When people ask me if hypnobirthing will still help if births don’t go to plan, this birth story from Rebecca is one they should read. Rebecca managed 13 hours with no pain relief, just using her techniques and she was so calm and positive despite things not going to plan. Plus, the way she reframed and focused on the positive for her C-Section too – well, it’s just totally inspiring.
A wonderful C-section story
My pre-labour, fictional birth story was a dream-like Enid Blyton tale… There were warm baths, star-lit walks, Flight of the Conchords episodes and even a delicious feast for breakfast, it was amazing. Get to the ACTUAL day… I wasn’t even close to including any of the above, but to be honest – I didn’t mind one bit as it was just as magical in my eyes!!
When I found out I was pregnant, I immediately wondered what on earth I would need to do to prepare myself for giving birth. It doesn’t really enter your mind (well it didn’t mine) until you’re facing the reality of it.
A few of my friends had had traumatic birth experiences and my mum (who seemed to recall joyous accounts of both my sister and me being born) just lacked any real detail… this scared me. I like to be in control and plan everything down to a tee, which I was beginning to realise may not work in this situation.
As soon as I read an article about hypnobirthing, I was hooked. I knew it was for me and that I wanted to remain positive throughout the whole experience. Thankfully my partner was more than happy about the idea – so we signed up for a private course with Deborah.
As mentioned before, I like to be prepared… so I insisted we practised the relaxation and birth scripts before bed most nights… I had my mantras written on a board, the tracks were loaded onto my iPod in the labour bag and I had written ‘hypnobirthing’ a good few times in my birth plan (printed 5 times… just incase any of these got lost on the way to the hospital?!!)
Cut to the 20th Dec…
I was 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant and showing no real signs of anything imminently starting, so I popped to the cinema with friends (ironically to watch Bad Moms 2). After much laughter and a late journey home, I persuaded my partner to go on a brisk walk around the block for some exercise. A couple of stops, due to the heavy bump and a cold nose, later we were back home and tucked up in bed.
At 2am on the 21st, I felt a sudden pop, which woke me up. As I stood to walk to the bathroom I realised my waters had broken. I was filled with excitement and adrenaline as this was the start of everything I’d been focused on for the past 9 months!! I knew I needed to stay calm though and took my time in gently waking my partner to tell him. We made a cup of tea (which was random I as rarely drink tea) and I rang Basingstoke hospital. I didn’t have to rush, but needed to head in because of the risk of infection now the waters had broken – so we faffed for a bit, I put on make-up (which was hilarious to the midwives when we arrived around 4am) and we popped on the Christmas music for the drive. Those 30 minutes were really surreal as I was super tired (having only had three hours sleep) and because my surges hadn’t started yet, it felt like I was in a dream!!
At the hospital…
The ward was really quiet so I was shown to a labour room straight away. We immediately began to make ourselves at home and all of the Christmas decorations we had packed came out… miniature tree and lights included!! I grabbed a drink, ate a flapjack and generally relaxed to the sounds of nature. I had to be popped onto a drip of antibiotics, which meant I couldn’t jump about easily – but only for about half an hour, so I tried to get some sleep at this point.
A couple of hours later, the surges started. I was so happy… I was about to meet my baby. ‘By this time tomorrow’ I kept hoping…
I gave a copy of my birth preferences to the midwife who took her time to read through and confirm a few things with me. This made me feel reassured that she understood and supported my decisions. She did explain that it may not be possible to use the birthing pool if I needed more antibiotics because of the physical feasibility. I wasn’t as disappointed as I thought i’d be because I felt relaxed and excited, and knew I needed to go with the flow.
She was adamant that the environment would be kept quiet, dimly lit and as uninterrupted as possible though and that she wouldn’t offer me pain relief unless I asked.
The surges were coming thick and fast now, but completely manageable. I either walked around and lent on a wall to breathe through them or bounced on the birthing ball – keeping my iPod playing the hypnobirthing tracks at all times. The midwife was great and praised my breathing control and reminded me to ‘get into your zone’ whenever she had to check something or could see a surge starting. ‘This is pretty easy’, I thought…
Four hours after I’d had my first dose of antibiotics, another was due and this was when the plan went out the window. It was the change of shift for the midwives, so I met the lovely new one as the previous gave her a complete overview. A few minutes after this, the routine doctor came in and said ‘We think you should consider being induced as your waters broke a while ago now and you’re still only 3cm dilated’.
