I wrote my birth story down for my own blog ‘Oatcake Adventures’ a few weeks after our little Oatcake arrived, with my ‘mama hat’ on. When Beth asked me to put together a little something for The Bump to Baby Chapter, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit some of my pregnancy and birth with the ‘midwife hat’ on! Though to be honest, only 2 months after giving birth to the little man, it’s likely to be impossible to separate myself from something so innately personal, but I’ll give it a go..
Despite having helped many women to birth their babies, hypnobirthing remained somewhat of a mystery to me until I fell pregnant myself. I had supported just one mother who had used it, and if I’m honest, her MP3s filling the room about her vagina opening like a rose bud in bloom, made me chuckle a little inside.. but hey, a first time mama- birthed her baby like an ABSOLUTE boss, with no drugs, so there’s got to be something right about it! So, when a friend of mine, who teaches hypnobirthing, approached me about teaching us when I fell pregnant, I was initially pretty skeptical. I definitely knew I wanted as few interventions as possible, and was pretty set on having a home birth and I knew that a lot of research pointed towards hypnobirthing as a way to help achieve this. So we decided we would give it a go!
There are so many misconceptions about hypnobirthing, and I was party to pretty much all of them- which is pretty awful for a midwife I know, but I’m on a mission to spread the word so watch this birthing space! You can hypnobirth and have all the pain relief options in the world if you want! You can hypnobirth through a planned or emergency c section. Just as you can hypnobirth your way through a water birth in your living room. You can hypnobirth and be CEO of a global corporation, you can hypnobirth and be a vegan who only wears handwoven clothes. It doesn’t discriminate about who you are or how your little one makes his way into the world, but it totally alters the way you perceive it. FYI I totally hypnobirth my way through life now, so you probably don’t even need to be pregnant.. just saying.
For weeks we had old sheets on the bed, waterproof mattress protector at the ready, we had collected piles and piles of old towels from family and friends and had lavender scented candles dotted around the house, all in preparation for my dream Hypno-Homebirth. But after three days of reduced movements, we opted for an induction, in hospital, on the consultant led ward- almost as far away from the original ‘plan’ as we could get. Now this was probably part my midwifery training and part my hypnobirthing mind- meant that we felt confident to make decisions at a time and in a way that was right for us. Baby’s movements are a really important indicator that they are safe and well, so its super important to notice if things change. Oatcake had had a few episodes of going pretty quiet in my pregnancy already, so on the Tuesday night we were offered an induction. We did some research, asked lots of questions and weighed up the benefits, risks, alternatives, listened to our instincts and decided to turn down the option of induction at this stage, i.e. Do nothing. In hypnobirthing this is called using your BRAIN. A method I now use when making every decision in my life now, from picking baby wipes in Waitrose (it’s my local supermarket, I’m not a supermarket snob I swear.. but they do sell fresh sushi so…) to putting an offer in on our new house (!!), so ultimately it’s an investment in your mind not just your birth!! Another 36 hours passed, we had a scan and some monitoring, and the induction was offered again. This time, after the same process of decision making, we opted for the induction.
We took some time, headed home for a few hours to sort out the house, and our heads (!), read as much research as we could on inductions for reduced movement and returned that evening confident we’d made the right choice to be induced. After further monitoring that night, I was induced at 11am the following morning.. and it all kicked off.
The TENS machine was an absolute delight, I might just put it on again now for a laugh I liked it so much, I would totally recommend getting your hands on one if your preparing to pop out a small human any time soon. Probably even if your not. Gas and air, also went down a treat, though temporarily made Leon’s reading hypnobirthing scripts the most hilarious thing in the world.. I just remember thinking- ‘does he know how much of a nob he sounds?’ and crying with laughter in my head, but hey! However you get your oxytocin hits is fine by baby! Needless to say, after another hour, the scripts were much welcomed once again! Incidentally I should point out here, I studied KG hypnobirthing and there was categorically no mention of the aforementioned blooming rosebud vagina. Strictly relaxing and chat about trees and butterflies. Which was great. Because I still just find the thought of the Rose thing hilarious.
10 hours later, 40 minutes of pushing (which by the way is way easier than just contracting), baby Oatcake arrived in my arms. Circumstantially, (being induced, in hospital, strapped to a monitor and laying on a bed) the birth was absolutely nothing that I had hoped for, but as an experience, for my mind, my body and my now my memory, it was all I ever wanted and more. I felt in control, I felt supported, I made my own decisions and totally rocked it! I’m convinced the sheer determination to make it great, made it so. It’s completely changed me as a mother, a midwife and a human. And now I’m on a mission to get people talking positively about birth, and get women to look forward to birthing their babies- pregnancy and birth has shown me strength within myself that I could never even fathom existed. Birth isn’t something to be afraid of, with preparation, support and a strong will, we are capable of amazing things! However your baby comes into the world Ladies, you are all rock stars and I salute you!
Oh and ps. We didn’t actually name our poor child Oatcake. His name is Otis. The cake part is just an affectionate nickname.