Thanks to Nathalie from the Hypnobabi es Yahoo Group for sharing her story with us.
This is my birth story for my first child, born November 19, 2011. Hypnobabies definitely helped me stay calm and positive throughout the entire experience, and made labor very easy to manage! Read on for more.
As first-time parents, DH and I were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our baby, EDD November 15th. At my 38 week check-up, the doctor found me 3.5 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced. He handed me an appointment card for another routine check up the following week, but said that he expected to see me in the labor and delivery ward that weekend. I repacked my hospital bag (for about the sixth time) and even gathered up my Hypnobabies materials and set them by the bag, certain that I would go into labor that night. As you can probably guess, baby stayed comfortably ensconced in my womb and I did in fact make it to my 39 week check up. I was 4 centimeters and still 80%. While baby was completely healthy, the doctor started to preach ‘fetal mortality’ statistics to me and broached the topic of induction… even though during a meeting with me and my doula, he said he’d be comfortable letting me go to 42 weeks. I reiterated my desire to have a completely natural labor and childbirth. Both the doctor and his nurse, upon hearing my drug-free birth plan, both asked me if I was sure I wanted to go that route because, and I quote, “giving birth was really p**nful.” This made me even more determined to give birth naturally!
The morning before my 40 week appointment, we had a biophysical profile done to check on my amniotic fluid and baby’s development. Everything was completely healthy and the baby and I were doing great. The nurse said she was surprised to see me still smiling and in a good mood. Even though baby moved a lot, the heart rate was steady, and there were no complications to give the doctor reason to doubt a healthy labor and delivery, I continued to be pressured with warnings of fetal mortality and offered an induction at each meeting. In fact, the doctor scheduled me for an induction the Sunday following my 40th week because he said the week before Thanksgiving was booked full and he didn’t want me to feel guilty for having to take over somebody else’s appointment. (?!?!) (Awful reasoning, I know.) I was definitely concerned about a scheduled induction, so I consented to getting my membranes stripped during this appointment in hopes that it would help me avoid drugs. My dilation and effacement had not progressed further.
Up to this point, baby had not dropped below 0 station and while I experienced the frequent tightening of my uterus, I had no real “practice” pressure waves. I googled every midwives tale about natural induction! I went for long walks, did standing squats and walking lunges, sat on a vibrating couch, rocked and bounced on my birth ball a lot, danced, talked to baby… pretty much everything but castor oil. I was convinced that if I could get baby to drop in the birth canal, the weight would kick things off since I was already so dilated and effaced. Unfortunately the “Come OUT, Baby” track was unavailable.
Two days before the scheduled Sunday induction, I still hadn’t decided if I wanted to cancel the appointment or not. Stripping my membranes had caused me to spot a small amount, but other than that I felt no different. It wasn’t until around 11:00 p.m. on Friday that I started feeling different pressure waves than what I’d experienced. They weren’t consistent at all and were easily ignorable, so I didn’t mention anything. Mom and DH fell asleep quickly that night, but I was feeling pretty restless. At 2:00 in the morning, I finally got out of bed. Contractions were starting to come closer together, and while I never consciously thought about it, I responded as if I was really in labor, and started using labor-coping techniques.
I started a hot shower and lit a candle to keep my environment dim and calm. I listened to the fear-clearing Hypnobabies track on my hands and knees, letting the water hit me on my lower back, where I felt the most pressure from the birthing waves. I wasn’t timing these contractions, but I estimate they were probably 7-8 minutes apart lasting 30 seconds each. I finished listening to the fear clearing track while I dried off, and moved into the nursery to get dressed and focus. I tried playing my birthing day affirmations and then a playlist of slow songs I’d made weeks before, but by that point I was concentrating so much on staying relaxed and calm that I found outside noise distracting. I didn’t listen to any HB tracks past this point! Thankfully, I’d listened to the fear-clearing and birthing day affirmations tracks multiple times a week at the end of my third trimester, and had listened to my easy first stage track a couple of times at 39 weeks to familiarize myself with it (and in an attempt to jump start labor.) All of the tools that I needed from these tracks were embedded in my subconscious for me to use.
At the start of each pressure wave, I closed my eyes and focused on relaxing my body and riding the surge out. Since I was feeling them in my back, I found that leaning forward over furniture helped lessen the intensity. At the end of each pressure wave, I took a deep cleansing breath, exhaled slowly and opened my eyes. I remember that I had to google what real pressure waves felt like because I didn’t think I was actually in labor!
