Due to my shift work, I was unable to attend Kathryn’s weekend group classes, so we organised private education sessions within the comfort of our own home. As soon as we met Kathryn, we automatically knew she was someone special. She was exceptionally kind, caring, empathetic, passionate & most importantly, extremely well versed in her field of hypnobirthing. We felt incredibly well looked after & supported with her guidance, & actually had me feeling so incredibly excited (rather than nervous) for our impending birth experience. Our birth story is as follows.
At 35 weeks exactly on the Friday, my waters ruptured prematurely with a big “pop” & gush at 4am whilst I was getting out of bed for an early morning bathroom trip. Practically, my husband & I were not ready. Our car seat was due for installation the next day, I hadn’t yet attended our ABA breastfeeding course as intended, my hospital bag wasn’t packed & I hadn’t yet written our birth preferences. Despite this, we felt incredibly mentally prepared for the birth process itself having been educated prior by Kathryn, & practicing hypnobirthing techniques ever since. We threw together a last-minute hospital bag & scrambled to the local birthing suites, with my surges commencing immediately after my waters ruptured.
After consenting to a vaginal examination to assess where my body was at, I was advised I had Pre-term premature rupture of membranes, otherwise known as PPROM, where the risk of a premature baby was greater than the risk of an infection at this stage. I was also 1cm dilated at the time. I therefore was advised to go on bed rest to stall labour in the hopes that baby would stay in-utero until term, where I was recommended to be induced at 37 weeks unless labouring spontaneously sooner. I spent 2 days in hospital with surges 10 minutes apart on antibiotics to reduce infection risks, before requesting to be discharged to manage my bed rest from home. The hospital discharged me on oral antibiotics & requested I measure my heart rate, temperature, pain, surge timing & amniotic fluid colour every 4 hours, & return regularly for follow up blood tests, abdominal ultrasounds & baby heart rate monitoring (CTG) until labour established. During this time, I was able to write up my birthing preferences, re-packed my hospital bag for when we were to return to birth suites & mentally prepared ourselves for a potential premature baby.
By 2am I woke my husband who identified my surges were now roughly 3 in every 10 minutes, with the occasional latent period. By 6am we made the call to go into hospital as I was exhausted & was seeking an evaluation of my progress. We had also run out of hot water which was my go to for pain relief at this time.
Once arriving at the hospital, I was greeted by a beautiful midwife who was exceptionally accommodating & supportive of our wishes to hypnobirth with minimal interference & interventions unless medically necessary. As per hospital policy, I was assessed by an obstetrician & was advised I was in active labour. I was ecstatic & jumped into the shower again to assist surge comfort whilst my husband fetched my labour bag & birth preferences from the car & started setting up our room for birth. The OB came back shortly after & advised we were “only 1-2cm dilated” like I was 5 days earlier – unfortunately she hadn’t yet had the opportunity to read my birth preferences where I did not want to be told my vaginal examination dilation measurement. My preference was for only my husband to be told so he could best mentally support me dependent on the outcome, & I was exceptionally disheartened to hear her words regarding my lack of dilation progress. I was given the option to go home again to labour or stay in birth suites for ongoing monitoring, for which I chose to stay in hospital at this point due to the lack of hot water at home to comfortably shower. I was then requested to move to the ward around 8.30am to continue labouring & the option to go home at this stage was highly discouraged by the overarching medical physician due to my birthing risks. In hindsight, I am relieved I stayed as things intensified quickly. My husband had pressed the nursing call button secretly around 11.30am, as he was concerned how quickly things were escalating with regards to length of surges & reducing time between them. By this stage, my TENS machine was no longer helpful, I was struggling to get comfortable between surges without the shower despite moving about actively & employing light touch techniques to increase oxytocin, & my husband had started actively using acupressure points to reduce surge intensity.
My midwife came back in & immediately moved me back to birth suites to continue labouring in the shower. My husband re-set the bathroom with fairy lights, my hypnobirthing tracks & aromatherapy oils. I consented to another vaginal examination in the bathroom where my primary midwife wasn’t confident in her assessment & requested for a second opinion with her team leader. The team leader audibly confirmed that my primary midwife was indeed correct with a measurement of 7cm, where she immediately cussed & apologised for not following through with my preferences not to be told my dilation progress. I however was elated to hear how quickly things were progressing & became more excited than ever to meet out baby. Given the quick progression, I had a cannula inserted to administer intravenous antibiotics due to infection risks of my waters breaking 5 days prior, & my midwife connected me to a portable non-restrictive continuous monitoring machine strapped around my abdomen. This way I could still use the shower & continue to move around freely which were high surge management priorities for me, whilst non-invasively monitoring our baby for safety.
