Birth Story of Elodie
It’s a long one… strap yourself in.
Before I even fell pregnant, I was very fearful of pregnancy and birth. I’d always known deeply that I wanted to be a mother, however I experienced some health issues in my late teens that eventually led me to discover that I had some complications that could affect my ability to become a mother, or at least make the journey an arduous one.
Rewind to 19 year old me sitting in a specialist’s office been told to expect difficulty, the high risk of multiple pregnancy loss and a complicated pregnancy and birth that would likely need to require a cesarean if we were to make it that far. Needless to say, I left that office in tears and experienced a lot of anxiety not only then, but also when it came to considering a family.
Maybe one day I’ll share the story of this more fully, but despite feeling comfortable to talk about it now with people close to me, there’s still a part of me that isn’t fully healed from my experience with that specialist.
Before I fell pregnant, I made it a priority to seek out a care provider to whom I could explain my situation, discuss my fears, and basically interview to make sure I never felt the way I felt as I did sitting in that office at 19. I was fortunate to find someone who made me feel calm, supported and safe but not in a way that dismissed my concerns.
Throughout my pregnancy I did experience heightened anxiety and received a higher level of monitoring due to the increased risk factors. Whilst many of my fears surrounded the safety of my baby throughout the pregnancy, I had a desire to change the birth story that I felt had been pre-written for me by the specialist I had seen 6 years prior.
I started to research independent childbirth education available in the area and stumbled across the Hypnobirthing Australia program delivered by Sophie of Let's Hypnobirth Baby in Albury. Whilst there was also calmbirth available, I’m pretty good at trusting my intuition, and I resonated deeply with both the hypnobirthing philosophy and techniques as well as Sophie as a person. Whilst I wasn’t sure about the hypnosis part, on learning more, I realised it was very aligned with the mindfulness, meditation and yoga techniques that I loved so much. I knew I had a lot of work to do to break through some deep rooted fears and limiting beliefs, and hypnosis is like a shortcut to our subconscious mind.
What a wonderful reminder to trust my gut! We took the course when I was around 20 weeks pregnant, and I was blown away by the positive impact it had not only eventually on my birth, but also on how I felt throughout pregnancy. I finally felt like it was safe for me to connect to my baby. It was also wonderful preparation for Jase to know how to support me for birth, but also in my relaxation practice during pregnancy. It was a beautiful bonding experience for us as a couple, and also as parents.
One of the other beneficial things I took away from the course was how to ask good questions in order to truly be able to give informed consent for the extra monitoring I agreed to, and decisions that I may need to make during my birth. I felt prepared to calmly meet whatever path birth took, knowing that whilst I couldn’t control the outcome, I could feel confident that I knew how to make the best decisions for myself and my baby.
Around week 36 of my pregnancy there were some signs that things may not be going as well as we had hoped and that there could be a medical need to induce early. The need wasn’t emergency level urgent though so we decided to wait and see, to continue to monitor and to try to get as close as possible to both my body and my baby been ready to go into labour naturally which was ultimately my desire.
I was religiously practising my hypnobirthing techniques, I had an extra fear release hypnosis with Sophie, and I started to use some of the techniques we had learnt for encouraging natural induction of labour to prepare my body for an impending induction. I also feel that weekly acupuncture and lots of prenatal yoga played a key role in preparing my body and mind to be as ready for this early birth as possible.
We continued along until 39 weeks when it was looking like it was safest to help this baby to come into the world sooner rather than later, and my induction was scheduled for the Monday evening. I gave it everything I had to get myself into the best mindset possible, and I walked into the hospital Monday evening nervous but ready. I was feeling very deflated to hear that the ward had been swamped with admissions and staff off sick that it wasn’t a good decision to put me into labour that evening if it could be avoided. After a check of baby I was sent home to come back the following evening.
Goodness there were lots of tears, I had been on an emotional rollercoaster of building myself up and then feeling myself come crashing down. But as things have a funny way of doing sometimes, it was actually probably the best thing in the end. I went home that evening, hopped into a warm bath with clary sage, surrounded by candles and Jase did some light touch massage while reading a fear release script to me. I went to bed feeling much better and had a wonderful sleep, although woke to some crampy, ‘not quite sure what that was’ feelings that stopped by the morning. We had a pretty relaxing day together trying to get back in that zone to do it all over again that evening. On Tuesday night we headed back to the hospital to start the process with prostaglandin gel, and after an internal I was very excited to hear that I could go home, as I was already 3cm dilated and there was no need for the gel, baby was also doing fine. This was such a promising sign that my body and baby were ready for this. Back home we went to repeat the bath, hypnosis, relaxation, yoga and acupressure routine to go back Wednesday morning to the hospital.
