After having difficult births with my 2nd and 3rd children, very long labours both times, ventouse delivery with son 2 and a “failed induction” leading to an emergency cesarean with a significant post partum haemmorage with son 3, I was absolutely determined to have a positive birth experience with my fourth child.
I had already been following some positive birth Instagram accounts and loved reading all of the birth stories (there really is something about a birth story). I saw The Positive Birth Company had an offer on their digital pack, I believe it was their birthday and the cost was halved. I had read birth stories where people had used hypnobirthing techniques and actually didn’t understand it at all so was pretty intrigued to start the pack.
Siobhan Miller, creator of the Positive Birth Company really does hit the nail on the head when she says that she once said ‘Why doesn’t everyone know this?’ and she’s right, hypnobirthing is quite simply about understanding your body and listening to your bodies wants and needs and just being kind to yourself really. I actually joked to friends and family and said ‘How have I had four labours and never really known how a uterus works??’
I started the digital pack at around 26 weeks pregnant, I watched one video a night because frankly I would always doze off if I attempted a second! I watched all of the videos and listened to the positive affirmations and relaxation mp3s and actually towards the end of my pregnancy the mp3s were a lifesaver for creating calm and falling asleep.
At my first consultant appointment after starting the digital pack, I told my doctor that I no longer wanted a planned cesarean and I wanted a VBAC, I told her I wished to decline any form of induction and that it was my wish to stay at home in labour for as long as is safe and comfortable to do so.
As with all best made plans, at 36 weeks I was scanned at a growth scan to find that baby was not engaged and that a loop of cord was presenting at the cervix. I was told I needed to be admitted to hospital, just in case my waters broke causing a cord prolapse. I did try to use my B.R.A.I.N (Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Instinct, Nothing) but the thought of the 25 minute drive from my home to hospital at high risk of a cord prolapse, wasn’t a risk I was willing to take. The decision felt right at that time.
I spent the two uneventful weeks that I was in hospital, thinking long and hard about whether I was allowing the medical team to scare me into the easiest option for them (observation and then cesarean) but reassured myself that I was in the best place. Of course I was disappointed that I wouldn’t get my natural birth, as that would be reliant on baby moving into a head down position and the cord moving away from the cervix – which did not happen.
Further investigation whilst in hospital found that my placenta whilst not placenta previa, was presenting close to the cervix and preventing baby from descending. The doctor that conducted the ultrasound said that it was on the left side, but the bulk of the placenta was taking up a lot of space in the pelvis. This reassured me that I was right to stay in hospital, but also confirmed that I would not be having the natural birth I wanted.
If you have had a cesarean, you will know it’s not pleasant, but when I was recovering from my emergency cesarean in 2016 I was told that an elective section is such a different experience and world’s apart from an emergency. My emergency cesarean was traumatic, I was sick, I panicked, I struggled to breathe, they gave me so many drugs I didn’t feel like I participated in the birth at all and I desperately wanted this birth to be as different to that as possible.
When my section date rolled around, I was naturally nervous but also excited which is odd in itself and I was conscious of the butterflies in my stomach turning to panic. I spent the time prepping for the surgery, concentrating only on my breathing and trying not to let my nerves get the better of me.
The surgery seemed to take a long time, I think due to me having a lot of old scar tissue, which they removed. And also because the scan the day before had failed to see that the placenta wrapped around across my old scar, and due to baby’s position with his head on the opposite side of the pelvis, the incision needed to be made longer.
*Also what we didn’t know at this point was that he was 11lbs, had the thickest umbilical cord I have ever seen and a placenta so large they had to carry it out on a tray!!*
Baby was born after around 45 minutes of arriving in theatre, he was happy and healthy.
Just like my previous section it was at this point that there was quite a large bleed, significantly more than my last post partum haemmorage. This was when my hypnobirthing skills really helped me the most, I began to feel dizzy and sick and struggled to hold back the panic, I imagine due to the bleeding. I used my ‘up’ breathing, and closed my eyes, I zoned out from conversation and only answered to confirm I was feeling ok. I honestly believe this was the difference in the handling of my medication in theatre, the fact I was able to remain calm meant that my husband stayed in the room throughout, I was able to have my baby close to me and I do not need to be given strong drugs like I had in my previous section.
Naturally, I still felt like I’d been hit by a bus physically but I did think in recovery that I was exceptionally proud of myself for making what was a very medical birth and made the very best of it. My birth was what I wanted, we had music, we avoided heavy drugs and I was able to have my birthing partner and my baby with me at all times. It was as positive as it could possibly be.