Ascia joined MummyNatal as a trainee teacher in 2014, and teaches classes in Middlesex. When Ascia became pregnant with her third baby in November 2015, she felt fortunate to be able to be able to use the MummyNatal practices for her own pregnancy and birth.
Here is her story, in her own words!
I was able to teach MummyNatal sessions late into my pregnancy, which was fantastic, as I really got a feel of the practices being pregnant myself. I was so excited to be able to use what i had taught during my own labour.
As my estimated delivery date approached, i was becoming anxious. I found reading other positive birth stories really helped, and one I read several time was Steph’s (MummyNatal founder) story of her birth last year. It really helped calm my nerves.
My last birth had gone smoothly at home, two and a half years ago. And i was planning another home birth. I had agreed to a sweep with my last pregnancy, based only on the reasons that i didn’t want to get to a stage where i had to be induced. I was only 40+1 when i was offered the sweep, which i accepted. I absolutely hate internals and a sweep is so uncomfortable for me, that this time i decided i was going to refuse and let nature take its course.
At my 40 weeks appointment I was dreading the ‘induction talk’. In my last pregnancy, they said at 40 weeks they would be looking to book my induction
My lovely home-birth midwife didn’t even mention induction this time, I was so happy. I had made it very clear that i didn’t want any interventions unless medically necessary, and i was quite happy to go over the 42 week mark if the baby wasn’t born by then. My midwife assured me that they would fully support my decisions and provide the monitoring required if the need arose.
During my MummyNatal training we had talked a lot of the risks of induction, and the cascade of interventions. I knew the risks of inducing labour and the complications that this could bring, I really feel it was this training that gave me the confidence to refuse induction and really understand the process & believe in my body.
However, at 41 weeks we had the induction talk. It was a new midwife I had not met yet, and she explained, as it was my 3rd baby, if i had to be induced, they would just break my waters. So I said but what if that doesn’t work? She said then we will hook you up to a hormone drip to start your contractions. I said well then I may need pain relief, or the baby may go into distress…there was no way, unless medically necessary, that i would agree to go down that road. I was too well informed to be scared into, or pressured into, inducing my labour.
At 41+4, at around 5am, I felt very mild tightnings, but I was so sleepy I though i was dreaming! I decided at 7am i would stay in bed as long as possible to rest. But by 7.30am I was confident I was in early labour as the contractions were coming every 15 minutes. At this point i just focused on my breathing, and also realised the for me it was the sound of my breath that helped me to focus. I hadn’t realised this through my teaching. I found it very calming.
My husband got my two kids ready for the day. He left home at 8.30am, at which point i put on my MummyNatal music, kept the blinds drawn, and just tried to relax. The contractions were coming every 10 minutes or so, and were becoming stronger. I also had a show, so i was sure this baby was coming today!
I rang the home-birth team around 9am, just to let them know I was in early labour. I also told them i didn’t need them yet but would call when I felt things were really happening. I didn’t want to be observed and just wanted to be alone in my dark room, calm and relaxed.
Some how, at 10am I fell asleep.I knew this meant that my labour would come to a halt,. But the same had happend in my last labour, and I knew this was my body’s way of having a break before the real work began. So I just went with it….I slept for almost 2 hours!
I awoke at midday, and as anticipated, everything had stopped.
I decided to walk around the house and then get onto my birth ball. However, I have always had to labour standing up, so when the contractions kicked in again, i was leaning against the chair, and using my ball for the rest periods in between, rocking, pelvic tilts and figure of 8 to help the baby move down. I also found these very soothing. From my MummyNatal teaching, I was very aware of the rest periods and how important they are, so I made the most of each one.
Around 2pm my midwife phoned to ask how it was going, and I asked her to come over with some gas and air. I had never used this before, but had heard great things and wanted to give it a go.
The contractions were picking up pace, and i found I really had to focus on getting through each one. I began using the count from 1 to 10 MummyNatal exercise at this point, one I always knew I would use….I just knew this one was for me! And as I imagined, it worked brilliantly. When I had a really intense contraction, and it lasted 8 seconds, it really prepared me for the next one, In my mind, I was telling myself its only 8 seconds. It also provides a great distraction and helped me focus and concentrate on something other than the intensity of the contractions.
Once my midwives arrived I gave the the gas and air a go….wow!!! That stuff is AMAZING!!!
The midwifes were so lovely, they didn’t talk in my birth space, unless i wanted to talk. They didn’t ask for any of the lights to be turned on, they just let me be and do whatever my body wanted to do. At this point i was chatty in between my contractions and was enjoying them being there. I had the same midwifes throughout my pregnancy, so i knew then personally which made such a huge difference!
Not once did the midwifes ask to examine me or intervene in any way at all, I had already told them earlier in my pregnancy that I wanted to avoid any internals etc as i just have real disliking of them. They are so invasive and I feel they are unnecessary as I know how my body is progressing and the midwife can tell just by watching me how far along I may or may not be.
