Emma and Joe

Hospital Birth after Refusing Induction

We had reached 40 weeks + 12 before there was any sign of the baby. The hypnobirthing course had given me confidence about what I wanted, which included refusing induction if the only reason it was being recommended was just that I was “overdue” and trusting my baby and body knew when they were ready. Our local hospital’s policy is to induce at 40+12.

We had gone to bed as normal after I was just drifting off to sleep around 1 am and felt a “pop” – I made my way to the bathroom and suddenly there was gushing of my waters breaking just as I reached the toilet.

We phoned triage who asked us to come into the hospital for a check-up, so we calmly got all our stuff together and headed to the hospital. I wasn’t yet having any surges at this point. After an examination in the midwife-led unit, we were told to head home and to come back in 18 hours if nothing had happened. As we got home the surges began, so I got the chance to start using all the things I learnt in the hypnobirthing classes – keeping nice and relaxed, listened to my Harry Potter audiobooks, waves of relaxation during surges, 5,4,3,2,1 at the end of each surge, which all helped to stay rested throughout the day. However, while the surges picked up, they didn’t get to the frequency indicating established labour so at the 18-hour mark we phoned triage again. They advised that I come in for another check-up.

I was given a stretch-and-sweep to help things along with the hope that, if labour was established before 24 hours, we could still have the water birth on the midwife-led unit as per my Birth Preferences. We were then sent home again. However, while the stretch-and-sweep helped initially it did not help enough.  We returned to the hospital 24 hours after my water broke and were admitted to the delivery suite. I was 2cm dilated. At this stage there were no midwives available (apparently September is a very busy month for births!) so we were put in a room and told to get some sleep (I didn’t get much but Joe at least got a bit of a nap!) and told we would be assigned a midwife in the morning.

When a midwife became available the next morning, the surges had not progressed further and whilst we were given a couple of hours to see if labour progressed naturally, I was eventually put on a Syntocinon drip later that day. This is when the hypnobirthing skills really came into play. As the surges really progressed in intensity and time, I used the breathing techniques to help keep me calm and relaxed, with Joe really helping to keep me anchored by reminding me to count 5,4,3,2,1 after surges and by utilising the soothing strokes. While some of the options in our Birth Preferences were no longer available, the midwives were really accommodating and we were able to implement most of what we wanted, though unable to proceed with the water birth.

After a couple of hours on the drip, I was examined and confirmed to be in established labour at 4cm dilated. Another few hours of intense surges later, in which I used all my hypnobirthing techniques along with gas & air for relief, I eventually consulted with Joe about further pain relief. Whilst the surges had been manageable, I was so tired after being up for around 39 hours at this point that we decided it was the right move for us. Joe initially asked whether I could be examined to see how far along I was before we made our decision, but they recommended against it as it hadn’t been long since the last examination and there was a higher risk of infection due to it being so long since my waters broke. (We also now believe that due to staying so calm and relaxed over the past few hours they believed that I couldn’t have progressed significantly since the last examination…)

As the anaesthetist was putting in an epidural there were some complications when I had to sit up on the bed and Oliver’s heart rate suddenly dropped. It had been a little low at points during labour so they had been watching it carefully. Suddenly the room was filled with people and I was rushed into theatre as a precaution in case they had to deliver via C-section. However, once I was in theatre his heart rate stabilised and everything calmed down. They then examined me and found, to everyone’s surprise, I was 10cm dilated – labour had progressed much further than previously thought (as the hypnobirthing techniques kept me so calm) and I was entering the second stage of labour.

They said I could return to my delivery room and deliver the baby there rather than deliver in the brightly lit and busy theatre room. We opted to continue with the epidural as I was still so tired, and I was then wheeled back to my room – an event apparently so rare that I became somewhat famous on the ward for coming back out of the theatre before delivering my baby! After being allowed to try to give birth by myself for an hour, a doctor came in to examine me and she found that Oliver’s head was slightly twisted so she needed to adjust him to help him come out. He was then born via a forceps delivery around 20 minutes later, at 12:34 am – nearly 48 hours after my waters initially broke. We were able to have a slightly delayed cord clamping and skin-to-skin, but due to having the syntocinon I had to have a managed third stage labour. The placenta was examined but everything was fine and waiting until 40 weeks + 12 hadn’t been a problem for me as there was no placenta degradation whatsoever – my body knew what it was doing as I had entrusted it to do so!

Whilst the birth certainly hadn’t gone to plan and we were unable to have the water birth we’d envisaged, I found a lot of the hypnobirthing techniques really helped, especially with my waters breaking so early resulting in so many curveballs. In fact, one of the midwives told us that my labour was the calmest they had ever been involved with. It also gave me the confidence to make the right decisions for us as plans had to change and helped me feel in charge of my body and my labour, even as things evolved that could have started to feel out of my control.  We have both found the techniques taught by Sarah invaluable and have continued to use them in everyday life.