So, on 27 August 2014 at 11.15pm, Sebastian Joe Callander came into the world – expertly delivered by one of the infamous “Sandy Midwives” at Sandringham Hospital in Melbourne. Although I was expecting a shorter labour than with Nina I hadn’t quite expected it to be as quick or as smooth as it was. I definitely attribute much of that to a strong yoga practice throughout pregnancy (including relaxation, pranayama and mindfulness meditation – not just asana). This was helped by the Mindful Hot Yoga Teacher Training course (which I completed while pregnant) and the reading I did on yoga for labour and various mindful birthing methods (including Hypnobirthing). Here is the story…
At 6.30pm in the evening of 27 August my waters broke. I was squatting down playing with Nina and her dolly’s house when all of a sudden I felt a bit damp. At first I thought perhaps my bladder had finally decided that the weight was too much and given way but as I stood up and walked around I realised this was different. I called the hospital and as per protocol they asked me to come in to have an ECG monitor to check that the baby was ok – but no rush. I knew that it could be hours or even days before labour started so we took our time and got Nina off to her grandparents, had some dinner and then drove over to the hospital by about 8pm. During the car journey I started to have very mild contractions so started to think perhaps things might be happening.
The birthing suite was very quiet and the midwife (the amazing and no-nonsense Ann-Maree) hooked me up to a monitor. Contractions were around 5 minutes apart at this point but very mild and Seb was still asleep throughout it all so Ann-Maree said we could go home and come back in when things were further along. We had an option to stay and walk around but chose to head to the comfort of home for a while.
Now the hospital is 20 minutes drive from our house and by the time we got back contractions were stronger. I decided to jump in the bath thinking that it would be good to try out the water as pain relief with a view to requesting a birthing pool when we got back to hospital. The bath was amazing and coupled with the relaxing, focussing Ujjayi breath I felt like I was really in control. We decided to time some contractions at this point and were surprised to find that they were already almost a minute in length and 3 minutes apart (definitely calling and getting to hospital quick time!). So, I had to get out of that lovely bath, get dressed and get back in a car… boo! It was at this point that James fitted me up with the TENS machine. If I could have stayed in the water (or even stayed leaning over our bed) I don’t think I would have needed it but the thought of another 20 minutes in the car with the contractions I was now having was starting to get me panicked. I was still using the breath techniques but the TENS added something else to focus on to stop me tensing up.
In the car contractions were coming strong and fast and I was using mindfulness to go inside myself and bring full awareness to the sensations happening in my body. About half way to hospital I literally felt Seb drop down with a big contraction and asked James if he would mind possibly getting there as quickly as we could… He dropped me off at the front of the hospital, parked the car and ran back to get me up to the birthing suite. I was leaning over a bench outside and feeling a strong urge to push! We got up to the birth centre by close to 11pm and Ann-Maree was waiting for us so she ushered me into a room and I leaned over the bed. I was completely inside my body, and not really aware of what was going on around me, but I know Ann-Maree was going to examine me after the next contraction to check dilation. Observing it she changed her mind and called for towels – no time for a birthing pool.
And so Sebastian was born a few contractions after that at 11.14pm. I was squatting, leaning over the bed, James was rubbing my back and I remained fully conscious throughout. I felt Seb move down the birth canal with each contraction, rest at my perineum, before his head was born, and then he was right there being handed to me through my legs. I couldn’t believe I had him in my arms so quickly.
In the end, it was painful but I was ok with the pain, viewing it as a necessary part of the birth experience. I used my breathing and mindfulness techniques to stay focussed, relax my body and make sure my contractions were effective. I really did breathe Seb out rather than pushing on my back for an hour as I did with Nina. This could be because he was my second baby and there was more space, it could also be due to the position I gave birth in, but I think a lot has to do with the feeling of opening and relaxing that allowed the contractions to do their work in the most efficient way possible.
If I was going to have another birth (which I’m not!) then I would find a way to have a homebirth with a pool. The worst part of the whole experience was the transition to the hospital (while in transition!) but everything else was incredibly positive and empowering. So much so that I had to share my experience in this blog.
You can read more about the specific techniques I used in my post on the positive effect of mindfulness and yoga during birth.