Hi all, well my bubba was born on Monday morning (20 September) at 7.11am, weighing 9lb 7oz and 54cm long. It was after a very intense 3 hours but an experience that I am appreciating more and more each day as I reflect upon and process my feelings.
Owain (pronounced ‘owen’) is our 3rd baby but first Hypnobabies birth. I prepared for my second birth using hypnobirthing. We now have 3 beautiful boys.
The birth: I was past 41 weeks and beginning to worry that (for the first time) I would be faced with the decision of whether or not to accept an induction at 42 weeks. Nothing seemed to be happening. I tried to relax and trust that my baby knew exactly when to come. On Sunday (after eating a VERY hot Indian meal for dinner on Saturday), we thought things had started in the morning when I felt a bit ‘off’ and the braxton hicks seemed a bit stronger than usual. So we stayed home from church (which was great because I was not looking forward to all the comments about how ‘overdue’ baby was!) and waited. And waited…and waited…nothing. It completely fizzled out. But I had hope that this was a signal that my body was preparing. I went to bed hoping that I would have a baby the next morning after a decent night’s sleep.
At 3.30am I woke to go to the bathroom but soon realised that I would have some trouble going back to sleep. I lay in bed timing the pressure waves to see if they had a pattern. They were about 5 mins apart but did not seem very long at all. I felt a little discomfort during the peak of each one but was able to stay completely relaxed. By 4am though I didn’t want to be doing this on my own and I didn’t want to be lying down. I woke up hubby and told him I think things had started. He sleepily said “that’s nice dear” and almost went back to sleep!! lol
Anyway, I stayed on the birth ball for a little bit while my husband woke up properly then took the CD player into the bathroom to begin relaxing in the bath. We messaged my sister (4.17am) to be ready to pick up our 2 boys soon. At 4.37am we messaged my midwife that my birthing time had started and continued with my hypnosis and relaxation while listening to the birthing day CD. I breathed through each pressure wave with my eyes closed in centre-switch and repeating the mantra “open, open, open”. At first there didn’t seem to be much of a pattern with the pressure waves but timing was difficult because I was having trouble determining when a pressure wave started and finished. There were definite peaks where I felt discomfort but I felt my tummy tightening a lot (without any discomfort) and wasn’t sure if that was part of the pressure wave or not. The discomfort I felt in the peaks, I imagined was my cervix stretching open quickly and easily and welcomed the sensation.
At 5.37am my husband thought that we were about 2/2.5 mins apart and messaged my midwife to tell her. She called back and I said I wanted to come in asap. The pressure waves were definitely starting to become overwhelming and, for me, that is the sign that I needed her. We began preparations to leave (I had a list of everything that needed to go in the car, e.g. hospital bag, towels in case my waters released in the car, apple to snack on etc.). While my husband was attending to that, I called my sister into the bathroom to help me through the pressure waves and told her to tell me to “open”. This visualisation/affirmation was very effective in my second birth (6 hours) and I was pretty determined to “open” quickly this time as well. At some point before we got in the car, I did start feeling the need to vocalise a little during the pressure waves as they were feeling more intense but I tried to stay loose and limp by blowing raspberries (see “Sphincter Law” from Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth). By 6am we were in the car and on our way. The ride in the car didn’t seem too bad and I wondered if my body knew to slow down just for those 10 minutes. I think I only had 1 or 2 pressure waves and I was able to stay relaxed, quiet and limp.
During the car trip I expressed to my husband that I was scared I wasn’t as far along as I thought. I felt that it was important for me to express my fear as a way of releasing it. I told him that I wanted him to keep reminding me that it would be over soon and we would meet our baby. I said that he should tell me that even if we find out I am only 4cm, because it was still possible that I could fully dilate within an hour or less (I have attended a birth where this happened and have read of such instances in birth stories also). We met the midwife in the car park and I was so glad to see her I nearly cried! I hugged her and told her my fear as well. Just at that moment a pressure wave came and I felt the urge to push! My midwife gently laughed and said that she didn’t think my fear would be a problem. My husband and midwife had to support me (under each arm) while walking to the birthing suite (it’s a long walk at the other side of the hospital!!) because I was really zoning out now with each pressure wave. I was groaning and grunting/pushing too. I was very focused and in my own little world.
