Story by Julie Hunter & Danny Laiman

We travelled 5 hours to attend Karen McClay’s Calmbirth course in Bowral and I believe this played a huge role in why our birth experience was so powerful and positive. I cannot wait to give birth again. Calmbirth gave Danny and I the tools and confidence that we needed to continue to advocate for the birth that we envisioned and to understand the natural physiological stages of birth and how we can use breath, touch and positioning to support my positive birth experience. Calmbirth taught me to always come back to my breathing and Danny would continually remind me to come back to my breath when I felt like running away. Calmbirth instilled confidence in myself and my partner Danny, knowing that my body and mind already know exactly how to birth. Danny learnt the importance of his role during my labour and was extremely supportive and present throughout the entire labour, he was my rock.

 

 

 

41 weeks

Throughout my pregnancy I had always thought that I would go early, not once did I think that I would go over 42 weeks.

On Monday the 17th of May, at 41 weeks pregnant, my midwife had booked me in for a routine check up on myself and baby as I was now considered ‘overdue’ This involved a CTG, an ultrasound to check my fluid levels and a vaginal examination, as well as an optional stretch and sweep. My regular midwife had been called into work the night before so on this morning I was met by a midwife that I hadn’t seen before. The CTG and fluid levels were normal but the midwife had told me that my babies head was high and not fully engaged. She attempted a stretch and sweep but said my cervix was still closed and that she was unable to do a stretch and sweep. The word induction was first brought up and almost spoken about like it was a routine procedure at 41 weeks. The midwife said we could try cervidil to see if I would labour off this. I was asked what day I would like to have my baby either Wednesday or Saturday.  I looked at Danny and said ‘Wednesday’ I felt worried and unsure.

After doing some research, Danny and I found out that cervidil is the beginning of the induction process and it was unlikely that I would labour off this chemical intervention alone. What we weren’t told is that once you begin with cervidil, the intervention does not stop until you are in labour and birth your baby. In other words, you go into the hospital for cervidil you don’t leave the hospital until you have given birth.

Danny and I decided to put off the induction until the following Saturday. I continued to go in for a check up on the Wednesday and Friday and again baby was healthy and well, my fluids were fine, but I was told by the same midwife that my baby’s head was still high. On the Friday I asked to be assessed by a doctor after the same midwife told me she could not perform a stretch and sweep. This doctor asked me if I wanted her to do a stretch and sweep and I said “YES please. Give it a good crack.” as I didn’t want to be induced. This doctor was able to do a proper stretch and sweep, she said she could reach my cervix and feel baby’s head,” so it wasn’t high!

Danny and I decided to put the induction off from Saturday to Sunday. I called the same midwife that I had seen that week and told her I didn’t want to be induced. I was told that because baby’s head was high, and I was reaching 42 weeks that I was a ‘red flag’ and should really consider being induced as they want ALL women to birth their babies by 42 weeks.

Sunday 22nd of May – 41 weeks and 6 days.

I woke up and upon going to the toilet I realised I had lost some of my mucus plug. I knew this was a good sign. Dan and I went for a walk that morning and I started to feel some period like cramps. I tried not to get too excited. That afternoon it poured down with rain, I snuggled up on the couch and noticed these cramps were becoming regular. I began timing when they would start and realised that they were coming every 7 minutes. I waited for a while before calling out to Danny to tell him that I was in early labour. I called my midwife (the one I had seen throughout my entire pregnancy) and gave her the heads up. We both got really excited, and she told me to jump into bed and call her when I felt I needed to come to hospital and she would meet me there. Danny and I ate dinner together and after Danny packed the hospital bags in the car. I put my tens machine on and we tucked ourselves into bed. I tried to rest in between contractions until I couldn’t lay down anymore, at 2am I called my Mum and she came over to be with Danny and me.

My plan was to labour at home for as long as I could before I felt like I needed to go to hospital.

