Your Positive Pregnancies
The calm hypno-waterbirth of Alfred George Galvan born 16 October 2016:
I recently gave birth to my little boy and had the most wonderful experience. I wanted to share with you my birthing story in case it helps anyone that is about to give birth. I feel it is so important to share positive birth stories!
This birth was a far cry from my previous two which (in hindsight) I was extremely under prepared for. I had requested a homebirth both times before but I now know I hadn’t prepared my mind for a good birth and didn’t really know enough about my body and my options; as a result I accepted an induction without question when I went 12 days post EDD, as normal hospital protocol suggested. My first labour was induced via a pessary, then syntocinon and after hours of contractions & exhaustion I ended up having an epidural, then ventouse delivery & an episiotomy. I had a Postpartum Haemorrhage (PPH) of 600ml. It was very long tiring and emotional and I was left feeling traumatised by it (although I do have positive memories of it now that still bring me to tears when I think of the moment I became a Mummy!). My second labour was the total opposite, I was induced via a pessary to begin with which did not dilate my cervix, I then had my waters broken which sent me into rapid labour! I went from 0-10cm in 16 minutes! The whole labour lasted around 30 minutes and my body was in shock! There was no time for pain relief (although I did have gas and air). The normal signals did not kick in and my body retained the placenta; I had to have it surgically removed in theatre afterwards. I lost 2 litres of blood and stayed in hospital a week after having a transfusion. I was traumatised and it was a bit of a blur.
So…when I became pregnant for the third time I decided things would be different! The blessing that my second birth gave me was the realisation I could do it without pain relief and I knew if I could’ve just remained calmer it would have been better emotionally. So I embarked on a journey of self education! I devoured childbirth books (Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, New Active Birth: A Concise Guide to Natural Childbirth, The Oxytocin Factor: Tapping the Hormone of Calm, Love and Healing, Mindful Hypnobirthing by Sophie Fletcher, Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method, Birthing Your Placenta – The Third Stage…) and blogs. I googled ‘what happens if i go into labour alone’ (as this was my worry with such a short labour the second time around). I researched how to prevent Post Partum Haemorrhage and came across great articles like this: https://www.midwiferytoday.
Perhaps the biggest favour I did myself was visiting Mia Scotland, a fantastic hypnobirthing practitioner who runs classes in Nottingham and booked two private sessions with her. We discussed my births and we felt that much of the pain I experienced was as a result of subconsciously tensing in anticipation of a contraction because I was afraid. We did some hypnosis techniques and she made me feel very different about my ability to cope.
Every night (give or take!) from around 37 weeks I listened to my hypnobirthing tracks. I used the ones from Mindful Mama, Marie Mongan & also Natal Hypnotherapy Effective Birth Preparation cd’s. I learned to trust my body and to reframe the sensations of contractions as pressure rather than pain. I also learned that during birth I should take care to get in ‘the zone’ and be as deeply relaxed as possible between contractions. The plan was when a contraction came, I should relax even more doing deep golden thread breathing and go down into an even deeper relaxation until it passed telling myself the sensation was pressure not pain.
I knew this time I wanted to have a homebirth all being well. The only problem was that I was considered to be high risk due to previous Precipitous Birth, 2x Postpartum Hemorrhages and Retained Placenta. I was told by my lovely community midwife that if I wanted to I could; however I should consider the risks and talk things through with my Supervisor of Midwives. I met with my SOM (who is an amazing lady!) and I had a look around the sanctuary rooms and discussed my options. We discussed my rationale as I feared that induction was the cause of my interventions and complications and I wanted to see how my body would do if left to it’s own devices. She agreed and we came up with a flexible birth plan covering all my wishes. As long as my bloods were ok (I had been low in iron) I would be able to birth at home!
A couple of weeks before my due date I developed Gestational Thrombocytopenia (where my blood would not clot properly if I had a bleed) which worried me and I felt that this, coupled with my previous history of bleeding, was not a good sign if I was to bleed heavily at home. I decided that I would be safest in the sanctuary room and it was a good second best. I googled the condition and started taking Alfalfa, Liquid Chlorophyll, Red Raspberry Leaf & a few other blood boosting supplements and miraculously got my platelet count back up! Despite this I decided to still go ahead with the sanctuary birth as I’d got my head around it and it helped with childcare arrangements etc. (in addition to the supplements I also ate minimum 5 dates per day from 37 weeks as they are known to help birth!)
