Funny how time flies when you have little ones.
From when I was trying hypnosis to help conceive my first baby Archie, up to our last hypnosis session with you before Harry’s birth – I feel so lucky to be able to look back on both births and feel really good about them – which I think is really important given that it’s such an intense experience and you do find yourself revisiting it.
I just wanted to share some of the details of Archie’s birth first and then below that my second experience of Harry’s birth – I know that I found reading other people’s birth stories really useful, when I was pregnant.
Hypnobirthing worked really well for me and, although Archie’s arrival didn’t go exactly as planned, it was still an overwhelmingly positive experience. Thanks so much for the lovely cd that you sent too – I haven’t been able to listen to it as much as I’d like, but it’s a real treat!
The whole birth process started when I was about 36 weeks pregnant. We’d been to the final Birth Centre info session that evening and had a bit of a laugh about how I was only a few days away from the 37 weeks at which you are able to give birth, at the Birth Centre. Then, at about 1am, I woke up, and felt the ‘pop’ that I’d heard about, that evening – yes, my waters had just broken.
I didn’t have any feelings of being in labour though, but called the hospital and, as the Birth Centre was shut that night, was advised to come in to the labour ward, with my bag (we had been meaning to get the bag ready, but of course hadn’t got around to it).
After a bit of monitoring, it was clear that I wasn’t in labour, so we went back home. This set the pattern for the next 5 days, when I went into the hospital to check the baby’s heart rate and any contractions I was having each morning, but, thanks to the great midwives at the birth centre, was able to just wait for labour to start naturally (lots of walking, curries, pineapple, the odd glass of wine, and lots of listening to your great birth rehearsal cd!).
On the 5th day, one of the fantastic midwives at the birth centre decided to check for sure that it was my forewaters that had broken – yes they had, and I was about a centimetre and a half dilated without even knowing it.
That evening, by about 10pm, I told Ali that I wasn’t coming to bed as I was having some contractions and wouldn’t be able to sleep. We then hung out at home for about 3 or 4 more hours, during which I had a nice long shower, listened to the CDs and spent a lot of time on all fours.
During this time, I realised that by swinging my hips and practicing my breathing through the surges, they were very manageable. I found that the slow breathing technique worked for me more than the balloon breathing; so stuck to that.
When we got to the hospital, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know how dilated I was, in case it was a disappointment. I was persuaded that it was worth checking and was already at 8cms – so I got really excited about the prospect of meeting my baby in the very near future.
I got into the bath and that was the best time of my labour – it was so peaceful and I was able to sort of gently bounce up and down in the bath.
Unfortunately, I then started to get a bit hot and Archie’s heartbeat got a bit faster and, as my waters had been broken for so long, the midwives were concerned about the possibility of some sort of infection. So out I came and at that point everything came to a grinding halt.
Neither standing up nor walking around would get things going again and, as it was now about 6am and I was getting a bit tired, I decided to go across to the labour ward for a drip to get things going.
Through all of this, I was able to stay chilled-out and even see the amusing side of things with this baby that kept changing his mind about whether or not he wanted to come out.
We had a great midwife in the labour ward who totally understood what we wanted with regards to keeping a calm environment and, even though I was hooked up to a heartbeat monitor and the drip, I was able to get into my own space up to and during the first part of the second stage.
Unfortunately, the lip on my cervix meant that I had to move onto my side from all fours, for the final stage – when I wasn’t able to move, I did find that a bit of gas was handy for the big surges.
By this stage, I was quite keen to see the baby and have a rest, so I found it impossible not to push – Archie was then born at a quarter past 12 after 14 hours of ‘proper’ labour to great joy all round!
I did tear, but to be honest, didn’t notice it happening, and remember quite a jolly atmosphere as I was stitched up. The midwife from the labour ward reckoned that I’d done a great job and, up in the maternity ward, the nurses seemed quite surprised at the contrast between the description of my birth on the notes, and my description of it as a good experience – which it really was, and I know that it was the exercises, before and during the birth, that made it that way.
Ali was also a great help – really looked after me, and was also quite exhausted after having to hold my leg in the air for 2 hours when I was laboring, on my side!
