Being my second pregnancy and hypnobirthing experience, I really thought the birth of my son would be a much easier and less eventful than my first. I never imagined I would have a breech baby; let alone have the confidence to birth him naturally in the breech position; and furthermore birth him unexpectedly at home with only my husband present to catch our baby boy. I will forever be grateful for hypnobirthing which helped me through the stress of all the hospital visits in the final few weeks of pregnancy and the day of my son’s birth. It made the birth even more of a wonderful event that I’ll always cherish.
The pregnancy with my first child ran smoothly and without any complications, so I half expected my second time to be just as easy if not easier (a little naive), however at 36 weeks my midwife was concerned my baby boy’s head was positioned under my ribs rather than head down. This was then confirmed by an ultrasound at 37 weeks. I was offered an ECV, which is a procedure performed by a doctor and involves manually turning the baby by applying pressure with their hands and pushing him into the right position, however I decided against this because the procedure was not always successful and I didn’t want to hurt or stress my baby or myself unnecessarily. But mainly because I felt deep down that my baby was healthy and there was a reason that he chose to be in this position and I didn’t want to mess with that, especially if there was no apparent medical reason to do so.
After taking in the news of having a breech baby, I called upon my hypnobirthing instructor (Melissa Spilsted , Hypnobirthing Australia) who took me through some fear release work, and I then saw a friend who is a chiropractor specialising in pregnancy and who is also another hypnobirthing mum. They helped me to look at my situation positively and not be afraid of what was happening. I then realised that having a vaginal breech birth was in fact an option, which came as a surprise to me because I didn’t know of anyone who had gone through this process. The more I researched the more I believed that this was the direction I wanted to follow instead of having a c-section. However, even though the hospital had accepted my decision for a natural breech birth they were very cautious and made sure I met all their criteria and were convinced I was a good candidate for a successful delivery. This led to being monitored at the hospital every 2 days in my last week and a half of pregnancy.
I had been practicing hypnobirthing techniques throughout my pregnancy in preparation for labour. I needed it more than ever in the last couple of weeks because, firstly, traipsing into the hospital every two days was becoming exhausting and made me feel like I had a medical condition, which was not helping me get into the right head space for delivering my baby as naturally as possible. Secondly, I was becoming more and more stressed with talk of a c-section when it was noted that my amniotic fluid was a little on the low side (which, by the way, corrected itself in the end) and there was limited foetal movement (it appears bub was sleeping at the time of monitoring). So I decided to have the hypnobirthing affirmations, rehearsal imagery and rainbow relaxation audio playing continuously around the house during the day, which coincidently was working wonders on relaxing my 2 year old as well…lol, and again while I was going to sleep to help me relax and get me into the right frame of mind. I also decided to record myself reciting the affirmations, because it was more powerful and convincing to hear your own voice saying the words. Probably the most effective tools I used this time round were two visualisation techniques to encourage the onset of labour. I was getting a lot of pressure to go into labour sooner rather than later (even though I was only 38 weeks), because of the breach situation and low amniotic fluid. I had my husband recite them to me in the last two weeks and I also chose to record myself saying them, which I listened to on the night before I gave birth. Specifically, one of the scripts helped me to let go of fears I had about delivering a breech baby and also confront all of the negative emotions I was harbouring, which was essentially preventing me from going into labour. I was therefore able to approach my birth as relaxed and ready as I would ever be.
Apparently I went into labour at 3:30am when I woke up with a trickle running down my leg. Initially I was mortified that I had wet myself. Then I thought that because my baby was breech, maybe he was standing on my bladder and that had caused the accident. It still astounds me today that even as I had a shower, I never thought it might be my waters braking. So I simply got back into bed and slept till 4:30am. During that time I woke briefly a couple of times with a twinge in my stomach and back, which alerted me to the fact that something might be happening, but it was minor and I had the same feelings the night before, so I wasn’t convinced it was anything more. When I woke at 4:30am with a slightly stronger surge, I finally believed I was in labour. I decided to head to the kitchen and have something to eat and drink to get some energy, just in case I ended up going through a long labour. I experienced a few more surges in that time, which required me to brace myself; however the hypnobirthing slow breathing helped me get through each surge without too much discomfort. I decided to wake my husband at 5am when I could hear my 2 year old waking and surges were becoming a bit stronger. My husband then had a shower, as I was under the impression we still had enough time, while I sat with my daughter on our bed listening to birth affirmations and timing my surges. They very quickly jumped from 3 minutes apart to 2 minutes apart. When I laboured with my first child, I waited till I was 1 and half minutes apart before heading into the hospital and even then, I didn’t give birth for another 2 hours after arriving. Therefore up until this point, I was sure we still had plenty of time.
