My Hypnobirthing and Premature Baby Delivery Story
For a long time I’ve wanted to write down my hypnobirthing labour and birth story for when I had Miss M. I’ve told it so many times of course but wanted to document it so she can read it herself when she’s older.
Given I’m pregnant again now, I spend a lot of time thinking about the birth experience I would like for Mini’s arrival and I’ve been reflecting on my last experience, what I wanted for it and what actually happened.
For as long as I could remember, I was petrified of childbirth. Not the usual level of fear of the unknown, the pain, the ‘what-if’s’ but truly and deeply petrified. It obviously wasn’t enough to put me off getting pregnant, as I always knew I would do anything to be a mother, but it kept me up at night for some of the early part of my pregnancy.
I had toyed with the idea over the years of choosing to have a C section (I naively had not realised when I was younger the impact of this major surgery, the recovery time etc) but I was just so scared at the possibility of my body not being able to handle giving birth. Perhaps I’d seen too many over-dramatised TV shows with the women screaming in pure agony but it was enough to make me sick with fear.
During my pregnancy I had regular acupuncture appointments, firstly to help me conceive and then afterwards until the point I gave birth. My acupuncturist had recently trained to become a doula and I spoke with her about my fears. When I was about 8 week’s pregnant, me and Mr M went to our local hospital for a tour of their Birth Centre and my acupuncturist offered to come with me. She hadn’t yet seen the birth centre so it was a great experience for her and also was lovely for me to have someone there to ask any questions I didn’t think of.
While we were there I first heard about hypnobirthing. Although I’d obviously heard of self-hypnosis before, I’d never heard of it being applied to childbirth and it fascinated me – was it the answer to my prayers?! The midwives on the tour all seemed lovely and explained how for me to give birth in the Birth Centre, rather than the hospital attached to it, I would have to be considered as a ‘low risk’ pregnancy, make it to full term (at least 37 weeks), not need to be induced and not wish to take any drugs during labour (apart from gas and air).
Could hypnobirthing work for me? No drugs?? I had many fears about childbirth – the pain of labour, if an epidural would be painful, tearing, stitches – well, every part of it really. What I quickly realised as I started to research my options is that personally, I had more fear of an epidural than chancing a painful labour. Not just the possible pain when it was administered but also the chance of it not working fully or at all. I was fixated on this a bit which was a bit irrational given most of my friends had had epis and not one of them had a major issue with it. I couldn’t get it out of my mind though so, with Mr M, I made a firm decision that I would do everything I could to have a natural birth. As I read up more and more on hypnobirthing, I decided that this was the avenue I would pursue to make this work. I loved the idea of a peaceful, pain-free birth and when I started the hypnobirthing classes at around week 30 of my pregnancy, each class I took empowered me more and more. The classes were ran by a midwife at the Birth Centre who was wonderful. She was extremely experienced, genuine and calm and by the end of just the second class, a miracle had occurred in my head. I was no longer scared of birth, I had no fear whatsoever and in fact I felt so empowered I felt excited and prepared to give birth right then. I will talk more about my experience with Hypnobirthing as I go on but I might write a separate and more detailed post in the future for anyone who is interested in hearing more.
The week’s went by and I grew more and more confident. I continued to have my monthly midwife appointment at the Birth Centre, each time meeting a different midwife who might work with me on the day to delivery my baby. At week 36+6 days I had my only appointment with an OB there – at 11am. Although I was midwife led, it was their policy that you have one OB appointment sometime in week 36. The Doctor was nice, she checked my bump and confidently told me that the baby was head down and all was going well. I told her that a few days earlier, I’d had a dream that the baby would come early and I couldn’t get it out of my head but she laughed and reassured me that no, the baby was nowhere near ready and I could relax and continue to plan. Phew! In my dream, the baby was also a girl :)
I travelled home on the bus to continue working from home as a business writer. By this time in my pregnancy, I felt HUGE and tired and everything felt very squashed inside so at around 3.00pm I had a lie down on my sofa to stretch out. A little later I sat up and immediately felt a small gush of water. Um, what was happening? I took a minute to contemplate the possibility that I had accidentally peed my pants, knowing full well I hadn’t of course.
I waddled to the bathroom and saw that the water was pinkish, and still coming down slowly, and panic started to set in. I called the midwife and explained what had happened and she told me to lie down for another hour, then stand up and if it happened again, to call her back. I called Mr M, he panicked but I assured him that I didn’t ‘feel’ anything else and it could easily be a false alarm. I lay down, emailed a few friends and waited. Then having stood up again I had quick confirmation that my waters had in fact, broken. Argh! What did that mean? Was I having the baby? Was there a problem with me being 3 weeks and a day early? I tried to clear my mind and called Mr M again who came home quickly so we could take a trip to the Birth Centre. Once there, they strapped me up to be monitored and confirmed that contractions hadn’t started. They confirmed my waters had broken and in the back of my mind, I knew that one way or the other, I was going to have a baby within 48 hours!
