Birth story – Elizabeth and baby Ofelia — The Positive Birth Company

At 30 weeks pregnant, I decided to take a hypnobirthing course.

As my due date slowly approached, I realized that if I did not want a repeat of my first birth (in a hospital, hooked up to a drip and therefore not mobile, with the OBGYN threatening c-section as I tried to push my baby boy into this world after 20 hrs of labor, no food and so much unnecessary stress), I needed to do the work. My friend recommended The Positive Birth Company so I dove in. Almost immediately I reached the conclusion that I wanted a home birth.

My husband and I had already decided to travel from our remote wildlife home in Eastern Zambia to Cape Town for our second delivery, so I contacted a group of midwives and luckily one was happy to take me on as a client from my arrival at 35 weeks .

I religiously listened to the positive affirmations, at least once per day, and read/watched countless birth stories. Despite my original feeling that I wanted an epidural for this birth (didn’t have one with the first because the hospital had run out), I became fully invested in a natural home birth. I needed a doctor’s letter to fly out of Zambia, which was the last time I entered a medical facility while pregnant – such a relief!! (And bonus to not get weighed again!)

My first child was born at 40w1d and I was hoping my second would arrive a few days earlier. At 40w3d, I was actively resisting the urge to feel frustrated! That morning and the one before, I had seen a tiny bit of blood when wiping so I was hopeful the mucus plug was on its way out – very different to my first experience when the mucus plug came out in full as the kick off! I clung to the affirmation that my baby will come when my baby is ready. I had also been having tricky Braxton Hicks for weeks, with cramping, so I had thought I was beginning labor just about every night for 2 weeks 🙃. I had nothing like that with my first.

At about 5 pm, I went for my standard evening stroll and felt cramping sensations again. I had to stop walking to try and decide if they were real. An hour later, I felt semi-confident things were finally starting so I began timing on the Freya app. I took a bath with my 2.5 year old that night, put him to bed and informed the midwife. She popped in at 2130, checked my cervix and told me she didn’t think she needed to stay; the baby will likely come tomorrow she said (I had previously asked her not to tell me my dilation status as I was worried that would distress me, which happened in my first labor when I was informed I was only 3 cm when I was sure I was about 15!).

You never know with the second labor, she said and I asked her what we would do if the baby suddenly arrived. ‘Well, your husband will call me, catch the baby, and I’ll be maximum 10 minutes away.’ She encouraged me to take a bath, get some sleep and don’t be discouraged if the contractions slow down – the baby will be here soon enough. This was music to my ears as I had been sleeping so badly recently (mainly because I constantly thought I was in labor!) and wanted a good night of rest. I took a small bath and went to lie down on our bed.

At about 22:30, my husband came in and I was comfortably lying on my side up-breathing through the sensations. At about 11 pm, I felt the urgent need to go to the toilet, again so different to my first labor! I evacuated everything and the contractions picked up on the toilet. I went back to bed and could no longer lie down through contractions; I had to be on all fours on the bed with my husband rubbing my lower back. We did this for a couple of hours, with the sensations slowly ramping up, and at about 1 am I turned on the positive affirmations. They were such a powerful, grounding force for me, especially when I could no longer manage counting through the up breathing. My husband was an incredible coach, telling me when to drink water, when to sip Energade and applying that vital counter pressure.

At 2 am, I felt some liquid in my pants and asked my husband to come to the toilet with me. During the short walk there, I needed to lean on him and grip him tightly during the surges, which were incredibly intense once I stood up. I saw a bit of blood splatter in my pants so my husband called the midwife. By this stage, I had to breathe in and out with force during the contractions. My husband thought I was hyperventilating, and I told him I wasn’t – this was what I needed to do! The midwife advised that most likely the blood was part of the mucus plug and sure enough, while on toilet, a big, bloody globule fell out. As this was the very first event in my first labor, I was surprised that I was having to work so hard and only seeing the plug now. I said to myself: get it together, Elizabeth, you are in this for a while longer.

At my request, my husband brought me my birthing ball, which I sat on for 2 seconds, considered lighting all of the beautiful scented candles I purchased for this very moment, and then jumped back to all fours on the floor – I could not cope in an upright position on the ball. Right after I landed on the floor, I heard a distinctive pop and my waters broke. My husband was back on the phone with the midwife and told her to come. Now it was 2:30 am, I was on all fours in the hallway between our bedroom and the bathroom, my husband was rubbing my back, and I was breathing hard in and out. I had an instinctive feeling that the baby was coming but didn’t trust that entirely as we had just seen the mucus plug, so I thought we must have hours to go.

Nonetheless, a few minutes later I asked my husband to run and wash his hands and to please be back before the next surge as I needed that counter pressure! He did as told without asking questions. A few minutes after that I asked him to take off my pants. Again he promptly complied. Then I told him I thought I could feel the head. He looked down and witness me have a tiny poo – what a flattering angle! He didn’t tell me what he’d seen but said he didn’t think the head was coming. I felt extreme pressure and a slight burning sensation and asked him to check again. Sure enough out popped a tiny head with even tinier hands bunched up under the chin. My husband was a little in shock – he had no idea that my request to wash his hands and take off my pants were in prep for delivery! He thought I just wanted to be hygienic and comfortable. But without pause he turned into the most remarkable midwife, encouraged me to push and came out the rest of our baby. That last moment was the only time I actively tried to push. The rest of the time I was helping my body by breathing, drinking water and staying fiercely focused on the affirmations.

My husband asked me to help unwrap the cord so I turned over my left shoulder, slowly untangled the cord from the neck and body and then I laid down. ‘Have you looked??’ I asked. My husband shook his head no so I lifted the baby and cried: It’s a girl! Then almost immediately I noticed she wasn’t crying, and I became worried that was linked to her being tangled in the cord. At that moment, the midwife walked in (my husband had the foresight to give her a fantastic set of keys …just in case!), and I exclaimed: she’s not crying! The midwife took one look at her pink cheeks, wide open eyes and said: that’s okay, she doesn’t need to cry!

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