In 2013, I got a referral to a well known OB/GYN, and during the 3 month wait for my appointment, I fell pregnant. Being my first pregnancy, I was relieved that I was already in the hands of an Obstetrician and I didn’t feel the need to look any further into care providers or birthing options as everything just seemed to fit.
He recommended I have surgery (not pregnancy related) during my second trimester, so I went into Hospital and was prepped, gowned up and walked into theatre. Due to the fact I was pregnant, I could only have a local anesthetic in a quite delicate area, and this didn’t work properly. My legs up in stirrups, lying on my back on the operating table, I remember looking up at the theatre lights. Unable to move out of fear, with nurses surrounding me, I remember thinking to myself that there was no way I would ever set foot in a hospital theatre again unless it was an emergency.
Fast forward a few months, and my pregnancy progressed smoothly. There was never any cause for concern during any of my antenatal appointments, no need for further testing, and every ultrasound was perfect. Apart from nausea, I had a niggling fear in the back of my mind about giving birth, and my memory of being in theatre etched in my mind. I was connected with a group of absolutely beautiful women who were all pregnant with their first babies and we were all due within weeks of one another. The excitement built amongst us as we progressed quickly, each supporting the others as we grew nearer our estimated due dates.
I had seen a local competition to win a hypnobirthing course advertised, and not expecting to win, and definitely not planning on attending the course otherwise- decided to enter. A few weeks later, I received the call informing me that I had won!! Hubby and I went along to the first class full of nervous anticipation at what we were going to learn over the course of the next few weeks. All I can say is I am so super thankful that we were chosen as the winners! What an experience! We learnt relaxation techniques, we were taught about what happens to the body during pregnancy and labour, and more importantly, how to stay calm and focused during childbirth and how to focus on having a calm and relaxing birthing environment. I practiced my breathing techniques, and listened to the meditation and affirmation soundtracks daily, focusing on a calm, totally relaxed, and natural birth.
I was approaching 36 weeks and was one of the last in my group to birth. I started to notice a change in my otherwise calm Obstetrician. At 37 weeks, I was asked causally when I would like to “get the baby out”, like it was some kind of pizza in an oven instead of a baby warm, safe and still growing inside its mothers’ womb. I questioned my OB, asking what he meant by ‘get the baby out’ as I was under the impression that babies- generally speaking -naturally decided when it was their time to enter the world.
I was advised that the best time for a baby to be born was after 37 weeks, but that every week that went by, more complications could arise and that the best place for a baby was in its mothers arms, no longer inside the womb.
I refused to book an induction date that day, and was advised that once I was in hospital and the induction had commenced, that I would have to have a precautionary epidural to help regulate my blood pressure, meaning I would not be allowed to labour naturally, or even move around.
This did not sit well with me, at all. Because of my stubborn refusal to book in a date for my baby to be induced, I was then told I was suddenly high risk. The Ob ordered an urgent blood test, and advised me to head straight across to the hospital for an urgent CTG (foetal monitoring).
I arrived and was feeling panicked. I couldn’t work out how I had suddenly gone from having a smooth sailing, easy pregnancy, to suddenly being deemed high risk with no precursors or prior warning.
Something didn’t sit right with me.
My intuition was screaming at me that something was amiss. As I lay down on a hospital bed, full bladder, hungry and strapped to a monitor, the nurse asked me why I was there. When I started to explain what had happened, my blood pressure sky rocketed. The nurse moved the machine away from my sight, and was gruff and didn’t explain anything, then walked out of the room, leaving me confused and stressed. Thankfully, it showed the baby as having a normal, regular heartbeat and I was assured everything should be fine. I went back to the OB’s office, where I was advised I would need to attend another of these monitoring sessions in 48 hours.
The next time, I attended the session prepared with relaxation music on my headphones, and lay back and practiced my hypnobirthing calming techniques. I connected with my baby, switching off to the outside world, and just focused on the two of us. The nurse who attended to me was friendly, she moved the machine closer to me so I could watch what was happening on the printout, she informed me of what was happening, pointing out the different recordings and asked me why I was even there as there was nothing at all wrong with either me or my baby.
