It is an absolute joy to share the birth story of my daughter Eliana who came into this world on Friday June 18th. This is a LONG birth story. I am SO happy that I did the supplemental Hypnobabies home study course after completing hypnobirthing. I strongly believe that the preparation ahead of time helped us birth as naturally as possible.
My husband and I had been planning a home birth here in England. We are Americans and I have trained as a doula. When we arrived in the fall and found out that we were pregnant I knew that I wanted to have a beautiful birth as naturally as possible. I was an avid fan of Ina May Gaskin and had heard that hypnosis for childbirth was extremely helpful in accomplishing a natural birth pain free. So we signed up for HypnoBirthing at 20 weeks pregnant.
After completing the HypnoBirthing course and progressing in the pregnancy I found I wanted more to prepare and that the take home work for after the course was completed was not enough to settle my need for preparing for the birth. I heard about Hypnobabies and signed up. I really enjoyed the cds and visualizations and felt that they helped me bond with our baby more.
In any case, my EDD was June 7th. Although we prepared for the home birth there was something that was not sitting right for me with it. There is an excellent public home birth team where we live in England and we had hired a well experienced doula but as the date approached I felt myself having a difficult time visualizing the birth at home. So we decided that when it was the birthing time and I wanted to go to the birth center we’d go there instead of staying at home. On June 15th I started to become nervous about having the baby before an induction date a week later. So the day before I went into labour, I went on a huge walk, had a very relaxing acupuncture session, and we had some friends over for dinner. The next day I rested and that night on June 16th at 11:35 pm my waters broke while we were in bed reading. My husband and I were really excited! We called the homebirth midwives and our doula. I had no pressure waves at that point. At 1 am the midwife came over and said that as long as I gave birth within 32 hours after the waters breaking, I’d be able to have the baby at home. She suggested I go back to bed and call again when the pressure waves became more regular and intense. By the time she left I started to feel minor pressure waves and went back to bed.
Of course my husband and I didn’t sleep much at all! We watched Curb Your Enthusiasm for a few hours and then tried to sleep a bit. I think maybe I slept 2 hours. By the morning I was feeling the pressure waves more often and they felt like they were picking up a bit in intensity. Our doula came over (she herself is actually a private midwife but offered to be our doula at no cost–such an angel!) and so did one of the city’s midwives. Since my waters broke I was not checked b/c of risk of infection. The midwife took my BP and it was a bit high. She had me rest for a while took it again and thankfully it was fine. She said it didn’t seem like the pressure waves were intense enough yet ( I wasn’t sure if this was b/c of hypnobabies or if it really was because they weren’t that intense)and that I should contact her team again in a few hours. I tried to rest for a while at that point and our doula said she’d be back later. My husband and i tried to nap and when I got out of bed the PWs went away entirely. It was now late afternoon on Wednesday and was over 18 hours since the waters broke. I called the midwifery team again and my husband and i went on a long walk in a beautiful meadow near our house. (The meadow is actually my special place!)
In any case, I called the team and they said that since my waters had been broken for so long and that the labour was not “advancing” enough I would not be able to birth at home anymore. They told me about the risk of strep b–the first midwife who’d come to our house had swabbed me but the results weren’t back yet and in general in England they don’t automatically test you while pregnant–and that I would need antibiotic. I called the birth center and they told me that I would not be able to go there either b/c of the waters having been broken for so long as well and that once I reached “active labour” ie, 4 cm dilated I’d be transferred to the hospital to start the antibiotic. I was very sad and felt like all the preparation I had done was going down the hill. But I knew that the most important thing to me was to have a healthy baby and so during the walk I felt like I mourned the loss of having a natural birth. I called the hospital and they told me that since the labour was not advancing so fast I’d need augmentation, ie, pitocin, as well and that I could come in the morning.
I called the acupuncturist who I had just seen and she came to our house to help me relax for the night. During the night (It’s wednesday night now into early Thursday morning) the PWs started to come back and I told my husband that I wanted to go to the hospital at that point. We went and did our best to advocate for ourselves. I asked if they had the results of my strep B test yet and they told me they don’t come back for 48 hours! (Seems silly that they even test at all but that’s another topic!) Anyhow, at this point it had been over 30 hours of labour. Luckily, the baby was doing really well and my BP and vitals were also good. I was on the EFM for an hour and they told me I could either get admitted now and begin the antibiotic or come back after getting more strength to be able to “handle” the pitocin. Although they weren’t so happy, my husband and I decided after a long time to return at 12:30. BTW, while at the hopsital in the middle of the night my PWS went away entirely. (Throughout our time at the hospital we consulted with friends who are pediatricians and our doula who is also a midwife. Our doula told us as long as I didn’t have a fever and the baby’s heart beat was fine the risk of infection would stay very low. In fact other hospitals in England give the cut off time to 72 hours when your waters brake unless you have a fever etc!)
In any case, I finally was able to sleep when we got home for four hours and eat a meal although I did throw up right after and we returned at 1pm. We got a room at 2:30 and they started administering the antiobiotic. Throughout my birthing time , I was listening to fear release and the birth guides as well as birth affirmations and rainbow relaxtion. In any case, when they finally checked me at around 3:30ish, I was only a 1/2 cm dilated!! I CRIED! I was so disappointed and sad. The midwife was very nice and told me that I was almost fully effaced and that who knows what would happen once I got the pitocin. I felt exhausted and sad–I was afraid that once I got the pitocin it would lead to one intervention after another. They finished giving me the first round of antibiotic and my doula came.
When I got the pitocin things began to change. After only an hour of having the pitocin I was 2 cm dilated. I got on the birth ball and my doula massaged my lower back and my husband massaged my shoulders. I listened to my cds over and over again as well as Stevie Wonder and Beyonce! We shut the light off in the room and I imagined my special place. Throughout my pregnancy I had visualized elephants in my special place. I started to think about the elephants as well as special prayers I wanted to say during the birthing. As the PWS became more regular I vocalized more and enjoyed the breaks b/w pws. Luckily the EFM I was on was a portable one: i could use the shower and move around in the room! Every 1/2 hour the midwife would come in and up the pitocin; about two or 3 hours into it she noticed our baby’s heart beat dropping. We consulted with the OB who said that before going into a C-section, they’d drop the Pitocin down a level and see how the baby does. Thank God! she was fine. They’d switch off b/w the antibiotic and the pitocin. Meanwhile this whole time I was not being checked. The first midwife who we’d been with left her shift and told me while leaving that she believed I could do this! I also tried to hold onto what one of our friends had said which was just b/c you need pitocin does not mean you will have one intervention after another.
Sure enough after only 7 hours of the pitocin–they had not kept checking me–I felt like I was in transformation! I wanted to begin birthing the baby but thought to myself that this must be premature. The intensity of the PWS was getting more uncomfortable. I told my doula that I was scared and that I wanted to push! SHe got the midwife and ob and they checked me and she said I could push!!! I couldn’t believe it. It was now 51 hours since my waters had broken and I was going to be able to push out my baby! I felt so HAPPY! I got on all fours on the bed and birthed her for 45 minutes. It was amazing! And out came this beautiful baby girl! My husband and I were elated!
I just feel so grateful for this experience and for the way everything turned out. For me the pitocin ended up being a godsend and that the combination of my preparation beforehand and having a supportive husband and doula all led for me to be able to have as natural a birth as possible. What is so so funny to me too is that in the end my active labour was only 8 hours! I had visualized an 8 hour active labour! (not a 44 hour early labour but still!) Eliana is a beautiful baby very calm and chill and alert. I did end up tearing but after over two weeks of having had her I feel like my body is recovering well. I am so grateful!