The birth of Jaxon – homebirth to delivery suite

Sarah and Aaron were the first couple I taught hypnobirthing to when I first qualified as a hypnobirthing teacher in 2016. Their first birth was a positive birth experience following an induction of labour, you can read that story here. When they became pregnant again two years later, they asked if they could do a refresher course with me. We did a one day session, working around their two year olds schedule at their home. We covered things they felt they had forgotten since last time, and updates to policies regarding birth. Their second birth also did not go to plan, but with hypnobirthing they remained calm and in control.

Sarah’s birth story

After much deliberating, Aaron (my partner) and I decided we would like a homebirth for our second baby. Our first birth was a hypnobirth induction using syntocin, due to meconium in my waters. It was still a really positive experience despite the induction and being in the delivery suite. Because of how my first birth went, I knew that birth can be unpredictable. So, although I liked the idea of a homebirth, I was also at ease with the fact that sometimes the birth plan can change.

Preparing for a homebirth

I spent a long time setting up a room in preparation for a hypno-homebirth and preparing a home birth plan. This included aromatherapy such as clary sage and lavender; lamps of a colour which I found relaxing (a blue, like a waterfall I used in my visualisations); IPod with scripts, visualisations, positive birth affirmations and relaxation music; a birthing pool; heat pads for my back (extremely useful in my first labour to ease my back ache); a tens machine; a large pillow for kneeling on; birthing ball; and shower curtain & clingfilm over the furniture.

I also spent hours updating our photo frames with pictures of our first son and happy memories to help promote oxytocin, the hormone needed for labour. In addition to this, my partner created one long recording of all the little video clips of happy times to play on the TV. I ordered lots of food I thought I might fancy on the day. With all of the above set up, I felt ready and excited to have my baby.

The lead up to birth

Approximately 2 weeks prior to my due date I experienced ‘false labour’. I could not sleep through irregular contractions which started at 5pm and finished at 4am. I thought I was going into labour and quickly packed a bag, but nothing progressed.

On the day of labour, I started to feel contractions whilst I was trying to sleep and continued to doze during these. I am uncertain how long for. At 3am I was unable to sleep through the contractions anymore, and my partner was disturbed by my up breathing. I told him it was probably nothing (given the ‘false labour’ episode a while before) and to go back to sleep. The contractions became stronger and more regular and I decided to get up and sit on the toilet.

I then noticed a show and thought I should check whether my friend would be available to come to the house to look after our toddler. This way I could fully relax knowing he had someone to care for him if needed.

At 3.45am she replied that she was available. I told her it may not progress any further yet, but to be ready just in case. My partner decided to get up as he couldn’t sleep with all the anticipation. I then started to get myself ready to be able to go down to my prepared room. As I was doing this, at 4am my waters broke and I could clearly see that yet again there was meconium in my waters.

Changing the birth plan – transferring to hospital

Although new NICE guidlines state that light coloured meconium could now be treated as normal, I could see that it was darker than with my first baby and more of a ‘medium’ colour greeny/brown. I immediately knew I wanted to be in hospital, where any potentially required staff and equipment would be available.

I contacted my friend again and asked her to come as soon as possible. My contractions becoming stronger and more regular and were lasting a minute long, with at least 3 in 10 minutes. I then contacted the hospital and informed them that I would need to come in due to the meconium and the contractions also. They advised me to attend the delivery suite.

My friend arrived at 4.15am and helped to load the car with some of the bags we’d packed, including my hypnobirthing props. With each contraction I needed to focus, use my up-breathing and get into an open and forward position (bent over with hands on the bed or on all fours in the car).

My contractions becoming stronger and more regular and were lasting a minute long, with at least 3 in 10 minutes. I then contacted the hospital and informed them that I would need to come in due to the meconium and the contractions also. They advised me to attend the delivery suite.

My friend arrived at 4.15am and helped to load the car with some of the bags we’d packed, including my hypnobirthing props. With each contraction I needed to focus, use my up-breathing and get into an open and forward position (bent over with hands on the bed or on all fours in the car).

Using hypnobirthing in the delivery suite

We arrived at the hospital at 4.53am. I didn’t feel I could walk due to the strong and regular contractions, so my partner got me a wheelchair. I had my earphones in listening to scripts and trying to remain focused. Upon arrival to the hospital, I remember the midwife talking to me and I had to stop, close my eyes and focus through contractions mid conversation.

We were taken to a room where I had to be monitored (using a belt which monitored contractions and pulse etc). I actually felt quite calm, as this was a very similar situation to my first birth. I wasn’t being induced this time, so felt in a better position than last time.

