Joanna’s redemptive water birth experience
Joanna Crawshay’s birthing experience with baby Nixie, now aged three, didn’t go to plan.
Joanna went into labour unexpectedly, a few days before Christmas in 2016, and Nixie was born six weeks premature. She then spent 28 days in NICU. “I was lucky to have an hour with Nixie when she was born, as she didn’t need help with breathing or feeding,” recalls Joanna. “She was then taken to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) where she remained for the next month. It was heart-wrenching leaving her each night – it was a long four weeks.” By contrast, the birth of her son Jude couldn’t have gone more smoothly had she written the script herself and said ‘Lights, camera, action’. Here Joanna shares her redemptive labour of love with OHbaby!
Did you have a birth plan?
Joanna: If I made it to full term with Jude, I’d hoped to go to River Ridge East Birth Centre in Hamilton and have a drug-free water birth if I enjoyed being in the water. I wanted to make the most of the birth centre facilities – to rest and recover after labour, as well as to establish breastfeeding. I also wanted delayed cord clamping and to have skin-to-skin with Jude for as long as possible.
How did you know you were in labour?
I woke at 2.50am to go to the loo and while siting there I heard a pop – literally! It was my waters breaking.
Did the birth go to plan?
I was very lucky because the second time around, birth pretty much went to plan. My husband, Ross, and our amazing birth photographer, Cassie, who also happens to be a trained doula, were both there. Our back-up midwife Kirsten Rouse was present as well.
We arrived at River Ridge and as soon as the pool was full, I got in. I did enjoy the water, it was really relaxing. I even stayed in it for about an hour after the birth.
Both births felt pretty much the same, despite the first being premature and the difference in each baby’s size, and despite Jude’s labour being four times faster! However, because I was full-term, I guess I was more relaxed with him, and I could follow my birth plan.
How long was your Labour?
My second labour was just under five hours long (with four hours of active labour). Had I known how fast and intense my labour was going to be I probably would have left home earlier, as the car ride was not fun at all!
Describe the moment you met your new baby:
It was so nice being able to spend Jude’s first days with him 24/7, soaking up the newborn phase and enjoying cuddles whenever I wanted. Breastfeeding this time round was so much easier. We had his lip and tongue tie corrected when he was a day old, which corrected his latch straight away.
How did you prepare for labour?
Being premature, Nixie was born small (1.9kg), so the second time round I knew I’d potentially be having a baby twice her size and weight. I did start to worry about the pain being worse, so Ross and I attended a positive birth workshop run by Zen Mumma, which helped me mentally prepare. I also took time out from my family each week to go to pregnancy yoga. This gave me time to connect with my baby and practise breathing and becoming mentally prepared for labour and the birth.
Pearls of wisdom for expectant mamas:
My main advice is to never doubt yourself, and to remember your body and your baby know exactly what to do. In my mind I broke both labours into periods of ‘work’ and ‘rest’ which helped, and I tried to stay as relaxed as possible throughout the contractions and the rest periods. I also found the breathing techniques that I’d learned at pregnancy yoga classes really helped to calm my mind and body and allowed me to remain focused.
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 48 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW