Birth story - Jade and baby April

Just for some background, I was induced with my first daughter at 40 +12 back in 2014 in the UK. I labored and gave birth on my back as they had to monitor baby and I ended up having an episiotomy and also a second degree tear. They took a long time to stitch me up and that is quite an overriding memory from the day. Whilst I wasn’t unhappy with my first birth experience, I knew that I wanted to try and avoid the same interventions. This time around, I’m living in the USA where there is also a higher rate of interventions and c-sections, which again I wanted to avoid if possible. I’d heard great things about hypnobirthing and stumbled across the digital pack about half way into my pregnancy. LIFE CHANGER!

During an examination at nearly 41 weeks I was found to be 3cm dilated and 75% effaced and I had also started losing my mucus plug, I was really hoping that things would start on their own as I desperately wanted to avoid induction again and to experience a natural start to labor, but it wasn’t meant to be.

On the day of my induction we arrived at the hospital at 7.20am, checked in at the maternity desk and met the assigned nurse who would be spending the day with us. Her name was Liza and she led us to our room. My husband Matt got to work setting up the room by arranging our tea lights, hanging my birth affirmations and making sure that the lighting and temperature was just right. I went over my birth preferences with Liza and we discussed all of our wishes – an unmedicated birth where I am as mobile and upright as possible. Being UFO was a big part of my birth preferences so I was really pleased when she set me up with wireless monitoring on my belly so that I had the freedom to move around and use the tub if I wished. She also agreed that I could wear my own clothes rather than a hospital gown. The thing that won me over the most was when she brought me in a tray of breakfast, complete with eggs, potatoes and pancakes (so American!) Food is basically the biggest oxytocin stimulant for me so this was a good start!

At 8.37am the oxytocin drip was started, with the plan that the dosage would be increased incrementally throughout the day until surges became regular. Whilst we waited for the drip to start its magic I tucked into my breakfast, bouncing along to Barry Manilow on the birth ball (I’m an old lady at heart). At 9.30am I experienced my first noticeable surge.

Throughout the morning we laughed a lot, watched a bit of Frasier, chatted with Liza and snacked on Jelly Babies and Jaffa Cakes. We took a walk around the ward too and just generally stayed quite mobile. For the most part I would be quite animated and chatty and then when a surge started I would stay quiet and easily up breathe through them. Matt would rub my back and whisper my favorite words of affirmation to me. As each surge began I would imagine a rollercoaster making a steep ascent, reach the peak and then as the surge started to die down the rollercoaster would make its descent too. Other times I would simply breathe through the surge and listen to Liza and Matt chatting, it was a great distraction. I felt great and in control. Liza also continued to be amazing and seemed to be excited to share this hypnobirthing labor with us.

Established labor was noted down as starting from 12.45pm, surges were coming regularly with some lasting for over 2 minutes. I changed positions frequently, I could most frequently be found sitting on the birth ball leaning over the end of the bed, or standing up and leaning over the bed and I also briefly was on all fours on the bed leaning into a birth inflatable (C.U.B).

Moving on to the afternoon I started to find it difficult to stay upright. I was becoming really tired, I had been up since 4am and had been on my feet or bouncing on the ball all day, all I wanted to do was lie down on the bed and bury myself under the blanket. I really fought the urge though, I remembered the importance of staying upright so that gravity could help bring the baby downwards. Looking back now I would have told myself to trust my body!

I asked Matt to put on the birth affirmations mp3 for me so that I could get back into the zone and forget about my urge to lie down. I had lots of good associations with listening to the mp3, I had spent lots of time cuddling my first born on the sofa during the pregnancy, listening to the mp3 whilst she stroked my belly and blew raspberries on it. Shortly after the affirmations finished I gave into temptation and laid down on my side in the bed, I was so exhausted and just wanted to sleep. When I had voiced the desire to lie down I was relieved when Liza said that it was a good idea as I had been mobile all day and I should get some rest. I desperately didn’t want to slow labor down but it was reassuring to hear that it wasn’t a bad thing to lie down. I asked Matt if we could try using the TENS machine but I just found it irritating so we put it away after a couple of surges.