Once in the birthing room things continued to intensify. I was feeling very overwhelmed by the sensations and vocalised to release tension/energy but I was sure to keep my noises low to stay loose and limp. My visualisation of a calm, quiet birth had gone out the window but I was still very focused and dealing with the sensations instinctually. I felt inside myself hoping to feel a head. I was pretty sure I could feel the head, but there was something else there that felt smooth and hard (the head has a squishy feeling). I thought it might be a lip of cervix. I asked my midwife to confirm that the head was definitely there. She said it was the head and that there was a lip of cervix there too and that was what was slowing things down a little. “I knew it” I thought. Damn. I went through a couple more pressure waves and then asked if she could do something about the lip (I had read birth stories where the midwife pulled it out of the way – it sounded uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as it was pushing against cervix!). She said she could but I would need to move over to the mat (I was in the bathroom where hubby was showering my back to relieve the discomfort in my back). I thought, “ok,…I can do that…” I started thinking about how I could crawl to the mat but soon realised that I did not want to move. I focused on relaxing more during the next pressure wave and imagined the cervix melting away. Then I reached inside, it had thinned some and I gently pulled at it and felt it slip away to the side.
Anyway, I had told myself (in my head) that once the lip was gone, this baby was going to come FAST (in fact, I had resolved in my mind that this baby was going to come out in one go even if the midwife had to pull it out! The sensations were so intense that I was determined that the baby’s head and shoulders would be born in the same pressure wave). So once the lip was gone I really focused on pushing. I matched the intensity of the sensations with my grunting/pushing and just followed my body.
[Following my body was not something I thought about though, I just did it. It was very instinctual. It was very primitive. Rationale and reason did not exist. Nothing existed in that moment except for the task of bringing my baby into the world. At some point I did manage to say “camera!” to remind my midwife to take photos. It was not a demand, nor was it a request, it just “was”. Societal rules of “politeness” do not exist in this state. In hindsight, it’s an incredible state of mind to be in.]
So I ended up on my hands and knees pushing and visualising my baby shooting out of my butt like a canon-ball (that’s where it felt like it was coming from)!! I was so focused on birthing the head that I didn’t realise that no one was behind me to catch the baby! Just as the head was emerging, I called out “head! head!!” and my midwife rushed around to the baby. I continued to follow my body’s pushing urges and heard my midwife call to my husband (our birth plan was that he catch the baby). I was just focused on pushing and then I felt that amazing release as the shoulders emerged and the baby shot out of me! My husband got around to the back just in time to take over from the midwife and catch our son. Instantly, I was turning around and my husband was handing our son to me. It was a magical moment.
Owain let a short cry out just as he was being born and then he peacefully snuggled against my chest. His cord was not clamped until it stopped pulsing. I birthed the placenta around the same time and it was intact and healthy. On inspection, we realised that Owain had lots of vernix on him and it was quite thick in some places. So all that worry about him being overdue was unnecessary. My ultrasound dates were probably about a week out. He came when he indeed was ready.
At first, I felt that I had not implemented my Hypnobabies tools very well because I found the experience quite overwhelming and intense. I was quite distracted during my pregnancy with study and did not really get into the hypnosis practice until the last couple of weeks.
However, I have realised that whilst I may not have been in a deep and calm/quiet hypnotic state I was still using my tools to help me in the way I needed for this birth. I was very focused throughout and used visualisation, my lightswitch (in the first half of the birth), breathing, affirmations (particularly ‘open’) and the cue words ‘release’ and ‘relax’. All of those tools, I practiced with Hypnobabies. So I guess it did help immensely. I particularly think that Hypnobabies helped me to listen to my body, focus deeply, and face the challenges of my birth instinctually (i.e. the intensity of a fast birth and the lip of cervix). I had intentionally visualised a fast birth (2-4 hours) without realising that this could mean an intensity that I had not before experienced. Next time, I still would like a fast birth, but with more mental preparation to feel calm and positive during the birth.
Thank you Hypnobabies, I had a wonderfully empowering birth experience!
If you’ve made it to the end, I hope something I have shared will help and empower you on your hypno-journey!