I started my pregnancy full of fear after having to use fertility treatment to conceive. But when I completed my doula training halfway through my pregnancy my perspective began to change and became determined to have a positive natural birth experience.
I can’t really pinpoint the beginning of labour that led to the birth of Oliver. I had strong, regular Braxton Hicks contractions that were coming every 3-5 minutes for the much of the month of August. There were many moments when I contacted my doula, Nicole, wondering whether labour was starting. Ollie was due on Monday the 29th of August but I desperately wanted him to come early in the weekend so that my husband (Nathen) could spend the whole weekend with us before going back to work on Monday. Nicole and I prayed often about the timing of his birth and also for the right staff to be on when I went to hospital.
On Friday the 26th of August I had a ‘show’ in the morning and then a midwife appointment at the hospital at about 11am where through abdominal palpitations Oliver was found fully engaged and in perfect position for birth. I went home with a list of things I needed to do to prepare for the weekend. However, when I got home I can remember feeling really ‘fragile’ and decided I didn’t want to leave the house. I called Nathen to let him know I was feeling strange and that I would love him to come home. He let me know he was just going to go for a surf and then he would be home! So I ended up laying around for the rest of the afternoon, with the odd bounce on my birth ball, while I waited for Nathen to come home. During this time I was having minor twinges in my uterus but they weren’t any different to the Braxton hicks I had felt earlier in my pregnancy.
When Nathen got home around 6pm we decided to go for a walk around the block to see if we could get things going a bit. After our walk, my contractions stepped up a bit. They became stronger and more regular and were coming about 10-15 minutes apart. During my pregnancy when I was having Braxton Hicks my trick was to go to sleep as I knew that if it was the real thing I would wake up. As these weren’t very painful I decided to go to sleep at around 9pm.
I woke up at 11pm with stronger contractions that were coming every 2-3 minutes when I timed them. I stayed awake until 12 when I decided to get up and have a shower. At this point, some part of me knew that these contractions were different but I was still questioning whether this was true labour. Nathen also got up at this time, got dressed, had a coffee and started lighting candles and making sure our house was warm. After a little while I got out of the shower and sat on the floor in the living room while laying over the birth ball where I stayed until we left for the hospital.
At about 12:30pm I had 3 intense contractions that I couldn’t talk through so I decided to ask Nicole to come in. Nathen was starting to feel a little worried and looked like he would like to have someone else there with us. I also called the hospital at this point to let them know I would be coming in soon.
Nicole arrived at our house by 2am and with another few intense contractions I decided to go to the hospital at 3am. I was nervous about the walk into the hospital but thankfully I only had a couple of contractions on the way. When I arrived, the midwife let me know that she had read my birth plan and would respect my decision to be pretty much left alone. I declined any internal examinations and the only monitoring she did was with the fetal Doppler every so often. I remember after arriving at the hospital my contractions slowed somewhat and were difficult to deal with when the midwife was talking to me, but once I was left alone with Nathen and Nicole, my contractions picked up again. I spent this part of my labour moving from the birth ball to the hot shower where Nathen would spray the hot water on my back. I really believe the hot water helped me through my contractions as well as Nicole’s constant reminder to relax into each contraction rather than fighting them.
I had planned on a water birth and one of the requirements of a hospital waterbirth was having a midwife on who had trained to deal with it. I asked my midwife if anyone would be on staff to help me have a water birth and she let me know that homebirth midwife ‘Sam’ was rostered on for 7am. Nicole and I were so thrilled to hear this as we both knew Sam from our doula training and previous homebirth’s Nicole had attended. We knew she would be just perfect and would have full confidence in my ability to give birth naturally. It was an absolute miracle as she was only rostered on at hospital one shift a fortnight.
Until about 7am I found I was really happy to talk and laugh between contractions although I really had to focus as a contraction started. But, around 7 o clock, I had 3 contractions on top of each other with no break, so I decided I better get into the bath. Once in the bath, I really withdrew into myself. I could no longer talk between contractions and I just remember focusing on my cervix and visualising it opening. Sometime after I got into the bath, Sam arrived and I relaxed knowing I could now have my water birth. The contractions were very intense at this stage and at about 8am Sam offered to check how dilated I was. I agreed that I wanted to know so I moved from my upright position onto my back. Sam let me know that I was 8cm and with the next contraction I felt the urge to push.
I followed my body’s lead and pushed for about 45 minutes before Oliver was born. I remember being scared of tearing and just before I felt him crowning I looked at Nicole and told her I was scared and I didn’t know what to do. She reminded me to blow little candle breaths. It took all my strength not to just push him out as quick as I could but I reminded myself that I didn’t want to tear. Once his head was born I felt so much relief and with the next contraction I pushed his whole body out. He came out with the cord wrapped around his neck 3 times, so once the cord was unwound, Oliver was placed onto my chest. He breathed straight away but stayed quiet for a little while before letting out a high pitched scream and latching onto his dad’s finger.
He stayed on my chest for about 20 minutes before I decided it was time to cut the cord and deliver the placenta. Sam used a tiny bit of traction to see if the placenta was ready to come out and I delivered it then without any problems.
After Oliver’s birth I was on such a high and felt so proud that I had given birth to him the way I had wanted to. I felt like I could do anything and I know it gave me confidence in starting out as a first time mum. I was also very pleased to find out that I had no tearing and could go home the same day. I am so thankful to my husband and my doula for helping me achieve this goal.