This week’s birth story comes from the wonderful one of our very own Hypnobirthing Instructors, Sarah Brennan of Blooming Wonderful Hypnobirthing, Ickenham, West London, UK.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful birth story of your beautiful baby boy!
“I went to hospital on Sunday 3rd April to be induced because baby was measuring on the 98th centile. I’d wanted to avoid induction this time, but after experiencing special circumstances due to a problem with my heart rate, I’d agreed to go ahead as it was important to have extra monitoring and to keep my discomfort to a minimum to ensure my heart rate stayed at a safe level. This felt like the best option.
When I arrived, I was given the pessary and was told to sit tight for 24hours. However, my surges came too strongly too quickly so the pessary was removed. I was 2cm dilated at that stage, so it was just a case of waiting for a space on the labour ward to continue my induction.
Unfortunately, due to a surge in Covid cases at that time, there was a severe national shortage of midwives – and beds. This led to me having to wait for 3 days to go down to the labour ward. During my time on the ward, I used my hypnobirthing skills constantly. I listened to my hypnosis tracks to block out the noisy environment, sprayed lavender on the pillows I’d brought from home, and tried to keep moving as much as possible.
Despite not being officially ‘allowed’ to go home (due to infection control) a kind midwife took pity on me and let me escape for a few hours at a time. I knew I’d have to work hard to get my oxytocin flowing after being stuck in a noisy, hot cramped ward for days but once back home, I wasted no time!
I enjoyed a lovely hot shower, listened to my affirmations, and decided to have a sleep in my bed to relax. We popped to my mums to see the kids for a while and mum made me some dinner. It was nice to feel normal again and when we headed back to the hospital later on, I definitely felt more refreshed, both physically and mentally.
On Wednesday evening, after what felt like FOREVER, a bed finally became available, and we decamped down to the labour ward. The midwife introduced herself and my husband got busy setting up my diffuser, candles, and fairy lights. The midwives keep sticking their heads in to tell me how amazing the room smelt! At around 10.30pm the midwife came in apologetically to say they were super busy and that my induction wouldn’t be happening that evening. She told us to rest up and relax and that she’d come and let us know if anything changed in the meantime.
Trying to sleep with all the sounds of birthing women everywhere was the weirdest thing! In the morning we ordered some Costa coffee (very much needed!) and the midwife came, apologised for the lack of baby and went home.
Shortly after, my new midwife introduced herself (she’d actually been finishing her previous shift when we’d arrived, but I was trying not to dwell on that) and asked me if I wanted to have my membranes released. I declined as I wanted to try and wait as long as possible. She said that things would get going faster once I’d had this done but I asked to go for a walk to wait a while longer. I’d got this far; baby was still happy.
We weren’t allowed to walk around the ward, so we decided to venture out into the outside world. It was a super chilly and really really blustery day. I decided to pop on some leggings and a coat and was very glad I did!!!
We walked around the hospital grounds which wasn’t very relaxing as there were lots of renovations going on. Instead, we decided to try and find my husband’s Aunt who works in the A&E department. We sat chatting and drinking coffee with her in a side room, which definitely served as a welcome distraction and helped me to relax.
Once we’d head back to the labour ward, I decided I was ready to get things moving and the doctor came to release my waters. As suspected, there was a LOT of fluid. I had a shower and cleaned myself up but wanted to keep moving. We decided to go for another walk in search of lunch. I was craving chips and there was nowhere nearby to oblige so we called my husband’s Aunt who asked a junior doctor to get me some from the staff canteen. She came, handed over the goods and wished me luck, and we walked around the grounds making the most of being in the fresh air. Once I was ready, we decided to head back to the hospital. I let the midwife know that I’d had some mild cramps and she checked in on baby, who was happy. We decided at this stage to request the epidural as I’d been advised to have it as early as possible to keep my heart rate regulated.
The anaesthetist came and was lovely but very very chatty. Eventually the epidural was in and I immediately felt more comfortable. After a while I started to have a reaction to the epidural and felt itchy all over. This had happened once before and soon settled down after I’d had some antihistamine.
I got comfortable and the midwife re-arranged the bed and sat me up in the throne position. I felt really relaxed and in good spirits. The midwife and I chatted for ages as she did my obs. She said the anaesthetist was still around and advised me to ask for an epidural top up. The anaesthetist happily obliged, and I felt great, no discomfort at all, just pressure.
Due to my special circumstances I had to have mine and baby’s heart rate carefully monitored which limited my ability to move around. However, I felt calm and relaxed and positive. When my midwife went on her break, I told my husband that I was feeling a bit of pressure down below. I’d been using the gas and air during my tightenings but they still felt manageable. The midwife covering her break came and I asked her to examine me. To my utter delight and surprise, she told me I was 10cm dilated. I was over the moon! It was finally Baby time!!!
She asked me if I felt I wanted to push and I said yes. She waited for my midwife to come back and told her it was time! They got everything ready, and I started to push. I could feel some of the contractions but was also looking at the CTG machine to see.
I felt happy to be guided as per my preferences. After a couple of pushes I was told that baby was ‘sunny side up’ which meant that he was working a bit harder to come and slipping back a little each time. As he was having to work harder, his heart rate had dipped slightly with the surges. However, they were reluctant to turn down the syntocinon drip as my surges had also slowed right down.
A short while after, three of the doctors I’d been seeing on the ward suddenly appeared in the room, including the consultant who’d been looking after me during my pregnancy. I didn’t feel worried but was definitely relieved to see some familiar, friendly faces.
They were all very calm and spoke quietly and decisively. Their calm manner was infectious and felt very soothing despite the fact that I knew now that baby was being a pickle. I could hear baby’s heart rate dipping with the surges, so I asked them to turn down the monitor which they did.
One of the doctors explained they’d need to use the ventouse to help him and I consented to an episiotomy. There was some movement after this, but not much.
After another surge, my consultant explained that baby was not happy and that we needed him to arrive in the next 2 surges. She said it with complete calm, with no sense of urgency or panic, no mention of the next steps. Just that. Now was the time.
I felt a huge sense of purpose – I had a job to do and it needed to be done right now! She took my hand, looked me in the eye and said, ‘You’ve got this.’
I will never forget that moment. I wasn’t frightened, even though I knew that things needed to happen fast. My baby needed me to do this, and I felt determined, strong and empowered. I closed my eyes and took some deep breaths to relax myself and focus.
As the next surge built, my birth affirmations were playing on loop in my head. I used the gas and air and just fixed my attention on those.
And then, just like that, I did it. He was finally here! I will never forget that sense of elation and pride and relief, all rolled into one.
He was here, we were both well and I was so proud to have used the skills I’d learnt to help guide me through this absolute rollercoaster of a birth journey. No, it wasn’t the serene, dreamy water-birth I’d wanted (far from it!!) but that didn’t matter.
I am 100% sure that if I didn’t have the confidence to stay calm and to help me to navigate the situation, then the outcome could have been very different. And I will always be forever grateful to hypnobirthing for that.
Finley Harrison Noah Brennan
Born @ Hillingdon Hospital 7.51pm, 7th April 2022 weighing 8lb15
If you want to create your own positive birth you can start today!