• Kathryn Bell

Isaac's birth

It was a real joy to get to know Megan and Asaph during their pregnancy, and to support them for the birth of their first baby at the RPA. We laughed a lot at our antenatal appointments and the genuine relationship we developed carried into the birth and postpartum period. They're the loveliest people, so clearly in love, and the day they brought little Isaac into the world was one filled with laughter, love, team work and so much strength. Megan prepared so well for her birthing day using hypnobirthing, and was able to stay calm and focused throughout her labour and birth. Thank you to Megan for writing and sharing her birth story ...

"In the four weeks leading up to the birth, I experienced a lot of pre-labour contractions, so we were in regular contact with our doula, Kathryn via text message and phone calls. Sometimes the contractions would get quite close together and we would get nervous and excited and call Kathryn. It was good to talk to her and be reassured that everything I was experiencing was normal, and that the process could take a while to get fully underway. She had many helpful suggestions for ways to stay comfortable and get plenty of rest before the birth. With her guidance, we felt confident that it was the right time when we finally made the call to go the birth center.

When we arrived at the birth center, I got straight into the tub - the midwife, Vicky had already filled it for me. Kathryn and a friend of mine met us there. It was great to have enough people to give everyone a break and still have someone with me at all times. Kathryn thought of lots of small, practical things that added up to a much more pleasant birthing experience; extra towels to pad my arms at the edge of the tub, bendy straws for my water bottle so it was easy to take sips between contractions in any position, and making sure I had snacks regularly to keep my energy up. I must have spent a couple of hours in the water. We had music playing and candles around - a nice, relaxing atmosphere. I spent time leaning on the bean bag, and lying on my side on the floor when I got tired. Kathryn suggested different positions and helped us utilise all of the facilities the birth center had to offer.

At some point after I had an internal exam and was told I was 6 cm dilated, the surges became very strong and I went in the shower for relief. I was in there for a long time and eventually started to feel a bit overheated. When the midwife (now Michelle) checked the baby's heart rate, it was a bit fast, so they had me get out of the shower and onto the birth stool. I had another internal exam and was told I was fully dilated. I had been feeling a lot of pressure in my bottom. The midwife asked if there was anything that might be making me want to hold back from pushing, like being embarrassed about maybe doing a poo in front of everyone. I admitted that this was the case. I remembered Kathryn making a comment during one of our birth preparation visits about making grunting sounds and possibly doing a poo during the birth. It had been funny at the time, but it was harder to be so lighthearted about it when it seemed like a real possibility. Kathryn and the midwife were both very frank and open about it, which helped me to let go. I did some pushing on the birth stool, with my partner supporting me (which felt great!) and eventually my waters broke with a big gush. There was brown meconium in the waters, so I was transferred up to the labor ward -- I got to sit in a wheelchair while fighting the urge to push - fun! At this point I really went into myself and just concentrated on breathing. I kept my eyes closed and stayed in my own relaxed space.

When we got to the labour ward they tried to strap the baby monitors to me, but the monitors kept falling off and appeared to be picking up my heartbeat instead of the baby's. So they ended up attaching a monitor to the baby's scalp. I'm not sure of the timeline at all, but at some point the midwife (now Erin) told me we should do coached pushing and get the baby out, so that's what we did. It was the most physically challenging thing I've ever done - I really gave it my all. Kathryn and my partner were by my side the whole time, my partner holding my hand and encouraging me, and Kathryn reminding me to send my energy down to my baby. She also suggested the sidelying position and held my leg up while I was pushing to help open me up. I wouldn’t have thought of this myself, since all of my instincts were telling me to be in positions that were not practical on a hospital bed. I made a lot of noises, which I didn't expect! It was hard, but it didn't hurt -- it felt good to be so close to meeting our baby. It took many pushes for the baby to make progress toward crowning and the head appeared and disappeared over quite a few pushes. Eventually I felt a burning sensation as the baby was crowning, and everyone cheered and told me the head had been born. The rest of the body slid out during the next push and I heard some coughing and a strong cry - he was here! :) I'll never forget how little Isaac looked, as he came sailing up to me, still a bluish-purplish color, with his mouth and his eyes wide open to meet me. I was so happy!"

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