Birthing in the bush Hypnobubs style: the story of Morrison’s arrival earth side
Kato and Scotty did the online Hypnobubs course and saw me for their 90min face to face session. I loved their enthusiasm and postitivity right from the start. They even bought Morrie round for cuddles when they were in Darwin last and let me tell you he is cool as a cucumber and gorgeous to boot... Here is their amazing birth story, you'll love it, it had me in tears and gave me full goosebumps!! Well done you hypnobirthing superstars!!! -Nic
We are thrilled to share the story of how our beautiful, big hypnobub arrived, we particularly hope that it pumps up the tyres of any older first time mums and those with big babies – it is possible to do it all drug and intervention free! I certainly read up on birthing 4kg plus babies prior to our delivery and appreciate those fabulous women sharing their stories, so here is ours in all its glory. Spoiler alert: it was amazing!
After three years of trying to conceive naturally, my husband Scotty and I were thrilled to find out at Easter we were expecting a Christmas baby with our guess date December 25th 2017. Of course I was almost instantly regaled with all the usual horror stories (even Scotty’s experience with the birth of his two older children) and I was determined not to let these stories influence my own birthing. I sought a minimal intervention, natural birth and sharing this wish brought many strange looks closely followed by statements questioning my sanity and advice to take the drugs. Occasionally I would hear a wonderful birthing story (aside from hypnobubs stories), which mums would say they didn’t share often as they didn’t want to take away from those mums who had had a tough time. Such a shame as it perpetuates the expectation that birth is always a terrible experience.
We live in remote Western Australia and are lucky to have a hospital with birthing facilities in our town, just five minutes from our home. One of the amazing local midwives recommended we look into hypnobirthing, as she had worked with many women who had incredible birthing experiences with this approach. Thank goodness for the internet and the online hypnobubs course, that allows remote families access to this incredible resource! My support team of Scotty and my mum (who lives over 3000km away at the other end of the state and was coming up to be with us at the birth) also completed the online hypnobubs course, so that all three of us would be on the same page.
Both Scotty and Mum really enjoyed the course and the philosophy and felt enabled to support me appropriately during our birth. Mum in particular wished she had had access to the information and approach for her own births as she could so easily see how the cascade of intervention had influenced her experiences in the 80s.
I also read a lot of other resources provided by the course and our midwives, who were all gunning for us to achieve the birthing we sought. In addition to the online course, we also managed to book in a face to face session with the gorgeous Nicole from Mind, Bump and Birth in Darwin. This was a fabulous booster for us to stand in our power and belief in birthing according to our preferences. We felt educated and prepared for whatever path our pathing took, with a preference for a calm easy birth!
The pivotal point for my belief in hypnobirthing was at 27 weeks. I spent an afternoon at work with a tummy ache and found it difficult to find a comfortable position. I ended up going home and lay down, practicing my breathing and relaxation. To my surprise at antenatal clinic the next day the baby was head down! Bub had turned and I had absolutely no input at all into the process. From that point I was unwavering in my belief that my baby and my body knew what to do and I trusted that completely. I had also found a comfortable position for labour and would practice upon waking each morning – sitting on my heels and leaning forward on my forearms – and told Scotty that this was how I wanted to birth.
I was considered a higher risk birth due to my age (37), first baby and big baby. Due to our remoteness from major maternity centres, our care team was justifiably risk averse and keen to ensure my and baby’s safety. Our bub had been measuring large on ultrasound since 17 weeks, and the size of my belly halfway rivalled some women at full term! I had my last scan at 33 weeks to check my placenta and cervix (due to a previous LLETZ) then declined any further ultrasounds as talk of baby size became a bone of contention. I was so glad to be learning about hypnobirthing as it would have been very easy from that point to be frightened of birthing.
Each antenatal appointment we would raise our preferences and discuss with as many of the care team as possible so that we could determine where we needed to meet in the middle given the location and services available. Our summarised plea was – just give us a chance! If we can’t birth as we would like, we will accept assistance if required. Mostly we received positive responses, up until the 36 week mark when the topic of being induced at 38 weeks was raised and promptly declined. This was repeated at 38 and 39 weeks. Unfortunately I feel as though it was assumed I would require a caesarean because bub seemed to be big and we were managed as such, which is why we had to fight so hard for our preferences.
