Charlie’s Birth – A room full of peace and love…some people don’t believe me

Hi Nadine

Just reporting on the beautiful birth of Charlie Gregory Jonach! He was born this morning at 1.30am in a room full of peace and love and I credit that to the amazing She Births preparation we did.

Thank you for your inspiration and love. Xxxx

Here is our birth story:

I credit She Births for the amazing birth we had for our son Charlie.  I feel lucky to say that Charlie was born into a room filled with calm, peace and love.  Throughout the pregnancy, I yearned for knowledge about birthing and so read the works of Ina May Gaskin and Grantly Dick-Read.  These readings helped to arm me with important knowledge about natural, calm and fearless labour- principles which SheBirths expertly teach.  My husband and I attended the SheBirths course and came through it feeling a lot more prepared for birthing.  We enjoyed how the course demonstrates the physiological side of birthing and explains how a woman’s body is perfectly designed for the process of labour.  After the course we both gained trust that, within my own body, we already had all that we needed to have the perfect labour.  We also enjoyed learning some valuable techniques to use in the months before labour and during birth including comprehensive breathing practices, yoga positions, acupressure, visualisations, optimal diet and meditation.

In the month before our due date, I became a lot more focused on the journey ahead.  I did daily yoga, meditations, walks with affirmations, lots of rest and kept to a nutritious diet with lots of dates (the fruit!).  These things helped keep me grounded and ready to give birth.  In the days before Charlie came along, I had increased Braxton Hicks and felt the need for more rest.  I was happy to slow down and to be more mindful about the little life inside me about to burst forth! Labour began at around 6pm on Tuesday the 23rd of June.  During that day, I experienced more intense Braxton Hicks, not painful, just a regular tightening of my tummy.  My husband, Chris and I went for a long walk in the afternoon and then came home to left-over eggplant parmigiana (an induction recipe that SheBirths will give you!) When dinner was finished, my tummy ‘tightening’s’ were happening much more regularly and intensely.  I started walking around the room and rocking on a fitball to help relieve the pressure.  Chris and I weren’t really sure if this was ‘it!’  I rang my sister Joey to ask her if she thought this was labour! I talked to her through a ‘tightening’- she said “Kate, you are in labour- go to the Birth Centre!”.  Jo had experienced quick labours and so was sure that the baby’s birth was imminent! I rang the Birth Centre and the mid wife said to take Panadol and lie down- no way could I lie down!!!  I decided to take a bath, but I had to flip over on all fours every time a contraction occurred.  Again, this wasn’t at all painful, just a strong feeling deep in my tummy.  I was playing Nadine’s visualisation during my bath and also practising deep breathing.  It actually felt good!!  Chris timed the contractions and they lasted about a minute and were two minutes apart. At this point, Chris decided that we should go to hospital, even though neither of us were convinced that this was labour, perhaps because we were both so calm.  The car trip was fine- I was in the back of the car with my knees on the floor and my arms on the back seat.  I breathed deeply and closed my eyes.  I remember looking up at one point to see where we were, and we were almost at the hospital- I think Chris zoomed there!

When we got the hospital, we both calmly walked in the front entrance and up the lift to the birth centre.  I was hugging Chris in the lift during a contraction…. We still weren’t actually convinced that this was labour because it all seemed so peaceful. We looked at each other and laughed and said “I’m sure they are going to send us home- how embarrassing!”  I remember getting to the Birth Centre and almost feeling like I had to fake being ‘in pain’, because we both just strolled in with huge smiles!!  The midwife, Pauline, examined me and I think we were all surprised because I was 7cm dilated!  This was 9pm.  So we had got to 7cm in just three hours, and all the while practising SheBirths techniques. I was elated.  It now felt real!

Pauline prepared a bath for me and by this time, my mother had arrived.  I remember that by this stage, I now needed to take my attention more inward and I could no longer focus on anything or anyone but my own body and thoughts.  The contractions became more intense, but again, I couldn’t even the use pain to describe it.  Just an intense feeling in my tummy and lower back.  During a contraction, my mum held my hands and said “these feelings are telling you the baby is coming” and Chris pushed firmly on my lower back and said “breathe Kate”.  It was such a team effort.  My mums words and actions helped to remind me that each surge was bringing the baby closer, and Chris’ words helped to keep me in the present and to focus.  Pauline had such a gentle and quiet presence.  She measured the baby’s heart beat at different intervals through the labour and kept saying how amazing she thought the baby was- she said the heartbeat was so calm, steady and constant.  This gave me so much strength.  Looking back on it now, I feel that the baby knew that he was safe, because there was not even a hint of fear or stress in the room.