I was also told that the baby was very very low, and all that could be felt above my pelvis was the baby’s neck. (this was checked by feeling my tummy)
Around 4pm, I found that even between my contractions I seemed to be getting no relief. The pressure in my bottom was so strong and I was finding I was not getting any rest periods, The midwife said the baby was so low, which was why I was having no relief. In addition to this, I could actually feel the baby bouncing on my waters….and with each contraction I could feel the pressure, like a balloon, really tight, needing to be popped!
I was still using the count from 1 to 10 excersise during each contraction, which were now very intense and coming every couple of minutes. And it really helped, it helped me to remain calm and cope with the intensity. In between my contractions, I just breathed, deep and loud, listening to the sound every time.
Around 5pm I started to feel so exhausted. I had expected the baby to be born by now, and I actually said to my midwife ‘why isn’t the baby coming’? They were just amazing, and reassured me i was doing really well and the baby would come when its ready. I knew that it was my waters that needed to go, after which the baby would be born. The baby bouncing on the waters with each contraction was a really strange feeling, one which I cannot explain. But without being touched or examined, I knew that as soon as the waters went my baby would be born….I guess I was just very in tune with my body.
And then I remember, the MummyNatal tree meditation popping into my head.I began imaging myself as the tree and no matter how intense the pressure, how strong the contractions, my roots were keeping me firmly rooted to the ground.
Giving birth can be an out of body experience for me, and there are times when it is very overwhelming and its very easy to lose control or panic. But i found the MummyNatal practices i had learnt and taught kept me so calm, focused and in the here and now. During the labour, the midwifes commented on how calm (and quiet) I was.
By 6pm I had knelt down on all fours and was leaning against the sofa, I was exhausted. The entire labour so far had been leaning on a chair and i was just so tired.
The midwife rubbed my lower back, and told me she could feel the baby head low down in my back, i think she said in my sacrum. She could feel the bulge which she said showed that my labour was progressing really well. She did, however, at no point, offer to break my waters for me. My friends often ask me now ‘well why didn’t they break your waters?’ Yet even in those final stages of labour, i knew exactly why they wouldn’t offer to do that, nor did i want such intervention. I knew of the problems this could cause.
All of sudden at 6.20pm, i felt a loud pop and warm water gushed all over my legs and soaked my pyjamas. I felt relief from the pressure which had been so strong for the last 3-4 hours and a sudden urge to bear down. No one in the room saw that my waters had released. After a few minutes the midwife saw that I was pushing, and asked me ‘have your waters gone’ I just nodded as I couldn’t communicate with her at that point.
I stayed in the all fours position, leaning on the sofa, as I felt the head being born at 6.30pm. Again, from my MummyNatal training I knew of all the advantages of giving birth upright, and its amazing that even in the final stage of labour, I was very aware that this. I felt the midwifes hand on my perineum, and although it felt a little odd, I knew she was trying to prevent any tearing. The head was born slowly, followed by a small break, and the body followed slowly just a minute later. The actual birth took under 10 minutes.
My baby was here.
However, i didn’t get the relief that I was expecting. After my last two births, as soon as the baby was born, it was total relief and all i did was concentrate on the new arrival. This time however, I was still in pain and the pressure was still so severe…I thought am i still in labour??
The baby was placed on my chest, and I reminded them I didn’t want the cord cut until all the blood had drained. We checked the baby,and it was a boy….we had kept the sex a surprise.
But I couldn’t focus on the baby as I sat there with my eyes closed not understanding why I was still in pain.
Around 20 minutes later, i delivered the placenta, whilst sitting on my living room floor. The midwifes commented at how quick it had been delivered considering I had a natural third stage. I find the placenta amazing and we all sat there staring at this organ that had nourished and grew my baby for all these months.
The midwife noted the placenta looked so red and healthy, and it wasn’t grainy or grey, considering i was almost two weeks over my given due date. This just reinforced the fact that an estimated due date is just that…an estimate!
Once the placenta was delivered , I could relax and felt now my labour was over. I had cuddles and kisses with my new baby born, and he had his very first feed.
The cord was white when we cut it, around an 60 minutes after the birth (maybe a bit longer). We soon saw I had baby poo all over my leg, so the first pictures show my newborn, still attached to the placenta, with a beautiful white cord…and him covered in black poo. Talk about birth in all its natural glory!!!
He weighed 8lb 2oz, which surprised me, as I am quite small and compared to my previous births, that is quite a big baby. But he was healthy and perfect in every way and I was over the moon that everything had gone so well.
Next came the bit I dread the most…the internal to check if I had any tears. I asked if they could just check visually, but they said no it has to be an internal exam. Thankfully, I had no tears or any damage, and the examination, much to relief was over in a few seconds. I’m sure I pushed the midwifes hand away a few times! I think the fact that i managed to remain so calm, in my own home, in my own chosen birth environment, and giving birth upright, were the reasons I gave birth with any tearing.
The birth was the most AMAZING experience of my life….it was more intense than my last birth (which was also at home and also amazing) but I felt all the decisions i made were so well informed. I had the confidence to refuse any procedures i didn’t want and was able to just let my body take control.
I definitely feel MummyNatal training and teaching, helped me to stay calm and focused throughout the labour….as well as educating me in knowing that its my birth and everything is my choice!