At exactly 39 weeks pregnant, I awoke on a Saturday morning with all the early signs of labour: a little tired, emotionally off, crampy lower abdomen and some brown discharge.

Gross? Nope  no way – not to me. My baby was coming!

I reminisced on the night before. My husband and I had eaten at L’Italiano Restaurant where I indulged in the ‘Tarantina,’ a spicy chilli and mussel pasta dish. It was the same dish I ate the night before I went into labour with my first baby.

“What are the odds?” my husband, Sam, and I joked.

I turned up some beautiful Hypnobirthing Australia™ birth affirmations as I went about my morning and diffused orange, clary sage, and lavender aromatherapy oils. These little rituals eased my growing anxiety. I washed my hair, shaved my legs, and felt my confidence just grow and grow.

There was a beauty and ease to the day as my intuitive nesting instincts kicked in. I tidied the home, packed my hospital bag, and spent my morning in awe of my incredible three-year-old. I felt the reality of him no longer being my baby creep up on me. I was sad to say goodbye when my mum collected him. If we could have had a homebirth, he would have been included.

Disappointment is what I felt. Birthing in a hospital was not my first choice. However, the encouraging mantra of a woman I once knew became my song. She said, “It’s not about where you give birth but who you are. Birth comes from within.” Such truth in those words. To support my vision of a happy and peaceful birth environment, I invited a student midwife and birth photographer to the hospital. I knew their familiar faces and was sure it would ease my mind because they understood the birth I desired and inspired confidence in me! If I couldn’t have a home birth, I would bring the home birth to me!

My birth photographer lived just down the road and I wanted her to ideally come to the house an hour before before go-time. I even thought it’d be good for her to follow us just in case I gave birth in the car – funny how things work out.

The surges continued through lunchtime but I could manage them beautifully. They didn’t require my focus and I could even chat with Sam through them. I knew very well that labor could last for hours or days and because of this, my mindset was one of no expectations.  I planned to ignore my surges until I no longer could deny them – until that moment my only job was to be present and enjoy every pulsating movement.

I  remember experiencing some back labour with every surge but I expected as much because my doctor had said my baby was in a posterior position. I didn’t let this worry me; I trusted my baby would eventually turn. So, Sam and I decided to distract ourselves even more and head to the beach!

Sam surfed while I strolled. It was grounding. I felt deeply connected to nature and wholly present. Sunshine warmed my skin and seeped into my soul.

Like the waves I watched from the shore, my contractions also ebbed and flowed with a rhythm all their own.

I couldn’t control, force or predict the waves. They were me and I was them.

Natural. Honest. Alive.

We went home and I ate vege broth to warm and comfort my hard-working uterus. I waited for Sam to return from the bakery with a hardier lunch. He brought me a chicken roll; I’m known for my fussiness, scraping out the mayo, eating only a bite of cucumber and getting rid of half the tomato. Not today. Today I built up my energy stores and ate the whole thing.

I still had back labour so I made it a point to actively visualize my baby rotating and getting into a more optimal position. It was after 2:00 p.m. now and things were definitely intensifying. The surges required my full attention.

Contractions are healthy and essential; they are a way the body speaks to us. If you listen, they tell you what position to get into to comfort yourself and help your baby navigate its descent. Sometimes remembering this important fact makes all the difference.

My body told me to stand and lean over the back of the couch and bounce my bum around— like a twerk. The birth twerk – can I trademark this?! I bounced, twerked and moved my hips in a figure eight. Movement was my ally. I had to keep moving.

The promise of progress was strong, I could actually feel my baby descending.

Good movement also encourages good bowel movements. Perfect I thought, another sign of progress. I smiled. The body gets rid of what it can to make room for the baby. The cervix is not a crystal ball, no need to worry how far dilated I was. There were plenty of other signs that pointed to steady progress.

I timed my surges. Some were twenty seconds, some forty seconds, others a minute! They were coming closer together and gaining in strength, but not intense enough to consider going to the hospital yet. Hypnobirthing is just so effective!

Sam was off napping and I had trouble thinking about and calculating the surges. I downloaded a contraction timer app, and wouldn’t you know—it told me to go to the hospital. “No way”, I thought, “I’m not going to listen to a phone tell me what to do. It didn’t have a clue.”

Little did I know, that is exactly when I should have left!

At 3:30 p.m., Sam woke up and I told him about my progress but I remained unconvinced it was enough to warrant going to the hospital.

