Birth story - Katie and baby Lachlan

I had the most wonderful birthing experience, and I couldn’t have done it without the empowerment and know-how from PBC! We found the course at the beginning of 3rd trimester and loved the purpose it gave the birth partner, plus all the the science and logical thinking.

My due date came and went and, even though I knew it wasn’t an eviction date and “my baby will come when he’s ready”, it didn’t stop me from trying every natural ripening process out there, or from getting frustrated at people’s well-meaning comments and advice. Yes, I know I’m still in one piece… no, I haven’t had my baby yet… Had a sweep on Thursday at my 41-week midwife appointment and my induction was scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Lost my plug Friday morning and lapped up the time with my husband and dog. Did a final clean of the house Saturday morning, drove the 2 hours into town, had a last date as a twosome and went to the hospital. That’s a positive point about induction - in our case, it was a set end date and this Type-A mother could feel organised!!

I had Cervidil tape inserted at 1:45pm (very comfortable). Relaxed with my husband. Started to feel a bit swirly down there, so put on some peppermint oil. Bowel clearout… feeling better.

Noticed over dinner that I was getting some mild cramps that built up and went away, so started timing them. 30-40 seconds in length, every 2-3 minutes. Grabbed a midwife to see if she could tell me if they were contractions - she said that yes, they were, but they were just a side effect of the Cervidil and that “you’ll know when they’re the real deal.” Surges kept coming, so we decided to practice UFO positions for when I was actually in labour (ha!) Kept doing this until 7:30pm, when surges had gone up a notch in uncomfortableness. Asked our midwife if she thought we were in labour - no, but I should get some rest so that they could break my waters tomorrow and I had enough energy to push, and she could give me some codeine or a sleeping pill if I’d like. Said no to both. At this point, my husband had to go to his hotel down the road as visiting hours were over. I was VERY emotional and didn’t want him to go!!

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Breathed through surges until 9:30pm, when I went out to the nurses station and asked for that codeine, naively thinking that I wasn’t in labour. Also got a couple of heat packs as cramps were now radiating round to my lower back. Codeine did not take the edge off and I spent the next few hours being very indecisive, moving from the shower to the toilet to leaning over the sink to trying to sleep. Asked for an exercise ball at about 10:30pm to see if I could stretch out my back/hips a bit. Got the midwife at 11:30pm (different one, shift change) and felt that I couldn’t talk while having a surge. By this point they were about every minute and lasting for a minute, with a few back-to-back and a few longer breaks. The midwife said that my contractions were still irregular and that I needed to get into bed because I’d wear myself out with all this swaying and would be too exhausted to push tomorrow. I was again offered a sleeping pill, which I declined. She tucked me in with heat packs, but then said something really helpful - she wanted me to think positively and that she had seen lots of tall women nail labour (I’m 6’). So, I stayed in bed and every time I got a surge, I thought, “You are a tall, redheaded woman and you can do this for all the tall, redheaded women out there!” It gave me so much strength, feeling like I was part of this epic team of strong women. Breathed through and tried to relax my body (couldn’t stop a bit of foot pedalling, though!)

So this is where it becomes obvious that I was in complete denial that I was in labour. Slept on and off, waking with a larger surge, breathing through and thinking my tall, redheaded thoughts. I was determined not to look at the clock in case I’d only been at it for five minutes. Started to feel like I had pent-up wind with surges… Woke up again with a big surge, then my body pushed. I was suddenly wide awake. Ummm. Waited a beat - a really mild surge, and my body pushed again. My first thought: was my body getting rid of the gas?? Looked at the clock - 1:15am. Went to the toilet, now starting to cotton on but still wanting to not get my hopes up. Pushed twice on the loo and had two gushes of urine each time. Right. Went out to the nurses station and told them my body was pushing by itself - nurse came in and checked me. 5cm and membranes bulging. Time to take out the tape and go to birth suite!

Called my husband, walked over to birth suite with the midwife, stopping for a few pushes along the way. Lots of pressure! Midwife commented that she thought I had a really high pain threshold - but try to not push, because my waters might break prematurely and I wasn’t dilated enough yet. Got over, asked for a room with a bath and got THE room - #7, the one with the beach mural I had seen on our hospital tour and dreamed about giving birth in. The midwives started to run the bath, I chatted to them and leaned against the bed during pushes, automatically breathing down. Another gush of fluid… apparently this puddle was my waters breaking! My husband arrived, I brought him up to speed (pausing to lean and let my body push) and asked if it was too late for the birth playlist. Music came on, I heard hubby talking to the midwives and getting the lighting sorted, and I leaned and breathed. My husband started to put his hands on my hips for the UFO positions we’d practiced and I just went, “Nope!” Suddenly not trusting in my squatting ability after a push and making some strange, grunting sounds, I asked the midwives if I should get on the bed. Hopped on, leaning against the back of the bed. At this point, the midwives seemed to kick into gear and they said, “Oh! Baby’s coming! I think we’d better stop running the bath.” Fine with me, I felt like a wrestler on the ropes - cheer squad around me, husband giving me water and positive affirmations. And then it all happened very quickly: baby’s head was crowning, I was asked not to push for a moment, and then our little Lachlan was born at 2:17am, feet breaking the sac on his way out. Onto my chest straight away for skin-to-skin.

Physiological third stage after 20 minutes, clamped cord after placenta was out. We had the most beautiful few hours in our newborn bubble just cuddling, breastfeeding and staring at our perfect little boy. Did get a second-degree tear, but didn’t feel it happening.

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I couldn’t be more proud with how our story went - it really gave me confidence and motivation for the first couple of weeks with a gassy, cluster-feeding newborn! We stayed in hospital for the next couple of days, just because we live rurally and wanted to get all his tests/jabs done. The midwives came and found us when they were on shift to congratulate us on our birth - one even said that I restored her faith in the power of women. We really can do anything 💪. The only “pain” I felt was the local anaesthetic needles for when I was getting my stitches - I would go back and give birth again tomorrow. THANK YOU Siobhan for giving me an experience I will always cherish ❤️

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