Allowing labour to proceed at its own pace was high up on my wishlist. As there was no medical emergency at this stage, I said I’d rather wait and my partner and midwife completely backed me up. The new plan was to have another dose of the antibiotics, see what happened with labour and assess again in another four hours.
Four hours came and went… still full of surges (up to 3 every 10 minutes by this point lasting around a minute and a half each)… and still at 3cm dilation.
Along came a different doctor and gave the same suggestion of induction. I don’t know why I was so against it, I just felt like I was coping fine and could do this for a while, allowing my baby to take all the time it needed. Again, my dedicated midwife was completely behind my decision – but the doctor suggested I move to the antenatal ward to allow the room to be used by someone closer to giving birth (which made sense… but it took a few people to pick up everything we’d casually spread across the room). And so I, my partner and our Christmas tree trotted up the corridor to a ward with five other people on.
It was at this point i needed my relaxation techniques the most. The lights were bright. The other people were noisy (and not experiencing surges). There wasn’t any private space to move around freely. It wasn’t surprising that my labour slowed at this point. I took some paracetamol to take the edge off and managed to have a brief nap out of sheer tiredness. After a few hours here I decided to ask for an examination and if nothing had progressed, I would go for the induction (it might have been their sneaky plan to entice me… but either way, I still felt positive about everything and didn’t want that to wain).
Back in the delivery room…
I managed to get back into the room i’d left previously. Up the decorations went and onto a monitor I went. They needed to confirm that both I and the baby were ok to have the inducing drugs. As it turned out, my baby’s heart rate wasn’t stable and kept fluctuating as I surged. This meant we needed to have constant monitoring until it stabilised (it had been 13hrs of surges by this point… and I was still managing them with only the hypnobirthing techniques).
Another four hours…
By this point they were getting slightly concerned by my baby’s heart rate. Whilst being monitored I was still able to be up and about on a ball etc, but they told me to try laying on the bed for a while to see if anything stabilised. It didn’t. It was around midnight now and the original midwife i’d seen that morning was coming back on shift. They had a few discussions over the reels of paper produced by the monitor and invited the surgeon in for a chat. They thought that a c-section would be the best course of action now as my waters had broken nearly 24hrs ago and I wasn’t able to have the inducing drugs. I’d lie if I said I didn’t shed a tear at this point. It wasn’t traumatic in any way and although the surges were painful, I was still in control of my body and was happy with every decision i’d made along the way. I stepped into the bathroom with my partner for a hug… I knew this would be for the best and I didn’t want it to get to an emergency or panicked situation, so I agreed.
Strolling into theatre, these were my immediate thoughts:
- It looked like the scene from Charlie and the Chocolate factory where Mike TV is about to be teleported (anything relating to that film immediately makes me happy).
- Sheer excitement that I would be meeting my baby soon.
- I’m glad I had my Christmas slippers on.
I can remember the next 30 minutes vividly but at the same time as a bit of a blur as everything happened incredibly quickly (in comparison to the past 22 hours!!) My midwife was still with me, so she turned on the radio Christmas tunes and made sure that everyone knew we wanted a big reveal of the baby’s sex, my partner to cut the cord and immediate skin-to-skin.
Everything was incredibly calm and I felt really safe.
It’s a girl…
Aubrey was born at 1.06am on the 22nd December and the funniest thing I remember was everyone in the room placing bets on how heavy she weighed (as they didn’t know where I was hiding her!!) 9lbs 7oz lighter we were wheeled together onto a ward and I immediately started breast feeding. It was the most amazing and magical experience.
I still maintain that all of my later pregnancy and labour would have been a lot different if I hadn’t have practised hypnobirthing.
I felt incredibly in control and I felt confident in the decisions I was making the entire time. Because my partner had been through the course with me, he knew exactly what I was doing and when (I’d be completely silent in my zone sometimes… so that helped) and making sure my birth preferences were as detailed and bespoke as possible allowed the midwives to truly understand and try to tailor the delivery as best possible. I love the fact that my partner had to cart around a shed-load of ‘stuff’ I thought I needed in my labour bag – when on the day I didn’t eat any of the treats, watch any of the DVDs or even look at my wash-bag – it was just the hypnobirthing instrumental music keeping me sane!
Whether relating to Aubrey or just life in general, I still use a few of the techniques today and I feel lucky that I was able to enjoy my time in the hospital and have a happy birth story (even though Enid Blyton didn’t write it).