On of the most important questions you can ask during labour is, “What are my options?”
You of course always have the option to agree with what is being recommended, you have the option to decline what is being recommended, and there is usually another option as well!
In this case, because their baby was preterm, CTG monitoring was recommended and they were happy to agree with that recommendation. But when the CTG started to interfere with her mobility and access to water, she wanted to know about her other options. For this mother, an electrode was the best option as it allowed continuous monitoring of her baby and also allowed her freedom of movement and use of the shower.
It’s all about being informed, understanding what is most important for you, and knowing that you always have options!
Here is Allirah’s birth story, as told by her empowered mother!
It was 5:30am when I woke to liquid beginning to leak from me, so I dashed to the toilet where it continued to gush liquid. I wasn’t sure if I should wake my partner up as I genuinely was like this can’t be my waters breaking I’m only 36 weeks and 5 days! And then I wiped and noticed some of my mucus plug and so I woke my partner. Then I started to experience some very light back pain (oh boy, I did not prepare for the back pain) as I continued to leak fluid.
I called the birth suite and explained what happened and they advised me to have some breakfast, bring our bags but leave them in the car, and come in to see if my waters had broken. Given I was not full term, I didn’t want to risk anything so we decided to head into the hospital after we organised some things at home, as of course we hadn’t completely finished packing thinking we still had a couple of weeks!
I began to feel light contractions that were probably about 5 minutes apart by the time we were on the way to the hospital. The car ride was so uncomfortable, I just wanted to move around to breathe through the sensations.
We arrived at the assessment centre, where we agreed to use CTG to monitor baby as she was technically not full term, they checked to see if my waters had broken and confirmed they had, and also advised I was 2 centimetres dilated!
That was when it really hit me that this was happening now! So I grabbed my oils and reassured myself that whilst this wasn’t the start to labour I had planned (for example, not being able to be very active) that things would be okay and we would meet our baby soon.
Unfortunately I had to have a cannula put in to give me antibiotics – this was another barrier as I was hooked up to another thing, but I pushed those thoughts aside and reminded myself that it was okay.
We waited for about 3 hours in the assessment centre while we waited for a birth suite and things progressed as we waited. I wasn’t able to move about because of the monitoring so I had to breathe through most of my surges laying down, but I remained focused and calm and with the help of my partner was able to get through them. The sensations felt uncomfortable but manageable.
By the time we were able to go to a birth suite, my contractions were getting to the point where I couldn’t lay down anymore. I was having to squat through them. And during my surges, my back pain was intense. My partner tried to relive it but despite his attempts, it was the most challenging thing for me to deal with.
Once we arrived in the birth suite, things began to move quite quickly. The midwife and student were amazing and asked me what I wanted to do – I said I need hot water on my back, I need the shower. They got me set up with the exercise ball, my partner got our speaker, and I quickly began to get into my zone as I completely focused on breathing through the contractions using the breathing techniques from hypnobirthing.
I was in my zone, and my partner was giving me light touch massage and tickles during my rests. However as I was so active in the shower the CTG portable monitor wasn’t picking up my baby. The midwife asked what I wanted to do and reminded me that I wanted an active labour and that the shower was helping my insane back pain during the surges. I asked about my other options and the midwife said they could put an electrode in baby’s head so they would be able to track the heart rate and I would have my freedom of movement back. My partner and I discussed it and decided that having an active labour was important so agreed to have it done. When she was doing it, she advised me that I was at least 7 centimetres dilated, and was doing amazing and to keep doing what I was doing.
We went back to the shower and I continued to breathe through my contractions with some gas. Then the surges began to become extremely intense to the point where no position in the shower was helping.
The midwife and student were completely led by me and mostly left me to do my thing with my partner.
I felt immense pressure and Ben went and got the midwife and she asked where I wanted to have the baby and I said not in the shower!
I got positioned so I was leaning over the bed and then I began to push through my surges. I then wanted to move onto my back, and they asked if I wanted to see her head to help me, and boy did that help! I was able to watch as with each surge, I pushed my baby girl out.
My second stage of labour was 45 minutes and I pushed her head and body out in the one surge. My midwife did not direct my pushing but simply supported what I was doing, she was completely lead by me and my contractions.
Whilst our birth didn’t happen exactly according to plan, my midwife did not once tell me what to do. Instead she provided guidance that was completely lead by what I wanted and what felt right to me.
It shocked me how independent I was, I felt so empowered, it was such an incredible experience.
My partner was able to say and do just what I needed as he was educated, and he was able to communicate and advocate for me when I was in my zone.
I honestly don’t think our daughters birth would have been so amazing if we hadn’t educated ourselves through hypnobirthing.