We laid out fake (but very real looking) candles and used lavender smells. (Not clary sage in case of any pregnant midwives). I used a birthing ball to keep active (leaning forward onto the bed through contractions) and continued to listen to my iPod.

Our birth plan was given to the midwife; however, probably due to the speed of things, she scan read and didn’t particularly follow this. There was even a point she started a personal conversation with my partner. This was despite requesting in my preferences for the room to be quiet, with as little interruption as possible. I wanted communication to be made through my partner if necessary. He was very good at protecting my space with my first labour, but I don’t think he was prepared for the speed of things this time. Unfortunately this led to things feeling a little less in control as the first time around. It also caused me to be less focused on the scripts and things felt more intense. I did tell them at one point to be quiet.

The midwife informed me that my baby’s heart rate was dropping with each contraction and requested to perform a vaginal examination. This had not yet been carried out. My birth plan was they should only be done if deemed medically necessary. Due to the heart rate dropping, I felt this was okay to be performed and agreed. Around this point, she asked whether I felt the urge to push at all. Which I didn’t, but felt I was getting close. I was waiting for the transition phase, whereby it is common for people to feel they cannot cope any longer. I was expecting this to happen and waiting. Mainly so that my partner could remind me (as planned) that this means baby is probably close to arriving, to help me through it. This point never came.

The second stage of labour

Kneeling on the bed, I kept my headphones in, listening to scripts and trying to remain focused through any talking. One or two people came in and out of the room to check on things. I was using down breathing and visualising a waterfall. I believed that as with my first, I don’t really need to push but can breathe my baby down and out.

Unfortunately this could not happen in the natural way I wanted it. My midwife told me yet again that baby’s pulse keeps dropping. This may have been due to his head being squished, so we needed him to come out more quickly. I remember thinking I did not want this to lead to any emergency intervention. For baby to be safe, I had to do what was being asked of me, whether I felt ready to push or not.

I was also worried that I would tear if my body didn’t feel ready. To help, I asked for a warm compress on my perinium. Then I was then ready to push. This stage seemed to go on a big longer than my first labour and I felt scared about baby’s heart rate and further intervention. I just knew he needed to come out quick, so did what I needed to do and just pushed anyway.

Baby Jaxon was born at 6.53am (only 2 hours since parking the car!) weighing 8lb3oz. Due to the meconium in the waters, delayed cord clamping was not possible. His father cut the cord as per our birth plan, and baby was quickly checked over. He was healthy and we needed to remain in hospital for 12 hours observation due to risk of infection.

We were both really pleased overall with how everything went. We even received feedback from the Doctor on the way out of the hospital the next day. Her words were, ‘Congratulations, I was very impressed, you were very Zen!’.

Sarah’s thoughts on a Harmony Hypnobirthing course

Being someone who is not normally into any form of meditation, I was surprised how helpful hypnobirthing techniques can be. My partner and I worked together and practiced most days leading up to the 40 weeks. Colleen, my hypnobirthing teacher introduced us to the whole concept. We learnt that being informed and having the right knowledge can lead to a positive birth, however it happens. My experience could have been so different if it wasn’t for her suggesting we attend the Hypnobirthing course. I cannot thank her enough.

Whilst reading a Hypnobirthing book could have helped give me some of the information the course gave me, we would not have had the space to ask questions and discuss our ideas and opinions. We learnt to manage our fears, hopes and expectations with the support of a professional and compassionate teacher. Having a commitment of attendance on a weekly basis for the initial 4 week course meant we put time aside to prepare for birth. Each week we had time to review what we had learnt and to practice.

For our second baby we attended a refresher course with Colleen, again at Harmony Hypnobirthing. This was personalised to our individual needs and birth plan. The refresher was completed over half a day, with my toddler present too. Colleen was very flexible and accommodating. She went at a pace right for us on the day and gave us the space to recap anything we were unsure about. This helped us to rebuild our confidence and feel refreshed with knowledge and any updated guidelines ready for the birth.

I would totally recommend Colleen and would even go as far as to say I would book a third course with her, if I had any more children. I feel this is now an essential part of our birth experience.

In addition to the Hypnobirthing, I believe my positive experiences were attributed to having a supportive and hardworking partner. He treated the whole process as a joint responsibility to give us the best possible outcome for us as a family. He attended the courses with me and was fully on board with the preparation and practice for the birth of both our babies. This was so important, especially on the day of delivery and for my mental health during and post pregnancy.

For more information on my Hypnobirthing courses, including a refresher course like Sarah and Aaron completed, please check out my course information page or contact me directly if you have any questions.