This week, we return to Hannah, the Peaceful Mama. Hannah has three beautiful children, and three fantastic birth stories! Today, I’m sharing the story of her second birth with you.
My pregnancy with Jaxon was a little different to my first. Anyone with a toddler would understand. I miscarried at 11 weeks in between these two, and so my second boy was due two years and two months after my first boy, Dylan.
This time, I was a huge fan of the water birth, having seen it relieve my pain so well in the first birth, and not needing any other form of pain relief than heated water and massage. So I bought a birthing pool and planned for a home birth. Having gone through birth 1 with my husband, he could understand the process better now and was okay with a home birth. In the UK and Australia, if you have a home birth, you always have two midwives anyway, and must have ambulance cover in case anything goes wrong.
So, again, we prepared as much as possible, but less so than the first, I guess because we had some experience to go off. The same fears and worries crept in, as they do, and I found the “law of attraction” style of confessions and positivity and alignment helped greatly with this. I practised hypnobirthing, as I had learnt how to do this with clients, and listened to waves crashing and guided meditations. I had my own slant on these, being a Christian, and found it extremely helpful for allaying worries about the impending birth or fear of miscarrying again. Supernatural childbirth, by Jackie Mize, helped bolster my faith that my body was created for this and capable of this, and that I could do it again without fear of disaster.
So this time, I asked for no bigger than 9lb5, and no longer than 40 weeks.
I was, again, very big and uncomfortable, and found it hard to sleep. I had strong Braxtons again, and lower hip and back pain. I should have done more pilates and exercise for my core between births, but time gets away from us and before I knew it I was pregnant again, and with strong hormones as I was still feeding my first; my ligaments were very stretchy still, so I found I could easily overdo it and hurt myself when exercising. I did, however, walk everywhere in London, so I was fairly fit and strong.
On the night before his due date, I took this photo … I went to bed with my birthing CD and tried to rest, knowing he could come at any time.
Did you know that it is not us/our bodies that kickstart labour, but rather the baby signals when it is time? This is why I recommend, where possible and with low risk, to leave it until they are ready, rather than have an induction. Often, inducing the baby causes very quick and painful labours (ie, the labour starts coming on quickly) and the baby just isn’t ready. It can be really hard for the mum to process that pain coming on so quickly, and hard for baby to suddenly get kicked out. I know in the medical world, it’s popular. Obstetricians have golfing games to play, of course, but its not about them. It’s about our bodies and about bringing babies into this world as gently as we can. (And this is possible even with C-sections, and I can talk about re-birthing later if you like.)
With Jaxon, we had researched the benefits of a lotus birth. This is when you don’t cut the umbilical cord from the placenta, but rather leave it to fall off naturally, this can take between three to ten days usually. Typically, having read about it for clients, I wanted to try it for myself, and so I used Jaxon’s birth as a trial for this. I had a beautiful herbal blend made up with salts, rose petals, lavender and a few other lovely herbs. This preserves and keeps it smelling lovely … It never, ever smelled at all.
At midnight, I woke and was uncomfortable – I prayed: ‘God, if this is it, wake me and lets do this; if not, let me sleep so I have energy’. I fell back to a peaceful sleep. At 4am-ish, I woke and needed to go to the toilet. There, I had a bloody show and knew it was happening. I must have woken my husband around 4:30am, and he started running the water into the pool.
We called the midwives and doula who would be attending the birth, and started preparing; I was sort of half asleep, but it was really strong contractions, or Braxtons? Just quick, and whilst I recognised the feeling, I didn’t clue in to how quick it was all happening. I think I put some tea on, ready for the midwives, and my husband was on phone to my dad in Australia when I called from the lounge: ‘This is happening, this is really happening, call the midwife again!’.
He called again, and she was still up the road (about ten minutes away, this hospital was) waiting for her taxi! I yelled ‘get another taxi!’, and he hung up. By this time, I was like ‘um, Babe, I can feel the head!’. I was on the couch, kneeling, groaning, and it was coming hard and fast.
I wanted that water, so with it barely covering me, hubby asked ‘What do I do?’. I said ‘Is it under water, is his head under water?’. And he said ‘yes, just’. I said ‘good, make sure it is under water and take photos’. Within a couple of pushes, our little man was born. Barely a water birth … and a little blue. Covered in vernix. Nothing scary, I just held him close, spoke calmly to him, clearing his airways and rubbing him to get him to breathe. Within a few seconds, he had … and that was that. He uttered a few cries and then snuggled in.
One hour and twenty minutes that had all taken!
Again, it was so fast and I had NOT expected to birth him alone in my lounge! So I think I was a little in shock again. We wrapped him up. It’s so, so, so important to keep them warm, so I got out and had him against me, skin-to-skin, with a towel around us. Soon after that, the midwives arrived, and the doula … and I birthed the placenta. We kept that on a strainer, in a bowl, and the midwives did all their checks. He was a perfectly healthy 9lb5, born around 6am-ish on his due date. How about that!