As things continued to intensify I asked if I could be examined, I just needed to know how far along I was. The midwife came in at around 2.40pm and had a look, my heart sank as she told us that I was 4.5cm dilated and 90% effaced. How could I have only progressed 1 1/2 cm since arriving! She tried to reassure me that I was doing great and that it would speed up but I was so bummed out, I didn’t know how I would cope with the possibility that this could go on for hours. I remember thinking that I should ask for the bath to be filled up to see if it would help ease the intensity of the surges but I simply did not want to move from the bed. I didn’t particularly want to talk either, I really went in on myself. I remained lying on my side and Liza bought over the peanut ball and placed it in between my legs, it’s designed to promote the best position for easy dilation and making sure baby is in a good position. I remember using it for quite a while but eventually asked for it to be taken away because I just wanted to curl up and cover myself head to toe in the blanket. Looking back I find it so interesting that I craved to be snuggled up in a dark, warm and safe space. The surges were becoming incredibly intense at this point and I was finding it harder to remain under control and bring myself back down to green during the rest periods. Liza asked me if I could feel any pressure in my rectum and I wasn’t entirely sure if I could. What I was sure of though was that I couldn’t go on anymore, telling Matt “I can’t do it, I can’t do it.” But as I was saying those words, I knew in the back of my mind that this was transition and that baby would be here very soon. Matt was being amazing and counting through the breathing with me, reminding me to bring myself back down to green in the rest periods and telling me how strong I was was. Soon enough there was no ignoring the pressure that was building down below, as well as the noises that were erupting from my mouth during the surges. Liza also noticed the change in me and had a quick look between my legs, which is when she turned to Matt and said “she’s complete.” I remember opening my eyes and asking her in disbelief if she meant that I was fully dilated, she confirmed that I was and called the midwife. I couldn’t believe that I had gone from 4.5cm to 10cm in about 45 minutes! With each urge to push I was emitting a throaty moan. The midwife arrived a few minutes after the call and supported my right leg up in the air whilst I pushed, I grabbed onto the side of the bed and she encouraged me to hold my knee instead to better propel my energy. I remember being concerned that I was lying on my side on the bed instead of being upright, but things were happening so fast I didn’t have the time to articulate that concern. I could clearly feel the baby’s head traveling downwards and out and after just a few minutes she was born, and still with the amniotic sac intact! I didn’t get to see this but Matt said it was like she was born in a bubble. It’s amazing to think how strong the amniotic sac must be for it not to have burst during the birth. They brought her straight to my chest for skin to skin and left the cord intact as per my wishes. Liza used a towel to clean her up a little bit whilst she was on my chest and peeled away parts of the amniotic sac left on her, something she said that she has never had to do in 20 years of nursing! I didn’t need to have any stitches, I only had a small graze which I was so pleased about after what happened during my first birth.

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I could honestly shout from the rooftops about Siobhan's digital course. Understanding the science of oxytocin vs adrenaline was so interesting and most of all so helpful. Making sure I stayed in that green zone during labor was all the more important to us because we knew the implications of getting to red. Liza praised the way that I trusted my body but I don’t think that trust would have completely been there without the tools that the course provided me. The course was a massive help to my husband too, he was the best birth partner I could have ever wished for, he had purpose rather than being a sideline spectator, my keeper of the cave, having the knowledge kept him calm and in the green zone too. Overall, I felt so much more connected with my body and the birth experience than I did the first time, there was just so much love in the room between my husband and I as he supported me through the birth and this was only amplified when our little girl arrived. Thank you Siobhan for creating the online course so that we could access your teachings and have a little slice of home all the way from Seattle, USA!

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