There’s a morale to this story and that’s you need to be careful about what you ask for, as Shafina discovered with the birth of her third baby, Jenna. After experiencing three very different births with the second being a traumatic birth, she was adamant about not wanting the same experience – she didn’t want to be hooked up to the CTG machine, bed bound and lying down or be checked on, prodded, and examined several times having no privacy. She wanted to feel safe, private, and respected…but did not expect to be left completely on her own…this is how her birth unfolded…
Birth One Natural Birth – Calmbirth baby Haiden
Baby Haiden came along 7 years ago after doing a Calmbirth course with Peter Jackson in the Southern Highlands.
The way I describe Haiden’s birth is magical, angelical, and beautiful.
When I got to the hospital, I was already 6 cm dilated and the midwives could not believe just how calm I was. I remember listening to the Calmbirth relaxation tracks daily and kept practicing my Calmbirth breathing techniques. I was feeling calm, trusting my body and my baby to come out when he was ready. To ease the pain from the contractions I went in the shower and by this stage I was 10 cm dilated and I could feel Hayden’s head down there and had this real urge to push him out. He was born naturally and despite having some complications afterwards with the placenta being stuck and needing to go into theatre to detach it, my whole birth experience was brilliant and euphoric!
2nd Birth – Emergency C – Section – Baby Kian
I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and was told by the medical team that if my baby was not born by 39 weeks that I would have to be induced because the risk of still birth was high. I had done a Calmbirth Refresher Course and felt prepared for this birth, although I have to say that I didn’t do my daily meditations and practice like I did with my first birth and didn’t do much research on inductions. I was feeling quite stressed about having to possibly have an induction. So, the night before I was meant to have an induction, they gave me a pessary to open my cervix, which failed. The following day the medical team broke my waters at 10am and the IV syntocin was started straight away to help get the baby out (it’s important to note that I had discussed with my midwife a couple of weeks before to give my body enough time (at least 4 hours) to adjust once the waters were broken. However, the medical team did not offer me the time instead there was a rush to start the syntocin, purely based on being late morning and a Friday. The medical team told me they do not do inductions later on during the day or on the weekends due to minimum medical staff on the floor and incase of complications, therefore they had to start the syntocin straight away. Without any other option, I trusted the team and allowed them to go ahead with the process).
I was in the delivery suite, they had me lying on the bed, strapped up to the CTG belt which was so uncomfortable. I couldn’t move as I was bed bound, couldn’t use the shower to ease the pain or use movement or active birth positioning and was constantly monitored and not left alone. The artificial syntocin didn’t give my body and brain enough time to adjust and work together,
I couldn’t tolerate the pain and was feeling very stressed and anxious and the baby’s heart rate started to plummet and before you knew it, I was being rushed to have an emergency C – Section. I was traumatised by this experience. I could tell my husband was overwhelmed and upset which got me worried too, and we didn’t understand what was happening as it was all so quick. So, by the time my third baby was due, I was feeling quite traumatised by my second birth, had lost faith in the medical system and had troubles letting go of those feelings.
Third Birth – Jenna’s Healing birth
For my third birth I had done the Calmbirth Refresher course with Peter Jackson, so that I could refresh my knowledge, confidence, and skills as well as learn to let go of some of my birth trauma feelings that I was subconsciously hanging onto. However, it felt like it was dejavu all over again when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I thought to myself…here we go again…I’ll be induced, stuck in bed, being constantly watched, and monitored, with restricted movement and no privacy….
My options were to have a C- Section again or to try for a VBAC. With some conflicting information from my midwife and obstetrician I had to learn how to regain some trust in the medical system and my caregivers. I used all the information I gained from the Calmbirth Refresher course and Peter Jackson to focus my attention on having a new birth experience and a successful VBAC attempt. I needed to let go of my birth trauma and let things unfold with this new birth.
