Jess & Zeb were star Hypnoparents! They did a group class with me several months ago and we had a private one-on-one session close to Jess's estimated due date. They were educated, informed and practised all the tools in their Hypnobirthing 'toolbox' and I was so proud when they told me of their positive birth experience and so grateful of their willingness to share their photos and testimonials. Their story is the perfect example of what the Hypnobirthing Australia™ program is all about. Making their own decisions, using their B.R.A.I.N., the birth partner advocating and supporting Mum and Mum doing what was most comfortable for her. I am so excited to share their birth story....
"On Monday 18th June, we welcomed our little Luna Grace into the world. Here is our story!
At 40+3 we had our regular OB appointment, and discussed the option of inducing, which we knew was a possibility as our OB had previously told us he wasn’t comfortable letting us go 10 days over the due date. We had had several discussions about the risks and benefits, and all decided that we would schedule the induction the following Monday, at 41 weeks. He completed a stretch and sweep, and I was already 2cm dilated. He thought it would be highly likely I would naturally start labour that weekend!
Well, over the next 4 days we did everything to get the process happening (spicy foods, lots of walking, sex, stairs, baths, bouncing on the fit ball, acupuncture, raspberry leaf tea). I had lots of cramping and lost the plug, but alas, bub was just too comfortable in there! I was originally very nervous and emotional about having an induction, thinking that it would reduce my chance of having a med-free and vaginal birth. Zeb and I had lots of chats that weekend about the induction, and after researching more we were confident that we were making the right decision, and that we still had lots of techniques we could use to make it a positive experience.
On Monday morning, we got up and had some breakfast and drove the the hospital. It was quite nice to have a calm approach, rather than racing there. We got checked in at 7am and met our midwife Jen who was lovely and put my nerves to rest. She didn’t sugar coat things, and told me it would be very challenging, but it was all about mindset and breathing.
She was supportive when we started discussing our birthing preferences, and immediately said ‘oh, did you do Hypnobirthing classes?’ and told us that she birthed both of her children without pain relief and that it could totally be done. This made me feel right at ease and I am so lucky she was our midwife.
At 8:30am our OB arrived and checked dilation, still 2cm. He popped my waters (ouch!) and told us if we weren’t in labour within an hour, the syntocinon would be started. Zeb asked if this was necessary, he replied ‘well you’re already here, you may as well go into labour today’
After he left, we spoke with Jen who knew we wanted to avoid the syntocin if possible. She said she would wait at least 3hrs and gave us some suggestions to help contractions move along naturally. For the next 3 hours we did LOTS of walking around the ward (the staff joked that we were wearing down the carpet), listened to the Prompts for Birthing Hypnobirthing Australia™ track, put on the TENS machine and bounced on the fit ball.
Mild surges started and slowly increased, feeling like worsening period pain in 20-30 second bouts. I tracked them with the TENS machine, which had a great feature to ‘boost’ the electrical pulses during a surge. This meant I could click it on during a surge, and off when it finished. It not only allowed us to see how long a surge lasted, but it also signalled to Zeb when I was having one, and was a wonderful distraction tool.
By midday, we consulted again with Jen, who recommended that we start on the syntocinon drip. I asked for another cervical check first, and she agreed that if I had processed with dilation that we wouldn’t need to start the drip. Unfortunately I was still only 2cm. By this stage, I was keen to get the process going and we trusted her advice, so the drip was started.
From there, things ramped up really quickly and wow time distortion is real! I had to rely on my husband for a lot of the below details and timings, as it is all a bit of a blur. I started labouring on the fit ball, leaning my head against the bed during a surge, with Zeb doing some light touch massage on my back.
By 1pm, Jen suggested I change positions and get onto the bed on all fours, leaning over the head of the bed. This was a great move, as it was easy to rest in between surges, and to flop over the bed during them. Zeb stood next to the bed, giving me sips of water and cold flannels when I was resting, and reminded me at every surge to ‘flop’ or ‘go jelly’. This was incredibly important as I would forget and tense up at the beginning of every surge, so without his reminders it would have been much more painful.
The TENS machine and breathing were my main tools at this stage. I felt that the TENS was almost a way of helping me acknowledge and accept the surge by boosting the electrical pulses while riding it out. I counted my breathing as well, focusing on breathing in for 6-8 breaths and out for 6-8 breaths. This counting was a great way to stay focused on something other than the pain.
