Birth story - May and baby Redmond

It’s my baby’s second birthday tomorrow, so I’m sharing how I used Hypnobirthing to navigate my induced VBAC at 38 weeks for @thepositivebirthcompany #positivebirthstoryproject

It was a ‘high risk’ pregnancy, for various reasons, but mainly because I had Obstetric Cholestasis (OC) and Gestational Diabetes (GD) as well as a ‘colourful’ obstetric history. I’d been meeting with my consultant regularly and the plan was to keep an eye on my blood results and take it day by day. On the Wednesday, I met with my consultant who was happy that the OC meds I was on were helping to lower my bile acids and I was managing my GD well through diet. She suggested reassessing on Monday when my next bloods were in but I was to come in almost daily for monitoring and be extremely vigilant with baby’s movements.

That night I couldn’t sleep. The itching (a symptom of OC) had me up and anxious (as it had the past few weeks) so I did a guided relaxation. It might sound whack but this helped me block out the noise of the worry and tap into my instinct. Something was telling me Monday was too far off. I called the antenatal clinic in the morning and the midwife told me to come in and managed to squeeze me in with the consultant on duty. He was great. BRAIN came in so handy during our chat and we both agreed that an induction the next day (Friday) was the best plan.

Friday came and I was on the antenatal ward bright and early. The first thing I did was set up my curtained ‘bay’ with birth ball, positive affirmations, stereo and headphones, eye mask, snacks on the side, a pillow from home and some lavender on a hanky (make sure you check your hospital’s policy on using essential oils on the ward). It could have been a 5 minute makeover but I drew it out to keep me occupied while I waited to receive the first stage of the induction process - ‘Propess’, a removable pessary. My husband, Colin, was taking the kiddos to school and I told him to go to work until anything happened, so I kept myself occupied with magazines and relaxations.

Depending on your reason for induction, you likely will be encouraged to go home at this stage but it was recommended I stay in for monitoring. I welcomed this. Home for me was my three young children plus my parents who were there to mind them in a three bed terrace (not zen)!

The Propess brought on some surges within a few hours but they were not strong and had an irregular pattern, despite being fairly frequent.

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Staying in for induction did not mean being confined to the bed. I broke up the time walking the corridors, exploring the hospital and people watching. Colin and I even ventured out for pizza. In hindsight that was not the best idea, I looked like an escapee with my TED sock/Birkenstock combo, messy hair and hospital bands! I also felt really uncomfortable being in public so we quickly returned to base camp.

On the antenatal ward the hours feel like days. It’s also very easy to tap into everyone else’s stories/dramas in the beds around you. There were a lot of queue jumpers, making their way to delivery suite before me (the bastards!) Suddenly that scene on Friends where Rachel gets angry that it’s not her turn felt somewhat relatable! It wasn’t always easy to shut out the chaos and I don’t know what I would have done without the relaxations that I listened to regularly, while rocking on the birth ball, as well as my eye mask. The bathroom was also amazing - the perfect place to literally lock out the world and an easy space to set up with everything you need to relax (fairy lights, bath oils, the works!)

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On Saturday afternoon, the midwife suggested examining my cervix and I was keen to know if anything was happening. She exclaimed, with an almost unsettling enthusiasm, “I can get a finger in!” Which meant my cervix had progressed enough for the next stage of induction - breaking the waters. We just had to wait until delivery suite was less busy.

It was a long wait. About 7 hours but that seemed like forever. After shift changeover the new midwife on antenatal ward came to introduce herself. She was rude to me (unusual for a midwife) and started discussing the likelihood of caesarean. I felt like I was losing control and had a wobble. Colin was amazing at this point, calming me with light touch massage, helping me use ‘up breathing’ and encouraging me. I also called my sister, a midwife - correction, an awesome midwife - who put me back in the right mindset all while serving pizzas at a festival! It’s so important to reach out for support to help you through any tough bits.

I decided to send Colin home so that we would both try to get a good sleep, it was likely to be an eventful day tomorrow. He’d not long left when I was told delivery suite was ready for me, so he had to turn around and abandon his leftover curry/sleep!

The loveliest midwife came to collect me from the ward to take us to delivery suite. She was so calm and also enthusiastic about Hypnobirthing. We set up the room - dimmed the lights, sprayed room spray, put my favourite relaxation on repeat. I was strapped up to the monitor to check baby was happy enough for the next step. I didn’t feel strapped to the bed though, and spent this time on all fours rocking during surges and resting my head down in between.

During this time my surges were becoming stronger and more regular. Now that I had reached delivery suite I felt that I could let my body fully let go, and it was helping.

Around midnight after about an hour on the monitor, the midwife came back in with the doctor to discuss breaking my waters. It was a very calm conversation, where we discussed the benefits and risks of going ahead and exactly what the process would involve. I felt fully in control and it was nice to be able to take each stage of induction at a time. I decided to go ahead and have my waters broken but requested that we held off the Syntocinon drip unless a need became apparent, rather than following their 2 hour guideline. I didn’t meet any resistance to this.

After breaking the waters the doctor told me I was 2-3cm dilated. The surges became stronger still and I managed them bouncing on the birth ball. I had the Gas and Air mouthpiece in my hand, just in case at first, but as the sensations intensified I began to use it and it really helped me through. Up breathing is really helpful with Gas and Air. You breathe in through your mouth instead of nose, but the long out breath means you don’t take too much in and keeps you calm and controlled.

I felt very hot and Colin mopped my brow. Thankfully we had remembered to pack a flannel and didn’t have to slap a dampened maternity pad on my head like in my previous birth!

Transition hit very suddenly, and I really relied on Colin to help me through. He gave me lots of encouragement, telling me how close we were to meeting our baby. He also suggested moving to the bathroom, the change of scenery really put me in a fresh headspace. I spent about half an hour on the toilet, leaning on and hanging off Colin while he stood in front of me. At one point I nearly pulled his trousers down while I was sat on the toilet, which would have been an interesting photo opportunity! I was too in the zone to laugh at this stage though!

Shortly after, I felt the pushing sensations take over my body and told the midwife it was time. She and Colin helped me back over to the bed (birthing into the toilet didn’t appeal). I got on all fours and used down breathing, very quickly he was crowning, and a couple of surges later he was fully out and the midwife passed him between my legs to meet him and find out that he was a him!

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The third stage was also very smooth, and I didn’t need any stitches. The midwife was very much in the background while we enjoyed lots of skin to skin and he had his first breastfeed.

It was truly magical, and I hope my story provides reassurance to any high risk mothers or those facing induction. It’s always possible to have a positive birth experience.

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