This is Jen & Mike’s beautiful story of their daughter’s birth.
As first time parents they joined one of my group Hypnobirthing classes in Northumberland.
Understanding their choices, and feeling confident enough to advocate for themselves made their experience a wonderful one!
Despite considerable pressure & coercion from a consultant to head down the ‘conveyor belt’ of care, which would have undoubtedly led to further intervention- this power couple held their own & advocated for themselves amazingly!
*Images included are not of Jen, Mike or Baby Nora, at their request ❤️
In Jen’s words:
“Honestly, I'm really happy about it all. I'm so, so proud of my body and Mike and baby Nora.
We took control, they wanted to do lots of things we didn't and we said so and did it our way.
We went in on Wednesday after ringing PAU to check because I'd had a few very little leaks on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday, which I didn't think were waters but wasn't sure.
They said it probably wasn't either, but come in to be sure. We put everything in the car but we're pretty sure it was just a good chance for a dry run and we'd be coming home.
At the hospital we discussed it and they thought it probably wasn't my waters. They did a swab and we waited to be allowed home. Then the midwife came back and said your waters have broken, you're not going home.
They said it was probably the hind waters from behind the baby's head, and the rest were probably still in tact. It was a shock because we'd been pretty sure nothing was going on.
Mike went to get the bags from the car and I sat in PAU (pregnancy assessment unit), did my covid test, cancelled my grocery delivery and my yoga class!
When we got up to the birthing centre, the midwife introduced herself briefly and then the doctor came.
He went through a lot of information very fast, as if he was going to decide all the steps. He wanted to induce due to the infection risk from my waters have gone for more than 24 hours.
Each step he said “if you don't do that, baby might be distressed, or you might not progress, or we might have to do x, y z.“ It was very overwhelming.
He said he wanted to induce with the gel, then an oxytocin drip, break my waters, then I might want an epidural, and that they wanted the pain not to be 'excruiciating'. Not a helpful word.
We stayed calm and used the BRAINS tool we learned in class. We asked what the alternatives were, which he seemed quite confused by. He explained the infection risk again. Then we asked for some time to talk together and decide.
I think when he left he must have realised that we weren't just going to go along with whatever we were told. The midwife came back and we asked a few more questions, discussed the pros and cons of going for induction vs a section and again just took our time to talk.
It wasn't the best start but it gave us a chance to bring ourselves back to what we'd learnt, to talk together and to take our time.
When the nightshift midwife, Carrie, came on shift, everything changed. She came in and just sat down calmly with us. She asked about how we were feeling. She said that it was all our choice and we didn't need to decide everything now.
She went back to the first step and explained the gel again, how it works and what it would be like. We asked if we could have it and then wait to see if my body could pick up the process itself from there. She said absolutely that was fine.
I felt so much more listened to and happy. When the doctor came back his manner was different and I think he'd sort of understood.
We had the gel at 11pm and I settled down to read by fairy lights, listen to my tracks and read my book. I put on my comfy dressing gown and we made everything as cosy as we could. Mike pulled out the partner bed to try and get some sleep before things got going.
I couldn't really sleep but I stayed snug and read and thought about how soon I would meet my baby. I got up a few times and did some yoga stretches.
The midwife checked on me at 3am, nothing was really going on. They examined me at some point and I was 1cm but everything was much shorter than on PAU which was a good sign. She was due again at 5am, which would be 6 hours.
Because of the risk of infection I was only allowed one gel and it's given 6 hours to do something so I was feeling a bit worried.
She was a little late coming back, and at 5.20am I felt an obvious pop in my tummy, followed by a rush of water. I got up and told Mike and we buzzed the midwife. I was so pleased. I felt like I knew I was right to stand my ground and listen to my body.
They offered all the options again and we said firmly no, we want to see what my body can do from here - This is a clear sign baby knows what's going on.
My contractions started shortly after that, fairly quickly in a rhythm of between 45-60 seconds every 3-4 minutes.