We got into a good rhythm where I was kneeling on the waterproof mattress, with my hands resting on my seated husbands’ legs as I swayed between the surges with the hot water on my back. As each surge came, my husband would pass me the shower head which I would place aimed at my pelvis, whilst he pressed on my pressure points on my shoulders & I calmly focussed on my breathing. Whilst we did this for a couple hours, it only felt like minutes however I felt myself becoming increasingly more exhausted as time progressed. At one stage unbeknownst to us, our midwife became concerned as she was struggling to find a continuous trace of our baby’s heartbeat. In the moment, she calmly advised that she needed to move the monitor a little to get a more accurate trace & adjusted it a couple times between surges. After some troubleshooting, she then communicated her concerns & advised that it had been 20 minutes since a continuous trace & she recommended urgent escalation. Knowing how much we valued informed decision making, she gave us options of continuing persisting with the non-invasive monitoring to obtain an accurate trace but in the bed to reduce interference from the shower, or to opt for an invasive scalp clip to go through my cervix to screw onto our babies head but with the benefits of a more accurate heart trace & the ability to continue an active birth. We decided on the latter in the best interest to assess the immediate safety of our baby. The first attempt however failed & we continued to struggle with a doppler & continuous tracing due to the very low & engaged position of our baby. An obstetrician was called to assist & the scalp clip insertion was successful, confirming a strong, regular heartbeat. What a relief!!
My husband & I resumed our rhythm in the shower, & I began to feel overwhelming sensations that I could no longer do this, telling my husband how incredibly tired I was despite his encouraging words. Then all of a sudden, my surges stopped & everything became calm. My husband started worrying that something was going wrong as I was non-responsive, however immediately I knew this was the “rest & be thankful” stage that Kathryn taught us about, gearing my body up for the final moments to breathe my baby out. I sat there, silent under the hot water, tuning into the surge of the sea hypnobirthing track as I relished in the moment & excitement of what was to come. It took me a while to communicate these thoughts & this stage of labour to my husband, as I well & truly zoned out into my own world momentarily.
Before I knew it, I felt impending pressure in my pelvis & I started involuntarily & forcefully exhaling all my breath out from my body, hunching & curling my back, thrusting my pelvis forward whilst on my knees with my hands against the shower rail. It was like my body instinctively knew what to do & I had such a feeling of relief! After being repeatedly told a natural vaginal birth without intervention for my circumstances was unlikely, I felt so exhilarated that there I was, living it. My husband called out to my midwife who was in the connecting room, who quickly organised a team of nurses, paediatricians & an obstetrician to be on standby at a distance whilst we did our own thing in the bathroom under the warmth of the shower with the petite team of my midwife, husband & I. I could feel my baby descend & rock in & out of my body as each wave of surges passed, whilst my midwife held a warm compress on my perineum to reduce the risk of tearing. Within 4 or 5 surges, my husband recalls I loudly “moo’d” our baby out into the hands of our midwife at 2.27pm, who only just caught my baby as they came out so quickly. Exhausted, I turned around to sit down on the shower mattress, & was passed back my beautiful baby, BOY!
His initial APGAR was impressively normal for a 35 weeker, so the paediatricians were happy to conduct his prematurity assessment initially from afar to ensure our preferences of delayed cord clamping, skin to skin & the golden hour were minimally affected. Once my husband cut the cord, I hobbled back into bed where the remaining paed assessments were undertaken with baby on my chest. Here baby boy surprised us all by undertaking a chest crawl & bobbing to find my boob & attempt to latch. We lay there, relishing in the moment of finally becoming parents & the beauty of his birth whilst attempting a physiological third stage.
I however had no placental movement & by 50 mins an obstetrician came into the room to advise that the hospital policy was to allow 1 hour only to naturally pass the placenta before escalating interventions. She explained my options of an indwelling catheter to drain my bladder facilitating more space for the placenta to pass, medication to assist of which was contraindicated due to my medical history, manual placental removal which came with retention & bleeding risks, or surgical removal in theatre which in turn had its own risks & meant separation between my baby & I. In this moment, I advocated for more time to assess my options & requested to see if I could sit on the toilet to allow gravity to assist, as I felt awkwardly positioned in bed limiting placental delivery. My midwife kindly recommended that if I were to feel any minor cramps, to gently push in interest of hurrying it along a little in effort to avoid other options. I felt scared doing this whilst holding my son on the toilet, so my husband sat across from me continuing skin to skin so I could focus on the placenta. Thankfully, the placenta birthed into the toilet mere minutes later, completing my birth process so I could return back to bed to continue cuddling my little boy.
I feel so incredibly grateful to have had the knowledge & guidance from Kathryn during this whole process. I whole heartedly believe that I would not have had such an empowering & positive birth experience, or the foundation to surrender to the whirlwind that is having a premature baby in special care, if it wasn’t for her support & education. She most definitely is the best investment we made in preparation for parenthood & I will forever be grateful for her hypnobirthing course & her positive impact on our lives.
Thank you to Mel & Mason for choosing me to be apart of your journey! Love this little guy!