The Birth of Finley
Still, four weeks on, I can’t quite believe that Finley is here, safe and well! Having had a planned c-section with my first child due to her being breech, I had my heart set on a VBAC with my son, and that’s why I turned to hypnobirthing. I wanted to feel confident that I could birth naturally, as I had lost my confidence the first time round and I felt that any control had been taken off me. I was feeling nervous and so I wanted some tips and practical things to help me relax and trust my body. And I am so glad that we signed up for the course with Abby in January this year.
I contacted Abby before I had Finley as he was ‘overdue’ and I was starting to feel induction looming. We had agreed to try to go to 42 weeks and to then go ahead with the induction. However, I was delighted that Finley decided to come at 41+4, just a few days before the induction day.
Surges began through the night on the Friday, but I was absolutely adamant that I had a bad tummy and my IBS was playing up as usual. I spoke to my husband in the morning (he was at home, along with our toddler), and he was convinced it was starting. I think I was just in denial! We all went for a lovely walk to a park with a river on the Saturday morning, and I sat on a bench as I watched my husband and toddler throw sticks in the water for the dog. It was at this point that the surges were building and the fact that there was a bit of a rhythm to them made me think, ‘has it begun?’ I had had my second stretch and sweep the day before, along with acupuncture, as I was getting really despondent and just did not want to be induced, out of fear of this leading to another c-section. I think the sweep got things moving, as uncomfortable as it was, and perhaps the acupuncture helped as well. You never know!
We got back from the park about midday and decided to ask my parents to come over as they live an hour away, and they were to look after our daughter. I bounced on my ball and used my TENS machine which I would really recommend in early labour. Having rung the hospital, we were told to stay put and see how things progressed. I had a bath, listened to my calming music and tried to continue as normal by sorting the washing etc. At this point, though, I found myself having to stop and breathe through the surges. Eventually, when my little girl was tucked up in bed, we rang the hospital who told us to come in. The midwife could hear my animal noises impressions in the background and told us to set off! Clinging to my mum in the back of the car, I have had better car journeys, but I stayed calm and focused on my breathing as much as I could, using my TENS machine during each surge.
I was birthing in the labour ward due to this being a VBAC, and I was originally worried about this, but I found the rooms nice and the midwives were brilliant. It was clear that they had read my notes and plan, which I found reassuring. I was examined and I was 4cm – I still had doubts that I was actually in labour! I think it’s because I was coping well and this was due to my fab hubby and mum who were keeping me calm, and my breathing techniques. I then went in the pool and dilated very quickly – I was 10cm within 3 hours. All this time I managed on just gas and air. The surges were incredibly intense by this point and the urge to push was something I didn’t quite expect! But I wasn’t being heroic in terms of having minimal pain relief – I just went into my own zone, albeit I was still making my odd animal noises (!), but my birthing partners were amazing, giving me water, putting a cold flannel on my head etc. My lovely midwife even put my battery-operated tea lights around the pool. I felt very supported throughout.
I got out of the pool, which I was relieved about actually, as I was becoming a shrivelled prune, and the midwife suggested breaking my waters to help things along. Then, back in the labour room, I was ready to meet Finley! I actually asked, ‘Are we at the pushing stage?!’ as I just couldn’t believe it was happening. This gave everyone a bit of a chuckle! After 20 mins, he was out! And he was perfect! The sense of relief at meeting him and having had a successful VBAC was overwhelming and there were lots of tears. Even when I had to go to theatre to manually remove the placenta and repair a tear, I still felt calm and in control. I actually felt a bit euphoric, though sad to leave Finley straight after the birth. However, Finley didn’t even cry and waited patiently for me to return from theatre before having his first calm and relaxed breastfeed.
The whole experience was one I’ll never forget. Even with the complications at the end, I have no negative feelings about the labour at all. I still can’t believe I did it and I am in awe of what the body can do! Even after a c-section, the body is more than capable of doing what it is designed to do. And not once did I worry about my section scar, which I thought I’d do. My hypnobirthing techniques and the support of my mum and husband, along with the midwives, meant that things were calm and controlled. The breathing techniques were a godsend, and I loved hearing my music playlist throughout. Anyone thinking of a VBAC or who is doubting going on the labour ward should know that if I can do it, they can too! Thank you to Abby for your continued and invaluable support. Hypnobirthing really is a brilliant way to stay focused, calm and in control. I learned to just let go and trust my body, and in the end, it lead to a fabulous birth. Better than I could ever have hoped for!
Lisa and Steve, Halifax