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Amy births hypnobub Vivie in assessment room

My husband Stewart and I were encouraged to learn hypnobirthing by my mum who has a background in nursing and is currently a counsellor who uses hypnosis in her practice. My sister also had two successful natural births using relaxation and self-hypnosis techniques. I decided to post on Facebook asking friends for recommendations of local hypnobirthing practitioners and after a web search, we decided that Vicki was the right fit for us.

Her course was thorough and inspiring and I appreciated her dedication to remaining well informed about women’s health, pregnancy, labour, birthing and postpartum experiences and passing on her knowledge to her community of clients. I felt confident about my labour and birth from the information we received in her course; however, my husband suggested we ask Vicki to be our doula as he felt he needed support for both of us (he was worried about seeing me in ‘pain’). I think this decision was critical to the outcome of our pretty amazing birthing experience!

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Little Vivie’s “EDD” was the 14th November 2015 and in the days before her birth I had no signs that she would soon make her debut. On the Tuesday morning, after a relaxing appointment at the hairdresser, I noticed that I had some show and I started experiencing period-like cramps from midday onwards. I did not want to get fixated on wondering whether labour was starting only to be disappointed if everything stopped so I just focussed on relaxing as much as possible at home and going on with my normal routine. At dinner time that I night I started experiencing what felt like real surges, they would come in waves with a clear beginning, middle and end, but were not too intense. They started about 40 minutes apart and then became 20 minutes apart as the evening progressed. My husband and I agreed that I should finalise packing my hospital bag just in case (a task I had been procrastinating about!). The surges seemed to progress throughout the evening so I played my hypnobirthing tracks and relaxation music. I tried to lie down between surges but I found it more comfortable to walk through the surges, turning on my TENS machine at the beginning of the surge and focussing on my affirmations and labour vision board as I paced up and down the bedroom in the LED candlelight.

As the night progressed the surges started coming about ten minutes apart and became a bit more intense. I had experienced some nausea and vomited throughout the night, finding it difficult to keep up my fluids. I also found it difficult to rest as lying down made the surges more intense and uncomfortable so I had barely slept throughout the night. I was worried about being dehydrated and exhausted, knowing that this would mean I might experience labour as more intense and I might struggle with my stamina. I also noticed that I seemed to be having less foetal movement as the night progressed. At about 6am Wednesday morning I rang the hospital’s Maternal Foetal Assessment Unit (MFAU) and asked to come in for monitoring and possibly fluids for re-hydration. We arrived around 7.30 in the morning and were taken in for monitoring. Luckily, bubs heartbeat and other signs seemed to be fine but the hospital agreed to administer IV fluids to re-hydrate me. I consented to VE and was approximately 2cms and completely effaced. During this time, Vicki happened to text me asking how everything was going. I had booked to have an induction massage with her on Thursday but she told me later that she awoke with a feeling that morning so had decided she needed to make contact! My husband updated her on our progress so far and she told him she would meet us at the hospital so that Stewart could get some rest (he’d had very little sleep throughout the night too!).

We returned home just before midday. Vicki followed us home, allowing my husband to rest while she stayed with me. She spent all afternoon massaging my swollen feet and ankles, providing light touch massage, clary sage and other aromatherapy, fluids, hypnobirthing prompts, and support and encouragement. She also timed my surges and as they began to become more intense, she encouraged me to bounce on the fit ball and walk around our tiny living room. At about 4pm my surges had been coming approximately 5 minutes apart for an hour and I decided that I wanted to return to hospital. I had tested positive to Group B Strep and was anxious to go to the hospital in time for the IV antibiotics to be administered. Vicki encouraged me to listen to my hypnobirthing tracks on the way to the hospital and I remember the sun beating down on me as I waddled into the hospital totally absorbed in Surge of the Sea and focusing on my breathing. However, my nausea had returned and I promptly threw up as we were called into a Maternal Foetal Assessment Unit (MFAU) room.

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I asked to wait a while before doing another VE as I wanted to give my muscles a chance to relax. As bub and I were being monitored, I continued to move through the surges as much as possible. After a while a VE was completed and I was “3-4 cms” dilated. I had decided that I wanted to ask for an epidural as I felt exhausted from no sleep, still felt dehydrated and was getting the impression from the hospital staff that they expected me to still labour for many, many hours given this was my first birth, therefore I wanted to be able to sleep. However, as I was not yet “4 cms”, I was not considered to be in ‘active labour’ so the staff recommended against giving an epidural at this time (as it would increase the chance of needing further intervention if I continued to labour for a long time) and they also would not move me to the labour and delivery suite. They suggested that I could return home (I did not want to do this as I felt the travel back and forth was slowing down my progress) or offered for me to remain in the MFAU and the earliest they could complete another VE to check progress would be another 4 hours. I decided to stay and they provided some painkillers so that I could rest. Unfortunately, it still felt uncomfortable to lie down so I sat on the bed with my eyes closed in between surges. Vicki played relaxation music, provided soft touch massage and continued to encourage me to use breathing, affirmations and move through the surges. My husband did a brilliant job of gate-keeping the hospital staff and ‘slow dancing’ with me as my surges became more intense. He encouraged me to sway my hips to move baby down.

