Birth story - Kat and baby Oscar

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Positive birth story from a first time Mum. I'm English, from London, but live in Cape Town. Get comfy, it's a long one...

I've always been quite terrified of giving birth, so much so that the fear definitely contributed to me waiting until I was in my late thirties before getting pregnant. I am SO grateful and happy that I stumbled across the positive birthing company on YouTube, it was the poo video that sold it to me! Luckily for me, the digital pack had just launched and so I had access to the course despite being in South Africa, where they're a bit behind the times when it comes to hypnobirthing.

My husband Rob was a bit sceptical but we watched together and he was blown away by the science and logic, as was I. The course really made sense for us and, most crucially, it took away the fear, for which I am so, so grateful, as I know that without the course and mindset it gave me I would have been dreading birth and had a very different experience.

Midwife-led care during pregnancy isn't very common here, midwife led birthing units aren't available and I just wasn't confident that home birth was for me, so I went with the flow and had physician-led care with an obstetrician at a small private hospital. Towards the end of my pregnancy I was really considering changing to a home birth, following the confidence I gained from the course and particularly after an appointment with my doctor at 36 weeks, when he was already mentioning induction as a standard pre-40 weeks. He was a little dismissive of me when I said I didn't even want to discuss induction until 40 weeks +, which left me feeling quite upset. After the appointment I went home and set out my birth preferences, with the intention of discussing them at our 38 week appointment. I'd also planned to do the hospital tour again so I could discuss my preferences with the midwives on duty. Then I wanted to watch the entire course again and make a decision about possibly changing to home birth.

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Well, those plans all went out of the window last Monday morning, when I was 37+6, and after an amazing weekend where we ditched our long list of jobs to do in favour of a hike in the mountains (I did get some funny looks, being quite huge, but was determined to walk with Rob and our dog as long as I could and had been regularly hiking all throughout pregnancy), a picnic and a trip to the beach, I guess the oxytocin was flowing and our baby decided the time was right. During the night I woke up a few times with a period like pain, but was sleeping so badly in general and so used to weird pains that I didn't think anything of it. I was absolutely convinced that my baby was going to be late, so there's no way I thought it was early labour, I was so in denial!

But, after getting up at 6am I lost my mucus plug. Rob was super excited but I told him not to be silly, it could still be a week or two and he must go to work. Then pretty much as soon as he left, I went for a wee and my waters were trickling. I was still very much in denial at this point so had some toast then went upstairs to shower, where my waters gushed out all over the floor. I messaged Rob but told him to stay where he was, I wasn't having surges and didn't want him to start paternity leave early, plus I still had plans to take the dog for a walk and clean the car! Then I sat down on my ball to speed watch some of the videos from the course, hilarious now I look back. I started getting surges around 11am and got Rob to come home as at this point I realized how much I needed him by my side.

I had put off calling the doctor's rooms as I knew they'd say to come in straight away, when I wanted to spend early labour getting the oxytocin flowing at home. But the surges ramped up quite quickly and by the time Rob got home, I knew we had to leave. The car journey in retrospect was quite funny, my husband was trying to get me to focus on breathing (eyes closed and a cloth with the Mio spray really helped with this), at the same time he was pointing out a calm sea and dolphins and whales along the coastal road to the hospital, which didn't go down so well at the time but was actually nice for visualisation later on.

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When we arrived at the hospital they took one look at me and took me to a room on the labour ward immediately. Rob explained our preferences as best he could without the lovely document I'd done but not yet printed. The surges were quite intense, my doctor examined me and I was 6cms dilated already, which I couldn't quite believe. I ended up having an epidural a short while later - it had always been an option in my preferences and I was finding the surges very intense. Once this kicked in I was really able to focus, Rob was amazing and really was on my side and by my side. We had some music playing and the most magical moments holding hands, looking into each others eyes, hearing our son's heartbeat on the monitor and knowing we'd get to meet him soon.

We'd discussed turning down the epidural so I could be more mobile for the next stage, but things happened quickly and suddenly our son was showing signs of distress and there was talk of having to get him out of there, so we used our BRAIN and remained calm and accepted the syntocinon and very quickly I was ready to push. I felt focussed and calm, even when told I'd broken my coccyx at some point and it was curved in the way, and my baby was posterior facing and his heartbeat was slowing down too much, so if he wasn't born soon they'd need to take extra measures, with a trip to theatre mentioned.

This made me focus more, I tried the down breathing but I think my instincts took over and I was in my own groove. In the end I was pushing for a very short time, it's all a bit of a blur but not more than 20 minutes. Our son was born at 15:58 weighing 3.12 kgs (6.8lbs), with a vacuum delivery and a small tear. The placenta plopped out on its own a few minutes later. We had slightly delayed clamping but he was needing attention from the paediatrician so it was only delayed by a minute or so, but the chord was pale. It was then a few moments before I had skin to skin and properly met our little boy, Oscar. Despite the syntocinon, I really think the oxytocin vibes were so strong and the feeling was magical.

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I've had mixed emotions whilst processing the birth but they are largely positive. I was feeling so determined to breathe my baby out with as little intervention as possible, but ultimately in the moment you absolutely do what's best for your baby. The digital course armed us with an amazing mindset and toolbox and took away the fear, so thank you Siobhan, the message you're spreading is so important and I will be spreading the word far and wide

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