Meeting Sophie & Daniel
I first met *Sophie and *Daniel at an information session I run each month. They were front and centre and Sophie seemed to absorb every word I said. I was disappointed when they didn’t book in to do my course but understood that Sophie’s friend taught HypnoBirthing and they would be going to her classes.
About a week after that session Sophie emailed me to tell me her friend was pregnant and not teaching at the moment – would her and Daniel be able to arrange private classes at their home.
I arrived for our first session and Sophie told me her mother would be joining us. Now I know next to nothing about Muslim culture or religion but I was a touch apprehensive about how HypnoBirthing would be received by her mum.
Well I didn’t have a thing to worry about. About 15 minutes in to the session, her mum started tapping her daughters leg saying ‘see, see I told you if you could stay relaxed and not be scared it would be better’. I had nothing to be concerned about!
Over the weeks I got to know Sophie and Daniel well. They were extremely welcoming to me, fed me, made me tea and I also got to meet Sophie’s sister.
Sophie was in a Midwifery Group Program at Sunshine Hospital and I loved that when she first met her midwife, Annita, she had replied to Sophie’s birth preferences with a wry smile and ‘you’re going to be a fire cracker aren’t you?’ She could see that Sophie was confident and determined to have a positive experience.
After our last session, I did something I haven’t done before. I offered to support Sophie and Daniel at their birth. I’m not a qualified doula so I was unsure how they would take the offer but excitingly, they accepted!
Sophie and I kept in contact over the weeks leading up to the birth. I would answer questions here and there, provide a little encouragement but Sophie was well informed and confident so I didn’t need to do too much.
At 6.07am on Monday 19th, I vaguely heard my phone beep, through a sleepy haze. I had a feeling it would be Sophie but I knew it wouldn’t be urgent. I’d instructed her to call me when labour had begun rather than text.
6.18am and my phone rings. Sophie explains she is having very mild surges and her membranes have realised – yay – it’s baby day!
Not long later the uterine seal releases and things are picking up. My favourite message from her is ‘I’m so excited! My baby is coming!!!’
Sophie had spoken to Annita who told her to see how the day goes and to come in at 11pm that night if they aren’t in already to be checked over. I thought back to my first labour when I’d headed to hospital 13 hours after my first surge.
I start to work out my day thinking that I’ll be heading over some time in the late afternoon or evening. Mason had kinder from 9am to 2pm so I arranged for my mum to pick him up just in case. I also talk to mum about covering my HypnoBirthing class that night. So lucky when your mum is a HypnoBirthing practitioner too!
Then Daniel calls around 10.30am and tells me surges are 3 minutes apart lasting for a minute and they are thinking about going into the hospital. I ask about the intensity and he says she can talk through them. I tell him to hold out as long as possible before heading in.
I give my sister a buzz and get her to head over to watch Marlie in case I get called in earlier than I thought. I’m glad I did because 45 minutes later and I’m on the road.
Arriving at hospital
When I arrive at the hospital about 12pm and track down their room, I’m surprised to see how small it is. There is medical equipment everywhere and the bathroom is tiny.
Sophie is lying on the bed on her side with her eyes closed. I say a quiet hello to both of them and make myself at home. I observe Sophie and she is extremely relaxed which is great. She is getting some back pain so Daniel makes himself busy rubbing her lower back constantly.
I work out that her midwife is making her way in to work for the birth and we’re just in a holding room until then. Sophie breathes through her surges which I decide to time for a while. They are coming every 3-5 minutes and lasting about 40 seconds. Inside I think, ‘I’ve come too early. This is early labour and we’ve got a ways to go yet’.
Annita arrives and has a chat to Sophie. I’m pleasantly surprised that she is using HypnoBirthing language and is all over their birth preferences. She asks Sophie if she wants to hear the baby’s heart beat, not that she has to monitor her and there is no mention of an internal exam, just a simple ‘do you feel like you’re in good labour?’
Baby sounded great so we head down to the birth suite where the bath has been filling. One labouring mum, one dad, one support person, one fit ball and about 9 bags of stuff all squishing into a lift – I was exactly the same with my first birth!
The birth suite is lovely. All the equipment is hidden away, the bath is huge and curtains are easy to shut. We get the room nice and dim, I put on the LED candles I bought and Daniel sets up the oil diffuser. Annita asks where Sophie’s printed affirmations are for the wall and Daniel looks at me sheepishly – they have been forgotten. Annita offers to go get some paper and comes back with textas and blutack. I quickly look up some of Sophie’s favourite affirmations and write them up for her.
I also ask Annita if I can take the clock down which is exactly in Sophie’s line of sight and she seems surprised but ok with it. Sophie is in the bath and we all settle in.
As soon as Sophie is in the bath for a few minutes, surges seem to pick up. I don’t time them anymore but they seem a touch longer, more intense and definitely coming every 3 minutes or so.
Annita sits in the room with us, just observing Sophie and listening to the baby’s heart beat every half hour or so. It’s so lovely just to see a midwife ‘be’ with a labouring woman.
Sophie starts to feel an urge to push but only at the peak of the surge. Annita doesn’t seem worried, simply asks her to breathe through it as much as possible, rather than push at this stage.
This goes on for an hour or so and I start to get concerned that maybe baby is posterior or not positioned too well. My head starts racing with positions we can try, should I get the rebozo out, should I try some acupressure?
I decide to ask her how she’s going mentally. She replies that she’s ‘tired and sleepy’. We encourage her to rest in between the surges and I suggest to switch out tired and sleepy with refreshed and energised.
Daniel has kept up the lower back massage the entire time we’ve been in the room. I make the amusing realisation that when I demonstrate how to do lower back acupressure and hip squeezes in classes that it relies on having easy access to mum’s back. When the reality of labour sets in, you realise that you just have to make it work, regardless of mum’s position. Daniel spends most of his time draped over the bath, reaching Sophie’s back through the water.
