By Sarah Watson
My name is Sarah Watson and my husband James and I attended your Calmbirth class on the weekend of 12-13 August in Mittagong. We travelled from Canberra after hearing great things about Calmbirth. I thought birth was something high risk that I had to ‘get through’. James was especially anxious about my health and safety. We were unsure about what was to come. We didn’t believe that birth could be even a positive experience let alone the magical experience we had.
Before expanding on our birth story, we’d like to get straight to the point and say that this was the ‘best money and time we’ve ever spent’. What a fantastic experience we had. We left relaxed and looking forward to the birth of our baby. After she was born, we agreed Calmbirth was priceless to us. We can’t thank you enough for your warmth and knowledge, we carried this with us through our entire birth.
Pregnancy for me was stressful. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes requiring insulin at 25 weeks, which derailed my hopes of a low risk, uncomplicated pregnancy. I wasn’t “made” to do this as my body was failing to regulate its own nutrition. I wasn’t capable of growing a baby the “right size for me” to birth. I lost confidence in my body’s ability to do things as it should. A myriad of obstetric and endocrinology appointments outside of our continuity midwife had us worrying about shoulder dystocia, the growth of our baby, and the function of my placenta. I was booked in for an induction at 38+1. Our baby was better out than in, my diabetes now meant my in-utero environment made life risky for our baby. Surrendering to the process started here, and while having to sign consent acknowledging the risks of birthing by induction was frightening we decided to just breathe, focus on the three of us and put our trust in our team.
I had cervidil tape inserted at 9am on the Tuesday with the plan to artificially rupture my membranes at 9am Wednesday, and start syntocin shortly after. I was hoping not all three interventions would be needed however the lovely obstetric registrar said being my first baby it was highly unlikely but hey – she would shout me a coffee if only the cervidil worked. After keeping active, walking around and spending time on the fit ball all day we decided to get some sleep at 11.50pm. There was a big day ahead. At 11.55pm I asked James to turn on the light. I heard and felt a ‘pop’, after sitting still some slight movement confirmed what I thought – my membranes had spontaneously ruptured. After a quick shower, the CTG showed our baby was beautifully asleep during this whole happening. I had some mild contractions and the decision was made to call in our beautiful continuity midwife who arrived at 0015. Syntocin was started at 1.30am.
The whole of my active labour was wonderful. I look back on it fondly as such a special, meaningful and intimate time of my life. I don’t think I’ve ever been so much in the moment in my whole life. I took one contraction at a time, each breath at a time and relaxed in the time in between. Even though I was hooked up to the CTG and IV drip with about a meter and a half to move on and off the bed I felt I still had the space and freedom to labour comfortably.
The lights were dimmed, the room was calm and quiet, time wasn’t at all relevant and I breathed through the waves of contractions as I heard the hum of my baby’s heartbeat and felt my husband and midwife’s presence near the entire time. I’m thankful of the change of mindset of contractions from pain to a muscle working hard. I found the sensation wasn’t at all “bad” and absolutely amazing how my body knew another contraction was about to begin and slowly subside. The sensation was all in my back as our baby had turned posterior. James used heat packs and pressure points to help me through each wave. After each big contraction my husband and midwife whispered well done as they watched the CTG while I closed my eyes. In a way this was really nice that they had a way to visualise and just know each contraction.
My midwife had said if I started feeling pressure before I was dilated enough I should let her know as an epidural would probably be recommended to stop the urge to push. She had said at 5.30am she would check how far I had progressed. The sensation for me was changing, and she said at 5.10am I was 6cm dilated. I was so surprised (I think we all were!) and even a bit proud that I had rode the contractions out so well, up until this point I felt very on top of the contractions – they were completely manageable with breathing. A while after this I felt I began slipping in my confidence and they became more intense. My mind raced to how I would cope with the next one while in the peak of one. I began to feel a bit of pressure and told my midwife maybe I should have the epidural because I was worried about pushing when I wasn’t ready. I felt I couldn’t control the pain and wasn’t 100% sure what to do. She told me I was the only one who could decide and with the building sensation of the contractions I said yes – I could handle this now, and the next one but I wasn’t sure I could do it for another 4 hours. She called the anaesthetist who was in theatre and would come to see me afterward. By the time she came back into the room it was beginning to be unbearable, I needed something! She got the gas ready. While this definitely took the edge off, I became even more irritable and felt uncontrollably uncalm. I felt hot, sick. The pressure was building. All of a sudden I said I needed to turn around from kneeling over the back of the bed to lying down and I needed to push. My midwife had a look and I was fully dilated. The time was 6.10am.
Thank goodness the anaesthetist hadn’t arrived. I think if I realised I was in transition I would have coped better with the building sensations. Another midwife joined the room in a hurry, trolleys were wheeled in, the lights were turned up.
This is the most panicked I got during the entire birth, I don’t think anyone expected me to be fully dilated so quickly. In the meantime, my midwife reassured me it was ok, I had time and it was ok to start pushing.
There was a bit more of a buzz in the room than there had been, but I anchored onto my midwifes calmness and direction. She assured me that the CTG was beautiful. She used warm compresses while our baby was crowning and I couldn’t believe when she asked if I wanted to feel the head. With the next contraction I felt her pulling on the baby and I pushed to help her guide baby out, with that contraction our beautiful daughter was born! 6.48am!
Later she had told me that she was almost a shoulder dystocia, we were unable to do delayed cord clamping as the umbilical cord snapped and had to be clamped immediately (I watched this happen as they went to place her on my chest, and my midwife very calming and quickly clamped both sides of the cord with a splash of blood). But her CTG was beautiful the entire time from being asleep after my membranes ruptured to being very stable up until she was born. I’m proud to think my breathing and relaxation helped her, even if it was just a little bit, to stay happy the entire time. Despite these two potentially scary things I felt completely safe and surrendered to the process and my midwife’s skill that this still sits ok with me. Before Calmbirth I would have panicked with envisioning a cascade of awful events.
Afterwards the placenta still hadn’t come away for half an hour and the obstetric Dr had to come in to insert a catheter and warn me about the potential theatre trip I might need. I really believe Calmbirth techniques allowed me to surrender and be ok with this. Luckily it was delivered intact with controlled cord traction. I then needed suturing for second degree tears. The birth was easier than the medical intervention needed post birth.
We are forever grateful to Calmbirth and our midwife for our beautiful birth experience. I am so proud that I was able to have a wonderful labour and normal vaginal birth that was drug free (albeit with a bit of gas in the end). My heart bursts with love when I think about her birth, it is the most favourite day of my life. I would do it 1000 times over again. It makes me think completely differently and fondly about my pregnancy, while stressful at the time, turns out my body could do what it was supposed to after all.
Midwives are truly amazing. Please never underestimate the difference you make. The care, expertise and skill we were given by Peter and our midwife Roya made all the difference to our experience.
Olivia Lorraine Watson 4/10/17 @ 6.48am. 38+2. 3.59kg and 49cm. Induced 6 hour labour for IRGDM, NVD. Beautiful reassuring CTG, Apgars 8,9. Beautiful sugars post birth. Our hearts are so full. We are so proud and so thankful.