Z's Birth Story

I’m thrilled to share this positive birth story from a Hey Mama couple who after having a negative first birth were able to use the techniques they had developed with me to stay calm and in control throughout their labour.

Here’s their story….

“I finally have my baby girl! Just wanted to say a huge thank you for your guidance in hypnobirthing strategies - we used many of them in preparation and during labour. As you know we were hoping for a VBAC. We got very close but ended up with a repeat c-section, however this time the experience was wholly more positive and I feel incredibly proud of myself for giving it a go. Even more importantly I feel the experience has shifted my previous mindset around birth, that I took back some control and now have a positive story to tell myself and to share.

One night we went to bed and J suggested he read a script. I was a day over due, hot and tired of waiting as well as feeling a few last minute worries in general so chose the confidence and power one. As he was reading it I slowly became more relaxed. I also became aware of a couple of braxton hicks that felt different. I kept this to myself as last time the latent phase took days and I had made the mistake of getting excited and not resting. So when J finished the script and of course immediately fell asleep, I tried to do the same. For the most part this was possible but a few times I was woken up by what I now was pretty sure was a mild contraction.

I knew that baby was back to back (a big part of the long labour last time) because I had been feeling her limbs vigorously thrashing away at the front for a couple of weeks sometimes turning but never staying! She was being particularly active so I tried to remain positive and thought ‘knowledge is power’ at least I know this time and got up to use the ball in positions downstairs to encourage her to move. This didn’t have much effect so after an hour I decided to just get some more sleep.

This was possible until 6am when I was woken by another strong wave. J was waking up so I said that I was having mild contractions but I wasn’t really sure if they were anything. With the lavender on my pillow, rocking on all fours and the calm voice in my ears the contractions became regular at one every ten minutes and I started to need to breathe through them. However I was so relaxed that I couldn’t make a decision on whether I was actually in labour. I even suggested J go to work for a bit! J took a bit of control here and decided after rush hour we would drive into London, drop our son into nursery and pop to the hospital to see how things were progressing.

The hypnobirthing strategies really came into their own in the car (a part I was anxious about). I put on one of those space masks from your bag of goodies, put some lavender oil on a tissue and kept my headphones in. I made a conscious effort to focus on ‘going within’ and during the hours drive my contractions actually built to one every five minutes! We dropped him into nursery and arrived at the hospital 20 minutes later.

Of course, as we entered the hospital the contractions pretty much stopped. We were seen at triage at 11am and the midwife asked to do a heart trace for 20 minutes as VBAC. I consented but said I was doing hypnobirthing and would keep my headphones in etc. The first ten minutes the machine didn’t register a single contraction but as I focused on breathing and relaxing suddenly a really strong one, and another back to one every 4 minutes. The midwife asked if she could examine me and I said sure. I was due a sweep the next day anyway in the hope of avoiding going so overdue I reached the elective c-section date!

She did her examination (it really hurt because baby was so low!) and announced in a surprised voice that I was in-fact 4cm or a little more and that she would admit me immediately to labour ward. Hurrah! The examination kicked things up a notch and I got myself on all fours on the floor still with my headphones in, ignoring everyone around me whilst Jeremy got our bags and she got the paperwork together. I just somehow un-selfconsciously let my body do its thing. On the short walk to labour ward I had two strong contractions and vaguely remember strangers wishing me luck!

As soon as we got into our room and Jeremy lowered the bed so I could get back on all fours, things kicked up another notch and the next two hours felt like 2 minutes in a total blur. The contractions were incredibly strong with rarely a break, I used gas and air and Jeremy’s counting was the only anchor I could cling to. Before I knew it I had the overwhelming feeling of needing to bear down. In that moment all of your talk about up breathing and down breathing made sense. This was total down breathing time! I remember half shouting - but it’s too soon I’ve only just got here?!! The midwife could see it was going to be too uncomfortable to examine me but she said all the outward signs were telling her that I had reached 10cm so if I felt like pushing I should. So I followed my bodies lead using the down breath to encourage baby down.

After an hour of this no sign of baby so the midwife suggested that I go onto my left side to encourage baby to turn and start more actively pushing. My waters still hadn’t gone at this point so she asked if she could break them. I said no as I wanted as little intervention as possible still. Soon she told me that she though she might be able to see the head - exciting! However, it actually turned out to be the bulge of the sack and as her and Jeremy looked on expectantly my waters broke in a dramatic gush catching them both.

This is when things changed. I don’t know for sure, but without the ‘cushion’ of the water it suddenly felt intensely more painful. I mean it was painful before of course but I could cope. This was different, it was white hot and searing and felt a little scary. I could feel baby had moved lower but on each contraction as I pushed I could almost feel the obstruction... it’s hard to describe but I knew something wasn’t right and I also stopped being able to manage the pain. I remembered that I had control and (in a non controlled way) demanded pain relief and that she was stuck - I needed a c-section. The doctor came in and I was too all over the place to examine so she decided I should go to theatre for a spinal block so that she could find out what position baby was in and we could make an informed decision from there. I was desperate for the pain relief so consented gladly.

The doctor examined me and in a surprised (and excited manner that doctors have when they confront something medically ‘unusual’) announced that she was pretty certain baby was ‘brow presentation.’ I had no idea what she meant so she clarified that it meant baby had tipped her head back and her brow was obstructed by my pubic bone. I’ve since looked it up and it’s something like a 1 in 1400 chance! Typical! She double checked and then told me that in this circumstance the safest method of delivery was a c-section but that it was still a little tricky as they would need to use a ballon to gently push her back up a bit. I consented gladly - I just wanted to hold her!

As baby wasn’t in distress despite the c-section being deemed ‘emergency’ it felt very calm. I used the breathing to remain calm and repeated positive affirmations in my head whilst Jeremy stroked my hair. Before we knew it at 4:08 she said ‘and now meet your little girl’ lifting her above the curtain. I felt that immediate rush of love and relief and gently cried as J rushed over to the table to get involved with cutting the cord (something he was sad to miss last time!) As fast as possible she was handed to me for skin to skin and it felt amazing.. It took a little while to stitch me back up but we were in our own little bubble and the atmosphere in the theatre was calm and jovial.

We were taken back to the room I laboured in for the 6 hour recovery period where we established breastfeeding, our baby slept, we reflected on how fast everything had happened and I had the magic cup of sweet tea!”

If you want to learn how you can build your confidence and have a positive birth story even if you’ve had a negative birth before, find out here about how Hey Mama can help.

Rachel Clarke