This is the HypnoBirthing Story of Gail, Gregor and their daughter Constance.
VBAC delivery on 15 November 2007
After a night of crampiness on Tuesday and the whole of Wednesday wondering why nothing was happening, I started having some proper “surges” on Wednesday night at about 6pm. My husband and I went out for a quick dinner, but I was beginning to have to grip the chair and do my breathing, and being in a posh Italian restaurant was not the right environment for that, so we went home and finished getting our bits and bobs ready for the hospital.
During the night, I had irregular surges about 10 to 15 minutes apart. I started with my hypno breathing and we were pleased to see that it was really working. Instead of gritting my teeth and waiting to endure the surge as I had done in my first child’s birth, I was able to go with the flow and breathe through each surge in a peaceful and calm way. I did lots of visualising and tried to stay as relaxed as possible. My husband did some light touch massage from time to time, and helped with things like playing some relaxing music and prompts.
It was actually a lovely, intimate night. The two of us pottered about, him helping me and me helping our baby to make her way into the world. We were really excited that she was finally arriving. We ran a bath, had low lighting in the bathroom and played some more prompts in there – it was a great atmosphere. I was able to really feel my body beginning to do its job. After about midnight, we tried to nap between surges as we knew that it could be a long time to the end (had we known at this stage how long, we might have taken a sleeping tablet!).
On Thursday morning I had a pre-booked appointment with the doctor for a routine check up (I was one week over my official “due date”), so we went to hospital. I was having surges every 6 or 7 minutes by this stage. I didn’t really feel like eating anything, which was a mistake. I should have had something to eat. The hospital sent us up to the delivery room to be monitored for 20 minutes and check the regularity of the surges and the baby’s heart beat. They measured 3 or 4 surges during that time, and announced that I was, indeed, having uterine contractions. Yes, I had noticed! The baby’s heart beat was very strong, she sounded great.
The hospital was happy to admit us then. My husband wanted us to go home, but I didn’t want the hassle of getting in and out of the car, wanted to get the atmosphere set up in the room. In the end, it took a long time for my husband to complete the paperwork to check in, and establish a few ground rules with the staff (there was very little English spoken in the delivery room). We had a pre-prepared birth plan which we had talked thru with our doctor, but the staff in the delivery room were unaware of this.
I think my husband found this quite alarming – he immediately challenged them when they wanted to give me an internal examination, and made sure I was happy for them to do this. I didn’t mind, was quite curious to know at what stage my cervix was, and felt that we needed to obey some of the hospital’s protocol to make them think that we were cooperating a little bit. In reality though, it would not have made any difference if they hadn’t done this – I was so comfortable with the way my body was feeling that I had no concerns about the progress of the labour – it was obvious to me that things were just going to happen in their own time. I was officially 3cms dilated at this point.
We moved into the delivery room and set ourselves up with the birth prompts playing, low lighting etc. I was probably having surges about every 5 minutes. By this time they were quite strong. I found that I was able to breathe more effectively now. Although I had practised the technique ahead of going into labour, I don’t think you can really do it until you are in labour. The breathing was very deep and relaxed, and breathing out I could feel myself breathing my baby down. The surges were quite overwhelming at times, and I needed to anticipate their arrival and start to breathe through them just before the surge took hold. I found if I was a bit late in starting to breathe, that it was quite difficult to remain totally focused and relaxed.
The difference between this labour and my first was that during my first delivery, at 3cms, I was demanding an epidural between gritted teeth, and really getting quite upset. This time round, I felt serenely comfortable, and the only outward sign that I was in labour was that from time to time I would close my eyes and breathe slowly for a minute or so.
So after being admitted at about 9.30am, we continued with the breathing in the room for another 6 or 7 hours while I dilated. At some point they brought us lunch, but it was quite difficult to eat because the surges were coming every 4 minutes or so.
The room included a birthing stool (I could not get comfortable on that in any position – maybe the dimensions were for Asian ladies, but I was much too big for it!), an exercise ball and floor mat. Also, the bed was adjustable. There is no shower in the bathroom which was disappointing. We thought about using the birth pool, but didn’t manage to communicate this to the staff, and decided to leave it until after lunch. Then after lunch I found a very comfortable position on the bed, and was able to sleep a bit between surges, so we stayed in the room the entire time.