“Let’s lie in bed,” I suggested, “You can read the Hypnobirthing Australia™ facial relaxation script and give me a light touch massage.” He read that and the open lotus flower script and my birth affirmations. I was ready for his involvement as birth partner, and his support helped me focus on relaxing my face, which was getting harder and harder not to tense when my body surged.

Then it happened. The strongest and longest surge I had had so far. It ended up being the most intense one of my entire labour and birth.

Heat poured out of me. My breathing was heavy. It was an unforgettable and a defining labour moment—I’m convinced this was the surge that turned my baby into a better birthing position. The back labour disappeared after this.

Kicking my peanut ball away, I went down on all fours as Sam continued to read. When the contractions were too intense to listen anymore, I told him,

“Let’s stop that for now! Ring the hospital and make sure someone who’s water birth competent is on shift. Get the bath ready—we’ll be there in thirty minutes!”

He rang the hospital, he rang the student midwife, he rang the photographer, Natasha. He loaded the hospital bag and birthing props in the car.

I considered taking a shower while we waited for Natasha, but then I felt irritated and annoyed. There was no time for a shower – it was show time. There wasn’t even time to wait for Natasha. I told Sam to ring her again and tell her to meet us at the hospital instead.

Tears pricked my eyes while I stood, oddly, inside my wardrobe. “It’s so intense! What if I’m in labour for days? I won’t be able to do this!”

Panic. Fear.

The word ‘Epidural’ flashed before my eyes. Then a vision of the hospital bed, its white sheets, bluey’s and a giant size monitor entered my mind.

“No, no, no!”, I panicked. I shook it off and diverted my thoughts to a warm bath at the hospital. Relief. A bath would help, it would feel great. My positivity returned.

Time to get to the car. I’d asked Sam earlier to put a garbage bag and towel on the seat in case my waters released on the way. There was the garbage bag, but no towel. I didn’t have the energy to tell him about this oversight.

I went to hop in but then a massive surge hit me. My expulsive reflex kicked in. Push push, it screamed! I leant forward, grunted,

“Sam! I need to bear down! The baby is coming!”

I’d been in transition. No wonder I was irritable, panicky and anxiety-ridden. A wave of relief washed over me because I knew I would not be in labour for days after all. This was it. It was happening!

I looked at the car seat. “No bloody way am I sitting on that.” My body was totally opposed to sitting. It didn’t feel right. I reclined the front passenger seat and hopped onto my knees, leaning over. I was looking into the back seat and into my son’s car seat. “Eew, his seat is so dirty! My god the whole car is filthy!” I was seriously annoyed by the dirt and mess – typical transition and a biological reaction to keep my birth space clean.

Then my waters gushed out. The amniotic fluid puddled around my knees and legs. It was not comfortable on that garbage bag, but I knew I had to just let it go.

Then the claustrophobia set in. All my things being carted to the hospital crowding the space. No freedom to move. The anxiety just grew. It was a constant battle to fight it back.

We finally drove off after a struggle with the keyless entry on our car. Finally. My waters continue to gush. So much water!

The physical and emotional relief that came with this release was enormous.

“We’re not gonna make it!” I grunted while bearing down. It was twenty minutes to the hospital and I was in full on primal mode. I couldn’t brace myself around the corners, it created tension within me and left me whimpering, “I can’t be here anymore. I can’t be in here!”

Enter the bowel movements. Oh boy, thank goodness for the red rooster napkins and the one lone wet wipe I saved in our glove box.

“Stop now Sam! I can’t go anymore. I’m having this baby!” He rang the midwives at the hospital; they weren’t much help. “She has more time than you think, drive fast. It’s safer to get to the hospital.” Right.

I told him, “I can’t go! I don’t want to go. Being in this car makes me seriously want to kill someone with my bare hands!” I somehow agreed to let him continue to drive and then he took a wrong turn.

My thoughts were consumed with anxiety. The disappointment was overwhelming. My baby was coming and my photographer wasn’t with me, my student midwife wasn’t with me. It was hard work to stay positive.

“Nope, time to pull over again. For good this time. Tell the hospital we can’t drive.” He got the same midwife as before. She offered no support or encouragement and was not sure what I was expecting.

Sam told the midwife to phone the ambulance and gave her the directions to us. She again told us to come to the hospital and go straight to emergency.

I snapped, “I’m not going to emergency to have my baby!” She reassured me I’d be taken up to maternity, but I knew there was no way I’d make it that far.

