My first son, Oliver, was born in June 2002 following a long labour; an epidural and forceps delivery resulted in a 3rd degree tear. 17 months later and although I had healed well I opted for an elective c-section for the birth of my second son. This wasn’t a medical necessity but rather a lack of faith that a natural birth would be trouble free: I was desperate not to tear again. The caesarean was straightforward and Sam was born.
Three and a half years later and we were expecting our third child. I was pretty certain that another elective c-section was the way to go. I’d already had one and again didn’t want to risk tearing with a vaginal birth. However, I wanted to stay fit through pregnancy and was recommended Nadia’s yoga classes. As each week passed I became inspired by both the birth stories I heard and Nadia’s teaching. I became empowered and more and more adamant that I was cheating myself by opting for a c-section. I sought advice from experts regards the 3rd degree tear I had suffered and risks of a VBAC and was put in touch with South London Independent midwives. With bolstering from all sides I told my husband that I had changed my mind: I wanted to birth naturally. He was wholly supportive on the proviso that I, or we, prepared ourselves. The best way I could do this was to arm myself with as much knowledge as possible especially related to birth preparation and birthing techniques. I don’t remember learning breathing techniques or essential postures with the NCT classes first time round. This time would be different.
Nadia’s classes were invaluable, hypnobirthing further taught me how to relax and encourage my body through childbirth instead of tensing through the pain. Moreover, the independent midwives gave me the confidence that I would be guided through my birth by experienced midwives whom I would come to regard as friends.
Due day dawned and the wait began. At 42 weeks I was enjoying all forms of natural induction! I clocked up a few curries, 3 sessions of acupuncture, 2 goes with reflexology, 3 sweeps, pineapple, walks and sex. All to no avail. I was happy waiting but the expectant comments from all around and the juggling what to do with the boys started to be wearing. Although not compulsory the consultant midwives at St.Thomas’s wanted to meet to discuss risks and options regarding induction. This would include a detailed scan checking on the placenta functioning etc. so I went to the hospital with my midwife Teresa and husband, Anthony, on Friday at 42 weeks and 1 day overdue. The hospital consultants were very kind and encouraged by a perfect scan result but they were duty bound to outline the risks of going beyond 42 weeks. We assessed the risks and although I was confident that the baby was happy and healthy I had to take into account the feelings of my husband and the likelihood of any deterioration of the placenta risking the health of my baby. We agreed to come into the hospital daily for CTG monitoring and booked an induction (breaking waters) for the Tuesday when I would be 42 weeks and 5 days overdue. I felt deflated that afternoon; all the preparation and expectation could result in an ineffective induction (I couldn’t have prostaglandin or oxytocin because I was VBAC) and a possible c-section. The overriding factor however was the health of the baby and I was confident that all would happen in its own time and reassured myself that Tuesday was still a few days away and we could reassess then.
At midnight on Saturday I woke from 2 hours sleep, went to the loo and when I returned to bed my waters broke. Hurray, natural birth here we come, no induction; I could do it. Contractions started 20 minutes later and I phoned Teresa to let her know my waters had broken and that we would relax at home for a while. It turned out to be only an hour before the contractions were every 2 minutes although short and not too painful. The hypnobirthing CD was playing and I felt relaxed. I wanted to put the tens machine on before leaving for the hospital and just about managed to achieve it, pausing for contractions. A word of advice; get your other half to read the instructions before labour so you don’t have to explain it to him as well while contracting !!
Off we went to the hospital, arriving at 2.20pm, my other midwife, Annie, arrived at 3pm and contractions were coming thick and fast. I was coping using my breathing and listening to words of reassurance. I wouldn’t have been parted from my Tens machine for anything. I was in a sitting on the bed in a half squat position. The contractions were frequent enough and intense enough for me to want the stability of the bed and relaxing through them was most comfortable when I wasn’t moving too much. At 3.30am I had my first examination and was 7cm’s dilated. Everyone was very excited that I was so far along and I knew that it was too quick and intense for an epidural. The contractions were coming almost one on top of the other and I tried some entonox but I didn’t enjoy the light-headedness and floppiness it gave to my legs. So it was just me and the TENS! I cranked it up, became very possessive of it. I was told to turn on the bed so I faced backwards and could squat leaning against the bed-head. Five minutes later and I wanted to go home! I Felt helpless and was sure I couldn’t do it. I was making plenty of noise through contractions; my husband has since told me that he spent time considering whether I was a goat or a cow!! Lots of cool wet flannels and words of reassurance from my husband and midwives and the urge to push began. 20 minutes later and the brilliant people around me enabled me to birth my baby slowly and with only a 1degree tear with no suturing needed. Our little girl had arrived in the world gently with a little right hand by her head and my body had done it. I felt elated, my husband was in awe and it was the most intense 4 ½ hours of my life and by far the most rewarding. Little Eliza arrived when she was ready – at 42 weeks and 3 days, she was 8lbs and perfect – not at all ‘overcooked’.
The advice I would give to any expectant mother is arm yourselves with knowledge, enjoy your classes and be reassured that the people at your birth will get you through but above all, trust your body to birth efficiently and naturally. This and your strength of mind will get you through.
I feel empowered and thank you, Nadia, for inspiring me to go the ‘natural route’. I look forward to bringing Eliza to baby classes soon.
Eliza Hayward, born 6th May 2007
Nadia pregnancy yoga classes
3rd Degree Vaginal tear