As soon as we found out we were expecting baby number 2, we knew that our hypnobirthing materials would be getting a second airing.
Ever since the birth of our daughter in September 2015, we’ve wondered whether things would go a similar way again with another speedy delivery (she was born on our bathroom floor after a super quick labour - 4 hours from the first sign of anything).
Was it a fluke that things went so quick and smoothly? Could I have done anything differently to make it to the hospital on time? These questions have always been on my mind in particular - I think because after she was born some well-meaning friends made me question my experience ‘how could you not have known you were in labour?’, ‘how did you not make it to the hospital?’, ‘wasn’t it painful / scary to deliver her without anyone medical at home?’
While I made peace with my first birthing experience (no I couldn’t describe it as painful, I was calm and relaxed pretty much the whole way through and l wasn’t in enough ‘pain’ to make me think we needed to go to the hospital until it was too late - it really did all happen so quickly), I always wondered how a subsequent birth might pan out.
Fast forward to 2018 and we’ve moved countries (to Abu Dhabi, UAE) and we are expecting our second baby. Things are different here medically and although I really wanted a midwife led delivery, which was familiar from Australia (I never had any OB throughout my first pregnancy), I opted for a highly recommended obstetrician who was very pro natural, super chilled, and who could deliver at the hospital that was literally at the end of our street. It also helped she had a dry, wicked sense of humour and was totally open to all our birth preferences (me catching the baby if I could, delayed cord clamping etc.)
My second pregnancy was very similar to the first - low risk - and I found a fantastic doula (who was previously a midwife). I felt great throughout the pregnancy except for some familiar lower back pain.
I did everything the same as first time to give myself the best possible chance of a natural and smooth labour. This included eating dates every day, taking raspberry leaf capsules, perineal massage (thanks hubby!), walking, yoga, acupuncture from 37 weeks to ensure baby was well positioned and engaged.
Even though I knew there was a high chance of having a quick labour second time, I didn’t want to just expect it, and made sure to plan for a longer labour too. We put our birth preferences together again and at each OB appointment I promised to let her know the second I was feeling anything (obviously she’s seen that many births she knew that chances are I would have an even quicker labour this time).
I never made it to my ‘guess date’ first time so it was new territory to get to 40 weeks, and then 41 weeks this time... I was fine in myself but starting to feel some external pressure from others about when baby would arrive.
I made my 42 week OB appointment as late as I could in the week so I could avoid any induction discussion - which my dr was fine with as everything was still good with me and baby.
We started trying all the usual induction methods and tried the miles circuit (http://www.milescircuit.com/the-circuit.html)
that my doula sent me. I think this really helped.
On Tuesday 13th March I went to bed as normal but just couldn’t sleep - I wasn’t feeling tired or in pain, just restless - and this for me was a sign that things could happen soon. Around midnight I started to feel some minor (like a split second) tingles in my tummy - like I needed to pee. I really tried to sleep as I thought this might soon be the start of some early surges. By 2am I still wasn’t asleep and I kept getting these split second twinges so I thought I’d wake up hubby and mum (who was here to look after our daughter) and we could make our way to the hospital, set the room up and relax a bit.
I woke hubby up just before 2am and he was straight into action, packing the last few bits in the car and I woke my mum up too. They were rushing around (and dropping things on their way!) whereas I was really calm and kept saying - ‘relax, nothing’s happening right now, I’m fine, I just have a feeling things could start soon.’ Obviously they didn’t want to risk having to deliver the baby at home (which is illegal here) so were understandably relieved to get me into the car and on the way.
I was the one to call my doula, my OB and the hospital - at this point I was walking around, getting last minute things together and still feeling fine, with the occasional twinge which I timed at about every 10 minutes at this point (about 2:15am)
We got to the hospital around 2:25am and as it was the middle of the night, we had to go through ER which was annoying as the nurses didn’t seem to be in any hurry to get me to the delivery ward - eventually hubby said something to them which got them moving and we were soon shown into the lovely private delivery room around 2:40am.
Desperate to get the room ready, Jon set about putting on the music playlist we had prepared, getting the LED candles on and ensuring I had my exercise ball, yoga mat, clary sage on a cloth etc. The midwife on duty came in to introduce herself and then left us to it (she had seen hypnobirthing couples before and was respectful of our space). She also didn’t know my birth history so probably thought we had plenty of time.
Then things started to go so quickly again I couldn’t believe it was happening for a second time. It was like my body knew I was in a safe space and had everything I needed to now bring my baby into the world.
Jon used the same countdown from 40-0 that helped me so much the first time, and after what seemed like just a few moments I dashed to the ensuite bathroom, wanted my dress off and just wanted to be on the toilet to relieve the pressure on my legs. I was hot and shaky. My doula had arrived by then, and I could feel I was in transition - could it really be happening again so quickly?
I could feel my baby working it’s way downwards and I thought I could feel a head - my doula checked and then raced into the corridor to get the midwife and see if my OB had arrived yet - by the time she was back the head was out and I knew the body was coming with the next surge.
I could now feel and see the baby’s head (I was standing at this point) and eased the body out - my husband supported me while I caught our baby. I was so happy to see it was another girl!
The midwife got there just in time to unravel the cord from around her neck. My dr then arrived as it was all over and said ‘congratulations - you got the birth you wanted - I wasn’t even here!’
She had been delayed as they didn’t let her know what room I was in until it was too late - but I was really happy with how things had worked out that it was really just me and hubby with our doula for the arrival of our baby again!
Our baby girl arrived around 3:20am (we can’t be sure of the exact time) - 80 minutes after I’d woken hubby up - I was In shock at how quick it happened once again.
They then helped me and baby back to the room and onto the bed. As my OB started to offer an injection to get the placenta out, I could feel it making its own way out. She then did a check and saw no tearing at all - just a minor ‘skid mark’ as she put it - not surprising for the speed.
We were skin to skin the whole time and baby latched on to feed straight away . It was beautiful.
We now have our two amazing daughters and I feel that bringing them both into the world with the preparation and help of hypnobirthing has been the best start we could give them, and ourselves as parents.
I’m lucky enough to have had two low risk pregnancies, and two very easy, quick and pain free labours. I’ve never had any interventions, I never even knew what cm I was dilated either time, and I never once felt the need for any pain relief. Yes they were both quick and intense labours, and not without their discomfort, but my mind was so prepared for what was happening that I never once let fear (mine or anyone else’s) get in the way of letting my babies and my body do what they knew how to do.
I can’t recommend hypnobirthing highly enough and it saddens me when people dismiss it as ‘hippie’ or not possible for them - it helps anyone preparing for any kind of birth.
It’s also an amazing way for hubby, or birth partner, to be involved throughout the pregnancy and birth. I honestly don’t think I could have got through the intense surges without hubby using light touches on my shoulder and counting me down - it sounds so simple but it worked for me.