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We will take one contraction at a time and see how we go…

Birth Stories

An empowering course giving us a wonderful birth experience
Written by Catherine Yee

Firstly, I wanted to thank you for developing such a useful and empowering course that enabled us to have a wonderful experience at the birth of our son.

I was experiencing a lot of anxiety in the early stages of pregnancy and I wasn’t able to listen to stories or talk about labour at all. I had heard about your course and had it recommended to me by a few different people, so my husband and I decided it would be helpful in our preparation. My husband was a bit worried that it would be too ‘hippy’ for him and was wondering how there would be enough content to keep his attention for 2 whole days!

But there was! The course was so informative and my husband (and I) really appreciated the scientific evidence supporting the tools you taught us! The Saturday night was the first time I was able to even put words to how I was feeling about giving birth!

We listened to the mediations most nights and I started to feel much more at ease about the birth. They also helped us practice the skill of relaxation and mindfulness. We talked about the physiology of what would happen to my body in labour and the different chemicals that my brain would release.

(I also read Birth Skills (Ju Ju Sundin), which I felt helped with some different tools to help with ‘distraction’ and pain management)

 

 

I ended up going 10 days ‘overdue’ (this was a huge test of my mental health! And there were more than a few tears!) and was scheduled for an induction to begin on Wednesday afternoon.

We arrived at the hospital and I was given the first dose of gel and we were told by the obstetrician that our baby was in the posterior position and that the labour would be long and painful, would require an epidural and probably end in a caesarean!! (Such unhelpful words to use for a very overdue and anxious first time mother!!) this is not to say I am anti medication and intervention, I’m a pharmacist so I know there is a place for these things and I wasn’t ruling anything out; I also know that there are side effects and unintended outcomes of all interventions so was wanting to see how I would go first without them.

My husband was amazingly calm and reminded me that we would take it one contraction at a time and see how we go! (I’m sure Calmbirth helped him with this!)

The midwife we had looking after us that first night was amazing as well, and gave us some positions for me to try to see if our baby would spin around into the anterior position overnight. The second dose of gel was given about midnight (the staff were very busy with other deliveries) and my waters broke on their own at about 2am. Slight contractions started after this and by the time my husband came back to the hospital at 6am I was thinking maybe my labour would progress naturally from here we wouldn’t have to use the Syntocin!

The delivery suits were full and so we  remained on the ward and the obstetrician came and examined me at 9am, I was 1.5cm dilated! And the baby was no longer in the posterior position. We were on our way! Because they were busy with other deliveries the obstetrician asked if we were happy to wait and see how we went, and of course we were!

So we spent the day going for walks outside, around the hospital, talking and visualizing oxytocin flooding my body and my uterus contracting and relaxing and my cervix opening (like the balloon example from the calm birth course!) and reminding me that it was Healthy Pain, I’m not in danger, it’s just muscle fatigue… and by the evening the contractions were getting more intense, so the midwife on duty arranged for us to move to the delivery suite and examined me, we were 4cm. She offered a dosage of morphine to allow me to get some sleep (as I’d been up since my waters at broken at 2am the night before). I accepted and was able to get 4 hours sleep before being woken to be assessed again and the midwife informed us we were 8cm and to be expecting to meet our baby in a few hours!

I had another dose of morphine and I woke about 6am and got up and went for a walk up and down the maternity ward. (Thinking to myself, 8-10cm dilated isn’t nearly as intense as I thought it would be!)

The obstetrician on duty came in about 7am and told me he doubted I was 8cm dilated, that the midwife had made a mistake (as I was up and walking about) he examined me and sure enough, I was only 5cm…

Since it had been approximately 30hrs since my waters had broken, the obstetrician explained that we would need to start the syntocin to move things along. And that he would give me 5 hours of syntocin to deliver the baby otherwise we’d have a caesarean. Of course, at this point, I burst into tears, I thought my body was moving along as it was meant to, and it wasn’t!

My husband was amazingly calm and reminded me that we would take it one contraction at a time and see how we go! (I’m sure Calmbirth helped him with this!)

My husband was truly amazing at this point (again I believe the Calmbirth preparation helped him here!) and as they were setting up the cannula and syntocin he was talking quietly to me about how I was doing an amazing job and that we would continue taking it one contraction at a time and believing that my body could deliver our baby!