I didn’t attend the third appointment requested before my next antenatal appointment as I didn’t see it financially or emotionally viable for either my baby or I. I contacted my Hypnobirthing instructor Vicki to seek advice, as I felt I was being pressured into unnecessary medical intervention. She gave me the details of Independent Midwives, and I rang them to ask their advice. They were so amazingly helpful and made me aware of the five symptoms that need to be present for someone to be deemed high risk. They put my mind at ease and joked that they weren’t too busy and that if I wanted a homebirth, to call them. I laughed, thanked them for their time and hung up, knowing I had a team of committed and knowledgeable professionals on my side. I went to bed and asked my baby to show me how it wanted to be born, and I had the most vivid dream of birthing my baby naturally, in an extremely calm environment.
I was now 38 weeks, and was extremely focused on me and my baby, birthing the way nature had intended, and not focusing on any unnecessary stress or medical interventions. I walked in to my next antenatal appointment with my hubby in tow and we saw the resident midwife first. I asked for the results of my recent blood test as I had heard nothing from the office. The midwife seemed uneasy, and so I further questioned her as to what the results were from all my tests during my entire pregnancy, and at what point I was deemed high risk? She shut the screen off in front of my face and refused to talk to me about my own health, stating I would have to wait to discuss this further with my OB.
We were called into his office, where he questioned why he only had two reports of the foetal monitoring from the hospital, and asked if I had the third. I explained that I decided it was not necessary as both of the ones I had had, days apart, had showed the baby as being completely perfect.
I was then advised I had to go in for an induction within the next 48 hours, as I was now 38 weeks and my baby was at risk. I again said I was uncomfortable with this decision and asked him a series of questions in relation to being high risk. I asked him if he could give me 24 or even 48 hours to decide, as choosing my baby’s birth date was not something I had intended to do.
I was then told that he would like to ‘check my cervix’ to see if waiting was an option, as he wanted to see where the baby was at. Being flustered, and emotional, I agreed to step into his treatment room where he proceeded to perform a stretch and sweep without my consent. It was extremely painful, and I started getting contractions and bleeding immediately after.
I sat back in his office feeling defeated yet defiant and he looked my husband and I in the eyes and made it very clear to us that he was not happy to give us 24-48 hours to think, and said that he washed his hands of us and whatever happened in the next 48 hours was on our heads.
We were literally shown the door, and as we walked outside, the tears I had been holding in fell from my face. I immediately rang the Independent Midwives and told them what had just happened and voiced my concern over my tummy that had started contracting. As I explained what happened, they gasped and informed me I had just had a stretch and sweep. WHAT?
That’s what “have a look at your cervix” meant?
Had he used the proper term, I would never in a million years consented, and he knew it.
I told them right then and there in the carpark that I would not enter that office again, and that I would like to homebirth. We arranged to meet that evening as I was so far along, and as soon as they entered our home, I knew I was making the right decision.
The next morning, my contractions had subsided, but I knew it wouldn’t be long until baby was here.
That evening I knew something was happening, I started getting a dull ache in my stomach and I had an urgency to go to Kmart (true story) and I walked around getting last minute items for a homebirth.
I went home, and started cleaning and prepping our bedroom, neatly placing all baby’s things into a drawer and busying myself.
The pain in my tummy started getting stronger as the night wore on, and I started having irregular contractions. We rang the Midwife to advise them, and they dropped over the birthing pool and checked on me around 9pm, but assured me first babies can take days to come, and they would see me for my scheduled appointment in 2 days, and would bring over the birthing pool hose attachments then.
I asked Mitch to do 2 things for me before I went off to bed to rest-
- Blow up the Birthing Pool
- Blow up the Air mattress
Mitch was filled with excitement at the prospect of the impending arrival of his offspring. He vacuumed the house at midnight, cleaning and tidying and then falling into bed around 1am.
Around 2.30am, I was woken suddenly by an INTENSE surge across my tummy.
