Natalia Barua

1st baby, assisted vaginal delivery in theatre (planned home birth)

I just wanted to let you know that I gave birth on Thursday afternoon to a wee boy.

I had some light spotting the day after my due date, but convinced I was going to reach 42 weeks for some reason (but feeling super relaxed and excited about my labour), I carried on with my day as usual – ensuring I was staying active as well as doing lots of lovely things to boost my oxytocin and constantly eating the dates! After the spotting I done a short yoga practice, watched one of my favourite films (Captain Fantastic with Viggo Mortenson… Viggo was one of the names we had picked for a boy) and went for a walk in the park – there I text my husband commenting that the “braxton hicks” had really heated up and I was having to stop mid-walk…still, no thought at all it could be labour! The contractions continued throughout the day but they were almost enjoyable, taking some relief of the heaviness of my bump and I thought nothing of them. I had a long bath and after making dinner we began to watch an old comedy and were amazed at how prominent the baby’s movements were, recording a contraction on camera as the sight was incredible! I was using the breathing techniques I had learnt and we continued with the film, until contractions became more regular and I felt a shift in my energy – instinct told me it was labour and timing contractions for a while I was every 6 minutes at 10.30pm. 

The next few hours are almost dreamlike, I was just so prepared and ready, without talking much, I moved to my bedroom, laid down and listened to the tracks you’d provided, along with breathing, feeling so relaxed and calm. Meanwhile my Owa was preparing the pool and my baobab tree. I emerged from the bedroom when I felt ready to move and contractions felt more regular. I thought I’d been in there for 30 mins yet it was actually 3.5 hours! The living was a transformed space, it looked so beautiful, dim coloured lights, the oil diffuser with lavender and geranium, affirmations on the wall behind the pool. I used my birthing ball a lot and found moving around was really helping. Around 2.30am I asked Owa to call the midwives and he brilliantly stalled me…he was timing me at every 4 mins at this point so knew it was a bit too soon.I moved to the pool at 3am and felt so much relief, almost like the sensations had taken a huge dip but they were still regular and the intervals at every 3min. Midwives arrived at 4am. The hours that passed are really hazy for me, I had my eyes closed for practically the entire experience and the tracks were always on. It was intense, so focused and so powerful. Wendy my midwife was so perfectly respectful of my experience and space. Around 6.30am, I was encouraged to push, which unfortunately led to beginning of things taking a turn. I’d asked for no vaginal exams unless absolutely necessary, respecting this, the midwife at one point, when I was having very strong contractions asked me if I was starting to feel a like I needed to poo, I said yes, and she gently asked me to bear down for the next contractions. I stayed so focused but I also just remember thinking, wow, this is it, it’s happening soon, my baby will be here soon. I’d convinced myself that this was the birth. I could see she had set up the area to put the baby on our floor and she had her long gloves on…it all felt so imminent. 

I don’t remember much, but there was a change over of midwives, and at 8.30am the new midwife requested an exam, and told me to stop pushing. I refused the exam a good few times, but the next time she asked me I agreed but I was really unhappy about leaving the pool. I was devastated to learn that there was still cervix there and that it had become swollen on one side. I was so frustrated that I had been pushing when my body wasn’t ready. It made me feel like there was something wrong with my body, that my body was the problem (at the time),the midwife never once said “oh we shouldn’t have asked you to push”, it just felt like there was a problem in the room and this really started to interrupt my calm experience. I stayed out of the pool for some time, moving to the toilet, the sofa, the floor, the contractions were immense and felt like I was getting no respite. I was checked again at 10.30am and 12pm and my cervix was staying at 8cm. The midwife told me she’d called the hospital and they wanted to give me another couple of hours before thinking about a transfer. I felt in a paradox of determination and pressure, hearing that just made me feel I was on a clock, but I continued to use the tools as much as I could with Owas support. After those 2 hours I was given another hour. The next check I was still at 8cm and swollen and by this time I’d had so many exams and felt so exhausted and disheartened that things had taken this turn. This meant I started to really experience pain. Until this point I honestly wouldn’t have described my experience as painful.

