I truely believe a birth should be a beautiful and spiritual experience (no matter what type of birth we have) and how we view and treat our births impacts our connection to our our babies and their strength as a new generation coming into our world. I’m a researcher, I love to know everything I can about topics that interest me and well birth itself became one of those topics. The more I read and researched the more I realised how significant and magical a birth could be. What impacted our views and experience more than anything was honestly reading and listening to other peoples positive birth stories. They were a gift to us and to how our beautiful baby girl came into the world, so here I am now giving back!
This is our birth story and I hope by sharing it, it may allow you to see opportunity for birth as a magical and beautiful experience over the sterotypical fear filled and painful memory.
I woke up deflated, exhausted and so uncomfortable. Another night down, no labour and very overdue! I was nearly a week over due now and had an appointment that morning for ANOTHER stretch and sweep. This would be my 3rd in an attempt to get labour progressing naturally without needing to be induced. Time was running low before the deadline the hospital would give me before requiring induction. I was trying everything natural I had researched to get this labour going. It had become a full time job eating large amounts of pineapple and spicy food, walking km and km every day, teas, essential oil, swiss ball rotation exercises, acupuncture, chiro, acupressure points…. I was trying everything!!
On the way to the birth centre I felt a few contraction like feelings however by this point I didn’t want to get my hopes up incase they were just braxton hicks (which I had been experiencing for a couple weeks now). When I arrived I sat in the weighting room, took up the whole couch and put my feet up. I had been here so many times in the last couple weeks, I felt very at home and also very over being here without a baby yet in my arms.
It felt like we had talked about and prepped for the event of a lifetime. We were SO excited to see how our birth story would unfold and we were ready. Bag packed, had been practising all our birth tools everyday we learnt in our birth class, fridge stocked, work completed, house thoroughly spring cleaned in nesting mode. We were ready….. and yet the day had passed and then another day and another and so on. I feel dramatic typing this but honestly I felt like every hour was SO excruciatingly long, waiting waiting and trying to stay distracted!
The midwife welcomed me in, asked me the general questions and then completed the stretch and sweep. I remember telling her to go for it, no sparing my comfort. I was desperate for this baby to come without induction. She certainly did and we joked and told the baby that her shift ended at 8pm that night and hopefully I would be coming back in for her to deliver her before then.
Within the hour after the stretch and sweep these contraction like feelings had increased and thats when I allowed myself the little thought that this was possibly it! When I got home I filled Scott in and by this point he also believed this baby was never coming so was cautious to feel hope too. We got on with our day, just noting symptoms along the way. It occurred to me at 2pm that if this was really it, I hadn’t got around to getting a pedicure (because I definitely couldn’t reach my toes by this point). So thats what I did. I walked up the road and got my nails done. This allowed the perfect opportunity to sit in the massage chair and start to time these possible contractions to see if there was any consistency. An hour and a half later they were 10 minutes apart. I knew that labour can start and then stop again and I was not allowing that to happen so I messaged Scott to tell him I think this was the start of things and I was going to walk around to encourage the baby to drop. From my appointment I knew she was still very high and not engaged yet. The contractions were certainly not painful or even strong but they were present and starting to be consistent.
After a little while of waddling around, I headed home and put my feet up. My contractions continued to speed up a bit so together we went back out and walked the back streets, Scott keeping record of timings as we chatted and started to get excited that this was hopefully it. After about 45 minutes in they started to get strong enough that I had to stop each time one occurred. At this point they were about 4 minutes apart. They were getting strong and even though these were the signs we were waiting for, we still were cautious to 100% believe this was it. He headed home as it was starting to get dark and we thought it best to get a meal in now incase things progressed quickly.
Takeaway laksa was ordered (big mistake, I now can not even think about that meal without feeling sick), we ate, did some of our early labour birth techniques we were taught such as the acupressure points, visualisations, swiss balls rotations. It was about 8pm. I texted a couple people to fill them in and Scott dropped our dog off incase we had to head to the birth centre that night. We then started watching a movie with the essential oils in the defuser, candles and just enjoying each others company and cherishing the calm before things ramped up. By 9pm I started vomiting every second contraction and by this point they were 3 minutes apart so we still had a while to go. At first it made me feel better as I was feeling a little nauseas. However we got to a point were after vomiting laksa every 6 minutes, there was nothing left and the bile was burning as it was forced up. I was already exhausted.