I got out of the bath to try a new position.  The baby was deep inside my pelvis and ready to born- we even though the baby could arrive before midnight, but it took some convincing to bring him out!  The ‘pushing’ stage ended up being longer than anyone anticipated- around about two hours.  I ‘breathed the baby down’ as described in the SheBirths course and Chris reminded me to take deep ‘J’ breaths….I just needed to find the right position! Rocking on all fours on the ball felt the best.  I also tried squatting.  In the end, Pauline suggested lying on my back.  I thought she was crazy at first because I didn’t trust that this would feel good, but I was happy to give it a go.  I lay against a bean bag and it actually felt great! This surprised me because I really didn’t think I would end up labouring in this position- but it was in this position that Charlie was born.

Up until this point, I remember being able to cope very well with each surge but now they got really intense.  I went through a small ‘transition’ period in my head and I asked Pauline- ‘how far away is my baby?’.  When she said that he was so so close, I got so much strength.  Not long after this, My baby’s head began to crown and I remember reaching down to feel the top of his head.  This gave me another boost and I knew it was time!  I remember the pushing at this point was actually a relief, it wasn’t painful at all- it was just an incredible feeling!  Here was my baby making its way through the birth canal! Even though I felt so exhausted, there was also this incredible feeling of strength and determination.  The baby’s head emerged and turned towards its dad.  With hardly a push from me, the baby came flying out!!  Everyone was laughing because they almost didn’t catch him.   There was so much love present.  Pauline held Charlie up to me and I remember calling out “Hello, hello, hello!!”.  He was put on my tummy and I remember seeing that he was a boy!  He had come out so fast that Chris hadn’t time to check the sex of the baby.  His skin against mine felt so amazing and I just cuddled him close.  It all felt like a miracle, there was so much joy.

We wanted to have a physiological third stage, but Charlie needed some oxygen as he wasn’t breathing as well as Pauline would have liked.  Chris stayed with Charlie and talked to him and touched him as he was given some oxygen and then he came straight back to my chest.  He had his hands over my breasts and soon he found the nipple and began to suck.  I remember looking down at my little boy and feeling like the luckiest person in the world.  We spent this time just observing everything about him.  During the pregnancy, you have 9 months to become acquainted with this little person but there is nothing like actually seeing and hearing them for the first time.  I remember feeling so blessed and proud of what we had achieved and being amazed that the baby, and my body, knew exactly what to do.  All we had to put in was faith.

People ask me what the birth was like and my immediate response is- “It was amazing, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever been through”.  It’s amazing how people react when I tell them how great the birth was – some don’t believe me, some think I’m crazy, some think I’m lying, one person tried to convince me that I obviously wasn’t really ‘telling all’ or that I must have forgotten!!  They look at me like I have two heads when I say that I want to re-live Charlie’s labour.  I wish I’d videoed it now so that I could ‘go back’ to re-live some of the special moments. I feel sad that other woman have such negative feelings going into labour, and also have negative feelings about the births that they have had.  I wish every woman could feel positive and excited for birth.  Of course there are instances when interventions occur, but this should not detract from feeling positive and empowered by the birthing experience- for whatever way your baby emerges into the world.

My husband and I weren’t afraid of labour.  Instead, we were actually excited, curious and prepared.  My immediate family, who had also had incredible birth stories, including my mother, gave us so much strength and faith that labour could be something magical.  Whenever I talked to my mother, who had 6 natural labours, she always responded with such positivity about birth.  She remarked that during each labour, she focused on the little gift of life she was about to receive and how she breathed throughout.  My sisters and cousins also talk of their powerful birth experiences.  This foundation helped me feel like I was about to embark on my own rite of passage as a woman, and that I had the love and strength of all the women who had birthed before me- I was just another one in the long line!  This is why SheBirths is so important.

Kate