Dillon Grace Sylvester
Weight: 6lb 3oz
'I recommend hypnobirthing to everyone, because I think it's incredibly powerful & that each women deserves to have a positive birth experience - even when when things take an unexpected turn'
I'm often nervous to share my birth story with others as it could be considered one of those 'horror stories', but I really hope that's not what people take away. I had a great pregnancy; I felt healthy & content throughout & had no complications other than mild pelvic girdle pain, which thankfully I knew how to manage with my yoga experience . I practised & taught pre-natal yoga right up until the week before I gave birth as well as practising hypnobirthing relaxations and affirmations. My 'due date' was the end of December, but as with every year I chose to spend Christmas at my parents house which is over 4 hours away from where I live (& therefore the birth centre I had planned to give birth at) My mum often joked that the baby would arrive while I was there with her...and as usual, she was right!! Testament to the power of feeing completely relaxed, calm & safe in your enviroment!
On 23rd December, after spending a lovely afternoon with all my family I relaxed in front of the tv before going to bed around 10pm. I'd been in bed for no more than half an hour before feeling my first surge. It wasn't painful; similar to a period cramp...which I thought may have just been the result of an overindulgence on food that day! Up until then I hadn't experienced any braxton hicks or anything that felt remotely like surges. My husband was sleeping beside me so I decided not to wake him straight away. After feeling a few more I went to the toilet and had my show...when I emerged from the bathroom my mum was stood outside of the door waiting to find out if something was happening because she'd 'sensed' something! - mothers intuition?! I excitedly told her what was happening and then went to wake my husband up.
We decided to call the local hospital - it was too early to go, but we wanted to get in touch to give them a heads up because obviously I hadn't been under their care and didn't want to turn up as a complete surprise! They advised me to take some paracetamol & get in the bath, which I did. We dimmed the lights in the bathroom, lit a candle and put on some relaxing music, I asked my husband to put some drops of rescue remedy in my water for me, and then laughed as he started putting into the bath water rather than in my drink!! I'd been taking regular baths as a way of relaxing during the third trimester & the warmth of the water as well as my surroundings instantly calmed me.
I laboured in the bath for about an hour and half, during which time the surges were becoming more and more powerful - I used my up breathing & remembered what I'd learnt through hypnobirthing about what was happening to the muscles of the uterus & it really helped me understand what I was feeling and embrace it rather than fighting it. I instinctively adopted an all fours position with each surge as it felt more comfortable and my husband used one of the techniques we'd practised by applying counter pressure to my sacrum, which really helped relieve the sensations. Let's be honest - there was a lot of going to the loo during this stage too!
In the space of a few hours my surges had become much more regular, closer together and lasting longer. I decided to get out of the bath and we called the hospital again - we explained that I was practising hypnobirthing and how close my contractions were but when talking to the hospital, were advised to wait longer before going in. I knew to expect this from what we'd learnt during hypnobirthing and my instincts were telling me that my labour was established, but even so the conversation still made me doubt myself. After hanging up, I had another powerful surge & sudden urge to go to the toilet, where my waters broke with a 'pop'. There was a small amount of meconium in my waters so we decided to go straight to the hospital rather than waiting. As we made our way there I kept my eyes closed and focused on staying as calm as possible as the surges became much more intense and I was beginning to feel the urge to push - it felt like my body was naturally taking over and pushing in response to each surge.
On arrival at the hospital I was taken straight to a delivery room, examined by a midwife and offered gas and air, which I accepted. She found that I was already fully dilated & pushing, but the baby was in a compromised position & already beginning to descend. She discussed my options with me and recommended a caesarean birth, which was obviously not what I'd hoped for, but given the circumstances I accepted that this change of plan was the best choice for me & our baby. Everything that followed happened so quickly & I was very much in my own 'zone' at this point so it's difficult to fully recollect but a doctor was then called to give me further examinations, including a scan. I tried to remain calm during this and focus on my breathing. He confirmed the midwifes findings and based on that & other examinations the team called for a CAT 1 emergency C section. Alarms began to sound and a crash team of numerous people started flooding into my room rushing around me & giving my husband scrubs as we were being rushed straight to theatre.
The anaesthetist tried to perform a spinal block, but couldn't get the right position - possibly because I was already pushing so couldn't remain still enough. Due to the urgency of the situation, it was decided to give me a general anaesthetic; which meant my husband could no longer stay with me in theatre - this was the first time I had a wobble and a small cry about what was happening. I couldn't believe that we'd gone from having such a calm and effective 1st stage of labour to the absolute opposite of my ideal birth. He reassured me that everything was going to be OK and kissed me goodbye.
The next thing I remember was coming round to the sight of my husband sitting by my bedside holding our daughter in his arms and my mum next to them. The joy I felt at seeing their faces and meeting my daughter was indescribable. I felt such a relief that she was OK and in that moment nothing else mattered. The midwife laid her with me for skin to skin and she found the breast with ease. I had read about the importance of the golden hour after birth & establishing breastfeeding, which could sometimes be effected by having a C-section. I'm pleased to say this wasn't the case - we bonded instantly & am so proud of our breast feeding journey (I continued until she was 19months old!) We were lucky to be given a private room after being moved from the recovery area & we stayed there over night (Christmas Eve!) The night was tough - lack of sleep & exhaustion from labour had taken their toll as well as coming round from the operation. Despite this, I was so overwhelmed with love & absolute awe at this baby we'd created that I just wanted to hold her in my arms & gaze at her all night.
This was far from the completely natural water birth I'd hoped for!! but I think it's an important birth story to share because on paper it could be considered the 'worse case scenario' for many - including myself. That being said; I truly believe that the combination of hypnobirthing & prenatal yoga gave me the tools to have a calm & comfortable first stage of labour - I progressed really quickly in the comfort of a home setting with the support of my partner. I'd go as far to say I actually enjoyed it! I felt confident, relaxed & excited that it meant we were going to be meeting our baby. Whilst my surges were definitely powerful & intense, they were manageable & I would not describe them as painful. Despite the outcome of my birth I still consider that I had a really positive experience and that hypnobirthing can be extremely beneficial regardless of the type of birth you have. It gives you the tools to remain calm and focused, even in challenging circumstances & feel empowered & in control. I recommend hypnobirthing to everyone, because I think it's incredibly powerful & that each women deserves to have a positive birth experience - even when when things take an unexpected turn.