Born at 8:28pm on Sunday 24 July 2016
Throughout this pregnancy I’d had it in my mind that Indira would be born at exactly 40 weeks, on Monday 25 July. Monday felt like a good day to have a baby and 25 July is my sister’s birthday. The pregnancy had gone smoothly although I’d really felt the tiredness this time with two children already to look after and running my own business full time. There had been a lot to get ready with the business in order to find ‘the clearing’ that I craved ready for the birth. A couple of days before, things had started to fall into place and I felt ‘ready’.
Indira’s birth was a planned home birth. She was our third child, and second home birth so I felt confident and excited about the birth. Everything had gone so well last time and we were hoping this time would be similarly smooth. We felt well supported by our wonderful private midwives, Robyn Dempsey and Jane Palmer, and I trusted my body implicitly.
An important part of getting ready involved preparing the birth space and I’d spent some enjoyable quiet time arranging the room with the birth pool, special affirmations, a birth mandala that I’d painted, candles, crystals and a birth bracelet that I’d made with the ladies on the Mother Nurture Yoga Pregnancy Retreat the previous month.
That morning my husband Kapil had taken our eldest two, Samaira and Alysha, out and I followed my urge to clean the house. I cleaned like a demon which I knew was a sure fire sign that baby was on her way soon! When he came back, Kapil suggested I get some rest. I decided to do some yoga nidra (deep relaxation, also known as yogic sleep!), meditation and visualisation. I’d been saving my special “Meditation for Induction” until I felt ‘ready’ and it felt like the right time to do it. I used it in my previous pregnancy to bring on labour and knew it was a powerful meditation. It involves going into a state of deep relaxation, releasing any fears and visualising the cervix opening, the baby descending and the birth unfolding. After doing this I fell into a very deep sleep and woke up at 3pm exactly, jumping out of bed quickly as I felt my waters break! So exciting – I knew that we were going to meet Indira very soon!
I felt a slight period-like sensation but no contractions. I was so glad I’d had that rest after my manic cleaning earlier in the day. After convincing my eldest daughter Samaira that no, I hadn’t wet my pants but the baby was coming (haha!) there was a definite air of excitement in the house. We topped up the birth pool with air and started preparing dinner so we could get the girls fed and into bed. The plan was to have the girls at home to witness the birth. We had been talking about the birth, reading children’s story books about birth, watching birth videos on You Tube and practising making birth noises so they would be familiar with what was happening. But I had also packed a bag for them in case it became too much (or in case the birth didn’t go as planned) so they could go to their grandparents’ house. As it was late afternoon and contractions hadn’t started, we just kept going with the usual evening dinner routine.
By 4:15pm contractions started very gently and I knew it was going to happen that night. While Kapil fed the girls dinner I spent some time alone in the bedroom, listening to relaxing music, timing the contractions and working through each contraction by circling my hips kneeling on all fours. I also used the ‘humming bee breath’ – a yogic breathing technique which is great for relaxing the mind and calming the nervous system. Contractions were 5-7 minutes apart. This was a really special time for me as I was able to enjoy the sensations and be very present in the labour. It all felt very manageable and dare I say it, enjoyable! The girls came into the room after dinner and we made a little video for Indira, with them saying how much they were looking forward to meeting her and practising their ‘birth noises’ with me!
At 6pm I helped Kapil to get the girls changed and into bed. By this time, I had to pause to circle my hips during contractions and although it was still quite manageable I was looking forward to having some alone time again to focus on the labour. By 6:30pm the girls were in bed and I ate some dinner then went into my birth space and lit the candles. Contractions were now 3 minutes apart and lasting 40 – 50 seconds. I texted Tara, our birth photographer, asking her to come over and we started to fill the birth pool. She arrived half an hour later and helped us to fill the birth pool – the hot water had run out so Kapil was busy boiling the kettle and pots of water on the stove. I also texted Robyn, our midwife, telling her that I’d like her to come as the contractions were getting stronger.
At 7:30pm Samaira got out of bed. She said she was too excited to sleep so she came and gave me lots of beautiful cuddles, did some colouring in on her pregnant goddess pictures and chatted with Tara. She was my little doula – stroking my head, bringing me water and giving me lots of encouragement!
I got into the birth pool and enjoyed a nice break from contractions for 5 – 10 minutes. I relaxed and focused on my birth affirmations on the wall. I started wondering if I’d got in too soon and perhaps it had made the labour slow down. Then I saw the headlights of Robyn’s car arrive and as she came to the front door I had two enormous contractions, one on top of the other. My back felt uncomfortable now and I became agitated that there was not enough water in the pool as I wanted the warm water on my back, so Tara and Kapil topped it up with more water. Robyn started asking me some questions about how I was feeling and what had happened so far. She later told me that she didn’t think I was very far along because I was chatting away and laughing with her in between contractions.
Although I was fine in between contractions, the contractions were intense and long now and I began to feel a bit overwhelmed. My back was quite uncomfortable at this point too. I knew I had gone through transition and it would be time to push soon. I felt like it was all happening too fast and I hadn’t had the chance to really focus and enjoy being in the zone as much as I had wanted to. I kept telling myself to calm down, surrender and relax my body with every breath out. That, combined with Robyn’s soothing words telling me I was ok and stroking my back really helped me. This feeling didn’t last for long though and just 20 minutes after Robyn arrived I started feeling a strong urge to push. I remember feeling a rush of adrenaline hit my body and I kneeled up high on my knees, roaring loudly during contractions. I knew I was fully open and she was coming! Robyn called Jane, our second midwife so there would be two of them there for the actual birth.
I was pushing for less than 20 minutes, moving through contractions, leaning forward over the side of the birth pool. I had planned to catch her myself so I came into a modified half squat with my right leg out to the side. The top of Indira’s head felt like velvet and came out easily in one push. Samaira came closer so she could see her sister clearly. Kapil hadn’t quite realised that the baby was half out and while we were waiting for the next contraction we all had a laugh when he caught up, realising that she was nearly here and seemed so surprised! Indira was born into my hands with the next contraction at 8:28pm. It was an amazing moment. I felt so empowered to have birthed her and catching her myself was a big highlight.
Indira had her first feed in the birth pool and was already sucking strongly! After 20 minutes we moved onto the sofa bed next to the pool and continued feeding while we waited for the placenta to arrive, which came naturally at 9:15pm. The previous two births I had had a haemorrhage and lost a lot of blood but this time there was very limited bleeding which I was really happy about. There were strong after pains though so I was given a hot water bottle and took some arnica and Panadol.
Alysha was now awake so she came out to meet her little sister and we all had some snuggles on the sofa bed.
Kapil clamped the cord at 9:30pm and Samaira was given the honour of cutting the cord which she was delighted about. Indie was weighed, measured and dressed. She was a teeny tiny 2.86kg! The room was warm and dimly lit and Indie was very calm and relaxed the whole time.
I had a second degree tear so Robyn put in some stitches then I had a quick wash before going to bed, with Indie snuggled up close. It was so relaxing and lovely to be in bed in my own home.
I was grateful that the birth went so well and I felt on such a high. Indira was born 5 ½ hours after my waters broke, and just 1 ½ hours of full labour.
A huge thank you to my birth support team – Robyn, Jane, Tara, Kapil and Samaira – for all your support during this pregnancy and birth.
I feel blessed to have little Indie in our lives. She is completely perfect – a calm and happy baby, loved by us all, and especially adored by her two big sisters!
Watch the video of Indira’s birth here. Thanks to Tara Mahoney of Motherhood in Focus for the beautiful pictures and slideshow.