Hypnobirthing is not just for first time mothers!
This was Jess’s third birth but her first hypnobirth. Her first baby was breech and so she had a caesarean. Her second baby was breech but turned after an ECV. Because she had been thinking she would have another caesarean, she wasn’t prepared for the resulting vaginal birth and freaked out (her words)! When she became pregnant with her third, she wanted more preparation and control and so turned to hypnobirthing. She also enlisted the support of a student doula. The combination of hypnobirthing and having a doula on her birth team was exactly what she needed to ensure she had a positive third birth experience.
Here is Jude’s birth story, as written by his amazing mother!
I organised for my mum to come over to my house to be with the kids, and when she arrived, Dave and I went to her place to enjoy an empty house and to get into a good labouring zone. Her house is closer to the hospital so I thought this arrangement would be best as then the drive to hospital would be 20 minutes instead of 40 minutes.
By the time we got to my mum’s place at 11:00am my contractions were around 6 minutes apart and starting to last longer, but I just relaxed and breathed through them. The weather was 39 degrees that day so we had the aircon blasting in my mum’s room – the room was dark and cool, I had my exercise ball and yoga mat on the floor, and I just lent over the ball swaying whilst listening to the birth affirmations track. I found this was the only track I wanted to listen to and I had it on repeat – I felt anxious if it stopped! I found that it really kept me feeling relaxed, positive, and focused. I didn’t want to talk in between contractions, I found that if I kept swaying and listening to the affirmations, I felt more prepared for the surges and was able to breathe through them easily. I felt like I was doing well, but expected I had many hours ahead of me. At this stage, I also had the TENS machine on and was using the boost button for each surge and I found it was helping with the pain.
We had contacted our student doula, Sammy, and arranged for her to meet us at my mum’s place and we would decide together when to make our way into hospital. I wanted to labour at home for longer this time as I felt that would give me the best chance at the natural birth I wanted. She was was expected to arrive at 1:00pm. However at 12:30pm Dave noticed the contractions were now 5 minutes apart and lasting for up to 90 seconds, so he rang our midwife to ask her if she thought we needed to come in. She said it was up to us, no rush as she thought the baby wasn’t coming any time soon. Famous last words! I told Dave to wait until Sammy arrived, and then we would head in. In the next half an hour my surges really began to intensify and I found I really had to focus and breathe through them. This is when I noticed a few doubts creeping into my head about if I could keep going like this. I believe this was my first crisis of confidence and I was desperate for Sammy to arrive as I felt like I needed some support to keep me focused.
When Sammy arrived at 1:00pm she said I was very calm and doing a great job, however I got up off the floor, expressed my worries and doubts, and told her I was feeling sick and hot (in hindsight this was transition). I was feeling flustered because I knew we had to get into the car and drive 20 minutes and I just couldn’t make myself leave the room. I kept stalling – I would go to leave but then get another surge which would bring me to the ground. The surges were now quickly getting closer together and becoming very intense. I felt like these surges were moving the baby down because the pressure was insane. I felt a gush of fluid and knew things were picking up and that we had to go. We walked out to the car, the heat from outside made me feel sick, and just before I got into the car, I got this BIG and powerful surge which had me beant over the back of the car. When it ended I had this incredible feeling to do a poo! I had no idea that this meant the baby was close, I actually thought I needed to poo and could not get in the car in case I had an accident. Sammy took me back inside, and quietly told Dave to call our midwife and let her know what was happening.
At this stage I feel like my calm hypnobirthing techniques went out the window and I was taken over by a crazy and wild instinct to get this baby out of me! Sammy suggested I sit on the toilet and actually see if I needed to poo. I sat on the toilet and then my body just automatically started to bear down and I was taken over by this overwhelming primal urge to push and I just couldn’t stop it! Dave was on the phone to the midwife who could hear me yelling and she said to call an ambulance as she didn’t think we would make it in time. Sammy asked me to see if I could feel a head but I couldn’t.