The midwife that came on duty that morning and was with us over the next few hours was so kind, and encouraged me to cry out my frustration while she got the drip ready, as once she started the syntocin we were going to refocus and help my body work with the syntocin to deliver our baby. (Such a perfect, encouraging midwife for that time in our labour journey!)

I don’t remember much of the next few hours as my husband and I used the noise of the juggling ball banging on the bed as our main pain distraction technique. I wanted to continue to be moving as I knew that getting rid of the adrenaline through walking etc was helpful but the cannula and drop pole made that difficult. I wanted to get into the bath but because of the monitor (required due to the syntocin) I was unable to do this. My husband was by my side and didn’t allow me to get discouraged. I was examined at about midday and I was now 8cm…(I can see why the obstetrician knew I wasn’t 8cm earlier in the morning! These contractions were much more intense!) I had a morphine injection at this point as the midwife instructed us that I needed to relax more through the contractions and to use the gas as the baby’s oxygen levels kept dropping and the alarm on the monitor kept sounding (as she felt I was too tense with my banging of the juggling ball!) so we switched to listening to the Calmbirth audio tracks and breathed the gas through the contractions, (I don’t feel like this worked for pain relief but it worked a treat for bringing up the oxygen levels!) we were visualizing my cervix opening the last 2cm. (I remember at the start of each contraction I would say, “I can’t relax through this!” And my husband would say, “yes you can, let’s breathe and he’d count down  the rest of the contraction)”.

At around 2pm the obstetrician came in and examined me again and said we were finally ready to push! He did say he’d give me 1 hour of pushing and if we hadn’t progressed then we’d have a cesarean. I remembered from Juju’s book about visualizing a coffee plunger as a useful tool to assist with the pushing phase, so with my first contractions in this new phase I was saying ‘like a coffee plunger’ as I knelt and pushed on the bed. It seemed like no time had passed and the midwife said ‘let’s make these next 2 pushes really efficient as the obstetrician will be back in 10 minutes!’ At this stage I remember looking at my husband and saying, “I don’t think this is working, maybe we should just have the cesarean”. And he said (as he did the whole way through) let’s just take it one contraction at a time and see how we go.

The obstetrician came back at 3pm and he and the midwife talked and the midwife said she believed I was making good progress. So the obstetrician said he’d allow me another 30 minutes of pushing and then he’d get the vacuum/forceps. I gave the next 2 pushes everything I had saying to myself ‘be efficient, push efficiently, like a coffee plunger’ as I visualized our baby moving down the birth canal. Again it seemed like no time had passed and the midwife said I had 5 minutes until the obstetrician returned and with the next push I felt our baby’s head move down and I felt the burning sensation Juju’s book talked about when the baby is crowning! I looked at my husband with huge surprise! We had almost done it!!

Waiting for the next contraction seemed to take forever and we breathed gently as I visualised our baby’s head slipping through. The midwife encouraged my husband to catch our baby and with the next contraction the head was out. I remember my husbands excited voice saying ‘you’ve done it, the head is out!’ With the next contraction the body was out and as they passed the baby up through my legs and I turned around (quite awkwardly with the cannula and drip line in!) I remember someone asking what sex the baby was and my husband saying ‘I can’t see!’ So I said ‘it’s a boy!’.  Our son was born 48hrs after I had received the first dose of prostaglandin gel. 36hrs after my waters had broken and 7hours after the syntocin was started. We didn’t need an assisted delivery or a cesarean, so my recovery was quick and without complications.

And then in no time at all the room was quiet and we were left alone! A new family of 3. I will be forever grateful for my husband’s unwavering support through the whole 2 day ordeal. I probably would have given up at 100 different points had he not been with me to reassure me. I honestly believe that had my husband and I not done the Calmbirth course and did not have a good understanding of the physiology of what was happening to my body and implemented the techniques from the Birth Skills book, we would have ended up having a much different birth experience filled with a lot of fear and a lot of decisions being made for us by others.

Instead, I look at our birth story and am filled with pride at what my husband and I achieved together in the birth of our son. I am in awe of the human body and what it can endure. And amazed at the human brain and its influence over the body!

I am grateful we live in a country with great medical facilities but I look at a few different parts of my labor and wonder if the words that were spoken to me by the obstetrician on duty, if spoken to someone without my labour preparation and supportive, encouraging informed husband, would have had a negative impact on the delivery outcome.

I would definitely advocate for the Calmbirth course for every pregnant couple!  Without a doubt, the skills we learned allowed us to have minimal intervention even though I had to be induced.

 

 

 

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