A birth story about women-centred model of care by a student midwife and hypnobirthing mother
I started my hypnobirthing journey when I was pregnant with my second child. I knew I wanted a vastly different experience to that of my first birth with my son, which was deeply traumatic, although we were both physically ‘healthy’. I had seen hypnobirthing on a UK episode of one born every minute and was amazed at how calm the lady and her partner were when they had their baby via water birth. No stirrups, no interventions, no screaming; it was exactly what I envisioned for myself second time round. I lined up an amazing midwife (Roxanne) at the birth centre who was completely on board with my plans for a natural, drug-free water birth. I finally got to experience a truly woman-centred model of care and it awoke a deep sense of grief of what I had missed out on with my first.
This grief was also realised again when my partner and I started the two-day hypnobirthing course. We both had a lightbulb moment when we learnt what we had missed out on. We realised that birth could be absolutely transformative, magical and fulfilling. We learnt so much about the natural processes and hormones of labour and how these things work in our advantage for normal birth.
I diligently listened to my hypnobirthing tracks every night, as well as attended Kim’s belly balance classes. Kim was such a calming presence for me in times of doubt and I always left the classes floating, she had such faith in me which made me feel like I could really do this.
My labour started at 1 am on a Saturday morning in July 2017. At first, I didn’t even think it was the real thing and tried to sleep through. By 3 am I was up, pottering around the house thinking maybe it could be time, so I called my partner to come home from work in Emerald. He was so excited, a true testament to the confidence Kim instilled in us.
I quietly and calmly laboured for a few more hours rolling on my fit ball and listening to my hypnobirthing tracks, until around 7:30 am when I called my midwife and said I would be coming in soon. My waters had just broken, and I was starting to feel different. I was doing strange marching movements through the house, and subconsciously I knew my body was gearing into start pushing.
I arrived at the birth centre at about 8:30 am and hopped in the birth pool. I had my hypnobirthing tracks playing here as well and I really lost all sense of time and where I was. My body started involuntarily pushing, and it was such an intense feeling. I couldn’t stop it and I asked my midwife if she needed to check my cervix. She simply said no, that my body knew what it was doing. I still get a shiver when I remember these words. I used my breathing and meditation skills to breathe through the intensity.
At 9:30 our surprise gender baby was born- a girl. We were elated. We couldn’t believe that our journey this time actually went so smoothly, and simply by doing hypnobirthing and choosing a birth centre for the place of birth.
We went home six hours later with our precious baby, and my partner said, “I wish everyone could do what we just did.” It just felt so normal but surreal that we were going home to lay in bed and bond with our newest baby.
We recommend hypnobirthing to all our friends now. I’ve even put the things I’ve learnt into practice now I’m a student midwife and have the enormous privilege of helping women through labour and birth.
A hospital land birth story
After having a bath in clary sage I went to bed and woke 5 hours later with strong surges. I tried to sleep through but they came 5-8 minutes apart and lasted about 1 minute or so. By sunrise I excitedly told my husband I was having surges and we should start setting the day and get organized. I managed my early labour by walking around the house and breathing gently through each surge. My favorite affirmation I repeated to myself was ‘Each surge bring my baby closer to me’
By 10:30am and feeling comfortable at home for the previous hours I felt into my birthing body and made the call to head in to see my midwife in hospital. 11am check and I was dilated and stayed in my birthing room managing my surges with the use of water and using positions on my birthing ball.
My Midwife came in to check on me and said I seemed very calm and perhaps I could go home for a bit as nothing much must be happening, This is when she noticed baby’s heart rate drop during a surge so asked to monitor me and we used the fetal scalp monitor and allowed artificial rupture of my waters.
I managed my labour beside the bed on my birth ball for the remainder of my labour. I had soft gentle music playing in the room and my husband used the endorphin touch techniques we learnt in class to keep me relaxed. My midwife was very astute with monitoring bub and called the doctor in to assist with delivery to be safe. With the help of the gas, in three lots of mighty big pushes our second son Miller was born. I reached down and pulled him to my chest and it was the most amazing moment.
Hypnobirthing changed my perspective on birth. I wasn’t scared this time around and I embraced the sensations as I knew it was bringing my baby to me. My first birth was a long, epidural and forceps delivery, and gave me a lot of fear the second time around.
This birth was much shorter and all natural, besides the gas, and I felt incredible after. I cannot thank Kimberly enough for giving us the tools to get through labour. I honestly couldn’t recommend it more!