When the day came I was 16 days past my due date! I felt fine and baby was moving in it’s regular pattern so I wasn’t concerned. It seems weird but I don’t think I was mentally ready for birth until this day and is probably what hindered going into labour! It was a Saturday, the kids had gone to my Mums and I spent the whole day lounging around enjoying peace and quiet. I decided to watch ‘hypnobirth waterbirths’ on Youtube with my partner. I’m so glad I did as this helped me get my head around hypnobirthing and made me feel like ‘I can do this!’ It also helped my partner who confessed that previously he didn’t really understand what he was supposed to do!
I went to bed thinking ‘it would be good if it happened tonight’. I did acupressure for about 10-15 minutes and then listened to my hypnobirthing track and fell asleep. I soon felt a trickle of fluid (back waters). Whilst on the phone to the labour ward, my contractions started and immediately were 1.5 mins apart. We had no idea how long we had so made it straight to the hospital. It was a very calm transition to hospital using my hypnobirthing techniques. I had learnt to rehearse this journey to hospital as a calm one in my mind (and not a stressful experience which I had previously been picturing) and listened on my headphones to the tracks whilst driving really slowly. It was important not to get too excited or stressed (as cortisol kills oxytocin which is what’s needed) so I almost floated into hospital, I was that calm!
I went straight into a sanctuary room and they got the pool filled whilst I walked about breathing through the contractions every 1.5 minutes staying very calm and happy. I felt better leaning forward so that’s what I did, listening to my body. I got in the pool and it felt amazing, so soothing! I was experiencing the contractions deeply in my back (which I’d never had before) and so I got my partner to apply strong counter pressure to my back with both hands and deep massage each time I had one, which felt like the right thing to do. I soon learned that if I leaned backwards it hurt so spent the whole time on all fours leaning on the side of the pool. My partner was amazing and this firm pressure really helped me, I don’t think I would have coped so well if it wasn’t for him doing this!
I played the hypnobirthing tracks (several different ones) on repeat and was totally silent and focussed on total relaxation. I imagined myself going deeper and deeper into relaxation. My eyes were closed (almost in the back of my head like in a trance) and I was doing lots of positive self talk telling myself the pressure was bringing my baby closer to me. Each time I had a contraction I would just tap the pool to signal to my partner to press deeply on my back. It was almost like the act of talking was too much effort and would bring me out of my ‘zone’. Whilst I was not experiencing contractions, my partner was lightly stroking my shoulders (which was amazing!). The key was definitely being as relaxed as possible (no tensing shoulders!) between surges. I was very conscious of having loose relaxed shoulders throughout.
There came a point when my body started pushing involuntarily and I thought to myself ‘I need to do a poo!’ From experience I thought I must be ready to push but I thought ‘I can’t be as it’s not that bad yet! I must actually need a poo!’ so I asked to be checked (I’d declined any vaginal exams as I wanted an undisturbed birth). The midwife said I didn’t seem ‘pushy’ as Id been totally calm, not made any noise and was talking normally to her, but when she checked I was fully dilated and his head was there! The examination caused the waters to break otherwise he could’ve been born in the sack. I couldn’t believe how easy it had been and I hadn’t even thought about asking for gas and air as I didn’t need it!
I carried on deep breathing through the contractions when they came, remaining totally relaxed and focussed, putting my hand in between my legs and feeling his head which was comforting and reassuring. I felt completely in control. I gently breathed him down using long strong breaths until I was no longer able to stop my pushing reflex from pushing. Cue a few involuntary moo sounds!! Haha. (I just went with it – I had read that deep sounds helped!). I was still completely calm, in fact by this stage I was practically asleep between contractions! My other half said I looked like I was asleep in the pool (it was like a dreamlike state!).
I had a couple more contractions where I assisted the pushing reflex and his head and body was born in the water. The midwife said she was shocked by the size of his head (we weren’t expecting a big baby!) she caught him and passed him through my legs and I put him on my chest in disbelief! I felt absolute euphoria, joy, relief, satisfaction and in love all rolled into one, it was without a doubt the best feeling ever to be experienced! I was in total control, it was me that chose how to birth my baby, not me being told what to do! It made a huge difference. I felt empowered!
I did hemorrhage about 600ml whilst in the pool and got out straight after to deliver the placenta. I had agreed to active management of the third stage if I bled so I was happy for this to happen. I delivered the placenta quickly with no problems whilst snuggling my new baby boy. We were allowed time alone to cuddle whilst we waited for his cord to stop pulsing completely and my partner cut the cord. It was the first time I had been ‘with it’ enough to actually watch it. For once my birth was not a blur! We spent a long time alone together as a family and he wasn’t weighed until much later at my request. We were shocked to find he was 9lb 10oz (Im only 5ft 4 and petite build!) and I did it without pain relief!! Get in!