So, I surrounded myself with positive VBAC birth stories, listened to my Calmbirth audio tracks, went for walks, and did acupuncture and everything I could to help me have a spontaneous labour. Only to be shattered and told by Dr Bisits who is very knowledgeable and experienced that at 40 weeks and 2 days my chances of having a still birth was high if I was not induced. So, plans were made for me to go into the hospital the next day to be induced.
To further add to my stress, I was also told 2 days before giving birth that my entire midwifery group were in isolation due to all being close contacts to COVID. They were the ones that knew my birth plans and were going to help and guide me through my labour and birth and now I felt completely deserted and on my own!
I was feeling distraught, and all my trauma was coming back. I couldn’t sleep that night before the induction and woke up at 4am anxious, crying and worked myself up into a state. At 5am, I decided to go for a walk, meditate and listen to my Calmbirth tracks and pull myself together. I started my breathing techniques and trusting my body and releasing my fears to just let things unfold and to take things in my stride.
I get to the hospital at 8.00am and was seen by Dr Bisits at 10am and told the birthing suite in the birthing centre is unavailable to me because of COVID, so I will need to go to the delivery suite (this is where I had my traumatic second birth), to the place I did not want to go to. With the birthing centre gone and my midwifery group in isolation (except for 1 midwife from the group who didn’t know me and had her own women who were in labour too), I spent the next two hours in the delivery suite with my husband on my own, with minimal staff coming in to check up on me and hadn’t seen my doctor yet who could examine me. The hospital was extremely busy, the doctor who was meant to examine me was called out to the operating theatre for an emergency procedure and I was told to go out for lunch, as they had to give my room away to a woman that was in spontaneous labour.
Not knowing whether I would have a room or not when I got back, I made sure I did not let anything upset me as I was so focused on wanting a joyous and spontaneous labour. As I was walking out to grab some lunch, I bumped into Dr Bisits in the hallway who kindly told me that if no one had examined me and broken my waters by 3pm that afternoon, he would do it for me.
I was back in the delivery suite by 1pm and waited for a room to be available. At 2pm a room became available to me again. Once I was in the room, I put photos up on the walls of my children and started to visualise happy moments and bringing it all together. Dr Bisits broke my waters at 3.00 pm as my cervix was already 3 cm dilated and favourable. Shortly after my contractions started, they were quite intense, and I just wanted some gas. I asked the only midwife that popped in randomly who my midwife was, and she looked at me blankly and said no one…after she saw the look on my face, she realised what she had said and quickly stated that all the midwives were designated to helping.
The pain was so intense and building up that I decided to go in the shower and use the water as a natural pain relief and within 15 minutes I could feel the head and had a big urge to push, I asked my husband to get a midwife as our baby was coming. The hospital was so busy and there was no midwife in sight to guide me through the birthing process, so I relied on the “bringing it all together” audio track to help me understand what labour phase I was in. It was only until the transition phase of birthing, a midwife walked in the room right in time to catch Jenna.
The baby was coming and like my first birth I was 10cm dilated and could feel her head. I was feeling so calm, trusting my body, and trusting my baby and visualised her coming out. This birth was completely healing. I felt as though I had let go of my previous birth trauma and anger around it. I now felt I had this beautiful baby girl that I cherished and felt so grateful that I could enjoy her. Baby Jenna came within 3.5 hours of Dr Bisits breaking my waters, a natural birth only using Panadol, movement, shower, and gas. Dr Bisits was fantastic, he is such a caring, supportive, patient, empathetic and knowledgeable doctor.
None of the staff shortages, bed shortages, and other minor challenges bothered me, as I trusted my body and baby, and let things unfold without letting anything bother me. I didn’t fuel any negative thoughts. I could hear Peter Jackson’s voice through the whole birthing process and felt so empowered that I knew at every stage of labour what my body and baby is doing.
Kevin (my husband) was great as well; he was so helpful and really used calm birthing strategies with me to my advantage.
I felt very empowered as a woman to give birth naturally. It was a beautiful birth experience and completely healing to birth my baby girl. I guess in the end I got what I asked for – I was left alone with my husband as my midwife… I feel healed!