At six weeks Rory and I found out we were to become parents. We couldn’t contain our excitement of the little being growing inside my belly. Naturally we had little bit of fear of this brand new experience we were embarking on. It took a few days to sink in. I would think to myself ‘yes’ you are really going to have a baby and be a mother, it seemed like a strange and unknown concept at the beginning, but somehow totally natural as well.
As a mother-to-be the preparations for the birth of my child began from the moment I found out I was pregnant. My mind started ticking over and over “where will we have the baby?, what are the birthing places like on the Gold Coast? Which doctor do I choose and of course the biggest question, will I be able to do it? Because like most women in our society, we have been somewhat brainwashed to fear birth, to believe its painful beyond belief and that we as women are unable to give birth unassisted! But there was a little voice in my head that was telling me; I was born to do this, that I could trust my body and my baby. So with my intuitive voice leading me along, I set about researching natural birth and what I found resonated with me and my need to give my baby the best start in life, to come into the world the way nature intended. From the beginning Rory and I spoke a lot of about our decision to set about bringing our baby into the world the best possible way we knew.
Again I set about searching and reading and reading information about natural painkillers and hormones and endorphins. I read hundreds of women’s birth stories; from water births to orgasmic births and every natural birth in between. And was beginning to feel very confident in my decision and intuition. I thought, “Well if they can do it, so can I”. It took some time and practice to undo the fear that had been established in my mind about birth, from watching television dramatisations of birth, stories from friends and work colleagues and the general perception that birth is traumatic and the way society focuses on the smaller percentage of high risk pregnancies that result in complications requiring medical intervention (for which we are all very grateful).
I thought to myself, there must be a way to have a beautiful birth experience. I’d seen many clips on YouTube that were calm and beautiful and that’s exactly what I was going to focus on! I was home birthed naturally into my father’s arms. After searching some more, I found a lot of information about Hypnobirthing and again my little voice said ‘this is what you’ve been looking for’. So I ordered the book and read it very quickly. But I knew I needed someone to teach us the techniques, so we could feel as empowered and confident as possible. That’s when I found Melissa Spilsted at Hypnobirthing Australia™. And at 28 weeks Rory and I began our weekly Hypnobirthing classes. These classes opened our eyes and our hearts to the possibility of having the experience we desired. Melissa’s positivity, knowledge and experience (she’s had 3 calm, beautiful Hypnobirths) reassured us that we too could achieve our desired outcome. Most of all Melissa armed us with the tools and techniques to feel confident in my birthing body and my baby’s innate wisdom to birth.
After finishing the course, we had lots of practice to get on with in preparation for our beautiful birth. Morning and night I practiced my rainbow and surge of the sea relaxation. Rory and I practice our daily affirmation and deepening techniques. And by the time we reached 38 weeks, we both felt prepared for whatever turns our birthing might take. We both felt confident and excited to meet our little angel.
To our surprise on Tuesday the 13th of November at 38 weeks and just a week after we had seen Melissa to do an amazing fear release session. I felt my waters starting to leak and had a gut feeling that our baby was ready to make his entrance into the world very shortly. I then started to feel slight period pain style surges that were forming a pattern. I looked at Rory and said “this is it, it’s happening”. I felt excited and a little bit nervous (being a first timer and all).
After about 6 hours of pre labour the surges were getting to be 5-6 minutes apart. During each surge I could slow breath, going into complete relaxation and Rory would give me light touch massage. I honestly thought, wow this is totally manageable. I rang the hospital and told them I was in labour and because my waters had been leaking for more than 6 hours, they asked us to come to hospital with our bags. I was really nervous because I had planned on staying home as long as possible. But I wanted the best for my baby and followed the instructions of the midwife.
When we arrived at John Flynn private hospital, we nicely requested a midwife who was familiar with Hypnobirthing or was partial to natural birth. This is when we met the amazing ‘Maxine’, who we later dubbed ‘the Ina May Gaskin of John Flynn’ because she was so amazing and made our birth a beautiful experience. She welcomed us to the birth suite and the first thing she said was “make yourselves at home, this is your place”! Instantly, I felt so relaxed and at home. Over the next few hours Rory stuck our laminated birthing affirmations all over the walls, turned on our relaxation music, dimmed the lights and we literally chilled.
During the next 4 hours I had intermittent surges, which I slow breathed through and visualized the big blue balloon being filled. This worked a treat for me. The whole time I sat on a big blue fit ball with my arms slumped over the bed. Because the surges weren’t very strong I told Rory to try and get some rest for the next stage and I tried to as well. I found it very difficult to sleep because I was so excited meet our little baby. A few more hours and light had struck, it was morning and the doctor came in to do an internal examination, which I wasn’t too keen. But allowed him to check due to leaking waters. He found I was 3cm dilated and I was very disappointed and couldn’t contain my emotion and tears. I was scared and worried that this was going to end up where I didn’t want to go. The medical staff had our birth plan and new we didn’t want drugs or intervention.
