KIRSTY'S BIRTH STORY
JESS'S BIRTH STORY
"My husband Tim and I had a rather traumatic birth experience with our first born, without going into details it was a long 39 hours of difficult labour resulting in an emergency c section. For months afterwards I felt traumatised and struggled to process the experience and battled with my feelings of failure and trying to find reasons as to why it happened the way it did. So when I fell pregnant with our 2nd baby I was determined to do everything I could to prepare myself mentally so that we could have a positive birth experience whatever that may end up being. I had used a hypnobirthing app the first time round which definitely helped ease moments of stress throughout the labour of my first born but this time I felt we needed more support as I was fully aware that I had never truly dealt with the outcome of our first birth experience.
It was then that we reached out to Empower Parenting Consultants half way through my 2nd pregnancy as even just being forced to relive the birth experience of my son by talking things through with the midwife was enough to set my pulse racing and send me into a flurry of panic.
Agnes and Elizabeth kindly came to our house to deliver the 4 part hypnobirthing course one to one, we felt given our circumstances this was the best option for us. I was grateful of the privacy as I was quite emotional during the first session going through in detail everything that had happened during the birth of our first born. To be in the comfort of our own home was an added bonus especially with a toddler to consider, we were able to time things so that our son was in his bed sleeping whilst we did the course. I had definitely misunderstood the definition of hypnobirthing as I had thought if you did this course you would be prepped for and almost expected to have a natural hippy birth with zero intervention (obviously the dream for many but not always reality!) and that anything else would be considered a failing... How wrong I was. During the first session I quickly learned that this course is designed to put women (and men!) at ease with the idea of giving birth however that may happen and most importantly feel empowered to make their own choices and feel in control which ultimately should result in a positive birth experience. I immediately felt a weight lifted off my shoulders upon learning this information and theory because I had been battling with my own anxieties of whether to book a c section or to try for a VBAC neither of which sounded appealing to me at the time, just knowing that that it didn't matter HOW I birthed our baby but what mattered was making sure I felt empowered and confident throughout the process was enough to put my mind at ease.
The following sessions continued this theme, the language choice played a big part for us and actively avoiding negative birth stories etc helped mentally strengthen us. The main difference this time round was how involved my husband was in actually prepping for giving birth which I feel is a massive plus, men often feel helpless when watching their partner go through giving birth so it was great that there was so much he could do to help. Agnes and Elizabeth had all sorts of "jobs" for Tim including reading to me regularly, rubbing my back/arms etc, packing the hospital bag (which actually makes total sense.. so that he knows where everything is when it's needed and doesn't need to ask me!), the list goes on. I also enjoyed sticking positive mantras up around our house which are actually still all in place as I'm not quite ready to let them go!
As the weeks flew by, I noticed a massive change in my feelings towards the birth of our second child. I had gone from feeling terrified, sick and stressed to feeling calm, determined and excited about the birth of our baby. This alone for me was money well spent on the Hypnobirthing course as never did I imagine I could have felt this way after feeling so deeply traumatised from our first birth experience. I had decided on a birth plan that suited us, it was very black and white and may seem strange to some but due to our previous experience I absolutely did not want to be induced this time and wanted as little if possible zero intervention. But also because there were unanswered questions from why the birth of our son went the way it did I couldn't shake off the feeling that it's possible I may need some kind of assistance.
So I decided plan A was zero intervention my dream water birth and plan B would be go into labour and if any complications crop up we would opt for a c section. No in between stuff just the 2 clear choices. I felt happy and at peace with this plan and was excited to see how it panned out.
Of course my pregnancy wasn't completely straightforward, not long after we first started the course I was hospitalised and diagnosed with gallstones. Being pregnant there was not much that could be done apart from manage it as best as I could with a very strict diet and painkillers which were safe to take in pregnancy. Unfortunately I suffered many gallstone attacks throughout the rest of my pregnancy and it got so bad that plan A was looking unlikely as the pain was so frequent and severe that I felt I needed to deliver the baby ASAP for my own health.