Christmas Day came and went with no more than a mild back discomfort. At 40+3, I had a grumbly tummy and back, plus show. We attended antenatal clinic to be told we had been booked in for an induction at 41 weeks. Needless to say I was not impressed and voiced my wavering trust to our midwife and the doctor, whom we hadn’t seen before. She was sympathetic to our commitment to our preferences and suggested a vaginal exam plus stretch and sweep if my cervical status was suitable, to try and hurry things along before the suggested induction date. I reluctantly agreed and as I was 1cm dilated, she performed a stretch. I instantly regretted consenting to this as 1) it was really uncomfortable and my cervix stayed grumbly 2) I was beside myself that I had stepped onto the cascade of interventions and I had let myself and my baby down. To add insult to injury, they also indicated that the baby may have turned posterior as they could no longer discern a spine.
I proceeded to get more and more worked up over the next few hours at home until at about 4.30pm I found myself sobbing tears of distress in Mum’s arms. At this point, I thought – pull yourself together lovely! This isn’t the way to get the birth you want! And promptly took myself into the bath: candles, fan, cold water, deep enough to lie on my tummy to turn the baby if it was posterior, cool flannel on my face, breathing, relaxing, hypnobirthing affirmations playing on repeat… I stayed this way for an hour and a half, when I called Mum in to pour water on my back. I was getting uncomfortable, I assumed from lying awkwardly tummy side down in the bath. I also had intermittent lower abdominal discomfort which I assumed was my cervix grumbling after the stretch. After half an hour at about 6.30pm, I suddenly asked Mum to time the gap between the tightenings in my tummy and was gobsmacked when they were one minute every five! We were two hours into labour! Somehow I didn’t realise labour discomfort would start so low in my abdomen….
With a sudden urge to go to the toilet, I struggled to get out of the bath (it’s really hard to bend with a tightening uterus!) and had a good clean out. The surges suddenly seemed to get closer and we were one minute in three. Our hospital bags weren’t yet fully packed so I tried to put things in the bags in our bedroom in between surges. I would sit on the fitball and flop onto the bed, with Mum rubbing my back. At 7pm and with surges getting closer again, I thought to ring the hospital and let them know we would likely be in later, as we would be staying home as long as possible. I also let Scotty know we were going to meet our baby soon. He had been outside changing tyres on a car and having a beer with our neighbour, so was surprised when I popped my head out of the door to tell him to get ready. Of course, he asked for 15 minutes to wrap up what he was doing. This involved hosing down the dirt off the driveway and the squealing of the pipes when the tap was on nearly drove me mad! So much that I stuck my head outside in between surges and screamed at him to stop! I think he realised then that our baby was really on the way.
Mum and I moved into the lounge room away from the offending pipes, with me stripping off as I went – I was so hot! Sitting on the fit ball and leaning on the table top soon wasn’t comfortable, so I moved onto my knees leaning over the ottoman of the couch, in front of our Christmas tree. Scotty came inside at about 7.30pm to realise that we were quickly progressing and rushed off to have a shower. When he joined Mum and me at 7:45pm, my surges were growing in intensity and I was loudly moaning and bearing down. At 8pm, my membranes released and fluid poured all over Scotty’s feet and around the Christmas tree, so much water! I sang out for them to get towels and they both ran off, causing me to sing out not to leave me alone! My urge to bear down increased and I yelled that I wanted to push and to call the hospital to tell them we were coming in. The same midwife took the call and hearing me in full flight in the background realised that we had progressed significantly in an hour.
It took three surges of dancing with Scotty to get down the hallway, calling out for towels to clean up my imagined mess the whole way (I insisted I was making a mess, Mum and Scotty assured me that I didn’t!). Our journey to the hospital was hilarious in hindsight: trying to get comfy kneeling across the capsule in the back seat of the car was nearly impossible, with me yelling at Scotty to go slower around the corners. I ended up perched on the mountain of towels I had insisted on putting on the seat, squatting in the foot wells, hanging onto the headrests and roaring into my carers’ ears with each surge, of which there were three (did I mention I was reluctant to make a mess? Hilarious the irrational things that bother you in labour.).
