Myself and my wife were terrified of birth, I’m an ED/Paeds ED Consultant and generally hard as nails but still, both our moms had difficult birth stories for various reasons. My wife Becca is also pregnant (26 weeks). The Positive Birth Company face-to-face weekend course and online courses properly sorted out our perspectives and made labor so special for me and something to look forward to for us both. I also teach yoga and found so many similarities with the breathing/meditation side I was like a duck to water, getting my hypnobirthing game on!
I was induced as an out-patient at 40 weeks. The pessary/gels worked in terms of regular (4 in 10 minutes) surges. I walked 8K per day during out-patient & in-patient induction, the non IV part. I properly got into a meditative & relaxed zone. When they used prostin gels (I needed two) they advise you to be an inpatient on the induction ward. My birth partner wasn’t allowed there apart from visiting hours. To help, I had noise canceling headphones, fairy lights, relax spray and just zoned out. Sadly, one or two patients were in the adrenalin – pain cycle for sure, but I closed my eyes, played affirmations & my music and focused on letting go, chilling out completely.
My waters broke on their own on the induction ward and then I waited for a bed on labor ward (should have been max 6 hours but it was longer). I occupied my time with meditation, music and going for very long walks with Becca in the parks/around the lake near to the hospital. I had been warning long waits for induction (4-5 days after specified date), which is why I opted to be induced at 40 weeks (as per NICE guidance)….. I used my BRAIN when making this choice but it’s certainly not right for everyone! There were other factors to do with my history which played a part in my decision making.
On the labor ward I was so pleased to see my wife & to know she could stay with me. She set up the room how I wanted and I ate some dinner she brought me. Then they started the syntocin drip. I used music and the Freya app and breathed through surges. After 2 hours I added a tens machine intermittently, after6 hours I added IV paracetamol. Unfortunately I just did not dilate, I got to 1cm only.
At this point I was so deflated by the news and tired. I asked for remifentanyl PCA which was in my birth preferences. This allowed me to sleep, another six hours past. Exam showed just 1-2cm dilated. Here we had to make a decision, I was either to have section or another 10 hours on the drip. I had been on a maximum dose, I was tiring and didn’t want Jonah or me to get an infection as my waters were broke for a long time at this point. Nor did I want him to have to stay for IV antibiotics which can happen when membrane rupture is prolonged. Also I had been warning that because of a previous loop excision procedure on my cervix, there’s a it would not dilate due to possible scarring. Thus, I opted for the section.
I admit I was scared, never had an operation before and didn’t like the idea of being awake. I just focused on my breathing & the affirmations. Mostly I was afraid of the spinal because I have back troubles and have quite a muscly back so it’s difficult to palpate the right space. That’s why I did not want an epidural, also because of increased use of forceps/ventouse in some patients with epidurals. On a positive note I was lucky in that both me and Jonah were well all the way through so that was a weight lifted. I was so so excited to meet him, having wanted children most of my life and this being our first baby. We had IVF with a known donor which was an emotional rollercoaster in itself, with delays due to covid and other added stresses.
From a hypnobirthing perspective, labor ward challenged me as when you are on the drip, they hook you up to the monitors and moving can ruin the trace. In order to enable me to bounce on birth ball/pace/squat forward/upright off the bed, I opted that they attached a monitor to babies scalp. The midwife really impressed us being able to achieve that despite me only being 1cm dilated. She helped keep spirits high and was supportive of my birth preferences and loving our tunes. On top of this the other monitor didn’t pick up all contractions cause of my movements but I simply told the midwife when they were and she documented this. The midwife seemed keen to do in-out catheters later down the line when I found it difficult to pass urine. I insisted on some privacy and found it easier to squat over a bed pan on the floor. I found the toilet/commode too high. They provided Becca with a fold out bed which I was relieved about as I didn’t want her awake all night being pregnant herself! My breathing was going well and I was in control. The midwife was really impressed at my progress and ability to breathe through the syntocin surges at high doses. I just reminded myself that every surge brought me closer to my baby and viewed them positively. I did not use entonox because I wanted to wait and use that for when I transitioned. The midwife was pretty keen for me to go for epidural rather than PCA but as the course advised, I used my BRAIN and just laid out my reasoning. The anaesthetist who came to counsel me and set it up was really on board and understood.
We were then transferred to theatre. Luckily I knew some of the team, our obstetrician (top dog on the unit) who looked after both my wife and I all the way through both pregnancies was there and I also knew the lead anaesthetist which was a big relief. This calmed most of my nerves and I went back to my breathing for the spinal. As this commenced, I saw my wife starting to fail. It was hot and the registrar tried a few times for the spinal, which I knew would happen! It didn’t hurt me though, and I shouted whilst trying to keep still “PLEASE CATCH MY WIFE SHE’S FAINTING & PREGNANT TOO!”
They caught her, thankfully and were lovely with her. My spinal worked really well. The section took longer than anticipated (about an hour). They had to extend the soft tissue incision further because he was hard to reach. Apparently my pelvis was muscly, long & deep. The anaesthetist kept saying “more pushing now” but I didn’t feel anything and he just had some good banter with Becca and I to take my mind off things. They needed forceps to retrieve his head (from the section site) as it was very deep despite not being engaged. Again, I felt nothing. Once born, they delayed cord clamping as we wished & then cleaned him up and placed him on me for cuddles.