Georgie's Birth Story
I was lucky enough to be in midwifery group practice but unfortunately didn't have a lot of continuity due to staff changes. I got to 38 weeks before I was able to have a conversation with anyone around the sort of birth I was hoping for - quite disheartening in a continuity model! Fortunately I was able to go through my birth preferences at 38 weeks with the midwife who ended up being there on the day - just a stroke of luck!
Anway, my pregnancy progressed nicely and while feeding my toddler to sleep at 40+2, my waters broke as I got up! They were tinted with a green / yellow colour, and I knew it was likely meconium. We went into the assessment centre and they confirmed meconium. The midwife recommended an induction be commenced. I did use the BRAINS acronym, but when you're presented with information that is not necessarily accurate/comprehensive, it feels somewhat redundant (e.g. I was given an infographic that essentially said there's lower chance of CS if I get induced, and that's it). But in another sense the BRAINS acronym was useful, as I knew there were alternatives, even if the hospital was not going to share them with me directly.
I consented to some time on the CTG monitor and baby was doing fine. I had a visceral reaction to the suggestion of induction and instinctively felt that baby was fine. At that point, my cervix was high and pretty closed. I discharged against medical advice and agreed to come back at 3pm the next day if labour had not commenced. There was very little discussion about the fact that the meconium was thin, considering the mec against gestation, or discussing the reasons (other than potential distress) that baby may have passed meconium; nor did they discuss the risks of induction. I re-read Rachel Reed's post on the curse of meconium again when I got home and felt comfortable with my decision.
Fortunately, surges began mildly overnight. I got up the next morning and went for a long walk around 9am, where the surges, by the end of the walk, were certainly more intense but still manageable. By 10am I started to get into my hypnobirthing mode (was getting the fairy lights / diffuser etc on) but over the next half hour, the sensations were getting far too intense! I called the midwife just after 10.30am and told her we were coming in.
When I arrived, I went in by myself as my husband couldn't get a park. I ended up being taken straight through to birth suite as I ended up leant over a chair on the ground in the waiting area! I assumed the same position once in the room. I'd wanted a water birth but because of the mec and waters releasing I 'wasn't allowed' (I didn't even try to challenge this as I felt I had bigger fish to fry the night before). I declined the recommendation for CTG initially and asked for the doppler - was agreeable to progress to CTG if anything problematic heard on the doppler.
Things progressed quickly from there, and I started spontaneously bearing down by around 10.50am. The midwife suggested I move to the bed 'in case my knees get sore'. In labour land, despite having advocated so hard for myself just the night before, I moved to the bed unthinkingly. From there, decels were then heard between contractions and we transferred over to CTG. Cognitively, pushing felt appropriate, but I did lose the spontaneous urge to push while on the bed, and I was now pushing voluntarily. My midwife knew I didn't want coached pushing but because of the heart rate, was very enthusiastically directing my pushing. The perineal pain that started just after each push was so intense (this happened with my first birth also, so I was not entirely surprised, but the realisation that I would have to endure that again to push my baby out was traumatising). I think because of the heart rate issues(?) the midwife did at one point try to get me to push on my back (having been leant over the bed on all fours). She explained later that if the heart rate is not reassuring in one position, they move you to another position. In my first birth, I actually felt somewhat comfortable on my back but this time, I felt like I would split open if I did that and begged to move. Of course I know that they can't 'make you' push in a certain position, but given the focus on bubs heart rate, it's incredibly difficult in that moment to have a reasoned conversation around why they feel that is the best position and whether it will put the baby at risk if you don't! In the end, we 'compromised' with side lying. I felt myself tear (I got a second degree in the end) but on the upside, things got a little bit less painful after that as it seemed to just relieve the tension and provide a little more space. I felt the ring of fire this time, which was a pleasant sensation compared with the pain of each of the proceeding pushes.
And after around half an hour of pushing, our beautiful baby boy came out direct OP, surprising the midwife (I didn't have any VE's and he'd never been posterior so we had no idea, and no back pain). To be honest I didn't know he was out at that moment but the midwife asked for my hands, and I lifted him straight up to me chest - best moment of my life.
I had a physiological third stage and cord was white before it was cut later on.
Overall, it was an incredibly positive birth, but there are still things within it that made me unhappy; I've had so many reflections since: trying to make sense of why I feel such an extreme level of pain during the second stage compared to the surges, and broader reflections around our maternity systems and why they are the way they are. I had a birth debrief with Debby Gould - she is amazing and it was so helpful.
I feel angry that more comprehensive information was not provided by the hospital around meconium. How differently my birth (and outcomes for my baby) may have played out had I accepted induction. The midwife did so much to try to support my birth preferences (she was so lovely, warm and relaxed midwife), but to this day, I feel upset that I moved from my preferred position on the ground (cue birth mat if you're worried about knees getting sore!). I suspect I'll never know, but I wonder whether the heart rate issues may have been contributed to by my pushing voluntarily instead of waiting for the urge to push to return. I still feel upset around my being encouraged to adopt certain positions - particularly given baby was posterior, I imagine it's even more important to allow me to move intuitively. After I'd birthed baby’s head, the midwife did something hands on (I don't know what - helping the shoulders or checking for cord?) and it hurt so badly - I wish she could have just been patient and sat on her hands. While I still sit with some anger and questions, I am so incredibly grateful I birthed our baby without many of the common interventions, and that he was born healthy and well. The moment of lifting him straight up to me was beyond description - like the most addictive drug. I am so glad I knew about the cascade of intervention from your course, but not just in the obvious ways, like 'getting an epidural can lead to x'. It's also in the less obvious ways - one VE determining that baby was posterior, and I suspect I would have ended up with forceps or vacuum. The midwife felt he was taking a long time to come out, but not knowing he was to come out stargazing, my picture was not painted with assumptions about the challenges of pushing out a posterior baby. I am beyond grateful for your course - I know your course (and from following your instagram) goes beyond standard hypnobirthing, and the essence and power of your teaching, I think, is about being open to the possibility that there is 'another way', to question, and to do your own research to try to have the birth you want. I would love to see you have your own sort of 'independent' course one day, outside the hypnobirthing banner (though no doubt incorporating many of the techniques) - maybe it wouldn't be as marketable but my goodness it would be powerful.
I knew instinctively after my first birth that there was something that didn't sit well with me around the way birth plays out in hospitals - the medicalisation just didn't feel right. I'd begun to think theoretically about home birth for my second birth, but never thought about it as something I would actually 'do'. Instead I worked hard towards having a 'physiological' hospital birth. Which in some senses I achieved, despite almost having the birth totally derailed. But in another sense, I can't unsee and unfeel all of the 'soft intervention' that took place. In some ways it's more sinister, because it's left me questioning why I feel affected by parts of the birth, despite it being so positive overall and low intervention. I feel I've another soul to bring into this world, and I want next time to do it with the full trust, calm, safety, and reverence I think it deserves. I know all home birth midwives aren't created equal haha so I'll now turn my planning towards working out how I can make sure I engage the right team for support ;)
If you get to the end of this, thank you! I think it's been cathartic to write this out; but I did also really want to share for others to read as I think all birth experiences are so fascinating and I'm sure help guide your learning; but I wanted also to make sure you're aware that your course was such a catalyst - a catalyst to always question, to seek more information, and to feel confident and empowered.