Persephone's Birth Story
On the morning of the 11th of April I had a feeling it could happen today even though I was only at 37 weeks and 3 days. I had plenty of practice surges the day before and woke up with even more. I decided to carry on as usual though, so I went to my sons music and movement class, this was hilarious as every time I did the hokey tokey I would get a surge.
When I got home I texted my midwife and Anna too (hypnobirthing tutor) that I felt like it could be soon. I put the team on alert (my husband Tao and our doula Carla) and we all set to work setting up the birthing room with towels and aromatherapy etc. I had a great appetite all day which made me happy as it was a good sign I was nice and relaxed.
Around midday the surges were getting regular (about six minutes apart) and more intense. So I hopped into bed with my rainbow relaxation. My main goal was to sleep as I felt like I was going to be awake all night. However I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. The affirmations on the CD were really helpful at getting me through that early stage. I soon got up as I found working with surges easier whilst standing.
We all had spicy soup together and watched some funny videos to bring on the surges. Our son really enjoyed hanging out at this stage and really was quite calm and patient. But it was his bedtime so he reluctantly went to bed and so did I. This didn’t last long as the surges were quite strong now, so I went downstairs and told Tao and Carla to turn off their movie and fill the pool. Whilst Tao filled the pool I leant on the birth ball and carla massaged my lower back, which was sore on each surge.
I think it was around this time that I started shaking intensely with each surge and worried I was going to be too cold. Tao came over and put his hand on my shoulder and said “you are deeply relaxed”. This is one of the hypnobirth techniques that we had conditioned me for. The effect of this was instant, the shaking stopped I went into total relaxation mode. This put my mind at ease knowing that the shakes were merely anxiety and that my hypnobirthing training had prepared us well to cope with this kind of challenge. Tao then did the deepening exercise and rather than wake me up, I stayed in this state for a while.
At some point I got into the pool and found this very relaxing and in the pool I also discovered my favorite affirmation - “my body is loose and limp”. I would tell myself this on each inhale. It is also interesting to note that I found the best breathing technique for me was the one I used in my maternity yoga class called “Ujjayi” breathing, this is where the breath starts in the stomach and rolls up into the chest. On the exhale I would say to myself “this too shall pass”, this affirmation is not something we were taught or planned but came to me during the surges. It really helped remind me that each surge would end and I would be rewarded with a rest.
The hardest thing was knowing when to call the midwife & Anna as I was so calm we weren’t sure what stage I was at. I got out of the pool as I needed to go to the toilet and this really brought things on. Tao and Carla made a spot by the table with the birth ball and pillows and I sat there for a while really working to relax with each surge. It was at this point that I felt the baby further down my body and I knew I was getting close. I tried to convince Tao and Carla that I was close. They agreed to call the midwife but when Tao described my state she wasn’t concerned as I was still very aware and relaxed. It was around this point that I gave up convincing them and told myself that the midwife wasn’t going to make it in time, but the baby would come easily and naturally so all was well.
Tao went and had a sleep on the couch as he was convinced I would be birthing for many more hours. Carla sat behind me and rubbed my back. Carla suggested we move to another position and I was a little nervous of this as every time i moved i would have a surge. However we decided to try a chair and it was here that the surges really peaked and I just hugged carla and vocalised my exhales trying to use a deep sound which really helped. We put me straddling a chair leaning on the back of it and I transitioned into the final stage. I called out to Tao as he was my anchor and I really felt better with him there. I stood up and my waters released and I felt my body pushing the baby out. Tao called the midwife and didn’t get time to say anything as I let out a deep vocalisation, and my midwife said “I’m on my way”. It would take her half an hour to get there so I knew she wouldn’t make it.
We decided to move to the pool, which felt weird as I literally felt the baby’s head holding my legs apart. Tao basically lifted me in and when my lower body went under it was so deliciously comforting. I found it intriguing at this point as I found the surges toned down their intensity as my body changed to pushing the baby out. In my last birth, my midwife forced me to push the baby out rather than letting my body do it, so I didn’t know what it felt like to have the body do its thing. I think my best description is after hours of surges, the pushing sensation felt really nice and releasing. I loved that I didn’t have to think about it, my body just did its thing. And within minutes her head was coming out. I felt some stinging at the top part of the opening so i decided to lean back to relieve that pressure. So I rocked back on my heels, in a squatting position and then visualised my skin stretching and expanding. This was very important to me as with my first birth I suffered a third degree tear and really felt afterwards that it was completely avoidable. And then her head popped out and I felt so calm and excited, I could feel Carla and Tao’s excitement and support, it was so special! then she did that magical twist and just floated up to me.
She let out a wee yell and we were all so happy she was okay as we had no idea what to do next! with the birth of my son, when I tore, the bath filled with a huge amount of blood that really disturbed me. This time i looked around in amazement at how clean the pool was.
When the midwife arrived she confirmed that I had not torn - such a proud moment! especially after reading everywhere that odds were against me having torn the first time. The whole birth had unfolded exactly as we had visualised it in our preparations with heaps more magic than we could have imagined too. Hypnobirthing gave us perhaps one of the greatest gifts we’ve ever received. Such an empowering experience and I cant recommend it enough. I tell people now that even though I don’t want to have another child, I would love to have another birth, I never ever thought that would be possible!
We have named her Persephone Ouenuku Cressy Wells and she is such a settled, calm baby. Sometimes she gets worked up and I find if I put her on my chest and do some Ojjayi breathing it instantly calms her and her breathing relaxes.
Hypnobirthing just keeps on giving :-)
By Laura Wells