My First Birth - A Cautionary Tale

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

Despite my stressful pregnancy and the Group B Strep positive result, I was in a great space leading up to my labour. I wasn't in any hurry for the birth, and I felt relaxed, calm and positive. I enjoyed the last few weeks and days before the birth meditating and generally preparing myself.

My due day was a busy day - Dragan and I had some appointments and went out for lunch. A friend came for dinner in the evening, but by 8pm I felt restless. The only place I felt comfortable was on my fit ball. I bounced around trying to get comfortable while we chatted, and she left about 10pm. I decided then that I should check to see if there was any consistency in the surges I seemed to be having. There was! They were about 8 minutes apart and I was sure that my labour had begun. Dragan wasn't convinced and encouraged me to lay down and try to sleep.

I couldn't really sleep, but I was labouring really well using my Hypnobirthing breathing. Dragan helped me through my surges with some light touch massage. After a while, I hopped in the spa bath. It was bliss...

At 2:30am we decided it was time to go to hospital. The surges were regular and we felt confident and prepared.

When we arrived at hospital we were in the waiting area for about 45 minutes - this was when things began to change... I was in reasonably heavy labour when we arrived, so I had a number of surges in the waiting room before I was taken to a small, poky room. I was immediately stressed that this was the room I would be expected to birth in! A vaginal exam revealed I was 6cm - the level of dilation was a surprise to all the staff and they immediately sought out a birthing suite - thank goodness! I was still labouring really well, and, because of the Hypnobirthing techniques I was using to keep calm and focused, they hadn't suspected I was in active labour, .

Hypnobirthing woman calmly labouring arrives at hospital
The tiny room I prayed wasn't my birthing suite.

Once we were in the birthing suite, I felt much more comfortable, but I fear the damage of waiting, vaginal exams and general discomfort had been done! I was still having some surges and I spent some time labouring in the shower. The sensation from the surges had shifted to my back and my labour slowed considerably - both signs that the baby was in a posterior position.

A hospital shift change at 7am brought me midwives who were less on board with our Hypnobirthing wishes. I was labouring quietly in the corner over a fit ball when a concerned midwife interrupted me and requested another vaginal exam. I agreed and it showed I was still 6cm dilated. According to their measurements I hadn't dilated at all since my arrival!

An obstetrician was brought in to assess the situation and recommended induction.

The doctor also noticed that I was GBS+ and had elected NOT to have antibiotics administered. So she made it her mission to change my mind. Dragan and I had done the research weeks prior to the birth and had made a decision not to have the antibiotics. Despite our requests for minimal talking, particularly directly to me, I was asked several times to agree to the antibiotics. I refused every time.

I was also being pressured to begin induction by Syntocinon and have my membranes released (a really bad idea when you're GBS+). Around 10am I agreed to my membranes being released. Ultimately this achieved very little - except making my surges more difficult to manage - and increasing the risk of infection.

Throughout all this, my babies heartbeat was steady and there were no complications.

However, by midday I was exhausted. I had been awake for 30 hours straight and labouring for around 16 hours. I had also vomited a couple of times. In hindsight I was likely close to giving birth and, had I been left in peace, would have progressed steadily on my own. I was also having to constantly fend off the carer's requests for antibiotics and induction, and eventually I relented.

Yes, I would have the Syntocinon, but first, I wanted an epidural.

The epidural was a mission in itself. I was still in active labour so sitting still was difficult. I suddenly had a roomful of people who didn't care for my calm, peaceful birth plan. And it took three (yes, 3!) attempts for the anaesthetist to successfully insert the epidural. Thank goodness for my Bubble of Comfort!! I was able to remain calm throughout it all.

Woman in labour has epidural and induction
Just after my epidural and induction - 1.5 hours before birth.

Following the epidural and the induction, the obstetrician, clearly figuring I was now much more open to suggestion, asked me again to have the antibiotics. I again refused, telling her there wasn't enough time. (Antibiotics need to be administered 4 hours before birth to be effective against Group B Strep.) She scoffed, telling me I wouldn't be giving birth in the next 4 hours.

Very soon after this conversation, the heartbeat monitor showed that the baby was in distress and he would need to be born very soon. The room was again filled with noisy doctors and nurses armed with forceps and ventouse, and this time...panic. I know that it was the induction that created the distress, given that I had laboured so long on my own with no complications.

I tried to use my Hypnobirthing breathing to birth my baby - I had spent so much time practicing and preparing this way - but I was now forced to birth on my back without feeling my surges or the urge to bear down. I had to trust my midwife and breathe the old fashioned way. Lucky for me, it worked, and Danilo was born at 3:45pm - after a few big pushes and a lot of encouragement from my birth team.

I was grateful for my birth in the end - I had a vaginal birth, no tearing or cutting, and a healthy, baby boy.

Even though my birth hadn't gone perfectly to plan, I was also grateful for the Hypnobirthing techniques I was able to use throughout the whole process, including the induction and epidural. Hypnobirthing gave me the tools to remain calm and positive in spite of the chaos and coercion.

Healthy mother, healthy baby after birth
First hour after birth - so much love!

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