A story of an informed assisted birth - The Birth Of Lucas McClure
When my husband and I finally fell pregnant after trying for 4 long years, we stumbled across Kimberly’s page and were curious about what Hypnobirthing was all about. We decided to sign up for the 2-day course (in lieu of the hospital antenatal class), and learn what we could in an attempt to bring our baby boy in to the world with as little medical intervention as possible.
The course was great, not only to give my husband an insight in to birth itself (just ask him how much he loved the birth videos!), but it also went through what your medical options are, get partners actively discussing things they may never have talked about and many techniques to use leading up to and during your labour.
After being out with friends for dinner, I started feeling niggling type cramping. Over the next 4 hours this escalated and I used the Hypnobirth breathing techniques and exercise ball to guide me through the early surges (while hubby slept). At 4.30am I woke him when I couldn’t time them myself anymore. He rang the hospital at 6.30am and spoke to the midwives, who said that my contractions probably weren’t coming often enough to come in yet, but they would see us sometime that morning when we were ready.
I put my headphones on with a Hypnobirth track playing and closed my eyes for the entire trip to the hospital, where we arrived at 10am. When watching me breathe through my surges, the midwife didn’t think I was ready to head to the birth suite yet, but we headed to the room anyway because there were no other mothers birthing that morning.
I didn’t want to have a vacuum extraction birth, however I consented to one at 11am, but asked the midwife not to tell me how many centimetres dilated I was (part of my birth preferences). It was around this time I told the midwife I was feeling the urge to poo, not knowing that this probably meant I was going through transition. She told me to do whatever my body felt like it needed to. We spent a lot of time in the hot shower on the birthing ball and stool, but I was getting very fatigued (having not slept since early morning the day before). The midwife suggested we hop out of the shower and I raised the head of the bed up and leaned over it. I was determined to stay as upright as possible to help let gravity assist in moving bub down.
My surges had started to slow and it had been around 2 hours since I started to bear down. The midwife and Dr Herron were concerned that things were not progressing and told us that they may need to look at providing a bit of assistance. I immediately thought worst case scenario and told the doctor that I didn’t want to have a c-section unless absolutely necessary. He laughed and said “Let’s not get drastic now, we may just need to give bubby a bit of help to come through:, which put me at ease!
A short time later, after a lot of positive encouragement from my husband and midwife, the doctor used the vacuum to assist during one surge and our beautiful boy Lucas James was born in to the world, (37 weeks & 4 days gestation) at 1.22pm, weighing nearly 3 kilos. There was no cry heard from Lucas, but he was perfectly healthy, bright eyed and just calmly taking in his surroundings.
The doctor was so fabulous with his guiding words during the final stage helping me to slow down and breathe, which meant I was able to birth with no grazing or tearing, and pain relief free. I was so proud of myself and can honestly say that, even with the assistance, I still had the amazing empowering birth I had hoped for!
After we enjoyed our first moments with Lucas, I curiously asked the midwife to tell me how dilated I was when I had my vacuum extraction at 11am, which she replied 9cm. I am SO thankful for the Hypnobirthing techniques we learnt through Kim’s course, which I definitely believe allowed me to progress through labour for so long at home and bring our baby in to the world so calmly and with little medical intervention as possible. To this day, Lucas (now 10 months old) is still such a happy, content child and we are excited to one day use the Hypnobirth techniques again when we add to our family.
Paul & Kristin McClure (attended the Weekend Birth Course)
A story of patiently giving baby space at 40weeks & 5 days and water release induction
We decided to go ahead with having my water broken on at 40 weeks and 5 days. We both felt extremely safe in our doctor’s hands given our circumstances. I also felt that my body and mind were ready. I liken the decision to the ‘swimming between the flags’ analogy we learnt in class – my doctor was ‘my flags’, and I felt so safe, secure and confident in our decision.
We got to the hospital a little past 7am where we checked into our room and were taken to the birth suites. We were stoked to have a midwife we knew very well! She hooked me up to the heart monitor and took my obs while waiting for our doctor. At this point we informed our midwife that we were practising hypnobirthing – she is well across calm birthing techniques and we couldn’t have asked for a more accepting hands-off midwife! She asked me about my pain relief preferences and I informed her that I was strongly determined not to use medicated pain relief. She asked about gas and I said I was okay with a low dose of gas (given that high doses make me feel ill). We also discussed the apparatus in the room etc. I also asked her to confirm the baby’s posterior positioning so that I could be mindful of my own positioning (to help facilitate Bub turning more easily) during my labour.
