Sorry, it’s taken so long to get this down. I’ve had a challenging first 9 weeks! With Olive wearing the harness and the reflux. We got the harness off on Wednesday, so that is one less problem that we will have to deal with now. We’re enjoying massaging her after your lesson! But, anyway…you want to hear about the birth, so I had better get into it!
Signs that I was going into labour started at about 8 am on 14 Feb (Valentine’s Day) when I had my “show” and not long after that, I started getting contractions (although mild at that stage). Tim and I decided to get things going by taking the dog for a walk along the beach. By the time we got ourselves sorted and into the car, I was starting to get uncomfortable.
Contractions were quite frequent already, sometimes only a minute or so apart, so I didn’t feel like venturing too far from home. I called the midwife on the beach, and before long, I felt the need to get back to the house.
At home, we started timing contractions and set about making lunch for the long stretch ahead. All the time, I was relaxed and just excited about finally getting to meet our baby. I spent time bouncing and circling my hips on the swiss ball. Things progressed very quickly and by 1 pm contractions were coming at least every minute, and were ranging between 3-5 mins. I really had to focus to get through each one.
We’d done the hypnobirthing, which all seemed to go out the window on the day! I couldn’t lie on my back as you see in a lot of the hypnobirthing videos, instead choosing to lean forward over a stack of pillows or against the wall. I circled my hips for each one which seemed to really help a lot. Tim helped by holding my hips and circling them for me, as well as reminding me to breathe through each contraction. I really used the “Just this breath” and “I am coping, it comes and it goes” mantras, as well as counting. But most help of all was breathing.
Slow controlled breaths in through the nose, and out through the mouth. I just concentrated on breathing as slowly and deeply as possible, and it seemed to really help. I can’t believe how everything just gets so foggy and you can’t remember all your tools on the day. It’s good if your partner has some idea of what you want to use, a list or something to remind you because my mind really wasn’t clear enough to think “what else can I use to get through this?”.
At 2.30 pm we headed off to Birthcare, and that was a really awful trip – now I see why people don’t wait too much longer to get to the hospital – it’s too blimmin uncomfortable. I had three contractions on the way there. I was 4cm dilated on arrival, and the midwife was able to do a stretch/sweep which increased it to 6cm. I hopped into the birthing pool and spent the next 2 hours kneeling forward-leaning on the step in the pool, breathing through each contraction. I found that the best way for me to deal with each contraction was to focus on the breath.
The transition was fleeting – I recall one thought of “What if I can’t do this?” and the options at that stage would be to transfer to Auckland for an epidural, which was unthinkable considering how uncomfortable I was – contractions coming on top of one another! So I just pushed the thoughts out of my head, and said to myself “You CAN do this”.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t have the water birth I had wished for. At 6.30 pm I was told that I could push… and after a few attempts in the pool, my midwife suggested that it may be easier out on the bed. After 2 and a quarter hours pushing, Olive was born. Her head was slightly cocked to the left, so “breathing her out” was impossible – I definitely had to push!
I am certain yoga helped me get through the labour without medical pain relief. All the breathing exercises, mantras, and focus practice was so helpful. I also had made time for relaxation/meditation every day. and I studiously repeated a page of affirmations to myself every morning for about 4 months.
The one that I’m certain made a world of difference was “My baby’s birth will be easy because I’m so relaxed”. It really rang true for me on the day (I’m NOT a relaxed person by nature!). I still can’t believe how calm and relaxed I was throughout the labour and birth – given how exciting it all was.
I had SUCH a positive experience. It didn’t matter that I didn’t do things exactly as we planned. I was open to anything on the day, and that made it so much easier mentally to get through. Thanks so much for all your advice and encouragement during yoga. It was invaluable.
With love Amy Thomas