Alistair’s Pain-free Home Birth (with almost 8 hours of pushing!)
This story comes from a client who did the Hypnobabies Self-Study program. It was an amazingly beautiful homebirth and she surrounded herself with her wonderfully supportive husband & friends, her lovely mother and very capable and patient midwives. I ended up playing the role of birth photographer more than Hypno-Doula as she did just fine on her own without much “doulaing” from me. You can see more pictures from her birth on my Birth Photography page. Her support team was amazing and she fully embraced the Hypnobabies program, using her hypnosis tools very effectively!
I felt fine that day at 40 weeks-along. We had a lovely meeting with our midwife, Heidi. talking at length about going late and induction protocols. I was convinced that I would go right to 42 weeks! But I wanted to get this baby out so we had afternoon sex and afterwards I felt an increase in pressure but no actual contractions. The pressure was constant, not at all rhythmic, so I never considered it to be contractions. We went to the farmers market downtown and Duchess bakery to get dessert for dinner at my best friend Shalom’s house. By the time we were eating dinner I was feeling stronger but still constant pressure which I still didn’t think meant anything as the contractions were still not rhythmic. Shalom gave me an acupuncture treatment relieving some of the pressure. Afterwards, I had my first pressure waves, which I dismissed as Braxton-Hicks because I still didn’t believe I was in labor.
Joe, Shalom’s oldest who was almost 4 at the time, was especially sweet to me during dinner: he got me a birth ball to sit on, kept asking when the baby was coming and if it was hungry. Atypically, he also asked me to read to them and brush their teeth—it was like he knew what was about to happen even though I didn’t. So after reading a few books to the kids, we left Shalom’s around 10:00 pm and as soon as we got home I started feeling more intense pressure waves. I tried my best to ignore them and attempted to go to sleep. As soon as I lay down I got profoundly nauseated, threw up and spent the next hour or two on my birth ball upstairs in my bedroom. Next, still in denial of labor, I transitioned to my bathroom tub and listened to Hypnobabies Birth Affirmations. I found the hypnosis tracks too restrictive but I enjoyed the affirmations because they allowed me to fade in and out.
Time went by very quickly and around 12:30 am my husband convinced me to call our midwife. I still remember thinking that since I could talk through my contractions they may not be the active labor. Heidi came over around 3:00 am, gave me my first round of antibiotics (GBS +) and moved to my birth pool, which Cam and Heidi filled. Apparently my husband had difficulty attaching the pool hose to the taps but Heidi swooped in and saved the day. He told me about this later because by this time I wasn’t talking to anyone, I just kept chanting the word ‘OPEN’ through my contractions. I think this point I was likely fully dilated, however I did not want any dilation checks so I don’t really know.
We have no idea when my water broke, I never felt it happen…. most likely it happened while I was in my bath tub but I was in such a trance I really have no clue.
I recall one very strong pressure wave while I was transferring to the birth tub and I felt my body push! This is when I first allowed myself to believe I was having my baby! I forget exactly who called whom, but my support team started to assemble once I was in the pool. Shalom was the first to arrive and immediately started applying cold wash clothes to my forehead and neck. It felt wonderful! My doula Ricky arrived shortly thereafter and over the next several hours all my other girlfriends Ashley, Thirza and Lauren arrived.
At this point my entire body pushed with each contraction. However, it was very peaceful and over my entire birth my contractions were never closer than 6 minutes apart usually more like 10 minutes apart. They were never painful and I enjoyed the feeling of them gathering strength in my body and then the release of pushing. They were an intense pressure but never painful. As I felt them gathering strength inside me I would remind myself to experience the sensation as pressure and not as pain. I pictured a crossroads and it was my choice how I would experience each contraction.
Although I knew it was a slow birth, I never felt pressure or tension from anyone. I recall it getting light outside and receiving my third round of antibiotics sometime mid-morning but time passed so quickly. I believe my body knew what it was doing and there was a good reason he was born so slowly, in the end it was 7 hours 47 minutes of pushing. He was born occipital transverse and with a nuchal hand. I did not tear and he came out alert and beautiful (even with the massive cone head!)
Every time I looked up from my pool I would find myself staring into the face of someone who believed in me. I wish every woman could experience that level of support in birth. I remember thinking to myself that all my friends looked amazingly beautiful and I wondered if they had put on makeup. It honestly seemed as though they had halos of light around their heads (must have been the natural oxytocin talking). They stayed up all night supporting me and never once in the long and slow birth process did one ounce of doubt entire into my mind – I credit my team for that experience.
I don’t think my husband left my side the entire birth and when I reached down and pulled Alistair from the water onto my chest Cameron was right there with me. He spoke to Ali who turned his head to look at his Dad. Ricky captured the moment perfectly and it is one of my most treasured photos. We snuggled in the pool for a few minutes and it took me forever to remember to check if it was a boy or girl. I was so surprised and happy that it was a boy! I had convinced myself we were having a girl. My husband had skin to skin with Ali while I took a quick shower and then we all hopped into bed.
I was so happy not to need any stitches, Ali’s head was in the 95th percentile at birth and in combination with his weight (8 lbs 4 oz), hand position and unusual presentation I am fascinated that my body accommodated so well. I truly believe that our bodies are designed to birth and we have an intuitive knowledge to bring our babies into the world the way they need to be born.
I spent the next three days laying around topless in bed snuggling my new baby boy. I had such amazing support in the postpartum period from Heidi and my friends it was a great transition into the crazy world of motherhood.
My midwife always trusted me and my birth process. I would never have been “allowed” my birth in the hospital with a doctor. Because I made progress (albeit slow), kept a very positive attitude, and Ali’s status were always perfect Heidi allowed my body to birth the way it needed to. Under her watchful eye and joyful spirit I had what I consider to be a perfect birth.