Story by Claire Henderson
As we approach our son’s second birthday in August and the impending birth of our second baby in October, we‘ve just completed our Calmbirth refresher and cannot wait to experience the best day of our lives all over again.
In the weeks and days leading up to our son’s birth, both my husband and I would go to bed each evening listening to the Calmbirth relaxation tracks, they really helped us both relax and focus as we approached our “due date”.
At 40 weeks and 3 days, I woke at 1:30AM to what felt like mild period pain and I decided to warm up my heat pack and hop back into bed for some more sleep. Ten minutes later I decided to get up again and take some panadol and just felt a little “different” but definitely not in labour. I decided not to wake my husband and just lay in bed, noticing that I was checking my phone every now and then. I eventually got up and went to the bathroom and noticed a little trickle down my leg. I didn’t feel as if I was in labour but decided to then let my husband know just in case and hopped in the shower so that I could put my TENS machine on if I felt it progress any further.
I decided to text my midwife and let her know that my waters may have broken and that I would put a pad on and go back to bed and keep her posted. After putting the TENS machine on and trying to rest on the couch and still feeling like it might be a false alarm I decided to call my midwife just in case and was diverted to a midwife in the general birthing ward because mine was off-call. The midwife told me to come in if I believed my waters had broken so we jumped in the car around 3:00AM. I felt like I still wasn’t really in labour and was happy to stay at home but agreed to be checked out.
In the car on the way to the hospital I sat in the backseat with my TENS machine on and listened to the playlist from my babyshower which was full of motivating, positive songs. I closed my eyes and practiced my Calmbirth breathing, as we made our way in the car I felt the surges become more regular but I wasn’t in any pain and focused on my breathing.
When we got into the hospital at 4:00AM I felt sure that they would send me home but we were sent to a birthing suite to wait to be seen. I went and sat in the dark bathroom on the toilet and felt really calm and at peace in my own space. Soon enough the midwife came to check on me and did an internal examination (which I requested) and to my surprise I was already 7CM dilated.
I lay on my side on the bed with my husband and we practiced our Calmbirth breathing together, he had his face close to mine and would blow air on my face in timing with the breaths to remind me to breathe. I would lift my arm in the air to inhale and slowly drop it to exhale which helped me focus on my breathing.
I had a “labour bag” backpack filled with my Calmbirth booklet, essential oils, snacks, music, eye mask, heat pack and massage balls but all I wanted was to have my husband close to me. My student midwife arrived and was also an incredible support, guiding me and motivating me.
After feeling the urge to push, my midwife checked me again and said that I was 9CM.
Around this time we agreed to having a clip put on my son’s head to monitor his heart-rate and at this point I was no longer able to use my TENS Machine but as I grew closer and closer I wanted to be more aware of the surges so happily agreed to remove it.
I felt like every surge wasn’t painful but instead it was progressive and knew my body was helping me to birth. Not long after, I felt the urge again and moved onto my hands and knees with my arms over the top of the bed. I felt so empowered and so strong, counting down to each surge which made me feel closer and closer to meeting my baby.
At 8AM, after 2 hours of pushing and various positions, my midwife was still a little confused why my son hadn’t descended after what she described as very efficient pushing. His heart rate had been dipping with each contraction (as expected) but wasn’t returning back to where it was initially. At this point an obstetrician recommended that a little help might be needed to help him descend and I agreed for forceps to be used.
I felt extremely positive about having some assistance in allowing him to turn and within minutes he was earth-side. He was a big 4.25kg and had been stuck in an unexpected position so I was incredibly grateful to have used forceps.
After a couple of checks from the paediatrician my son was laid on my chest and at last we locked eyes and started our first breastfeed. It was by far the best moment of my life to date.
The entire birth I felt so calm and not in any discomfort, I couldn’t have done it without the support of my husband and the Calmbirth program. I had such an incredible, beautiful drug-free birthing experience and I am so excited to do it all over again for our next baby due in 9 weeks.
Not only was the Calmbirth program so informative and empowering for me, but it made my husband feel as if he had all the tools to help me if I needed them and knew exactly what to do to help.
Thanks so much!
Photos by Sarah Godenzi Photography