KAT & MAE
A month before due date, we had a tour of Lewisham hospital birth centre which coincided with some full on braxton hicks. It made me freak out. All of a sudden I realised how mentally unprepared I was for baby number 2. The second pregnancy had flown, life was busy and I’d totally neglected my hypno birthing teaching from pregnancy number 1. Needless to say, I dusted off my books and started practicing my visualisation and breathing techniques.
I really wanted a water birth so a lot of my practice happened in the bath. My first birth had been pretty traumatic due to my son getting a bit stuck. And, sadly, I didn’t manage to control the highly medicalised situation enough to complete hypno birthing throughout the whole thing. On reflection though, it made me appreciate the importance of positive thought and feeling like you can influence things (my labour stopped after being put in what could only be described as a cupboard with a horrible midwife) and focused me for the 2nd birth. This birth was going to be different and hypno birthing really helped me imagine a positive experience this time.
1 week after due date, my labour started in bed around midnight. My waters broke spectacularly about 30 mins later. I rang my parents to tell them so they could start their trip from Wales to London. They would be looking after our son while I pushed their next grandchild out! It seems a little crazy to rely on someone driving 3 hours but our family have a history of slow births and I knew I could always draft in a neighbour if required. My husband slept downstairs whilst I watched back to back episodes of Bad Education whilst breaking to breathe my way through my surges (hypno birthing language for contractions). I’ve not watched an episode since!
My parents arrived about 4pm. My husband faffed around for about 30 mins whilst I was all ready to leave. My folks were tickled by my calm, serene state as my husband ran around flapping. I felt good. We had a lovely bumpy ride to the hospital but soon realised we hadn’t planned where to park or our journey late at night when most hospital entrances were closed. We ended up wandering the perimeter of the hospital with my husband singing songs about all the night foxes!?!
We made it eventually. The birthing centre was so calm and the staff were really lovely. It felt like checking into a hotel. I clearly needed a weekend away. I was examined by the midwife and I was already about 5cm. This was going so much better than the first time. I felt great. The midwife suggested I walk up and down the stairs next to the birth centre for an hour to get things moving. This was when I had the craziest experience...I was having a pretty intense surge and noticed myself tensing up. I recalled my hypno birthing teaching and thought “My body can totally do this”. I completely relaxed and I’m pretty sure I felt my baby drop down my birth canal. It was amazing.
I waddled back to the birthing centre and the midwife showed us into our lovely room. Again, so calm. She left us whilst I settled into the massive pillows on my double bed. More to grapple with than relax of course. Within 10 mins, I was groaning like a heifer. She must have heard my strange guttural moans from outside so came into check my progress. It must have been good as she asked if she could cut my knickers off (why did I even still have them on!?!) and got me into the bath to start pushing.
I think my hypno birthing practice in the bath paid off. I completely relaxed and focused on getting the baby out. My husband decided this was the time to start feeding me chilli crackers. I told him it wasn’t. Bless him. I did feel a bit sorry for him as I’m pretty self sufficient so it was difficult for him to ‘help’. Although, knowing he was there and hearing him encouraging me on at the end meant a lot. Not so much the crackers in the bath and songs about night foxes when you’re lost in a hospital!
Anyway, after 5 mins and a bit of poo, there was a head out and my brand new daughter was looking sideways over to my husband. I thought it was beautiful. He said it was more like have an animatronic Chucky doll eye balling him. Apparently, the baby was back to back but I had managed to turn her whilst giving birth. I’m kinda glad they hadn’t really talked about that much as it might have made it a bigger deal for me. As it was, I was just focused on getting my baby out naturally.
Then at 6.46am our darling Mae was born. It was amazing. I managed a water birth! And I didn’t feel any pain. I was so focused on getting her out. It was the most empowering experience of my life. I got to hold her in my arms and take her in which I hadn’t the chance to the first time. My son had been put straight in an incubator when he arrived.
After that it did get a bit more complicated. I wanted to give birth to my placenta naturally after doing everything without any intervention so far. I pushed for ages and nothing came. I was annoyed and tired. I just wanted to enjoy my new baby girl. I ended up taking the vitamin k injection but it still wasn’t coming easily. Apparently I had a ‘dirty duncan’ where the placenta doesn’t detach easily. It meant that I had a couple of midwife’s working for a little bit to get everything out. There was a bit of bleeding but it all seemed fine. I was whisked to another room to just get a few stitches on a small tear that happened when I gave birth. This was when I decided to try ‘gas and air’ as I hadn’t even had a chance to think about using it before. It made me feel a little weird and spaced out which was definitely not what I wanted to be feeling whilst I was getting my vagina stitched! I stayed with the pain killers after that.
Anyway, I got back from the stitches to our birthing room and was given some pain killers and told that I should feel fine very soon. In 10 minutes I was in excruciating pain. I knew the after pains were worse on your second but I was in agony. I called the midwife’s. They inspected me and apparently I was bleeding quite heavily. A button was pushed and within a minute the room was full of people working on me and I had a oxygen mask on. It was pretty weird. I looked at the sofa opposite with my husband holding my newborn baby girl. He looked terrified. I felt like I was in a dream and was more worried about them. After a little while it all calmed down and they told me I was being moved to the consultant led ward to be monitored. The bleeding was never really fully explained but I think it was to do with my placenta not detaching properly. This also led to me bleeding for about 16 weeks post-partum. I ended up on antibiotics and going back to hospital to make sure there was no placenta still there. It was tough going with a brand new baby and boisterous 2 years old.
In hindsight, I would say that everyone should try hypno birthing! It really helped me mentally prepare as well as give me a positive birth experience. But, my biggest bit of advice would be to listen to your body. Although the birth was wonderful, the aftermath was pretty traumatic and tiring. I knew something wasn’t right and had to really push the doctor to do something about it. We all know our body best, right?