Luana D’Elias Thomas became a first time mum last year. As a graphic designer she decided to launch www.getoffmyback.co.uk to help first time mums with daily positive birth affirmations. A powerful tool that helped her go from feeling weak to enjoying the rest of her pregnancy and naturally birthing her breech baby.
My Birth Story
There was an evening I felt my bump go really hard and stiff. It almost looked square. It felt super uncomfortable for a while. Little did I know that was probably when my baby decided to turn bum down.
Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 30 weeks. Meant I was now a “high risk” pregnancy. Slowly I managed to stay diet controlled.
After speaking to my midwife about my birth proposal, at 34 weeks she advised me to speak to the head of midwifery and obstetrician (who I’d see due to diagnosis). To get them on my side. As I begged her to be in the Midwife Led Unit. I wanted a natural birth without interventions.
The obstetrician was happy with my readings and agreed I was a “low risk high risk”. However, A 36 week scan had shown the baby was still breech. As a confident Hypnobirthing mum I insisted the baby would turn. Me and baby were working on it. He explained the options:
ECV (manually try to turn the baby, 50% effective)
C-section (where majority ended up)
Vaginal breech birth (sometimes this option is not given – I felt lucky)
I started to stress over it. I was desperately trying to turn baby, by doing weird Spinning Babies positions. Which just made me feel stupid. I got advice within the Hypnobirthing community that breech is not an “emergency” just a variation of normal (sounded less scary). Most importantly that “no mother would purposely put their baby at risk”. It helped me make my decision, I would decline ECV and stop trying to turn baby. Because I believed my “baby knew best” they are the ones inside and only they know what the best way out is.
Our appointment with the midwife manager, Margret, went well. She explained what and how inductions worked, she questioned about worst case scenarios, she explained what we could and couldn’t achieve. She advised they did not have the equipment needed for GD and offered a tour. After seeing both the MLU and Labour Ward rooms. It looked very similar. We compromised, I left feeling supported. Nobody was trying to sabotage our birth.
At this stage at my pregnancy my Hypnobirthing practice paid off. I could go deep into relaxation. I put a lot of work into it. My routine involved turning the main lights off. Fairy and tea lights on. Listening to relaxing piano music, with scripts my husband recorded with his voice. Simply breathing.
The biggest turning point was when my frame of mind changed by using positive birth affirmations. I believed that I could give birth easily and naturally. Instead of thinking “I’m so weak, I can’t do this” I thought “I’m so powerful, I can do this”.
At 37+1 on Saturday night I woke up with a sharp sensation and felt a POP. My waters broke. We rang the hospital they asked us to come in because of GD. The drive to the hospital was smoother than any other drives we practiced. Go dad!
At the hospital I was asked to do a vaginal examination. I declined. She kept asking. I told her to do the purple line. She continues to insist that only VE is reliable. I ended up consenting just to shut her up and make her go away (but please remember “no” does not mean “convince me”). Boy did I regret. It was very painful. (I found it worse than the second stage of labour). I was 0.5cm. The exam confirms breech position.
My contractions/surges didn’t start until around midnight. From reading our birth proposal. They told us, the doctor on call is not “confident” to deliver breech babies. We ask to talk privately and we both agree that if they are not confident. We are not confident. So we decided to go for c-section.
We were moved to a small birthing room. There we set up my tea and fairy lights on the table. Added the TENS machine on my back. It felt nice. A buzzing feeling. It was late so we both laid on the bed sideways. Cuddling. Husband tracks my surges with an app. I squeezed his hand when it started and squeezed again when it finished. The surges felt like tightenings. The thing about them is that you do have a break in between them. It gradually built up.
In the morning I tried to stay as active as possible, bounced on a yoga ball, walked around, swayed from side to side, went for pees (though it felt like waters didn’t stop) I noticed my plug finally came out. When I felt hot during surges we opened the door next to us. I took a deep fresh breath in.
By 10am surges become stronger and clustered. I listened to my pre-recorded scripts. Noise cancelling headphones help block midwives out. I am in the zone.
On a new shift, Margaret comes over to see me. I am so happy to see someone else I knew. Husband chases c-section time slot. First one was scheduled for 7am, then 9am, then 11am (other emergencies came up). I was told to not eat.
Margret was so respectful of Hypnobirthing, not once did she ask for VE, she even stroked my arm when my husband wasn’t there.
By 11am things ramp up a notch I found pacing around and hugging Andrew very effective. I place my arms around his neck and he embraces and strokes my back so gently. Endorphins flooded in. I felt loved and safe in his arms. I could see how endorphins are stronger than morphine.
We keep being postponed and I get vocally obscene. “Give me something. Ffs!!” Husband sees my frustration and goes to talk to someone. Margret strokes my arms. Her touch is also powerful. She calms me down a bit. I breathe through surges again. As she reminds me to. She’s gentle. She tells me how well I’m doing without any drugs. Though I’m begging for them with every surge. The transition phase 6 – 7cm.
Not long after this. I feel like I need to push. Laid on bed sideways as a stronger surge to push overtakes me. I shout I have to PUSH! I consent to a VE (not painful like the first). She says I am 9cm.
I’m rushed to the labour ward. Then they arrive saying “Ok, the room is ready for you now” I looked my husband deep in his eyes and I say: “It’s too late”. I realised my body is doing this.
Next thing I tell the new midwife that I wasn’t gonna lie on my back. She suggests for me to go on all fours. I accept gas and air. We play the “Colour and Calmness” script in my headphones. I enjoy the piano song I knew so well. The script is talking me through birth and I know exactly what to do. So does baby.
Baby slides calmly and gently through my body. I feel comfortable. Same sensation as a poo. It’s not scary at all. I get into a rhythm, breathe in with gas and air, breathe down with the surge, husband re-plays script, I sip water, repeat. I smile, as I wait for the next surge. I am so excited to meet my baby.
After pushing for an hour we change to a squat position. A numbness overtakes my body. So strong it empties sound. The final push felt like pins and needles but in my mind and ears. Then a flop like pressure eases. After bum baby’s legs and arms come out.
Baby’s head got stuck but they did a manoeuvre and got it out – so quickly I didn’t even realise anything happened. (Was told afterwards). She was born on Sunday at 13.47.
They place her on top of me with her red and white knitted hat in the labour ward. I watch her eyes open. She is stunning. Dark hair. So delicate. Perfect.
I felt like she knew all the practice we’d done. She and I knew it like the back of our hands. We did it, just like we knew we would.
I believe every woman deserves to have a positive birth experience. As it will have an impact on mum’s mental health from the start. So invest in yourself, book the Hypnobirthing, NCT classes, etc. Baby needs mum to be well, to be able to look after them.
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