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Well. . . here’s yet another birth story. I just want to say that I’m so grateful for the Hypnobabies home study course, and for this wonderful supportive email group. Thanks to you all! I’ve especially loved reading the birth stories from other hypno-moms in this group, and feel humbled to be sharing mine with such a special group of people.
Reed’s Birth Story (2nd baby, first Hypnobaby)
I live in a fairly remote area of rural New Zealand. Our local hospital has a maternity ward, but facilities are basic. There is no resident OB, though they do come up here to do clinics. None of the following are available: c-sec, epidural, pitocin induction, assisted deliveries (ventouse and forceps). This means that natural and unmedicated birth is pretty common in these parts! The little maternity ward caters for water birth and allows Dad, Mum and baby to room in together after the birth. Home births are pretty popular here, too. It’s a 2 and a half hour drive to the hospital in the city. That’s where you probably give birth if you are “high risk.” In an emergency situation, they fly you from the local hospital to the city hospital in a helicopter.
I believe that the majority of births in New Zealand are now attended by midwives. Usually a woman chooses one midwife and stays with her for all the prenatal visits, the birth, and about 4-6 weeks of post-natal care. This care is all free and government funded. I think we are very lucky.
I woke up a bit after 7.30am on the 7th of July. I’d been woken by a couple of strong pressure waves and had had the urge to change position and vocalise. . . but resisted the temptation in order not to disturb my husband and 2-year-old son who were sleeping on either side of me. I was 39 weeks + and had only had low-key Braxton Hicks waves so far. Perhaps this would be our baby’s birthday? I decided to get up, get organised and see if the pressure waves would vanish or establish a pattern.
By 7.50am I’d had about four more pressure waves. Due to lack of inclination, not having a stop watch, and my increasing sense of urgency regarding my preparations to get ready to leave the house, I didn’t count or time these waves. But I didn’t need a stopwatch to feel their intensity or to know that each wave was lasting a long time. I was surprised to feel some nausea, and a hot-and-cold trembly feeling when one wave caught me half-way across the kitchen with a jar of milk in my hands. I heard myself singing with the power of these waves (sounds quite lovely when I write about it. . . but probably sounded like one of our cows was stuck in a fence!). In my mind I heard some of my favourite hypnobabies affirmations – especially the one about how every powerful birthing wave was bringing our baby closer to being in my arms – and felt myself lighting up with so much love and anticipation: “Yes! This is our baby’s birthday.” I felt sure of it now, even though I’d only had a handful of pressure waves. Time to wake my husband Kevin and call Tania (our midwife).
BOP**Because our first son’s shoulders got a bit stuck on the way out, Tania had been suggesting that we might travel the 2 and a half hours down to the hospital in the city to have this baby. We’d also talked about probably birthing the baby in a hands and knees position to help him come out easily. Tania had made a point of telling me about a few of the different manoeuvres we could use to birth the shoulders, even though they’d most likely come out on their own this time. She laughed that at least I’m little (under 5’2” and about 100lb when not pregnant) and would be easy to flip over if need be. Still, it’s much easier and less traumatic to move a woman of any size if she knows what’s going on and why! Anyway, Tania now suggested over the phone that we meet at the local maternity annex first, just in case the baby was coming quickly. (She later told me that she could tell from the sound of my voice over the phone that this baby probably WAS coming quickly!) We could then decide to move on to the city if things were not progressing too fast.**End BOP
After another pressure wave, I gave up on the idea of making a quick breakfast, but drank a glass of water in hopes of staying hydrated for the birth. As I woke my husband (who works nights and was not exactly easy to rouse after only 3 hours of sleep) and son (who was in a grumpy and toxic state due to being not quite recovered from a bad case of the flu), and tried to prepare to leave, it began to seem to me that this baby would perhaps not wait to be born at the city hospital. After what seemed like a very long and trembly pressure wave, I went to the bathroom to vomit up the glass of water I’d drunk. I asked my husband to call my parents and ask them to meet us at the maternity annex as soon as possible to care for our son.
Finally we were in the car driving the 20 minutes to town. I had hoped to listen to Hypnobabies affirmations on the MP3 player on the way to town, but our son was throwing a full-scale tantrum and needed my attention. It’s not very nice to be a 2 and a half year old, not quite recovered from the flu and getting shovelled into your car seat in a big hurry one morning without having breakfast. I tried to comfort him between pressure waves. Once we had coverage for the cell phone, my husband dialled my parents’ number and handed the phone to me.
“Is Mum on her way to town?” I asked my Dad.
“No,” he answered, “She’s she’s still here. Kevin told her to wait until you called again.”
“What?? Tell her she needs to come as soon as possible,” I insisted, as I considered biting Kevin’s head off and chewing it up. After brief reflection, I decided to leave Kevin’s head on his body. He was having an intense morning too, and I really needed him to keep driving the car. Then the next pressure wave washed over me. I kept hearing soundbites from the Hypnobabies CDs in my mind – Kerri’s voice reminding me that this powerful experience was strengthening me and my baby and talking about “powerful birthing waves.”
