My Spontaneous Home birth ~ By Aylin
Spontaneous homebirth describes this birth perfectly.
Homebirth was not the intention for the birth of Aylin and Dan’s baby Chloe, but rather, supported by an independent midwife in a public hospital. Yes, you can choose this option, as I found out shortly after the birth of my second son.
What is so striking about this story is Aylin’s conviction about her body and her ability to birth and calmly manage every turn her birthing journey took. This put her in the her own personal position of power.
Furthermore, the story is testimony that when a woman feels safe, uninterrupted and in private, physiological birth happens. Many of us would agree, the toilet is a VERY private place. I know in my first birth, and often with first time birthing mums, this is where we can spend lots of our laboring time.
In their Hypnobirthing Australia classes, Aylin and Dan, were taught a range of techniques to choose from, including self-hypnosis, breathing, affirmation, visualization and massage, and Aylin identifies several of these in her story. It is often so with hypnobirthing couples that a mindset is created and through the releasing of any anxiety and fear during the class’ and preparation in pregnancy that allow women to go into their zone, let go and birth. Sometimes it is only the mindset that is needed, and caregivers that support your choices.
I love these aspects of their story . Equally, I love Aylin’s commentary on her appearance in the mirror, just prior to birthing when oxytocin, absolutely streaming through her veins, made her face plump and her world distorted. Aylin saw that magnificent woman about to birth her baby.
And so, baby Chloe was born. Hear her story as she was brought earthside…
Early pregnancy and choosing my caregivers
I found out that I was pregnant on Easter Sunday 2015.
My husband, Daniel, and I had planned to start a family later in the year, but the pregnancy came earlier than anticipated. I had originally intended to birth at a private hospital, but this was not an option as I would not finish serving my private health insurance pregnancy cover waiting period by my due date. My GP referred me to my zoned public hospital. However, I was still concerned that I would not receive continuity of care at a public hospital.
Through a recommendation from my myotherapist, I was led to seek the services of a private midwife, Martina, at Ten Moons.
Martina offered to support me through the public system.
Learning about birth
It was during the first meeting with Martina that I discovered how much I didn’t know about pregnancy and birth. Martina asked me various questions about my upcoming birth, such as what kind of birth do I want? What is my understanding of a natural birth and what are my thoughts on medical intervention?
Frankly, I had never put any thought into what birth would entail.
Like many first time mums, my main perception of birth was that it was painful. I saw labour and giving birth as a necessary evil to having a child. I was fearful of the process and my assumption was that I would take all forms of pain relief available.
After our first meeting, Martina provided me with some reading authored by Sarah Buckley and Ina May. She also suggested that I take a hypnobirth class later in my pregnancy to assist with the psychological preparation for labour, pointing out that this is not a focus of the hospital classes.
Through reading and later by undertaking the Hypnobirthing Australia class, with Cindy from Big Hearted Birth, I learnt about the amazing process of birth; of how the female body is perfectly designed to grow and give birth to a baby. I began to understand the advantages of a natural birth, and the significant disadvantages of (unnecessary) medical intervention. I became convinced that I wanted a natural birth, without drugs or medical intervention unless essential.
The Hypnobirthing Australia classes provided me with tools to assist me to have a positive natural birth experience. The classes also aided my husband (who was less inclined to read about birth) to understand the process of birth and to find out ways that he could assist me during labour.
The lead up to birth
Leading up to my ‘due date’ I sought to prepare myself physically and mentally for the event of my birth. I undertook regular pregnancy acupuncture, did pregnancy yoga, maintained a regular fitness regime, listened to my hypnobirth soundtracks, focused on positive affirmations, practised birth positions and developed a birth plan based on research.
These activities helped me to stay calm and positive in the lead up to my birth and also made me feel more prepared. By the time I was due to give birth, the fear that I once had about birth had dissipated and I was looking forward to the day that I would birth my baby.
Like many first time mums my ‘due date’ came and went.
