I Decided To Stick With My Birth Plan And Did Not Opt for An Epidural

This week’s birth story comes from the amazing Karen who attended Hypnobirthing class with Jubilina Dagogo-Jack of The Calm Womxn, Dublin Ireland.

Thank you for sharing such a wonderful calm birth story with a twist at the end!


Hypnobirthing with Jubi was great, in my opinion. I think the top reasons were – 1. The course gave me the tools to be relaxed and calm in pregnancy, in preparation for birth, and throughout the birthing process. 2. The course informed me on loads of aspects of pregnancy and birth which gave me confidence and assurance in what to expect and in my own abilities. 3. The connection with Jubi as such an experienced midwife and calming reassuring person was brilliant, her group was a great little community to be part of while doing the course. Being connected on Instagram was also great for little refreshers on topics too!

My birth story.

“In preparation for birth in the later stages of the third trimester I used the birthing ball, tried to stay active with small walks each day, had dates, harvested colostrum and did some perineum massage. At 39 weeks my obstetrician did an internal exam which showed my cervix was starting to soften and was looking very favourable for birth. We discussed options and agreed that if I didn’t go into labour naturally, I would get a sweep at 40+4 (as my cervix was already ripening so it was suitable and to try and avoid needing pharmaceutical induction later on as a first time mam). Luckily, at 40+6 I went into labour myself at 2am. Initially I woke to go to the bathroom and noticed I had period pains that weren’t going away. I had been getting these pains some nights in the previous weeks, but they usually went away and weren’t too intense. This time the pains didn’t go away, they were more intense and started to progress to contractions. From 2am to 5am I stayed up and walked around my house, used my breathing techniques, and hugged my dog for comfort. To be honest I wasn’t 100% sure if this was it or not! But I took out my contractions timer app and started to see a pattern forming. I woke my partner at 5 am and we discussed that this might be it! We stayed up and we used the birthing ball, breathing techniques and watched nice shows on TV. He was reassuring and comforting to keep that oxytocin flowing! I also took some Paracetamol and tried to rest when I could. I rang the labour ward in my hospital at 6am and 8am to ask their opinions on what was happening and when I should go into the hospital as I started to bleed a little. They told me to head to the hospital after the second call. I arrived at the hospital after 9am and when checked about 10am my cervix was 3-4 cm dilated already! I felt so relaxed throughout the whole morning, and I really believe it is because of the course and all the preparation advice I employed from it.

Myself and my partner set the room up with birthing ball, fairy lights, birthing playlist and pictures that we brought into the hospital to make the environment welcoming and positive. We had a lovely midwife with us all day who we can’t thank enough all her support and encouragement throughout the day. At this stage I started using the TENS machine with the different boost options, I found it really helpful. At 12.30 I asked to be checked again and I was now 6-7cm dilated. The flow of oxytocin was helping me so much in this stage of active labour. The surges were so manageable with breathing, Paracetamol and the TENS. Now I needed to consider my pain relief options for the next few hours as things were beginning to get more intense. I decided to stick with my birth plan and did not opt for an epidural. I have nothing against the epidural option I just think the data showed slightly better outcomes without using one and also, I was totally afraid of a needle in my back! I started using the air and gas (great craic!) And at about 8cm dilated took the pethidine injection. I also left the TENS on and ramped it up. All this helped so much. For the last hour at 9/10 cm I found the surges very strong, I needed the gas a lot and to really focus on my breathing. I made a lot of noise and that also helped me cope. My partner was comforting me and supporting me at all times which helped so much.

The next phase, pushing, was upon us at about 5.45pm. I was tired at this stage but the support from my midwife, Dr and partner helped coach me in breathing and pushing with my surges. We tried a few different birthing positions and by 7.12 pm, baby was out! A vacuum was needed for a few minutes near the end as the baby’s head needed to turn and wasn’t on its own. For this reason, a small episiotomy was needed. For this my Dr used local anaesthetic and a nerve block so all of this was very manageable pain wise, and I look back at this all very positively. At 7.12pm I got to meet my baby for the first time, and it was just wonderful. We did delayed cord clamping as planned from birth plan. My partner cut the cord and we enjoyed skin to skin as a family.

For the third stage of labour I opted to take the oxytocin injection to help in getting the placenta out and also to reduce PPH risk. Unfortunately, the placenta was attached strongly and in a somewhat awkward way. When trying to remove the placenta the cord broke, and the placenta only half detached. This meant I was bleeding, but the uterus could not contract as half the placenta attached. My Dr was very disappointed, but it could not have been helped. She later explained this happens in 2-3% of cases. I ended up having to get the placenta surgically removed and my stitches were done then also (only 1st-2nd degree needed luckily). I did lose blood during this time (2.2L) but my medical team managed everything so well I was never worried about anything. The only disappointing thing about this stage is that my skin-to-skin time with my baby girl was very short. However, my partner did lots of skin to skin with her for the next while and I did too immediately when I returned from theatre. Because I had harvested colostrum my partner and the midwives were able to feed our little girl the good stuff in her first few hours of life. When I returned from theatre, we did lots of skin to skin to make up for the time missed out on and we tried breast feeding. She took to it straight away and we were so delighted!

While everything wasn’t perfect, both myself and my partner look back so positively on that day. We enjoyed the experience because we were able to be so relaxed and confident from all we had learned. We were flexible and prepared for all eventualities as this is the mindset, we learned to employ from our hypnobirthing course. That night in my hospital bed I messaged Jubi to thank her for everything! I could hear her supportive voice in my head throughout the labour process. Myself and my partner loved her course and can’t thank her enough for being part of our journey!

I’d also like to acknowledge the following Instagram pages – where I got great evidence-based learning tools and where I found out about Jubi’s course!  Dr Sarah J Murphy and Dr Vicky Dwyer”

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