This empowering birth story is sure to put a smile on your face. Many thanks go out to Colleen Elliott for sharing her uplifting birth story. For more information on hypnobirthing and other great pregnancy resources, visit her website Harmony Hypnobirthing. For Colleen, a cervical dilation measurement upon arrival at the Labor and Delivery unit played an important role in enabling her providers to decide if it was time to continue laboring at home or stay at the hospital (read on to see which...) Research has shown that admission in the active part of labor, often defined as greater than 4 centimeters dilated, lowers the risk of many interventions. In one study, women admitted before active labor were 39% more likely to receive oxytocin and 9% more likely to have a cesarean delivery.
By Colleen Elliott of Harmony Hypnobirthing
It was important to me to keep my fitness levels up throughout pregnancy, as preparation for birth. I viewed it as a positive way to prepare for the physical side of labor. I continued going to the gym twice a week and did a pilates class once a week until week 20, when I started pregnancy yoga. I attended a four session course on hypnobirthing, starting at 33 weeks pregnant, with my partner Matt. The classes were good for me and Matt to prepare for labor together. I also found the course a great way to start regularly practicing my relaxation. In a busy working week it’s not always easy to find the time.
I was 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant when I went into labor. I had been having regular Braxton hicks contractions for about two months but no labor signs. That evening I went to my prenatal yoga class as normal. During the class, I could feel a slight dampness so I went to the toilet. The amount of leak was very small, so I wasn’t sure if it was my waters going, but I would later realize it was. With 15 minutes of class left I decided to carry on. I think I was a bit in denial or just feeling too calm!
After driving myself home I was still feeling very calm with no more signs of labor. I ate dinner and watched some comedy TV to relax myself whilst bouncing on my ball. I told Matt to have a nap, as if I went into labor it could be a long night. As another hour passed, I did the washing up and while standing got a very strong contraction across my lower back. This wasn’t how I expected labor to start. I thought there would be a gradual build up of cramping or Braxton hicks, but this was intense very quickly.
I woke up Matt to tell him my contractions were quite strong so I was going to have a bath to relax. After being in the bath for approximately five minutes my labor became very intense, and I don’t have much memory of the rest of my time in the bath. I know I was there for one hour as I had listened to my hypnobirthing script twice.
My script kept me focused and in a hypno state, even though I was not consciously paying attention to it. I concentrated on my breathing and contractions, whilst also moving into different positions when necessary to stay comfortable. The contractions were becoming really strong but I was focused and managed them well. I had no concept of time or how long the contractions were lasting.
About an hour later, Matt told me that I needed to go to hospital. I remember telling him we couldn’t go to the hospital as it was too soon. I imagined labor for a first time mum to be several hours with a steady build up I had only been in labor for just over one hour. He told me he had been timing my contractions and that they had gone from 10 seconds long to one minute and 20 seconds long. I realized he was right and quickly got out. On the drive to hospital I listened to my relaxing music on headphones.
About another hour later, we arrived at the hospital. Whilst walking to the ward I lost focus a couple of times as it’s a long walk. My sister who was with us, and who is a midwife, told me to remember my breathing. This trigger helped me focus and take control of my breathing and contractions.
I was examined and told I was already 7 centimeters dilated. Given this dilation measurement, I hadn't arrived too early at all. The timing was just right. Whilst being examined my sister saved us a lot of time by finding a midwife for delivery for me and preparing a room on the birth centre.
We arrived at the birth centre. While the birth pool was being filled, I was leaning over a sink as being upright felt the most comfortable for me. I also knew that gravity would help get my baby out. My body had already started making pushing movements without me being told to. My body knew what to do, so I just followed what felt natural and comfortable.
I was offered gas and air, a form of anesthesia, but declined. Instead I moved into the birthing pool and used the warm water to keep me comfortable. Although I had lots of trigger props packed for labor (fairy lights, lavender oil and pictures) I did not have time to use them. I did have my music playing which helped. Matt supported me whilst I was in a kneeling position and leaning on the side of the pool, again letting gravity help.
While pushing baby’s head out I could tell he was getting a bit stuck, although I was reassured he wasn’t. I remember feeling like I wasn’t stretching around him enough so concentrated on slowing him down a little bit. I later found out that his arm came out at the same time as his head which was what I was feeling. The rest of our baby came out fairly easily. My birth plan said that I wanted to pull my baby up for a self delivery, and I was really pleased I was able to do this.
Baby Sydney was born at 1:12 AM and was very calm. I don’t remember him crying at all. We had one hour in the pool together to bond and recover. It was the birth that I had planned and hoped for. I know that the hypnobirthing preparation that I had done gave me my perfect birth.