Birth Story of Isley – Maise
On Friday 20th August 2021, my partner and I went on our daily walk around the block, I was one day over my due date, little did I know this would be our last walk as a family of two.
At 10.30pm on the Friday we went to bed, I was feeling uncomfortable but nothing new. Two hours later at 12.30pm, the discomfort woke me up, I knew this was different than previous times. I tried to get back to sleep but 30 minutes later I could not lie down anymore, I needed to move my body. I had my hands on the wall and began moving my hips side to side. In the lounge I planned to use the TENS machine, my partner set this up and I tried it however found little relief. With every wave I would stand up and lean over the kitchen bench moving my hips side to side and then return to the sofa to try and rest.
My body was enjoying movement. We had planned a home birth from 20 weeks which we were so happy we did as it was three days into level 4 lockdown. My partner was getting the birth pool ready as it needed to be finished blown up and he had to get the water system set up. I was filling up pots of water to put on the stove. During my waves, I would continue to lean and move my hips, all I was thinking was “I’m fine” and using my breath, breathing out when the waves were happening. My waves became stronger at 1.10am, I was telling my partner that I did not think I could do a home birth if this was stage 1 of labour. I was also telling him to rest as we would have a long night ahead and one of us needed the rest. He decided not to as he was sure I was further along than I thought. I kept trying the TENS machine even though I wasn’t too sure if it was helping. 2.30am I passed a bowel movement which I knew that was a good sign as my body was emptying ready to birth. 3.08am the waves became even more intense, and I continued to move my body to help with the discomfort. 3.38am I lost my mucus plug. My waves were 5 minutes apart.
We decided to time my waves so we could tell the midwife as we were not timing them just making note of them. 4.05am and we decided to call our midwife. She was telling me to get into the water and see how the waves were. Once I told her I had the urge to push and had all the pressure in my bum she said she was on her way. I got into the pool at 4.15am which was the best feeling, it helped with the discomfit. My partner was putting hot towels on my lower back as I was leaning over the side of the pool. Our midwife arrived at 4.35am, she told us baby would not be far away, she did not do any vaginal checks on me. She called the second midwife as soon as she arrived. I knew this was a good sign and not long to go. I was able to rest and stay calm in between each wave. My partner was on the outside of the pool cuddling me through each wave and putting pressure on my lower back. He was saying encouraging words and affirmations that I had used throughout my pregnancy. I used Hypnobirthing breaths. With each wave I pushed and then relaxed once the wave had stopped. With each wave the midwife was checking baby’s heartrate which was stable, this helped me to stay calm, I knew baby was doing well. 5.34am our midwife could see babies head, our second midwife arrived at 5.34am. 5.40am babies head was out and with a few more pushes at 5.43am, our beautiful baby girl was born. My partner was able to catch her and pass her straight to me, he then got into the birth pool with us, and we were able to have cuddles together. I announced her gender as we did not know what we were having. Welcome to the world, Isley-Maise Tasman West. At 6.00am she was feeding with her eyes open. My partner cut the cord once it had stopped pulsing.
The whole experience was amazing, we had such a smooth birth, and it went better than we could have expected. The whole birth was only 5 hours and for a first-time mum, wow! The amount of love you have for your baby once they are born is so intense and I was not expecting it so strongly. We enjoyed being a family of three while the sun was rising, our midwife left at 8.30am. Isley-Maise was 3.16kg and 50cm, she is so precious. Our birth left me feeling so empowered and strong. I was proud of what my body and mind were capable of. Home birth was the best decision we made as we were in control of our environment and all decisions were made by us the whole way.
From finding out I was pregnant; my aim was to ensure my body and mind were at their best for our pregnancy journey & birth.
Physically I made sure I kept my body moving, I attended yoga from 12 weeks, went on daily walks & swimming. Moving my body felt good and eased any pains I had. Some days I really did not want too but I knew I would feel better afterwards. After 30 weeks I started to do forward-leaning Inversion & bouncing on a Swiss ball. At 37 weeks we started perineal massages, this was to help encourage stretching & ensure no or minimal tearing. We practiced birth positions so we had an idea of what I might like. I was also having acupuncture; this was for varicose veins & at 37 weeks we started to prepare my cervix for birth.
Mentally we attended lots of different courses to gain knowledge and increase our confidence. I listened to podcasts on different topics. I created affirmations which were in places all around our house & in my car. I listened to affirmation playlists and relaxations each day. We were lucky enough to win a Hypnobirthing course, this made a HUGE difference to my mind set but needed a lot of practice. Most nights Matt would read a script for relaxation or to release fears. We practiced different breathing techniques. I did attend a one to one for Hypnobirthing as I had some fears that I wanted to get over before birth, I highly recommend this. All this took time & patience but putting in the work was worth it. This was not a solo effort; it was important for Matt, my partner to do all this so he was prepared for birth to support me. I do believe that all of this preparation and work during the pregnancy that we put in helped with our labour and birth journey.
From having such a positive birth, I was not expecting to be dealing with postnatal anxiety. With being in lockdown for the first two weeks, this increased my anxiety due to the uncertainty. I started to isolate myself and did not want people around us just in case (after lockdown), this put a lot of pressure on us with being first time parents and not having a clue. Pre-birth I had planned for visitors to help with other chores such as cleaning and cooking food so when we had to do it all ourselves it was a lot harder than we had anticipated. I started to overthink, I was convinced something was wrong with Isley-Maise or something bad was going to happen. It was all a guessing game. I normally like to be in control, and I was definitely not in control of anything.
I spoke with my midwife at our 5week visit and she suggested going to the GP. My GP and I decided I would get some counselling as there were free services at my clinic. I went for my first session which was good to have one hour to talk though my thoughts and accept this is normal. I also joined Playcentre “Babies Can Play” which was great to be around other mums and know they felt the same and it took the pressure of what I “should” be doing. There is so much information out there that is overwhelming, and you never know what information to follow. I attended another counselling session as I started to have disliking thoughts against myself and compare myself to others and being a bad mum, this was at 6-week PP.
After the session I felt thar I needed more than just counselling and went back to my GP. We decided to try me on anti – depression tablets which I really did not want, as I have been able to manage my anxiety pre pregnancy and the thought of having the medication was that I have failed. After just two weeks on the medication, I knew it was the right decision for my mental health and our family, I started to enjoy motherhood and it didn’t feel like I was completing tasks. I was able to clear my mind and filter through any unwanted thoughts. I feel less overwhelmed when things are not going well and not over thinking what I am doing as a mother. Isley-Maise seems to be more settled, and our home is filled with happiness…most days. I still have down days, but I am able to pick myself back up a lot easier than before. My overall feelings around this, is there should be more awareness, I know postnatal depression is touched on in classes but more information during pregnancy needs to be highlighted, not once did I think I would feel the way I did. During pregnancy, my mind felt the best it ever has so after birth when my anxiety heightened it was such a shock.
Now at 12 weeks postpartum, I am more like myself each day. I love being a mum most days and it’s a journey that is always changing and I have found it is better to embrace it all and not worry about the small things as it is all just a phase. I am so lucky to have a supportive partner and the benefit of lockdown is that he has been able to work from home since the lockdown which has help massively with my mental health. I would love for more women to feel confident in their body for a home birth and to be aware of how important postpartum is as the changes happening can be overwhelming.