Welcoming Toula into the world
Updated: Apr 4, 2022
42 weeks gestation | Positive Home Birth | Fetal Ejection Reflex | Second Pregnancy | Previous Induction
Throughout my first pregnancy I begin slowly curating my social feeds with pregnancy, birth and postpartum educators and specialists. I know the power of adjusting what you consume and I wanted to make it as positive as possible. I've learned a lot and reflecting on my second pregnancy and Toula's birth I realise that whatever you believe an experience will be like really does impact how it will unfold. If you consume stories of pain and fear, from the media or from other peoples stories and you come to believe that this is how birth is then it is very likely that will be how your birth experience will unfold.
Pregnancy gives us 9 months (or more if you are planning and educating pre conception) to educate ourselves and get ready for what is literally one of the biggest days, if not, THE biggest day of your life. You will never forget your birth experience. How many other days in your life are like that? A wedding, either your own or one of a close loved one might be up there. A special holiday. Graduation. First day of a job. Maybe. The list isn't that big really. Take the wedding - think about the resources - the precious resources of time and money in particular that went into it - a lot right. If you approach your birth with a similar commitment to investment, support, research and education you will be on the path to creating your own experience. That experience can be the most empowering, transformational and life changing moments. It was for me. Let me tell you more about it.
My first pregnancy in 2017/2018 with Calla was for the most part, enjoyable. In hindsight there was a lot of stress involved. Stress that I was able to handle, so at the time didn't really transpire as stress that would affect me, my pregnancy or my baby. I had to move city - London to Glasgow, I was unsure about my employment with that move, I had to set up home with my partner, I was concerned about maternity leave pay, I experienced hyperemesis in the first trimester, ending with getting a hydration drip at a&e, I had excruciating pelvic girdle pain and finally I was encouraged and chose to have a cervical stitch from week 17 - 37. Oh man, it was a lot! But I took it one day at a time and managed without anything escalating and with clearer hindsight I can see that yes that stress carries and ripples through.
Following a birth prep workshop, we hired Jen Muir as our Doula. Knowing that we had someone in our corner, someone who was educated and informed who could help guide us when we needed it and advocate for us felt really good. I felt supported and cared for. I knew that my partner would be a great pillar of support but he has never done this before either, he is going through it too and Jen was there for him too!
From 40-42 weeks I felt the pressure of induction. Even though we had planned a home birth, I felt informed and ready I ended up choosing the indiction at 42+1. I say chose because ultimately it was my choice, we always have the choice even when it might not feel that way. It felt like coercive language, fear filled conversations, pressure to conform and like any other choice was me being irresponsible.
The induction was hard and fast and sadly I was alone in a ward for a lot of it as I laboured overnight. Jen and Greig arrived as I went to the labour suite and supported me in bringing Calla into the world a few hours later.
In the 3 years since Calla was born I began to grow Mellow Mummas, diving deep into educating myself on the physiology of birth, optimal positioning, mindset and how a yoga practice can support an empowering birth experience. My knowledge and awareness has expanded ten fold. I believe that we always do the best that we can with the information and knowledge that we have at the time, then when our awareness expands and we acquire new information, we use that for our next big decision. That is what I have reflected on with Toula's birth. Her birth experience was very different.
When I found out I was pregnant again I knew straight away I wanted to plan for a home birth again and have a doula present again. I spoke to Hollie in December, we chatted on the phone for hours about everything birth and more. I hired her the next day.
I wanted this pregnancy to be different. Physically I committed to it being different when I refused another cervical stitch. I trusted my body to carry Toula to term. I had less external stressors this time - no need to move house and set up home, much less financial stress around maternity pay and physically I committed to therapeutic and mindful movement and bodywork.
With Calla's pregnancy I thought the physical pain and discomfort I had was there to stay, I never saw it as manageable. This time round I treated pain and discomfort quickly with Massage, Osteopathic, Chiropractic and Physio treatments. I also practiced yoga, as well as teaching it. I attended strength and conditioning classes and I prepared my body with optimal positioning practices.
Hollie supported us as a family, visiting us for prenatal appointments which included birth planning, education, coaching, guidance and a little bit of tarot card reading and blending of essential oils! Hollie also brought along a birth pool and kit!
Around week 37 we blew up the birth pool and left it in our mezzanine area out the of the way. I prepped kit boxes for the home birth splitting them up into a baby box, my box and kit box. The midwife kit was dropped off at week 37 too.
I began colostrum harvesting, perineum massage and dropping into the right mindset, finished up work and wrapped up teaching yoga.
Week 38 till 42 feels like a little time warp. It is a time that is like no other. A sacred pause and a time to really listen to your body, your mind and lean on all the resources and support that you learn and gather throughout pregnancy.
Week 40 came around and again the conversation about induction came up. I was a firm no and my midwife was respectful of that. Same at week 41! This time I chose to have monitoring at day care at week 42.
At 42 weeks I really felt the pressure from care providers to take an induction. Even with education and awareness on my side I felt it. I began to doubt myself, my ability to go into labour spontaneously, to produce the necessary hormones, to relax and surrender to the process. I began to think I must not actually produce oxytocin, this baby isn't coming out on their own terms, I cant do this, I am not good enough.....
I want to stress here that even though I knew that 42 weeks is still full term, that due dates are questionable and that babies arrive when they are ready (out with emergency situations of course) I really had this downward spiral of negative thinking. That then caused me to get really stressed and anxious and of course that mindset isn't going to create oxytocin.
Around rolled 42+2 and I was letting go of my desired birth experience and I was ready to go for another option. Was that option induction or caesarian, I didn't know. I was weighing up the options. The indiction with Calla was a rollercoaster, hard and fast, I laboured for the majority of it alone on a ward. I did have a vaginal birth and I know that inductions often lead to a cascade of intervention that can lead to emergency cesarian. Do I then choose a cesarian and request it to be gentle and as baby led as possible with all the things on my birth plan (which did include a caesarian section) of delayed cord clamping, skin to skin, quiet and dimmed light environment, music , etc.
I like to be in control, steering the ship, or at least having a say in where we are going. My memories of induction last time are that I felt out of control! I really didn't want that again.
But I was 42+2 and in a bad place mentally.
So I surrendered to another option, induction or caesarian again I wasn't sure what but in my mind I had decided another way is the way.
And then with that surrender along came the first contractions! Spontaneous labour!
I was so happy!
That was around noon. I had practice contractions previously and I could feel the rhythm of these ones so I knew it was the real thing.
I timed a few to be sure and soon I was around 3 minutes apart.
I laboured easily for around 6 hours, the contractions were gentle and I was relaxed as Greig began to set up the birth pool working through a to do list on the notes app that we shared - a blessing as there was no questions of 'what do I