Mama S says: “I want to thank you Claire for giving us the Hypnobirthing tools and the belief that my VBAC would be possible. I have been singing the praises of Hypnobirthing to every pregnant friend/family member and I truly believe that my positive attitude going into this birth along with our increased knowledge and confidence to make informed choices at each step helped us to achieve such a positive experience.”
I got my VBAC! Here is my Birth Story…
I am sitting here writing this in a rare period of calm in our household; you don’t get many sit down and have some time to reflect moments with a newborn and a toddler so I am seizing this chance as my daughter is in bed and our baby boy is snoozing to write my birth story with the aid of a cup of tea and a Wispa! Apologies in advance for the typos, I feel I am on borrowed time and I can already see little arms and legs beginning to wriggle from the Moses basket!!
We knew baby was due on April 8th but with midwife appointments leading up to 40 weeks indicating baby was ‘very low and engaged’ and sciatica ensuring I got that ‘sleepless night practice’ in early, I remained optimistic baby would arrive as close to the date as possible! The 8th came and went with no signs of imminent labour and I tried my hardest to ignore the seemingly constant calls and messages from friends and family asking, “Any news?” Add to that increasing anxiety about Covid possibly preventing my mum being able to come and look after our 2 year old and faced with the very real possibility that I would have to give birth without my husband, it’s fair to say I was not the calm, positive hypnomama I had been practising so hard to be in the weeks leading up!
However just as I was beginning to lose hope, on the afternoon of the 11th, whilst sitting like a beached whale playing in my daughter’s paddling pool, I had a few noticeably more painful tightenings than the Braxton Hicks I had previously been experiencing. They were mild but seemed be starting to fall into a regular pattern coming every 15mins or so. With mum over an hour away and this being our 2nd baby we decided that evening to ring her to come over just in case things ramped up that evening.
I knew this was still early days and so we decided to get an early night and I tried to sleep as much as possible with the help of podcasts to distract me. The tightenings hadn’t seemed to progress and so by the morning we decided to carry on with our day as normally as possible. We played games and read books with our daughter and in the afternoon walked around Heath Park. That evening came and pains were still no closer than about every 10 mins. I was getting tired as they were still painful enough to prevent any significant sleep and I began to stress about being in latent phase for days and days… In the early hours I had my show which began to reassure me things were indeed happening! The next morning came and we reset; we decided to cocoon ourselves away with the Hypnobirthing relaxations, a box set binge (Outlander as it’s so utterly ridiculous) and a nice bath. My partner poured water over my back and lit scented candles and I began to get my head back into the calm state I had prepped for. Another walk around the park and on return surges were intensifying and now coming every 7 minutes lasting for over a minute. Managed to eat some dinner in between surges and put my daughter to bed. At this point I was pretty sure things were kicking into gear and I got quite emotional about saying goodnight to her- second time mums be prepared for this moment, the realisation this might be our last moment ‘just the two of us’ it really knocked me for six!
That evening my partner made sure the last few bits were in the hospital bag and I used the birth ball and remained very active, pacing the living room in between surges which were now coming every 5 minutes. As I had a section with my daughter, we had been advised to ring when surges were lasting over a minute and coming every 5 mins. We rang the delivery suite at 11pm and they advised paracetamol and, as I felt able to manage the surges at home, to ring back in an hour. However as I came off the phone, my surges seemed to stop completely. 10, 15, 20 minutes passed and nothing. This is when I broke- floods of tears and my positivity seemed to vanish along with my surges. Hugs and a cup of tea later I went for a wee and I had the rest of my show and suddenly a massive surge as I stood up to wash my hands. From then on surges came thick and fast, every 3 minutes and strong, a lot more painful and I knew then I wasn’t staying at home for much longer..!
An hour later, my partner dropped me at the door of the women’s unit and I began the seemingly endless walk to the delivery suite, having to stop for surges as I went. I was ushered into the pool room (which we had requested on the phone as we came in) and examined by a lovely midwife. To my dismay I was 2cm dilated which meant my partner couldn’t come in with me as I wasn’t in established labour. As I had a previous section they advised me to stay in so I could be monitored (with the wireless monitor- which was great as I could move around as much as I liked). My daughter’s labour was very long and I tried hard to block out the negative thought that it was history repeating itself. I hadn’t brought any bags with me, all I had were my notes and as we’d left the house I’d grabbed one of our daughter’s cuddly toys as a little memento. I was wearing a paint splattered pair of harem pants and a very old Glastonbury t-shirt and looked like a right tramp but hey ho, we rolled with it and for the next couple of hours Kelvin the Kiwi was my birth partner! I kept repeating my mantra which I had been practicing since our Hypnobirthing classes, ‘I am strong, powerful and I will birth my baby’ and ‘Each surge brings me closer to my baby’. I asked for a birth ball and paced the room, rotated on the ball, leant over the bed and generally tried to keep moving as much as possible. I asked to be examined again 2 hours later as I felt things had ramped up again and I was told to my delight to ring my partner as I was 4cm. I high fived Kelvin the Kiwi and decided to use the gas and air to help manage the intensity of my surges. Again I put on a podcast (Shagged, Married, Annoyed this time!) and by the time my partner arrived I was 6cm. I relaxed immediately when my partner arrived and, as we had learnt through Hypnobirthing, with the feeling of safety and calm being restored, things progressed much quicker.