Off in the distance was green grass and bushes calling to me. I wanted to set up a blanket and birth in a space beneath the trees. But I couldn’t bring myself to move It felt so far away… the lush green grass was so inviting. In the end, I felt too exposed. We were on a busy highway and the cars caused me anxiety.

“Drive Sam,” I surrendered.

I was so frustrated. No one was listening to me. And nothing was being done to support me.

We continued down the highway until I felt the baby’s head crown. Sam exited and pulled over on a quiet street. He could see the head too and it was exciting.

“You’re going to have to catch the baby!”

“Yes—I’ll get it!” he said with confidence.

FINALLY!!! I felt the most enormous wave of happiness and comfort wash over me.That’s all I honestly needed. Someone to believe me and trust in what was happening.

I could relax and just surrender to the birth.

I heard Sam call out, “Hey, little girl! Can you get your mum to phone an ambulance? We’re having a baby!” It was a comfort to have him calm and by my side.

The outside world melted away as I turned inward and gave into my primal, intuitive self. I didn’t even notice the P-Platers in the Prado that pulled up right next to us, staring straight into the front window. Sam says they sped off pretty fast!

The intensity of the surges had decreased. My baby was nearly fully crowned and I was completely relaxed. I didn’t move except when my intuition told me to nudge a little here or bend my knees a little.

“This is amazing, amazing, amazing. I am amazing. I want everyone to come see what I’m capable of!”

I was in awe of my body and what I was experiencing. Birthing is the most powerful and intense feeling. I wanted everyone to know and was reeling to scream it from the rooftops.

The head was born. Relief.

Never in my life had I felt so calm and connected to myself. I waited. I knew my body knew what to do. I knew my baby knew what to do.

My birth was a full reflection of who I am and what I wanted it to be, what I wanted it to feel like. I couldn’t help but feel so happy and so enthused.

I imagined Sam trying to receive a slippery baby with his bare hands, and told him he better go ask someone for a towel.

I felt my baby rotate sideways, preparing my body to birth the shoulders.

There was a surge and the sense I needed to nudge and straighten my knees, going upright at the same time. Intuition is real. Your body is powerful and knowledgeable. Trust it, love it, enjoy the experience.

“Sam, stop pulling the baby out!”

“I’m not!”

“Oh!” I felt comforted. It was gravity pulling the baby down now that I was in an upright position.

“The shoulders are out. The tummy is born!” Sam informed the lady on the phone with the ambulance.

Then my baby stopped at its hips. I remained calm and trusted my body and baby would know what to do.

My baby started to cry. I could feel it wiggle. The baby was birthing himself or herself—the clever little thing!

Another slight surge and a whisper to dip my hips slightly down. I felt gravity drawing the baby down once again. The hips were born.

Our baby was earth side!

Energy starting to brew up inside me. I could move again.

The baby was behind me. “Lower down out of the car with the baby as I lower too.” We did and Sam went to pass the baby around the side. “No, pass the baby between my legs.” But my darn bikini bottoms were wrapped tightly halfway down my thighs.

A woman came up and asked if she could help, “I’ve had five kids.”

“Awesome!” I said, “Then pull my bikini bottoms down!”

Sam passed our baby through my legs and made the grand announcement—it’s a boy! I looked down to receive him and our eyes locked. He was looking for my eyes and I felt an energy of reassurance pour from him.

And now I held my baby in my arms.

It was complete and total bliss. A real psychedelic feeling. My ears rang and I my body buzzed as if I was in a different parallel. My instinct was to walk down the road, yelling out to everyone, “Hey! Look what I’ve just done! Come have a look!”

It was the birth I had wanted. I totally rocked it. And owned it.

I was standing barefoot on the earth in the fresh air and bright sun, completely one with nature and spirit. I was on an oxytocin high rising to the height of human experience. I just gave birth to life itself.

The ambulance pulled up with the sirens on, and of course, that just made my birth even more exciting.

The lovely paramedics approached me and were completely on my level with optimal cord clamping. They waited until the cord stopped pulsating. They helped me onto the stretcher, and the clean white sheets were a divine comfort.

 

It was all happy vibes in that ambulance. We couldn’t stop laughing.

My baby’s cord was clamped and my baby attached to my breast in his own time.

In my last birth, the cord was quite short. This time, I was careful with the cord and I wanted to keep my baby level with my belly to help him receive the rest of the blood from the placenta easily. We weren’t in a hurry, my baby and me. It was all good.