Then suddenly I experienced a surge that was much more intense, at which time I called my husband to ring my mum and have her come and look after our 2 year old. Another surge came shortly after, which I found difficult to cope with and at which point I was not able to visibly smile at my daughter to reassure her that mummy was ok. Looking back, I now know I was going through transition and he was crowning or ‘footing’ lol. I then ran into the bathroom making a bee line for the toilet where I knew I needed to be. As soon as I got there I recognised that uncontrollable urge to breathe my baby down and there was no stopping my body…and baby! After one moment of bearing down I immediately stood up and I reached down to find a little leg had gently graced my hand. This will forever be the most surrealistic moment of my life – standing in the bathroom holding my unborn baby’s leg on his way out with very little warning. As soon as I realised I was going to have my baby right then and there, I yelled out to my husband “He’s here!” and then dived into the shower, where I had given birth to my daughter at the hospital with no complications. The familiarity of the shower and water was comforting. My husband came running into the bathroom shortly after with a phone on each ear – our midwife on one and emergency on the other. Apparently my mum arrived at this point as well and I only remember seeing her swoop in and gather up my daughter, who had come into the bathroom crying and confused, and then exit as fast as she had entered. My husband hung up the phone with our midwife at their request and paid attention to the directions given by emergency.
He put the phone on speaker and I was told by the lady to get on the bed. I remember thinking I wanted to stay where I was, but a second later I realised it was in my baby’s best interest to do what I was told, just in case there were any complications. Thankfully the lady on the phone asked me to position myself on all fours, which was how I wanted to give birth. By the time I got to the bed my baby boy had one leg out and his bum visible. Then with the next surge he came out down to his armpits with his arms and head still inside. The lady on the phone said not to stimulate him and it was ok to just let him hang there until I was ready to birth him on the next surge. My husband recalls seeing our son’s torso move very calmly and at that moment he knew everything was fine. A few moments later my baby boy was born at 5:31am and my husband was there to catch him. We held him together and instantly waited for his first breath. Finally it came and he gave us a little murmur. He was so relaxed and not at all traumatised by the event. The lady on the phone then asked us to open the front door because the ambulance had arrived. Although, unfortunately they missed all the action : )
We then went to the hospital in the ambulance to be checked over. Our baby boy was all fine with no problems. We named him Lucas Zachary. He weighed 7lbs 1oz, head circumference 33cm and length 49cm. Remarkably I only had one very small tear, which required no stitches. This was surprising given the speed in which he came out. A few hours later we arrived back home where it all had taken place – what an experience!
Many people have asked if I felt scared knowing that I was clearly birthing a breech baby on my own with only my husband there to help me, and I have to say I didn’t think much about anything other than putting all of my focus and attention on what my body and baby were doing naturally. Hypnobirthing empowered me and gave me the complete confidence to handle the situation as relaxed as I could possibly be, so I could truly give my baby the best chance of having a calm and gentle birth. I’m so happy that I was able to believe in what we as women have the natural strength to do but sometimes need to be reminded of and have faith in. The advice I would give any woman who is wanting and able to give birth naturally, but for whatever reason developed a fear about the process along the way, is to believe whole heartedly in your decision and truly trust yourself. Find that inner strength and know that your body is more than capable of achieving your goal. It’s fine to have as many back up plans as you like, however try to put them out of your mind for the lead up to the birth, even forget them totally if you’re like me, and solely focus on your want and desire for a natural birth, because our minds are incredibly powerful and we can achieve anything.