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I ask so many new mums for their birth experiences in my role both as a hypnobirthing teacher and pregnancy reflexologist. I decided I wanted to share mine. My first son was born prior to me training as a therapist or antenatal teacher. I was induced but I still did it my own way…….
This story is about the birth of my first son, Joseph. My due date was 17th January 2006. I did not go into spontaneous labour as they decided to induce me ay 40 plus 3 as I had high blood pressure and they were concerned about pre-eclampsia.
I came into hospital at 3pm in the afternoon and was given one pessery to soften the cervix. By 9pm I was in labour and by 11pm my waters had broken and my contractions were regular enough to be taken down to delivery (I was on the maternity ward at this point). Once down in delivery I had the space to move around and my husband was able to massage my back in between contractions, which he did while I was sitting on the birthing ball half lying across the bed. I had massage oil with lavender essential oil which I prepared beforehand and I am sure this helped me stay relaxed.
Eventually the midwives encouraged me onto the bed although they laid me my side and the midwife showed my husband how to keep me breathing slowly and regularly in bewteen contractions by lightly and slowly tapping on my arm. I remember at this point having my eyes closed and feeling a deep sense of calm. When a contraction came, the midwife would massage my back or my husband did if she was out of the room. I remember telling the midwife that I needed to push and have no recollection of how long this took but I do remember one midwife saying to the other, have you got the clothes and nappy out as she won’t be long. I remember the other midwife being evidently surprised at this as allegedly it had not taken me long to get to delivery stage. I put this down to being calm, relaxed and conserving my energy so my pushes were much more efficient. Joseph William was born at 2:24am weighing 8Ib and 14 ounces., 11 1/2 hours after the pessary had been given to me.
I remember watching him be delivered and seeing him come out blue, give his first cry and immediately turn pink. I did have to have stiches as he came out pretty fast but to be honest I was so taken by my baby boy I did not care or notice! They laid Joseph on me after cutting the umbilical cord and he stayed there. What was amazing was as he laid on my tummy (I was waiting for stitches so could not sit up) he moved and found my breast himself, and latched on, I just watched in amazement!
My antental preparation involved attending NCT birthing classes which gave me an understanding of what was involved from a practical point of view but nothing prepared me for the actual birthing experience. It did help me decide about not wanting pain relief in labour and this determination kept me focused on what I did want, which was a natural birth despite the initial intervention. I was never fearful of birth, and I don’t remember listening to negative birth stories or watching any programmes portraying birth during my pregnancy.
I have a very ‘if I knew then what I know now’ mentality about my birth, I would have had so many more resources to help me of I went into labour tomorrow but when I reflect back on what I have learnt as a pregnancy reflexologist and hypnobirthing teacher the principles are still the same, trust your instincts as a birthing women and you will be relaxed, calm and free of fear and anxiety. The one thing which helped me during labour was the calming tones of the midwife supporting my husband to help me with me breathing and the massage which was vital, I believe to managing my contractions and staying relaxed and calm.
My husband was amazing, as was my wonderful midwife and the fact I could feel my baby being born and had enough energy to appreciate and absorb the moment of his birth, that will stay with me forever.
The initial fear that if had not progressed enough in my labour up on the ward my husband would be sent home, I needed his support and would have fought this if needed.
How you and your body seemed to go into another ‘zone’ and that instinct took over was what surprised me most . When I think back to how my birth progressed it feels like it was something which just flowed naturally.
To be honest, not really, would rather have had a spontaneous labour but we all have to work with what we have. During labour the only thing I would like to have used was the birthing pool but they wouldn’t let me because of my high blood pressure. After not that I can think of.
Watching my son being born into the world and taking his first breath
The induction and not being able to use the birthing pool, I don’t remeber anything else other than I was determined not to have pain relief”
Complete joy, disbelief and pride that myself and my husband had a son. watching him hold him for the first time was memorable, particularly as my husband had lost his own dad only 4 months prior to Joseph being born. Joseph was named after my husbands grandfather in memory of his dad so that was an emotional moment for us.
I still love thinking about my labour and birth experience. It is a special memory which I will treasure forever. I don’t think my perspective has changed at all.
That with the support of people around me, my determination to stay true to my decisions was possible which fills me with pride.
I meet a lot of women who hold a huge amount of fear about labour induction which then becomes central to their focus, This fear and anxiety, I believe can actually be detrimental to going into spontaneous labour. I hope my story can take some of that fear away and show that even with induction, labour can progress in a positive way and it is okay to trust your own instincts and feelings as it is your birth and it should be your way.