Kate tells the story of her first child's birth, which didn't go as hoped but was a positive experience of strength and connectedness.
Sometimes when baby is not in an optimal position for birth it can lead to a longer, more difficult early labour. Optimal maternal positioning / Spinning Babies exercises can help to relieve imbalance and tension, allowing baby to descend and rotate in the pelvis. Sometimes medical assistance is needed too. Kate and James used the knowledge and tools from their hypnobirthing course to stay calm and relaxed, and make informed decisions. Staying in control by using your B.R.A.I.N to ask questions, buy time and explore alernatives can make all the difference between experiencing birth trauma, or not.
"I first went into labour on Sat (Dec 8th) around midday, 3 days after my due date. It started as cramps, then became contractions and I lost my mucus plug that afternoon, so James and I were super exicited that the baby was finally on her way! We went for a walk to the beach and then when things got more intense sat at home on the ball with the TENS machine on using the breathing with each contraction. They got more intense and closer together - though not close enough to leave for the hospital.
By the early hours of Sunday morning I was too exhausted to sit on the ball anymore and lay down and slept between contractions. The intensity and periods between contractions then wore off on Sunday morning, so we both managed to get some rest, and started up again Sunday afternoon. By Sunday night they were much more painful and starting to get close together again, but also accompanied by back pain down one side that persisted between contractions as well. I also started throwing up a lot - which is unusual for me. We called the hospital to let them know and they advised us to stay home so we did. This lasted until Monday night when the back pain and exhaustion was too much so we headed into the hospital.
When I got to the hospital, I wasn't very dialted at all so they gave me a shot of morphine to try and get me to sleep. However, the contractions were still too strong at that point to sleep through and the back pain was more and more intense, even with the morphine. So, I laboured in hospital a few more hours and then by Tuesday morning asked for the gas. On Tuesday morning they also broke my waters to try and speed things along, and there was meconium in the waters so I was put on a heart rate monitor. This was ok as I managed to find a comfortable spot leaning forward over the top of the bed while using the TENS and gas. I laboured like this throughout the morning, and then got a check (I was happy to consent to these at this point as it had been so long) and I was still only 4cm dilated. At this point the doctors suggested synotcinon because I had been in labour so long, and because the baby was having some slight heart rate drops which could signal distress. I consented, and also had an epidural put in.
Not long after the epidural and syntocinon were put in my babies heart rate plummeted, to around 65 I think, which was really low. That was pretty scary. James had finally left the room to go and eat so he missed it, and a whole bunch of staff rushed in the room. They stopped the syntocinon straight away and the heart rate went back up to normal, though with a few small dips. A doctor came and spoke to us both (James had come back at this point) about having a c-section because of failure to progress and because the synotcinon was no longer an option.
James and I discussed this, and because the baby's heart was back to normal, and I was now pain free with the epidural, I said I wanted more time. Maybe now that the epidural was in and the back pain was gone I would be able to relax more and dilate further. The doctor said we could have half an hour, because the heart rate drop was quite serious.
So, I put on some of the birthing tracks and lay there concentrating on my breathing and visualising the stories in the tracks.
After an hour (we got a bit more time than expected) the doctor came back in and said it would be time to go and get prepped for surgery, gave us a form to sign and left. We were pretty resigned to the fact that it was a c-section at this stage, and asked for a swab to do a microbiome transfer. The doctor didn't have time to check if I had dilated further when she came in, so I asked a midwife to check me, as one final just in case before we went down for surgery. She checked and I had gone from 4 to 7cm in an hour! The midwives and me and James were so happy and so relieved, and I got the ok to stay where I was and labour until I was fully dilated, then try for a vaginal delivery.
After a few more hours I was 10cms and the midwives asked if I had any urge to push -but I didn't. I asked if the epidural could be turned down so I could get a bit more feedback but they were hesitant to do this because of the complications before, in case I did need to go into surgery quickly. So, we tried directed pushing for a while, which was very strange - I felt like I was straining my whole body, even my neck and had no idea if it was working where it was supposed to, though apparently James could see the line on the heart rate monitor moving which meant I was doing something. I pushed like this for about half and hour and there were a few more heart rate drops when I pushed so they got out an ultrasound to have a look if there was something wrong.
While I already suspected that she would be occipital (as she was lined up on the right prior to labour) our baby was also slightly transverse, and stuck in the birth canal slightly sideways, which is why she was having trouble coming out.
So finally at this stage I did need a cesarean. I asked first if forceps was another option, and they doctors said that they could try that, but down in the surgery to be safe. When I got to the surgery they decided that it wasn't a safe option.
James was with me in the surgery, and sang to me as a distraction while they got her out. Despite all the complications, she came out perfect, making noise, and got an Apgar of 9 both times. By the time she came out I was in a bit of shock I think, and didn't feel like I bonded with her straight away. Unfortunately, we were then separated while I was in recovery which I found very emotional and hard, though James was with her the whole time. She weighed 3.4kg and was 51cm long at birth. We named her Aurora James Lynch (the next day).
I found the first few days after birth quite hard, I had a lot of pain and worse mobility than expected after the C section, and hated not being able to get up and get to Aurora when she cried. I also felt dissapointed that the birth ended in a cesarean, and that I had missed out on the big rush of hormones and love that some people experience through a vaginal birth. This got me very worried about bonding in the early days, as I didn't feel particularly attached to Aurora straight away.
Fast forward to two months now (she is two months old today!) and I'm completely obsessed with her - bonding is definitely not an issue. It was more of a slow burn falling in love with my baby, and after talking to other friends and reading things online I realise that this is ok and quite common.
We've had a good run with breastfeeding from the beginning, and I'm sure that's helped us connect. It did take me a while to recover from the birth - I had pain for over six weeks as I developed an internal infection, though after a couple of runs of antibiotics I feel much better. There was a period where we had issues with crying and sleeping and settling, which was made worse because I was still physically recovering and it hurt to jiggle and bounce her to calm her down. But, at the moment we've got a good handle on sleeping and feeding and settling which means very little crying (and bouncing) is a part of our life. She has started smiling and stares at us right in the eyes. Shes super alert and active and we love her so much.
Although the birth didn't end the way I would have liked, I am glad that I got the experience of labour, and know that I'm ready to do it again and hopefully have a vaginal birth next time.
I don't frame my birth story as a negative one - as there were many beautiful moments along the way as well. I think our experience would have been really different if we hadn't done the course with you. The practises really helped for those early days of labour, which I think back on very fondly. And, the information we had meant that we made good informed decisions along the way, and didn't feel pressured into the final outcome. I think if we had not known any better I would have had the c-section when it was first suggested, and then felt like I was pressured into a birth I didn't want.
So, thank you so much for the part that you played in what was the most intense and amazing few days of our lives.