First baby born early at 34 weeks. Natural birth in hospital.

Aslan born 23 August 2011

I always knew that I didn’t want my pregnancy and birth to be unnecessarily ‘medicalised’. I felt that choosing an independent midwife as my primary caregiver throughout my pregnancy would be the best way of ensuring that my experience of pregnancy and birth would be more holistic and natural rather than medical.

To prepare for the birth, my husband and I did birth preparation classes with a wonderful midwife, whose view of labour and childbirth was completely aligned with what we desired for our birth experience.  We also did a Hypnobirthing course, which taught methods of relaxation that were invaluable during labour. Hypnobirthing also helps women to believe in the natural ability of your body to birth a baby, and to eliminate the fear that is associated with childbirth. Besides the classes we chatted a lot about our expectations and what we hoped our birthing experience would be like.

Shukri and I were sitting on our couch at home discussing whether to have a home waterbirth rather than the hospital birth we were planning, and it was during this conversation that my waters broke at 33 weeks! This meant that my baby was coming very early, and that neither a homebirth nor a waterbirth were an option anymore. I went to the hospital immediately and stayed there until my baby was born (at 34 weeks).

Aslan’s birth was an amazing, life-changing experience… Despite the complications of premature delivery, I was still able to have the birth I’d been hoping and planning for, and I’m so grateful that I did. My contractions started at about 11am. I used the relaxation techniques I’d been practising to breathe through the contractions. Shortly after 12pm I was 3cm dilated and my obstetrician called Angela to the hospital.

From then, Angela and my husband were the only people around for the rest of the labour. I sat on a birthing ball initially and rested my head on the bed. I felt really tired. During contractions, either Angela or Shukri rubbed my back. I moved onto the bed, leaning over the upright top end of the bed, and my baby was born in this position. When his head crowned, I remember Angela telling me that he had lots of dark hair. I was so happy to hear that and I couldn’t wait to meet him. He was born at 17.22, and after just a few minutes on my chest he was taken to NICU to be taken care of.

I loved my birth experience, it was peaceful and calm, exactly as I’d hoped for.

For my husband it was the most amazing experience. He tried to be really tuned in to what I needed throughout the labour, and was tasked with timing my contractions. He said that the instant our son was born, his new family became his biggest achievement. His advice for dads is to appreciate the beauty of the birthing process, and to support your partner in whatever way she needs during labour.

The best part was holding my baby in my arms for the first time, while he was still covered in all his baby goo, and with his umbilical cord still attached.

We might consider a home birth, but otherwise all I hope is that I carry the next one to term… The only part of my son’s birth that I wish had been different was due to his prematurity. I wish I’d had more time to spend with him and my husband as a new family, instead of having him rushed off to NICU.

The best tip I can give is make sure you’re mentally prepared for the birth. Ensure that you are happy with your caregivers, and that they are prepared to help you have the birth that you really want.

Angela The Midwife