BIRTH | ALIANA QUINN | PRETORIA BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER
The birth of our second child: Aliana Quinn.
Naturally I was scared the second time around because I knew what to expect. Our first child was also a natural birth but lasted 24 hours and ended up with a vacuum and second degree tear.
I spend a lot of time reading PainFreeBirth on Instagram and using the Christian Hypnobirthing app. I felt a lot more prepared for this birth
Two weeks before my due date I started losing my mucus plug, but at the time I did not realise it, as there was no bloody show. With my first labour I lost my mucus plug and my water broke hours before he was born. That gave me confirmation that I was in labour. This time around it was a bit different.
I was getting Braxton Hicks contractions, which were pain free and was accompanied with hot flushes. Maybe once or twice a day, so I wasn’t too concerned about labour starting. At my 38 week checkup baby was still not fully engaged (which is normal in second pregnancies) and I was sure we were going to have to wait until after 40 weeks to meet her.
The morning of the birth I was feeling off. My husband had a terrible dream of the birth going wrong, so I had 4 of my closest friends stand in prayer for us that morning. I still remember telling them there is no sign of labour yet, but could they pray for a safe labour and delivery.
I had no appetite and took a nap early afternoon. At around 15:00 my stomach started acting up. I was sure I had a stomach bug as the cramping was intense and I felt a bit sick. I started realising that there was a pattern to them and started timing them. They were 5 min apart and lasting 30 – 40 sec. Literally an hour before this there were no cramps or signs of labour. My first labour progressed very slowly so this time I was sure that we had time and I wasn’t in full labour yet. Denial 😊
I texted my midwife and birth photographer to let them know I might be in labour but taking a bath to see if it slows down. After an hour in the bath the contractions were 4 min apart and getting more intense and I let the birth team know we were coming in. They are 30 minutes away
We packed some clothes and the birthing bag and off we went. The drive was slow and the contractions got stronger and closer together during the drive. They were now 3 minutes apart.
We arrive at the birth house just before 19:00 and the midwife checks me: I am 4 -5cm dilated. My husband must still go drop off our son at his mom’s house about 15 minutes away. Our midwife, Christel, tells him to hurry.
As they depart, I feel the need to vomit and my incredible birth photographer, who is also a qualified doula I might add, whips out some peppermint oil and makes me sniff it. This gives me instant relieve from the nausea. No more vomiting after that.
I did not want to get into the bath too early as I didn’t want to stall my labour, so I was bouncing on the ball, doing small lunges on the steps, getting counter pressure from my midwife, and listening to the Christian Hypnobirthing tracks. The contractions were intense, but manageable and I could not talk through them.
At 19:35, 45 minutes after arriving I get into the bath. The most comfortable position for me at this point is on my knees and my head resting on my arms on the side of the bath.
Christel checks me and I am 9cm dilated. Yes, the standard 1cm per hour is not true for all labours!
The water starts feeling cold and they boil the kettle to add hot water to the bath. Each addition of warm water helps immensely for the pain. It’s still only myself, the midwife, and Sam, our birth photographer! They offer me words of encouragement through the surges which helps me enormously. I am in transition, unknowingly and I’m breathing through contractions and drawing into myself. It takes all my concentration to relax my body.
I get a few contractions, probably about 3 and on the third one, as the wave rises, I start bearing down slightly. I try and resist the urge but it’s impossible. Christél says “Oh, is that pressure to push?” and I nod. Sam phone my husband to say he must hurry!
At 19:55 I am trying to stall labour and Christel says that they will video call hubby because he won’t make it in time. I’m trying my best to not push… feeling the urge to bear down is uncontrollable. I don’t lift my head at all, concentrating and steadying myself with one hand on the bath floor.
20:02 I hear my husband walk in and he is next to me whispering in my ear that I can do this. The app Christian Hypnobirthing is playing away in the background giving us scripture and affirmations.
20:04 My water breaks during the contraction. It feels so odd but not painful. Christél is monitoring me and I can feel her fingers supporting the baby’s head. At this point the feeling of the baby moving down into the birth canal is very intense and I just want to close everything up and tense every muscle but I know that will increase the pain tenfold and stall the labour. It takes everything in me to concentrate and relax every muscle to allow the baby through. I could feel her head coming down and then retracting once the contraction subsides. You can do anything for 1 minute, I think to myself.
20:08 with the next contraction I bear down without trying, my body is taking over. The baby’s head is out! Oh, that ring of fire! Only for a few seconds, thank goodness.
The midwife asks me to push a tad to get her shoulders out or I need to stand up to get her out, but I say no, I’m waiting for a contraction (more like whispering it) as I know pushing now would get me nowhere. I trust my body. My baby is between worlds.
20:12 On the next contraction I push hard and her body slips out! Christel hands her through my legs to me and I grab her and lift her up out of the water. I sit back and look up at my husband and exclaim “You almost didn’t make it!!” 😊
Our little girl is crying and completely full of vernix!
She has a true knot in her umbilical cord and it’s fascinating. The knot can move up and down the cord. We do delayed cord clamping as the cord is still pulsating. The backup midwife arrives at this point. The birth was so quick she completely missed it.
When it stops pulsing, my husband cuts the cord and I get out of the bath. I start shaking from the adrenaline that was released during the quick birth. It takes a while for it to subside.
The placenta is born in the next 45 minutes – takes a bit longer because the water broke so late in the labour and the birth was so quick. They make sure they get every piece to prevent infection.
They monitor me for a few hours to make sure there is no excessive bleeding or complications and we leave around 22:30 to go home.
Our girl measures 3.975kg, 54cm, 36cm head. The birth took a total of 5 hours from start to finish.
What a miracle!
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I started losing ‘the head game’ as the pain in my back became very overwhelming and I started vomiting. If it hadn’t been for Sam who came as birth photographer but jumped in as doula to direct my husband, I think my husband would have run away at this point.
I jumped up and started cleaning the house a little, breathing through them easily using the HypnoBirthing-breathing techniques during and between surges.
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