Kelly's VBAC Hypnobirthing Story

"I went for a consultant appointment on my due date and had a stretch and sweep. At that point I was told my cervix was high and completely closed.  My induction was booked for 2 weeks time. I came away from that appointment feeling very despondent and disheartened.

Two days later I had my show and immediately after surges started. They went on through the night but the next day they faded and stopped. This continued for five nights. Every night felt the same- surges started early evening, getting stronger and more regular through the night until around 4am and then started tailing off. This was much the same as what happened with Jess and as the days went on I had to really work hard to keep the positive attitude and accept what was happening without reading too much in to it. I kept saying to myself, “This is just the way my body labours” (something I said to you in one of the 1:1’s).  Listening to the affirmations track when I felt more negative thoughts coming in really helped with this. I did do a number of things differently this time to manage it, compared to my first labour with Jess. In the day I rested and slept to keep my energy up (rather than going for long walks to “try to get labour going” which I did with Jess). I also tried as much as possible to keep what was in my diary (always easier when you have a three year old to manage)- so in the days I had a 3yr old birthday party to go to, a pantomime and a meal out with friends and I did all that but made sure I didn’t tell anyone what was happening at night because I didn’t want the focus to be on that. In the night, I kept trying to change position every 40 minutes- something you suggested. Even though I could have lived in the bath (again) I only allowed myself to be in there for 40 minutes at a time before getting out and changing position. This meant I had to do more different things- I tried to watch TV but found I couldn’t focus much so spent a lot of time listening to music and doing mundane house jobs! If I was able to sleep I did although, for much of the time the surges were too intense to be able to do that and I found I couldn’t get comfy in bed. I ate and drank a lot more- even though I had no desire to eat; I made sure I snacked throughout.

As the days went on I found the “Coves of Confidence” track to be amazing and I listened to that repeatedly so many times. I had to actively work at not comparing the experience to my last labour because that sent me on a negative spiral. I also found myself counting my breaths from 5 – 1 when the surges were getting more intense- doing this helped me to focus on keeping my breaths long and slow, it helped me to relax and I knew that by time I got to one, the surge would be easing.  I had a community midwife appointment on the morning of the 2nd march (one week over due date) which was another stretch and sweep and in my mind I kept thinking that was point I needed to get to then I would know what was happening and we could make a plan. James continued with his routines and went to work in the day and slept at night.

On the morning of the 2nd March at 2.30am ish (the night was much the same as the previous four nights) my waters broke while I was in bed. I woke James up and told him and agreed at this point to ring the hospital. The labour ward wanted me to go in to be monitored and check everything was ok. This was really difficult and I found I had to really psych myself up to get in the car and leave the comfort of my home.

When I got to hospital I was told the only room available was the room with the birthing pool in and I was so pleased with this. They said they would do the assessment in this room and establish where about in my labour I was. I was told I had to be in established labour before they would start filling the pool. In the room they hooked me to a monitor and left me hooked on it for 30 minutes (I said I would only be monitored for the minimum time needed) while I bounced on a birthing ball. When the midwife looked at the reading she said my contractions were very irregular and it was very unlikely I was in established labour but as I thought my waters had broken I would need to be induced within 24 hours. She talked at great length (so it felt) about this. She said she would be back in a bit to do an internal examination to check my waters had gone and see how dilated, if at all, I was. After she left the room, James and I had a discussion and agreed two things: 1. Next time we saw anyone we would ask for a change of midwife because she was too negative, had read my birth plan but was dismissive of it and I didn’t like her; and 2. I wasn’t going to be induced and if absolutely needs be, would opt straight for a c section (which I have said all along I would do and it felt even more right at that point) although I would need to understand the risks first of “doing nothing” which was my preferred option at that point.

It was about 4am and I have little memory of what happened in the next four hours! James fell asleep on the bed and I put my headphones on and listened to music and the hypnobirthing tracks (mainly the coves of confidence track and the sea of serenity on repeat). Surges continued in much the same way- feeling intense and regular, although I wouldn’t have described them as painful just uncomfortable. We did not see any member of staff from the labour ward who left us completely on our own. I had no intervention and offered no pain relief although this was fine. I didn’t interact with anyone.  In hindsight, it was perfect, to be left in my own world.

At about 8am, something changed! I suddenly had an overwhelming and strong desire to push. This brought me back from my own world in to the room and I think I panicked. The pain immediately increased and I woke James up to tell him that I couldn’t do this anymore, I needed someone to do something now and I needed a poo! I remember there being an urgency about me- something was happening now and something needed to be done now. He pressed the buzzer and a midwife came in who said they had just done a shift change and she was now my assigned midwife. I immediately liked her and she seemed so much less clinical and more relaxed- she used a lot of humour and I liked that. I said the same as I said to James but said I was getting an overwhelming need to push and I couldn’t help it. She said I needed to not push until I had been examined and I said that was impossible!- this was all done with a lot of humour and laughing. She quickly examined me and said my baby is on its way.  She seemed very surprised and unprepared! Although that information helped me to refocus and I actually felt excited and remember thinking, “I am actually doing this”. 20 minutes later Elijah was born (8.32am) while I was on my hand and knees on the floor. I remembered the birth humming although I have to be honest, it felt my body took over and I just didn’t do it (although I did try). I just focused on my breath (making sure I didn’t hold my breath) and staying as relaxed as possible. The midwife was hands off and occasionally offered words of reassurance and encouragement. Elijah immediately went skin to skin. I had a physiological third stage and delayed clamping and Eli was skin to skin or breastfeeding for the whole time. It was an amazing experience.

My recovery has been incredibly quick and felt pretty much myself within a few weeks. We were discharged from hospital on the morning of the next day. Eli was healthy and we had no issues in terms of a low temperature this time. The main thing for me was having the confidence that my body did know what to do and challenging any thoughts that said that history was going to repeat itself. Next time (not that there will be one!), I would be even more dismissive of medical information given to me and recognise my body doesn’t follow the textbook and that doesn’t always mean something untoward.

Elijah weighed 9lbs 10ozs (exactly the same as Jess) and was born at 41 weeks (again the same as Jess). Even though both those things and the start of the labour were the same, their actual births couldn’t have been more different (one an EMCS and the next a natural birth with absolutely no intervention / pain relief (even if I didn’t get the water birth I longed for!!!)). One thing I do know with my children is that I had the right birth on the day with both and that was down to your help and hypnobirthing. Thank you"