He is extremely encouraging of Sophie, telling her she’s doing a great job, reminding her to slow her breathing. I do some practical things, offer her sips of water and use a cool facewasher with essentials oils on it on her forehead. She eats a fresh mejool date for an energy boost.
After awhile I can see she’s getting restless and disheartened. She keeps asking us how much longer. At one point she asks for an epidural in a very calm, casual way. Annita comes over and says ‘ok, but you have to get out of the bath and can’t have a water birth then. You also need to lie on your back and have an internal examination and no more back rubs’. Sophie cleverly replies that she won’t need the backrubs if she can’t feel the back pain. We all laugh and the moment passes.
She decides to try the shower and then wants an internal exam from Annita. We get her on the bed and the check gets done quickly. Sophie doesn’t want to know the dilation so Annita simply shares she can feel the baby’s head and she can still feel a very small amount of cervix. She encourages Sophie to keep breathing through the pushing urges and her baby will be here soon.
At this stage Sophie is still on the bed, now on her side. She is breathing well and seems deep in the birth bubble. She actually stops responding to any questions we ask her at this point. I decide to read a HypnoBirthing script called The Balloon Trip. We normally recommend it for a resting labour but I just felt Sophie needed to hear it at this stage.
It goes through a process of finding any lingering fear, limiting thoughts or stress about birth and letting it go. I told her I was going to read a script then she was going to get back in the bath and have her baby.
Halfway through the script she had a big surge then we finished the script, one more surge and then I told her firmly that her baby was coming and if she wanted to have it in the bath then she needed to get up now. I remembered this part of my own labours, not wanting to move or thinking I could so I knew some firm but gentle direction was in order.
She got back in the bath and from there things stepped up again. Her surges became much longer and she sounded like she wanted to push throughout rather than just once at the peak. She kept breathing through the pushing feeling until I asked Annita if she thought she could push now if she felt like it.
Baby is almost here
Annita was great and simply asked Sophie, try pushing and see how it feels. If it feels right then do it, if not, just keep breathing and doing what you’re doing. Within a few surges you could tell that the natural expulsive reflex was doing it’s thing and moving the baby down with each surge.
I remember telling Sophie at one point ‘remember, this is when you leave your body, go up to the stars and collect the soul of your baby’. She was controlled, purposeful and a goddess in action.
At this point she was still on her side and Annita was trying to catch a glimpse between Sophie’s legs to see if baby’s head was visible yet. We had the room so dark that she was using the torch on her iPhone to see and almost dunked it in the water she was leaning so far over the bath. She confirmed baby’s head was there and it wouldn’t be long now.
Sophie did start crying at one point but it quickly turned to laughter as she realised that she could feel her baby’s head with her hand.
Another midwife and I believe a student came into the room at that point and you could sense the excitement growing. Some equipment was brought over but it all stayed behind a curtain. Daniel went to have a look at bub’s head and I snuck a quick peek too. All I could see was a mass of black hair on bub’s head.
I loved hearing the student ask Annita ‘is this her first baby?’ almost in disbelief and Annita replied ‘yep, sure is!’
Sophie was vocal during her surges but kept the sound low and guttural. I reminded her to feel the energy of the surge moving down in a j shape. She instinctively moved from her side to kneeling in the middle of the bath.
Just a few more big surges and the baby’s head was out! You could hear the relief in Sophie’s voice. Daniel went to have a look and unbelievably baby opened it’s eyes and looked at him, blinking in the bright iPhone light!
One last big surge and here was baby – a big, beautiful boy. Annita pushed him through Sophie’s legs and she bought him to the surface and straight onto her chest. He was covered in vernix and looked straight at his mama. It was around 5.15pm. Just 4 hours of active labour and less than an hour to breathe baby down and out.
A baby is born
I forget most things Sophie said at that point but the look of pride and joy on her face, I’ll never forget. I know she said ‘I did it, I’m a mum, I have a baby.’ I was crying, Daniel was crying and Sophie was crying. It was so exhilarating and special. *Hamish had arrived.
Sophie invited her mum and sister straight in and there were tears, love and oxytocin flowing. Her beautiful mum enveloped me in a bear hug and thanked me for being there for them. I told her ‘Sophie did it all by herself!’ She gave Sophie a big hug and said ‘My baby has a baby!’
After about 20 minutes, Sophie asked Daniel if he wanted a hold of the baby. She was also getting some urges to push so we thought the placenta was close to being birthed. Annita asked Sophie to hold the umbilical cord gently to see if it has stopped pulsating. Sophie wasn’t sure so Annita instructed her to bring it to the surface of the water and we all checked out the colour of the cord. Beautiful, white and empty of blood so Daniel cut the cord.
A couple of minutes later, out came the placenta without any effort on Sophie’s part. So much nicer than an assisted third stage in my experience!
I went up to Sophie, gave her a little kiss on the forehead and said I’d make myself scarce now so they could celebrate as a family.
I thanked everyone for giving me the honour and privilege of being invited into their birth space. I drove home on an oxytocin high.
For me this experience was so special. To see a truly undisturbed birth was an absolute wonder to behold. Sophie was the epitome of a confident, informed and empowered woman and everything she did, those hours of preparation and practice shone through.
Sophie knew the secrets to positive birth – she choose her team consciously and wisely, she and her husband prepared themselves fully, her mindset was clear and confident, she mastered hypnosis and she was committed to her vision. She makes my heart full and I hope she knows what a superwoman she is.
To learn more about the 5 secrets to a positive birth and have your own powerful HypnoBirthing experience, download my free webinar HERE.
*Name have been changed