Upon arrival at the hospital at 8:20pm, I waited for another surge to pass before launching myself out of the back seat and insisting again that towels be brought from the car to clean up my mess after me (again I didn’t believe assurances that I wasn’t making a mess!). I declined the wheelchair that met us at the entrance, stating that I couldn’t sit down as my baby’s head was coming! We waddled down the corridor, me hanging off Scotty’s neck with each surge and trying desperately not to make too much noise and disturb the patients on the ward. As soon as we entered the birth suite, I flung off my dress, kneeled down in the shower and asked that cold water be run off my back. I was so comfortable I had to be placated to reluctantly remove my undies!
Soon we had all assumed position: me kneeling and leaning onto the shower chair in the position I had been practicing; Scotty behind me in charge of the water on my back at just the right spot; Mum hanging onto the shower chair in front of me so it wouldn’t tip over, playing hypnobirthing affirmations into my ear; the midwife kneeling down beside me trying to keep her glasses dry. I embraced my inner primal woman, with a lot of grunting, groaning, mooing, swearing and general noise with each surge. None of the silent birthing you see on some hypnobirthing footage here! I really felt inwardly focused, struggling to rouse if anyone asked me a question. I remember finding the two vaginal exams by the midwife very uncomfortable and tried to wriggle away from her. At one point between surges the midwife mentioned that she was just cleaning up a bit of poo, to which I responded with “I don’t give a s%#t” and Scotty replied “Yes you did!”
With each surge I trusted my body, went with its instruction and then flopped into the chair to rest in between. The urge to follow my body’s cues was so strong it was hard to imagine birthing any other way. At one point I was sure I had a long way to go as a first birth and wouldn’t be able to handle the intensity of this for the next 12 hours and thought - no wonder women ask for an epidural! It was soon after this that the midwife told me that my baby’s head was crowning and I was so relieved. My instant response to this was to sing out “we have delayed cord clamping preferences!”
Meanwhile, the doctor had arrived after being called to attend our higher risk birth. She was the same one who had performed the stretch that afternoon and she was thrilled to see us birthing according to our preferences. She sat quietly in the corner observing our labour, beaming from ear to ear and would be the one to offer to take our post birth photos - without her we wouldn’t have had any!
My baby’s head was soon showing and Scotty stopped the water on my back. The midwife asked me to puff through the next surge or two and the next thing I know I am woken from my hypnobirthing reverie at 9:21pm by the midwife telling me to look between my knees at my baby boy! It was the most amazing moment of my life seeing my newborn’s face, eyes closed with a slight smile on his face and not a peep from him – he was so chilled. I gathered him up into my arms, sat back and leant against the wall with him snuggled to my breast, while Scotty and Mum gathered around to admire our precious baby, named Morrison. We stayed this way for the next half an hour until I moved to the toilet to birth the placenta, a physiological third stage of 48 minutes. It was after this that Scotty cut the cord, delayed cord clamping preferences achieved! We were both happy and healthy - I had a second degree tear that did not require stitching and Morrison’s shoulders were fine.
We moved from the bathroom into the bedroom and as Morrison wasn’t all that interested in feeding, we snuggled and gazed adoringly at our little boy, admiring his perfection. There was a wonderful vibe in the room and we had another two hours of skin on skin before Morrison was weighed. He was a healthy 4680g (10lb 5oz), 56cm long with 38cm head circumference and we had birthed with no drugs or interventions in five hours according to our preferences and more! There were celebrations all round with our midwives and doctor ecstatic that we had such an amazing and inspiring birth. Several of them commented on the incredible support and teamwork shown by Scotty and Mum, which we attribute to us all being on the same hypnobirthing page. Interestingly, our midwife did say afterwards that if she had known he was going to be that big she would have been less relaxed about our birth – sometimes too much information is not a good thing.
Thank you for reading til the end, Morrison’s birth was everything we had hoped for and more, we are so delighted. He is now 12 weeks old and still a gorgeous and chilled baby. Hypnobirthing really was the key to our calm, easy birth and I share our story as often as I can so others hear that birth can be an amazing experience!