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First time mum Rosie shares her speedy birth story!

Today, the 15th of April, was our estimated due date to birth our first-born daughter, Saoirse (pronounced as Seer-Sha and an Irish word which means “freedom”) however she decided to give us a bonus of one week (to enjoy more cuddle times) and true to her name for being free-spirited, she arrived in our lives last week on Tuesday morning 7th of April (we were 38 weeks + 6 days). I am still on Cloud Nine about how well it went. I feel the whole delivery was a testament to Hypnobirthing. Sharing here our positive birth story from first-time parents who delivered our baby via normal delivery (less than an hour of actual labour) at the time of COVID-19 pandemic at Jersey General Hospital. I hope it will inspire women in putting into action what May and Jan showed us during our Hypnobirthing course.

My idea of Hypnobirthing was that of going into yoga classes with my husband (and becoming fit in the process whilst being pregnant). I thought it could be a smart idea to “comply” him to get into an activity with me so that the “WE are pregnant” statement holds true. We were part of the February 2020 Hypnobirthing class of May and Jan.

I had always feared childbirth from a young age, due to all the drama that birth entails that I had seen on TV/movies and the horrible stories from Mums who had been through the journey. We were fortunate that our pregnancy had been a smooth process. We were low-risk and all of our antenatal results were good and healthy. Though I had always been grateful and filled with joy for being pregnant, I still have no idea of the intensity of the pain that childbirth can bring (I did receive loads of unsolicited advice which just made childbirth more of an unpleasant journey).

On Monday, 6th April at around 7am, I woke up with a terrible menstrual-felt like cramp. I tried to ignore it and focused on my breathing which I learned from the Hypnobirthing course and thought that it was just Braxton-Hicks (practice contractions/surges). I got ready for breakfast, sat on my birth ball and listened to my worship playlist (my morning routine). I had started my maternity leave whilst my husband Graham was working from home, so I tried to be away from his “work area” at home as much as possible. The cramps kept on coming at irregular intervals – so I tried to time the surges using the Freya app that May recommended during our course. 

On Monday afternoon, I decided to take a nap to get my mind away from the surges. I even had a video call with a friend who was laughing at me as my face kept on changing whenever I felt the surges. When she asked how I was feeling, I told her that I felt like making a poo but couldn’t. She confirmed that such feeling was what surges were like. She suggested to ring the Maternity Unit at the hospital to let them know what I felt.

Due to the unprecedented time caused by COVID-19, and following the stages of labour we learned from the course, Graham and I decided to spend more of our early labour at home (as much as possible) where I felt more relaxed and safe, and only then proceed to the hospital once established labour begins.

I called the Maternity Unit at around 4:30pm on Monday and informed them that I was having a surge in every 25 minutes (based on the Freya app). They suggested to stay at home first and ring them again should there be blood show or once my water bag breaks.

Graham prepared a warm bath for me at around 5-ish whilst he prepared our dinner. I spent almost 2 hours in the bath as the surges kept coming. When I finished my bath then wiped, I noticed that my mucous plug fall out and had a bloody show. I put on some maternity pads during this time, just in time for my husband to announce that dinner was ready.

After dinner, we watched Pirates of the Caribbean to make me laugh and encourage the flow of oxytocin. Furthermore, for the last 2 weeks of my pregnancy, I avoided reading about COVID-19, turned off the TV about news on COVID-19, and even uninstalled my Facebook app (still have the Messenger though) as my FB News Feed only talked about COVID-19 (I re-installed FB again on Easter Sunday.) If I got any COVID-19 related question, I ring the Bridge or Maternity and follow their advices.

The surges felt like wanting to have a massive poop. Actually, sitting on the toilet was very comfortable with me that time and joked my husband that I may give birth to our baby in a toilet. I could no longer focus on the movie we were watching and decided to go for a nap and hoped to sleep through the surges. I told my husband that I’ll just stay at our sofa as I no longer want to go upstairs to our bedroom. Graham prepared me a warm shower to relax my uterus muscles in between surges, put on the meditation playlist from the Freya app and dimmed the lights at our living area to give me a spa-like relaxing environment. He also inhaled/exhaled with me when I feel the surges, he's a brilliant birth partner. We preferred to stay at home for the most part of established labour. And just after midnight (early minutes now of April 7), my water bag broke and it was then when Graham called the hospital to advise them of my situation and they advised us to come in. We do not have a car and beforehand, Graham had already arranged for an on-call taxi who came within just 2 minutes at our front door.

We arrived at 1:10am on Tuesday morning at the Jersey General Hospital delivery room. During this time, Graham handed our detailed birth preference to the midwives on duty, put on my meditation playlist and was next to me, coaching me through my breathing. He handed me my water bottle to drink, inhaled/exhaled with me and most importantly, reminded me of my strongest and powerful positive affirmation, which came from my father who always says, "My only beloved daughter is strong and brave, she can do it!!" 

As soon as we got in the delivery room, the midwives had me lying on my back to examine me, however I said this was not what I learned from the course (when I looked back on this now, I felt that our labour had been a comedy film). Instead, I made a choice to be on kneeling position on top of the bed, which made me felt more comfortable as I had gravity on my side to help with labour. I can hear the midwife say that she can already see the baby’s head and just around 2:00am, our Saoirse was born! I can't believe that for a first-time Mum, I will be on actual labour and give birth in less than an hour. Our baby weighed 3.75kg and measured 55cm. I had a small tear, due to shoulder dystocia where one of her shoulders got stuck inside, it required stitches but no need to go to theatre. The midwife commented if one has to have a tear, mine was the perfect tear (I don’t know what it meant.) So thankful for a smooth, safe, normal delivery with no pain relief (no epidural, no gas/air, no drugs, no syntocinon drip) was introduced to me. 

We had a lovely “Golden Hour” where our baby was put on my chest immediately after birth and undisturbed skin-to-skin time for an hour (or I think more). We requested delayed cord clamping and Graham had the honour to cut our baby’s cord (see photo), with the assistance of the midwives. We also requested for delay weighing and measuring. After a few more minutes, I gave birth to the placenta which was shown to me by the midwife who informed that it was a perfectly healthy placenta (I was also able to hold it). I said "thank you" to the placenta for ensuring that all nutrients were transported to my baby during the 9 months of pregnancy.

Our take-away from the hypnobirthing course was that we prepared a very detailed birth preference using the templates we learned from our course. Midwives read this when we came in the delivery room and gave me the birth experience as I had written down on my birth plan.

All throughout the pregnancy journey, especially the 3rd trimester, Graham and I used and practiced the hypnobirthing tools (breathing, UFO positions, detailed birth preference, having positive birth mindset). Graham has been a fantastic coach and brilliant birth partner throughout all my powerful surges up to the actual delivery. 

I realised giving birth was not a physical battle, it was more of a mental battle to get through all the surges. We need to train our minds and use all the positive affirmations given to us. This birth was such a gift and left me on a high. We are forever grateful for all the learnings from our hypnobirthing course and wish that all women have access to it in order that the way we think and feel about labour and birth would be different. I feel so confident and relaxed with having our baby, which has also helped in my breastfeeding journey now that she is 8 days old. Hypnobirthing has really been a game changer.

Best wishes,
Rocelyn xxx

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