Although Archie was quite jaundiced and sleepy for a few days after the birth, he soon started feeding well and has been in rude health ever since. He’s such a good baby and is giving us a great introduction to being parents – slept through the night from about 3 months, and is generally a jolly, beautiful little fellow.
Thanks so much, and I’ll hopefully see you during my next pregnancy for a bit of a refresher! Here’s a little picture of Archie after his first swim (he loves the water)!
Since Archie’s birth, Ellen had a second baby boy named Harry
Harry’s birth was very different from Archie’s and my hopes for a calm water birth were absolutely not realised.
However I think that the Hypnobirthing was once again invaluable – although in terms of getting through stage 1 of labour, it almost worked too well as I really didn’t realise how far along I was – here’s a bit of a story of how it all turned out.
The run-up to the birth was a bit stressful as my bump measurements were getting smaller rather than bigger and there were some concerns about the size of the baby, for about the last month. This meant that I was quite keen to just get on with giving birth and meeting the baby.
Also, I really found that with a toddler, the final stages of pregnancy were not a heap of fun – which explains why when the midwives offered a stretch and sweep with about a week to go to my due date I was quite happy to go for it. I had quite a few false starts after this when I thought that the Braxton Hicks were turning into something more productive and then a couple of days later my waters started to leak.
We all went up to the hospital where I got checked out but nothing was happening. Unlike at the Birth Centre at RPA, the folks at Hornsby were keen to keep me in and to be honest, it was a pretty peaceful environment so at about 9pm, Ali went off home leaving me in the ward where the nurses seemed confident that as I wasn’t in labour by now, I would have to be induced the next morning.
Soon after going to bed, I was pretty sure that I could feel some real surges (this had happened earlier in the day though and despite lots of walking in the streets around the hospital, nothing had happened) so I decided to just keep quiet, listen to the relaxations and then decide if I really was in labour. About an hour or two after this, after just being able to lie calmly and work out that the surges were getting longer and closer together, I decided to let one of the midwives know, and I really felt that I should call Ali – thankfully, I managed to do this just before getting to transition! I had thought that I’d be able to walk to the birthing room, but a few steps in found myself hanging off some door-handles with an unmistakable urge to push… at which point a wheelchair seemed like a very good idea.
Once in the birthing room the baby’s heart rate was checked out and everybody seemed quite concerned that it was decelerating a lot during contractions and I was informed that it was essential that he was born as soon as possible. At this point to be honest, all thoughts of breathing the baby down were pretty much out of the window. As it turned out, despite my best efforts at pushing, after about half an hour, Harry was stuck and really not well. It’s all a bit of a blur but an obstetrician had joined the two midwives and a paediatrician was also attending. Thankfully, Ali had arrived and although he was a bit shocked to find things so advanced, he did a great job of supporting me.
The obstetrician suggested that a ventouse delivery was necessary so that went ahead, but then Harry’s shoulder got stuck and it really did feel like a bit of an emergency with everyone swinging into action, pressure being applied to my belly and then – whoosh- Harry was born! He was very grey when placed on my tummy, but after a little oxygen went lovely and pink and his Apgar scores were good – especially given how stressed he had been.
Compared to Archie’s birth it was just so fast, but despite all of the things that cropped up, I feel that I coped well, and infinitely better than if I hadn’t done Hypnobirthing. I still can’t believe that I got to transition while just lying peacefully in bed with the odd deep breath.
Also, although the birth was not without intervention, I did feel very well supported by the staff at Hornsby, and this time around, as I had no drip or any drugs at all (well, just a little gas and air when getting a couple of stitches) I really did get to experience that ‘high’ afterwards and it was just beautiful to feel so great when cuddling our new baby and giving him his first feed.
Harry is a lovely baby – very smiley, although he has not been as ‘easy’ as Archie was – something which I at least partly put down to the distress he experienced at birth. From the shape of his head, it seems clear that he was coming into the birth canal at a bit of an angle but we’ve been doing some osteopathy which seems to have helped loosen up the tightness down one side. Archie is a great big brother and Ali and I are just thrilled to have cooked up two such gorgeous little boys.
Ellen, Ali, Archie and Harry xx