A positive birth following induction- Thea's Birth Story
Every year as one of my daughter's birthday's approaches, it gets me thinking about those last few weeks of pregnancy and their birth's. It was around this time 4 years ago that the consultant who was monitoring my first pregnancy advised me that it is likely they would recommend my labour be induced a few weeks early (I won't go into the reasons why in this post).
At this point, I was in the middle of attending the Calm Birth's Hypnobirthing course myself (funny to think that now 4 years on, I'm teaching women the same course that changed my perspectives and mindset on SO many things, for the better!), and all of a sudden I thought that my dreams of a calm, natural and controlled birth were out of the window. How wrong was I? the straight answer is... very!
Prior to learning more about the use of hypnobirthing in Induced Births, I had been led to believe that a medicalised induction would lead me to having a more painful, long labour, and ultimately lead to interventions that I personally was hoping to avoid.
Thankfully, my mind was quickly changed by the amazing advice from Hannah, the founder of The Calm Birth's course, and the education shared in the course. I was relieved to hear that the hypnobirthing techniques I had been learning were not now redundant in an induction situation, they were in fact now more important than ever.
Not only did the course teach me the vital skills to help me stay calm and provide me with the knowledge to understand the physiology of birth, it also helped me to understand my options and empowering me to make my own choices when faced with medical terminology and advice. Like many of us, I am predisposed to trusting and just going along with what I am told when faced with professionals, yet the education and tools I learnt in the course gave me the confidence to ask questions and to know my options (there are always options!) so that I could make a choice about what route I wished to take.
My Body, My Choice
After asking various questions, exploring options and understanding the risks either way (to induce or not), I decided that inducing early was something I was comfortable with and felt like the right option when weighing up the evidence presented.
So how did it all go?
Labour & Birth
I was booked in to begin the induction process at my local hospital (Royal Berkshire Hospital) early on Monday morning and the pessary method was used as the first step to soften the cervix and induce labour. I was advised it can often take a few attempts and a few days to really get things going, so not to expect anything quickly. I think this messaging helped me in truth, as it set my expectations that things may take a while and to see the time ahead as an opportunity to get really calm and relaxed.
Due to being under consultant care, I was expected to stay in hospital from that point onwards until baby arrived so I could be monitored every 4 hours. Despite this, I was keen to keep active and mobile as much as possible, so my husband and I spent the day walking around the hospital and the areas close by. We ended up having such a nice day together just pottering about, stopping back at the ward every few hours for monitoring of babies heartrate and to watch an episode of a series we were bingeing at that time! When we look back on this day, we both have such positive memories of feeling happy, excited, and calm about what was ahead.
While walking that day I had felt like baby was sitting low and had the odd tightening feeling- but other than that I felt normal. At about 6pm I felt slight period pains that seemed to come and go pretty regularly- but I was told by midwives that this was normal and not to expect it to be labour yet- so I decided to just relax and listen to my relaxation tracks to take my mind off it. By about 8pm I felt like I needed to start using my breathing techniques to take the focus off the period like cramps I was feeling. Still at this point, midwives insisted I couldn’t be in labour because I was able to talk and wasn’t making a lot of noise (this part frustrates me a little, as not all women will present the same reactions/emotions, but that's a topic for another day :)), so they suggested that I get some sleep and my husband consider going home to have a good night's sleep as it was unlikely anything would happen in the next 12 hours.
Thankfully, my husband does not like to be told what to do, so decided to ignore the suggestion of going home and stuck around with me! And a good job he did...
Shortly after 8pm I had a sudden urge to go to the toilet (sorry for this next part) and spent the next 30 mins or so going to the toilet pretty regularly, coupled with feeling quite nauseous. Once I felt like thing's had calmed down on that front, I decided to try having a bath to relax and get centred again, but as soon as I got in the tub I felt I needed to get onto the toilet again.
After getting out of the bath and onto the loo as quickly as a women 38 weeks pregnant could, I had the most overwhelming urge to push down and it felt like my body was completely taking over. I had never experienced a sensation like this before and at this point I knew that I was in labour. I asked for the midwives to check my progress as I felt the need to have some clarity on what stage I was at, as I truly felt like I was further along than I was being told. Turns out, I was 9cm’s dilated and I was in fact, in labour.
This was the most reassuring news to hear, to know that my instincts around what my body was doing, were right and I now truly trusted that my body was doing what it was designed to do and I just needed to trust and follow it's lead.
I was quickly taken to a delivery room and within 4 minutes of being in the room, my daughter Thea was born. I had barely had enough time to process what was happening before my little dot (at 5 pound 2 she really was a little dot) was in my arms.
During the final stage I truly saw my whole body take over and believed that you don't have to 'push' your baby out, your body does the work for you. My husband swears he saw my stomach ripple downwards to push baby out during one of the final surges.
The time between my first period cramp feeling to Thea being born was around 3.5 hours, and it was only about 2 hours before she was born that I felt the need to really focus on my breathing during surges. I look back on this experience as a positive one, where I felt calm and in tune with my body and what it was doing. My only slight cloud in my blue-sky experience was those few times where I was being told my body was not in labour, when I felt that I was- which left me feeling a bit confused and in doubt of my connection with my body. However, this experience taught me more than ever that I really did know my own body and what it was doing, and the most important thing I could do was trust in its abilities and follow its lead. I left this whole experience feeling so incredibly empowered and proud of what my body was capable of!
So earlier I spoke about my fears of induction- that it may lead to a longer, more painful birth with increased chances of intervention. But what materialised was a very short, manageable, and calm birth with no intervention required (aside from the initial pessary to kick start things off) and an experience I look back on with complete pride and positivity.
I truly believe that the magic to a positive birth experience, in any kind of birth scenario, is a positive mindset and the techniques to stay calm and focused, no matter what turn your labour takes.
Thea Annabelle Churchill- Born on Monday 10th October 2016