We booked a C-section for the 2nd January (our due date was 7th January) and went in for the pre op assessment etc end of December and signed all the forms etc for the section. I was emotional and felt like I had made the wrong decision and I would always wonder what if etc, so on the 1st Jan I woke up feeling much better health-wise so I called the hospital and cancelled our C-section appointment. I may not have had the confidence to do this had it not been for the techniques learned in our hypnobirthing course as I previously would have not wanted to cause anyone else any hassle or cancel something so important so last minute but I felt empowered taking control and making the decision to wait things out a bit longer. Our due date came and went, I had many feelings and signs of early labour but nothing ever progressed to much, the baby felt very low down and in position and I had very strong Braxton Hicks in the last week or 2 before he was born. When it came to 5 days after my due date I called down to Inverurie midwives for a check up because I just needed some reassurance, I felt in disbelief that the baby wasn't here yet (my first arrived 10days early). I agreed to having a first sweep at this stage and to my surprise the midwife was unable to perform one as my cervix was clamped shut.. my immediate gut feeling was that I may end up having a C-section purely because my body was showing no signs of the baby coming soon and I was really suffering at this point from the gallstone pain.
Sure enough the midwife made a call to the consultants I had seen regularly in Aberdeen and they offered us a C-section appointment the very next day.. we decided to go for it. I was emotional at the thought of not being able to try out plan A but confident we had made the right choice for us given the circumstances. Almost just as a firm reminder as to why we made the decision we did, that evening unfortunately saw one of the worst gallstones attacks I had experienced once again ending up hospitalised in ARI.. once the pain was under control and they were happy with the babies heart rate (baby was showing signs of distress most likely due to the severe pain and distress I had been in) we were discharged just hours before we were due to be back in for our c section appointment. After a few hours sleep Tim and I practiced the breathing techniques we were taught on the way in to the hospital to keep us calm and even laughed about how we still hadn't decided on a boys name! We were amazingly calm given the circumstances and events of the previous 24 hours thanks to everything we had learned from Agnes and Elizabeth.
We were put in a waiting room and eventually taken through to a bed on the ward to prepare for surgery, it was very surreal and we were both calm and positive even taking selfies before heading through to theatre, it felt worlds away from our first experience! The theatre staff were all very relaxed and kept us at ease, I was nervous about the spinal and was suddenly very aware of how much I did not even notice the last time I had a section so this alone triggered me to feel a little uneasy. Again, I used the breathing techniques to keep me calm and was about to put my calming music on my headphones when the midwife insisted on playing it on the speakers so that they could all listen to Eva Cassidy too! The anaesthetist and Tim chatted throughout which was calming to hear as I had become accustomed to relaxing upon hearing Tim's voice after all the practice we had done with him reading me meditation passages at bed time etc as instructed by Agnes and Elizabeth.
Before we knew it our beautiful baby boy had entered the world in a calm and beautiful fashion. He was first checked and shown to Daddy and then put on me for some skin to skin as soon as possible after delayed cord clamping whilst the surgeon's then worked on stitching me up. Even the surgeon who was of course very serious and quiet (as you would hope!) asked for my music back on when it has stopped! Just sums up how lovely and relaxed the whole experience was really. I was then wheeled through to the recovery ward where our baby boy latched onto the breast straight away and had a wonderful golden hour feed. It was magical and everything I had hoped it could be. We also soon decided on a name, Cailean Robert Scott Allen.
I must add that whilst the birth was the wonderful empowering experience we had worked towards, sadly the gallstones issue snowballed out of control after the surgery which resulted in me needing to stay in hospital for 5 days after he was born to get the pain under control before heading home. Then a week later I was readmitted to ARI for 6more days in a world of pain and had the trauma of being separated from Cailean for 2 separate nights. I wanted to mention this part of our story as it ended up being part of our overall experience and I believe that the Hypnobirthing helped massively with coping with the awful pain I was forced to cope with whilst trying so hard to just enjoy our new gorgeous baby boy.
