This week’s birth story comes from one of our very own TCBS Instructors – Rachel Alred of The Listening Doula.
Rachel shares her wonderful birth story of their gorgeous baby boy who is now 18 months old. Rachel and her family have recently relocated to the north of England where Rachel will be teaching TCBS method online and across West Yorkshire.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful birth story with us!
I found hypnobirthing before I was even pregnant. It was something I knew about, but I felt the desire to train to become a Hypnobirthing Instructor whilst training to be a Doula. In fact it was upon completion of my hypnobirthing training course that I found out I was pregnant.
My husband and I had been trying for a baby for a while, but I feel that by undertaking the hypnobirthing training and listening to 35+ hours of hypnosis tracks my body was able to relax enough to be the right environment it needed to get pregnant.
As I was teaching hypnobirthing throughout my pregnancy it was easy for me to practice and use the tools on a daily basis. My husband who was my birth partner engaged with hypnobirthing by reading The Calm Birth Method book, watching videos that we had used in the training and was open to discussions that we had with our Doula who was also TCBS trained. Unfortunately, I was pregnant and gave birth during the pandemic so we couldn’t attend an in person group course as would have been our preference.
Hypnobirthing definitely helped me to have a calm pregnancy. In fact, I think it’s the calmest I’ve ever felt. Also, with the knowledge and information gained I was able to ask questions and explore my options as needed.
My plan A of my birth preferences was to have a home birth, but I also had my plan B, C and D prepared should our birth take a different path.
I had been feeling the tightenings, Braxton Hicks and cramps on and off for a couple of weeks before I went into labour. During the afternoon of 5th April I had a real craving for roast potatoes and my husband made us a roast chicken dinner that evening. I felt most comfortable bouncing on my birth ball and rocking from side to side as it felt like everything had moved up a gear and the start of the latent phase.
Later that evening and during the night my surges started, and I put on the tens machine which I found helpful to ease the intensity of the sensations and pain I was experiencing. In the early hours things seemed to escalate.
The birth pool was already inflated, and I felt the need to contact our Doula. Laura came out to us; things seemed to ease and slow down on her arrival. I hadn’t had much sleep and she supported me with some hip squeezes and massage to get a bit more comfortable and to have some rest. After she left, I went back to bed. During the rest of the night, I continued to have surges, easing the symptoms with a bath, focusing on my breathing, listening to my relaxation MP3’s, reciting my affirmations and remaining upstairs in my cosy bed and continuing to use the tens machine.
In the early hours there was a definite shift, the intensity of my surges increased and were closer together. My husband checked the on-call rota for the home birth team midwives and the one on call lives about a 40 min drive away, similar distance to our Doula Laura. We phoned Laura again, but this time I couldn’t really talk to her, and she recommended we contact the Midwife too.
With each surge I was finding it more comfortable to stand, with my arms pressed against the headboard of our bed or wardrobe doors and rock from side to side. Our bedroom was dimly lit, my aromatherapy diffuser was on, my music playing in the background, and I was getting in my zone. When Laura arrived, she supported my husband to fill the birth pool. The midwife arrived and was very respectful of my birth preferences and making her assessment from a distance and using a hands-off approach. Shortly after I went downstairs to the living room and got in the pool. The water felt like it was supporting me, with each intense surge my husband held my hands and Laura supported my hips and rubbed my back, the midwife observing from afar. As things progressed there were some concerns that my heart rate and temperature were elevated and if this did not resolve there would be a need to be transferred. I knew this was possible and has made my plan B. I felt empowered to ask to wait and review and to be given time to discuss this with my husband. Baby was showing no signs of distress. After a while the second midwife arrived and relived the first. After the break I was monitored again, and the observations remained the same.
I felt informed and confident and although I did feel anxious when there was a need to be transferred during labour, that was mostly due to the fact that I was leaving my calm, cosy, birthing space and our Doula was unable to accompany us due to the restrictions during the pandemic. I did use my hypnobirthing tools to try to maintain the calm, dark, quiet birthing environment I had been experiencing at home. It was in the ambulance where there felt a shift to transitioning. It was only a short journey to the hospital and throughout I kept my eyes shut, used the gas and air which I hadn’t done before and once inside the hospital I naturally found the quietest corner of the room. The home birth team handed over to the hospital Midwife who was very considerate and respectful of my birth preferences. My husband made the room as cosy as possible, but I also wanted him by my side. I used the gas and air and remained mostly with my eyes shut whilst the Midwife explained and asked for consent to monitor and start a bag of fluids to support my heart rate and temperature which resolved as a result of this. Baby was not showing any signs of distress and I was able to find a position that suited me to continue with progressing through my labour.
During this time there were two power cuts and as a result the monitoring equipment shut down and had to be restarted. The midwife was calm, and it did seem that it wasn’t the first time they had experienced this. I was able to maintain my focus on my breath, reciting my affirmations and having the positive support and reinforced cheerleading from my husband.
As I was now in the hospital setting, I did have to navigate their protocols and procedures. At all times they did inform me of these with a view of the next steps. As everything is run based on timings it was looking like time was coming where a consultant may have to intervene. This was not a preference of mine, and it was as if at each stage that this was discussed or a potential intervention offered my body and my baby knew exactly what to do and after what I now can recognise was the brief pause before birth, I found the strength to birth my baby boy, Charlie into the world, at 3:37pm and weighing 7lb 11oz.
I did it! I hadn’t needed any additional intervention other than the gas and air and support with positioning and I had done it. We had become parents. Our little one was here.
I remember grasping him with my arms, pulling him to my chest, commenting how long he was and saying, “we did it baby”. Oh the joy, the tears, the awe and magic I felt in that moment.
I did have to tell the more senior midwife that I wanted to wait until the cord was white before cutting and also that we had a cord tie which we tied ourselves and then my husband cut the cord. It was easy to advocate for myself in that moment, I felt like a superwoman!
I opted for physiological management of the third stage, so I was left to cuddle my baby who was rooting and latching at the breast, for an hour whilst the midwife filled out her paperwork and things she had to do. There wasn’t much happening, so I was encouraged to get up and go to the toilet, I was helped by the midwife and then back to the bed. Again, time became a factor and I was once again offered syntocinon via an injection. I consented but whilst it was being prepared I birthed the placenta on my own.
The original plan had been to have my placenta encapsulated. There are lots of things you can do with your placenta and although there isn’t a lot of scientific research I had spoken to and read about people who had done this and the benefits they had felt. However, in the rush of being transferred to hospital I had completely forgot to ask my husband to bring the placenta pack and as he had come in the ambulance, and we didn’t have the car I decided that it just wasn’t going to work out and I didn’t want him to have to leave us to go and get it. But I asked to see the placenta and so wish I had taken a photo. It was beautiful and magnificent, and I was informed it was intact.
Even though my birth hadn’t gone to Plan A, there are so many positives because I felt prepared, informed and had the tools and skills I needed to remain calm. Hypnobirthing helped me throughout my whole pregnancy journey and continued throughout the 4th trimester and even now 18 months later.
If you want to create your own positive birth you can start today!