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The calm hypno-waterbirth of Alfred George Galvan

We have a wonderful waterbirth story of baby Alfred:

“I recently gave birth to my little boy and had the most wonderful experience. I wanted to share with you my birthing story in case it helps anyone that is about to give birth. I feel it is so important to share positive birth stories!

My third birth was the most amazing experience and dare I say was actually enjoyable to the point where I would do it again in a heartbeat!!!!

This birth was a far cry from my previous two which (in hindsight) I was extremely underprepared for. I had requested a homebirth both times before but I now know I hadn’t prepared my mind for a good birth and didn’t really know enough about my body and my options; as a result I accepted an induction without question when I went 12 days post EDD, as normal hospital protocol suggested. My first labour was induced via a pessary, then syntocinon and after hours of contractions & exhaustion I ended up having an epidural, then ventouse delivery & an episiotomy. I had a Postpartum Haemorrhage (PPH) of 600ml. It was very long tiring and emotional and I was left feeling traumatised by it (although I do have positive memories of it now that still bring me to tears when I think of the moment I became a Mummy!).

My second labour was the total opposite, I was induced via a pessary to begin with which did not dilate my cervix, I then had my waters broken which sent me into rapid labour! I went from 0-10cm in 16 minutes! The whole labour lasted around 30 minutes and my body was in shock! There was no time for pain relief (although I did have gas and air). The normal signals did not kick in and my body retained the placenta; I had to have it surgically removed in theatre afterwards. I lost 2litres of blood and stayed in hospital a week after having a transfusion. I was traumatised and it was a bit of a blur.

So…when I became pregnant for the third time I decided things would be different! The blessing that my second birth gave me was the realisation I could do it without pain relief and I knew if I could’ve just remained calmer it would have been better emotionally. So, I embarked on a journey of self-education! I devoured a huge number of childbirth books and blogs, I googled ‘positive birth stories’ and read all manner of birth stories. I googled ‘what happens if I go into labour alone’ (as this was worry with such a short labour the second time around). I researched how to prevent Post-Partum Haemorrhage and came across great articles.

By the end I felt so knowledgeable that I wasn’t panicking about the possibility of delivering the baby by myself anymore!
Perhaps the biggest favour I did myself was booking two private hypnobirthing sessions with a lady in Nottingham. We discussed my births and we felt that much of the pain I experienced was as a result of subconsciously tensing in anticipation of a contraction because I was afraid. We did some hypnosis techniques and she made me feel very different about my ability to cope.

Every night (give or take!) from around 37 weeks I listened to my hypnobirthing tracks. I used the ones from Mindful Mama, Marie Mongan & also Natal Hypnotherapy Effective Birth Preparation cd’s. I learned to trust my body and to reframe the sensations of contractions as pressure rather than pain. I also learned that during birth I should take care to get in ‘the zone’ and be as deeply relaxed as possible between contractions. The plan was when a contraction came, I should relax even more doing deep golden thread breathing and go down into an even deeper relaxation until it passed telling myself the sensation was pressure not pain.

I knew this time I wanted to have a homebirth and now felt confident to reject induction all being well. The only problem was that I was considered to be high risk due to previous Precipitous Birth, 2x Postpartum Hemorrhages and Retained Placenta. I was told by my lovely community midwife that if I wanted to I could; however I should consider the risks and talk things through with my Supervisor of Midwives. I met with my SOM (who is an amazing lady!) and I had a look around the sanctuary rooms and discussed my options. We discussed my rationale as I feared that induction was the cause of my interventions and complications and I wanted to see how body would do left to its own devices. She agreed and we came up with a flexible birth plan covering all my wishes. If my bloods were ok (I had been low in iron) I would be able to birth at home!

A couple of weeks before my due date I developed gestational thrombocytopenia (where my blood would not clot properly if I had a bleed) which worried me and I felt that this coupled with my previous history of bleeding was not a good sign if I was to bleed heavily at home. I decided that I would be safest in the sanctuary room and it was a good second best. I googled the condition and started taking Alfalfa, Liquid Chlorophyll, Red Raspberry Leaf & a few other blood boosting supplements and miraculously got my platelet count back up! Despite this I decided to still go ahead with the sanctuary birth as I’d got my head around it and it helped with childcare arrangements etc. (in addition to the supplements I also ate minimum 5 dates per day from 37 weeks as they are known to help birth!)

When the day came I was 16 days past my due date! I felt fine and baby was moving so I wasn’t concerned. It seems weird but I don’t think I was mentally ready for birth until this day and is probably what hindered going into labour! I remember watching a film the night before and thinking ‘I don’t fancy labour today I’m not ready yet’ though I never voiced it! My friend had even given me information on acupressure you could do on the hands to induce labour which I reserved subconsciously knowing I wasn’t ready. It was a Saturday the kids had gone to my Mums and I spent the whole day lounging around enjoying peace and quiet. I decided to watch ‘hypnobirth waterbirths’ on Youtube with my partner. (One of my faves was a Daisy’s Hypnobirth Homebirth).

I’m so glad I did as this helped me get my head around hypnobirthing and made me feel like ‘I can do this!!! It also helped my partner who confessed that previously he didn’t really understand what he was supposed to do!!

I went to bed thinking ‘it would be good if it happened tonight’ I finally felt mentally ready and I knew I meant business as I finally had the courage to do the acupressure I had been putting off! I did this for about 10-15 minutes and then listened to my hypnobirthing track and fell asleep. Before the tracks had ended (about 15 minutes after falling asleep) I was awoke from my sleep as I felt a trickle of fluid (back waters). My other half had just started his nightly snoring and I woke him up to tell him what had happened. I almost went back to sleep but then I remembered my last labour was only half an hour so I got up and called the labour suite.