These “waves” were starting to feel more and more like tsunamis, actually. It was hard to relax completely as the car lurched around the corners of the winding country road, but I felt myself welcoming each wave and vocalising as the intensity flooded through me. I think that with a different frame of mind I might have said those waves were “painful.” But I’m not sure. It made more sense to marvel at their power. I looked up and saw a rainbow arcing through the grey morning sky ahead of us. Our son kept up his five star tantrum performance in the back seat. Finally we reached the maternity annex at 8.30am
When I arrived, Tania asked me to pee on a stick for a urine test, but I couldn’t do it. One pressure wave came while I was on the toilet and the next found me somehow on all fours on the bathroom floor. I think my mad cow vocalisations now sounded like something from the wild animal park, but it felt so good to make these noises. I laughed and told Tania I didn’t want to stop the noise because I was connecting with my inner animal! She reassured me that since I was having a baby I was welcome to make whatever kind of noise I wanted. She also remarked that the pressure waves seemed to be just under 4 minutes apart. “They’re good strong ones, she added. That last one was more than 2 minutes long!”
We decided that Tania should give me an internal exam (the only one I ever had during this pregnancy and birth), so that we could make a fully informed decision about whether or not to try to drive to the city. It turned out that I was a “very stretchy 8cm” with a bulging bag of waters coming right down the birth canal. Tania assured me that this baby was coming soon. The waters looked on the point of bursting, and were the only thing holding back the baby. The last 2cm of cervix will be gone as soon as the membranes release, she told me, and the baby is well down into your pelvis and in a good position. No question of going to the city. Water birth was out, too, unfortunately, since there would not be enough time to fill the tub.
I was still up on the bed from the examination and didn’t want to move. I got onto my hands and knees and made powerful wild animal noises through the pressure waves. I was using the Hypnobabies “open open” and “peace” cues, though I don’t think I sounded very peaceful! I felt elated and powerful to know that our baby was so close to being born. My husband was still outside with our son, and I really didn’t want the baby to be born without him. I tried knees to chest position for a few waves. Still pretty intense, but it toned down the grunty pushy feelings that I’d been having and made me feel more grounded.
Tania said she was hoping Leeann, the other midwife, would arrive before the baby was born, too. So I kept leaning forward through the pressure waves to slow things down a bit. Since water birth was out, I asked Tania if we could use oil on my perineum. I’d read about this somewhere and thought it sounded very nice. She said that was a great idea, and no problem. She’d get the oil ready. “I liked what I saw when I examined you,” she added. “Everything’s lovely and stretchy. I think the baby will come out just fine this time.” (Tania knows nothing about Hypnobabies, but plainly she’s a natural when it comes to positive suggestions! All this talk about my “good strong” pressure waves, stretchy cervix and lovely stretchy birth canal was just what I wanted to hear!)
At last Kevin arrived and I leaned my head against him and asked him to rub my lower back during pressure waves. He put his hand on my shoulder and told me to “relax” as well. I was so happy and relieved that he was with me. After a few waves with Kevin and Leeann there, I realised that there was no need to hold back any longer. I knelt up a bit and let my body respond to that grunty feeling of fullness. The waters burst and gushed everywhere and I felt a huge sense of relief. It was 9:10am.
On the next wave, I felt the baby’s head come down and found myself tuning into various Hypnobabies cues about breathing him down and out “aaahh” and relaxing my face, arms and hands. I felt so well prepared and so much in control as I pushed our baby out, even though I think I probably sounded more feral than ever! I felt Tania putting oil on my perineum. It was warm and it felt so wonderful and comforting. After a few more waves I felt the most intense stretching. I said something like, “I’m stretching! I’m stretching so much!” “You’re doing great,” Tania encouraged me. “This is where it helps just to breathe gently and let yourself stretch before the baby’s head comes out.” I panted gently for a bit until I felt the stretching sensation subside. Then I pushed out our baby’s head. I couldn’t believe how easy and good that felt!
Next thing I knew, Tania was saying “Ok, we need to flip for the shoulders.” This really took me by surprise, since everything had gone so smoothly up until now. I was on my hands and knees. Tania and Leeann helped me over onto my back and flexed up my knees by my sides (McRoberts manoeuvre). I heard Tania say, “That’s got him. He’s turning. . . Here he is!” I felt our baby’s shoulders come out, and then the whole slippery length of his body. And then he was on my chest, warm and sticky and perfect!
Reed Brian F. was born at 9.33am on 7th of July, 23 inches long and weighing 7lb 13oz. Wow! That’s nearly 3 quarters of a pound lighter than his older brother’s birth weight of 8lb 8oz even though he’s a whole inch longer! He has long skinny arms and legs, broad shoulders and massive feet and hands. And his parents and big brother think he’s just gorgeous!!
Within 5 minutes he was helping himself to his first feed. The physiological 3rd stage happened just as I had visualised it. I felt great afterwards– the birth was smooth and practically bloodless. I didn’t have even so much as the tiniest scratch and swelling was almost nil. And who cares about “sticky shoulders” when they come unstuck so calmly and easily! We went home a few hours after Reed was born.
Hypnobabies was such an important part of this birth, even though I didn’t use the techniques and tracks the way I thought I would during the birth! I’d always expected and visualised a much slower and more mellow first stage and was really very surprised to have a baby in my arms just 2 hours after waking up in the morning.