Dave called the ambulance at 1:30pm and they instructed him to get me off the toilet and have me lie down. Sammy took me back into my mum’s room and luckily she had put towels on the bed in case my waters broke. We moved the towels to the floor and I lay down on my side. I felt like I was in a complete out of control frenzy. I had never felt the sensations of pushing out a baby so it was a bit scary at first, I couldn’t get into a rhythm. I found it hard to catch my breath and I was in complete shock that I was so close to giving birth. I knew my body was on autopilot and that I couldn’t stop what was happening – it took me maybe 10 minutes to get used to the sensations and to work with them to push the baby out. I had a moment where I knew there was no midwives or paramedics there to deliver this baby, but I didn’t care, I just had to get this baby out of me. Sammy was on the floor next to me trying to keep me calm, Dave was on the phone to the ambulance, and I was on the floor making the most insane noises I have ever made!
Next thing I know, I can hear the ambulance arrive, and I can also feel this baby moving down. I did not want to get up off the floor, or get onto the stretcher, so I gave a big push and then I heard the paramedic say “Oh I can see a head now, we arent going anywhere, this baby is coming right now.” Knowing the baby was crowning filled me with confidence that it was nearly over. Sammy suggested I roll over onto my hands and knees, and I gave a big push and felt such relief when the head was out. Then one more small push and out came a slippery wet little baby into the hands of the paramedic. I looked through my legs and I could see his eyes wide open just looking up. He was so calm and pink, but he wasn’t crying. The paramedic was rubbing his chest with a towel and he was gurgling and just taking it all in. I was in shock. I couldnt believe I had done it, and that I had pushed him out so quickly. It was 1:55pm.
They passed him up to me and I stripped off my shirt and bra and got him straight onto my chest and he then began to cry, and I could see how relieved the paramedics were. They said they needed to give me an injection to get the placenta out but I declined, so we stayed attached together, probably both in shock!
I was then transported to the RBWH with him on my chest the entire time. He never cried, he just looked up at me. The paramedic who delivered him said it was only her second delivery and that she was so glad at how smooth and uncomplicated it was.
When we got to the birthing suites, I was greeted by my midwife who was so surprised that I had birthed the baby so quickly. I told her I wanted to birth the placenta naturally so I got on the birthing stool and tried to get Jude to latch but he wasn’t really interested. I sat there for what felt like forever, hunched over because the cord was a bit on the short side. I tried to push it out but it wasn’t happening. I also tried sitting on the toilet but that didn’t work either. About an hour after his birth I decided I was so uncomfortable from hunching over, I just wanted to deliver the placenta. Plus I was also feeling some pain from down below due to a tear. So I agreed to get the injection and get the placenta out. I was a bit dissapointed because I really wanted to birth it naturally, but it just wasn’t happening.
On reflection, I am really happy with my birth. I avoided continuous monitoring, having an IV cannula in, and any intervention. I also avoided another potential cesarean due to breech presentation (I had a successful ECV this time as well) . So another VBAC but this time a very empowering and positive experience.
Another thing I have really noticed when I compare my recovery from my last birth, VBAC with an epidural, is how different my pelvic floor feels. After my last birth where I had an epidural and so was bearing down and pushing without any sensation for over an hour, I felt like my pelvic floor really took a beating. This time around it feels so much stronger.
Hypnobirthing played a HUGE part in my ability to stay calm and stay positive. Especially when things got hectic towards the end!
I knew that my body knew what to do, that my baby was working with my body, and that all would be okay. I honestly never felt panicked.
Now that I have had a hypnobirth, I believe that it really is mind over matter. All the months of practicing and visualising my labour, all the practice breathing and relaxing, really worked.
The word that kept swirling around my head during labour is one that my good friend (who also had a hypno home birth) told me when I asked for her advice – SURRENDER. I truly believe that as a guiding word really helped me – giving in to the power of childbirth because it truly is amazing and it is what we are designed to do.
Being taught by someone who is so passionate about positive birth was what made me feel so enthusiastic about doing it myself.