Whilst on the call my contractions started and immediately were 1.5 mins apart. We had no idea how long we had so made it straight to the hospital. It was a very calm transition to hospital using my hypnobirthing techniques. I had learnt to rehearse this journey to hospital as a calm one in my mind (and not a stressful experience which I had previously been picturing) and listened on my headphones to the tracks whilst driving really slowly (didn’t like the bumps!!!). It was important not to get too excited or stressed (as cortisol kills oxytocin which is what’s needed) so I almost floated into hospital I was that calm!!

I went straight into a sanctuary room and they got the pool filled whilst I walked about breathing through the contractions every 1.5 minutes staying very calm and happy. It felt very easy at this point, they were very strong but not painful. I felt better leaning forward so that’s what I did, listening to my body. I got in the pool and it felt amazing, so soothing! I was experiencing the contractions deeply in my back (which I’d never had before!) and so I got my partner to apply strong counter pressure to my back with both hands and deep massage each time I had one, which felt like the right thing to do. I soon learned that if I leaned backwards it hurt so spent the whole time on all fours leaning on the side of the pool. My partner was amazing and this firm pressure really helped me, I don’t think I would have coped so well if it wasn’t for him doing this!

I played the hypnobirthing tracks (several different ones) on repeat and was totally silent and focused on total relaxation. I imagined myself going deeper and deeper into relaxation. My eyes were closed (almost in the back of my head like in a trance) and I was doing lots of positive self-talk telling myself the pressure was bringing my baby closer to me. Each time I had a contraction I would just tap the pool to signal to my partner to press deeply on my back. It was almost like the act of talking was too much effort and would bring me out of my ‘zone’. Whilst I was not experiencing contractions my partner was lightly stroking my shoulders (which was amazing!). The key was definitely being as relaxed as possible (no tensing shoulders!) between surges. I was very conscious of having loose relaxed shoulders throughout.

There came a point when my body started pushing involuntarily and I thought to myself ‘I need to do a poo!’ from experience I thought I must be ready to push but I thought ‘I can’t be as it’s not that bad yet! I must actually need a poo!’ so I asked to be checked (I’d declined any vaginal exams as I wanted an undisturbed birth). The midwife said I didn’t seem ‘pushy’ as I’d been totally calm, not made any noise and was talking normally to her, but when she checked I was fully dilated and his head was there! The examination caused the waters to break otherwise he could’ve been born in the sack. I was happy about this as I’d read that eating the dates would help my waters not break until pushing which would make my birth comfortable. I couldn’t believe how easy it had been and I hadn’t even thought about asking for gas and air as I didn’t need it!

I carried on deep breathing through the contractions when they came, remaining totally relaxed and focused, putting my hand in between my legs and feeling his head which was comforting and reassuring. I felt completely in control. I gently breathed him down using long strong breaths until I was no longer able to stop my pushing reflex from pushing. Cue a few involuntary moo sounds!! Haha. (I just went with it – I had read that deep sounds helped!). I was still completely calm, in fact by this stage I was practically asleep between contractions! My other half said I looked like I was asleep in the pool (it was like a dreamlike state!).

There was a moment before his head was born that the midwife thought he was breach due to all his thick dark hair looking like a bum with meconium on (she was watching with a mirror and torch but it was dark)!! She asked me to get out of the pool, but I have to admit I ignored her and thought ‘no way am I getting out of this lovely pool!!!’ I kept silent and had another contraction and just said I’d rather not get out. After the next contraction the midwife felt the head and said it was a false alarm and it didn’t feel like a bum it must just be lots of dark hair! I’m glad I did what I wanted – there was no getting me out of that pool!!

I had a couple more contractions where I assisted the pushing reflex and his head and body was born in the water. The midwife said she was shocked by the size of his head (we weren’t expecting a big baby!) she caught him and passed him through my legs and I put him on my chest in disbelief! I couldn’t help but think, I can’t believe I’ve done it, and it’s been this calm and amazing! I did it!!!!! I felt absolute euphoria, joy, relief, satisfaction and in love all rolled into one it was without a doubt the best feeling ever to be experienced! I was in total control, it was me that chose how to birth my baby not me being told what to do! It made a huge difference. I felt empowered!

I did lose about 600ml whilst in the pool and got out straight after to deliver the placenta. I had agreed to active management of the third stage if I bled so I was happy for this to happen. I delivered the placenta quickly with no problems whilst snuggling my new baby boy.

We were allowed time alone to cuddle whilst we waited for his cord to stop pulsing completely and my partner cut the cord. It was the first time I had been ‘with it’ enough to actually watch it. For once my birth was not a blur! We spent a long time alone together as a family and he wasn’t weighed until much later at my request. We were shocked to find he was 9lb 10oz (I’m only 5ft 4 and petite build!) and I did it without pain relief!! Get in!

So at 3.15am on 16 October my beautiful little Alfred George Galvan was born! It was a 3 and a half hour labour start to finish and was the best birth ever!! I am still basking in the glory of such a wonderful experience!

Although I would describe it as intense and requiring total focus, I would not describe it as painful – just intense sensations of pressure! Very different from my previous births which I found extremely painful. Just goes to show the amazing power of your mind!

I remain eternally grateful to the amazing midwives who respected my wishes for an undisturbed birth, to my Community Midwife and Supervisor of Midwives for their incredible support and to my hypnobirthing for changing my mindset and making me believe it was totally manageable! I thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

I would wholeheartedly recommend hypnobirthing to anyone who is going to give birth and would strongly recommend reading everything you possibly can about birth to prepare your mind beforehand! It is 100% about mind control and self-belief! I wish positive joyful births to all the expectant mammas out there – good luck xxxx”

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