This gorgeous Mama Bear, Steph, and her partner, Reyne, attended one of my group classes to work towards a positive birth. There were a lot of different factors that presented themselves for Steph throughout her pregnancy which resulted in an induction but she learnt to empower herself throughout all the twists and turns she experienced.
She explains a lot of the Hypnobirthing Australia techniques that she used with the help of Reyne and how they helped her manage through labour. She progressed through her induced labour incredibly well but was unfortunately let down by her care provider right at the end. Even still, Steph and Reyne were a power house birthing team.
Here is her story…
Everybody has a different idea of what they would like their birth experience to be. We all know that many things do not often go to plan here, but for me, I just wanted to go in with an open mind and a really positive attitude about birthing our baby girl. Kirryn Simpson from Bear Your Birth really helped me with this process. In fact, when I told her that we may need to consider induction, she sent me many positive induction stories, questions to ask the hospital staff and really helped me to feel incredibly positive about the entire situation. I will be forever grateful that I met her, and enrolled in her Hypnobirthing Australia course.
Due to circumstances out of our control, and after a lot of discussion, Reyne and I decided that an induction would be the safest way to bring our baby into the world. As much as I was desperate for a spontaneous labour, it seemed that my body wasn’t coping sustaining the pregnancy as much as we would have liked. We did not enter into this lightly and I didn’t feel as prepared for labour as I would have liked. But with our OB’s recommendation to go ahead and the fact that he favoured more natural induction methods, we felt slightly more comforted with this approach.
I remember Reyne telling me, “once you have decided what you want to do, you need to make your peace with it and back your decision in. No worrying about whether you made the right decision or not.” He was right, I didn’t want to agonise over it, physically I felt completely fine; I was still training at the gym and walking our dog Frankie every day. But my blood tests, which were being alternated every second day with a CTG trace at the hospital, and my blood pressure (BP) levels were telling a different story. With how my body responded a few days after the birth, with seriously high levels of BP spikes, I definitely think we made the right decision (Remi was cleared for discharge way before I was).
At 6pm, Wednesday the 22nd of January, we entered our birthing suite. Reyne straight away got to setting the room up for me. Positive birth affirmations on the wall, a photo of Frankie and a photo of Reyne’s father, Allan, holding him as a baby, were put up to remind me to stay strong. We put on the diffuser with some clary sage (to assist in labour) and lavender, with LED candles all across the room so that we could keep the curtains closed and the room dark – melatonin assists in the labour process (the hormone, oxytocin, stimulates your uterus to contract and melatonin, another hormone, works in tandem with oxytocin, enhancing and regulating contractions).
I strongly believe that the setup of the room assisted me throughout almost all the birth. In the final stages you could have probably had alpacas with maracas go through the room and I’m not sure I would have even noticed!
We weren’t off to a great start. A midwife started telling me that if I couldn’t get my BP under control that I would need to be put on a drip (which meant no movement – something I desperately wanted as a form of pain relief and comfortability). She also started talking about synthetic oxytocin (a drip to speed up labour) which I was strongly against and hadn’t discussed with my covering OB (mine was on holidays).
She left the room and I was teary for a few seconds before I told Reyne that I was going to ask the OB about these things before I start to panic and if, at the end of the day, I have to have a drip, I was going to need to be more open minded about introducing pain relief options if I was desperate. I was hoping to only use the gas, if needed, as it doesn’t pass the placenta and I personally felt that it would help me work better with our baby during the laboring process. Reyne put on our portable speaker and played my positive birth affirmations track, and that really helped me focus on strengthening my mindset.
The OB walked in and I asked him if I would need to have a drip for my BP or synthetic oxytocin and it was like he could read my mind – he told me that if he wasn’t happy with my BP that he would give me tablets to take (which he did) and that he prefers not to use synthetic oxytocin unless he absolutely has to. I breathed a huge sigh of relief!
My OB used gel and a balloon catheter to begin the induction process and left the room for the night, to return early the next morning. While I was being induced, Reyne used the acupressure points we learned to help ease anxiety and alleviate pain (he used these a LOT during my surges too!). Almost immediately after the induction I started feeling light pressure, it was more uncomfortable than painful, and I just needed to keep moving. I alternated with warm water in the shower, the tens machine and using the fit ball with Reyne doing the rebozo technique with a scarf which helps with pain relief and to release tight uterine and abdominal muscles.
It was very early on in the night that I met another midwife (‘R’) and instantly bonded with her. She walked in and said, “I’m so excited you’re doing Hypnobirthing!” R was incredibly calm, nurturing and supportive of everything we needed, we talked about her family during the night and I distinctly remember her saying something about pain, and then “Oh no, I remembered I’m not meant to mention that!” and I just smiled at her because I knew how hard she was trying to make my birth experience as positive as possible.
In hindsight, I wish we had gone through, and shown the hospital staff my birth plan, because everything was a little rushed and the covering OB had said he didn’t need to see it. I felt a few things maybe could have gone a bit differently later on, but this is something I will remember to take into my second birth!
I didn’t realise how quickly my labour would progress, I probably would have used the tens machine at the start of the night and then moved to the shower later on but you seem to lose sense of time when you’re in the birthing room! I remember needing to go to the toilet A LOT, which just meant that labour was progressing well… I couldn’t eat, but I kept up my fluids and Reyne was always there with coconut water or an electrolyte drink for me.
