1st baby, labour ward (forceps birth)
Mother’s intuition…. Now, of course, it can all be put down to mere chance, but this is the day both Luke and I independently had thought that Amelia would begin her journey to meet us. Our ‘due date’ by scan was 4/12/2014 but we were keen to hold off induction despite our consultant being keen to induce me at term due to my age (40). We were therefore attending for extra monitoring- scan and CTG weekly, thankfully all of which were normal. I had been healthy throughout pregnancy. We wished to hold off induction if not necessary for reason other than age due to our desire to have as natural a birth as possible to give our baby the best start. I kept very active in pregnancy, running up until the 3rd trimester, then walking, swimming at least weekly up until term and practicing yoga a few times a week.
On the afternoon of 9/12/14 my waters broke. I had some niggly pains but I was not in labour. We were advised by maternity triage to attend for monitoring. We attended that evening but unfortunately they were very busy and we had lengthy wait. I kept active mobilizing in the corridor. By the time we were seen a few hours later my blood pressure was raised from my booking blood pressure. They therefore wished to admit me that night for induction, which I really didn’t wish and also didn’t wish to spend the night away from Luke. I was sure my blood pressure was just raised a bit from the long wait, being tired and walking around in the busy triage corridor for hours on end with fluid pouring out of me (not a very baobab tree experience!). So whilst having the CTG carried out I lay on the bed and listened to natal hypnotherapy and sure enough my blood pressure came down to normal. The midwife wondered if I had put the cuff on Luke’s arm there was such a change! I continued that and focused on my breath and a few more normal readings later we were able to be discharged with a plan to return the following evening for induction if I hadn’t gone into labour.
We arrived home at 0230hrs and got into bed at 0300hrs but by 0400hrs I had to get up as I was having contractions that felt too strong to stay in bed. Luke put the TENS machine on for me. I then laboured at home that day using the TENS, birthing ball, keeping upright and listening to the natal hypnotherapy. We set off for the hospital in the darkening late afternoon in a snowstorm. During the journey I continued to listen to Natal Hypnotherapy and felt very relaxed.
On arrival at triage I was assessed and found to be 3cm dilated with strong contractions so we were transferred to labour ward. We had a lovely midwife who understood our desire for a quiet and calm birthing environment. I used the Natal Hypnotherapy adrenaline track after repeatedly vomiting a few times to help to regain my focus. I continued to use yoga positions, the ball and listened to the Natal Hypnotherapy continuously, eventually switching to the serious phase track after 5cm dilated. I then entered the birthing pool and initially found this a little difficult as of course I had to remove the TENS. After some time I started to use the gas and air which was helpful. Between contractions I was very relaxed to the point of sleep. During contractions I remember focusing on ‘up and over the peak’ aware that each one would pass.
My contractions began to space out and the midwife wished me to exit the pool. When I was examined I was 10cm dilated but with just a small lip of cervix remaining so I continued with the TENS on again. The midwife left an hour once I was fully dilated but nothing was happening and the contractions were becoming more infrequent so the decision was made to start a syntocinin drip. I then tried active pushing for over an hour and tried every position- squatting, kneeling, legs up but unfortunately no progress. The midwife felt the position was excellent (direct OA) so asked the consultant to come and confirm as she couldn’t find a reason why there was no progress. Just as the consultant came in there was meconium in the waters. The position was confirmed as direct OA but the decision was made then that we needed to head to theatre for a spinal and trial of forceps/ if not caesarean section due to lack of progress despite very active pushing and now that there was meconium. Thankfully the fetal heart rate remained fine.
We felt totally in control of the situation at all times. Luke was tremendously supportive throughout the whole 27 hours. When the decision came to go to theatre we knew it was for the right reasons and were both comfortable we had done everything we could up to that point for a natural birth.
The move to theatre was very efficient. The staff caring for us were all excellent. Thankfully they were quickly able to deliver our baby daughter into this world safely with forceps and no need for section. The consultant discovered her umbilical cord was extremely short, she had never seen one so short, and she felt this was what had prevented her final descent and also been responsible for the contractions easing off as every time she descended she was pulled back again by her short cord. Although I would of course have loved to have felt her final push into the world and for her to be delivered onto me, we had achieved our desired outcome of a healthy baby and mum and had made decisions from a place of calm and awareness.
Soon we were in the recovery room where I could have skin to skin contact with Amelia and it was amazing to watch her natural instinct to move towards my breast. She was kitten crawling her way there and ‘head banging’. With a little movement over she very quickly latched on and started feeding and thankfully it has gone as easily as that ever since.
I am grateful to all the yoga preparation I did for optimizing fetal positioning but what definitely made all the difference for us was attending Gemma’s Natal Hypnotherapy workshop. We listened to it continuously for the whole 27 hours of labour and never tired of it. I had been listening to the programme from early pregnancy all the way through and daily from 34 weeks. I had also been looking at positive affirmations and had no fear about labour when it came round, feeling it to be an entirely natural process through which I had to relax and breath and allow my body to do what nature had designed it to do. It allowed me to keep my mind relaxed throughout the journey and accept each contraction knowing it was one step closer to meeting our beautiful baby. I certainly don’t think I would have managed the 27 hours without strong pain relief without this approach. We are both very glad and grateful that we attended the natal hypnotherapy workshop. It allowed our daughter as natural as possible an entry into the world which straight away benefited her feeding. The postnatal track continues to help me, it was really helpful especially through the early weeks of exhaustion and Amelia and I continue to enjoy the relaxing birth music during her bedtime feed.
Dad’s point of view
I was old enough and wise enough to realise I didn’t know enough, more specifically, I didn’t really have a plan or understand what role I would be playing in the birth of our child and the naivety of youth had long since passed. Through discussion with Kirstie we realised that we both wanted as natural a birth as possible and to be as prepared, calm and in control throughout the delivery as possible.
We attended the NHS ante-natal class and did plenty of reading and we also decided to go to the Natal Hypnotherapy classes which were by far and away the most relevant and useful thing we did in preparation.
In this day and age there are no shortage of pregnancy horror stories and the over dramatisation of medicine and pregnancy on the television. Gemma’s Natal Hypnotherapy classes helped bring the pregnancy and the labour back to it’s natural elements and helped us focus on Mother Nature’s fundamental requirements for any safe and natural birth.
Once we had boiled it down to the core elements it was easy to devise an approach to ensure that I was able to be supportive and play an active role during the labour. The confidence that this gave Kirsty was immeasurable, knowing I would be there, ensuring that the environment and conditions were just as we wanted, allowed her to focus on delivering the baby.