Aurora's Birth Story
A BIRTH THAT DEMONSTRATED HOW CALM A BIRTH CAN BE.
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Birth has the ability to transform us. To change how we see things. To view the world and ourselves in a completely different light. Birth has the ability to impact not only the birth person, but also those who are witnessing that birth unfold. With every birth I attend, I find myself evolving and increasingly in awe of women and their natural power to birth. Aurora’s birth was no exception. Her birth taught me laughter, deep connection and utter serenity. Her birth also reminded me to never judge or have preconceptions about anything or anyone in birth. Birth is absolutely unique. It doesn’t fit into a box.
Often, new mums will be so excited, apprehensive and unsure about birth, that they will message and call me many times throughout the last weeks leading to their estimated due date. When will I know I’m in labour? Was that a contraction I felt? Have I lost my mucous plug? These are usually the main questions I hear, and they are all perfectly okay, valid and normal to ask. But, in Aurora’s case I barely heard from her leading up to the birth. Which, although absolutely fine, it threw me a little. When it comes to those pre-birth signs, it is commonly understood that first time mums will take a long time to get to established labour. Often it is days or even weeks of your body preparing and going through the labour motions before things actually start to happen. It is also very likely that first time mums will go beyond their due date. So when at 39 weeks, at 6am on a Monday morning, I received a text message from Aurora explaining she had lost her mucous plug, I didn’t rush to her aid. I thought, as probably did she, that things would take time and that we should both just to go about our day as if nothing had happened. And so we continued with our morning.
By 8.15am, I see a missed call from Aurora’s husband. And then a text message saying they were on their way to the hospital. Straight away I started to panic. What are they doing going to the hospital so early? This is way too soon. I could picture already the hospital telling them to go home and their dejected faces. This is often a mistake that first time parents make. Something that I believe that TV has influence society. On TV a mother’s waters will break and contractions will immediately start and are so intense you have to get to the hospital ASAP. But this is usually not the case in real life. So in Aurora’s case, I was nervous. But as I said, her birth taught me never to have preconceptions, as the next message I received from her husband soon after was “Aurora is 8cm already!”. I remember staring at my phone in disbelief. 8cm! That must be a spelling mistake. A first time mum getting to 8cm in a few hours. I had never expected that. In a phone call soon after, her husband confirmed it wasn’t a mistake and directed me to come to the hospital as soon as I could. So in the car I got, completely expecting to miss this birth. One dilemma about being a doula is you don’t want to miss a birth, but on the other hand you know and trust that if baby is coming, baby is coming. There is no stopping a baby who is ready to enter this world. Plus it’s not about me. It is about the couple and their baby.
Finally arriving at the hospital, I prepared to walk in and see baby already born. When I quietly knocked on the door, I was greeted by Aurora’s midwife. Calmly and warmly she welcomed me in and asked if I wanted a quick tour of the room and centre. This has never happened to me at a birth before. Often midwives are understandably so busy, that they don’t give me much attention. But this midwife was the exception. I believe when a mother’s support team consciously work well together, are empathetic and kind towards each other, then that mother will have a calm and confident birth. From the moment I walked into that room, I could feel everyone respectfully playing their part in supporting Aurora.
After quickly getting the tour, I went over to Aurora who was in a big white bath in the middle of the room. Leaning forward on her arms and knees, and her husband trickling water over her shoulders, I was already witnessing the serenity of this birth. Soft, meditative forest sounds and music were playing in the background. The room warmly glowed orange from the salt lamp and a diffuser was letting out a peaceful mist. The room was positive and calm - the perfect environment for birth. Each time Aurora had a contraction she would let out a soft “A surge is coming”, letting us know when to focus on the light touch and water trickles on her arms and back. Quietly breathing through every wave of contraction, Aurora would come out of each one smiling and focusing on her husband. Holding each others hands and discussing things like what their baby would look like or going to their favourite place in the snow, was beautiful to witness. This was the first birth that I have witnessed that included laughter. And what an amazing medicine laughter is! Laughter and smiling increase those birth loving hormones of oxytocin and endorphins. It also helps the mum (and dad) become distracted from what could be perceived as pain. There was even some cheeky banter happening, with Aurora warmly scolding her husband for accidentally letting slip the future name of their boy. With every bit of love and affection that oozed from this couple, you couldn’t help but smile and laugh along with them. I remember looking a the midwife at one point and her eyes spoke exactly to how I was feeling. We both had no doubt in our minds that baby wasn’t far away.