The doctor arrived I think a little before 8am. I was already 4cm dilated and he broke my waters easily. After that we had free range of the birth suite including the bath, our room and the balcony. Tye set up the birth suite – he filled the bath with lovely warm water and my clary sage blend, turned off all the lights and set up some beautiful LED candles. He set up my speaker, and turned on my music. It was a beautiful set up.
We did a few laps of the ward, where I started to get period like cramping. Eventually the cramping increased to back discomfort also.Our midwife gave us a heat pack for pain relief and we made our way back to the birth suite where I relaxed in the bath. I then changed positions so that I was on my knees on a yoga mat, my arms leaning forward over the birth ball where I rocked my hips side to side between surges and rolled front to back during surges. During this time on the ball, our midwife entered the room and silently checked bub with a Doppler, whilst I continued rolling. This was the only time we were interrupted during labour, or at least the only time I noticed her presence in the room.
Once the surges intensified further (transition was not far away now), I hopped back in the bath. I told Tye I felt like I needed to poo, but that I thought it was actually probably poo, and not the baby coming because surely it couldn’t be time yet! He called our midwife in, and she helped him set up my gas so that I could use it in the bath, and she left us alone. Soon enough, the pressure got quite intense and I hopped out of the bath and back onto the birth ball, in the leaning forward position. Tye called our midwife in who checked my cervix and I was at 9cm. She asked me to please hold off pushing while she contacted the doctor.. She also said “Ange if you are comfortable down there and want to birth there, please do so. Birth wherever and however you are comfortable!”
Our doctor arrived in no time and they both sat back silently for a while whilst I breathed through the powerful surges. I wasn’t sure whether to push or not, so I asked, “can I start pushing now?!” They both said “Yes!” I can recall my body giving me a lovely rest between the powerful surges that would soon bring my baby to me.
At this point we stopped the gas and I started working with the surges, using them to birth Eli. There was a point where the doctor started instructing me to push and in three surges, Eli’s head propelled out and I was guided to birth his body. During this time I had placed my hands down to feel Eli’s head crowing, and how close he was. I did attempt to pant him out prior to being instructed to push. Feeling his beautiful head crowing was the motivation I needed to keep going! Tye was squeezing my shoulders, using our anchor touch at this point. I think he was also whispering something to me. I felt his presence and his support.
After only three powerful surges, Eli entered this world so joyfully at 12.32pm. Tye was instructed to move onto the floor space behind me and he supported me while I leaned back onto him and brought Eli up onto my chest. At this point, I felt big squishy balls and proclaimed “balls, it’s a boy!” Without even needing to look. I leaned back onto Tye and cried tears of pure joy. I had done it! Our beautiful baby was here! Dr Herron and Jules waited for the cord to stop pulsing before guiding Tye to cut the cord.
After some time together, we were guided up onto the bed. This was the moment we had been so anxiously awaiting – the birthing of the placenta. Eli was handed to Tye who had removed his shirt in readiness for skin-to-skin.
I watched our doctor and midwife exchange concerned looks as the doctor explained something to me and pressed down onto my core. I mentally told myself “I am calm and ready to accept whatever turn my birthing journey takes”, knowing that it was possible I might haemorrhage and require a transfusion and possible hysterectomy. The placenta slid out with ease, and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief!
The hypnobirthing techniques truly allowed me to experience the calm, positive birth I desired! Even knowing the potential complications that could arise due to my medical history and circumstances, I was able to remain relaxed and happy throughout labour. I believe it was this mindset that enabled my body to dilate from 4cm to 10cm in a little over four hours! Although it was relatively fast, I would describe my labour and birth as gentle, calm and empowering. The surges built up gradually and my body granted me adequate rest. I trusted myself, my body, my husband and my birthing team. I would not describe this birth as a painful experience (what??? never thought I’d say that)! Having my waters broken was the only intervention required. I am so grateful to have avoided a hormonal induction, which was my last birth experience.
By the way, recovery has been a breeze, even though I ended up with second degree tearing requiring stitches. Some other things I’ve noticed – Eli slept all night the day of his birth, allowing us the rest we needed. My milk has come in extremely quickly – last time it was three days post partum, this time it was barely 48 hours later.
The room was so perfect, so glad I got to have a beautiful Hypnobirthing experience in a hospital setting.