I used the tens machine and was on my hands and knees a lot, and on the loo! Then I found lying face forward over the birthing ball was really good.
Mike told me affirmations and put on my music and tracks and we tracked contractions on the Freya app. We had a whole morning of calm contractions using everything we knew.
I attempted to eat some lunch and was sick - my body knew this was not this time to add more things in!
When I had an exam at lunch time the rest of my waters went and I went from 6cm and all chill to ready to push immediately. It was mega intense but Mike was amazing and helped me get there.
I used lots of different positions and gas and air for that part. I kept saying I can't do it it's too scary, it hurts too much!
When they went I'd got onto the floor and I was convinced I couldn't move, but Mike and the midwife together got me onto the bed, kneeling up facing back over the head.
That was definitely my transition moment where I had a wobble, but Mike just kept saying you can do it, you are doing it.
They tried to coach me to breathe through the contractions rather than make noise but my body really felt like it was just making the noises without me!
I got into a flow with these slowly, they were very intense but I knew after a while that with each contraction my body would do the same 5 pushy feelings and I just needed to work through those 5 before I got a break. My body was doing it's thing and I trusted it and trusted my baby.
Mike was amazing. They kept putting the monitor on baby every so often and her heart rate was so consistent, it never changed.
When she was very close they asked permission to put a constant monitor on (just like the ones you have when you go into pau) and we agreed. Again she was fine. Our music played, I still had the tens machine on and he kept telling me I could do it, I was doing it.
Then they started saying they could see her head and felt to check it was. Mike got to see it too. They told me she had lots of hair!
We tried different positions and some coached pushing and they all said I was doing everything I could but I just couldn't quite get her head out.
It was scary, I had had my eye shut for several hours but I could tell from the sounds that there were now more people in the room.
They explained that an assisted delivery would be best to get her out safely. I was worried but the midwife and Mike reassured me and they started to prep. I had a catheter and some local anesthetic to numb the area.
They did the episiotomy, which understandly made Mike feel a bit faint! Then the Dr put in the cup and talked me through how to push with the next contraction. I did and with a couple of goes her head was out.
Then I had to wait for the next one to deliver her body - I said what do I do, I don't know how to do this bit, they reassured me it was just the same.
And with the next contraction her body was out and she was put straight up onto my chest. I was so overwhelmed with love, I just kept saying to the midwife is she ok is she ok?
She was absolutely fine, she settled straight onto me and promptly had a poo! We had a few minutes of delayed cord clamping and then they asked Mike again if he wanted to cut the cord.
He hadn't been going to but he decided to which was so nice. I decided to have the injection to deliver my placenta, I hadn't been planning to but I was so ready to be left alone with my family and my new baby.
They did check because it was a change to our preferences, and then I had it. Delivering the placenta was quick after that and I had baby Nora in my arms the whole time.
They stitched me up and I used the gas and air again, but just kept looking at the amazing little person in my arms.
We asked for uninterrupted time after that so they didn't weigh or check her then, they left us alone and we snuggled her up and everything was still.
She just settled as if to say here I am, don't worry, I knew I'd be ok.
We did have an assisted delivery with a kiwi and an episiotomy in the end but it was our choice, Nora was calm and her heart rate never changed. We didn't have of the pain relief options we hadn't wanted which might have affected her, even when it was v intense.
It was a huge experience but I was brave and Nora led the way. I am so, so proud of my body and my family.
As I write it all out it probably doesn't sound very hypnobirthing-esqe but it really, really was. We've both said already how incredibly glad we are we'd prepped or it would have been totally different.
At the end when the midwives changed shift our midwife came to see us and she said how incredible Mike was. ❤️ He advocated for me when I couldn't and we had the medical support we needed, but no unnecessary intervention.”
If learning about your options in birth, understanding how to make labour easier & feeling confident about asserting your rights in pregnancy & birth sounds like a place you’d like to be in - head to the link below to see how you can learn with Jessica, like Jen & Mike did.