Later in the afternoon, the surges got much stronger and I felt a clear change in the pattern and the sensation of the surges. Suddenly I had completely different sensations – I felt my body beginning to push the baby down with its natural expulsive reflex. It is something that you cannot resist doing, you just have to go with it. I suddenly became very worried about my caesarean scar splitting. Throughout my pregnancy all the doctors in Korea have shaken their heads and talked about the risk of rupture. Even though we knew this was only a 0.5% chance of happening, when experiencing strong expulsive surges and a desire to push, I got the fear that it might happen to me. This meant I found it very difficult to relax and forgot my breathing for a short while. I didn’t like losing control after so long of being focused and in control. Then the doctor popped in. I told him that I was feeling the need to push but I was worried, and he told me that the scar would not rupture with natural pushing.
I was also really worried about the odd stool escaping – it is such a horrible thing to happen, and had been a concern of mine before going into labour. I should have probably have done a fear release session about this, because there is nothing you can do about it. I got quite upset about this, until my husband reassured me sufficiently to stop worrying about it.
By this stage, I found I was most comfortable kneeling on all fours, resting my arms and head on the exercise ball. The staff thought that the baby’s head was in sight, but it turned out to be the amniotic sac bulging down (my membranes had not released). When my membranes finally ruptured it was quite a dramatic explosion of fluid (!) but then we all found out that the baby still had a long way to come. This was probably after about 24 hours of surges, and was quite disappointing news for me, since I had thought that we were almost there.
At this point, our Doctor started to be really quite annoying. He wanted to tie things up quickly and neatly, and began to suggest that I needed a caesarean. I think he honestly thought that he would let me go for a day, a token labour, and then I would probably not resist a caesarean because I would be tired and fed up. In reality I was very tired (and hungry) and a bit fed up because the baby had not been as far down as everyone had thought, but equally I didn’t want to end up in surgery after concentrating so hard for so long already.
I was not aware of the conversations going on in the corridor outside the room, but my husband was having animated discussions with the doctor about this. He challenged the doctor’s view that a caesarean was necessary, asking for the medical justification for a surgical intervention at this stage. The doctor was not able to supply one, and so we stuck to our guns. However, the doctor would not let me eat anything in case I had to eventually go for surgery. I was literally begging to be allowed to eat a banana as I was so hungry and tired, but he would not allow it. We should have taken some snacks with us to hospital because we could not arrange anything at this late stage. Since we had pre-agreed that I would be allowed to eat and drink throughout the delivery, we were not expecting food to be an issue.
The most annoying thing about the doctor was that he was pussy footing around – had it been a medical emergency we would have listened to his views, but it clearly was not. I felt fine (good, in fact) and the baby’s heart beat was steady and strong with no sign of any distress. The doctor simply felt that things were taking too long. Which begs the question, too long for whom? Not for the labouring mother, not for the healthy baby, but perhaps for the doctor who wanted to get home for his supper.
We had to compromise. The doctor demanded that I push the baby out as quickly as possible, and said that if she had not been delivered within a certain time frame, that he would be forced to take me to the operating theatre. So I was basically forced into “purple pushing” by the midwives who were pushing my legs back and at one point, trying to push the baby out by leaning on my tummy. Again, we were struck at the communication problems we were having, when a midwife answered her mobile phone practically mid-surge and left the room, leaving us totally on our own (supposedly in this dangerous situation where the baby had to be delivered ASAP). She never came back, and another midwife arrived who could not speak any English at all. I asked for a midwife who spoke English, at which point she took offence, and left us alone again. Finally the doctor and another midwife came back in.
The last hour or so were really quite unpleasant. I had to strain and push with every contraction much more than I wanted to. I was exhausted from this effort and feeling pretty unhappy at the way things were turning out. This was not a Hypnobirthing end
Constance was finally delivered at 10.55pm and the doctor did allow her to be born naturally (he didn’t pull her out as soon as her head appeared). It was with great relief that she was placed on my chest – a perfect, perfect child. I don’t think I have ever felt so knackered in my entire life! However, with all the pushing I had torn badly again and had to have a lot of stitches again (with my first child I had an episiotomy). To his credit, the doctor did a very good job of stitching me up and I did not have any problems with the stitches as they healed.