Our big boy woke up soon after, and came down stairs; we showed him the baby and he said ‘cool … Wiggles?’. Super not interested.
A friend came and took Dylan for the day, which was lovely. We hunkered down in bed, to bond and rest. Hubby made lamb chops and steamed vegies for dinner, and it was lovely. I could almost feel the injection of iron into my system. It’s so important to eat well: nourishing, nurturing foods, to produce milk and recuperate energy.
What I hadn’t known about was after-birth pains! Oh my goodness, I thought I was having a twin or something. So painful, these cramps! Apparently, each birth, it gets stronger; and quicker births have far more intense after-birth cramps, as your uterus starts to miraculously contract back to its usual size. My goodness! My doula made lots of marigold tea and helped me process my annoyance at the midwives for not arriving in time. I was sort of mad with everyone for not making it a priority. I had told them I had a quick first birth, second is usually quicker, and both my mum and nan had had thirty to sixty minute births, but still he was okay, I was okay, so it was all okay.
The placenta was treated, wrapped in a diaper, and then a swaddle cloth, and kept on top of Jaxon’s stomach. Jaxon was a very peaceful baby. He seemed to like the comfort of that placenta on his stomach, as it was all he had known. It was like having a warm hot water bottle or a fave teddy, he seemed soothed by it. He wrapped his fingers in the umbilical cord and slept well. Day 7, it fell off – much the same as your umbilical cord does – and healed perfectly. It was like he felt ready to be Earth-side, he was more alert. He had had a very quick birth but a gentle “Welcome to earth” sort of experience, and that was what I wanted to see for myself. The benefits of that cord blood have been extensively researched and it’s a no-brainer to delay cutting the cord, at least until it stops pulsating; but the psychological or emotional benefit of the cord detaching naturally was amazing to witness. Also, no one knew. I know people get judgey or weirded out, so we didn’t tell everyone. When people came over for a cuddle, I just told them to keep him in the cradle hold, and it was in his sleeping bag, so no one was any the wiser, until I told them. They asked all the usual questions and I could say ‘well, can you smell anything? No, just lavender. Well, there you go’. And it’s better for him … so, it went as well as these things can go.
I think it’s important we as mums do what feels right for us, and it’s important to research things for ourselves. If you think your family and friends won’t understand things like this (eg, breastfeeding for two to three years), then just don’t tell them!
I also believe in baby-mooning/bonding as a priority, while milk comes in and really holding what I call the fourth trimester as a sacred, quiet time. Not worrying about getting back to work, or getting back into your pre-baby jeans, or going to a million Baby Einstein amazing playgroups, etc. Just bonding and resting and recovering. This greatly increases your milk supply, helps discover your routine, and reduces the likelihood of anxiety and depression. Make cuddles, sleep, eating right and quality time with other family members your priorities. Don’t worry about baby weights and development. Most of the stuff new mums stress about are completely ridiculous in a long-term view – we are all going to be more on level by time we are 5 … I know mums who were worried their babies weren’t growing. They were 5 ft 5″, comparing to me a nearly 6 ft lady, with a 4.33 kg baby at birth! Of course their baby was smaller! It’s silly how we stress about these things. By all means get the usual checks, but don’t take everything so to heart. Medical checks are so often generic and designed by some predominantly male board somewhere, not by us live, real, individual mamas, “on the ground”, “in the trenches”. It’s tough enough without comparison.
Next time: my first Aussie baby, and first girl! And what an experience it was!
Keep following the series to read about Hannah’s third birth! Next week, we’ll hear from the fabulous Emma! If you have a positive birth story you’d like to share, please email email@example.com for more info.
Hannah is a nurse, doula and holistic life coach for stressed-out-mamas-who-can’t-quite-seem-to-get-that-work-life-balance-thing-down-pat! She is a mum of three energetic, fun loving, outdoorsy home schooled kids: 9¾, 7 and 2. She loves reading and learning, dancing to 90’s R&B with her kids, running workshops, meeting new friends, and helping families find a peaceful balance … Oh, and the beach!
Her website is being re-branded and logo-ified, which is daunting/exciting! But you can follow some of her musings on Instagram (@lovethosepics) and Facebook (The Peaceful Mama). If you want to see her newer direction, Acquired Elements, her new website will be launched in November and will include competitions, freebies, and bespoke retreats.
Blog: Coming Soon!
Mini Mummi Blogger is a first time mummy to a beautiful baby boy. Currently on maternity leave, she is looking to put her writing/publishing experience to good use through her blog, helping other mummies navigate through the wealth of often conflicting (and, sometimes, even discouraging) information out there about pregnancy and motherhood. She believes that every mummy knows what’s best for her own baby – even first time mums!
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