This mama’s “due date” was 4 January and leading up to, and after that day, she and her parter were doing all the things to try to get labour going…relaxing, walking, clary sage, acupuncture, expressing colostrum. On Friday 10 January, she consented to a stretch and sweep and she consented to another stretch and sweep on Monday 13 January. After the second stretch and sweep she used a breast pump as a form of nipple stimulation and found that she did experience tightenings while she was using it and that those tightenings continued all day. But as those tightening didn’t evolve into labour, she booked in for an induction on Thursday 16 January.
Her story takes over from that point, so I won’t share any more!
She did everything she could to have a positive birth…she had continuity of care, she committed to hypnobirthing, she had a supportive partner, she made informed decisions…and she did it!
In her story she talks about moments when she felt like her birth was slipping away, but the way I interpreted it, it seemed like she stayed in control the entire time. She was controlling her reactions, her choices (even if they were choices that she wished she didn’t have to make), and most importantly she controlled her mindset and choose to stay positive!
Here is her birth story, in her own words.
After reaching out to you last week and getting your advice to relax and do things we enjoy, we went straight to Coles and bought boxes of cake mix, chucked on the air con, and watched Netflix and baked all day. I ended up waking up at 3:30am the next morning with my waters breaking (induction was scheduled for 4:30pm that afternoon).
I phoned our midwife and we met her at the hospital about an hour later. It was then confirmed there was meconium present and because I hadn’t started contracting, it would be hospital policy to be induced via the syntocinon drip. My preference was to have a water birth, and so although I’d mentally prepared for the induction, I was still hoping to somehow be able to use the water as part of my labour given that my waters broke spontaneously. Unfortunately I was told that hospital policy also wouldn’t allow this. I had my TENs machine though and had been worried that I wouldn’t be able use it if I was in the bath, and so I tried to look at it as a potentially better alternative.
I must admit, I struggled with the syntocinon drip. I didn’t like being attached to something – much less something that I had to manually hold on to if I wanted to walk around. I found it challenging trying to move around and having roll the drip stand, hold my TENs machine, and keep the heart rate monitors that were strapped to me in place. I also found it frustrating each time the monitors would start beeping – I felt like I was trying to be calm and focused, however the environment was almost in direct contrast to that.
Instead of dwelling on the negative, I considered all the other positive techniques we could use to progress labour and so we had our Hypnobirthing Australia tracks playing, my partner was touching my ankle acupressure points, I had my affirmation cards in front of me, and I moved my body between the floor, squatting positions, standing up and the exercise ball.
My preference was to have no vaginal exams during labour and so, although I was offered one after four hours, I rejected it, and let our midwife know that I didn’t feel I’d really progressed. My contractions were strong but they didn’t feel like they were in the ‘right place’ (although I wasn’t sure what that was, this was just a gut feeling).
After laboring all day, towards the afternoon I started vomiting through contractions and falling asleep between them (it was rough!) and so at around 4:30pm I asked for a vaginal exam because although I was breathing through contractions and managing, I truly didn’t feel I was progressing and was starting to adopt negative thoughts (I can’t do this, when will it end, etc.). I knew the vaginal exam would either surprise me and show I was further progressed then I thought, or would confirm what I felt (that I wasn’t progressing).
Our midwife explained I was approximately 3 centimetres dilated and that my cervix was still really tight. She said she couldn’t entirely tell which direction baby was facing and as an example of how tight the lining of my cervix still was, she couldn’t feel any hair (my partner and I both have a full, thick heads of hair – and sure enough our baby was born with a full head of hair too).
This confirmed my thoughts, and so I asked what our options were. Our midwife explained that because there was meconium present when my waters broke and the perceived risk of infection, we would eventually be subjected to conversations around a c-section. This was in conjunction with me being 41+5, and so there may be another reason our baby hadn’t arrived yet and wasn’t moving downwards with much speed. We could continue to labour as we are, however the drip was up as high as it could go and so there was a very real possibility that labour wouldn’t progress fast enough to avoid the eventual c-section conversation. An alternative was to try an epidural with the aim of relaxing my pelvic floor (and the added bonus of pain relief). I tentatively accepted the epidural and hoped I would still have the opportunity to deliver my baby vaginally.
We had a great anesthetist who thoroughly explained what she was doing, the risks involved, how long it would last, how it would feel, and how it would be removed. She made me feel secure in our decision, and in understanding my hesitations, put me on such a low dosage that I could still feel my contractions. I had a button available to me which allowed me to increase the epidural at my discretion. I still felt in control of my body and my baby and felt relief.
I think if I knew beforehand that the solution given via epidural could be modified to suit the birthing woman, I would have considered it earlier.
I also wanted to mention (and thank) our midwives, who also helped make this process easier by turning down the syntocin drip so that I wasn’t contracting so frequently through the epidural procedure.
After the epidural had set in discussions started around IV antibiotics – again due to the risk of infection due to meconium and the time I’d been labouring. I felt this birth slipping away from me; no water birth, on the drip, vaginal exams, epidural, and now IV antibiotics. All because of meconium – which could of been there for days or weeks. I felt like I was slowly failing myself, having to let go of the birth preferences I’d been envisaging for the past nine months, and I kept seeing this ‘cascade of interventions’. I thought I might be forcing our baby to do things she might not want to do and was potentially going to subject her to drugs she didn’t need before she even had a chance to meet us and take a breath.
We refused initially, but learned that if we refused and our baby was born with perceived breathing difficulties that there would be more then one drug provided to her, and she may be taken out of the room. I’ll caveat this by saying I don’t feel these words were spoken to us to frighten us or pressure us, but were to ensure we were fully informed. Our midwife explained that it’s our choice, but she didn’t want us to refuse and then not be aware of what could be waiting on the other side.
My partner really wanted the antibiotics and so I put my trust in him and we accepted. I was told we’d need them again in four hours if I still hadn’t delivered, and so we waited as long as we could to have them, knowing that if I didn’t progress within the next few hours I’d likely have a c-section anyway (we were aiming to avoid the possibility of a second round of antibiotics through maneuvering the hospitals own system and policies).
I started to feel intense pressure in the ‘right places’ around two hours after receiving the epidural, and continued to breath through the contraction. I really relied on my bearing-down breathing techniques here because although it wasn’t ‘pain’, I could physically feel my baby moving down and all the associated stretching and moving that comes with it. At 10:15pm I had another vaginal exam and confirmed I was 10 centimetres. This was great news – the epidural had worked!
After waiting another 30 minutes to allow myself to stretch, I started to push using assistance from our midwife. Only 13 minutes later our baby was born (at 11:01pm) and placed straight onto my chest.
Although my birth didn’t go the way I would’ve preferred, I think we made the right choices with what was available to us and we managed the best we could – fully utilizing our hypnobirthing techniques from pregnancy and through labour.
Despite the induction and the epidural, I still felt like I was in tune with my body, my progress, and my baby.