After an induction & intervention filled first birth with my daughter I really hoped to experience a physiological birth the next time around. As soon as I found out I was pregnant I contacted HMGP.
I learnt from my first birth a ‘go with the flow approach’ was not the the best option for me personally so I dived into some preparation. I enjoyed my appointments speaking with midwife she recommended some pages to follow, great podcasts and leant me a few books. Birth with confidence by Rhea Dempsey was my favourite. I also really value and have learned a lot from ‘Core and Floor’ online.
"I was in good spirits but still not wanting to get too carried away!"
Just past 41 weeks, on the morning of the 14th, I woke to some tightening with pains from 4:00 am until my toddler woke at approximately 6:30 am. I had sensations and tightenings for weeks but noticed that these were regular and coinciding together simultaneously. It crossed my mind that this could be the beginning, but I was in a bit of denial. My partner took my toddler out; I dimmed the house and spent time trying to conserve energy/ get the oxytocin flowing to try to get things moving. Contractions began irregularly from 1 pm. I was in good spirits but still not wanting to get too carried away!
We sent my toddler to her grandparents that afternoon for a sleepover just in case. I recall saying to my parents, “I may not have the baby tonight, so don’t get too excited”. My partner and I walked to the service station and got a slushy, stopping for some contractions on the way. We returned home around 5:30 pm and shut all the blinds again to settle in for the evening. The anticipation was building between my partner and me as the contractions instantly became more frequent/ strong. I began using the exercise ball and then popped on the TENS machine, which was great. I found relief using a hanging sarong over my door to hold onto whilst I swayed. My partner noticed that some contractions were really close together. I was convinced they were nothing to worry about as they were bearable.
I said let’s call our midwife Alicia and chat with her on loudspeaker, as I didn’t want to rush into the hospital too early.
"I had it in my mind that my labour might slow down transferring to the hospital, but I knew that my body was keeping me safe and that if this occurred, I would look at it as ‘my body giving me a rest’ - not as a ‘failure to progress’"
After a conversation, it was agreed that maybe things were moving along and that I should get ready to head in. I had it in my mind that my labour might slow down transferring to the hospital, but I knew that my body was keeping me safe and that if this occurred, I would look at it as ‘my body giving me a rest’ - not as a ‘failure to progress’.
I listened to my playlist on the way; the surges became less frequent as I expected. I was warmly welcomed at the hospital by the beautiful Jodean just after 8:00 pm, who had set some fairy lights up in the my room and was running the bath. A friend had given birth across the hall, so I got to pop in to say hello. My midwife arrived, and we finished setting up the space. I never expected to be in a state to be able to walk in and be able to help create the environment. My lovely student midwife arrived shortly after.
Once I settled in, my surges began ramping up from about 9 pm; I stood over the bed, utilising my tens machine needing everyone to be silent as I used horses' breath through to work them. I hopped in the bath and spent the most time on all fours/ leaning over the bath. My midwife suggested using the shower hose on my back. I found this great in my first birth as well. Brad took on this role; it helped so much.
As things progressed, It became really challenging & I became quite vocal at times and was starting to feel quite emotional towards the end of the contractions.
‘KICO’ - knees in, calves out was a position I had in my mind, along with relaxing my shoulders and plenty of horses breath to keep a ‘floppy face’. I relied on using an acupressure comb as well. As much as I believe in moving intuitively, I recall being extremely tense in my first birth, so these tools were invaluable in helping me through.
There was a point where mentally, I was really struggling and had some flashbacks from my first birth. I had strong thoughts such as ‘I can’t do this’. I didn’t have any checks throughout, but I knew that experiencing this ‘crisis of confidence’ meant I was close to meeting my baby!
I looked up to my student midwife Andrea and then into Alicia's eyes, and they both looked at me with full faith, and I will never forget that.
"I loved having a rest and just feeling his head in the water. I strangely felt like I could have just stayed for hours."
I gave myself a few internal pep talks, allowing full trust in the process, and shortly after I got the sensation I had to poo, I knew this meant the head! It felt like a big rock coming out of my bum initially. I remember trying not to rush or force. I felt this burning/ tearing sensation; I knew that it was going to really hurt, but I knew I couldn’t back out now. Once his head was out, I felt so relieved. I loved having a rest and just feeling his head in the water. I strangely felt like I could have just stayed for hours.
With a position change, horses breath, moaning and some guidance with his shoulders, I grabbed my 4.3kg son and placed him on my chest at 11:33 pm. I could relive that moment over and over!
I ended up with a labia tear, a graze, and a first-degree perennial tear, not requiring stitches. We left in the early hours of the morning and got some McDonald’s- of course! The 3 of us tucked into bed for 4 hours of sleep before getting together as a family of four that afternoon.
In the end, I was able to experience a positive water birth in a hospital setting. It was incredible. I think about it nearly every day. I can’t speak highly enough about having a continuity of care midwife and birth team whom I trusted. Thanks, Alicia (a real-life angel), Andrea and Brad, for being part of the birth of beautiful Bodhi + thanks to the lovely Grace for the antenatal/post-natal support.