So at 3.15am on 16 October my beautiful little Alfred George Galvan was born! It was a 3 and a half hour labour start to finish and was the best birth ever!! I am still basking in the glory of such a wonderful experience!
Although I would describe it as intense and requiring total focus, I would not describe it as painful – just intense sensations of pressure! Very different from my previous births which I found extremely painful. Just goes to show the amazing power of your mind!
I remain eternally grateful to the amazing midwives who respected my wishes for an undisturbed birth, to my Community Midwife and Supervisor of Midwives for their incredible support and to my hypnobirthing practitioner Mia Scotland for changing my mindset and making me believe it was totally manageable! I thank you all from the bottom of my heart!
I would wholeheartedly recommend hypnobirthing to anyone who is going to give birth and would strongly recommend reading everything you possibly can about birth to prepare your mind beforehand! It is 100% about mind control and self belief! I wish positive joyful births to all the expectant MAMA’s out there – good luck xx
In 2013 I had an emergency c-section with my first baby and then suffered severe pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome. Fortunately recovered well and received good care.
I have just had my second baby and after having an early miscarriage at the beginning of 2016 was obviously nervous this time round. Again though I have received excellent care and been under consultant care.
I took prescribed low dose aspirin between 12 and 36 weeks and also had 4 extra growth scans (last time I also had Polyhydramnios and a baby in an unstable lie). I also maintained fitness and strength in my antenatal exercise classes and incorporated 10 minute relaxation / positive affirmations every day for the last 8 weeks.
I was keen to try for VBAC this time around and a scan at 37 weeks confirmed baby was head down and a discussion was had about induction and VBAC trial supported by my midwives and consultant. Mostly the induction was because of being over the age of 40, but I had also had an episode of itching and liver function being slightly raised/ out of normal limits. Thankfully this settled itself though.
So at 39 weeks I packed my daughter off for the day with grandparents and headed with my partner to the hospital. After a monitoring/ antenatal check, a balloon catheter was inserted in the afternoon to start the cervix opening – (this is a non hormonal induction method suitable for me as I had previous c-section)
At night my partner went home to try and sleep and the aim was for me to rest on the antenatal ward. I managed some sleep maybe an hour or so at a time but was already experiencing regular cramps. The following morning my partner came back in and brought my little girl in for a while – this was so nice as leaving her was the hardest part of going in!
At 11am the balloon catheter fell out on its own – it can stay in for up to 24 hours, but I knew I must be 2 – 3cms for this to happen!
Within a couple of hours my contractions really had picked up in intensity to 3 in 10 minutes. My daughter had gone back to her grandparents by this time – this was it I really was labouring. This was really important for me to experience as last time I just niggled for a few hours with a few contractions before it was taken out of my hands and c-section being the only safe option with the complications.
I then had a TENS machine for a couple of hours – actually felt some help and benefit from this. By early evening though it was very intense and on examination I was 4cms, contractions were 4 in 10 minutes and it was then decided I should go to labour ward. Baby’s head was still a little high and needed to rotate but further intervention wasn’t indicated at this stage and once I started on the gas and air (which I think I was quite entertaining on!) I was happy to see how the next few hours went.
I have witnessed women’s bodies doing various instinctive things in labour as a midwife over the years and I certainly was no exception to this. It was obviously my body doing everything possible to get baby round and down as I remember being on all fours and with each contraction lifting my left leg in the air!!
After a couple of hours I was 5cms but the head was still in the same position and a little high so I opted for an epidural and had my waters broken which brought the head down nicely. I managed some rest with the epidural, contractions remained strong and 4 to 5 in 10 minutes. 4 hours later unfortunately baby had rotated back to back and I was still 5cms, and because we didn’t want to stress the scar too much a decision was made between us for a c-section.
Baby’s heart rate was reassuring throughout labour and delayed cord clamping was something that was important to me and if all was well with baby at delivery. I was keen for this still to happen.
Brodie Edward was born @ 05.04am weighing a healthy 2.9kg (6lb 8oz). He had delayed cord clamping on the operating table) – the cord was clamped later than 1 minute.
Initial postnatal recovery was very good and we were discharged home, demand breast feeding on day 2.
Although I didn’t get my VBAC I feel really happy with the 8 and half hours proper labour I did, and for me this made a big difference experiencing the labour hormones and the post birth endorphin buzz that I didn’t get last time.
