As I embarked on my second pregnancy I encountered mixed emotions. I was excited but also scared. My first labour experience had not gone quite to plan and after wanting a water birth in a primary unit I ended up in hospital with an epidural and a ventouse. The experience left me feeling quite traumatised with the belief I wasn’t capable of pushing a baby out unaided.
When I first met my midwife she had a convincing confidence in my ability to birth, which gave me hope that I could birth at the Warkworth birthing centre. Throughout the pregnancy my mind waviered between believing I could have a completely natural birth to feeling scared that I would need to go to the hospital to have an epidural. My midwife always reassured me that if I needed to be in hospital there would be an ambulance to take me, but had an encouraging confidence that I would be able to have the water birth I always wanted.
During the pregnancy my midwife gave me a book to read with a wide selection of natural birthing techniques and the message that birth was natural, the pain was good pain, and that I needed to listen to my primal instincts as everyone births differently. This helped me to feel prepared and to ensure my husband and my midwife knew how best to support me.
The week prior to my due date the baby was in posterior position, I was scared that it would mean an extremely painful birth and a trip to the hospital. My midwife's confidence that the baby would turn during labour coupled with some positive birth stories from friends where their babies had turned, helped me to believe that I could still have a natural drug free birth.
I went into labour a day after my due date. My waters broke at 2pm and the contractions started at 3pm. At first the contractions were painful but manageable and coming every 3 minutes. My husband and I arrived at the birthing centre at 5pm, my midwife was waiting at the door to take us through to our birth room. I was 4-5cm dilated so she suggested I remain upright to help the baby move. I felt like moving so went outside to walk around.
It was a sunny day and felt good to be surrounded by the centres beautiful gardens. Every time I had a contraction I rested on my husband and used noise to counteract the pain. As the contractions became more intense I began stamping my feet as well as making the noise, and as the pain increased so did my movements. Although the contractions were painful I felt in control and confident. I must have looked like a chanting monkey, but the centre felt like a safe place to be and do whatever I needed.
When we moved into the birth room my midwife created a calming ambiance with dimmed lights, relaxing music and the smell of lavender. By 8pm the contraction became much more intense and I felt like I needed more help so she suggested it was time to get in the pool. I liked being in the water but found dealing with the contractions more difficult so I started using the gas and air. This made huge difference and helped me to remain calm and in control. The contractions became much stronger and closer together. With every contraction I used my husbands voice as something to focus on and get me through. At times I felt like it was too much, but they both kept reassuring me that I was able and we were getting closer.
When it all became too much and I really thought I couldn’t do it, my midwife asked if I felt like pushing, which I did. When the urge became too much to control I began to push, it was hard work and I was terrified I couldn’t do it. Again my midwife reassured me the baby was coming and I was doing a good job. After 20 minutes of pushing I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl at 10.38pm and my midwife passed her into my arms. I just couldn’t believed I had pushed her out, I felt overjoyed and amazed.
This birth experience changed my whole perception of giving birth. I now feel like we are designed to birth and that it can be an enriching experience. It is painful but a good pain with a purpose. I feel extremely thankful for my husband who laboured with me, and my midwife for her confidence and understanding of what I needed and when. The whole centre seemed to be there to support me and create a safe space so I could comfortably and confidently birth my baby. It truly was a healing experience that left me feeling empowered and I’m grateful to have been able to have the birth I always wanted.