The Birth of Max
I felt my first surge around 8pm on Halloween. I hadn’t experienced any Braxton Hicks or discomfort during my pregnancy so this seemed unusual. I felt a few more surges as the evening progressed but I didn’t really think our baby was on his way so I went to bed. The surges intensified and woke me at 1am which was when I first thought that maybe this was it. I struggled to sleep so spent some time on my birthing ball and tried to make myself as comfortable as possible.
As the night went on the surges intensified further and I was keen to get some advice from the birthing centre as I had tested positive for Group B Strep and had made the decision to have antibiotics during labour. I was advised to stay at home so I slept and then spent the morning finishing packing my hospital bag and doing some jobs around the house.
At lunchtime we made our way to the hospital. We were very calm and not at all scared about the birth, to which we give all credit to Abby for the confidence and positivity she instilled in us. I received my first dose of antibiotics in the Maternity Assessment Centre before moving to the birthing centre at about 5pm where we had chosen to birth our baby boy. We used our Hypnobirthing knowledge to create a relaxed environment in our room, using fragranced room spray, music and dim lighting.
The surges were quite intense by now. It would be dishonest to say I didn’t find them painful but they were manageable and the breaks between them provided relief. I used a TENs machine, which was a brilliant distraction until I was able to get into the birthing pool at about 7pm. My husband Patrick kept me calm during the surges by recapping the breathing techniques Abby had taught us and reminding me that the surge would soon be over and I would get some relief until the next one. I felt calm, in control and happy that it was all progressing according to our birth plan.
Not long after getting in the pool, it was the midwife’s shift change. Our new midwife arrived and didn’t think I had made much progress since lunchtime which disheartened me a little. However, as soon as she left the room I felt my waters break in the pool so Patrick called her back in. She confirmed this and left again. Almost as soon as she had left the room I felt an urge to push. Patrick called her back in but due to my calm demeanour she didn’t believe I was ready to push so I agreed for an examination. Much to her surprise she found I was almost fully dilated. With this news I was able to have the much awaited gas and air!!!
It took quite a while to get the final centimetre but once I was there I felt confident that our baby would arrive shortly. However, after one and a half hours, there was still no sign of baby. My surges had slowed down and I was advised to get out of the pool and try some different positions. It was also identified at this point that baby was most likely back to back. Despite the many different positions and techniques we tried, the surges continued to slow down and I didn’t have strong enough urges to push. I was also becoming increasingly tired as I had been pushing intensely for a couple of hours. However, baby’s heart rate was still strong so there were no concerns.
At this point, I asked what the options were for getting baby here. I was so tired, I decided to be transferred up to the labour ward for some help. This wasn’t part of the plan and wasn’t what we had envisaged but by now we just wanted baby here. We were both still calm and accepting of a change to the plan as we knew the skills we learnt from our Hypnobirthing course would help us to make the best of the situation. There was no emergency and it was completely our decision.
Once in the labour ward the midwives tried to get my surges going again by hooking me up to an oxytocin drip. I was coached to push and given techniques to try, however, baby just would not come.
Eventually Max was delivered by forceps, after a local anaesthetic and episiotomy, at 03.28 on 2nd Nov 2016, weighing 9lbs. He was completely back to back, looking up at the ceiling as he was delivered. I suffered a tear so had to go to theatre for stitches immediately after his birth so I couldn’t have skin to skin with him as planned. Following what we had learnt on Abby’s course, I requested that Patrick did this with him instead as it was very important to us and the midwives were really supportive.
Max’s birth went completely to plan until the end. We were calm and there was never a sense of emergency. Until having forceps, I managed the whole labour on paracetamol and gas and air and although this was in our birth plan, I never imagined this could be a reality for me. We have no doubt that this was down to the help we received from Abby and the confidence she instilled in us. The knowledge and skills Abby gave Patrick, enabling him to be a calm and supportive birth partner were invaluable– I couldn’t have done it without him. I would recommend Abby’s classes to anyone expecting a baby, it’s the best preparation we did for bringing our beautiful, calm, hypnobaby, Max, into the world.
Jo and Patrick, Halifax