This birth story is from Erika and Nathan, who did an online hypnobirthing course with me due to Covid and them not living local to me. Erika had a really hard pregnancy and birth, but still had a really positive experience. I love this birth story, because even though it didn’t go to plan Erika can still look back with happiness at the birth of her baby, Henry. Birth stories like this show that without the right support and knowledge birth can be traumatic, but when you are in control it can still be positive. Erika writes:
We came to know of Colleen through my brother and sister in law, they had taken her hypnobirthing course during covid as it was online. Carly and Sam spoke such wonders of it, they gifted a course to us. (You can read the full birth story of Elliot here.) We were quite early into our pregnancy when we took the course, I was only 11 weeks along, but I feel like it was the perfect time to do it.
I didn’t really know too much about hypnobirthing at the time, but the two sessions were amazing. It was helpful to learn about the breathing techniques and trying to keep a calm mindful state. But what I found most helpful was the second session where Colleen went through the birthing options, pros and cons and the power we have as women. Before being pregnant, it had never occurred to me that I could say no to anything in terms of my care and birthing experience. I thought it was as they told me and I had to go along with it because “they knew best”. So I found it super empowering to be told that I was in control, and I had a better pregnancy and birthing experience because of it. Had we not spoken with Colleen, I don’t know that I would have thought any different to before, so I am very glad we did!
Colleen was also available to chat through things throughout my pregnancy. I was admitted to hospital a few times, and so I got to chat with Colleen through instagram about things that were going on. She gave me stretches to try for my pelvic girdle pain and was just there to chat if I needed it, which was really lovely.
My birthing experience was eventful, I confess I wasn’t always very good at remembering the breathing techniques, and there was no amount of natural calming that could have got me through my labour, it was awful. However, I still think I had a positive birth because of the things I had learnt on the course.
I was in the first stages of labour for five days before we agreed to an induction. I had heavy contractions for five days, however it was moving very slowly. By day five I was so exhausted and in so much pain that I was admitted for pain relief and put on the wait list for an induction. Five hours later, I was taken to the delivery suite to have my waters broken and start the whole process. I had initially wanted to give birth in a birthing suite with a water bath, but some factors meant that I had to give birth in the delivery suite. Although the birthing pool was still an option unfortunately it was in use when I was induced.
After several hours of very strong contractions (due to my body being very sensitive to the induction hormone, I was having three contractions in under five minutes), and little movement from Henry down the canal, I asked for an epidural. I had firmly stated I did not want this beforehand, but the pain was too great that I couldn’t even see straight anymore and they agreed it was safe to try. The epidural took five attempts to be fitted, and only half worked. This was because during the process they discovered I have scoliosis and were struggling to find my spine. After a few attempts, two anaesthetists and a lot of gas and air, they got it in. Henry however was back to back with me, so was rubbing on my spine which is curved so I still had a-lot of pain.
At some point during the contractions my heart rate was above 200 bpm and they could no longer monitor Henrys as his seemed to match mine. They asked permission to attach a probe to his head so they could make sure he was ok, to which I agreed. After roughly 10 pushes, a second degree tear and some awkward manoeuvring, he was out. Ten hours after being induced, Henry was born, at 8:29am. We were ALL very relieved to have him out.
He went straight onto my stomach for some skin to skin, had his vitamin K injection (which was pre approved by us), my husband cut his cord once it had drained and we got onto the cuddling. We could just sit in the bliss of having him finally in our arms. The midwives were very friendly and after a feed and a hour of cuddles, they let me stay there to have a nap while my husband held Henry.
We were in hospital a total of 9 days after his birth. He had severe jaundice, and ended up in HDU for four days, was treated for suspected sepsis and was severally dehydrated from not feeding (due to issues with rousing to feed), but thankfully, we came home and he is now super happy and healthy.
Looking back at my experience of both pregnancy and labour, it was hard. There is no joke about it, it was probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. But I came away feel empowered, I had done that, I was in control, I was allowed a voice and an opinion and to ask questions. I felt like I wasn’t walking into the complete unknown, and it was great. The doctors and midwives at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford were so amazing, super supportive throughout my many hospital visits and labour; the midwife who had been with us all night long even stayed when her shift was over to make sure Henry came out safely. She was very attentive to my wants and our birthing plan, and always asked us what we wanted rather than just telling us what she was going to do, she always asked permission and if I was comfortable with the plan.
Colleen gave me that freedom, that confidence to own my whole birthing experience, and I am SO grateful to her for it. Knowledge is power and she gave me that power. I only wish she lived closer so I could attend her yoga classes!
Thank you Colleen.