I first met Natalia and Jason during my May hypnobirthing group course, they came in ready to learn and so proactive to do whatever it took to achieve their home birth of their first baby girl Eva. What a pleasure it was to teach them hypnobirthing tools and prepare them for the journey of birth. For anyone planning a homebirth this one is a goodie!
Story features - homebirth with private midwives, hypnobirthing tools, active birth positions, tens machine use, water immersion, and a raw insight into postpartum haemorrhage. Natalia's description of events is so positive to read even when plans needed to change and a transfer to hospital was required to manage her bleeding.
I started to notice ‘tightening's’ and a bloody show around midday Saturday the 31st of July, I knew it was the start of my labour process and was so relieved as I was booked in for an induction at the RWH the next day. I was so happy, but also not surprised because no part of me saw myself preparing to go to the hospital to have this baby (stupidly did finish packing my hospital bag). They stopped in the afternoon and I went to bed around 6pm to be woken up by stronger surges at around 9.30pm. I decided to get up and start preparing our home for the birth. I lit candles, put the essential oils on and asked my husband to put the tens machine on as they were starting to feel more intense. The heat pack at the front also provided so much comfort for me. He went back to bed and I thought ‘I will wake him in an hour or two because this is going to progress fast.’ I stayed up for most of the night standing and swaying. All of my pain was at the front, I had no back labour, but I continued to use the tens machine throughout my labour as it was quite strong and distracted me from the surges. The surges were regular and coming 2-3 times every 10 minutes. I was in constant contact with our midwives who were expressing their desire that I try to go back to bed, but I kept thinking ‘no way this baby is going to come soon’ – oh how I was wrong!
Throughout my surges I started to practice some hypnobirthing techniques to help me manage them. The one affirmation that I found kept coming up for me throughout the labour was “my waves cannot be stronger than me, because they are me.” This was so powerful and when I focused on this, it truly got me through a surge without any sound.
At 5.30am I finally decided to try to go back to bed which made my surges less frequent at about one every ten minutes. I didn’t sleep but just being off my feet provided relief. I still used the tens and heats pack. I got back up at about 7.30am and started walking/standing/swaying again. One of our midwives came at 10.30am and we nestled in to a sort of birthing rhythm. She was happy with my progress and there was a calmness that came with her reassuring us that it was all traveling well.
I continued until about 3pm when we decided to start filling the pool, more for comfort than anything else, as I was starting to really fatigue and my god it was such a relief the second I got into it. My surges did slow down, but it gave me time to build some strength back up. I stayed in for an hour or so, then got back out as the other midwives arrived. Everyone was happy with baby and I but it was about this time that I began to beg for help. Not in a serious way, but I was so defeated with how long it was going on for and didn’t feel like I was progressing. I was looking for a timeframe, some sort of sign that I was close to the finish line. They offered me a cervical check which I was reluctant to do as I didn’t want to feel even more defeated, but I agreed and was 5cm at around 5pm. I remember this because it was at the time I was meant to be at the RWH for my induction. My midwife called them and hearing her tell them that I was labouring well and at 5cm at home gave me reassurance that I was actually going to do this.
Around 8-9pm my waters still hadn’t broken and I could feel the sack and her head through it. I was in the water labouring more intense at this time and really struggling to stay in my power. I went from being internal with my labouring sounds, to full-on screaming. I don’t know why but I asked my midwives if I could break my waters myself. They didn’t say yes or no, but were concerned that if there were signs of the baby being distressed in the waters, then an ambulance would be called. At no time throughout my labour was I concerned about the baby, call it mothers instinct, but I knew she was happy and safe throughout the whole process.
At 9pm I broke my own waters in the birth pool. I could feel her head and I started to push. There was no big urge, but I didn’t care, I just wanted her out. Throughout my pregnancy I read so much on protecting your pelvic floor and all of the techniques in breathing your baby out and how dangerous it is to push hard. But I really didn’t care at this point. I stood up out of the water as I felt I needed the help of gravity to get her out. I stood with one leg up on a chair and pushed the hardest I could ever imagine. I remember her head coming out and I looked at my midwife and apologized that I couldn’t hold on and that I needed to push the rest of her out.
At 9.18pm she was born in the middle of our living room. They noticed some bleeding and laid me on the couch for us to wait for my placenta to come. 10 minutes later my placenta was delivered and the bleeding continued. They gave me Pitocin? and very calmly explained that the ambulance will be called as I had now lost over 1.3L.
The paramedics arrived and could not have been nicer, they were so excited and the energy was still so calm and positive. They didn’t rush us and were very kind in handling such a special moment. At this point all I remember thinking was ‘god I don’t want the neighbours to see!’
When we arrived at the RWH I was examined and the blood loss had increased to over 2L. The doctor came in and the pain of all the needles and everyone pressing on my stomach was too much for me, I knew something was wrong because of the amount of blood clots every time they pressed down on my stomach was flooding the bed. It was at this point that I looked at my husband with such exhaustion/desperation. I just kept thinking ‘no more please, I am done! I have just birthed this baby, I don’t want to be here, I want to go home with my baby!’ The Doctor explained the need for surgery and I just looked at her and asked for her to put me completely under as I was done and couldn’t handle anymore. Initially she thought it was a bad tear which I knew it wasn’t. I remember signing documents and her explaining worst case I would have to have a hysterectomy. I just looked at my husband the whole time who was trying so hard to down-play the whole thing. I signed everything and closed my eyes wanting it to all be over. They kept telling me to open my eyes but I felt like it was body trying to protect me, like it had reached its limit for the past 24 hours.
I ended up having 2 internal vaginal hematomas which were the cause for my postpartum haemorrhage and loss of over 2L of blood. Initially they advised I stayed for longer but I was discharged at 5pm on the 2nd of August as they were happy with how everything was holding and I so desperately just wanted to go home. I remember the midwives and doctors explaining that my next birth won’t be as bad because she was very big (4.2kg and 56.5cm) and it was my first birth but I just laughed and said there was no way I am ever doing this again (doesn’t every 1st time mama say it)!
Even though the ending isn’t what I had planned (nor what I wanted), not once did I question my decision of a homebirth, in the back of my mind I know I would have been worse off with either forceps/episiotomy or simply just the cascade of intervention. The doctors at RWH explained that this would have happened regardless. I loved birthing at home, in my own space, in water, with mainly my husband in my close space and my midwives right there when I asked for them. Every single person who was a part of my labour, from my beautiful midwives, to the paramedics and all of the staff at the RWH were overwhelmingly amazing and I feel so blessed that I was lucky enough to be cared for by every single one of them.