A hospital birth- completely in control
Alma’s birth story.
I’ve been told no 2 babies, pregnancies or labours are the same and it was true for me. In fact, that turned out to be a cause of anxiety with my 2nd child- knowing that I had no idea what was to come despite experience.
I did an NCT course with my 1st, mostly for the community of parents. It wasn’t really my thing. I thought Henley Hypnobirthing would help with the anxiety I had about the post natal period so took the course with baby number 2.
I’d gone over due by 10 days with my 1st, he arrived 2 days after a sweep and the labour was very quick and straight forward. I still feel very lucky. But I hadn’t been in control. I had pushed him out with a lot of force on my back, had an episiotomy and used gas and air (which would’ve been fine if it actually worked for more than 5 minutes and hadn’t made me so sick!).
I was 6 days overdue with our 2nd and there was talk of induction which really set me on edge and caused an emotional meltdown down on the 22nd July.
On the 23rd July I noticed some regular braxton Hicks from 9:30am during a walk, they were every 30 mins and by the afternoon every 10 min. They were manageable. By 6 pm I had a show. My mother picked up my son for a sleep over. I had a bath, relaxed with a movie then went to bed at 9. Overnight my surges became less at intervals of 30-60 mins and I managed a little sleep. The following morning, I listened to my affirmations and bond and breath MP3s, I bounced on the ball and walked around the garden. I was really hungry so ate and drank little and often. I found the best way to cope with a surge was with my partner applying pressure to my lower back and using my waves of relaxation breath. For me, that was a 4,3,2,1 count on inhalation and 1,2,3,4 count on exhalation. I used a kind of yoga breath called Ujai for this and the counting really put into perspective how short a surge really is.
By 1pm my surges were regular, about 7 mins apart- we had an hour drive to hospital so we left then- I’m glad we did. The surges became very powerful in the car and I found myself humming on my out-breath, which really helped. I listened to Sea of Serenity with my eyes closed 3 times and it never worked better- odd, as it had been my least favourite MP3. I’m not sure why I chose it. I kept my eyes closed for almost the whole drive, except when I felt the car slow down. At one point we were stuck on a country road behind an elderly man on a bicycle. Seriously he couldn’t have been pedaling slower. I burst out laughing. Another time I opened my eyes to find my partner taking deep breaths like mine, seriously?!! He said he needed something to focus on and it helped calm him- whatever works! It was good to have a chuckle in this intense situation.
We arrived at 2pm. It was a very exposing thing having a surge in a car park in broad daylight with loads of people walking past, holding on to the car bonnet. Similarly awkward in a queue of people 2 meters apart waiting to enter the maternity ward. I turned away, held on to ticket machine in the queue and focused on my breath. I was shown into the assessment area whilst my partner waited out front, masked and carrying bags. I was nervous to leave him. The team quickly noticed I was well established and didn’t even have time to assess me or check my birth plan. Ryan was called in, we were shown to a room and offered gas and air- something I’d expressed not to happen in my birth plan- Ryan said, “No!”. And I firmly said, “I’ll ask for anything I need!”.
Our daughter was born at 14:47. I was in an upright position as I’d hoped, holding on to the back of a bed on my knees. I needed no pain relief, it never actually crossed my mind to ask. The breathing helped immensely, and I almost managed to hum her down completely. However, the urge to push became too strong when her chin was a little stuck and I did let out a few primal noises! The midwife said I could slow down but I felt I just needed her out and did some extra pushing. I tore naturally and needed a few stitches, but have found the healing process more bearable and quick than last time.
She was passed up under to me all lovely and pink, let out a tiny cry then looked straight at me- clear eyed and alert. My son was blue, and didn’t open his eyes until the afternoon of his birth.
The cherry on top was that she rooted very quickly, and managed to latch and feed for 40 mins straight away. Something I hadn’t experienced before and mourned when my son rejected the breast. We’re still ironing out creases with feeding, but it’s a damn good start.
In reference to feeding, as with everything I think, preparation is key. I had contacts for 2 private lactation consultants, a tongue tie expert, had rented a medical grade pump and had harvested colostrum from 37 weeks pregnant. I highly recommend this if you’re planning on breastfeeding. If, for whatever reason you have a troubled start with it, I can say from experience the last thing you want to be doing is expressing by hand and with a pump with a new born. I still have some syringes left in the freezer, for top ups if needed.
I think having a real focus on breathing, the anchor of the MP3’s and my partner being so aware of what I was doing was key to this going smoothly. Previous experience meant the sensations weren’t unknown, but I remember my surges feeling much longer and panicking with my first labour. It helped put time in perspective, and kept me oxygenated.
Our daughter has been like a kind of therapy, although I’m really tired and feeling all the usual physical strains. I am so glad I practiced hypnobirthing and whole heartedly recommend it.
Things I wish I hadn’t brought: Swiss ball!
Things I’m glad I brought: my pillow, as I stayed in 1 night and their pillows are basically made of air.
Things I Wish I had brought: ear plugs, more muslins and snacks! Hospital food really is rubbish.