February 5, 2013 by nourishing buttons
So, after my experience with birth the thought of baby number 2 was not something that filled me with excitement. I had a huge amount of fear throughout my first pregnancy whenever I thought about the impending labour, and had definite ostrich tendencies. But after falling pregnant the second time, the fear was huge, almost too much to bear as this time I knew what was coming.
Ok, Planned C Section
At about midway through the pregnancy I broached my fear with the community midwife and I talked her through my first labour. Her response was that I was probably not made to have children, my pelvis was likely too small and thats why Stanley had got stuck in the birth canal. She advised me to have a c-section, selling the idea on the ease of childcare arrangements. Woah. There was part of me that wanted to believe this, a way out of going through a traumatic labour again. For about a month I had decided to go with her advice, she was the expert after all. But I always knew her advice was a load of old cobblers, and the more I thought about the reality of a c-section, especially as I knew it wasn’t necessary, the more I doubted my decision.
I can’t remember when I changed my mind, but I am SO glad I did. I knew that I needed all the support I could get so went about hiring a trainee doula (non medical birth support) and finding a birth Hypnotherapist. The wonderfully inspiring Tracy Holloway sent me some audio files, and I listened to my favourite at least every other night while falling asleep. I also read Maria Mongans Hypnobirthing book which gave me strength and courage . Most of what she says makes so much sense, how fear sets your body into the ‘fight or flight’ response which works against your body in labour causing pain, and that you need to work at keeping your body in the ‘rest and digest’ state which aids the changes your body goes through during labour. There has to be some correlation in the fear of childbirth and the medicalisation of childbirth in the western world, and how women labour in other parts of the world. I think totally pain free labour is a bit of a holy grail, but the removal of fear and a positive supportive environment goes a huge way towards having a happy experience.
Birth Mk 2
First twinges started as I went to bed on Saturday, within a few hours they were about 8 minutes apart and I was using my relaxation techniques from Tracy’s audio and managing to stay lying on my side. They gradually got stronger so I needed to move my body with the pressure. This latent phase lasted throughout the night, and amazingly I was able to fall straight to sleep as soon as a contraction ended, waking with the next one. This was without doubt as I had learnt to relax deeply, and this relaxation stopped the rising of fear and kept my nervous system in ‘rest digest’ throughout most of my labour. By morning I felt the contractions had moved into active labour, their strength had increased and they were also closer together, so Tom called St Michaels hospital only to be told that they were closed. This sent me spinning into anxiety. The same thing happened when we first called Southmead hospital when my waters broke with my first labour and it was very unpleasant unexpected experience. In fact I think that’s why we didn’t feel empowered to voice our unhappiness about our care first time round, as we felt we were lucky to be there.
The midwife asked to speak to me and I broke down crying, she said I’d have to go to Weston (midwife led unit), until I told her I couldn’t as I’d had a third degree tear before. She then told us to come in as there was one room available, thank goodness. The 30 minute car journey was pretty horrific, I was in the front seat as the back was full of car seats, and remember bashing the dashboard very hard! We called our doula on the way, and we both arrived at the hospital at the same time.
We had a fantastic midwife, and our doula was also a great support. Our doula made sure the midwife read our birth plan and that she understood exactly what we wanted and the midwife fully supported our decisions. I don’t think our birth plan was ever looked at the first time. I laboured for an hour or so, on the floor then in the bath. I sang my way through the contractions, just one long continous note. The midwife asked me if I was a professional singer, which is hilarious as I am shockingly bad usually. My waters then went with a humungous contraction in the bath. It all got very intense then, and I clearly remember saying the classic transition phrase of ‘I can’t ****ing do this anymore’ and I knew we were close. I laboured second stage squatting with Tom and the doula supporting me, and Daisy was born in an ecstatic, blissful, exhausting moment.
Following our birth plan, the midwife kept Daisy attached to the cord until it stopped pulsing, which was about 30 minutes. She let the vernix soak into her skin. The placenta was delivered on the toilet on the midwives advice as it wasn’t coming out straight away. During the second stage I frequently asked the midwife how long would it be? how far dilated was I? She brushed these comments away because in my birth plan I had asked not to know the time/dilation or be examined if not necessary. What a supportive empowering midwife.
Daisy looked up into my eyes as soon as she was born, and fed for an hour, she was peaceful and I was at peace. I am sure her gentle birth into the world has affected who she is, as I’m sure Stanleys fight into the world did too. A few hours later I was sitting on my ward bed cross legged and reflected back to the same time after my first birth experience…cathetered up, numb up to my chest, traumatised…..wow what a happy difference.