At some point during the night he fell asleep, I just kept moving around to try and get comfortable. R came into the room and I remember her telling me that at 6am she wanted me to have a shower and even put mascara on, because she said I’m not going to feel fresh again for a while, we both laughed. I didn’t end up getting that shower in the end!. R told me that the OB would be in at 6.30am to break my waters – something I wasn’t overly keen on, but I tried to stay positive about it!
It was about 3am when I woke up Reyne and I just felt that I wanted him beside my bed holding my hand. He told me afterwards that he was worried about not having enough sleep and supporting me in the final stage of labour which he thought would be much later on that day. Low and behold, around 4am my waters broke naturally! I was absolutely thrilled. However, this was when everything progressed really, really quickly!
My surges were incredibly close together and started becoming more difficult for me to tolerate. Reyne just kept me in the shower the entire time and held my hand and tried to assist with my breathing, I just got to a point where I cried out, “I’m trying!”. He told me afterwards that the contraction timer he was using started saying, “call the hospital… you need to get to the hospital… call an ambulance… you’re having the baby now!”
Reyne and I had a code word ‘Buzz Lightyear’ to use if I was desperate for serious pain relief. My birth plan had stated that I only wanted gas, but I would ask for other things if I needed it. I couldn’t talk at this stage (I felt that my body was using all energy to try and birth our baby!) but I said to him, pain relief, which wasn’t our code word and, in my head, I hoped Reyne knew that I meant the gas. He called R in and she started talking to me about morphine, I was just looking at her and couldn’t get out that it wasn’t what I wanted, but she said she wanted to take Reyne out of the room and talk to him. Bless R, she told Reyne that I was almost fully dilated and that she felt I could get to the end without pain relief (like I wanted). She had just assumed I was asking for something more because I had started to became quite vocal during surges!
At around 6am, I started to show text book signs of being in transition; I sounded like a wild animal, I kept yelling “I can’t do this!” and poor Reyne’s hand was probably going to break from being squeezed so hard, I had almost thought I might just go home at this point. R rushed in and knew that it was time to get me out of the shower (because you aren’t allowed to birth in there at the hospital I was at) and onto the bed.
After doing an exam she decided I was ready to go and called the OB in. He did an exam as well, decided that I wasn’t quite ready, said “don’t push, you need to conserve your energy,” and left the room. This exchange really slowed my progress. Our baby may have come earlier had this not happened and sadly, a few other things happened during this time. I had to start using gas to stop the urge to push – how anyone stops pushing during the final stage of labour I have absolutely no idea. It was the only way I could cope!
I feel a bit disappointed to say that in this time I lost all mental focus completely; my breathing was erratic, and I couldn’t concentrate at all. Reyne told me that I kept looking around the room. I was trying to see if the OB was there to give me an instruction to start pushing again… I really didn’t know what to do and that was incredibly difficult for me. At one point, due to the labour ward being full that night, Reyne said there was nobody in the room and he had to push the buzzer for assistance as he wasn’t sure what he was supposed to be doing! I have vague recollections of him playing my lotus flower track to try and encourage labour to progress and to assist with my breathing.
The midwives were due to change shifts at 7am and my midwife, R, was leaving me! I could hear her doing a hand over with another midwife (‘T’) and I looked over at her, couldn’t speak, but my eyes were pleading, don’t leave me! T was an amazing midwife, it wasn’t anything against her. It was just that I truly felt really close to R and I wanted her to birth our baby, unfortunately it just wasn’t meant to be.
I remember being slumped over the bed head trying to catch my breath and hoping to catch a glimpse of Reyne so that I could feel a little stronger. The next part happened so quickly and the one thing I remember hearing from T, as clear as day was, “she (as in the baby), is getting tired.” I knew what that could mean: instrumental birth, emergency caesarean etc., the baby just needed to come out. T helped me change positions, put me on my side and pushed my upper leg into her shoulder. I remember thinking that I wasn’t supposed to push but I didn’t care. I just wanted our baby out safely into the world. Two massive long pushes and her head was out!
T asked if I wanted to touch the head and I said “No, thank-you,” which was all I could muster. I heard Reyne comment on how cute she was and I realized that I had done the hardest part and I could finish this off really well. It was in that moment the OB walked back into the room. T had done such an amazing job pushing against my leg, trying to do hot towels, trying to coach my breathing and attempting to keep my perineum intact. She just couldn’t manage all of that by herself with only one hand, the other one was holding my leg up still!.
She then told me just light pushes to the end. I remember reading somewhere that it was like blowing out birthday candles on a cake, so I just did short little breaths and our baby girl was out! T put her straight on my chest for skin to skin for AGES, they delayed the cord clamping and Reyne got to cut the cord. Remi was just laying on my chest smiling up at me and then she dozed off to sleep.
I birthed the placenta and I remember hearing comments about how good it looked but I was pretty out of it at this point. I was crying tears of joy, but my teeth were chattering and I had the shakes. T wrapped us up tightly together and Reyne took photos of us, memories that I will treasure forever.
I came out of her birth feeling incredibly proud of myself and recognising how hard I had tried and then looking back later, I started feeling quite critical of myself. I should have done better breathing in the final stages of labour, I was screaming really loudly and I should have been quieter for the other women birthing that night, I was left alone and really needed guidance in the final stage etc., It is funny how all of a sudden you start doubting yourself for no reason!
When I told Reyne, he almost couldn’t believe what I was saying! He suggested writing everything down so that I could remember how hard I worked to bring our baby girl into the world, a suggestion that has really reminded me what a beautiful experience it was!
This blog was shared with full permission by Steph, originally published on her Tumblr blog here
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