Trying a few different positions in the bath, Aurora started to say she was feeling a little “pushy”. So the midwife suggested she try sitting on the toilet. The toilet is a great place to let go and surrender, because we associate it with naturally relieving ourselves. It helps send signals to our body and mind, that it is a safe place to relax, which in turn helps you open and allow baby to come further down. After a little time on the toilet, Aurora instinctively wanted to go back to the bath, as she was the most comfortable and calm there. With minimal heart rate checks and no vaginal examinations except for the one she received when they arrived, Aurora was trusted by her care providers to work with her own body and baby to birth. I have always advocated for a hands-off approach and this was one of the few ones I have witness that wasn’t a home birth. Aurora’s body was respected by her support team and as result her confidence and calmness sky rocketed.
Soon enough, I started to smell “that” smell. The smell of birth, that many doulas and midwives will recognise. Often this smell is a good indication that baby is coming very soon. And like clockwork, Aurora started to make stronger pushing sounds. She started to rest her head more on her arms and her body started to shake. She went into herself and it was obvious where her focus was. Whispering words of encouragement, her husband squeezed her hand and did not leave her side. After a few deep grunts, Aurora’s midwife said she could see the hair of the baby. “Reach down a touch it” she encouraged, and with that touch, Aurora was inspired to give every last ounce of power to push her baby out. And with that, first a head and then a body slid out into the water and into the midwife’s hands.
As calm as her mother, Aurora’s little boy was quiet and peaceful when he was placed onto his mum’s chest. The whole room stood still in awe of what we had just witnessed. A birth that truly encapsulated serenity. In between the still, yet excitable silence, there were hints of laughter. Laughter in amazement of Aurora. Laughter that said “wow, that just happened”. As her baby started to find his lungs, Aurora and her husband spent their time gushing over their little bundle of pink joy. There was no rush to weigh, measure or handle the baby. There was no rushing to prod and poke Aurora. There was no rushing to get that placenta out. Everything and everyone remained calm and collected, living off the oxytocin high radiating from the parents.
After a while Aurora decided to move into a more comfortable position to see if her placenta would come out and to give her baby the chance to perform the breast crawl. However, her cord was quite short which made it hard to position baby properly to feed. Deciding to get out of the bath and onto the toilet, Aurora made the move with her baby still attached and cradled in her arms. As she wasn’t feeling any strong contractions to help the placenta out, her midwife suggested lying on the bed to see if they could assist in some way. Respectfully looking at the situation, her midwife offered the option of having the synthetic oxytocin injection to see if that would help expel the placenta. Since at least an hour had passed, the cord was no longer pulsating and baby was beautifully pink and attempting to suck on the breast, Aurora made the informed decision to have the injection. So the cord was cut by dad, and baby was now able to reach the breast properly in order to start feeding. With a few clots in the way and a little assistance from the 3 midwives that were there, the placenta finally arrived. Big, red and beautiful.
And so, Aurora, her husband and her baby, all lay snuggled on the bed, admiring and reliving their experience. What a birth it was. A birth that caught us all off guard. A birth that showed us that not all first time mums go into spontaneous labour late. A birth that taught me not to have preconceptions about time. A birth that showed me just how calm and serene a birth can be. A birth that spoke of deep connection and love. A birth as unique as EVERY birth should be.