Jess, second birth, first hypnobirth, drug free

We welcomed another beautiful baby girl, Amelie Belle in to our world. To say I am proud is an UNDERSTATEMENT! I was apprehensive about birth after my first labour but it was entirely different this time around. The great thing about having birthed once before meant I knew exactly what I wanted to do to help myself avoid those challenging moments.

I was having a day where I just felt different and felt I really needed to rest. I was nesting a lot in the last 2 weeks before (and barely resting) and I truly didn't expect anything to happen until closer to 41 weeks as my first was born at 40+10. Towards the end of the day, I noticed braxton hicks were becoming more uncomfortable but no regularity - I thought it could possibly be false labour at this point. An hour later they were becoming more frequent so I began timing them and called the hospital to discuss if it was false labour or early labour (I normally wouldn't have cared but it was 6.30pm and wanted to sort out the toddler to our babysitter before it was very late). The midwives couldn't confirm either way for us so at 7pm we decided to get the toddler off as the surges, albeit very manageable at this point, were becoming stronger and regular (glad we did!). Whilst we waited for my mother-in-law to arrive, I was reading books to my toddler, making the most of some bonding just the 2 of us which was a great way keep me distracted in these early stages labour and to focus on nice moments with my little girl. After she left, I kept busy - I know a lot of people suggest to rest in early labour but surges were about 6 minutes apart and found that surges were easier to get through standing up or on all fours so I was happy to put on a load of washing, the dishes, had a snack between surges, tidy up, last minute bag items packed etc. I loved the exercise ball in pregnancy but a lot of positions with the exercise ball made surges more uncomfortable so I didn't end up utilising it at all in labour.

At about 9.30pm I got in to a lavender bath and listened to the birth affirmations track. It was incredibly peaceful and during surges, Andrew would use the flannel to trickle warm water over my bump during a surge. I got out after about an hour and I called the hospital again to let them know it was true labour with intensified and more regular surges but I wanted to stay at home as long as possible before coming in. I also asked if any midwives are familiar with hypnobirthing but I was reassured all midwives on that night were on board with it so I felt great about coming in whenever I needed to knowing this.

My vision board full of affirmations, which was more powerful than I thought, not only was it something visual that reinforced positive thoughts in pregnancy but it was so helpful when I was having surges, Andrew referred to them and kept saying them to me too.

I listened to the hypnobirthing tracks throughout the next few hours, Andrew used some acupressure, some massage and lots of reassuring affirmations. At one stage I was becoming nauseous but thankfully it lasted only half an hour or so and after 1 episode of being sick it resolved. I still found it was best to stand up during surges and focus on stepping my feet or touching the cool wall etc to distract me. I was starting to become very tired - but I was scared to lie down and freeze up (like my first labour). I found the best position was childs pose over a pillow on the bed so I could easily prop up on all fours or slide off the bed to stand when I felt a surge come. At this point I even think I was able to lull off between surges (I thought this to be impossible based on previous experience!) but then my waters broke about 1am so I got in to the shower. I timed a few surges again whilst hubby got bags in the car but we should have just gone in! At the stage my waters broke at home with my first, I didn't deliver until 16 hours later so I wasn't worried about rushing to hospital immediately. However, once surges continued in the shower I was becoming more vocal to get through them and I also started to feel pressure in my back bowels.

We left home and whilst driving to hospital I felt baby's head move down during a surge! - I was freaking out as it was completely out of my control but I also didn't want to scare my husband either so I just said "she is really close, we need to get to hospital" I was concerned that she would keep moving down with each surge but I didn't get that sensation in the car again - we made it to hospital (it's about a 12 minute drive). When we got to the lobby waiting to get up to labour ward, I had another surge with the same sensation that she was moving down and ready to come NOW and as soon as we were up on labour ward at assessment I had another surge and more amniotic fluid released. The midwife asked for a urine sample before getting on the bed but in the bathroom I had back to back surges and became so vocal getting through the surges I couldn't even think about a sample, I thought baby was coming and I thought I was going to have her on the toilet! I got on the bed and the midwife asked if she could examine which was I was fine with but as soon as she started I was incredibly uncomfortable and asked her to stop. She said "that's okay, baby is right there" to which I responded, "am I fully dilated?" She replied "honey, with your next contraction you are going to push out this baby" I was in shock - I did it! I was fully dilated! I was SO proud of myself and baby wasn't even here yet! I asked if the labour room was close to being ready and she said "you are delivering on this bed" (in assessment) so it went from being quite relaxed at home to being very fast! The midwife was the coordinator and she said this rarely happened. I moved from off my back (for the VE) to on my knees facing the back of the bed to bear down. She put on a monitor for baby's heart rate which showed it was "slow" but also not picking up between surges so I was told I must push her out in that next surge.

Next surge came and I pushed but it was such a bizarre feeling because even without pushing I could feel her coming down herself too.

I was also scared to push too fast too quick in the event of tearing but this was conflicting because I needed baby out safe and that was more important. The doctor came in because if I didn't deliver her in the next surge, then the vacuum may have been required to get her out fast. I was screaming whilst pushing because it all happened so fast and I was coping so well during surges becoming more vocal I had to refocus my energy down to push effectively. Our beautiful baby girl was born, I got to pick her up myself and she started baby led attachment. Although it wasn't as private as it could have been as it was in assessment room, it was still a lovely moment and I'm thankful there was no one else in assessment too.

We were able to move to a labour suite shortly after. I had a second degree tear which was stitched under local anaesthetic (I have to say I was terrified and this was hands down the worst part of the birth) and about 2 hours later moved to maternity ward.

I am so glad we didn't leave for hospital any later than we did - I only had 4 surges between getting out of the car in the hospital car park and pushing and it was all so fast there was no time for any one to read my birth preferences.

I still cannot believe how 2 births can be SO different but I definitely think the Hypnobirthing Australia course was a great influence to a positive birth experience.

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Renee Bradfield, Perth WA

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