During the week up to my due date (Saturday 26/11) I started feeling stronger and more frequent Braxton-Hicks. On Thursday morning, 24/11, I went to get acupuncture for induction of labour. I felt great the rest of the day and had several social outings.
At 1 am on Friday morning I started getting some stronger contraction-like-pains that lasted longer than the normal Braxton-Hicks. During the night I became more convinced that labour may have begun. I couldn’t quite sleep and felt excited. Rob, my husband, was lying next to me asleep and found out later in the morning that something was up.
I used the calm breath to get through the early contractions.
During Friday morning and day the contractions eased up a bit, were weaker and less frequent, but nevertheless present. Rob and I went for a walk, I made pancakes, Rob packed the hospital bag and prepared the home for labour. I tried to get some rest during the day, as I was aware that things were likely to ramp up during the evening and night. Later in the afternoon on Friday contractions became stronger and I had to focus a bit more on getting through them. Calm breathing and a focus on relaxing my jaw, shoulders and hands were enough to get me through them at this stage. We watched a romcom, dimmed all the lights around the house and put on some nice music. Around 9 pm, I had 3 contractions/10 minutes for around an hour and we called the hospital to let them know. As I was able to speak to the midwife on the phone during a contraction she told me that I was still in early labour, and that we should continue what we were doing at home.
The contractions slowed down over the next hours, became weaker and less frequent again, and I (and Rob) became a bit tired, discouraged and impatient. However, we had so many tools from the Calmbirth course to get labour going so we decided to dance a bit, do lift and tuck during contractions, the forward leaning inversion and went for a walk, which was quite an experience amidst the Friday night crowds in Bondi.
At around 2 am Saturday morning things were still a bit slow and I wanted to go to the hospital to get checked whether things were actually progressing. We arrived at 3 am. Baby was doing absolutely fine and when the midwife checked my cervix I was around 3-4cm dilated, but the cervix was still 1 cm long, so I wasn’t quite in established labour just yet. She recommended that we go back home to get as much rest as possible and that labour could be a few more hours or even days. However, she told us that if my waters broke, the labour could speed up quite rapidly as my cervix was very soft.
We arrived back at our apartment at 5.30 am. Contractions were definitely stronger now, and as I was lying on all fours in bed my waters all of a sudden broke – literally popped like a balloon at 5.45 am! Rob called the hospital to ask whether we should come back in. We were told to give it an hour and call back.
We went into the shower, which had by far been the best pain relief during the whole labour. I was leaning over a birthing ball, while the gentle warm water poured over my lower back. During each contraction Rob was right there with me, guiding me, telling me to breathe, breathed with me, told me I was doing great, reminding me of my visualisations. Rob pushed my pelvis together during each contraction and this was absolutely pivotal for me to get through each contraction at this stage. I really had to focus on my working breath, relaxing my body and counting. After half an hour in the shower, I had no doubt that I had to go to the hospital. I felt the baby was coming down my pelvis rapidly, pain was increasing and my deep primal moans were getting louder.
We arrived at the hospital at 7 am Saturday morning (26/11) after an intense 10 minute car drive with four contractions. I started feeling an slight urge to push when I was in the car. We were given a room in the birthing centre, which had a double bed, more homely atmosphere and a big birthing tub. I had wished for a waterbirth, and the midwife quickly saw this in our birth plan and started filling up the tub.
Until then, I was on all fours on the bed, retreating into myself and really concentrating. Rob was with me the whole time and I needed that. There was no time to turn on fairy lights or music and after half an hour in the hospital I went into the warm soft water, which was an absolute pain relief at this stage. As soon as I got into the water I started pushing on all fours. Rob was in front of me holding my hands, pouring water over my back. The midwife was next to me, reassuring me that I was doing great and that I was following my body’s cues to push. I was following my own instincts on how much to push during each contraction and after 25 minutes little Herbie was born, crying as soon as he came up from the water. I held him in my arms and he was perfect. Rob cut the cord after delayed clamping and I got up from the water to deliver the placenta after a shot of oxytocin.
I had Herbie on my chest the whole time and while I was being examined for any tears he started to search for the breast and he latched on to both breasts within the first hours. I had a few minor/cosmetic tears and had four stitches.
Rob and I were lucky to be able to stay in the birthing room the whole day. We were discharged in the evening and slept in our own bed with little Herbie pie in his bed next to ours.
Rob and I both feel extremely grateful for the smooth labour and physiological birth of Herbie with no interventions. We believe that this would not have happened without the Calmbirth course including mental and physical preparation in the weeks leading up to the due date. Thank you Karen and the great midwives that helped us during labour.