Catherine’s Birth Story
My birthing day arrived at 39+2 on Sunday the 2nd of May.
I felt a few gentle pangs when I woke up. Very easy, gentle practice contractions, no rhyme nor rhythm, far apart and very short. By no means labour. I enjoyed a big breaky of eggs and bacon on wholemeal toast (thanks Diabetes) and pottered around the house.
Around 7am I had a show and knew that I was going to meet my baby by lunchtime. With previous precipitous labour, I rang the hospital and despite no regular, long/strong contractions they advised to come in (we had an hour-long drive).
We dropped the kids off at mums and began the drive just before 7.30am. I listened to my hypnobirthing tracks in the car and enjoyed the beautiful sunrise coming up over the hills. The sky was really stunning that morning. I was so relaxed, calm and at ease.
At 7.55am, when we were about 15 minutes from the hospital, contractions began regularly – every 2 minutes lasting a minute each. I remember smiling and being really excited as I gently breathed through them, my mind switched off and every muscle in my body relaxed. I’d been training for this. I was calm and confident. It was easy.
We arrived at the hospital around 8.10am, and I made Calum park on the street because I’m a tightarse and didn’t want to pay for parking. I got out of the car and either peed a bit or my membranes released a little.
Waddling up to the hospital entrance I had a few contractions. I held Calum around his neck and he supported my weight as I rested my head on his chest and closed my eyes, relaxing into the sensation. I felt loved and supported by Calum.
The temp checking nurse lady saw us approaching and ushered us in, skipping the testing and sending us straight to birthing, where we arrived at 8.15am.
Then I met the midwife who we were to share our journey with, Jill, who made me feel instantly comfortable and at ease. She was the perfect level of nurture for me, kind, knowledgeable, and totally on board with a natural labour and birth. Seriously, when Jill was assigned to us, I think that the stars aligned. She was brilliant. I have a deep trust in GOOD midwives (lets face it, some can be awful!) – the good ones just know things about birth and labouring women and I trust their judgment. Jill flicked through my birth preferences and was very encouraging.
Jill trusted my instincts as well. This is something that makes a huge difference – if a care provider trusts the patient and has faith that the patient is capable, then the patient is gifted the ability to trust in themselves. This is something that I never got from obstetric care – there was always fear-mongering, scare tactics, and hospital policy thrown around which makes a woman fear birth and lose trust in her natural ability to birth a baby.
Jill knew I was hypnobirthing and that I would probably not show the usual signs of being in labour, so she asked me if I thought I was going to have a baby today. Of course, I said yes, the baby will probably be here by lunch time. She was happy with that and started on the paperwork.
Around 8.30am I did a wee on the loo then sat on a chair with my headphones on. That’s it. I sat there, practicing my hypno techniques. Breathing and relaxing. Switching off my mind. Enjoying the experience. Enjoying the sensations that were bringing my baby to me. I was still, quiet, and completely in control. Jill checked babies heart with the doppler. Perfect.
At 8.40am, Jill let me know that the doctor was going to come in and talk to me about my birthing preferences again. She reassured me and told me not to worry, he would probably just walk straight out again because I was so relaxed he wouldn’t think I was in labour. That was fine with me.
At about 8.45am, I felt the need to move positions so I asked for a ball. I followed my intuition to open my hips and lean forward with my hands on the ground. It felt really comfortable and I was relaxed in that position. I stayed there for a few minutes. Then I felt hot. I took off my pants. I felt a shift in my labour just before 9am, but I felt no pain – I was completely comfortable, at ease and relaxed. An incredible amount of wonderful, intense energy filled my entire body and I started to vocalize that energy, leaning forward and allowing my primal instincts to release into the world. Calum was right next to me, whispering in my ear that I was doing so well, reminding me that my body was working hard to bring my baby to me, and encouraging me to let out my primal instincts. He did some light touch massage and made sure I was feeling safe, loved and comfortable.
Beautiful Jill recognized a shift too, and between her and Calum, they got me onto the bed on all fours so I wouldn’t hurt my knees. I was so comfortable. In control. I was not afraid of the intense energy surging through me – I was so excited and embraced it.
Another midwife heard the sound of labour progressing and came in, gloving up. I remember thinking to myself no, it can’t be the end game already, I haven’t had to work hard enough to manage the sensations!
I leant over the top of the bed which was upright as the next contraction came and I felt the pressure shift as my body pushed gently down. I announced that I was pushing and my babies head eased out in the same contraction. Jill was super quick, and applied a warm compress to my perineum and got the cord off from around baby’s neck. My membranes had already ruptured – go Catherine, it turns out you didn’t pee yourself getting out of the car!!