They advised Rory that a lot of time had passed and there were risked with the baby swallowing meconium because of the leaking waters. So we agreed to have some Syntocinon. I continued to cry because I knew where a lot of women end up after having this artificial hormone and I didn’t want this. Luckily our wonderful midwife was on our side and knew how important it was to our baby and us that we have a drug free birth. She administered the hormone a much lower level than instructed, so I could ease my way into the surges. I remember my Mum and the midwife saying, “she can still have a natural birth”. That’s when the midwife said, “Just continue with your Hypnobirthing techniques and you can do this”. I believe it was the positive encouragement the entire way through my birth, from Rory, my Mum and my Midwife, that got me through and helped so much in my self-belief that I could do this!
So they started the Syntocinon drip and the surges started coming very regularly, much to the delight of my doctor and the head midwife. For the next 3 hours I sat on the fit ball, leaning over the bed, with Rory and Mum right by my side giving me affirmations and support all the way. Every time a surge would come I would relax and visualize going up a wave and then coming back down the other side. I also used the visualization of filling the big blue balloon a lot. I remember while being pregnant wondering what tools/techniques I would use and how I would know (because there are so many).
But as Melissa said in class, “you just know” and that was exactly right, I didn’t think, I just used my intuition. In no time at all (2hours) I had gone from 3cm to 8cm. Powerful stuff! Which as you can imagine was pretty intense, considering how long this process usually takes.
During this intense yet totally manageable process Rory and my Mum were so supportive. They reassured me that everything was prefect and I was doing an amazing job. I can’t say enough how much these words helped me.
Giving birth is such an internal process. I remember hearing voices of everyone around me. But most of the communication was going on between my baby and me. As I labored I gave him affirmations, telling him, ‘we can do this, stay calm little man’. I think this and my calm relaxed state is testament to the fact that his heart rate didn’t change during the entirety of my labour. As we say in Hypnobirthing “I trust my body and my baby”.
The final stage of birth was transformational. It was like a primal urge or instinct had taken over my body. The urge to bear down was uncontrollable and yet so satisfying when I breathed my baby down. I knew I was getting close to meeting my baby. But in my head I thought ‘I don’t want to ask how far along I am, for fear that they might stay it was an hour away, little did I know he was only 10 minutes away from being born.
I was still hunched over the bed and had moved from sitting on the fit ball to sitting on Rory’s lap (he was sitting on a stool), so he could give me a massage. Later on he told me he could feel our baby’s head touching his leg as he moved down the birth canal. Another very intense surge came and I kept saying, “I feel like I need to poo, I feel like pooing” and the midwife said “well just poo”. Still in the zone and very focused, I breathed my baby down. This is when I felt the transition stage where I did say “I can’t do this anymore, give me drugs” to which Rory replied, “you’re doing it, you don’t need drugs, you’re amazing”. I remember the midwife saying, “We had better call the doctor, the baby’s coming very soon”. (Little did I realize his head had already been born)? Then another surge came and I could hear the midwife crawl underneath the bed and Rory (I was squatting at this stage, supported by Rory). And very quickly Noah James was born into the arms of our special midwife Maxine.
Rory lowered me onto the floor, where I sat. We were both crying and smiling at the same time. Words don’t do justice to the feeling of intense love when your baby is born. Cradling our new son, I remember thinking ‘he’s very purple and has a cone shaped head is this normal?’ I felt in total awe of my achievement, I kept saying ‘I did it’ ‘I did it’ ‘we did it’!!!!! I was in total shock and awe at what we had created and successfully birthed; a very healthy, alert and happy baby boy. The hospital staff commented on how alert and awake our little man was. I said “it’s Hypnobirthing’!!!
I felt so empowered to have given birth to our baby without drugs or intervention that would affect our baby. Later on the midwives said they were shocked that I didn’t need drugs or an epidural. Most women, who have the Syntocinon, have to have an epidural, because it makes the surges too intense. I said, “that’s the powerful effect of Hypnobirthing, it works!” Another midwife said “You can climb Mount Everest after that achievement” I honestly felt like I was high on drugs after the birth. A natural high!
For the 3 hours following Noah’s birth we all stayed in the birth suite. Having skin-to-skin and starring in awe at the beautiful baby we created. Noah crawled up to my breast and began sucking/feeding right away. The staff at John Flynn Private Hospital was amazing and made our experience pleasurable and the most memorable moments of our life.