Almost 4 weeks on, postnatal recovery has been amazing, baby demand breast feeding very well and big sister taken it all in her stride too!
I had been following MAMA academy throughout my pregnancy on Facebook during that time I had gained helpful advice and reassurance from your posts. During my last few weeks of pregnancy there seemed to be a number of posts regarding monitoring babies movements, so when I began to have contractions and noticed that my son wasn’t moving as much I rang Kettering labour ward who told me to come in.
They began to monitor Charlie’s heart beat and were concerned as it kept dipping during contractions. A doctor was called who decided to break my waters which were thick with meconium. They initially tried to induce me but then decided to go ahead with an emergency c section.
Charlie was born shortly afterwards in very poor condition and required cooling treatment at Coventry hospital. At 8 days old we were told to prepare for the worst as they could do little more for him and couldn’t maintain his blood pressure. They called in a team from Glenfield with a view to try him on ECMO, but on arrival by just changing a few of the infusions he was taken from deaths door to on his way to recovery.
Charlie was in Glenfield for just 48 hours before he was deemed strong enough to go to Leicester Royals PICU, but during that time they discovered a clot in his IVC and subcutaneous fat necrosis which later led to hypercalcemia. Despite this Charlie went from strength to strength and was able to come off ventilation without the need to go onto CPAP. By the time we went back to Kettering General Charlie was able to take his non-calcium formula from a bottle. We were warned throughout this process that Charlie was likely to have some brain damage but he’s just had a developmental check and they are amazed by his progress; at 11 months old he is walking and able to say a few words.
When the lead midwife from Kettering General rang following a serious incident report being conducted she asked if I had any comments, I said how thrilled I was that the MAMA academy wallets were now being used within the Kettering district because if it hadn’t been for your advice I would have assumed that Charlie’s movements had lessened because I was in labour not because he was distressed. If I hadn’t gone in when I did it is very likely that Charlie would have passed away or been severely disabled.
Your charity saved my son’s life and I will always be very grateful. I have attached a few pictures just so you can see the difference you made.
This story first began nearly 5 years ago when I gave birth by emergency caesarean to my first daughter Emelia and instantly feel in love with her and new in that moment that I wanted more children. When she was 18 months old we decided the time was right for us to have another child and we were lucky in the fact that we got pregnant straight away with our first daughter however, this journey was not to be the case.
Months passed and this turned into a year and still nothing, I began my training to become a midwife and successfully completed by first year and moved onto the second year when something changed, I knew without knowing that after 18 months, I was finally pregnant. I waited a few weeks and took the test and there it was a big fat positive. Now to all those who have spent time trying to conceive, they will know how each month that passes, breaks your heart just a little bit more and hope fades so quickly, so this was by far the best news we could have had.
The pregnancy was pretty straight forward but working and studying and having exams was challenging along with looking after a 3 year old and a husband and just 3 weeks before my due date I took my final exams. This was maybe just a step too far as in the early hours of the following morning I began having contractions. I tried telling myself I was just having Braxton hicks but due to my midwifery training and having done this before, I knew it was labour. As Emelia was born by caesarean and this time I would be trying for a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) I went straight to hospital to continue with my labour. This was the scariest bit as I knew I wanted a normal birth and as I was in the hospital where I worked, I was surrounded by people who knew my wishes and would support me in every way they could, but at the same time, I know more about the complications and what could go wrong and that terrified me.
My labour progressed quickly and I soon felt the pressure to push, I couldn’t quite believe it, I was going to be having this baby just the way I wanted. I was fully in the zone and could only focus on my baby being born and all the worries seemed to disappear. With the first push her head was born and I was able to touch it and the second push delivered her body straight onto my chest 6 hours and 40 minutes after labour began where we began immediate skin to skin. I was completely in owe of her and how beautiful she was and that I had actually done it. I was overcome with emotion and joy and has she had her first breastfeed, I was thrilled to learn that I needed no stitches. I gazed into her beautiful eyes and marvelled at the amazing things are bodies can do.
She is now 9 months old, crawling and attempting to walk and idolized by her big sister and has absolutely filled our home with even more love. This journey has taught me to never give up hope as dreams really do come true.
I was told a month before I fell pregnant that I would never have children – then Eddie appeared! He made it here safely despite me having Hyperemesis Gravidarum for the full 9 months which left me hospitalised and fed through a drip as I was being sick every 15 minutes, I could barely eat. I had to take powerful drugs reserved for chemotherapy patients. Despite this Eddie developed well and made it out safely. He’s a very happy little boy despite suffering with a milk protein allergy and severe reflux. He is now on the same drugs I was on when pregnant with him. Eddie even battled with suspected meningitis and a lumbar puncture at 4weeks old. He really is a tough cookie with a cheery personality. He makes me smile every day and we are lucky to have him.
