Christine’s Birth Story
I had a traumatic birth with my first baby 10 years ago. I believe I had undiagnosed PTSD from this experience. We had some special circumstances (shoulder dystocia) but I believe a lot was due to hospital practice rather than my body. I was very young and just blindly trusted caregivers as the experts, not trusting myself and my own body’s expertise. So for this birth I was very determined to make this MINE. I would be driving this, nobody else.
I was interested in hypnobirthing as I was hypnotised as a child. I had gotten a laceration on my skull fighting with my little sister when I was about 7 and I was so hysterical they couldn’t anaesthetise me or stitch me. A doctor in the ED used hypnosis with the zebra stickers on the roof to soothe me and I didn’t feel any pain. I now always look back at that experience positively and remember how relaxed I was.
I engaged a private midwife to act as my advocate and so I had continuity of care with a midwife throughout my pregnancy. I engaged a supportive student midwife. I had bodywork to prepare my pelvis. I did the hypnobirthing online course with my husband. I read my affirmations. I researched. I had a small intimate mama morning tea where the goal was empowerment of me rather than focusing on presents. All my friends and family gave me a bead for my birthing necklace as a tool for me to focus on and feel the support of my sisters in that room. I really prepared myself mentally and physically.
And then the end of my pregnancy sort of crumbled. I had had Hyperemesis Gravidarum the entire pregnancy and had been vomiting every single day with constant nausea. But then my blood pressure spiked and there was protein in my urine as well as massive swelling in my feet and face. We were told by two doctors that I had preeclampsia and two that I didn’t. Who knows. There were also concerns about my baby’s health measuring a head circumference of between 1st and 3rd percentile with abnormal blood flow to the cerebral artery. When an induction was suggested, I opted for this after consulting with my independent midwife. My anxiety over the health of my baby was not helping my vomiting or the blood pressure.
So I went in for induction at 38 weeks. Before the gels were even put in I started feeling quite strong surges. They were irregular but decent and felt like they were doing something. They were. As when my gels were inserted I was already at 2cm. I believe my body was in early labour and I would have had my baby very soon. This gave me confidence and assurance that my baby was ready to be born.
I slept all night listening to the fear release and other tracks on repeat. I woke up in the morning having even more powerful surges. I slept through them as much as I could and then started moving around. I called my husband about an hour later to come in and be with me.
Eventually I was moved to a birthing room and assigned a midwife. She turned out to be the midwife my sister had during her birth 2 years ago and also was a friend of my private midwife who would be attending the birth. It felt like the stars had aligned and I felt very secure. This midwife jumped straight in with my birth plan and was supportive.
At 10am my membranes were released as part of the induction process I was roughly at 3-4cm. I no longer consented to any cervical checks. I trusted my body. I continued walking around and using the shower for pain relief. The soft touch helped MASSIVELY. Around 12pm active labour kicked in and so did the more animal like noises.
I continued to labour. Eventually I asked for some gas. I could feel my baby moving down quite quickly and needed a little gas to take the edge off. I had it on the lowest setting.
I told my caregivers that my baby would be arriving soon, I couldn’t feel him that low, but he was making his way down for sure, I could feel the pressure of him moving. I gradually hit transition. I got the shakes in my legs and felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. My student midwife recentred me and put up the volume for my tracks. I think at this point I hypnotised myself standing up.
Eventually I announce I needed to poo, everyone asked if perhaps baby was coming. I assured them that I couldn’t feel any pressure at the front, only the back “this is definitely just a poo”. The midwife put a towel under the toilet seat just in case and my husband came in. The bathroom was dark bar the LED candles we had brought in. I started making some much louder and wilder noises and the rest of my team came in to see how I was going. I told my midwife that I could feel the stretching of my vagina, the baby was crowning. I asked someone to turn up the gas and stood just slightly, nobody had a chance to leave the room, I did one push and baby came literally flying out into the world, midwife skilfully catching him! This whole period was 15 minutes! I had breathed my baby down to a point that I didn’t need to do any work, my body did it all for me!
My son Zephyr was born after 3 hrs 5 mins of active labour. Only a tiny little tear and my physical and emotional healing has been amazing. I feel like I have released the first birth experience now. Single most transformative moment of my life.