Me and Baby - our birth story
I was inspired to share my story after talking to a pregnant lady who I bought my groceries from the other day. She said she’d just done a hypnobirthing course and was trying to ignore all the horrid birth stories people were telling here. I blurted out that I loved giving birth and I really enjoyed being pregnant.
Here’s a message I sent a pregnant friend just after I gave birth (she was struggling to feel unique in the hospital system):
Heya 😊 I guess you’re due soon? I just birthed my little boy on the weekend. We birthed at home and I haven’t really left my bedroom since. I hope you’re starting to look forward to giving birth. It’s an empowering experience where we as women can truly feel how strong our bodies are. Don’t let the hospital environment get in the way of feeling proud of your body for what it is doing and feeling impressed with yourself for what you are capable of. Don’t have a clock near you and the time will dissolve into your mind. It’s a marathon and your body, baby and mind work together to bring you your angel.
Me and Baby - our birth story
When I was about 36 weeks pregnant, I had a moment where I acknowledged that I wouldn’t be pregnant for much longer. I enjoyed being pregnant. I enjoyed feeling and watching my body change. I enjoyed how the students at school would constantly put their ear to my belly, rub my belly and calmly wait with their hand to feel for a kick. It became part of how I saw myself and how I interacted with the kids and how I interacted with myself. I had originally thought that I would miss my active life but instead I felt completely absorbed in the changes to my life and enjoyed the challenges of keeping active whilst pregnant. I felt this slight sadness that that would all end soon. Then I thought about the next step. It had seemed so surreal that a human was growing inside of me, but soon he would be born.
I prepared to give birth at my parents' home. This is the same home that I grew up in. My old bedroom had been transformed into a study so I transformed it again into a birthing room. I displayed drawings from when I modelled for my life drawing class, photos of me during my pregnancy with empowering quotes, and my hypnobirthing pages. I prepared a playlist with relaxing songs, set up oils, pillows, mats and food. I cooked energy balls and made moisturizers for my little baby and for myself.
The Friday after I finished work, I started feeling uncomfortable. It was the first time that I thought I’m not sure how much longer I’ll enjoy being pregnant if I feel this way. I took myself into the sunshine, sewed up holes in my socks (I don’t know why!) then watched Frozen with my mom. That evening I called my best friend and birthing partner Sarah and said I was going to bed but I’m feeling uncomfortable and may be in the starting stage of labour. Two hours later I woke up and couldn’t sleep any longer as the surges were getting stronger. I jumped in the shower, washed my hair in case that wouldn’t happen again for a while, and then Sarah arrived. We attempted to cook a cake but early on Sarah told me to rest and she’d finish it. From this point onwards, Sarah supported me whilst the surges became stronger and closer together. I spent time in the bathtub where I thought I’d want to give birth in, but surprisingly I felt uncomfortable and ended up moving around my bedroom and the bathroom. My midwife Molly arrived early Saturday morning and we worked through the surges, getting comfortable, getting uncomfortable, finding a new position and going through the waves again. The pain was intense but such a powerful feeling as I could feel my body going through the stages of preparing for birth. Knowing what was happening allowed me to delve into the experience and use my visualisations, breathing and voice to move the energy down my spine. Having a break in between each surge also allowed me to be present in the moment, rest, eat, drink and have moments of feeling so grateful to have two strong women with me.
Molly thought I may give birth early Saturday morning but I ended up moving through the surges all morning. I’m grateful that no one told me the time and I wasn’t rushed through this period. The surges moved the tension from my hips, down to my pelvis and then I could tell that my boy was arriving soon. Sarah told me that my baby has a lot of hair and that made me laugh and boost with energy knowing that she could see him. Molly continued to talk me through allowing him to move a bit further out with each surge, and to hold and slowly open up. However, when he did finally pop his head out, his whole body flew out too. My strongest memory is the immense release, satisfaction and love I felt holding my slippery little baby. I briefly had to refocus to birth my placenta but it came out quicker than Molly could grab the bowl. I ended up birthing holding the outside of the bathtub instead of being inside – that's what felt good at the time. I enjoyed hours of skin to skin, allowing bub to find my breast and try to feed. It was so relaxing being at home and being able to lay in my bed straight away. The midwives were able to stitch me up as my baby’s quick exit tore my perineum. I didn’t feel this happen and within a week I didn’t notice the tear. For the first few days it was uncomfortable to sit and I had to be careful not to hold my bladder for too long so it wouldn’t irritate my uterus.
Having my family around has made the first few weeks of motherhood so much easier – I can see how it takes a community to raise a child. I haven’t felt sad as I’ve had my family to laugh with and talk through my concerns.
I did struggle with breastfeeding and the conflicting advice I received from eight different midwives and nurses. If I were to pass on advice, it would be to get a lactation consultant who you like straight away. Then don’t get advice from others as I was sent on an unnecessary journey of weighing my baby every 24 to 48 hours and this was ridiculous. He was just under 3kg when he was born, lost 9.1% of his weight initially, and took an extra week and a half to regain his birth weight than the hospital guidelines states. I now know that not all babies regain their birthweight within two weeks and this is especially true for breastfed babies. Having a doctor from NICU trying to make me feed him formula after three days from birth and being told he may ‘fall off the perch’ if I don’t is just crazy. I’m glad I can now breastfeed more efficiently after putting in a lot of effort to get the assistance I needed (thank you Australian Breastfeeding Association) and stubbornly ignoring the midwife yelling at my baby ‘latch Baby latch’!