In my birth plan (that I was going to write the following week!) I intended to have no internal checks unless absolutely necessary, something the midwives there practiced anyway. After about an hour when we established I wasn’t yet in labour, I was sent home and told to come back when contractions started. So home I went! At bedtime I put towels down on the bed as had visions of waking up in a big pool of water! Then I attempted to get some sleep. The midwife had told me to come back at 6.30am the following day, whether or not contractions had started as there was only a 48 hour window after my waters broke where if I didn’t go into labour naturally, they would induce it to get the baby out quickly and safely.
On the way to the hospital in the car the next day, it became clear to me that labour had began and it felt just like light period pains. I had downloaded a tracking app and timed that they were coming only every 5-8 minutes so early days. We got to the Birth Centre and made our way to our room with my mini suitcase of what I later realised was unnecessary stuff! Whilst the water kept slowly coming, I had also start losing some blood clots too and the midwife was a bit concerned that my placenta had abrupted. She informed the doctors in Labour and Delivery who came in quickly to recommend I move across to there and get induced to get the baby out faster. This was not my plan! The midwives were lovely and told me that the doctors recommendation was very routine and in their opinion, my situation didn’t yet warrant that level of panic. Despite being a day off being full term, they were happy for me to give birth in the Birth Centre.
By this time, I was timing my contractions as coming every 1-2 minutes and lasting about 45 seconds. I told the midwife this but unfortunately they were not tracking that way on the monitor and lovely as she was, she didn’t really believe that I was as far along in labour as I knew I was. I continued to labour where I was but because I was losing blood, I had to abandon my plan of having a waterbirth. I was continuously monitored so I couldn’t really move around much either unfortunately. The midwife bought me some toast. I took one bite and threw up! Finally another doctor came in, this time saying that I had little choice but to move into Labour and Delivery and get induced. I was confused as I could see on the screen that the baby wasn’t distressed and I knew physically I was now in active labour but unfortunately they could only go off what the monitor said and they thought I needed things speeding along.
I walked next door to L&D and was introduced to 2 lovely midwives who would be working with me. There I lay on the bed, was strapped to a new monitor and hooked up to syntocinon to speed up the labour. I laboured for a while on the bed, standing up, walking around where I could and back on the bed. Since the earliest contraction, I focussed on the hypnobirthing breathing techniques I had learned and they worked brilliantly. I was quiet throughout and only spoke to Mr M when I wanted water or a back rub! I needed my back rubbing and with a heat pad pressed on it a lot as unfortunately being so early, the baby hadn’t turned fully and was back-to-back which although not painful, was really uncomfortable at times. The midwives left us to it most of the time so we spent the majority of my labour just the two of us in a peaceful room, which was lovely.
Although breathing meant I was not in pain, I was exhausted and I got to the point where I didn’t think I could manage for much longer. I really just wanted to sleep! I realised afterwards that of course this is the ‘transition phase’ that many women go through before pushing where you just want to stop! Although the midwives still thought I was only having ‘mild’ contractions, they did an internal check and realised that I was fully dilated – I knew it! I expect I had been for a little while. I don’t know whether it was because the monitor wasn’t working properly, or because I physically looked like I was only in early labour (thank you hypnobirthing!) but they were very surprised but asked me to start pushing.
Pushing was a relief, although with her facing the wrong way and needing a bit more ‘encouragement’ to turn and come out, it took 2 hours from there. Right at the end the midwives thought they would need to do an episiotomy but thankfully at 3.17pm, 24 hours after my waters broke, Miss M arrived! She was 7lbs 7oz with a mop of light brown hair and the most beautiful little baby girl I had ever seen! She was put on my chest immediately for a skin-on-skin cuddle and she stayed there for a long time. Mr M cut the umbilical cord after it had stopped pulsing. After some lovely cuddles for what seemed like hours, she was cleaned up and weighed and then back on my chest where she ‘breast-crawled’ for her very first feed – hungry baby! It’s magical how they just know what to do – I think I was still a bit shocked and clueless!
I was just so happy that she had arrived safely and despite not being able to give birth in water, I had the calm and peaceful birth I had hoped for. I had some gas which helped to regulate my breathing and the midwives were just wonderful, they took such good care of me.
Afterwards I was told I had lost about 1.4 litres of blood all up and I felt so weak and exhausted. I tried to hobble to the bathroom myself but fainted in dramatic style. Other than feeling weak and a bit sore from stitches I had, I felt elated and so happy. I stayed in the hospital that night and the one after and then we headed home as a threesome!
Although earlier than we expected, I loved my birth experience and wouldn’t change a thing. I managed to adopt the hypnobirthing techniques I had learned to the situation I actually ended up in and I’m so grateful to my husband and to the midwives for supporting me through it. Hypnobirthing made a terrifying experience into a wonderful, empowering one for me and has changed my life forever. I so hope to have a similarly calm and peaceful experience with baby #2 so watch this space and keep your fingers crossed for me!
A friend of mine, and fellow blogger, Evie had a different experience to mine entirely which was also vastly different from the one she had planned. Hop on over to Muddle Through Mama to read about her ‘Birth Story’ and C Section experience.
Did you get the labour and birth experience you had planned? Let me know if you had a hypnobirth or if you’re thinking about it.
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