Clarisse, waterbirth, family birth centre

I get excited when couples tell me they are birthing at the Birth Centre at King Edward Memorial Hospital as I know their Hypnobirthing Australia tools are going to be put to good use in the Birth Centre's Midwifery-led care model. I was so ecstatic when Clarisse contacted me to tell me of her amazing waterbirth and I'm so happy she chose to share her beautiful story with you. Clarisse and Luca, you were a joy to teach - Congratulations.

"I have been somewhat obsessed with birth and babies for years now, so when I found out I was pregnant I was so excited to delve into this new world. My husband and I initially were unsure as to which model of care to choose. We did have private health insurance, and wanted the best care possible, however I was drawn to midwifery led care and aimed to have a natural drug free birth. I also loved the idea of a waterbirth. We ultimately decided to apply to the Family Birth Centre. This was definitely the best decision for us and the level of care we received from the midwives at the birth centre was second to none. I felt so taken care of throughout my pregnancy and post-partum.

I knew I wanted to have as little intervention as possible. However, not having any idea of what labour would be like, I lacked confidence that I would be able to go through it without medicinal pain relief. I thus wanted to prepare as much as possible for the birth. I really enjoyed listening to the Australian Birth Stories podcast as I felt this prepared me for many different scenarios. I also read Active Birth by Janet Balaskas and Guide to Natural Childbirth and Spiritual Midwifery by Ina-May Gaskin. To prepare physically, I continued my daily walks, attended prenatal yoga and pilates classes once a week and went to the aqua-aerobics classes offered by KEMH physiotherapists. The most useful thing we did in terms of preparation, was attend the Hypnobirthing Australia course with the lovely Renee from The Birth Space.

After her classes any remaining fear I had disappeared and I felt prepared and excited for the birth.

My husband also really enjoyed the classes and felt it gave him an understanding of the birthing process and it prepared him for what he had to do during the labour. I enjoyed listening to Hypnobirthing Australia tracks and often listened to them in the bath/ shower and visualised being in water for the birth. Leading up to the birth we were calm and confident and felt excited to meet our beautiful baby.

On Saturday the 15th of June (at 39 weeks and 2 days) we went to sleep around 10:30. It was a cold wintery night the moon was full and beautiful and we got a little glimpse of it through the clouds just before we got into bed. A few minutes later, I needed to go to the bathroom, and when I sat down, I heard a loud pop and my waters had broken. We called the Birth Centre immediately and felt so excited and full of adrenalin knowing we would soon have our baby in our arms. We went straight there to be checked, everything was fine and we were sent back home, understanding labour may not start for a while still. However, as I got back into bed around midnight, I started experiencing very mild surges. It felt like period cramps and they were regular and consistent. I stayed in bed for the next 2 hours, not being able to sleep but just breathing through the surges and trying to get as much rest as possible. Then the surges became stronger and I no longer could lie down for them. I woke my husband up to help me put on the TENs machine we had borrowed from a friend and I continued labouring with the TENs for another hour or so. I found the TENs helped relax me between surges but did not help much during the surges and I found it somewhat distracting so I decided to remove it. I found I could not sit through the surges and had to walk and move around for them. My labour continued to progress and I could feel things were ramping up, my husband was timing the surges which were 2-3 minutes apart and lasting just under a minute, so we phoned the Birth Centre again and were told we could head back there.

We arrived at the Birth Centre at around 5:30am. Once we were at the Birth Centre I felt a lot more relaxed knowing we didn’t have to go anywhere else. My sister-in-law met us there shortly after we had arrived as we had asked her to take photos. She was 33 weeks pregnant herself with her second child; we had shared our pregnancies together and so it was so special to have her present for the birth as well. After a while my midwife checked to see how dilated I was, and I was at 4cm.

It didn’t matter at all to me at that point how dilated I was, I could physically feel my baby moving down and I knew my body was doing its thing.

I relaxed into the labour and felt completely in control. I wasn’t concerned about time at all and felt safe and secure. I had a very active labour and needed to be standing or leaning forward through the surges. It really helped me to vocalise throughout the surges and to have my husband close by to lean on. I also found soft touches very soothing and we had the Hypnobirthing Australia tracks playing in the background throughout the labour. After a few hours, I started having the urge to push. I was checked again and my midwife explained I was not yet fully dilated. Bub was lying slightly posterior so they explained my body may be trying to move her into the right position. I then moved to the bath to allow me to lie on my side and encourage baby into the right position. Jumping into the bath was a huge relief. It felt wonderful to have the weight lifted off of my legs as I had been standing so much through the labour. I felt very calm in the water and never panicked; I knew everything was happening as it should.

It was becoming more and more difficult to control the urge to push, so my midwife suggested I change position to all fours. I then felt I had to push her out and my midwife told me to trust my body and do what felt right. After about 4 or 5 surges baby’s head was out. I then pushed the rest of her body out in one surge and I saw her in the water in front of me. I went to grab her and pulled her up out of the water and onto my chest. It was the most beautiful, magical feeling seeing and holding her. She had lots of black hair and was covered in vernix and felt so tiny in my arms. I will never forget that moment.

Our beautiful black-haired girl Luna Caterina was born in the water on the 16th of June at 10:40am after almost 11 hours of labour. I am so grateful to lovely Renee and the Hypnobirthing Australia program that helped us achieve our calm water birth. I wish more people would know how beautiful and wonderful birth can be and that there is no need to fear it."

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Renee Bradfield, Perth WA

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