The birth of Celeste Helen Mary
I knew before falling pregnant, I wanted to have an informed, positive pregnancy and birth. Both my husband, John and I were on the same page. Once I hit the 2nd trimester, we booked into the hypnobirthing workshop and hired a doula as part of the birth support team.
Once I was around 30 weeks pregnant, John and myself sat down to discuss my birth preference. A birth preference is a great way to communicate your preferences for labour and birth of what your goals are and how you would like to be supported from your care provider. A good birth plan is well researched and well informed, and is flexible! So, you have options for whichever path your birth may take. When in labour your decision-making part of your brain switches off and your primal part takes over, so communicating your wish with care providers and birth support people before birth helps you achieve your desired birth preferences. We had a catch up with Steph, our doula at week 38 so she was informed of my wishes and preferences before the big day.
We met our baby girl at 40+6 which was great timing as we started to get pressure from the antenatal Drs who wanted induction once the 40-week passed. It was my greatest wish to experience labour naturally and only consider inducement if there is evidence of medical urgency or if labour was unusually delayed; to which I was neither. To comprise, we went into the hospital for a CCG and blood pressure check to ensure baby and myself were going well. I continued with going to my weekly chiro, acupuncture, massage appointments and continued with my herbal and homoeopathic medicines. I continued with positive affirmations/playlist, watching positive birth stories, swimming and even rocked out to the baby mama dance!
On Friday the 13th March, I had a check-up at the hospital (40+5) and all was well. Being a low-risk hospital, induction was spoken about again and we decided that if baby had not come by 41+3, then I would consider a vaginal exam. This was not in my birth preference but we wanted to keep the hospital staff on our side and went along with it. I started to feel pressure from the Drs and even family and friends that checked in to see if there were any signs of baby coming. I ended up going off social media for the last week of pregnancy, so I could focus on bubs and me.
When we got home from the hospital, I recorded myself dancing to baby mama, went to the pool to swim some laps, had a nap and spent the early afternoon watching more birth stories while bouncing on my fit ball. I made a Spotify playlist to get me pumped for a big walk around the block. After the walk, I started to feel increased pelvic pressure, more than I had felt in weeks previously. We had an early dinner around 6pm and then I was back on fit ball to continue expressing colostrum.
I had my hypnobirthing tracks playing in the back ground and unbeknown to me at the time, I started alternate between the couch, chair, wall and fit ball with increased pressure and cramping. I started swaying and my breathes started to be more drawn out. John checked on me at 9:30pm to find me swaying in the shower for a long period of time. I lost track of time and was shocked it was 10:30pm, even though I wasn’t tired I was keen to get some sleep. John went along with it, knowing full well I wasn’t going to sleep and sure enough only lasted a minute in bed and had to stand up and sway with my hands up on the wall. By 11:50pm, John was tracking my surges and made me a nice bath. Around 1am, he checked in with our doula to let her know that he believes I had started labour earlier on and she popped over soon after.
When our doula Steph arrived, I was back on the fit ball, alternating with leaning over the couch, wall and chair. I also had started using the obstetric tens machine – which was amazing for relief! With the surges becoming more frequent, I laboured for as long as I could at home before John made the call to the midwives.
By 5am we had a left for the hospital in time for the midwives shift change. Even though the hospital was 7 minutes from our house, it felt like hours with the surges being so regular. When we arrived at the hospital, I death stared then snapped at John for talking unnecessarily to the security guard in the elevator (I don’t remember this) Once we walked and arrived to the maternity ward (again, it felt like hours) I had a CCG and blood pressure check. I had given the OK for a vaginal exam but didn’t want to know my progression in dilation unless I was complete (at this time I was 4cm) My mucous plug fell out whilst I was on the toilet.
We were transferred into the amazing birth suite around 6am. Steph had my vaporiser burning clary sage, my hypnobirthing playlist, my affirmation board in view. The atmosphere of the room was quiet, subdued lighting and blinds/curtains closed. LED candles were also around the birthing pool. Our midwife was familiar with hypnobirthing and ensured communication was positive and respected to let me “do my thing”.
I started to walk up and down (pace) the suite to engage baby further. I changed my playlist from hypnobirthing to my pump-up walking Spotify playlist from the previous day. The tens machine got a lot of use! I had the tens machine clipped onto the side of my dress and if my arm bumped it or turned it down a level accidentally leading up to a surge, you (John) would know about it.
I then went into the shower for a few hours which was by far the best relief during surges. I love water in general life, so this was very relaxing for me. John and Steph would pop in to offer light touch on my head/shoulders/back to release endorphins. Steph would check in every so often and give me some homeopathic remedies every now and again for different birthing ailments then and throughout labour.
By 8:30am, I was back on the fit ball. My surges weren’t as often and powerful, I started to feel fatigued. I went and sat on the toilet around 10am. I was swaying left to right then went against the wall while the birth pool was being filled. Again, being the water baby I am (pun intended), I really enjoyed the birth pool for a good couple of hours. Steph moved my affirmations board in front of me and kept my hypnobirthing tracks playing in the background.
