“Michael and I agree that it was the best we could have done with the situation we had. I’m very satisfied with the experience, I walked away so happy with how it played out. We were in control the whole way with what we wanted; we didn’t feel pressured at all. They gave us choices, even sometimes when I really felt like I wanted them to tell us what to do! It was our curve ball, we delt with it, and instead of making this a negative experience we spun it around and did the best we could. ”
Ashleigh, Peaceful Birthing Mother
At 36 weeks, we found out our baby was breech. We were a little shocked, but I love to feel informed, so we did our research to understand our options. We decided to try acupuncture, Simone came to do a breech hypnosis, and then we had an ECV (external cephalic version). She got really close to turning, but then just swung back around. I used my hypnobirthing breathing to get through ECV, and the doctors were really impressed with how calm I was. I was impressed too! Afterwards we were taken through our next options, including a natural breech birth. The staff were very supportive if that’s what I wanted, but after understanding the hospital policies that would stop me from having a water birth, additional monitoring, along with all the extra people in the room, and the risks on top of that, Michael and I made the informed decision that we would have a planned caesarean. The OB wanted to schedule this in at 39 weeks but there was not availability, so we were booked in for 40 weeks.
“But Pippa had other plans! I went into labour 39+1, which I originally didn’t want, but I ended up being so happy about. I had grieved the loss of the birth I’d dreamt about; I was so prepared having done the Hypnobirthing Australia course with Simone, I had the TENs machine, and my cousin had given me a comb which was really special to me. It also didn’t feel right to choose her birth date, so I’m happy she got to choose her own. “
During the night before her arrival, I woke up with cramps but as we’d had Indian the night before I wasn’t sure if it was food poising! Or even gastro. I eventually woke Michael up at 4.30am. We called the hospital, who were reluctant to advise us either way, but we ended up deciding to call back later. The cramps became more intense and more consistent, so soon enough we realised this was early labour. We then called the hospital back around 6.30am and they advised to come in. By then I was having 4 surges every 10 minutes. It was definitely labour!
“Once we settled into the birth suite, I was comparing when the midwifes were talking to me and asking me questions, to when we were alone. It was like chalk and cheese. I could get in my zone and get through the intensity so much easier when I wasn’t distracted. I had Michael and my student midwife Georgia (who just happened to be in the hospital at that time!) and we were a team. The most comfortable position I found was kneeling and leaning over the side of the bed, I needed Michael to do the light touch, and to put weight on my side – his closeness made me feel so safe. ”
Georgia was doing hip squeezes and acupressure points. We were like this for hours, and in the times when it was just us, I really felt like I could do this. It was so good having Georgia there too, we’d built a relationship with her over the last few months so I trusted her, and we were so grateful to have her there to ‘translate’ what was being said in the birth suite. I loved the TENs machine, and we had a really good thing going where I would push the boost button on the TENS, and that would indicate to Michael and Georgia I was having a surge without me speaking, and then they knew to start. The three of us worked so well as a team!
I laboured for about 13 hours, and even though I was so far into the labour, I felt like I hadn’t processed actually what was going on. There were multiple times the midwives asked if I did was to go for a natural birth, but at that stage because I had experienced them coming in to talk to me so much about what the process would be, that there would be lots of doctors present, including a paediatrician, and that they would be interacting with me more I just didn’t know if I could keep going. The intensity was getting on top of me with all the distractions. I was fine when it was just the three of us, but when anyone else came in it was just so intense.
“We had the hypnobirthing tracks on, and also a playlist that Michael had put together which really helped to zone out. I was using the hypnobirthing breathing, and Michael kept prompting me to use the ‘bubble of comfort’ where I would visualise the beach entry near my house, which I found incredibly comforting. “
In hindsight, we would have been stricter on the midwives no talking to me if we were more certain of how we were going to progress (they probably would have left us to it anyway.) Eventually the midwives asked again what we wanted to do, and we decided that we still wanted to go ahead with the caesarean. The next challenge was that there were two emergency caesareans ahead of us, so they obviously took priority, unfortunately this meant they couldn’t give us an accurate time of when we could go to theatre. It was an odd time! It really challenged me mentally. The surges were basically on top of each other. It was really starting to bother us, because I was so quiet and doing so well, they probably didn’t have me as a priority. Mentally the most challenging was being given a time of 20mins, and then to pass this time, only to be told it’ll be another hour, and then pass that time. I had a clock in front of me so I was really aware of this. I was also getting really tired as I hadn’t slept that night. In the end, we asked them to just tell us when it was ready. We did think that perhaps the midwives were buying time for us to encourage the natural birth, but we’ll never know!
