Suze shares not just one but 2 very different but equally positive induction stories:
It was never my intention to have an induction. In fact, during my 3rd pregnancy (after 2 losses) I hadn’t even thought about getting to the actual birth bit. And although I was placed in a high risk category for being curvy (which is total BS by the way, but that’s another story), the thought of not giving birth spontaneously again wasn’t on my radar. It wasn’t until I reached 36 weeks and I had a midwives appointment and the “induction” chat occurred, well, being told when I get to 40 weeks they’ll start considering an induction for me, that it started to feel like that was something I should be aware of.
I got to 40 weeks and all was gravy really, no dramas and the midwife said she’d check in with me the following week and do a sweep. Which I thought sure, yeah, why not. Lets face it, it was Christmas time, I was big and heavy and felt ready to try and get baby moving. I had done some self study of hypnobirthing and was trying all the usual ‘get baby moving’ stuff. At my 41 week appointment I was offered a sweep and I accepted, without question really. Then I had another 2 days later and another 2 days after that. It was then that my induction was booked. We didn’t question it. We were told that I wouldn’t be able to go over 42 weeks and so 2 days before the induction I had a consultants appointment and she gave me a vigorous sweep. I will say, the sweeps weren’t uncomfortable for me and I know actually for some people they are and/or triggering for various reasons. We discussed the induction in depth at this appointment. She made it clear she wanted to help encourage the onset of natural labour and so long as no meconium was present if my waters went, I would come in and have the gel and then go home. We were happy with this plan (again, we didn’t question or really know that we could decline).
On induction day, the sweeps had not led to my labour starting, we left the cats and went and attended the MDAU (Maternity Day Assessment Unit) at my local hospital. A bit of hanging around as per usual so they popped me on the monitor whilst we waited. They took a wee sample and my BP. They came back and said there was 2+ protein in my urine and also my BP was a lot higher than they were happy with to ‘allow’ me home after I had the gel put in. We didn’t question this as was firmly told they were concerned I was at risk of developing pre-eclampsia. I didn’t know much about it, but knew that didn’t sound good. We were happy to stay in but made it clear I wanted to be by a window, with a ball and to not be disturbed (we were putting some of our hypnobirthing knowledge to good use here).
I had a VE (vaginal examination) and the gel was inserted and within 45 mins, I was feeling some cramping, so I asked my husband to pop the TENS machine on so we were ready to start encouraging the endorphins that I knew from my study would help me to cope with the sensations and encourage that natural pain relief. We were moved to a window bed in a bay right at the end of the ward, and it was already quite busy. In order to make this a positive birth experience, we busted out as many hypnobirthing tools as possible: active birthing principles- I sat on my ball, keeping upright forward and open; making use of an eye mask (being on a ward, it was bright); massive headphones with my chosen relaxing music on (massive so people could see I didn’t want to be disturbed and the music was helping me to turn off my neocortex to stimulate my parasympathetic nervous system); my affirmation board, to keep me focussed and offer hints to my husband about what affirmations I liked and what my safe place was). We had also written a birth plan using visual icons too to explain we wanted to be left alone and that I would ask for pain relief if I wanted it and we wanted to use hypnobirthing techniques more than anything.
Suffice it to say, my labour started pretty quickly and progressed well (mainly as I was left alone because they were busy and I wasn’t being loud etc). In fact, I really feel using all the techniques I described, helped the induction process along and by this point I was 42 weeks, so my body had got pretty close to being “there”. We actually had to go and pester the midwives when I felt that stinging sensation. They were so busy they got a midwife over from the birthing unit, who were quiet, and soon as she approached me she recognised my behaviour and just said “lets move you over to a room shall we”. After a challenging walk, past many onlookers as it was visiting time, and several intense surges, we made it into a room and I felt the need to lean against the bed and my heel was “popping” – which the midwife recognised. It was very soon after that I hopped on the bed in an all fours position. After hardly any time, my daughter was born and caught through my legs by another midwife, who practically walked in to my bum in the air and said “oh, we’re baby catching right now”.