We announced his name—Lockie.

Hypnobirthing doesn’t end when the baby comes. I now brought my awareness to the placenta detaching from my uterine wall. I felt a surge and I swear that’s when it detached. I visualized the blood vessels constricting as I waited to birth it.

We pulled up at emergency at the regional hospital. My birth photographer and student midwife stood out front. It was a comfort to see them. I knew they were on my level with excitement, though slightly disappointed they had missed the epic birth!

We all went through A&E and up to maternity. The maternity staff expected to find me traumatised after what I’d just been through. But I was happy and calmly told them I still needed to birth my placenta. I asked if I could use the birthing stool. My tailbone hurt on that stool; there was no way to get comfy. One midwife suggested I hop on the bed, so I did, but it still hurt.

The doctor on duty walked in and asked about my placenta. He had an injection of synthetic oxytocin in his hand. “What time was Lockie born?” he asked. When we told him he said, “It’s been a long-time for the placenta to still being inside you.”

Everyone stood staring at me. I felt intimidated by them and the doctor’s pronouncement.

“Is there any tearing?” the doctor asked.

“Just a scratch,” responded the midwife.

“Did you have the injection during your last birth?” he asked me.

“Yes, it was given without my consent when I didn’t even have any heavy bleeding.”

Nerves crept through my body and crawled deep into my tummy. I called upon all my courage, and pushed it up to my throat and found my voice.

“I have my own oxytocin and right now, but this environment is not conducive to birth a placenta physiologically!”

“I’ll give you 30 minutes,” and with that the doctor left.

My midwife immediately turned off some big bright circular lamp to improve the atmosphere.

I understood there are risks during this phase of birth, but I also knew I had to stay strong for what I wanted.

My midwife took a look and said, “Just needs a little push and it should come out!”

I couldn’t sit on the bed any longer though. My tailbone hurt so much. She suggested I stand or go back on the birthing stool.

Lockie was properly attached onto my breast now and I knew skin on skin and the smell of my baby was also important for a physiological placenta birth, so I kept him close.

When I got up, I felt a bulge between my legs. The placenta was ready. I didn’t want it to splat onto a couple of hospital bluey’s on the floor. My placenta deserved more respect than that. I sat on the stool, baby in arms, a warm blanket wrapped around me.

I gave a little nudge and my placenta was born. My student midwife took it away excitedly. This was the first physiological placenta birth she’d seen. She noted there was little blood loss and it was all intact.

The doctor returned and told me he’d been just now reading through my birth preferences. I had totally forgotten about them. Just goes to show it pays to hand out your preferences well in advance to the hospital. You never know if they’ll make it out of the car or not!

He was calmer and on my level now. This is another advantage of preferences. He asked how the placenta was coming along and everyone in the room said “YES! It came!”.

We chatted away while Lockie fed. He was weighed and to our surprise, he was 9lb 5oz. I thought he looked a lot bigger than Jarvis, but I didn’t think he was that much bigger. There was lots of cheering and excitement all around.

I walked naked around the birthing suite feeling invincible. I just wanted to run around the whole hospital and tell everyone what I’d just done!

Even though I signed a six-hour release, I decided to stay the night just because I’d declined the GBS swab. I figured it’d be easier for a midwife to monitor Lockie every four hours instead of me. Plus, I really could not be bothered to get back in that car. I also got a room to myself and a huge roast dinner. Stoked.

Throughout the night, midwives monitored how we were doing. I was thankful some asked if I was okay after the birth. I was, but it was still great to have an opportunity to debrief with them anyway.

I am honestly so ecstatic about the birth I had. It was just what I wanted. I totally owned it. Birth teaches us so much about ourselves.

In my first birth, I learnt a lot about the mind-body connection and I was reminded that I am determined and I am strong.

In my second birth, I was reminded of the same things, but was taught a few more. I learnt how to surrender, let go of expectations, and how connected to nature I really am.

I am also so satisfied that my husband was on board. It would’ve been a totally different story if he hadn’t come along to all those hypnobirthing classes.

I also want to take this chance to express how much I’d love to see midwifery-led care here in Geraldton. If I had the option to have my own midwife, I would have also had the option to birth our baby at home.

It was crazy but beautiful and totally life-changing.

Curious as to how you might be able to apply the remarkable philosophies of hypnobirthing to your pregnancy and birth experience, you should probably check this out!

All my love,

Melissa Ayling