The next contraction came and my body pushed down again. I felt the rest of my baby girl enter the world at 9.09am – just under an hour and fifteen minutes after beginning labour. She was sideways which caused a long, shallow second degree tear which didn’t hurt at all, and she came out with her eyes wide open.
Jill and Calum maneuvered me into sitting position so I could hold my baby. I was shaking, but I know shaking during labor and birth can be adrenaline or hormone release, so I wasn’t afraid. Calum held me and told me how amazingly well I did and how perfect my body is.
The doctor who was assigned the task of lecturing me on why natural birth is so risky walked in and stood in the doorway, instantly recognising me. I could see in his face that it took a while for it to register that there was already a baby earthside and his lecture opportunity was clearly not going to happen. Anyway. He didn’t venture much closer, but I did see the colour drain from his face as he said ‘oh, we have had appointments together’. Yes we had. After I presented my birthing preferences to an unsuspecting registrar at 36 weeks, I was quickly handballed over to the senior obstetricians for the remainder of my pregnancy. I was subjected to lecture after lecture and treated like a mental patient for opting for a natural delivery.
Apparently, this goes ‘against the grain’. Go figure. I was confident that my choices were right for me and my baby, and didn’t engage in arguments or explain my choices. No thanks is a full sentence, I’ll keep my bodily autonomy and trust my natural instincts thanks! (Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for life-saving obstetric care, but I wasn’t interested unless there was immediate danger to my pregnancy or birth – I didn’t want intervention based on hospital policy and statistical risk factors alone – I believe for me, that intervention should only be undertaken on an individual and as needed basis, not because .05% of women attempting a natural birth will blah blah you get my drift.. I know how damaging losing control of your choices during pregnancy and birth is on a mothers transition into motherhood and mental wellbeing). Side note, if you’re interested in my main birthing preferences that are apparently not okay in modern day birthing, I’ll pop them below.
Now for the placenta – which just about took longer than the dilating from 0-10cm and pushing put together!
We waited. I enjoyed breastfeeding my baby and drinking her in with Calum by my side, encouraging me through contractions and making sure I was comfortable, warm and felt safe. 45 minutes passed and still no placenta, but also no sign of trouble – Jill could feel it was close. My uterus felt good. No bleeding. Jill suggested I move to the toilet to get gravity on my side. I waddled over, baby in my arms (cord still attached to placenta) and sat down.
The another doctor came in, insisting on syntocin because of the time. Jill and husband said no, there was no sign of risk in my individual case right now and I will continue to deliver naturally as per my birth preferences. You know how midwives know best? One contraction on the toilet saw the placenta release. All up, I only lost 350ml of blood through the entire process of baby and placenta birth, and I was so chuffed I had a physiological third stage!!!
We went back to the bed, cut the cord, and inspected the placenta etc, enjoying our bubble. I was stitched up by a doctor who was gentle and asked my consent properly, not by saying ‘I’m just going to shove my finger up your arse now’.
It was a truly magical, empowering birth.
In the end, my fourth birth was exactly what I wanted. I was empowered and embraced my body’s natural ability to birth a baby. It was completely pain and fear free thanks to the Hypnobirthing Australia course (get in touch with Debra at Empowered to Birth in Bendigo if you want a hypnobirth!) and all the preparation I put into it during pregnancy, and of course because of Jill, Calum, and all the beautiful, knowledgable midwives that crossed my path during pregnancy and birth, and those who came in to chat about my birth during my hospital holiday afterwards.
So, introducing my beautiful rainbow daughter! Named after the Queen herself (me!)
Clare Catherine Carney
2nd May 2021
8lb4oz (a pound smaller than Calijah!!)
Baby sister to 3 proud brothers.
A ripper hypnobirth which I spent the pregnancy training to achieve.
Main birth preferences:
– calm, natural hypnobirth
– no continuous fetal monitoring
– no canular upon arrival
– no vaginal exams
– no time restrictions, talk of progression, or intervention to ‘move things along’
– no coached pushing
– no episiotomy or instruments
– no artificial rupture of membranes
– warm compress during second stage
– physiological third stage – no syntocin injection
– freedom of positioning and movement with advice offered from midwife for comfort and optimal positioning
– no doctors unless midwife determines it necessary due to potential complication
– no cutting cord until placenta delivered
– no time restrictions to be placed on me to ‘progress’
On my birth plan, I also asked for no coercive language or fear-mongering scare tactics to be used in my presence. Informed consent for any form of procedure or intervention must be obtained if time permits. in other words, don’t play on my emotions or use the dead baby card to coerce me into conforming to hospital policy.
No matter what your birth choices are – planned c section, all the drugs, natural and everything in between – making informed choices that are right for YOU and not being manipulated or coerced into anything makes your transition into motherhood much easier and leaves a woman feeling more fulfilled.
And now comes the chocolate and carbs.