia started feeding while we were lying on the bed.
We have had many comments about how engaged and aware she was since birth. In the end, after a few minor battles to try and reduce any unnecessary interventions, Amelia’s birth was a very positive, empowering experience.
I was grateful for doing the hypnobirthing refresher course (May 2015). I found having the tools and information from the course leading up to labour and birth extremely useful and empowering, particularly given my circumstances and the pressures under which I found myself from care providers.
Thanks again Melissa for all your help, knowledge and great advice,
Cynthia, Paul, Jack and Amelia