I met Brooke and Joel early in their pregnancy with baby Maple. At the time of writing this blog post Brooke is now weeks away from meeting her second baby. Her experience birthing Maple was pretty remarkable; an unplanned homebirth with only her partner present. Brooke suffered intense pelvic pain during her pregnancy and was unsure of how she would cope with labour. Turns out she did just fine - with the emotional support she received from Joel and her own trust and belief in herself and in nature, the birth of Maple makes quite a story!!
Hypnobirthing helped Joel and I have a birth that we only ever thought we’d read about or hear about. Even now, it is hard to believe that I birthed Maple with only the help of my loving partner at home. It wasn’t a planned home birth although that is what we got.
During most of my pregnancy we were house hunting so not knowing where we would be living was a big factor influencing our decision not to arrange a home birth with a private midwife. When we finally moved during my last trimester of pregnancy, I imagined a home birth as we were so settled and happy in our new home but I accepted that I would give birth to our baby at Nambour Hospital and we would do our best effort to make the environment warm and comforting. Similar to a lot of people I’ve never liked hospitals or anything medical… Right from when I was a kid I’ve hated needles and still have to cover my eyes whenever there is blood or anything like that on TV.
That’s what I loved about Hypnobirthing – it gave me reassurance and confidence that birth didn’t need to be a medical event – it is something completely natural that our bodies are designed to do. By attending Carrie’s classes and our own reading and practice, Joel and I trusted that we could have a completely natural birth that was drug-free.
It was very mild and I was able to continue shopping. I headed home about an hour later and what I thought was Braxton Hicks was still happening. This was about 4pm in the afternoon. I decided this would be a good time to “practice” my different breathing techniques so I lay on the bed and practiced mainly my surge breathing. I remember thinking “Oh! This is what Carrie’s been talking about – the feeling of breathing up high and higher – I finally get it!” I also thought it would be a good time to “practice” using the contraction timer app I had on my phone. It kept saying “Go to hospital” and I continued to dismiss it. Every now and again I would have a surge that would fizzle out so I certainly didn’t think it was the real thing at this stage.
That night we had planned to go pick up a change table from some friends who were giving us one they no longer needed. I’d sent Joel a text while he was at work to let him know what was happening (the Braxton Hicks) so rather than meeting him at our friends’ place I asked him to come home first and then we go there together. When Joel arrived home from work it was about 6pm and at this stage I was still considering going to pick up the change table. Joel convinced me to put that aside and instead try to remain in the zone and “stay” with my feelings so I continued to lie on the bed and practice the breathing, use the timer app and Joel did my favourite light touch massage. I had absolutely loved light tough massage all through my pregnancy, finding it instantly relaxed me, however this time it was distracting me from really focusing on my breath and the drawing up feeling so I asked Joel to stop and just be near me while I breathed.
I told Joel that I didn’t think this was labour – it felt all too mild to be the real thing. Joel thought otherwise though. I was uncomfortable but it wasn’t intense pain like I had been expecting and preparing for. I had gone to the toilet moving my bowels quite frequently that afternoon and I continued to need to. I told Joel that we should cook dinner and watch some TV until things got more intense. He told me he’d cook dinner and encouraged me to relax and stay in the zone. He set up some tea light candles in the bedroom and put on our birth soundtrack music. When I eventually came out from the bedroom, I saw that Joel had everything packed on the kitchen bench and was dressed with his shoes on ready to go. I told him he was being silly, to take his shoes off as we still had a long way to go yet. He was so excited that this was it and nervous too.
Very suddenly things got a lot more intense. I was on the lounge and Joel was doing the ‘hip squeeze’ we’d learnt in our Hypnobirthing course and practised. This helped. I had two big surges on the lounge with Joel by my side. I found it difficult to breathe the whole way up on both of them and had a bit of freak out, jumping off the lounge and said “I can’t do this”. Joel assured me I could. I’d walked out to the patio to the day bed and had one more big surge.
I then felt very nauseous and raced to the bathroom. Our midwife from the MGP had called back at that stage and Joel was explaining what I was going through. Our midwife assured us that this was all very normal - the vomiting, etc. and encouraged Joel to call back when I was a little further along.
I got the feeling again that I needed to move my bowels but this time when I went to sit on the toilet it really hurt my pelvis. I was so uncomfortable in that position so I called out in pain. I had a bowl to vomit into at the same time. Joel asked if I was okay but I went straight from the toilet to the bedroom and shut him out. At this stage I felt that I just needed my own space. I was making some noise at this point and suddenly needed to use my vomit bowl to go to the toilet in. The feeling was so intense that I couldn’t control it. This was when my waters broke and I made the most noise. To me it felt like a tiny baby had popped out but when I looked there was no baby (thank goodness!) just clear liquid. It was difficult to see as I had the light off with just a few tea lights burning around the room.
