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I truely see the value of the Positive Birth Program

Bianca’s Birth Story

Positive Hospital Birth Sydney/ Australia
Conor, 3.5kg
39+ 5

Natural Hospital Birth with Gestational Diabetes and water immersion.

39 weeks and 5 days into carrying Conor, I woke around 3am and felt a small pooling of liquid when I rolled out of bed. The same recurred at 5am and 7am. I wasn’t sure if this was my waters releasing as it was more of a subtle trickle than any sort of gush. I had already had a false alarm a few days earlier so I called the birth unit and they advised that I come in for an exam when ready.

It was just before 10am when the cramping started and we left for the hospital. By the time we arrived at the birth unit, my surges had started to become more frequent. They continued to grow in regularity while we waited an hour to be seen. Even so, sometimes they came every few minutes, sometimes they came in much longer intervals like 30 minutes or so. I felt like I couldn’t sit down so I paced the hospital hallways. I breathed into each wave and rocked side to side. I wasn’t confident, despite the signs, that I was in real labour yet.

The midwife couldn’t confirm whether my waters had released from my history and initial assessment so I opted for a speculum examination. I had already experienced false labour and wanted to know for sure what we were dealing with. The exam was unexpectedly painful and not something I would do again but it confirmed that my waters had released and I found comfort in that surety.

We stayed for a short while to undergo CTG monitoring of Conor’s heart. There were no issues and the monitoring also confirmed that the waves I had been experiencing were real contractions. We were told that there was a risk of infection after 24 hours and the hospital’s proposed induction (which I was still resisting) was moved forward to meet this new timeframe.

As it was still quite early, we were advised to return home to see if labour would build naturally and spontaneously. We left around 1pm, having cancelled my acupuncture appointment (scheduled that day to try to induce my labour) as I knew I wouldn’t have been able to sit through it.

We were home by around 2pm. I had envisaged an active birth and thought I’d be walking the dogs and practicing an array of hypnobirthing strategies to cope but in that moment all I wanted was rest. I cuddled up to the dogs on the couch, played my affirmations track and breathed through each wave. I even managed to nap.

After I woke, the surges started to really build and I felt this growing pressure. I alternated between the couch, the toilet and lying on the living room floor. When standing, I would lean on walls, rocking side to side or would pull down on scarves on hooks or anything that slightly resembled a birth rope. The dogs stayed with me while Seamus was getting ready for the hospital. I found that it was starting to get harder to count my breaths but my surges were still not regular enough to understand how far along I was. I listened to Hypnobirthing Australia’s Rainbow Mist track and my affirmations on repeat.

Around 5:30pm, I had what was later confirmed as my bloody show. I couldn’t confidently identify this at the time so we called the birth unit again and they advised we return for another exam to be safe. At this point, I didn’t know how I could possibly endure two more uncomfortable car rides (assuming they’d send me back home to progress further) or an hour wait at the birth unit reception. I agreed to come in once the midwife and I decided that I would be admitted for the night, even if I wasn’t as progressed as the hospital would have liked. I just knew I was ready for hospital.

Even though Nepean Public Hospital was only a 30 minute drive away, we didn’t reach it until 7pm. My movements were a lot slower and I felt like I couldn’t leave my system of alternating between the toilet and the floor. I finally made it to the car where Seamus had set up the back seat with pillows so I could lie down. Again I relied on my affirmations track and focused on my breathing. I felt very calm and enjoyed this restful period.

We arrived at the hospital and called the birth unit again to let them know that the pressure I was feeling had intensified. Despite this feeling, and underestimating how long I had already laboured, I thought we were no where near meeting Conor and were facing a long night ahead of us. We walked that arduous walk to the unit, pausing for each surge. Seamus did light touch massage on my back to help me through it. When we came around the corner of the unit, I was relieved to see that the midwife was already there, ready to wheel me in. I couldn’t sit, instead I kneeled on the wheelchair.

