jemma's positive vbac story - kings birth centre
I saw Zoe for a hypnobirthing class at 37 weeks pregnant. Up until then I had found my pregnancy stressful and exhausting, and I was very confused and worried about the birth. My first baby was born by emergency caesarean after a failed induction and I felt both scared of the possible complications of a natural delivery and scared of having another caesarean. All in all my head was not in a good place. This all changed the day I met Zoe.
no more stress!
I left feeing positive, relaxed and serene, with a host of tools from Zoe to help me both figure out what I wanted and to prepare for whatever happened. I began prioritising time to relax, and every evening I listened to at least one hypnobirthing relaxation - either the recordings Zoe sent, Katharine Graves, or read by my husband. I also joined Michele at Goose Green's pregnancy yoga class, which I really enjoyed.
I decided I would book a caesarean at 42 weeks and see what happened. I hoped I would go in to labour before then but I also felt reassured knowing there was an end date, and I felt positive about having a caesarian if the baby didn't choose to come. This was also helped by something I was told by Agata at Goose Green Clinic, whom I booked a pregnancy massage with. She told me about a book she had read, about people who were hypnotised to go back in to the womb, and that they discovered some babies just decide that they don't want to leave the warmth and safety, and this is why we have caesareans. I am not sure I believe it is possible to be hypnotised and taken back to the womb, but I very much enjoy looking at caesarians that way. They are pretty great, they are safe, and they have purpose.
At 41 weeks and 5 days I saw Emma Tubman at Goose Green for reflexology, I recommend this to everyone - pregnant or not - it was immensely relaxing and Emma helped me emotionally as well. Having lost my mother 7 years ago, I had been avoiding the sadness and grief during my pregnancy and Emma helped me acknowledge it. As well as reflexology, on that day I ate lots of curry, pineapple, dates and drank raspberry leaf tea, I also re-packed my hospital bag (which had been totally inadequate) and reorganised everything in the house to do with the baby. I felt ready and as though everything I was doing was me telling my baby I was ready; I didn't actually expect the pineapple or curry would trigger labour, but it still felt meaningful to eat it. I had a week to go before my planned caesarian and I thought that if it took a week to meet my baby, that would be ok too.
I started having contractions the following night, at around midnight. after 2-3 hours I woke up my husband and we called the hospital, who advised us (somewhat reluctantly) to go in. We arrived at 4am and went to the assessment area. My contractions at this point felt strong but manageable and I was very relaxed. The midwife examined me and said I was just 1 cm, and that she would speak to the doctor. About an hour later the doctor came, by this point the contractions were stronger and I vomited after each one. I didn't actually mind this at all as I felt great relief afterwards.
The doctor explained that they thought I was in early labour, so I could go home or have a bed on the anti natal ward, I chose the anti natal ward (I think I knew I was progressing faster than they thought) and we moved there at 7am. Thankfully, I was given a private room (because I was throwing up, I learned later on). A second midwife examined me and I was still only 1-2cm, but my contractions quickly became a lot stronger. I was given an injection of an anti-emetic to stop me being sick, and then largely left alone (with my husband).
I the spent the next 5 hours or so in the bathroom, between sitting on the loo and kneeling in the bath with cold water running from the shower, which my husband splashed on my back during contractions. I had no concept of time whatsoever.
At some point, probably after a couple of hours, I said to my husband that something had changed and he needed to get someone. The midwife came and said there weren't any beds on the labour ward, but that they knew I was waiting. So, I stayed in the bath under the cold shower. I was not at all distressed that there were no beds for me, and I am sure this was down to the hypnobirthing; I was accepting of everything that happened along the way.
At about 1pm there was a bed available and I was taken to the labour ward. upon arrival the midwife explained that I would be examined, and they would probably break my waters as they expected I would be no more than 4cm dilated.
I was exhausted and asked about pain relief, thinking that if I had a long way to go I would need to find some way to rest; I think I actually knew I was close to delivering as I could feel the baby bearing down, but I didn't know how to explain this in my tiredness.
The midwife helped me on to the bed - kneeling upright not lying down - and gave me gas & air, which I very much enjoyed.
It turned out that I was fully dilated and the baby was on the way, my midwife asked if I remembered my waters breaking but I did not, probably because I had been in the shower.
the 'downward' pushing stage
Before long I was pushing, I stopped using gas & air so I could focus on what my body was telling me to do and at 3.22pm Daisy was born. She was 3.7kg, pink and healthy and I held her straight away, my husband cut the cord (after a few minutes). I had a few scratches from Daisy's long nails (her hand was up by her head on the way out) and needed some stitches for those, but that was all.
contractions and surges
I have used the word contraction here, rather than surges, because that is how I referred to them in labour. Having never had a single contraction with my first pregnancy, to me I felt empowered to know that I was definitely having them this time. Having said that, surges are a much more accurate description of how it feels, it is a surge that passes, and each one really did bring me closer to my baby.
trusting caregivers and husband
I am so very happy about how Daisy's birth went. I felt supported and looked after by the medical professionals in the hospital - at various times doctors would check in that I wasn't experiencing any pain in my caesarian scar, and I was vaguely aware that for the final pushing there were a few more people in the room. I didn't even mind when they attempted to put a canula in to my hand whilst I was pushing (this is something they try to do for all VBAC births, so they said). I also felt incredibly supported by my husband, as well as extremely close to him.
I have no doubt that the reason my birth went so well is because of Zoe, how she listened to us and taught us that we could have a positive experience. Hypnobirthing really is a lot more logical and practical than the name suggests, and practicing the affirmations and relaxations is immensely powerful.
As I write this Daisy is 16 days old and the feeling of calm that I had the day I met Zoe is still with me, helping me be a calm mother to a calm and contented baby.
Thank you Zoe xx