This was when I knew our baby was coming. I called out to Joel to bring in another bowl. He wanted to come in to the room to be there for me but I told him to stay out. I thought “Oh god, how embarrassing letting Joel see that I’d pooed in a bowl. I’m surprised I even cared at that point. Joel stood at the door telling me he was there for me if I needed him and I eventually told him to come in. I thought, ‘I’m going to have to get over the embarrassment of him seeing that I’d pooed in a bowl’ and pushed it to the side of the bed. Thankfully he didn’t even see as the lighting was so dim. I asked him to sit on the bed and I leant over the bed on my knees.
Joel was on the bed and had a moment where he “freaked out” that the baby was coming and we were doing this alone and unassisted (he told me this later). He thought he could sneak out of the room without me noticing and go grab his phone from the kitchen to call the ambulance. I realised straight away that he had got off the bed even though my eyes were closed most of the time. I told him to come back and “trust” that it was okay.
I was in a calm state but spoke firmly to Joel to tell him what I wanted (or what I didn’t want!). I said aloud some of the Hypnobirthing affirmations I’d been listening to almost daily in my pregnancy. They helped to reassure me what I was experiencing and trust that it would all happen naturally. All I needed to do was allow my body and baby to work together. I think that saying the affirmations aloud also reassured Joel to “trust” too. He repeated them after me as well as gentle encouragement. Sometimes it was comforting, other times I would “Shhhh” him as I need silence.
I could feel Maple’s head ever so slowly coming down the birth canal. It was such as extreme pressure and it felt like I could have easily “pushed” her out. Instead, I spoke aloud things like “I’m gently breathing our baby down, not pushing, she’s just slowly coming”. I think this helped remind me of what we’d learnt in Hypnobirthing. I also remember saying things like “Two more surges and our baby girl will be here – we can’t wait to meet you!” When I felt like she was almost here, I asked Joel to go down the other end in preparation.
Towards the end of birthing I came off my knees but still leant over the bed. Joel felt Maple’s head and how slippery it was so he grabbed the sheet from the bed to catch her in. He said he remembers the moment just looking at her head and his hands there ready to catch her. She looked like a doll. In one more surge, she was out and in his hands. She made a little squeak and began breathing as she landed in his arms. I spun around to see her but I still had the cord attached so it was a little awkward twisting around.
We weren’t really sure what to do at this point as we hadn’t learnt this in Hypnobirthing classes. We obviously thought we’d be at the hospital now and the midwife would help us there. Seeing our baby in Joel’s arms I couldn’t believe it! Joel bobbed down with her so I could lift my leg up high over the cord and face them. I held her against me in the sheet and then Joel went to call the ambulance.
The ambulance arrived and suddenly the calm, peaceful mood and environment changed. The ambulance officers spoke loudly and turned all the lights in the house on. Our dog was barking. Everyone was excited! I used the blanket wrapped around Maple and I to cover her from the lights and they helped me onto the stretcher and out into the ambulance.
Again, the ride in the ambulance was anything but calm and peaceful. I tried to block out the loud, excited conversations between the officers and Joel and hold my baby warm against my chest. I had a blanket over us to block out the light and outside stimulation. When I took the blanket off we were in the birth suite with the midwife. She calmly and warmly welcomed and congratulated us. It was so comforting.
Our midwife explained that because it had been some time since birthing Maple, I now needed to birth the placenta. I had actually started having small surges in the ride to the hospital in the ambulance but uncomfortable on my back and in a confined space with strangers there was no way I could get in any sort of “zone” to be able to do this. I really wanted to birth my placenta naturally. I tried to birth my placenta lying on the hospital bed but I was so uncomfortable on my back. I moved onto all fours and tried that way but it still didn’t happen and our midwife explained that it was important we get the placenta out soon.
Our midwife helped me move to a birth stool while Joel held Maple. We had my birth music on with dim lighting. I tried to get in the “zone” and imagine the placenta coming out but I had no success. Our midwife was helping with affirmations but saying things like “Your body no longer needs this placenta. It is safe for you to let go of this placenta…” I asked her to leave me to do this on my own so I put a blanket over my head, blocked out all outside stimulation and really envisioned my body releasing and birthing the placenta. Then it was out just like that! I couldn’t believe the size of the thing. It was hard to believe both Maple and this huge placenta had fitted inside me!
I had a beautiful warm shower and changed into some comfy clothes. It was all so surreal what had just happened. Looking over at Joel nursing our baby, there she was! And I’d just birthed her all on my own, with the support of my partner. I completely surrendered, let go and trusted my body to do what it needed to bring our baby calmly and peacefully into the world!
"There's no way we could have achieved such a beautiful, calm and natural birth without all that Joel and I learned from our HypnoBirthing course with Carrie Jeff from Joymamma."