I crawled out of bed and into the lounge room, and laboured by myself for an hour, staying quiet as to not wake hubby as he had made it clear he was tired and needed rest, so not to wake him unless it was urgent. I went within myself, focusing on my breathing and keeping my hips wide and loose as my surges became closer and closer together. I crawled on my hands and knees into the bedroom and woke Mitch up, telling him baby was on its way. Once he realized how close my surges were together, he rang the Midwives and my sister Amber, who had agreed to be a birthing partner.
Next thing, Mitch realized he had to blow up the birthing pool! Out came the trusty expensive bike pump. One, Two…Twenty-Six pumps later, he was panicking. It would take more than a few pumps to inflate this, and baby was on its way! He did what any quick thinking hubby would do, and reversed his car to the front door, blowing up the birthing pool in the front entrance way, using the noisy air compressor at 5am, exhaust fumes filling the house as my surges grew more and more intense.
At last! The pool was ready! But we still had the issue of no hoses! Argh! Luckily I had done my Kmart run and had bought two big buckets. So Amber and Mitch went back and forth from the kitchen to the bedroom, adding bucket after bucketful of hot water into the pool.
I felt baby wriggle down, and knew it was time to make my way into the bedroom. All surges suddenly ceased and I managed to get up and walk through the house and hop into the warm awaiting pool. This was pure bliss for a heavily pregnant woman in the final stages of labour.
Mitch and Amber were amazingly supportive, doing light touch massage and speaking quiet affirmations, getting me water and making sure I was supported 100% of the time.
After what felt like hours, it turned out my impatient little man was trying to come down before my cervix had fully dilated, and was pushing down before my body was ready. The midwife sensed something was wrong, and asked me to stop breathing down, and to try my best to stop the surges and the urge to bring baby down. ….Easy…..
I have no idea how I managed, but for a full 5 or so minutes, my midwife was manually pushing my cervix back, while my entire focus was on everything going upwards, instead of downwards, and panting instead of taking deep slow breaths, to try and stop baby from wanting to come down the birth canal.
It worked! Apparently this situation could’ve gone one of two ways, and I’m thankful I stayed calm and focused and we progressed without requiring further medical assistance.
I had my meditation music and affirmations playing constantly in the background, but as I neared giving birth, I just wanted quiet. It was switched off and I focused again on my body, and my baby. The room was dark apart from a salt lamp and a selenite lamp in the corner, and the glow of the ensuite light so the midwives could see.
I’ll never forget the feeling as my 8pound baby’s head was crowning, the knowing that this was the beginning of the end- that in a few moments, my baby would be in my arms. It gave me the strength to stay focused and calm, breathing my baby down, doing my best to allow him to do his own thing- however my impatience at wanting him out kicked in and I tried to help by pushing. After a few moments, I birthed him, and exhausted, he fell to the bottom of the birthing pool, where I just knelt over him and stared in disbelief.
That … is… my.. baby.. down.. there…
I was no longer pregnant, and suddenly, in that moment, I became a Mother.
I scooped my baby in my arms and brought him to the surface. He was perfect. He was calm. He carefully opened his eyes and looked around, peering around the dark room, seeing for the first time. It was magic. He took his first breath. He cried a little, and then nuzzled into my chest. In around 6 short hours, I had laboured, and birthed my baby.
A Mother and her Son, and nothing else mattered at that moment.
I did it.
I birthed my baby, my way, in a calm and relaxed environment, just as nature intended – without medical intervention, in the comfort of my own home! Having changed my entire birth plan and only meeting my midwives just over 24 hours previous.
The techniques, tips and skills learnt during the hypnobirthing course, along with the knowledge given were an absolute godsend and I know it made the world of difference to my birthing experience and final outcome.
I’d just like to thank Vicki Hobbs, Peta and Vanessa from Simply Midwifery, my Sister Amber and my darling Mitch, for believing in me, for supporting me and for allowing me to find my inner Goddess and unleash her as only a Mother in labour knows how.
Krystle & Mitch
Woodvale, May 2017
My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a Childbirth Educator, Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner, Remedial Massage Therapist specialising in Pregnancy Massage, Birth & Postpartum Doula, Placenta Encapsulator, Hypnotherapist, Aromatherapist, Reiki Practitioner and Life Coach. I am based in the northern suburbs of Perth and can be contacted by email by [email protected] or phone (08) 9303 9111.