Birth story – Kathy, Dave & baby Alice 29.09.13
My mum was given an epidural when in labour with my sister and I. She was given it as routine. Unfortunately it wasn’t inserted correctly so she has experienced some back problems on an off ever since. I asked her if she felt she could have managed without it and she replied that she felt she hadn’t needed it. She felt resentful of the lack of choice. Whilst it had been a rare accident, I was nervous of epidurals and needles in general and wanted to have as natural a childbirth experience as possible for our first child.
Whilst researching online, I discovered hypnobirthing and came across Tracey’s website. She offered a 6 week course in it. Whilst I could easily access hypnobirthing material elsewhere, my husband and I were interested in learning the correct techniques with other couples in the surroundings of the local Midwife Lead Unit.
Commencing at 20 weeks into my pregnancy, each week we learnt about breathing, visualisations and relaxation techniques for the different stages of labour and childbirth. It was during the course that we decided to ask Tracey to be our Doula. We both felt comfortable around her. As first time parents, we felt reassured that Tracey had a really good knowledge of the ‘system’ and could confidently liaise with the healthcare professionals on our behalf when needed.
I practiced the hypnobirthing techniques every day without fail, often falling asleep to the music. I was very committed to it. Dave enjoyed being involved with the practice and felt Tracey supported him by showing him ways to help me.
We met with Tracey about three quarters of the way through my pregnancy in our home to discuss our birth plan and techniques. She answered any of our questions and made notes of our preferences. We transferred hospitals to the one we had taken the course in as having taken tours of both, we preferred the large birthing rooms and feel of the one we moved to. Tracey helped us find the information to do this.
Tracey contacted me on the day she started her ‘cover’ of us – available 24 hours a day, for us to call whenever I went into labour. We were excited and reassured that she was just a phone call away. Unfortunately, the due date came and went and still no baby. I started to take raspberry leaf tablets recommended by Tracey and walked for an hour each evening with Dave. One of the benefits of having a late summer baby! In the meantime, the topic of cervical swipes was raised at each midwife appointment. I discussed my concerns with Tracey. I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea and I decided to decline the offers, which was the right decision for me. She sent positive messages and offered advice. Sex being one of them and the last thing I felt like doing!
As the induction date loomed, Dave and I started to get worried. I was weary of medical intervention and its possible escalation. I discussed with Tracey, our options should I decide not to be induced at 12 days and was reassured that we had them. At 9 days overdue, we finally tried the sex option. At 10 days, I had a relaxing reflexology session with a lovely lady recommended by her in the comfort of our own home.
The next morning, I dosed though some slight discomfort in my lower abdomen. I had downloaded a free contraction time app and sleepily timed them. They were ever 15 minutes or so and I realised they were contractions. I sent a text to Tracey to make her aware. She said to keep track and contact her when I felt I needed her. Unfortunately they subsided. I was disappointed but with Tracey’s advice we upped the sex (not an easy thing to do at almost 42 weeks pregnant!) and kept active. Thankfully, at 4pm the contractions started again. Dave and I had a Chinese takeaway and watched some TV with me using my breathing techniques through the contractions. They really felt like the waves we had learnt about. Whilst I had to focus on them during their build up and decline, once each had subsided, I made sure I relaxed and kept engaged with everyday life.
At about 7:30pm a small trickle started. We contacted the hospital who told us to go in, but having discussed it with Tracey we decided to wait a bit longer as I wanted to stay home as long as possible and there was a good chance that we would have been turned away. I starting using the TENS machine (having practiced putting on the sticky pads some days prior helped!) and began listening to the relaxation music through my ipod. At 9pm my mucus plug went when I was on the toilet. By this time, the contractions were about 4 minutes apart. I asked Dave to phone Tracey and she came round. She gave me space to use my breathing techniques and rest.
Finally, at Midnight we left for the hospital. On the way to the MWLU I had a contraction and it really helped when Tracey firmly pushed down my shoulders when I breathed out. Unfortunately there was a communication error with the hospital and a room hadn’t been prepared. However, with Tracey’s help we remained calm through the two hours and I was happy to sit in a chair continuing to use the TENS machine, the music, the breathing and visualisations. She regularly sought updates which helped. I was pleasantly surprised to find I was 7cm dilated.
I choose to get into the birth pool once we were in our room. I found the water very comforting. I stayed in there for several hours. Tracey respectfully moved out of eyesight when I had the regular monitoring checks, which I appreciated.
After a while I suddenly felt a strong urge to bear down. I requested G&A and found using it a useful distraction. After an hour or so, I felt like the water was not helping me bear down and my contractions had slowed. It was suggested I get out. We discovered that not all of my waters had gone. A simple and painless procedure helped to rectify this.
We tried some different positions, but not much was happening although I felt a lot of pressure in my lower back so I was aware that our baby was moving downwards. The midwife kept on telling us that I should go on a drip, which I didn’t want to do. I wasn’t aware of this at the time, but Tracey negotiated on our behalf to allow us more time, which we’re very grateful for.
I tried standing with support either side of me under my arms so I could breathe into my pushing and soon found this to be the right position for me. Apparently I hummed! I felt a lot of pressure down below and a stretching sensation and was told that our baby’s head was out. A few seconds later the rest of her body slid out too and there she was! Alice was born at 11:53am, weighing 7 pounds 5.
We had wanted to wait until the cord had stopped pulsating for Dave to then cut it. We were pleased that we could do this and that it had been conveyed to the midwives by Tracey. The placenta followed easily about 20 minutes after delivery.
I had a few stiches, but it was fine. Tracey stood by the bed and I used the G&A. I didn’t need it however. I was enjoying the lightheaded experience. We even shared a joke about me being drunk. We were able to leave hospital within 9 hours of our daughter’s birth as we were keen to return home.
Tracey visited the day after to assist with breastfeeding instruction. This was a great help. She also surprised us with a lovely birthing story and gift a few weeks later.
I’m really pleased we decided to have a hypnobirth and choose Tracey as a Doula. We felt calm, secure and confident. I never once thought to ask for an epidural, which surprised me, but it is a testament to the support she provided. Thank you Tracey for making our birth experience such a positive one!
Dave: When Kathy suggested that we attend a hypnobirthing course I was very sceptical, but I am glad that we did. It was not long into the course that I realised that it was incredibly useful. Thanks to Tracey, we had a brilliant birth experience, and with her as our doula I felt a lot more confident that we were providing Kathy with the support she needed in such a pivotal moment.
Tracey helped by comforting Kathy in ways that I could not, in particular it was great to have her sitting in the back of the car on the way to the hospital, I could concentrate on getting us there safely! Tracey continued to be incredibly helpful at the hospital, liaising with the staff so that Kathy was as comfortable as possible, and could concentrate on her breathing. She also supported Kathy helping and encouraging her to try different positions to help keep the birth going.
I am so proud of my wife, she gave birth without any drugs and without swearing once, all thanks to Tracey’s teachings, advice and support!