We called the hospital and they said to call back when they were 2 minutes apart. Luckily that didn’t take very long and by this point a part of my mucus plug had come out so we knew things were progressing.
The birthing centre was only 15-20 minutes from our house, however it was the longest drive of my life. 5 stops mid road to vomit out the door. I was in tears, utterly exhausted, nothing left and unsure how on earth I was going to birth a baby when I could hardly hold my head up. The contractions were incredibly intense but this “pain” to me was a great thing, it meant she was moving down. When we arrived at the hospital we were told there were no spare beds in the birthing centre and we would have to give birth in the labour ward. This is something I probably would have been really upset about, but I had nothing left. There was no way I was going to be able to have an active birth when I could hardly stand up. The labour ward was fine, I just hoped we would have a midwife with similar values to those in the birthing centre.
I was provided a room and a midwife introduced herself, checked my dilation which was only 2cm (I had been 2cm for the last 2 weeks) and told us to go home and come back in a couple hours. See left the room and I said to Scott between full body contractions followed by dry heaving, “I don’t like her and I am not getting back in that car”. When she returned Scott told her that we wouldn’t even consider going home until she at least helped me stop the vomiting.
She gave me an anti vomit tablet which came straight back up. Followed by a needle which was meant to help but unfortunately did nothing. By 2.30am I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was shaking intensely, couldn’t sit up, the contractions were unbearable and I still could not stop vomiting, now every 3 minutes. I felt completely unprepared for this. I had heard stories of people vomiting once or twice in early labour but never of it continuous. It was then I asked for an epidural, something I didn’t think I would ever ask for. Apparently I wasn’t dilated enough for that. HOW??? I thought. I couldn’t imagine anything more intense..
Still after all this the midwife told us to go home for a couple hours to dilate further. When I completely refused she went to get the head midwife.
As the head mid wife walked in my waters broke and we were officially in active labour. She checked me and I was 8cm dilated and confirmed I would NOT be going anywhere. She was a blessing. Straight away after being filled in, she gave me a strong dissolvable anti vomit tablet which worked within 10 minutes. I could hardly speak by this point so Scott thankfully knowing me so well took control. He suggested IV fluids as I had been vomiting for 8 hours straight and couldn’t keep any fluid down. She was straight on it. She was so proactive and supportive and I felt back in control. The contractions were very close together and Scott was applying pressure on my lower back and outer hips every time they came on. The intense feeling was not what I expected. I felt so powerful and in control. I was struggling to relax my body each contraction so the midwife suggested trying gas. It worked a treat. Each contraction I had a purpose- breathe the gas in and exhale relax. The gas acted as a distraction & took the edge off the intense waves, allowing me to let go and baby to further descend. Its effects lasted about 10-20 seconds but that was all I needed. I had read some people don’t take to gas, however I found personally I picked it up straight away. I have done my diving qualification and found it pretty much the same way of breathing. Between gas and Scott now continually holding pressure on my lower back I was in my element. Scott was so supportive, talking to me the whole time while giving me the space to do my thing. He was juggling feeding me ice chips while continuing to hold the pressure, if he released even for a second I would start screaming. It was by far the most effective pain management.
Within an hour of my water breaking I suddenly felt her pushing against my pubic bone. She was coming! This was it.
The midwife checked and confirmed yes there is a head. I felt so grateful I hadn’t had an epidural. To be able to feel everything that was happening was the most magical experience. Intense, yet so incredible.
The midwife knew I originally wanted an active water birth, but seeing that wasn’t an option anymore she suggested the next best thing to make our birth as special as possible. She created an area on the floor with bean bags and yoga mats and removed the IV and helped us set up there on all fours. There were 3 nursing students in the room all witnessing my birth in which was something I never thought I would agree to. At that moment I didn’t care less. I was completely in my own little world and I felt so supported and empowered by those around me.
It was push time. I ditched the gas and placed all my energy into the exhale of each contraction. For some reason this position wasn’t connecting for me and intuitively I knew I had to be lying on my side (this was also the position I wanted to spent most of early labour) so I moved onto my side on the bean bags and 2 pushes later she slid out.