I woke my husband up around 4:30 a.m. to tell him we would be parents soon. While he hadn’t practiced any HB techniques with me, I was actually more content experiencing labor alone and only asking him to apply counter pressure to my hips when I felt it would help. At 6:00 a.m. I woke my mom up, and they started timing the PWs for me, which were 3-5 minutes apart and lasting almost a minute each. I was moving around and talking the whole time, only stopping to focus when a PW came on. I made sure to drink water to stay hydrated, but didn’t have the desire to eat anything. Our doula came over around 9 a.m. and she and DH took turns applying counter pressure to my hips while I leaned forward against the furniture. I remember asking her when we should go to the hospital. She replied we would go whenever I felt like it was time, and I immediately told her that it was time to go. It was 10:45 a.m. and PWs were 2-3 minutes apart.
It was a relatively uneventful trip to the hospital. I stayed deep within myself and before I knew it DH was pulling the car up to the hospital doors. After checking in and getting situated, the nurse did a quick pelvic exam and found me at 9.5 centimeters dilated. She was in total disbelief, and was so sure that she made a mistake that she asked the charge nurse to recheck me… still 9.5 centimeters! They briefly hooked me up to a belly monitor to get a reading on baby’s heart rate and spent some time trying to put a heplock in, but after that was all said and done I was pretty much left to labor alone in the room with DH, my mom, and our doula looking on.
I leaned over the bed, tried taking a bath, rested draped over a birth ball for a while. I talked to the nurses and my family in between PWs, but every time one started I closed my eyes and just focused on relaxing all the muscles in my body and breathing evenly. At the end of each one, I’d take another deep breath, which was a great signal to others that they could talk to me again. I remember trying to labor on the toilet and feeling like I needed to in fact use it, but nothing came out and I was involuntarily grunting. My doula checked on me here and was suspected that I needed to push, so she went to get the on-call doctor. (My regular OB was off that weekend.) The on-call doctor was very supportive of my birth plan, but recommended that we break my water because I was having difficulty resisting the urge to push and there was still a little bit of cervix that had not dilated all the way. Since so much fluid was in front of the baby’s head, she told me that rupturing the membranes would help the baby drop and even though it might make PWs more intense, it could help labor progress faster. After talking about the pros and cons with DH and our doula, I decided that it would pose minimal risk to the baby and to the possibility of interventions (I was so close!), so they broke my water. Boy, did that speed things up!
The same time my water was broken, the doctor pushed back the remaining bit of cervix to dilate me to the full 10 centimeters needed before I could start pushing. I started out pushing kneeling on the hospital bed with my upper body resting on the inclined end. Since this position was what I had been using during my entire labor (with no sleep!) my arms were really starting to shake with the effort of holding myself up. In my birth plan I specified wanting to use other laboring positions, but when it came down to it I wanted to keep the baby off of my spine!
I only pushed for 30-40 minutes before the doctor needed to come back in for the great delivery! Since she was pregnant and having a hard time maneuvering around the bed, she asked me to sit on the bed in an upright-reclined position and put my feet in stirrups. I found it difficult to coordinate my muscles for effective pushing, but the doctor applied pressure with her finger to the muscles I needed to use and I was able to concentrate my efforts better. They also used directed pushing for me, which I specifically stated I did not want to use on my birth. I was too busy to protest by then, but next time I’ll have the confidence to breathe the baby out!
My doula suggested using a rebozo scarf, which is just a long piece of fabric that the doula and laboring mother use for tug-o-war: she would pull on one end, I pulled on the other, and this pulling contracted all the right muscles for birthing baby! I reached down to touch the crown of baby’s head before it came out all the way, and I remember how warm and spongy it felt, and the wet spread of curls on the head. I don’t remember the shoulders being more uncomfortable to birth than the head, but I vividly remember feeling the body slide out. It was the strangest feeling! Our baby boy was born at 3:47 p.m., less than an hour after I started pushing and after almost 14 hours of labor.
We snuggled under warm towels while the doctor did some repair work (a small tear needed one stitch, and I did have a few skid marks that didn’t need medical attention). I declined pitocin to help contract my uterus and instead said that I wanted to breast feed to achieve that. He apparently still had a lot of amniotic fluid in his mouth and nose, so he kept slipping off his latch, but we kept at it and he was able to suckle a little. I didn’t have to receive the pitocin, making my entire labor and delivery process drug-free. Baby scored all 9’s on three Apgar tests, and weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces, 20 inches long.
Hypnobabies kept me peaceful and serene during my pregnancy, and I think it speaks volumes that I was able to manage my birthing time very nearly p**n free even without listening to the tracks during labor. HB gave me all the tools that I needed, and I will definitely be using HB for future pregnancies!