Nicole and Jack had a positive vaginal birth of their first baby in a private hospital with care from a private obstetrician. Their story is shared with permission.
A personal note from Chloe
This is the first couple I ever did a Calmbirth course with as a trainee educator, and I was definitely nervous teaching it for the first time!
One morning a couple of months later I received this email, and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t cry big happy tears reading it. I am honoured to be allowed to share their story for you all, too.
Firstly Chloe, I wanted to thank you for inviting me to do the Calmbirth course with you. At first, I will admit I was mildly skeptical but it ended up being invaluable and something I am very glad I did for my pregnancy. I did also sign up to another antenatal class at [my booked] hospital but due to the current COVID outbreak, they called to tell me it was cancelled. So in the end, the only antenatal class I did was the one you ran for Naomi and I. And I am so glad I did.
I really loved the way you ran the class. It was so lovely and relaxing. And I learnt a lot. You really opened my eyes to the variations in a natural labour. I didn’t realise how many stereotypes I had formed in my mind about birth with water breaking and then contractions and finally a woman lying on a hospital bed on her back pushing out a baby.
I found it so useful to know that not everyone’s water breaks before labour starts, and, that the opening of the pelvis can be enlarged with different body positions. It helped to be open to other birthing positions like squatting and all-fours. Without the Calmbirth course, I don’t think I would have considered those positions. I also learnt that the cervix dilating was not a linear process and loved the recommendation to not focus on the number and just follow the flow of the labour.
I also found the meditations really useful. I listened to them daily from 35 weeks onwards. Particularly, the visualisation exercise of what type of birth I wanted and visualising the softening of my cervix and changes in my uterine muscles.
My birth was better than I could have ever expected.
I had mentally prepared for a long labour that could take all day with contractions. My birth plan was for a natural vaginal delivery where I was planning on labouring at home for as long as possible, before going into hospital. I was hopeful to not need pain relief and I wanted to try a birthing position like all fours to maximise the widening of the pelvis. I had also decided that I was happy to have vaginal examinations but I didn’t want to know how dilated my cervix was. I really didn’t want to be ‘stuck at 2cm’ and feel disheartened when I would be tired already. So my plan was the tell the midwife she could examine and record it and tell Jack too, but to only tell me ‘you’re doing well’.
So in terms of the actual birth, for me it started on Wednesday. I started to feel some Braxton-Hicks, which was unusual for me as I hadn’t felt them in the earlier stages of my pregnancy. And I felt very heavy in my lower pelvis area. I chatted to Jack and said I thought the process was starting and that my gut told me, we might see bubby arrive in the next 7 days. Then on Thursday the same symptoms were reinforced again, slightly stronger.
On Friday two new things appeared. First, I was very emotional and just spontaneously had a cry for 5 minutes. This is really unusual for me. And the only other time a wave of emotions has does this to me is when I was 6 weeks pregnant. The second, was that during my physio exercises, particularly the child’s pose, I noticed my uterine muscles felt different, as if the opening of my vagina was softening. Then on Saturday morning, I lost my mucus plug.
On Sunday, for most of the day I had mild lower back pain. And I went for an afternoon walk too and noticed compared to my walk 24 hours earlier, it really was more difficult to walk comfortably. Around dinner time on Sunday, I was talking to Jack and also moving around the kitchen and I thought I weed myself. My pelvic floor is something I had been working on strengthening, so I wasn’t surprised I had a leak. It happened 3-4 more times before I went to bed. Each time, was the tiniest amount, enough to make a small patch on my underwear. So I decided to wear a pad to bed. Then at 12.30am on Monday morning I woke to go to the toilet and when I stood up, I thought some wee went straight on the pad. It was still a small amount, enough to soak the pad. Then I tried to go back to sleep but I starting getting what I would call ‘waves of pain’ every 15 minutes and I kept getting up every 30 minutes to do little “wees”. So I decided to wake Jack up at 1.30am and told him that I thought something had started.
We called the midwife hotline at the hospital and I explained the waves of pain and the leaking of fluid. She explained that likely my labour had started and as the baby’s head was moving positions, small amounts of amniotic fluid was leaking out. She asked me what my plan was and I told her I wanted to labour at home for as long as possible. She said that would work well, as the change over for Obstetricians was happening at 6am and my obstetrician would start then (as she wasn’t on call this weekend). The midwife asked me to call at 6am and give them an update.
They said my waters may not be broken (they asked me to wear a pad) and they may do a few checks and send me home again. But I told them I still wanted to come in and we would be there at 3.30am. When we arrived around 4am, they checked my pad and confirmed visually it was my waters that had broken. The contractions were starting to feel stronger now. They asked me if I wanted a cervix exam and I explained they could look but I didn’t want to know the answer. So instead, my midwife recommended I get in the shower. I sat on a bouncy ball while Jack sprayed water on my back. And it definitely helped! I forgot all about any stronger pain relief options.
Then at 4.30am I got the urge to push and told the midwife. She asked to do an examination now and confirmed I was fully dilated and I could start pushing when I was ready. While she did the examination I was on my back and the pain in my lower back was bad. I knew I definitely didn’t want to labour in this position on my back.
They then called my obstetrician, who said she was happy to come in early today. I started pushing at 5am and my obstetrician arrived at 5.15am. I started in a standing position and did a lot of hip swaying. Then when I started to do some pushing, I used the squatting method. The most painful part by far was right near the end, when I felt a burning sensation after a big push. They later explained this is when I had my level 2 tear. With an hour of pushing, David arrived at 6.10am. My obstetrician repaired my tear immediately with stitches while David had some skin to skin time.
So a really really big thanks from me and Jack for the role you played in David’s birth. I have no doubt doing the Calmbirth course with you and your wisdom, experience and advice created the ideal birth for us.