While my body was giving signs that it was preparing for labour and I was confident that labour was imminent, I began to worry about the hospital pressures of induction. My family and friends were also getting impatient for news, which was making Daniel and I anxious. I had acupuncture to help induce labour, went for long walks and ate spicy food. eight days after my Estimated Due Date my waters released but I was not in labour.
The hospital staff expressed concern about infection, and suggested inducing the next day. I resisted as Martina said that labour would ‘show itself’ within 24 – 48 hours of my waters breaking and in the absence of any sign of infection, induction was not yet necessary for me.
I went to sleep that night, hoping for labour to start but it didn’t.
The next day, which was 9 days after my due date, I had acupuncture to bring on labour in the morning and attended the hospital for a check up at lunch time. The staff booked me in for an induction the next day saying that they strongly advised against waiting any longer for labour to occur due to the risk of infection.
However, during my hospital visit, while strapped to a CTG machine I started to get contractions. I was confident that I was in early labour although the hospital staff said that, while a positive sign, labour was not yet established.
The contractions seemed to create some excitement for my baby. She wouldn’t stop moving while I was connected to the CTG machine. The staff explained that while they had no reason to think there was something wrong with my baby, it was hospital policy that I did not leave until my baby’s heart rate went back down to resting rate. This meant she needed to stop moving. Hours went past, and she still kept moving. Conscious as to how my mood could affect the progression of labour, I focused on remaining positive and being thankful that contractions had started. Eventually, after approximately 5 hours, she slowed down enough for the staff to let us go home.
During the car ride home my contractions became more regular. Daniel and I were both relieved and excited. When I got home, I went for a walk on the beach and I needed to stop every few hundred metres as the contractions were taking my breath away. I came home, put on the tens machine and we ate dinner. The contractions were regular and intensifying. It was a balmy night and we sat outside. Daniel and I looked at each other; this was it! We high fived.
As the evening progressed, my contractions began to intensify. I was beginning to get tired, and at about 11pm we decided to go to sleep. I napped in between each contraction and Daniel dozed in and out of sleep while also supporting me through contractions with light touch massage and use of acupressure.
By around 1am things started to get serious. The contractions were becoming more intense. I was still dozing off between each contraction but the intensity would wake me up suddenly. During each contraction I focused on breathing deeply and not holding tension in my pelvis.
By 2am the contractions were coming every 2 – 3 minutes and I was feeling very ill. I started vomiting in between each contraction. Daniel began to get worried. He called Martina, our midwife, and she reassured him this was normal and that it wasn’t yet time to go to hospital. I also knew vomiting was normal during labour, but struggled to communicate that with him. The vomiting continued for several hours and Daniel became increasingly concerned. I had hit a low point in my labour. I had prepared for the intensity of the contractions by reassuring myself that the intense periods would be short and that I would have a break between contractions. However, the vomiting in between each contraction meant that I had no break. While my plan was to go to the hospital shortly before giving birth, I began to entertain the idea of going in earlier so that I could obtain pain relief; i.e. an epidural.
Daniel decided to phone the hospital to ask if we should come in. I could hear the attendant on the phone line, and she was clearly distracted and flippant. We had left our hospital records in the hospital earlier that day and she couldn’t find my details on the computer. She questioned whether we had the right hospital. She said we could come in for a check up if we wanted to but also said vomiting during labour was not anything to be worried about. The attitude of the telephone attendant combined with the thought of getting in the car while having contractions and being sick, put me off going to hospital. I started to accept that pain relief was not an option. That realisation allowed me to refocus on getting through the labour.
Daniel, who was flustered after the frustrating phone call with the hospital, rang Martina again and she offered to come over. He gladly accepted and Martina arrived around 4am. Once Martina arrived Daniel relaxed. He felt more confident now that Martina was able to help if needed, and this allowed him to provide me with valuable moral support.
By the time Martina arrived, my vomiting had subsided. The contractions were also becoming further apart but were still intense. I focused on breathing, moved from room to room adopting various birth positions and got in and out of the shower. Each time I got into the shower I felt my baby move down a little further. I was amazed at my reflection in the bathroom mirror; my eyes were dilated and I looked as if I was on drugs but it was the oxytocin flowing through my body.
