The Birth of Harriet
Our baby girl was stubbornly in the breech position for weeks leading up to birth. Finally, after a successful ECV (external cephalic version - a technique performed by a doctor to flip baby to head down position) she was head down and ready to go.
After discussions with my OB I agreed to an induction of labour at 40 weeks and was assessed to see what the best method would be for us. I was already 1cm dilated and 1cm thick, which means my cervix was preparing for labour a week before our estimated due date!
On the day of my induction I arrived and had an ARM (artificial release of membranes) at 7:00am. I ate some breaky and just chilled out in our birth suite. At 8:10am the midwife commenced the syntocinon IV drip and I turned my TENS machine on. I was already having some of my own surges that had started at this point since the ARM. By 9:00am my surges were 3-4 every 10 minutes and lasting 50-60 seconds. They were manageable but ramping up quickly and I was really needing to move, focus and breathe through them (using the birth birth and leaning forward onto the bed).
By 10:00am (less than 2 hours after starting the syntocinon) my surges were almost on top of each other, lasting 50-60 seconds. The pain was really intense and I was making a lot of noise vocalising to get through them. At this time my mum arrived to support me.
At 10:30-ish I hopped in the shower for a few surges while sitting on the birth ball. I was able to relax a bit in between surges with the hot water, but the surges were so intense and frequent I was starting to feel like I was done and couldn’t do it anymore. I requested to get the OB to come and check dilation. About 20 minutes later my OB arrived and I was 3-4cm dilated, but fully effaced. My body had been working hard!
I was feeling worried about how long it might still take, with the surges so close together and that I felt like I wouldn't cope. I decide to try the gas. I used it for 2 contractions and found it too hard to use as I really needed to vocalise and breathe. I was on my knees on the bed leaning into Jake from this point after the VE and decided after another strong surge that I really couldn’t do it anymore and asked for an epidural.
About 15 minutes later the anaesthetist arrived and started talking to me about the epidural but I couldn’t really respond properly to her as the surges were so intense and so frequent. I was fully in my labour brain and couldn't focus. By the noises I was making the midwife suggested checking dilation again to see if I was close and wouldn’t need the epidural.
She checked and I was already 7cm. This was less than half an hour from the last VE.
I got back up on my knees and pretty much straight away the noise I was making during surges was more deep and grunty like I was pushing. I could feel pressure as well so she suggested we started to bear down with the urge. The OB arrived and I was lying on my side holding onto Jake and the OB held my leg up when I was bearing down.
I was extremely fearful about this stage of labour and I was almost trying not to push and begging for them to push her back in and do it a different way. While my body was doing the pushing on its own during the surges I felt like everything was going to tear so the OB offered some local injections which I accepted. It now felt like the top part (near my clitoris) was going to tear in two, the stinging was intense. My biggest fear was tearing and I held back from the stretching sensations.
But my body was bearing down with each surge and after only 20 minutes her head was born. Then an arm, and then the rest of her body. She cried straight away. Time from established labour (they counted this from the time my surges were 4 in 10 minutes) until she was born was 2 hours 20 minutes. It was fast and intense.
The umbilical cord was quite short so she came up onto my belly. We did delayed cord clamping and a good hour of skin to skin where she found the breast herself and had her first feed. My perineum was intact and just had some labial grazes.
I feel proud that I pushed through that fear and did it. I also didn’t really have a choice. Face the fear and do it anyway. Jess from Mother Moon Hypnobirthing made me feel so much better about feeling that way and how I handled labour. Not all Hypnobirths are quiet and calm - some are loud and fast!
Our baby girl is doing really well, but will need to be assessed for hip dysplasia because her hips are clicky from being in the frank breech position for so long. She has been an absolute dream so far and I am loving every moment of the feeding journey.
I hope by sharing my story another mama will feel like she can do it too. Even if it is intense and feels too hard in the moment - You CAN do it.