Angela and Tye Atkinson
A birth story about the power of your support team
Miles was born at 41 weeks and 4 days – I declined an induction for the previous day and I am so glad I trusted my baby would come when ready (at 41 weeks I downloaded Baby, come out Mp3 track from the Hypnobirthing site). Surges began Friday lunchtime; I was relaxed and excited to meet my baby. Friday night was spent listening to my birthing affirmations, and in and out of the shower and bouncing on my birth ball.
Overnight surges got closer together, so as the sun was rising we got in the car and made the hour drive to the birth centre. The birth centre felt like home by then and I was looking forward to seeing my midwife – feeling confident that midwifery-led-care was the best choice for me, and having that rapport meant I was comfortable with an internal vacuum extraction when I arrived, and dilated to 4cm.
We used gravity by walking while listening to birth affirmations and I found a lot of relaxation came from the shower and endorphin release massage and light. A later Internal showed no further dilation and it was evident it was slow progress. I was given the opportunity to have my membranes artificially broken (If no progress within two hours we’d be transferred to the hospital). I initially declined, to think on my decision and make an informed choice. I knew baby wasn’t engaged and the potential risks but I knew staying at the birth centre was in my biggest interest so after assessing the situation I agreed.
Unfortunately breaking my waters wasn’t enough to get things moving and we did end up getting transferred to the hospital. The beautiful thing about the birth centre is that my midwife was still by my side the whole time. Pitocin was used to help me dilate; my surges were frequent but not long enough. I felt comfortable with this decision as I was still only 4cm and tiring. Thankfully Kimberly taught me to be prepared for whatever turn my birthing took. Later that day I accepted the offer for an epidural, something I had been so sure I didn’t want but it gave me the chance to relax, breathe and refocus my energy. I was running a fever and quite unwell requiring IV antibiotics. The low dosage epidural meant I could still feel my surges but also rest. This didn’t stop us (me, husband and midwife) getting me into some great positions and making use of all that gravity!
The day went by so quickly and it was Saturday evening before I knew it. I was fully dilated and it was evident baby was still not dropping down and engaged. I was informed I would need a caesarean. Hospital staff prepped me – theatre gown, hair net, epidural dose increased and I had signed the papers ready to go. My emotions got the better of me and the situation got very overwhelming for me; the endorphin touch from my husband and midwife calmed me wonderfully.
It was at this time my second midwife arrived to take over care alongside my first and made it evident to me how important it is to choose the right birth carer. The amazing midwife pushed for me to be given a chance for an assisted vaginal birth; I knew from research that I didn’t want a forceps delivery but was open to vacuum extraction. The obstetrician was hesitant as baby hadn’t engaged. My midwives were essentially supporting me to give me back some control of the situation and asked if she thought if I could move the baby down enough to allow the suction cap to be fitted to his head. I could no longer feel surges at this time as we were only minutes away from going into theatre but with the help of my midwives I proved I could potentially do it.
They fought my case to get me that opportunity and eventually it was agreed, I’d have an episiotomy and 20 minutes to get baby out. I breathed and beared down for 24 minutes using my Hypnobirthing breath AND THEN MY BABY WAS BORN. I DID IT!
In a birth where many of my birth preferences couldn’t be met (for good reason) this was my chance to regain some control and going from feeling very overwhelmed to incredibly empowered. I still can’t believe I did it and it’s a huge thank you to the midwives of the birth centre for encouraging and advocating for me.
We didn’t get the quiet and calm water birth I had hoped for. Miles was whisked away to special care for his own course of antibiotics which also meant no delayed cord clamping or the chance to feed. We missed out on the first magical bonding skin to skin time but I can look back and see so many wonderful moments. And again thanks to those wonderful midwives I was able to visit him as soon as I could walk again which was much sooner than if I’d had surgery.
By avoiding a caesarean it means they have kept my choices more open for next time. We have the option to go to the birth centre again and experience labouring in water. I absolutely wouldn’t have been able to look back and feel empowered and find such positives without Hypnobirthing. I had lots of helpful tools and techniques and our chosen midwives where our angels!
Miles was 9lb 1oz and a very tall 56cm of perfection.
For some this could have been classed as a traumatic birth but for me I felt ready to handle whatever came my way, I felt prepared and I surprised myself at how even when told a birthing outcome, I managed to turn it around. I just re-read this and I’m like Holy crap I did that! And that’s pretty amazing. Thank you Kimberly!!!