Rhylee’s Birth Story
Vaginal with no pain relief. Induction
After an extremely enjoyable and relatively easy pregnancy (which I am extremely grateful for), I was 38 weeks pregnant and about to go to bed when I realised I hadn’t felt my baby’s regular movements throughout the day. I had an appointment scheduled with my obstetrician the following morning and whilst I felt a few movements before bed, I made sure to mention it at my appointment. I had listened to many podcasts and had heard stories of babies tragically passing away in late pregnancy after reduced movements, and know movements are one of the main indicators used to determine how your baby is going in utero.
Despite having an anterior placenta, I still knew what my baby’s usual movements felt like being so late in my pregnancy. As soon as I told my obstetrician she did an ultrasound before sending me to the hospital for monitoring. I was hooked up to the CTG machine for twenty minutes and everything was normal so I went home feeling relieved. My obstetrician called the following morning to check in, however as I had only just woken up I hadn’t been able to really monitor the movements. As it was her weekend rostered on, she asked me to meet her at the hospital tomorrow (Sunday) for another ultrasound and further monitoring. My husband and I got up and went to an OFI (open for inspection) down the road from our house. By this time it was around 11:30am and I realised I hadn’t felt many movements since waking up.
We called the hospital and they told us to come in for monitoring, but as is always the way, I felt movements on the way to the hospital but went in anyway, just to make sure. Once again the monitoring showed plenty of movement (despite me not being able to feel it!) and I was sent home. Movements were back to normal throughout the day and I went to bed that night feeling much more confident that my baby was happy and healthy.On Sunday morning I went to meet my obstetrician at the hospital, had more monitoring and another ultrasound. The movements from the CTG were good however I wasn’t feeling as much movement as the previous day and the baby was moving noticeably less on the ultrasound compared to previous scans. My obstetrician recommended I be induced as this was now the 3rd day (outof the past 4) where the baby’s movements had been different or ‘abnormal’ for my pregnancy.My husband and I had completed a hypnobirthing course during my pregnancy and felt extremely educated and empowered.
We knew our options and decided to decline the induction as I was happy with the movements on Saturday as well as the results from the CTG. I really wanted an intervention-free vaginal birth with no pain relief and had been working hard on education myself and preparing for this. We were aware that inductions often lead to further intervention and really wanted to avoid that. I was also hoping to labour at home for as long as possible before presenting to the hospital. After leaving the hospital on Sunday I continued to monitor movements. Monday was a public holiday so my husband was home.I spent the majority of the day poking my stomach, drinking cold water, laying on my side and counting kicks.
By 11pm I was in tears, exhausted, deflated, and distressed. I realised I wouldn’t be able to do this for potentially another two weeks if I went over my due date. It was extremely stressful and I knew if something happened to our baby because I refused the induction I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself.We called the hospital and they told us to come in for monitoring. When we arrived they put on the CTG again and monitored the baby’s movements. My obstetrician happened to be at the hospital as another of her patients was in labour. She completed another ultrasound and after a discussion strongly encouraged an induction. She highlighted the importance of getting the baby out while she was still healthy and happy and that the reduced movements indicated something wasn’t quite right and the risks increased the longer she stayed in.
I felt defeated but the baby was in a great position for birth and we decided it was time, agreeing to the induction. Another factor that contributed to our decision was that we were both currently negative for COVID, meaning my husband was able to be present for the birth. I was admitted for monitoring overnight and the next day (Tuesday)and the induction would begin that evening. I instantly felt a rush of relief and excitement, knowing my baby would soon be in my arms. As we were only planning on being monitored, we hadn’t brought our bags so my husband went home to get everything we needed whilst I completed paperwork and got settled into our room.
By the time we got into bed it was 2:00 am. I had a terrible night sleep but was grateful to have made a decision and have a plan in place. My obstetrician visited early the following morning and allowed us to go home for a couple of hours in between monitoring to grab anything we hadn’t packed and organise any last minute things as the next time we would be home we would have a baby with us! I also snuck to a pre-booked eyelash extension refill appointment because fresh lashes are always a priority… especially when in labour! We returned to hospital around lunchtime for more monitoring and spent the afternoon relaxing, resting and taking some final pictures of my belly. My obstetrician returned at 7:00pm to begin the induction. I was taken to the delivery suite to have the balloon inserted into my cervix, however upon an internal examination it was discovered that I was already 2 centimetres dilated and it wasn’t required. I was so relieved and proud of my body. The new plan was to see if anything happened overnight and ifnot, my membranes would be ruptured in the morning.
We returned to our room and despite the odds I had the best sleep! As expected, labour didn’t progress overnight and at 7:30am the following morning my obstetrician broke my waters. It wasn’t agush like in the movies, but more like a trickle. I was so naive and didn’t realise it would continue to leak throughout the day and every time the baby moved. I quickly realised adult nappies were the way to go! Once a cannula was inserted into my hand, my obstetrician agreed to wait two hours before beginning the oxytocin drip to see if my body began labour independently, spoiler alert… it didn’t! My husband and I spent this time setting up the delivery suite by my body began labour independently, spoiler alert… it didn’t! My husband and I spent this time setting up the delivery suite by playing acoustic music, closing the blinds and turning the lights down, turning on our oil diffuser and hanging positive birth affirmations and ultrasound images around the room. It was such a calm, relaxing and peaceful environment.
It felt more like a day spa than a delivery room!At 9:15am our beautiful midwife Rachael started the drip. For the first three hours I barely felt the contractions despite them showing up on the monitor. I was able to talk and laugh during them and as I was using a wireless CTG, move around the room.At 1pm I began to feel minimal discomfort, similar to menstrual pain. I used breathing techniques and movement to assist me, Ialso used a comb, squeezing it in my hand to activate pressure points and distract from any discomfort. At around 1:30pm my obstetrician returned and did an internal examination. I was still 2 centimetres dilated but my cervix was soft and shorter, signalling that things were progressing well. She told us she would return around 5:30pm.At 2pm the contractions began to increase in intensity and I started using the TENS machine I had hired. I found this incredibly successful in managing the contractions and I loved the sensation it provided – it felt like a back massage, and was a great distraction.