“In the moments when I felt like I was using my brain, trying to decide what I actually wanted, the sensations really hurt. But overall I was so proud of myself, there was definitely moments I thought ‘oh that was a good one and I did it!’“
The midwives could see it was getting on top of me, all the talking and the time, so I was offered an epidural while we waited for the caesarean. I found it hard to make that decision, but I decided to go ahead with it. I accepted a vaginal examination, I was 6cm! Once the anaesthetist arrived, the hardest part came next.. sitting still! I felt every inch of the surges, it was not fun. I had to get up from kneeling which was comfortable, to sit still on the bed. I’m quite sensitive on my back so it took a couple of attempts to insert. Ironically as soon as it was in, we got the call to say surgery was ready!
I was wheeled down to theatre, and the surgery was fine but an interesting experience, just so odd. It was a bit of a shock to the system knowing we were going to meet our baby any minute! I was so tired, and it’s hard to know what they’re doing behind the curtain. Our student midwife popped her head around and said her legs were out and I didn’t even know they’d cut me open.
“As her gender was a surprise they said ‘ok we have a baby’ and theatrically dropped the curtain holding her in the air! Pippa Joy had arrived! It was a beautiful moment, such a relief, and Michael lost it, tears of relief and joy!”
He didn’t know how he was going to be, but leading up he felt he couldn’t show weakness in the moments when we were being told the risks of everything – like the 1 in 200 change of paralysis from the epidural, and that the resus table was there because it can take baby up to 5 mins to scream after a breech caesarean. So when he knew we were both safe, he let go emotionally.
They wrapped her up and put her on my chest, and I wasn’t loving it, it felt so intense and I couldn’t even see her. That’s when I could feel all the tugging which I really didn’t like it. The staff were really lovely, but it was such an odd experience as they were stitching up the seven layers of muscle. They finished up about half an hour or so after she was born and we then went up to recovery. They checked her hips, but she was on me for most of the time. I wanted skin on skin but as it was freezing in the room, we kept her wrapped up. As soon as we got to our room we did skin on skin, and she latched immediately.
“Michael and I agree that it was the best we could have done with the situation we had. I’m very satisfied with the experience, I walked away so happy with how it played out. We were in control the whole way with what we wanted; we didn’t feel pressured at all. They gave us choices, even sometimes when I really felt like I wanted them to tell us what to do! It was our curve ball, we delt with it, and instead of making this a negative experience we spun it around and did the best we could.”
I’m just so happy I got to labour, and to know mentally I can do this. I felt like I could have delt with the intensity of birthing naturally.
I’m so happy with how I’m recovering. I had 30 mins sleep a few hours after she was born, and I felt like a new person, I was able to process what had just happened and was able to enjoy the moment. I’m so pleased with the experience, to see us come together so well and deal with it all.
“We’ve said so many times how grateful we are to have done your course. It just helped us feel so informed and gave us the strength to make decisions, and the tools made all the difference.”
Welcome earthside baby Pippa!
On a personal note, I absolutely loved having this beautiful couple in my group course. They were open, honest, friendly, asked challenging questions, and Michael particularly asked lots of direct challenging questions that really helped the males in the room to be comfortable. I’m so grateful they welcomed me into their home to record their birth story so soon after birth, we had lots of laughs and it was heart-warming to see how they continued to bond over their shared experience of bringing their daughter into the world, together.
Birth partners are so critical in helping the birthing mums feel safe and supported in the most vulnerable moment they’ll ever see. To hear Michael’s reflection of how amazing Ash was, awe in his voice and love in his eyes, is just so special.
Thank you for allowing me into the magical moment in time. You guys are going to rock parenting, just like you rocked your birth.