The paramedics were beyond the worst part of the experience, loud and obnoxious with absolutely zero respect for my environment or experience and I felt so let down by the midwives who didn’t once ask them to lower their voices (Owa was frantically getting changed and getting me clothes at this point).I used the reduce adrenaline track in the ambulance which helped me to zone back out a bit and I had my eye mask on for the entirety, but I had a rude awakening when the paramedics smacked my knee against the ambulance door on the way out. At hospital I was feeling incredible pain, and at that point I asked for pain relief, I remember going through this in my head and deciding now was the time, I was here, I’d become so stressed and needed the relief to help me get back on track. But I wasn’t given anything. There were so many people in the room, and we waited for what felt like a lifetime for a doctor to come. It wasn’t a great experience in that room. One doctor came and repeatedly asked me to move to my back for an exam but I just couldn’t, my body knew I needed to be upright. She was then called to an emergency and I was left waiting again, midwives were telling me how to breathe (panting) but I ignored it and continued with the breaths that were helping me learnt through natal hypnotherapy. It seriously felt like no one knew what was going on, and they just watched as I felt like the universe was exploding inside my body! Eventually Dr Laurie came, examined me at 9cm, there was some meconium and baby’s heart rate had began to go a bit scattered. I was monitored for a while and then advised that a c section was going to be a safer option. I was so sad but honestly the pain just made me desperate, still Owa and I managed to go through BRAINS and eventually I agreed. (However for the past few months we hadn’t really remembered the risk factors being explained to us and thought they’d made the decision based on my dilation) In theatre time stood still whilst I waited for the spinal block to be administered, I couldn’t make out Owa as he was in scrubs. I was made to sit up on the edge of the bed and I roared, the solar system caved in through my skull and out of my cervix and I had a life altering reflex to push. I shouted this to the midwives but they asked me not to, Just when I thought I might pass out, the spinal kicked in and like a light switch I was a calm, perfectly together being!!

I laughed and shouted at how wonderful the block was and then I just felt pure excitement because I knew I would have my baby within minutes. Right as I told the obstetrician that I truly felt like I needed to push before the block was administered, she smiled up at me and told me that I had fully dilated and that a c section wouldn’t be necessary, instead an episiotomy would be performed with the help.of forceps. Pushing without sensation was indescribable but in 2 pushes his head was out, she told me he had hair and the joy this brought me made the last push, despite it being numb, the most determined thing I’ve done in my life. My eyes had been closed the whole time and even though I could feel him on my chest, Owa had to tell me to open my eyes. I looked at Owa before the baby who sobbed to me “it’s a boy!” and I finally registered that I’d done it. Seeing him for the first time was the most beautiful image, the most perfect experience of my life. I felt like an absolute warrior and the love was overwhelming and instant.   There is absolutely no way I would have had such a beautiful and calm experience for so many hours in labour, or have gotten through what I did without the tools and knowledge I had learnt through natal hypnotherapy and the commitment to the practice. I have experienced some huge feelings of disappointment and anger at the end result of my labour, mainly because I had felt like it could have been prevented. I kept questioning why I couldn’t have given birth without the intervention, Owa and I hadn’t remembered the risks we had been told about in that room well at all. I’d questioned why I was transferred from home, why was I put on a clock,  why couldn’t they get me back to being calm at home, why was I coerced into pushing, why did I listen to them.

These feelings have been tortuous at points. My debrief with the home birth midwife hadn’t left me feeling like I had answers,  I felt annoyed that my cervix was being “blamed” and frustrated that I had followed their lead with pushing instead of letting my body do it. Dont get me wrong, the midwife at the debrief kept repeating how incredible I was, but I hadn’t felt much resolve. But at the same time, tried to be kind to myself, since I was in the most vulnerable position of all and it was my first time. I am pleased to say however, that my debrief with Dr Laurie has made me feel like a weight has been lifted. She has brought me relief in clarifying that her decision had not been about my cervical dilation, and that she thought I had progressed really well, but that it was in fact to do with risk factors to baby.I finally feel like the decisions that were made with for the best and that’s allowed me to reflect again and realise how incredible I was!! 

Once again a million thank yous, I 100% couldn’t have done it without your wisdoms, guidance and tools. So thank you Gemma sincerely. I hope also through my story there are some learnings that other women can embed into their preparation. 
I’d like to finally say that apart from the huge impact your course had on my labour, it dramatically altered my pregnancy in the best possible way. With the huge anxiety I was facing with the peak of Covid and feeling so vulnerable and locked at home, your course gave me such a positive and calming concentration and practice. It was so easy to dedicate to and I looked forward to it every day. It truly embedded into my life and I genuinely miss it, I have to say!!
Sending a big hug. Story below but you may need a whole week Haha!! 
Natalia X 

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