Monday 23rd May – 42 weeks

At 6:30am I decided that I needed to go to hospital as I was feeling a lot of discomfort and my contractions were coming every 3 minutes and lasting for 40-60 seconds each time. We said goodbye to my mum and off we went.

At 7:30am we met our midwife in the birth suite and set ourselves up in our room, the lights were dimmed, clary sage vaporiser was on, the bath was running, our music was playing and Danny had put out some tea light candles around the room. I was checked and told I was 3cm dilated.

Our midwife gave us the option of taking some panadeine forte and going home to try and rest and labour in the comfort of my home however, the doctors recommended that I stay in hospital as I was 42 weeks and overdue. As I was in a lot of discomfort and had gone through my natural pain relief options, I decided to use the ladder of pain relief taught in Calmbirth and take the panadeine forte and stay in hospital. Danny and I tried to get some rest, but the discomfort began to increase.

From the early stages of my labour, I had used my Calmbreath technique of breathing in through my nose for 5 seconds and out for 6 seconds. Danny would breathe along with me and when my noises began to deviate from my calm deeper sound, Danny would remind me to come back to my deep sounds and breath. He would tell me “It’s okay you only have 3 more breaths then you can rest, you’re nearly there, stay with me, you’re doing so well”. He was my biggest support and advocate. I attribute this breathing technique to keeping me calm and helping me breathe baby down and defying the odds.

1pm

I asked for something to help with the discomfort I was feeling. The option of morphine or an epidural were offered, and I decided to try morphine. I had not eaten anything and kept hydrated with a big cup of ice, apple juice and water (like a slushie) that Dan kept topping up for me. After taking morphine and resting for an hour I began to feel more discomfort. My midwife checked me again and I was 4cm dilated, she felt babies positioning and thought baby felt a little posterior which would explain my discomfort. Dan and I walked up and down the birth suite hall and tried some spinning babies positioning that we had learnt from calm birth and forward leans to try and get baby to turn.

5pm

I looked at Danny and asked him if he would be disappointed in me if I had an epidural. Danny burst into tears and told me that he was so proud of me and that I was doing such an amazing job and he would never be disappointed in me.

I was taken to another room with medical lights and medical staff walking in and out to set me up for an epidural. Danny began to feel unsettled as he could see how hard I was working and there was talk about theatre being an option. Danny called my Mum (who is a midwife) and had a big cry to her and said that he felt like we needed her to come in to advocate for me as I was exhausted, and things felt a little out of control.

9pm

I had been given an epidural and finally felt comfortable enough to get some rest. My mum had arrived just as the doctor came into assess me. I agreed to let them break my waters at this stage and the doctor recommended that I have syntocinon to bring on stronger more regular contractions. My midwife and mum had been feeling my contractions and were confident that my contractions were strong, and I was having 4 every 10 minutes, even though the pattern wasn’t completely regular.

My mum said to me, “Julie you are comfortable, your  baby is happy (the CTG pattern was normal), lets not be in a rush and let things take their time, using Syntocinon to increase contractions can lead to foetal distress”. “You aren’t in a rush and won’t have CS for slow progress and we want to avoid the need for CS for foetal distress”.

Over the next 4 hours Dan and I were able to rest and everything was calm. The Doctor came back at 1030 pm to reassess me. She did an ultrasound, and we could see that baby was lying completely posterior, spine to my spine with a deflexed head. I was checked and was 6cm’s dilated. Once again it was recommended that I have a Syntocinon infusion to help make my contractions stronger and more regular.

I used the BRAIN anacronym (from calm birth) with the doctor, she said the benefits were that it would shorten my labour and long labours were associated with more haemorrhaging. When I asked about risk she acknowledged the risk of foetal distress.