I know that I am somewhat affected mentally with all that has happened as I sit here recovering from finally having had surgery to remove my gallbladder 4.5weeks after giving birth and I cannot shake a feeling of sadness as the first month of Cailean's life just feels like a blur and is unfortunately associated with severe pain and struggle and not quite the magical first month of a family of 4 I had imagined but I know we are blessed and can now move forward to fully enjoy our boys. I cannot thank Agnes and Elizabeth for the course they provided and the ongoing support to allow us to cope with all that has happened over the last few months. I thoroughly recommend the Hypnobirthing course for so many reasons, you will not regret it. Now we can look forward and enjoy being a family of 4 and I am forever grateful that we managed to have the positive and empowering birth experience I always wanted."
PHOEBE'S BIRTH STORY
"My husband and I came across hypnobirthing at 20ish weeks. We decided to try out a homebirth this time (we also have a 3 year old) as could both see the benefits of them, our midwife was also fully supportive of this choice.
Fast forward to 40+6, we were heading into Aberdeen for a routine scan to check the placenta/blood flow and waters when I felt my first few irregular surges during the hour long car ride. I let my husband know but still told him to go to work as didn't feel that anything was going to happen any time soon. I headed off got the scan (everything fine) then went to my cousin's for a delicious lunch and catch up while my 3 year old was at his Grandma's. Feeling surges every 20/30 mins but totally manageable and not very strong.
Headed home once my husband had finished work at 3 and told him that I thought he'd be off tomorrow as I'd either have the baby that night or would be in labour and would need him with me.
Surges ramped up to one in every 10 minutes once we were home, we got our son to bed, had dinner, got the pool downstairs and blown up (not filled) and watched tv while cuddling. Surges continued to come every 10 minutes or so but were completely manageable with up breathing and massage. We decided at 8.30 to head up to bed to see if we could get some sleep. I slept on/off till midnight, when I had to get up as I wanted to be upright during the surges.
I came downstairs, lit candles, put the fairy lights on and used my birthing ball while watching repeats of Desperate Housewives till 5am-ish when my husband woke up. Surges were still happening every 10 minutes but continued to be completely manageable. I should say I had phoned the homebirth team at 3am to let them know I was having surges every 10 minutes but was happy without being assessed by a midwife for now.
Our 3 year old woke at 7.15 and my husband took him to nursery (thank goodness for private nurseries!!) I really enjoyed the cuddles we had that morning and I got a bit teary saying goodbye as I suspected next time I'd see him he'd be a big brother!
Fast forward to 7pm, surges had been irregular (sometimes every 10 minutes, sometimes 20/30 minutes) all day. I was so tired so we'd put our son to my cousin's for a sleepover. At 7pm we got back from a walk and the intensity of the surges definitely ramped up but *not* the frequency of them, still every 10 minutes! We played a game of banagrams- I won! and we ate some pasta. We then settled down to watch the Bake Off. Around 8.20 we decided to head to bed to try and get some rest (I again was convinced I was quite a while away from actual birth... how wrong was I).
I had a wobble during a surge at 8.25 saying to my husband that I couldn't do this all night, the surges were too strong etc. He reassured me and we headed upstairs. Once upstairs I asked him to nip downstairs for a glass of water while I listened to a positive affirmations MP3.
The next thing I remember is Robert coming upstairs with my water, a huge surge beginning, me telling Robert I needed to get out of bed and push and to get help. He helped me get my pants off and by this point I was squatting by the side of the bed. I should add that my waters still hadn't gone yet and I was wondering if all of this pressure was bulging waters and that they'd burst everywhere. Robert helped me into our ensuite where I had another 2 surges and nothing could stop me pushing Baby India out on the second surge at 20.55, my waters broke as her head and body came out. Robert caught her and passed her to me through my legs while he called 999 as the homebirth team were engaged, luckily we had the phone number for the midwife on-call and she came a'running .
Safe to say we did not think I was anywhere near 10cm dilated or ready to push purely due to the frequency of my surges, they were never more often than every 9/10 minutes other than the final 3!
Paramedics arrived 10 minutes later and the midwife 10 minutes after that. I had a physiological 3rd stage, no stitches required and LOVED getting into my own bed straight afterwards for cuddles with India and my husband.
My first birth had been very different, I was young, naive and hadn't considered alternative methods of pain relief e.g. relaxation/hypnobirthing. I fully credit my amazing, chilled out homebirth down to the education, tips/techniques and practicing of the hypnobirthing course my husband and I did."