They really were like surges or waves, building up and then coming back down.
By around 2pm, I was really struggling with the intensity of the pain. They were lasting just 60 seconds, but I often had little or no breaks in between them. I would just get my breath and have a sip of water before the next one started. My thoughts became more negative, I was thinking “I can’t do this”, and became more vocal and groaning during each surge. I remember thinking during each surge that I would tell Zeb that I needed an epidural, but then at the end of each surge I made a deal with myself that I would wait one more.
By 2:30pm, I started crying and told Zeb I couldn’t keep going (in hindsight, classic transition stage!). He told me I was doing so well and it wouldn’t be long.
Not long after, I started to feel pressure in my bottom, and I said I felt the need to push. The Midwife said my noises had changed (much more grunting and deep vocalisations). I didn’t think I could possibly be ready, it had only been 2.5 hours of active labour. Jen offered another cervical check and I agreed, and told Zeb if I hadn’t progressed far, I was getting an epidural. I’m so glad I waited, because when she did the check, I was 9.5 cms!
I burst into tears with relief! I only had a lip of the cervix left, and she explained I needed to keep going and not push yet until completely ready. At this stage, Jen offered me gas, which I gratefully accepted. I found that it really helped with focusing my breathing which had been getting out of control with all the emotions and tears. The gas allowed me to lengthen my breaths, and the head spin after the surge was actually kind of nice. I remember saying ‘this feels like those Shisha pipes in Bali!’
Zeb told me later on that as soon as I heard I was nearly fully dilated, I just put my head down and powered through the surges with the gas. He said it was the greatest thing to witness my resolve and see the mindset change. No more doubts, just so keen to finish this thing!
At 3:30pm, I was given the ok to start pushing. For the next surge, I tried the breathing down technique, but it honestly didn’t feel right. I felt like I needed more push, and the midwife confirmed this and said ‘you’re going to need more than that, let’s do this’.
For every surge, I did 3 pushes. I tried on all fours, and on my side with a leg up, but then turned to my back and this felt instantly the most productive (which was unexpected. I thought I would want to push upright). My legs were held up and I sat upright, so I was really in a V shape. What really helped was when the midwife put her hand where to push and I focused all my energy there. I’m thankful I didn’t get the epidural, I can’t imagine trying to push without the sensations to help you. All up I ended up pushing for 45 minutes, though it felt like only 10!
During each push I honestly didn’t feel any pain, just pressure to bear down and it felt so productive to do so.
Zeb was amazing, he held my legs up and gave me the encouragement I needed to keep going. After 45mins, bub was close, but kept going back up. The OB came back into the room, told me I was doing some excellent pushing and I was so close. He wanted to use the vacuum to help with the final bit and I begged yes please.
He explained what he was doing the whole time which I appreciated. He put the vacuum on her head and with the final push he pulled and her head was out! He then told me to reach down. I was so confused and thought he meant to grab my legs, but he said ‘no, grab your baby’ and I reached down, held her under the shoulders, and pulled her out and onto my chest at 4:22pm. Words can’t describe how incredible it felt to pull her out myself and have her on me finally.
Zeb cut the cord, he was an emotional mess, while I just lay there in silent shock! The Midwife asked if I wanted to see the placenta and I hadn’t even realised it had come out. I had a small tear and got a few stitches, nothing that bad at all and I didn’t feel them.
I thought I would feel overwhelming emotions, but honestly the adrenalin and shock left me suddenly SO tired. I’ve never felt so exhausted. Jen got us some food and drink, and Zeb hand feeded me the best cheese toastie of my life haha!
Overall, I’m SO proud of our story. While not everything was in our ideal preferences, I got through it without an epidural, I didn’t feel pressured, and was grateful for the advice and assistance along the way. It is truly amazing what the female body can go through. I can’t believe it was only 4.5hrs from the start of active labour to when our Luna arrived. Our midwife Jen was amazing, and stayed an extra 4hrs past the end of her shift to see the labour through. What a wonderful woman!
I’m recovering well, and I strongly believe that all our Hypnobirthing techniques shaped the mindset of the day. It allowed me to stay positive (apart from transition!), believe in my ability to birth my baby, and it helped Zeb to be the best coach ever. He says it was the most powerful and amazing thing he has witnessed :)
A big thanks to Renee from The Birth Space for some amazing classes and support. xx"
Thank you so much Jess & Zeb. It was an absolute pleasure to teach you.