Then suddenly a baby was placed on my chest. I was shocked and in disbelief. It was so surreal.
It wasn’t that instant “I’m in love” feeling you hear about and expect. It honestly was initially just shock! I remember my first thought being “but she’s so long, how did she fit in my tummy” then it was “wait this is my baby, this is real”. I really struggled to absorb what I was seeing. I had been so focused on breathing through contractions and pushing that I kind of forgot I got a baby at the end of it all.
But here she was, 3.7kg gorgeous pink skinned, long legged little girl.
I was then able to spend a couple minutes of holding her on my chest, kissing her little head and trying to catch up to this moment of our baby FINALLY in my arms and she was more perfect than I could have ever imagined. She was so much more alert and aware than I expected. She was looking up at me, not at all crying with her thumb in her mouth. For the rest of our stay at hospital she was know as the baby who came out sucking her thumb (she still falls asleep sucking her fingers even now).
I then heard a midwife say “she hemorrhaging” then a rush of bodies. Initially I was able to keep holding her, however not long after I had to pass her across to Scott while they tried to control the haemorrhage. I was completely oblivious to any of this happening. I remember being more concerned about not having optimal skin on skin time straight after birth. Yet accepting that skin on skin with Scott was the next best thing.
Once controlled, I was transferred back onto the bed and connected to IV oxytocin and a catheter to empty my bladder in an attempt to prevent another hemorrihage. I had lost just under a litre of blood. I remember in our birthing course being told to remember to urinate every few hours through labour… hmm so this was why!! We did not remember that step, and honestly I don’t think I would of been able to if I tried.
Then the cramping contractions to follow were definitely unexpected. They were so increadably intense (thanks oxytocin) to a point I couldn’t concentrate on anything else including my gorgeous little baby. Thankfully they did ease and they then quickly stitched up a bit of tearing before Scott and I were able to cuddle in the bed with our new little addition.
She was just perfect. In the hours to follow we asked for no disturbances and just lay, connecting with our little angle skin to skin. Talking to her, allowing her the time to “breast crawl” for her first latch and watching in amazement at how this little bundle was what we had been waiting to meet for all these months.
Our plan was to originally go home 6 hours after birth which was typical of the birthing centre. Due to the haemorrhage however I needed to stay for observation for a night. This was actually a blessing in disguise as it was a disgustingly hot humid day outside and around the time of terrible smoke and air quality in Sydney. We were more than happy to stay put in our air conditioned maternity ward.
We didn’t bath her for 4 days to allow the natural bacteria from the birth canal to aid her gut and immunity.
In hospital we held her the whole time, speaking to her gently and practicing skin on skin as much as we could. Except for at night so we could get a little sleep.
Heading home the next day was the best however. This first few weeks in our little newborn bubble at home was bliss. We had always wanted at least 5 days of no visitors, just the 3 of of us at home. Unfortunately it didn’t quite turn out this way as a result of her being overdue we had a family wedding 4 days after with many family members around.
This would be my number one advise to new parents- Aim to be in your own home as soon as you can and just bond with your baby without visitors for as long as you can. In many culture this is the first 40 days. Im aspiring to this next baby around 😉
We were luckily enough to have the birthing centre midwife service drop in every day or two to help with breastfeeding and any concerns for the first 2 weeks. Being in our own home, implementing a calm and nurturing environment and reducing as much “passing around” as we could in those early weeks, I believe contributed to our baby being so settled, connected to us as her parents and such an amazing sleeper from a very early point.
Our birth plan completely did NOT go to plan nor did our postnatal plan. We had planned an active water birth, followed by isolation at home. Both did not happen, yet her birth story and first weeks of life were magical and so perfect just as they were.
I definitely learnt so much from our first birth that I could have never researched or prepared for prior.
I gained a deeper connection to my body. I saw a side of husband that will forever deepen our relationship.
And I feel incredibly blessed that I was able to experience every sensation of my baby preparing her journey to birth and then as she arriving into this world.
We took our time in naming her. We were between two names. When she was 4 days old we officially named her Soraya Kate! Our sunshine, our little princess, our precious little gem. One day we will share this story with you…