Local mum and midwife shares her empowered birth experience at Cairns Birth Centre under the MGP model of care.
I absolutely loved being pregnant! I had waited my whole life to be pregnant and become a mother. Luckily for me, my pregnancy was relatively smooth sailing. I educated myself, read all the books, did the hypnobirthing course and tried to be as prepared and relaxed as possible. My goal during my pregnancy was to stay as positive as possible. I wouldn’t say pregnancy was “easy” for me, but looking at it in a positive light gave me a different perspective, which I absolutely believe helped!
From about 34 weeks gestation, I started my journey to “prepare for labour”. I had done research on Spinning Babies, which provided me with manoeuvres to begin practising to help my baby and I work together for optimal fetal positioning. This ensured baby was in the perfect position for birth. I also began practising my hypnobirthing techniques. This involved music, aromatherapy oil use and displaying positive birthing affirmation posters that I had made all around my home. From 36 weeks, I started drinking herbal birthing teas, regularly went for walks, bought a TENS machine, started expressing colostrum and practised perineal massaging - just to name a few.
Shannon's birth story
I actually ended up in hospital a few days before my labour commenced at 39 weeks with pyelonephritis aka a kidney infection. My entire right kidney was obstructed and it was causing agonising pain and back spasms. The urology doctors were so concerned which meant they wanted to operate immediately. But the obstetric doctors thought it was a better idea to induce my labour. I was in so much pain, it was awful! The last thing I wanted was surgery or to go into labour! Luckily for me, I knew my rights and could work with the doctors to come up with a more suitable plan to keep everybody happy. After discussion with both the doctors they agreed to keep me in hospital for pain management, IV antibiotics and to monitor me. Providing my condition didn’t get worse. I really didn’t want to be induced and I wanted more time for my body and baby to work together on their own terms! So I was admitted for two nights and my due date was getting closer.
I was 39+5 when I woke up in hospital and felt like things were “different” this day. I was having period cramp-like pains from around 11am, but I didn’t think too much of it. Maybe they were just Braxton Hicks? At around 12pm I messaged my sister asking her to bring in shampoo and a razor (because this was obviously a priority ). My hubby was working and I updated him telling him we still had heaps of time and to finish up work when he could. My sister arrived at around 2pm to find me in the shower and she said “you’re definitely in labour”. By this stage I knew the pre labour environment I had envisioned and prepared for wouldn’t be the same. Instead, I was stuck in a tiny bathroom alone for most of the day. The contractions were strong and so frequent. We messaged my MGP midwife and my husband letting them know what was going on. And I told my hubby we actually didn’t have as much time as I thought.
Until my midwife and husband arrived I continued to sit in the shower where I found I was most comfortable. I didn’t have any of my ‘labour tools’ and I felt completely unprepared! They arrived at the same time, around 5pm. My midwife checked my dilatation to find I was already 6cm and so we agreed to go to the birthing centre where I could labour more comfortably.
Once we arrived things were much more relaxing! I remained in the warm bath and my husband and sister made sure the room was exactly how I wanted! (Definitely important to go over this antenatally with your support people so that you don’t have to talk in labour!) I had positive affirmations, fairy lights, music and my favourite essential oils. It was perfect. I continued to labour in the bath until I was ready to push. For personal reasons I didn’t want to birth in the water.
My waters hadn’t broken until I began to push and once they broke my body just took over and the pushing was uncontrollable. I listened to my body and only pushed when I needed to. There was no coaching and I felt so empowered and in control the entire time. I remained on all fours during the pushing stage and at 10:53pm I birthed my baby and brought her up into my arms. My husband announced the gender as we were keeping it a surprise and the three of us shared the most unforgettable moment just cuddling and crying happy tears!
My take home advice is definitely do your research and trust your body and your baby know exactly what do. Educate yourself as much as possible and keep positive the whole way through. I chanted a mantra to myself through every contraction which I truly believe helped me to remain focused and positive throughout my labour. I also had the most incredible support team. Can’t suggest enough the importance of this. They didn’t leave my side. Giving me water, holding my hand, providing the occasional encouragement but most importantly just being a friendly face to look up at when ever I opened my eyes or came up for air! I had a birth photographer and I think every woman needs one! She captured magical moments and they will never be forgotten.
Photos: Natalie Caro