My husband did an incredible job of encouraging and supporting me whilst also ensuring I stayed calm and in control.He applied light touch massage, acupressure and other techniques we learnt throughout the Hypnobirthing course which helped me focus and relax. At 3pm Rachael’s shift ended and our new midwife Wendy entered the room. By this stage the contractions had intensified quite a lot and I was using the TENS machine, breathing techniques and vocalisation to work through them. They were evidently stronger and closer together and whilst moving around the room, I was struggling to find a comfortable position. I also felt physically sick so was carrying a vomit bag around as well as constantly feeling as though I needed to go to the toilet to passurine. This was a challenge in itself as I had to wheel the trolley with the drip with me as well as ensure the CTG monitors didn’t fall off each time I sat down and stood up.The midwives had suggested a fetal scalp electrode which (due to the Hypnobirthing course and being educated) I felt comfortable in declining and continuing with the CTG. I returned to the bed and tried getting comfortable. I was laying on my side and struggling to stay in control.
My husband played positive birth affirmations from Spotify on the speaker and I remember telling myself over and over how strong I was, that I could do this and how close I was to meeting our baby. Wendy asked to do an internal examination and informed me that I was now 5 centimetres dilated. She was struggling to track the baby’s heart rate which made finding a comfortable position even more difficult. I had a fleeting moment of considering asking for gas but was so determined and knew it would restrict my ability to apply the breathing techniques so I resisted. Just before 5pm, whilst sitting on the toilet I began to feel pressure and the urge to start pushing. I returned to the bed for another internal examination and the midwife could feel my baby’s head. I had gone from 5 to 10 centimetres dilated in a couple of hours.
My midwife called my obstetrician and a second midwife also entered the delivery suite. I could feel my baby moving down and the stretching I knew to expect. Unexpectedly, any tightness from the contractions disappeared and I no longer felt any discomfort. I was able to focus completely on breathing my baby through the birth canal in a calm, relaxed and comfortable way. My obstetrician arrived just before 5:30pm. I didn’t expect to birth sitting on the bed, however it felt comfortable and the back of the bed was so high I could see everything that was happening. I continued to breathe my baby down but after some time my obstetrician let me know that my baby’s heart rate was beginning to drop and it was time for her to be born. She suggested I push instead of breathe to help speed up the process. I knew this meant if this stage of labour went for much longer the potential for intervention such as forceps, the vacuum, and an episiotomy would increase and I knew I could birth my baby without intervention, especially after I had come this far without any pain relief! I began to push at each contraction but felt it prevented me from using the breathing techniques I had learnt in the hypnobirthing course.
However, my pushing was successful and I could feel her head presenting and withdrawing over and over. Before long I was crowning. Unfortunately, as a result of pushing and holding my breath, I did burst a lot of blood vessels on and around my eyelids, but these disappeared a few days later. My husband was able to see our daughter’s head and captured an incredible photo as well as video footage of her birth, which I will forever treasure. I felt her head before she was born which was so surreal. She also let out her first cry, which we have audio of, before her shoulders and the rest of her body were even out! At every ultrasound she always had one, or both, of her hands up near or on her face, so it was no surprise one was there when she was born.
Lumia was born at 6:37pm on Wednesday March 16 2022. It was truly the most incredible moment of my life. I was able to bring her to my chest (somewhat restricted by a short umbilical cord) and we enjoyed immediate skin-to-skin and delayed cord clamping. I was so proud of myself and my body and elated that I was able to have the birth I envisaged.As her hand was up near her face I sustained a graze or first-degree tear which required two stitches. The anaesthetic stung a little but I barely felt the stitches. I only lost 300 millilitres of blood however when the midwife went to weigh and measure Lumiawe discovered she had passed her first bowel movement while on my chest – it was a mess! I was covered in poo, blood andvernix!
Lumia weighed 6 pound, 4 ounces (2.8 kilograms) and was 50 centimetres long. She was absolute perfection. I remember just staring at her in owe that she was inside me and that her birth had been so magical. I was so grateful and so in love. I was able to breastfeed her for the first time in the delivery suite within an hour of her birth, before I walked back to our room at9:30pm. I had a lovely shower before settling in for my first night as a mum. I will be forever grateful for my incredible labour and birth experience. A huge thank you to my obstetrician Emma, midwives Rachael, Wendy, and Simone, the entire midwifery team at St John of God hospital, my Hypnobirthing coach Deb and my husband Matthias; who was the most incredible support throughout my entire pregnancy and labour.
We are so in love with our daughter Lumia and still can’t believe we made something so perfect. Whilst there are so many things out of your control on the day of your baby’s birth and even in the lead up, my advice to anyone wanting a vaginal delivery without pain relief is to educate yourself! Read and learn as much as you can to prepare yourself so you know what to expect. At the same time remain flexible and accept that things may not always go to plan and at the end of the you know what to expect. At the same time remain flexible and accept that things may not always go to plan and at the end of the day your baby is really the one in control.
Develop a toolkit of natural pain relief techniques you can use and ensure your partner/support person and birth team are onboard and aware of your wishes and have a birth plan. Know your rights and options when presented with advice from medical professionals. The Positive Birth Program from Hypnobirthing Australia as well as the book ‘Birth Skills’ by Juju Sundin were two of the most valuable resources which really supported me to have the birth of my dreams. I hope my future births are just as beautiful and magical as this one was.