Although the induction wasn’t my plan, it was so positive and my labour was only 5.5 hours. I cant help but reflect that this positive experience was down to my birth partner (my husband) and the preparation we had done. We worked hard on the hypnobirthing principles leading up to giving birth but also what we were able to do during labour and birth. We were vocal to the midwives about our wishes and asserted ourselves when we needed to; which actually wasn’t that much because they were so busy, they left us alone! Understanding that we had portable tools we could use in an extremely clinical environment that would help us “combat” that.
This experience came invaluable when it came to my second induction in 2018. I again was still classified as “high risk” due to being curvy and again went post dates. I accepted sweeps again, although this time with more information and informed consent (as I was now a trained hypnobirthing teacher). The final sweep I had however, I believe broke my waters. My labour did not start. After attending hospital and having many discussions, we decided to go home and see if we could bring on labour. It did not start. When I called the unit, my waters had gone 30 hours previous and we decided to go in. Long story short, I was told my only induction option (after having a baby already) was to go on the synto drip. To be honest, I wasn’t phased by this as I knew, with all my hypnobirthing skills, an amazing birth partner (my husband) we would totally rock this induction again.
We had already firmly started to assert our rights at the start of the process when explaining I wasn’t happy to consent to VEs, I agreed to monitoring only if it was mobile and the midwife was expressly not to talk to me unless to tell me something urgent or request consent for something and I would be mobile throughout. It turned out that nothing really happened until she turned the drip up to mac 10 as I call it. The contractions and surges came like a train! The intensity of the surges at first took my breath away but my husband applied counter pressure to my rhombus of Michaelis which felt good and breathed deeply with me, until the breathing was no longer cutting it and I moaned low and loud. My heel started to pop again and just as I thought to myself “I cant do this with no pain relief, I need something” (transition people) I made that unmistakeable moo/groan/baring down grunt noise that could only mean, I was ready to assume my birthing position and the midwife spun round (she had taken my request very seriously and not spoken to me and stood in the corner like a child who had been told off, quietly observing the trace and turning the drip up when required to) and just said “ready?” and I nodded. She sprung into action lowering the bed, moving my affirmation board and assisting me in getting on all fours and leaning over the headrest., as we had put in our plan this is how I felt I might like to birth again as I felt it was really effective for my first birth. I was aware another midwife had come in the room as I heard another voice but to be honest I was so loud, I sort of drowned out any other noise. My husband was in my face, talking me through, telling me how amazing I was and then he asked to go down to the bottom end (how cute, of course he could), and he was ale to witness our second daughter (we didn’t know at the time) emerge. I felt EVERY LAST mm of her descend. I felt her rotate, I felt the fetal ejection reflex- everything! And just like her sister, she was passed between my legs so I could clutch her to my body! A very different birth to her big sisters, but equally amazing.
Everyone says you need an epidural if you have the synto drip- I actively chose not to. Not even gas and air and again I made it clear that if I wanted it, I would ask for it. I remember the midwife saying “you are a bloody warrior for having that fast labour on synto with no pain relief”. The truth is, I did have pain relief. We used EVERYTHING in our arsenal for that labour and birth. It was recorded as 1 hour and 35 mins, with 7 mins of “pushing”, though it wasn’t pushing – I wasn’t doing anything other than being very loud!
I describe both my births as immensely positive inductions, and although very different, I felt the same after each – bloody amazing and that I had contributed to their success and positive outcome. Now I understand that not all inductions feel this way for people and there is a 50% chance of an induction ending up requiring an assisted or section birth. However, I do firmly believe that if you are either preparing for an induction, for whatever reason, everything you learn on a hypnobirthing course will help that process. Understanding how your body works in birth, what hormones you need and how to encourage them, what are good positions for optimum position, what the different sensations feel like, how your partner can support you and importantly, how to assert yourself and advocate for your rights in flipping key in how you then feel about your birth experience.
You absolutely can have a positive induction – I did, twice!
Guest Blog Author - Suze Mildinhall
Suze is a mum of 2 girls and has been teachinig hypnobirthing for 6 years, initially on the side and now full time. She lives in Suffolk with her daughter, husband, cat and lazy greyhound.
She loves music, tattoos and plant based food. She describes herself as a potty mouthed, deeply empathetic, film buff who loves vampires, werewolves, zombies and Meatloaf (the man, not the actual meat loaf).
You can find out more about Suze and her services on her website Balanced Birth Hypnobirthing.