For the next couple of hours I used the gas and air, my up breathing visualisations, listened to the river dawn music and kept mobile, mainly using the birth ball. The midwife filled the birth pool and dimmed the lights and placed tea lights around the room. I felt calm and in the zone and gratefully got into the water where I felt an overwhelming feeling of relief. The water was great, I felt really comfortable and the surges became more manageable in the warmth of the water. About 9:30am I began to feel the urge to bear down and the midwife asked if I would get out of the pool to be examined to see if I was fully dilated. She explained she didn’t want me to start bearing down too soon in case my cervix wasn’t fully ready as that could cause things to slow. I declined the examination at this point as I was managing the intensity of the surges and didn’t want to change the routine. Half an hour later and I was offered another examination and I decided to accept. This confirmed I was fully dilated and so I began to focus my down breathing and the midwife encouraged me to follow my instincts and breathe through each surge. My partner supported me by stroking my hair (the relaxation technique we had practised and practised) and breathing with me which really helped me to not tense up and try and go with the surges. I began to feel a bit scared at this point as the surges were very intense. The midwife said that I was really close to meeting my baby and to follow body which filled me with more confidence! I felt a huge release of tension which I thought was the baby coming out but was actually my waters going!! A few surges later and our little boy was born into the water, I picked him up between my legs and my world just melted. I cannot describe the emotional rush I felt, it was so overwhelming, I really couldn’t believe I had done it. At this point we still didn’t know if we had a boy or a girl and apparently it was a good minute or two before I had got it together enough to turn him around to check! After waiting for the cord to stop pulsating, my partner cut it (something he hadn’t got to do with our daughter) and the midwife helped me out of the pool. We really were on cloud 9; he was here, he was safe and it really had been the calm, empowering experience I had hoped for- all in the middle of a pandemic! I only needed a few stitches and we got that lovely golden hour together just enjoying being in the bubble which was the total opposite of our daughter’s birth where due to the emergency section and a few complications, I didn’t see her for 3 hours after she was born. Active labour was exactly 5 hours; 27 hours less than baby number 1!
The care we received from start to finish was exceptional, the midwives read our birth plan, followed our wishes to a tee and helped us to have the birth we so desperately wanted. I was very apprehensive about having a hospital birth with the threat of Covid seemingly everywhere but the staff made the delivery suite a little oasis of calm and positivity which we cannot thank them enough for. I have since heard from my community midwife that they are actually doing a study into babies born during the pandemic as apparently the vast majority of babies are happy, content and thriving and they think it is down to the lack of visitors and more home time meaning parents and babies can settle into family life without the usual daily routines and distractions interrupting. What a lovely ray of positivity to take from this; maybe a lesson we can learn for the future is self isolation and social distancing with a newborn can actually be of a huge benefit for mum and baby!
Just an aside on the ectopic beats as there is not much information on them online and apparently they are relatively common so this may be useful to any other mamas who have had them picked up in antenatal appointments so you know what to expect for the follow up care. Our baby boy was checked over shortly after birth and the ectopic beats were still there so rather than being immediately discharged as planned, we had to stay in for 48 hours for him to have two ECGs and general observations. There were still there on discharge and we had to attend an outpatients appointment for a further ECG a week later. Thankfully by then they had resolved (as they do in the majority of cases) and we were discharged from being under the cardiology teams care. Even if they had been still picked up at a week after birth, apparently by 1 month more than 90% of cases resolve and if they do persist, they are usually regarded as innocent heart murmurs which people have and cause no further issues.
I want to thank you Claire for giving us the Hypnobirthing tools and the belief that my VBAC would be possible. I have been singing the praises of Hypnobirthing to every pregnant friend/family member and I truly believe that my positive attitude going into this birth along with our increased knowledge and confidence to make informed choices at each step helped us to achieve such a positive experience. I look forward to baby yoga classes from home and I send lots of love and positive vibes to all the other mummies to be; you’ve got this! Xxxx