Eddie was due on the 28th December 2014. At 33 weeks I fell ill and a check on labour ward showed that Eddie had a Tachycardia and my bloods showed I had an infection. Thankfully rest and fluids stabilised everything and Eddie didn’t need to be delivered at that point. However it was thought I had suffered mild flu. At 34 weeks concerns regarding growth had grown and I was monitored weekly. At 37 weeks once again Eddies heart rate was Tachycardia and my bloods showed I was brewing another infection. Scans confirmed that his growth had slowed down and the monitors where showing he was no longer happy. This and a change in his movement pattern over 2 days made the Dr decide he was best being delivered via emergency section. Little Eddie was born on the 9th December weighing a healthy 6lb 13oz. His placenta and cord were small and the 2 days of a changed pattern in movements were a warning sign. Thankfully he is perfectly healthy.
So around 9am on the 28th of November 2011 I knew she was coming, I knew it. I had minor period pain contractions, I kept this information from Beau, my husband. The midwife arrives to do a sweep at 4pm that evening, and as Mojo was already trying to escape there could be no harm in a little helping hand. Sweep swept, bouncing on my ball till 6pm, me and Beau head off to collect my eldest. By 8pm that evening the contractions started to feel a bit more serious, to the point I confess to Beau, he wires me up to the tens machine, which does wonders. But we decide to make the call to the on call midwife so she knows what’s going on. At this point I’ll admit I was feeling strong, my first birth took 3 hours start to finish… How bad could this be? Not very bad, but enough to make me breakdown at 3am…
Later that morning, Beau carried the gas and air tank up and down the stairs, making tea and coffee for the lovely midwives and a cup of warm milk for my eldest (who was given the day off due to the MIRACLE OF BIRTH)… It was creeping towards 12.30pm and I couldn’t be sure if I wanted to sit down, stand up, rock on my ball, bathe in some warm water, eat, drink or fart… I was just sure the gas and air was no longer curbing the pain and we were nearly there.
My amazing midwife who had supported the home birth turned up around 10am, and was lovely, rocking hips chatting away, very excited… (What I didn’t know was it was her first Home birth supervision other than her own) I was also a great spectacle to Dudu, a lovely midwifery student, who had never witnessed a birth and thanked me over and over for letting me witness not only a birth but a planned home birth – You are welcome I say!! Then I offer her a drink in between contractions… This lady was vital, I just didn’t know it yet!
So to the monitoring, Mojo’s heartbeat stops, just.like.that.STOP. I get up and wiggle around – It’s all fine, eventually she had the good graces to turn around the right way as I was coming up to needing to push.
So 2pm I get myself angled with my bottom half over the edge of the bed, and I feel a burning ball of fire traveling slowly down the birth canal, and I am nearly there, I can feel every wiggle, every slip and slide… EVERYTHING…. My waters explode, Uh-oh they are so yellow (Beau calls brother to come and take care of eldest in case we need to make a speedy get-a-way to hospital), even I know in my state that this was not cool… I don’t have time to ask or consider, I need to get her out…. this is where Dudu came in, she places herself behind me, and gave me a huge amount of pushing capability… I used her as a head rest and a place to push my shoulders against…
Well, I was crying now, I can’t do this I say, yes you can because you are doing it, and I was… I could feel the ball of fire, about to make that POP into the world, and I held my breath and pushed (Brother walks in front door as baby’s head POP’s) YAY! everyone is happy, her head is out, one more push – and it was one more – and out she came thrown on to me in all her gory glory, she smelt divine. And was perfect. And we had skin to skin and BF and snuggles galore.
Here is what a mother who has had an uncomplicated hospital birth vs. minor complication home birth might say – I would stay at home every time, it was amazing, the midwives were amazing, my house was like my tower, my place where when I felt I couldn’t go through more pain, I did. I pulled strength from Beau’s eyes willing me on, from my eldest coming and asking if baby was ready yet, from MY midwife making the effort to drive an hour to see it, to take part in my miracle – to take part in my step into a new life, an extended family. Tea from my own cup, my own comforts and the ability to have family around me, I came downstairs later that evening to Mojo’s Godfather and Uncle and sat and smiled while I Skyped Mother & Grandparents, feeling contented with knowing my own bed was waiting for us.