Rachel’s birth story
After my daughters birth in June 2020 I was left feeling cheated out of the experience, it made me doubt myself and my decisions. It also made me feel guilty for my daughter, her labour and delivery was a lot harder because of how it unfolded. I thought I was prepared leading into it, although I couldn’t do a in person course due to covid lockdowns I had read a lot and thought I was ready, I’d chosen the hospital based on low intervention rates and advocated for myself not to be induced just because I was over my due date. I went into spontaneous labour at 41+6 and didn’t realise initially that she was posterior and had no way of managing the intensity of it, once at the hospital I was begging for relief and initially managed with sterile water injections but I wasn’t progressing.
I hadn’t taken into account how being in a different environment would effect me and I was scared – my body would have been so tense. And the midwives only came in to check on how I was progressing, my partner was amazing but of course he didn’t know how to help this was his first experience with birth! So I felt quite unsupported in the ways I needed. After 28 hours, by which time I’d already had morphine and was using gas and still only 4cm I agreed to being put on the drip and an epidural. Given the environment and circumstances I think this was the best outcome I could of hoped for, I still had an unassisted vaginal delivery after 36 hours but I felt cheated. I was left thinking I’d failed and was incredibly emotional.
Looking back it was the lack of options and (experienced) support I felt I had that contributed to being so emotional afterwards. I didn’t feel empowered by the experience. But thankfully I went through a private midwife, Kieran, for my post natal care who helped me debrief and understand the experience and helped me establish breastfeeding and navigate the first weeks. So when I found out I was pregnant at the start of the year I knew 2 things. I wanted Kieran as the attending midwife and I was going to be better prepared. I did hypnobirthing Australia through a positive birth course run by our local country health service that was delivered over 4 morning via zoom. I applied everything I learnt and was doing daily meditations from about 26 weeks. I was also doing exercises to help prep my body, using the aromatherapy etc. I particularly liked the fear release script and rainbow mist script. Then leading upto my due date found the affirmations were better. From about 37-38 weeks I was doing perineal massage and drinking raspberry leaf tea every night.
I had everything set up and ready at home, the birth pool, birth chair, TENS and combs, my affirmation wall and lights set up in my birth space – our bedroom and was feeling incredibly relaxed – partly due to thinking i would go well over my due again.l and feeling well prepared.
At 40+2 just after we’d finished dinner at about 5.30 I felt my waters break and got the last few things ready, my partner got our 2 year old to bed and we were going to try and get an early night. I’d messaged Kieran to give her the heads up but still hadn’t felt anything start. By about 8pm I felt the first niggles and laid in bed listening to the meditations and affirmations. By about 9.30 I knew they were getting too strong to sleep through but still thought it would be hours before I was in active labour. So just got in the zone in my birth space and focused on breathing through each surge as they steadily increased in length and intensity. When it got the point I really had to breathe through them I put the TENS on was surprised at how much relief it offered. I wasn’t timing surges as I didn’t want to get in the trap of worrying about progress and time like I did with our first birth I was just focusing on getting through each one and using all the tools I had at my disposal. I realised they were getting quite close together and timed one – 2 minutes apart lasting for 40 seconds. It was just before midnight.
I messaged Kieran who said she was on her way and my partner who had gone into resettle our 2 year old to start filling the pool. I was worried I had messaged Kieran too early still as I was still thinking this could be hours yet – i wasn’t putting expectations on time. But I’m glad I messaged her when I did, 2 surges before she arrived my body had started bearing down and I started to panic, surely this was too early to push! What if I get the baby stuck!? When she walked in I told her straight away my body was wanting to polish and she reassured me and got me making deeper sounds and horses breathe to help me relax through each one. Up until now the combination of the TENS machine and combs was incredibly effective – in my opinion far better than gas! But by this point they had lost their effectiveness and having Kieran coach me to “flop” “surrender” and do the horses breathe was exactly what I needed.
When I started to feel pressure my partner helped me into the birth pool and continued with anchor and soft touch. By this point it was incredibly intense but I also knew we were almost there so started allowing my body to really push rather than breathe through it, I could feel how hard my body was working! It felt like his head had been crowning for awhile and I heard Kieran say she could see a hand in the way and encouraged me to move where my body was telling me too and I instinctively moved my right leg forward, this was enough to help him get his arm up and out the way and encouraged me to reach down and feel him, I could feel his head and one arm/shoulder and with the next surge lifted him up and onto my chest. I could not believe he was here and I was holding him. I didn’t cry uncontrollably like I did with my first but the euphoria was no less, the oxytocin was flowing and I was on cloud 9. He was born at 2.17, less than 9 hours from when my waters had broken.
I was helped out and onto the bed where we did our first feed, I birthed the placenta and we laid there soaking up our boy and discussing names.
After the cord had drained we clamped and cut the cord, weighed our boy who we had agreed on Connor and my partner had his first cuddles while I was checked and got dressed – no tears. Just 2 very small grazes. I am so proud of my body and what we did, it was a healing experience for me and I am incredibly grateful.