Around 12:30pm, I asked the midwife if I could have a vaginal exam but to let my caretakers know the outcome – This time I was 6cm. In 8 hours, I had dilated 2cm. With shift change happening soon, the midwife suggested an artificial rupture of my membranes to my support team. I had a feeling I hadn’t progressed further with my dilation based on that response from John. In my birth preference, I had wished to drag out any form of intervention for as long as possible using the BRAIN technique. With this in mind, I went ahead with the ARM.
After the ARM and the gush that proceeded after, I alternated between bouncing on the fit ball and walking up and down the corridors again for the next two hours. I started to feel very fatigued and tired. I had this urge to do a number 2 and needed to go on the toilet, which then changed to me wanting to “push”, thinking baby was on its way out. However, the sensation went away and my midwife and Steph suggested to stop pushing. I then started to feel very emotional, not realising it had been 19 hours since labour began at home. I felt that I couldn’t go on and that I wasn’t capable of birthing my baby. I spent some time crying on the toilet, building up courage to tell John that I couldn’t do this anymore. When I went to tell John, he was outside of the birth suite and he had been crying himself seeing me like this and feeling a little lost. It’s not often I see John emotional, and it really upset me. Something decided to click in my brain to stop being stupid and get on with it. So, I did my best and spoke out aloud “I’m doing my best” to reinforce this and even mentioned Celeste name many a times to keep me on track. Steph was there by my side, “you will birth this baby today” and reminded me of my affirmations.
The fatigue started to settle in again and with shift change about to happen, the midwife made the suggestion of syntocin and an epidural. If she had made this suggestion prior or even during my antenatal visits, I would have dismissed it straight away. However, I knew deep down and within myself that I needed (wanted) intervention to help me along. John got emotional as he knew this was never my intentions or in my preferences. I was in a good place, very positive and knew it was the best outcome for me and also would give me a chance to rest while the syntocin worked. I requested that my hypnobirthing tracks played in the background, all practitioners to remain positive and calm moving forward to ensure the atmosphere remained the same as it had prior.
By 4pm, the anaesthetist was ready to do the epidural and soon after the syntocin was done. I rested in bed to recharge as much as I could and visualised my cervix being fully dilated and ready to meet baby Celeste soon. John rang our family members to let them know I had been in labour and to debrief as much as he could. He also went into the room to rest and sleep. It had been a big day for him also.
By 10pm, I was fully dilated, so I could start stage 2 of labour. The head could be seen but she wasn’t getting down further. By 10:30pm, there was no further progress, to which the antenatal Dr mentioned an episiotomy would be recommended and if no success there then straight to C-section. We had to get this baby out eventually, but I knew I could still get my baby out vaginally so continued to visualise this. I would be lying if I didn’t have a moment of fear thinking that it may resort to the C-section though. The atmosphere in the birthing suite was still calm, positive and respectful of my initial wishes. We went over my birth preferences with the health professional team if things did eventuate to a C-section.
11pm, Steph still reinforced that I was having this baby today and kept my head space on track. I felt some excitement knowing that I would not be long until we get to meet my baby girl and not long after it was ready to be a reality. With 3×3 pushes, plus forceps to assist with the retrieval (which I had given consent to prior), our little girl was placed on my chest at 11:26pm. I have never felt so much relief in my life that she had made it earth side safely. I held her so tightly and comforted her. I knew it had been a big 30 hours for me but just as much for her. John felt a huge release and was just a much relieved as I was that she arrived safely. We made our way to the suite, with John proudly pushing her into the bedroom. Steph had set up our room with the Vaporiser, my toiletries laid out nicely, my postpartum herbals and supplements ready to commence. It was nice to walk into the room ready to go as I couldn’t really comprehend anything else, not knowing what day or time it was. We enjoyed solo time together, with the midwife showing me my placenta that had kept my baby safe and nourished for the past 9 months. Steph took a photo for me as I was intrigued and wanted to have a look back at a later stage. John and myself watched our few hours old sleeping beauty looking so peaceful. Once we had some food, we both reflected on the past 2 days and coming to the realisation that we are now parents – Even though we reflected this most days during my pregnancy.
Fast forward to today, with just over six weeks to reflect on my birthing day, I honestly feel that I did everything in my capacity to bring Celeste into the world safely. Prior to birth, I didn’t expect my body to feel so battered and that I was going to be pushed to my limits mentally, emotional and physically. I knew the recovery was going to take some to get use to initially. Being a relatively healthy person and not often ill, this was challenging at times. I’m so thankful I completed the hypnobirthing workshop prior, as this provided not only myself but John the foundations for us making informed decisions both in pregnancy and birthing. We would highly recommend every expecting parent to enrol.
I cannot thank my husband, Steph, the midwives and team at KHC for bringing our cherub safely into the world! We are so in love with our new addition!