Birth of Lieke
Dirkie and Dewald’s HypnoBirthing 2VBAC at Home
Our birth story:
Lieke Pienaar – Messenger of God – Angel
We found out at the beginning of lockdown (unexpectedly, because I was tandem nursing my toddlers) that we were expecting our third baby. It was a difficult time, emotionally, but I knew she was God sent, and I started praying extremely hard about this birth, as after my last VBAC, I was terrified of going through that kind of pain again. I read the book Supernatural Childbirth, and spent more time praying and meditating about this pregnancy and birth. I have never been afraid of pain before, and knew now that birth was not supposed to be the painful, unpleasant experience that has been engraved in our minds.
Halfway through my pregnancy, I learnt that my birth with Thea was never as unmedicated as I believed, and I immediately moved healthcare providers, as I realised that I had previously been kept safe by God, under some seriously disturbing circumstances. I was referred to Sr Sarah and Sr Elrika from Great Expectations Midwives, who instantly encouraged a homebirth. Knowing they had amazing backup at Genesis Maternity Clinic, and after seeing their calm nature and hearing the words from them, “The less we do, the better,” I chose them.
I knew Aliki would be my doula again; she has just always been amazing and supportive, and has become my friend.
Tamryn contacted me about doing a HypnoBirthing course, and I was equipped with so much information and tools to use for our birthing day. I continued to practise what I had learnt until the end. My mind and body were ready and well prepared.
I had lots of practice surges in my third trimester, and from 39 weeks I started getting some stronger surges during the night, which would fade during the day. Every day I hoped that they would stay and things would get going, but I remained patient with my body. I started losing pieces of my uterine seal the Sunday. On Monday, 30 November, at 40w4d, I woke up at 07:00 after a quiet, restful night. I felt the faintest surge start, but I didn’t want to get excited in case they faded again. I did some exercises to help baby into a good position and hopped on the birth ball. I saw my midwife at 09:30 for our weekly check-up and mentioned the surges to her. We had not done a single internal and had no clue if I was dilated or not, and we would keep it that way. Sarah said she would probably see me later, but as we left and by the time we got home, the surges had completely faded.
Around lunchtime, I hopped on the ball a little, got myself into a relaxed state and decided to lie down and rest with the children, at which point I got woken up by a surge. I jumped up and started cleaning a little, breathing through them easily using the HypnoBirthing breathing techniques during and between surges. I tried to time them, but they just weren’t forming a pattern, and sometimes I was even doubtful anything was happening.
By 16:00 I bathed the kids, and after trying to do too much, I could feel myself spinning out of control – pain starting – and at that point I asked my husband to come home. I updated my midwife, she told me to let her know when I needed her. I also asked my doula and photographer to come and help me, but it was as if my body realised that I was struggling, and the surges eased off. They were never the same intensity throughout. My surges were 8–10 minutes apart, and as soon as I managed to breathe and calm myself down, I would notice pressure (I had to focus), but not pain.
By 17:00 my husband had arrived, and shortly after him my doula, Aliki, also arrived. The kids were playing with daddy. I put some pretty lights on and we had music playing in the background. The surges were coming; I could now focus again and breathed through them. Aliki applied pressure to my back and suggested some positions to help my body and baby, which we kept up throughout. I reminded myself that what I was feeling was pressure and not pain. In between surges, I did some more breathing, we laughed and chatted, and I was still often doubting if I was actually in labour.
The children were coming in and out of the room, playing with the kittens, showing me things, hubby checked in often with hugs and kisses while also busy with the house and children. I used some visualisation techniques from HypnoBirthing and kept myself in a happy space, as I had realised from what I had learnt in my preparation, and now throughout the day, how important the role of oxytocin was in this labour process.
Aliki kept timing surges; they got to about 2–4 minutes apart, intensity and length still varying – my body was being so good to me. At around 18:30 she suggested we phone the midwife, Sarah, to ask her to come closer. Sarah wanted us to wait a little longer because I was still very calm. I told Aliki she would miss it, so she screengrabbed an image of the surge times and sent it to Sarah. Sarah let us know at 19:40 that she and a back-up midwife were on their way. We had also let my mom and sister know that they should come. In this time, I had completely lost sense of time. I started feeling warm, so I got into a shower to cool off and to ease some of the pressure on my back. I really needed the birth pool that my midwife had to bring, but there was no sign of her.
As I got out of the shower, the surges kept coming every 2–4 minutes, but I just couldn’t find a comfortable position anymore. Aliki reminded me to keep to my HypnoBirthing breathing and how much of a difference it was making, and I realised this, so I shifted my focus again. I started feeling tired, and after finding positions on the floor too uncomfortable, I went to lie on my side, with a pillow between my legs, on the bed. My husband realised I was starting to struggle, so he climbed in behind me and started doing light-touch massage and putting pressure on my back while I continued to breathe.
The midwives arrived at 20:26 and started unpacking the bath. At that point, I heard a popping sound and felt the warm sensation of my waters releasing where I lay. I told the midwife that baby was coming as I felt the urge to push and there was just no time to set up and get into the bath. They monitored baby’s heartbeat; she was really happy.
The children entered the room with all the commotion and then everyone stepped back and held my birth space.
Two long, strong surges came with the urge to push and bear down. I could bear down a couple of times during the surge, together with the birth breathing I had learnt in the HypnoBirthing. I vocalised and used my breath to help me and reminded myself not to hold back, as at this stage it would increase the pain and delay my baby moving down. No one coached my pushing. The burning sensation of her head only lasted a few seconds. My husband told me that her head was out, I felt so accomplished. Her head came out and her shoulder hit me on the perineum on the way. I had another powerful surge, bearing down a few more times with each birth breath, and out slipped the perfect little baby girl body, which the midwife handed to me right away.
She was born about 15 min after the midwives arrived, at 20:39. I was so happy and relieved, talking to baby and saying, “hi.”
My husband and I just admired this little vernix-covered baby body as she took her first breaths and cried. The other children came closer to welcome our new little person.
Lieke – Angel.
I birthed the placenta calmly with help from the midwife; no one rushed us.
The midwives checked me – no tearing or stitches. No internals. No complications. (There was meconium in my waters and we had a nuchal cord.)
Completely unmedicated. Undisturbed.
In our own home.
I was disappointed about the birth pool, but God had a plan and prevented all interventions. It was completely out of my control, but I felt safe and I kept my focus on my body and birthing my baby.
It was an amazing journey, experience and birth. A birth so unpredictable, but it was absolutely incredible and what God had intended for our birth to be.
We are truly blessed.
Photography by the extremely talented Sam Schröder Photography.