“We’ve since had many people tell us we were lucky to have such a great birth. When we told our wonderful Midwife this, she smiled and said “you weren’t lucky, you were prepared.”
AURORA’S BIRTH STORY
As a Midwifery student, the minute we found out we were expecting I was determined to give ourselves the best chance for having a natural delivery. I’d seen a very broad range of births, from Caesars, to the panicked screaming you see in movies, to a woman who didn’t utter a sound and birthed so easily. I knew which one I wanted! We attended Melissa’s Hypnobirthing classes, which were fantastic. The most important thing we took from the classes was confidence. Confidence in my body to know what to do, confidence in my baby to know what to do, and confidence for my partner that he could be useful. My partner had never seen a birth, so he left the classes excited about the prospect instead of terrified like a lot of partners. We attended a traditional antenatal class, but only went once. We got sick of being told all about pain and pharmaceutical pain relief, as well as horror birth stories accompanied by a statement of “it will hurt. You will tear”. What a silly thing to say to someone, you don’t tell an athlete “you can’t do it, you’ll tear your muscles”. You hear of athletes performing the extraordinary feats because they believed they could. I think it’s the same for birth. I believe the quote of “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you are right”. It seems people who have bad birth experiences share them with everyone, and those who have good experiences don’t share so much. Well I thought I’d share our story because it was wonderful. I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t ‘perfect’. But I am honestly looking forward to giving birth again.
I’d been having ‘braxton-hicks contractions’ or ‘warm-ups’ as we called them for days, so on Tuesday night when they started up around the usual 5pm we just settled down to watch TV. Being a student Midwife I was interested in everything to do with birth, so I timed my surges. 6 mins apart, lasting for around 40 seconds. I was a little surprised, as this is pretty much ‘active’ labour, yet I was making dinner and sure they were still ‘warm-ups’. So we stayed up watching TV until around midnight. 5 mins apart, lasting 60 seconds. Still I was sure they would subside like they always had. There was no way I could be in active labour and still be bored watching home shopping! At around 3am I was restless and a little frustrated, because the surges were continuing but didn’t feel like they were intensifying, so I thought it may be false labour. I rang our Midwife and had a talk with her, and she made me feel a lot happier and suggested I have a shower. After another 2 hours of changing between wandering the house and swaying in the shower we decided to head to the hospital, only because the our roads were closed for roadworks so we didn’t want to get stuck anywhere. On the way to the car everything changed in feeling. I felt a lot of pressure in my nether regions and vomited. It was a little scary how quickly everything happened. As it was my first child, I expected a slow build up, not to go from wandering around to intense surges in 10 seconds! Half way to the hospital I could feel a head right down in my pelvis, and started to get a little anxious. The only time I felt any pain was when I got worried. As soon as I started to feel fear, I felt pain. We got to the hospital and into the bath. I could feel that she was coming and was pretty worried about the speed. I’d seen tears occur when babies were born very quickly. Sometimes a little knowledge is a bad thing! So I had a bit of a panic attack and started to hyperventilate. Luckily we’d had the same wonderful Midwife throughout our pregnancy. She gave me some gas (mostly Oxygen but a little Nitrous) and calmed me down. Once the fear subsided, so did the pain. No-one can possibly explain to you how much of an impact fear has until you feel it. I went from absolutely no pain, then a flicker of fear occurred and boy did I feel pain! As soon as my wonderful Midwife and partner calmed me, the pain subsided. I was able to get into a little breathing routine in the bath. One surge later my waters appeared, totally intact like a big balloon. This is very unusual, especially for a first time mum. Probably because I’d spent 95% of my labour very relaxed, my muscles were able to work very efficiently! My partner and Midwife were just about to put our music on and light an oil burner when two surges later, our little girl appeared in the bath! She went from no head visible to swimming around the bath in about 1 minute. There is definitely something to be said for how well the muscles work when they are relaxed! Our Midwife literally fished her out of the water and handed her to me. Being able to feel our baby be born and not be addled by drugs is an awesome feeling. Went she didn’t cry, I asked our Midwife if she was ok. “Why would she cry? She’s had nothing to be upset about” was her response. So our little princess lay on my chest without uttering a sound, just looking around with curiosity. We had a physiological third stage, which means we just waited for the placenta to come away on its’ own. This took over an hour, which is where it’s important to be happy with your care provider. Many doctors seem to be uncomfortable with letting the third stage go so long, but our Midwife listened to our wishes and as there were no signs of danger to me, stood firmly behind us. Our little one was never away from my chest for the first few hours, and allowed to feed in her own time. When I had a shower she was placed skin-to-skin with my partner. We were discharged home before lunch. My labour was estimated at 4 hours, pretty amazing for a first baby that weighed just over 8 pounds! I didn’t tear either. At all. Even though she shot out like she was on a slippery dip!
We’ve since had many people tell us we were lucky to have such a great birth. When we told our wonderful Midwife this, she smiled and said “you weren’t lucky, you were prepared”. The biggest things we learned that we’d like to pass on to other expectant parents are; be prepared, choose your care provider carefully, and try not to be afraid. If you’re reading this on the Hypnobirthing website, you’re on the first step to being prepared! The skills we learned from classes I believe helped an enormous amount. I didn’t do it ‘perfectly’, I did panic at the end and feel pain. But 15mins of pain is still pretty damn good! Choosing a care provider who is supportive of natural birth and Hypnobirthing is imperative. We never felt the need to ask for anything or instruct our Midwife during the birth, as she already knew what we wanted and happily accommodated our wishes. And lastly, try not to be afraid! Easier said than done. Even if, like me, you don’t manage to be the picture of serenity the whole time, being calm for majority of your labour I believe will help enormously. My 4 hour labour is proof of that! In short, I can’t wait to give birth again. I hope you get something out of our birth story, even if it’s just affirmation that there are positive birth stories out there!
Kristin and Ryan, Karana Downs