Andrea, a first time mum, had her baby at a Birth Centre, after being taught HypnoBirthing by Katheryn. Anxious before she started the course, she remained calm and in control throughout her labour and birth and says she would have happily given birth the next day. Here is her story:
I had been on maternity leave for approximately 5 weeks before baby decided to make an appearance. I wasn’t complaining, the freezer was full of home cooking, the home birth pool was inflated and I felt happy and calm having had the opportunity to practice the breathing and visualisation techniques taught in the hypnobirthing classes my husband and I had attended. It had been nice to have some time to prepare and relax.
Throughout the pregnancy I hoped that my baby would be a little late as I wanted to have my baby at a Birth Centre which was due to open 1 day after my estimated due date. This was important to me because I did not want to give birth in a traditional hospital setting. Plan B was to give birth at home. The tour of the Birth Centre made things seem more real and I felt happy and excited at the prospect of meeting my baby and not at all frightened about giving birth, something I never thought I would say before I did hypnobirthing.
At almost 39 weeks pregnant my community midwife offered to perform a stretch and sweep, however, I resisted this as I did not feel this was necessary given that I was not yet 39 weeks pregnant. I had read Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth and was keen to have as natural a birth as possible without any intervention. Knowing that if I saw the same midwife at my appointment the following week she would be encouraging me to have the stretch and sweep (and booking me in for an induction) I knew I had to be proactive, so I booked myself in for a session of reflexology. It was very relaxing but didn’t bring on labour. Baby obviously wasn’t quite ready. Thankfully I saw a different midwife the following week and she was happy to let me role into my 40th week without any intervention. A friend suggested stimulating my acupressure points to bring on labour and I decided to have a session of acupuncture. I knew that if labour did not start by itself, I would be admitted to hospital for an induction and I would be unable to have my baby at the Birth Centre.
I woke on the Saturday without event. I had started enjoying a daily walk since starting maternity leave for some exercise and to relieve boredom and my husband and I decided to go for a walk on the Downs around 3pm. We parked near the ice cream van on the Downs and had reached Worral Road when I became aware every so often of a period type of niggle. The niggles became more frequent by the time we got back to the car but I had no idea that these were early contractions. My husband drove us home and I settled in the chair around 5pm with a post Christmas mince pie and my hypnobirthing CD where I drifted off to sleep until around 7pm.
When I woke I was aware that I was still having niggles so decided to write down how often these were happening. I still did not realise that these niggles were early contractions not just Braxton Hicks; my waters had not broke and I had not experienced a show. I decided to try out the TENS machine with the practice electrodes just to check the machine worked! I was still easily able to use the calm breathing to breathe through them. By 9pm the contractions had become stronger and I felt unable to eat dinner. My husband bought my mat into the lounge for me to lie on. I moved between the sofa and the mat finding that being on all fours during a contraction and moving with the contraction whilst doing the surge breathing worked for me. I found the Tens machine very helpful.
By this time, hubbby was making note of the time of contractions which were now becoming stronger and more frequent. I found the contractions were still bearable and not a sensation I would describe as painful, more powerful. Around 11pm my husband told me the birthing pool had started to deflate a little so ran me a bath. He realised things were moving along and asked me if I wanted to have the baby at home or go to the Birth Centre. Deflated pool aside and knowing that the pool would take around 45 minutes to fill and that we had not yet called a midwife, I decided that I wanted to go to the Birth Centre so my husband called the unit. As I was able to speak through the contractions the midwife told me not to hurry and come along in an hour or so.
We left the house just after midnight. It was quite uncomfortable travelling in the car as I could not take up my preferred position on all fours. Thankfully the traffic was non-existent. The contractions were getting progressively stronger and I found it difficult to get in and out of the car whilst having one. When we arrived at the Birth Centre, a midwifery assistant brought a wheelchair and we were showed to the Suite and told to settle in whilst the midwife left briefly to read my notes.
I was feeling very warm and kept feeling the urge to urinate. Whilst on the toilet I had the show. I found this very scary as I was expecting something like a period rather than a small sac (like a bubble) and I didn’t know what it was. My waters still hadn’t broke and I felt the need to push. I asked my husband to press the buzzer to call for our midwife as I was quite frightened at what had just happened. Our midwife came and between contractions examined me. I found this quite uncomfortable and used some gas and air to ease the discomfort. She told us that I was 10cm dilated and asked if I wanted to have the baby. By this time I was deeply in a trance like state from the hypnobirthing so my husband had to speak for me and I was helped into the birth pool where I had been keen to give birth.
I found that being on my knees was the most comfortable position for me and I was able to use the handle to hold onto whilst I rocked in the water which helped to soothe the contractions together with gas and air. The contractions when very powerful made me feel like wretching a little. The sensation can only be described as needing to open ones bowels. Time passed very quickly and I had little concept of time. I have since been told that this is very common for hypnobirthing mothers.
After a while the contractions started to drop off and unfortunately so did baby’s heartbeat so much so that an emergency ambulance was called to take us to Hospital. Our midwife called for the senior midwife. I remember hearing the concern in our midwife’s voice and I was told that I had to get out of the pool as baby was struggling. I was helped out of the pool and onto the bed. Once out of the pool my contractions started to return and I had something to push with again, however, there was now some urgency to get baby out as the heartbeat had slumped and the ambulance crew were asked to come up and wait outside the room.
The decision was taken that I needed an urgent episiotomy to help deliver baby quickly. Having put in my birth plan that I did not want an episiotomy unless an emergency, our midwife asked my husband’s consent to perform the procedure (I was still deeply in a trance type state) which he consented to. I was given a local anaesthetic and the cut made. I was told to put my chin to my chest and push as hard as I could on each contraction that followed. This enabled baby to be born within a couple of contractions.
Baby was then placed on my stomach. It took a while for me to realise that the sensation leading to my stomach was the cord and the baby as I was so concerned about whether my baby was alive.
Unbeknown to everyone, the cord had been wrapped around baby’s neck twice but baby was fine. The midwife waited until the cord had stopped pulsating and my husband cut the cord declaring baby to be a beautiful little girl weighing 6lb 3oz. Baby was fine and she was placed on my chest for some skin to skin.
For all those mums to be reading or listening to this, please do not be frightened. I would say that the end where I had the episiotomy and actually gave birth to my daughter may sound very scary but it happened very quickly and there wasn’t time for panic.
Hypnobirthing really helped me to stay calm (perhaps too calm for the midwives liking!) and I would thoroughly recommend it to all mothers to assist you in having a positive birth. You wouldn’t sit an exam and expect to get good marks without preparing for it and childbirth is no different.