In the birthing room, I retreated to the toilet. I couldn’t shake the feeling of needing to make a bowel movement. I declined the option to have a vaginal examination, knowing how unreliable they are. We spoke about our options and I contemplated an epidural as I worried how I could handle the rest of the process considering how much it was challenging me at that stage. With Seamus’ encouragement, we decided on using the bath first. In hindsight, I was entering transition.

The warm water was a relief. I adopted, and largely maintained, an all fours position. They dimmed the lights and set up the CTG monitoring. Seamus held the probe in place, spoke to the staff for me and shared my birth preferences (no directed pushing, freedom of movement etc). My birth playlist was on in the background but I couldn’t focus on it.

It wasn’t long after I had made it to the bath that the surges reached their peak and I started to roar Conor out. I took a few breaths of the gas and air to regulate my breathing but didn’t persist with it. I kept thinking and saying that I couldn’t do it- it just felt impossible. The ‘I can do it, because I am doing it’ affirmation fell out of my head completely. In hindsight, it was the transition talking. Seamus reassured me through it – telling me I was further along than I thought and that I could do it. I stopped all forms of resistance and surrendered completely.

It wasn’t long after that surrendering that I felt the ring-of-fire sensation of crowning. I used a mirror to take my first look at Conor’s head and touched my son for the first time. I started breathing down.Positive Birth Gestational Diabetes

Conor’s heart rate began to drop after each surge without recovering as quickly as we would have liked and I moved into a squatting position to bring him earth-side faster. His head had largely emerged and we decided to stand to let gravity assist with the rest. I didn’t know it at the time (as I couldn’t focus on anyone’s voice other than Seamus’) but the obstetrician had joined us and said that he needed to come out or they would look at a c-section. The midwives had told her there was no use as he was seconds away.

I was barely standing when I felt an incredible sense of relief. A life-changing feeling that lasted a few seconds. At 9:21pm, about 2 hours after we arrived at the hospital and 20 mins into the breathing-down/pushing stage, Conor had fully emerged. Seamus received him with the help of the midwife and before I could register what had happened, my boy was in my arms.

It felt like a too-good-to-be-true type moment and the reality of it all wouldn’t sink in for days. I was starstruck and shocked. Seamus was completely infatuated with Conor and me.

We made our way to the bed and everything started to slow down. Conor settled. The room was dimly lit with fairy lights and Bon Iver soundtracked our golden hour. We laid skin-to-skin and Conor breastfeed with ease as his eyes locked onto mine. Oxytocin was flowing abundantly. I took in all his features- his fuzzy body hair, little fingers and fingernails, stubby arms and legs, big greyish-blue eyes, tiny feet, wet curls, soft skin- everything.

We let the cord pulsate until it was completely drained. Then, Seamus clamped the cord. We waited an hour for the placenta to arrive. Once it did, I felt all physical discomfort ease. The midwives showed us my placenta and we marvelled at it. Then, they stored it for our placenta encapsulator to pick up.

I was advised that Conor had a compound presentation- his arm was touching his face when his head emerged. I was examined for tears after the (briefly painful) application of local anaesthetic. I ended up being diagnosed with a third degree tear (later downgraded to a second degree tear) which required stitches in the operating room. I had a spinal block and was awake for the repair (which was quick and painless). I weirdly found the loss of lower body function to be relaxing – forcing me to slow down after such a fast-paced active labour. I was then stuck in recovery for an hour waiting for my catheter and post op notes.

I took the opportunity to rest and was reunited with Conor around 2am in the maternity unit. By then, he had had his full health check, sugars tested, Hep B vaccination and Vitamin K. He had Apgar scores of 9 and was doing well. He weighed 3.5 kgs, had a head circumference of 34cm and was 51cm tall.

We stayed in the hospital for a few days and returned home to settle into our new lives on Thursday 29 December, his ‘due’ date.

With the support of hypnobirthing, I was able to advocate for myself when my practitioners were pressuring me to have an induction and went on to have the empowering birth I wanted.

I truely see the value of the Positive Birth Program- so much so that I’ve gone on to become a Hypnobirthing Australia Certified Practitioner as I feel compelled to share it as widely as possible!

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