Around this time, I began to feel intense pressure on my hips which left me with a feeling of being paralysed. Martina asked whether we wanted Karen, the Chinese medical practitioner, to come around and put in acupuncture needles. I said yes and Martina said Karen would arrive in 1 – 2 hours, at around 7am. I thought to myself that there was no way I would make it to the hospital in time if we waited for Karen. I decided that I would rather have Karen assist me and give birth at home then leave for the hospital before she arrives.
Once Karen had arrived, she applied the acupuncture needles and encouraged me to move my hips. My hips instantly freed up. The pressure I felt in my hips started to move further down into my pelvis and, while the feeling was still intense, Karen reassured me that this was a sign that the baby was moving down. Karen also applied acupuncture needles in pressure points which aim to relieve stress.
Shortly following Karen’s arrival, the contractions started increasing again in frequency. They seemed continuous, with barely little gap in between.
I kept focusing on breathing through each contraction. Martina routinely checked my baby’s heart rate and it remained at resting rate the entire time; I was amazed!
Martina was also checking for dilatation, but could not give a precise assessment by doing a vaginal exam because of the risk of infection due to my waters breaking a couple of days earlier.
Just as we were about to leave for the hospital I felt as if I needed to go the toilet. I sat on the toilet seat and began pushing. I thought I was constipated. But then I felt a head. My immediate instinct was to keep pushing in private. After what was probably a minute or so, I thought to myself – ‘I should probably tell someone’. I called out calmly ‘I think the baby’s coming’. Karen came in…she cried out to Martina; ‘I think you should come in.’
And yes, the baby really was coming. I instinctively assumed a birth position, one leg on the toilet bowl and the other on the floor, and kept pushing. A rush of determination came over me, I was almost there and I was going to push this baby out as soon as possible! Rather than being fearful that I was about to birth my baby over the toilet bowel in my bathroom, I was relieved that I had almost reached the end of labour and did not question my ability to birth my baby safely.
As I pushed, Karen rushed around and pulled out the acupuncture needles which were sticking out of all parts of my body. Martina asked Daniel to get her medical birthing bag. He ran to the car faster than he has ever run before! While everyone was fretting around me, Martina asked me to slow down. I ignored her and kept pushing.
Just 10 minutes from when I began pushing, I birthed my baby. Daniel caught her as she came out, with some help from Martina. She gave a little cry but generally seemed content with her appearance in the world. Daniel cut the umbilical cord, once it had stopped pulsating.
I began to appreciate the gravity of what had just happened – that I had given birth, and in my own bathroom! In between all the excitement, my husband and I confirmed that our baby’s name was Chloe.
We moved to the bedroom and placed Chloe on my chest for skin to skin contact. She crawled up my chest, and with a little bit of help, latched on and began suckling.
Martina suddenly realised we hadn’t noted the time of birth, and we estimated it to be 8:25am.
By this stage I still hadn’t birthed the placenta and we called the ambulance. The ambulance arrived quickly. I tried to birth the placenta, but I felt the pressure of the ambulance waiting and I was exhausted from pushing my baby out so quickly that I was not getting any contractions. We decided to go the hospital. I was carried on a bed into an ambulance, and as soon as I was pushed outside I instantly relaxed as the sun hit my face. In the ambulance, Martina placed Chloe on my chest so that I could continue feeding her. I began to have contractions. By the time I reached the hospital I had birthed the placenta.
And that was it. I had a physiological birth as I had hoped for. I had birthed my baby without the need of any medical interventions or even a hospital room.
And our little family couldn’t be happier.
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Aylin and Dan did Hypnobirthing Australia classes, in Melbourne with Big Hearted Birth.
They were supported by Martina Gorner from Ten Moons in Brighton Melbourne.
Hypnobirthing Australia is taught throughout Australia, and for practitioners near you go to the Hypnobirthing Australia website. Look for that gorgeous blue seal for a certified practitioner near you .