At about 8.20pm as I was slow dancing with my husband through a surge, I felt and heard a massive ‘pop’. My membranes had released in a very ‘hollywood movie’ moment. From this point, the surges became very intense and I mostly remember leaning on the hospital bed while Vicki squeezed into the approximately one metre space between me and the bed to apply pressure to my lower back during the surges. I also remember someone (either Vicki or my husband, or both) holding my hands at times from the other side of the bed. I found it very difficult to concentrate on getting my breath right at this time so I concentrated on making sure my vocalisations remained very low and deep. Vicki remained very encouraging but I only remember thinking “I can’t do this!!”

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At about this time, given my membranes had released, the staff tried to insert a canula into my wrist for the IV antibiotics. I tried to remain still between surges but was shaking so much due to the adrenaline. They were able to insert the canula but I found out afterwards that they were unable to tape it down as I was too sweaty for the tape to adhere to my skin. Apparently it was dislodged during the actual birthing but I have no memory of this! Around this time too, the staff advised my husband that they had a labour and delivery room available and could move me there shortly. It was approximately 30 metres away from the room but I told him I didn’t think I could walk as I felt I couldn’t stand up straight or close my legs properly anymore. It felt as if the surges were coming quite close together at this time and it felt more natural to squat and grip the side of the bed during the surges. I remember Vicki saying that she could see I had a lot of back pressure, which I could certainly feel! It also felt to me that maybe bubs was trying to crown but I felt confused as none of the midwives seemed to be behaving as if I was about to birth.

Given the intensity of the surges, I decided that I did not want to (and didn’t think I could) endure many more minutes or hours, so if bubs was trying to crown I was determined to push her head through with the next surge. I felt an enormous release of pressure after the next surge and Vicki looked under the bed from the other side (given how tiny the room was, this was the only way she could see anything as I squatted by the bed). I remember her saying ‘there’s a head’ and alerting staff immediately. Apparently they thought I was only just starting to crowning and Vicki had to tell them that the head was completely out! Well, for them it was panic stations!! I was aware of being worried that bubs would slip out onto a hard floor, so I just concentrated on holding her there with my muscles. I remember asking if someone was there to catch her and when they confirmed that a midwife was there and ready I completely birthed her on the next surge.

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My little Vivienne was born at 8.55pm on the Wednesday night, less than four hours after being considered in ‘active labour’. The hospital staff also recorded that I had a one minute second stage labour. Everything progressed so quickly that I didn’t get a chance to even get to labour and delivery or use half of my hypnobirthing tools that I brought to hospital! They were very respectful of my birthing preferences and I was able to have delayed cord clamping, skin to skin contact, and physiological management of the placenta – helped by having Vivienne placed on my belly to complete the breast crawl. As they did not get the IV antibiotics into me in time, Vivie and I had to stay for a week after the birth for her to have antibiotics.

My birthing story became quite well known among hospital staff as I found out during my postpartum stay, so I hope that they are even more aware now that hypnobirthing mums can progress very quickly, even if it is her first birth! Next time I think I will trust my body and my mind when it tells me that I and my baby are further along in my labour and birthing than hospital staff expect me to be. Although I wanted the epidural, I’m glad that in the end I didn’t have one and I was able to experience a natural birth. Next time I will know that when my mind is telling me “I can’t do this” I will remember that this is a sign that bubs is very close to arriving!

In that moment, I felt that I was ‘failing’ at my hypnobirthing as I felt I couldn’t focus on changing my breathing so I just focussed on making sure I brought my voice down low during the surges. I certainly didn’t feel like I looked like one of those calm, relaxed and peaceful mums I had seen on the natural birth videos, given I was squatting down, gripping the bed, shaking and grunting and groaning like a banshee! But looking back now, I feel like with the support of Vicki and my husband I really birthed my own baby.

And she is my perfect little hypnobub.

Amy & Stewart, Perth WA

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    About Vicki Hobbs

    My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a Childbirth Educator (Back to Basics Birthing), Hypnobirthing Practitioner, Certified VBAC Educator, Remedial Massage Therapist specialising in Pregnancy & Postpartum Massage, Birth & Postpartum Doula, Certified Placenta Encapsulator, Hypnotherapist, Aromatherapist, Reiki Practitioner and Life Coach.

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