Tuesday night I slept pretty well, although woke a few times to some period like cramping, I didn’t think too much of it as I hadn’t had any Braxton hicks or sensations that I thought could be a contraction. We headed to the hospital in the morning and my body had progressed to 4cm overnight, at this stage I really wasn’t feeling anything I would have called labour, but my body was doing it. Regardless I consented to artificial membrane rupture, as we were a little concerned by this point about baby, and rightly or wrongly everyone was feeling a little anxious to kick things along. We all just wanted that baby out safely, knowing the risks.
This really kicked off labour for me and I moved into the birth suite to labour on the fitball using the music I had conditioned myself to, movement and breathing. The surges were completely manageable and I have no idea how long or how far apart as I truly lost all concept of time in labour. The whole thing felt like five minutes to be honest, but it was actually closer to 5 hours from the time of membrane rupture. After a couple of hours, and at 5-6cm dilated I consented to starting the syntocinon drip, which in truth was a decision made a little bit out of fear of just getting my baby out safely as soon as possible. Perhaps not one I would make again, or that I would have delayed a little longer, given I now know I birthed a completely healthy baby. However I don’t regret it, as I was doing the best with the information I had at the time to make informed decisions based on increased risk factors. Keen to avoid a further cascade of intervention and medications I asked for it to be delivered at the lowest rate possible, which I think was a very wise decision.
Let’s just say syntocinon is no laughing matter, and it’s true that it did not feel like natural labour, suddenly my surges were increasingly intense, close together and it felt like one giant tidal wave rather than the steady ebb and flow of the sea. This is when hypnobirthing really came into play, labour was pushing me to my mental and physical limits. I had consented to continuous fetal monitoring, but the wireless device just refused to stay in the right place. After a failed scalp clip attempt in which I declared ‘nope that’s not happening’, my lovely midwife held the device on my belly for the remainder of my labour, but my mobility was limited.
I took myself into a very deep place and let the waves crash over me, sitting on the fitball flopped forward onto the end of the bed. Jase was an amazing and very prepared support person, but ultimately, I wanted to be touched as little as possible and just able to withdraw into my zone. Whilst I had learnt so many different techniques, I just relied on my breathing methods and all of the conditioning I had been working on in pregnancy, this allowed me to work with my birthing body rather than against it. That’s the thing about hypnobirthing, we just never know until the moment what tools we are going to draw on.
I got to a point where suddenly I just wanted to escape my own body, I wanted it to stop. I turned to Jase and apparently very calmly said “I don’t think I can do this anymore”. I started to get a bit confused when offered gas or a shower by the midwife and asked to just go to the bathroom as I was feeling a lot of pressure. Recognising this stage for what it was, Jase suggested to the midwife out of earshot that I might be in transition. Whilst I don’t think they believed him because I was still so calm, they helped me off to the bathroom with my drip in tow.
The minute I sat on the toilet I realised the pressure I was feeling was actually a baby, and after saying as much to the midwife, we went back to the room where I kneeled on the bed supported by the fitball. My baby was coming! All of sudden I had an uncontrollable urge to bear down and although prompted by the midwives to slow things up a bit, there was no stopping the natural urges of my body. It was truly amazing to feel it just take over. It felt like three breaths, but was actually more like 20 minutes my baby was born into the world and passed up to my chest.
That feeling is indescribable and very difficult to put into words, but I was elated, overwhelmed and bursting with pride and a dash of shock. She was here! My beautiful and healthy baby girl. The baby I wasn’t sure I’d ever have. Nothing compares to that moment.
My birth experience was incredibly healing. It showed me the depth of my strength, courage, power and love. It showed me that my body isn’t broken. It rewrote the story that I had felt was pre-destined.
This is why I do what I do, because my own story brings me to tears, and because that I hope in sharing it and what I have learnt that you will also look back on the day your baby was born with happy tears.
P.S Want to Hypnobirth too? Click Here to find out more