For most of my school years and early adult life I have dealt with anxiety. I can’t really remember a time I didn’t have it! The anxiety that brings on physical sickness and eventually panic attacks. In my early adult life I remember thinking... how is this going to control my life, how am I going to go being pregnant, how am I going to give birth?... both thoughts were filled with so much fear.
Luckily my anxiety over the past couple of years has been manageable through a positive mindset but there has definitely been bumps in the road which have tested my anxiety in the last few years.
When I fell pregnant, I was calmer than I thought but I would often worry and ultimately fear the labour part. Stupid thoughts crossed my mind like ‘what if I die’ ... ‘what if I have a cardiac arrest!’ ‘I’m not strong enough’. These were all my anxiety talking! I used to google statistics and ultimately thought I could easily be one of them.
A friend recommended Hypnobirthing to me ... they were a converted critic who swore by Tina and the Hypnobirthing Australia program! It did sound rather ‘hippie’ but once I really delved into the research about it, I thought why not! My next hurdle was convincing my husband who was a traditional type of guy that I wanted to do Hypnobirthing. Luckily, he didn’t take much convincing because he knew how much I wanted to do it after explaining the methodology behind it. We booked in with Tina and we had booked our two-day course.
I noticed that when I explained ‘Hypnobirthing’ to people who asked if I had booked any prenatal classes they were very critical and I would constantly get remarks like ‘yeah ok, you wait until you are in labour...’ ‘trust me, you will want all the drugs’ ‘you have no idea, all that will go out the window’ ... this to me was so frustrating. Why were people so quick to make comments and why did what I was doing deserve such a strong opinion? If you decide to do this course, don’t let people’s opinions change your mindset! It’s one thing this course will help you with. Getting rid of negativity and finding people that will support you.
So here it is, what I came here to tell... my birth story!
My due date had been and gone, it was a Monday when I saw my Dr, he checked my blood pressure and advised that he wanted to induce me by Friday as it was slightly high (noting it was perfect all throughout). I started to panic as I had learnt so much from Hypnobirthing that I was thinking I didn’t want to be induced, ultimately, I wanted my body to go into natural labour! As I was overdue, I wanted to make sure Bub and myself were both going to be OK so I agreed but had a feeling I would go into labour before then.
At 1am the next morning I started getting contracting like feelings in my lower back occurring every 5 minutes. I laid there thinking wow… this is it; I’ve got surges! I am going to have my baby tomorrow or the next day. I didn’t wake hubby, just plugged in my earphones and listened to the hypnobirthing tracks especially the affirmations telling me how strong I was and reminding me that I couldn’t wait to meet my beautiful little baby! The surges were just that, waves occurring in my lower back – every 5 minutes, I breathed just as Tina had taught me and I continued to listen to my tracks. This occurred all day Wednesday however by 7am, with no sleep I began to feel nauseous, I couldn’t keep down food or water. I attached my recently purchased TENS machine to my back – what a god send!! Every time I felt a surge coming, I would press the boost feature, close my eyes and do my breathing. I was in another world each time this happened, it made the surges easy to ride. By 7.30pm I was still feeling surges although very irregular – I wanted to go to the hospital and check what they had to say. When I arrived and I was checked I was only 1-2cm dilated and was quite far off active labour. They had however confirmed that baby was posterior, this was why all my surges were in my lower back. I was told I could stay but decided I wanted to go home to my yoga ball and bed.
The next day came around very quickly and my surges, still continuing from the day before were still there, getting slightly closer together. With no water or food and no sleep I was now starting to feel very sorry for myself… I paced around the house with my tens machine and earphones in. I was getting very emotional and exhausted. I needed some help and some relief. I wasn’t even in active labour yet but so physically and mentally exhausted. I started to panic and think how was I going to get through labour when I haven’t slept or eaten or even hydrated myself… Luckily I kept as positive a mindset as I could and continued my Hypnobirthing Australia tracks and my surge breathing which was a godsend for my anxiety sneaking up in the background.
The surges became more intense and closer together and I asked my husband to pack the car and head to the hospital that night– we drove to the hospital listening to the Hypnobirthing tracks. I was admitted and told I would be induced the next day (Friday morning) at 7am. I was given some pain killers and something to stop my vomiting, eventually a dose of pethidine in my leg at 1am to allow me to get a few hours of sleep in. This was the first lot of pain relief since first starting my surges. I maybe slept a total of 2 broken hours and headed into the shower at 5am. I turned the lights off, had my phone sitting on the basin and using a dim light and speaker on my phone had a beautiful soundtrack of ocean waves, rainforest noises and beautiful calming music. With each surge I imagined myself riding a wave moving slowly up the wave them calmly back down. It was a beautiful moment and with my surge breathing the 2 hours I stayed in there were a relaxing peace of heaven, I was completely away from reality and in my subconscious where I was able to relax and get ready for the upcoming day, the day I would finally meet Emilia – my beautiful baby girl.
7am came and a nurse barged in to get me ready and moved into the birthing suite – not exactly helpful when you are trying to stay in your positive mindset and calming bubble. Hubby and I moved into the birthing suite, I turned off the lights and paced around with my tens machine and surge breathing. We played calming birth music through our phones speakers and it was a great environment. My husband helped by massaging where he could, bringing me ice and just being a fantastic birth partner. My mother was also in the birthing suite and together made a brilliant team with my husband, holding my hand and showing me plenty of love. Both were well aware of the hypnobirthing techniques and really allowed me to have my hypnobirthing experience. I was so content in my hot shower that I wanted back in and hopped into the birthing suite shower doing the same things I did in my room. The water was incredible. At about 9.30am the Dr came in and gently broke my water with his hand. It just felt like a warm flow of water.
The feelings in my back were very strong and I was physically very exhausted and decided to get through this I wanted to get an epidural. It wasn’t exactly my “plan” but I knew it was going to get me through the next few hours of these back surges. After my epidural I was induced and within an hour or two I was fully dilated, the nurse was surprised – she called the doctor to head over and, in the meantime, had me start pushing. By this point I could still feel the surges despite the epidural. I had hit a point of self-doubt as I was vomiting between each surge. The doctor arrived but ultimately told me baby was still very posterior and a little stuck, he wasn’t confident that we could get baby out and we would likely need to go in for an emergency c section. He gave me one last chance to push and boy did I push!! Forceps and an episiotomy, later my beautiful baby girl arrived into the world at 3pm!
I honestly cannot describe the feeling of pure relief, love and contentment when Emilia hit my chest! It was such an ordeal and totally not what I had planned but I couldn’t imagine where I would have been without the help of the Hypnobirthing class. For someone who has suffered with anxiety most of my life – I could believe how strong, calm and just amazing I was! I couldn’t be prouder.
My birthing team of my husband and mum were my constant support… reminding me to breathe, running around playing my music, massaging my back and just being there!
I honestly would recommend joining a Hypnobirthing Australia class… Yes it wasn’t exactly the natural amazing, drug free birth I was hoping for but it was a badass birth that I am damn proud of! Mentally and physically it was a long haul but without the techniques and support Tina had shown I wouldn’t have got through it like I did!