The Birth of River
After a traumatic first birth, when I found out I was pregnant the second time, I knew I wanted to approach this pregnancy and birth differently. Previously, I was under the care of a private obstetrician and birthed at a private hospital. After being honoured enough to photograph some home births with private midwives, I knew that with this baby I wanted to birth at home. I also knew I needed to combat some deep seated fears I had about birthing again, and my beautiful midwife, Caitlin, recommended Jess and her Hypnobirthing classes. My husband and I did a lot of work and by attending the Hypnobirthing classes we were able to recognise how and where our first birth went awry and Ezra, who was hesitant about me birthing at home, was able to feel more at ease after learning about how natural birth was. I felt empowered having the tools and skills to help get me through birth and alleviate my fears. I was ready for an undisturbed physiological birth.
The pregnancy wasn’t smooth sailing, I was told at 20 weeks my cervix was quite short and we were told this could mean a preterm baby. Then at the 28 week scan, I was also told that this baby was large and in the 94th percentile, and that I would need to have another scan to check growth at 36 weeks. Then, at 33+2 weeks I went into threatened preterm labour, so I was able to give some of the skills I had learned with Jess a test run. At the time I felt that my undisturbed home birth was slipping away from me. I felt supported by the incredible women around me, my midwife and Jess, to help make the best decisions I could for my baby and I. While I was at the hospital I was swabbed for GBS and came back positive. Yet another decision we had to make, and challenge to overcome!
The Hypnobirthing course allowed me to have the confidence to ask questions and listen to my intuition when it came to medical treatment during (and after) my pregnancy.
Fast forward to 37 weeks, I had made it to the home birth territory! That night I had some small surges that fizzled out after a couple of hours. The next day I had booked a pregnancy massage, which was a great way to relax and surrender to the baby, knowing that he would come when he was ready to enter the world. I went to bed that night, listening to my affirmations and feeling at peace. For both of my births and babies, this process of surrender has always preluded me giving birth.
At 2am I was woken up by my waters breaking in bed. I knew it was my membranes rupturing as there was so much of it, and it had a sweet smell to it. We decided to quickly remake the bed and go back to sleep, as I wasn't feeling any surges at this stage. I called my midwife to let her know and that I was going to go back to bed. Literally, minutes after I called my surges started. Ezra decided it would be a good time to jump up on the roof to do something to the hot water system so we could fill my birth pool.
I called the midwife back to tell her quickly that my surges had started but weren’t intense, and then laid down to listen to my affirmations. Each surge was building in intensity more so than the last. I decided Ezra needed to come inside to support me. By this time I was struggling to walk, and he had only been gone about 10-15 minutes. I went back to the bed with Ez telling me how amazing I am, and giving me light touch on my back. By this time my surges were so intense I was feeling sick, I asked for a bucket. Ez knew what this meant having been through this before, I then I told him;
The baby will be here soon.
I have no idea where I got the notion that the baby was coming soon, I’m not a midwife but I was listening to my body and was quite primal.
I decided I wanted to get in the shower and Ezra told me he needed to do one more thing to the hot water system, as he still thought we needed to fill the birth pool with hot water. I tried crawling to the shower and started yelling at him that I was going to kill him if he didn’t help me get in the shower. I got in the shower and was vocalising so much, the water felt so good on my tummy but my surges were piggy backing at this stage. After only being in the shower for a couple of minutes, I needed to poo. The urge to push was unbearable, and I was breathing through my surges as best I could. My whole body started pushing uncontrollably, and I was worried about tearing so started flapping my lips to try and slow the process a bit. At this stage our midwife still hadn’t arrived, so I told Ezra to call an ambulance.
As Ez was watching the baby crown as he called the ambulance, and I can remember reaching down to feel the baby’s head as he slowly came out. Within the next surge his head and hand were born. A compound presentation. My surges slowed at this point, which was lovely for me to have some reprieve, Ezra was supporting the baby’s head and was telling me what an amazing job I’m doing. I could actually feel the baby rotating inside me, getting in the best position for him to be born. One more surge and I pushed him out. That last push was the best feeling I have ever felt! Ezra caught the baby and passed him up between my legs and I got to meet our baby for the first time after a 30 minute labour!
This birth was so healing for me. If we hadn't invested in the hypnobirthing course with Jess, I never would have surrendered to what my body was telling me and had the tools to help manage an intense quick birth. I feel so empowered by the birth, I could give birth a million times after that experience! The course also helped normalise birth, and home birth for Ezra, so although the experience was unexpected and incredible, he was able to draw on what he learned to be a good birth support and remain calm.
Midwives: New Life Midwifery, Ipswich
Photographer: Emma Jade Photography