Photo Credit to Melissa Arnott of Womb Wisdom Doula Services
The birth of my first child was at 40 weeks 4 days gestation, a planned home water birth, using HypnoBirthing strategies. Having a high stress personality it was my priority to reduce stress and have a calm pregnancy and birth.
A home birth was not my initial birth choice but after considerable research and meeting the home birthing midwife, learning that two midwives attended the birth and that there would be no hesitation in transferring to the local hospital which was only a few minutes away if necessary, I felt that a home birth was going to be my best option for a calm, relaxed birth.
I did not have a lot of faith in my body and did not trust it to cope with both the pregnancy and birth and feared that extreme medical intervention would be necessary. I continued my research, participated in regular prenatal classes that included breath work and yoga, built a beautiful birth room with fairy lights, birth affirmations and music. I also had my sensational birth team, along with my two midwives, Mary and Arlene, I had my Doula, Melissa, HypnoBirthing coach, Laura and my husband, Dan. They all supported my decisions and continue to support me now as a new mother.
I had my son on Tuesday 27 November, 2018 at 11:48am. It was an amazingly positive experience, that transformed me for the better.
I lost my uterine seal at about 9:30pm on Monday 26 November. I let my birth team know and tried to rest while we waited and tried not to get too excited. I was uncomfortable and couldn’t rest so I paced the house with Dan following behind. At 1:30am my surges started and they were only a couple of minutes apart. I needed to lean over every time a tightening happened, this was the most challenging part of my birth and the only time I doubted my ability to have a calm birth. At about 3:30am I got in the birth pool and my comfort increased immensely, it was divine. I stayed in the pool on all fours, for the majority of my labour, only moving to the toilet occasionally which is where my waters released. The birth pool was my birth space, and I was unaware of anything going on beyond it.
Dan contacted our midwife, Mary, in the very early hours of the morning to let her know I was in the pool and having regular surges. She arrived in the early morning and stayed with me all day. She monitored me and our baby in the pool and she gave me space to labour, while reassuring me.
Once Mel arrived she helped me embrace my birth song and this moved from within me, on and off throughout the birth. Mel helped me use birthing affirmations, music and most importantly my breath to keep the space calm, relaxed and focused. She reminded Dan of my needs. I felt that Mel knew what I needed before I did! I was squeezing Mel’s hands the moment I gave birth – this is something I’ll never forget.
Dan used HypnoBirthing strategies to help me throughout the birth. We had practiced them frequently from about 20 weeks gestation and worked with a HypnoBirthing coach, Laura. Dan watched me closely and would select a strategy to support me when my breath or body movements changed. He provided me with hydration, nourishment and helped keep the pool warm and comfortable. He was so present and supportive for the whole labour. His belief in me never faltered.
I was able to feel relaxed throughout the labour with my team supporting me to breathe, saying affirmations with me and my husband guiding me through HypnoBirthing sequences. Once my baby was crowning I could reach down and feel his velvety hair to help keep my focus. This was an interesting part of the birth, I could feel my baby moving quite far back up the birth canal in between contractions, further than I had anticipated which my midwife reassured me through. It turns out the baby’s right arm was above his head with the umbilical cord looped over it, acting almost like a bungee. He was posterior and weighed 4.2kgs, with a head circumference above the 97th percentile. These details became important for me later when reflecting on my birthing experience, as they highlighted that there were factors that could have derailed my birthing experience.
I was never rushed or told what to do, instead I was supported to let my body and baby work together. Our son was born into the water while I was on all fours. I was able to reach down and pick him up and hold him to my chest. He was perfection and made quiet noises in my arms. My husband watched our baby enter the world and cut the cord. I hopped out of the pool and Dan and our baby had skin to skin time while I birthed the placenta.
A few hours after birth, our midwife accompanied Dan and I to the local hospital so I could get a stitch for a minor tear.
Later, I was surprised to hear that I had vocalised birthing affirmations during my labour, looking around the room to find the affirmation that I needed and saying it aloud. I don’t remember doing this. I also used my birth song more often then I remembered. I completely lost track of time and was shocked when I learned the actual time of birth and that it had been under 12 hours.
It was not luck that enabled me to have this amazing birth experience, where pain was not a factor. We were faced with some challenges and were able to meet them with calmness and support. My birth preparation and supportive birth team helped me to feel like a goddess throughout my birth experience.
Louise and Dan attended HypnoBirthing Classes with Laura Van Der Meulen in North Perth, WA.