The alternative mentioned was just to continue as I was and reassess in another 4 hours. I said my intuition was that I didn’t want to have the Synto now, I might have it later. At this stage I had a very strong urge to push because the back of my baby’s head was pressing on my bowel. This is very common with a baby in a posterior position. Because I wasn’t fully dilated I was told it was important not to push as it can make your cervix oedematous.

At this time, I remembered the quote from Calmbirth “You. must enter the cave of fear to find the treasure that you seek”. My mum encouraged me to get on my hands and knees on the bed and lean against the peanut ball, I begin swaying my hips from side to side as I breathed through my contractions. After about oneand a half hours the strong urge to push settled and I could feel my baby moving down into my pelvis. I went silent for the next hour and slowly began breathing my baby down deeper into my pelvis.

I continued to sway and breathe until I got to a point where I thought “I can’t do this anymore” I remembered Karen our Calmbirth educator telling us that when we want to give up that this is the transition into the pushing phase. I turned to my midwife and asked to be checked telling her that I was confident the babies head was in my pelvis. She looked at me and asked me if I was sure, I wasn’t due to be checked for another hour and a half, but she agreed to get Ellie the doctor to come. Ellie the doctor arrived, and I turned back over to my back and she placed the ultrasound on my belly.

My Mum burst into tears along with my midwife, they could see straight away that my baby had rotated around to be in an anterior position and its head was beautifully flexed. When Ellie examined me she asked if Danny wanted to have a look at our babies head as she could see it easily. Danny began to cry telling me ‘Julie, you’ve done it, you’ve done it, I can see our baby’s hair”. I also began to cry, I was so happy I had been able tp rotate our baby 180 degrees, and I was now fully dilated. This was one of the best moments of my life, I had worked so hard, the hardest that I had ever persevered and was exhausted, but our baby was right there ready to come into the world.

 

The doctor said she would come back in an hour to give my body time to rest before I started to push.  I didn’t want to rest! My body had gotten me this far and I was determined to continue listening to my body and my body wanted to push. I continued to quietly breathe my baby down with each contraction on my hands and knees, 30 minutes went by and again I told my midwife that I wasn’t going to wait any longer. I began fully bearing down with each contraction.

I was told that the doctor along with another doctor were hovering in the room. I later found out that they had brought in forceps and scissors ready to intervene if needed. I heard the voice of Ellie the doctor as she asked “Julie, how do you feel about an episiotomy?” I ignored her and on my next two contractions I gave it everything I had and pushed our baby’s head out.

Within another few pushes Mila Laiman was born at 2:58am into the hands of her Dad and passed in between my legs. As I looked down, I could hear her crying and I scooped her up onto my chest holding her and looking at her. My midwife asked me if I wanted to see what I had. I looked and cried out “It’s a girl!”. I had done it, my body had gone into spontaneous labour at 42 weeks and I had birthed her by myself a day later.  I had the vaginal birth that I envisioned despite lots of persuasion to allow the team to induce me and then failing that, ‘augment’ my labour with Syntocinon. My midwife  told me I was amazing! Danny cut the cord, my perineum was intact, and I had only lost a very small amount of blood, I felt euphoric. We had lovely long skin on skin time, then my Mum helped me up to the bathroom to shower (the best shower of my life). Danny and I took our baby girl home 8 hours later.

Calmbirth

We travelled 5 hours to attend Karen McClay’s Calmbirth course in Bowral and I believe this played a huge role in why our birth experience was so powerful and positive. I cannot wait to give birth again. Calmbirth gave Danny and I the tools and confidence that we needed to continue to advocate for the birth that we envisioned and to understand the natural physiological stages of birth and how we can use breath, touch and positioning to support my positive birth experience. Calmbirth taught me to always come back to my breathing and Danny would continually remind me to come back to my breath when I felt like running away. Calmbirth instilled confidence in myself and my partner Danny, knowing that my body and mind already know exactly how to birth. Danny learnt the importance of his role during my labour and was extremely supportive and present throughout the entire labour, he was my rock.

 

 

 

 

 

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