Leo turns four next week – I can’t believe that he’ll be starting school this September. For me, the memories of his birth are as if it happened yesterday! It was such an incredible, powerful experience – so I thought I’d share the story here on his birthday 😊
We’d had a bit of an interesting week, on the Wednesday before Leo was born I had been into the hospital where we were due to give birth for a check-up appointment which was combined with some acupressure and reflexology! It was lovely! Whilst we were at this appointment, the midwife started discussions about induction, I was 41 weeks by this point. Adam and I politely declined, stating our reasons – but this was outside of protocol, and so we had to wait to speak to a consultant about our decision. This was quite a tense conversation and we were asked to go back to the hospital on the Friday for discussion with someone more senior. We agreed to this, but were very clear that we didn’t wish to use any medical induction methods at this stage if all was well with me and baby.
After this meeting, I was a little shaken, and nervous for the Friday, but used my hypnobirthing tracks, ate yummy food, went for short walks and just generally tried to chill-out – I’d been having more and more tightening/Braxton Hicks so was also resting as much as I could.
Friday came around and we had a meeting with another consultant and a senior midwife(!), again another tense discussion. We asked for their reasons for wanting to induce, the conversation didn’t get much beyond ‘hospital policy’, so again stating our reasons and the evidence we had collated from the NICE guidelines and other places, we declined, but asked for and agreed to increased monitoring. Whilst we were there I was offered a stretch & sweep, I’d so far declined these, but felt at this point I may as well (from what I’d read the effectiveness of this was pretty low anyway..). Well, much to everyone’s surprise.. my stretch & sweep revealed I was at 3cm.. The midwife chortled ‘Ha – you’ll have a baby soon, we won’t be inducing you’. Cue an eyeroll moment and a lot of huffing from me..
We returned home, Adam went back to work and I took myself off for a walk before dinner. On the walk the tightening I’d been feeling intensified a bit, but they were pretty sporadic and I enjoyed the walk! When I got home, we settled down for pizza and watched TV – mainly Russell Howard, and other funny stuff. I bounced on the yoga ball, and leant over it too – we knew Leo was back to back so I was trying at the last minute to encourage him to turn! We stayed like this for a while, things started to build and Adam called the hospital to let them know things were probably happening. I also spoke to the midwife and told her all was well, but she told me that the hospital might actually be shut, she’d let us know later! Groan – we were definitely not prepared for this, but just tried to stay calm and focussed, hoping that maybe it would be open later, I thought we had a while to go anyway. Adam suggested I head upstairs to try a different position, or a bath to see if I could get more comfortable. I liked kneeling on the bed, leaning on the headboard, just breathing through each surge, I really just felt like this took all my focus. Adam ran me a bath, but I absolutely hated it! As soon as I was in I wanted to be out!
Travelling to the hospital…
It wasn’t long after this that Adam suggested it might be time to go to the hospital, we contacted the midwife again and were advised that we should go to Peterborough – this was not expected (there’s a second hospital much closer), but we went for it. Adam took control, got me in the car and figured out how to get there – where to park and where the maternity unit actually was. This was the most uncomfortable part of labour for me. In the car it felt very much like I was sitting on baby’s head and I couldn’t get comfortable. I found it strange going into the hospital and listening to Adam talk to people to figure out where we were going (it was late at night, not many people around) and then getting me booked in. I lost my focus a little and found it harder to breathe through the contractions – they also didn’t come as frequently as they had been at home.
Then our wonderful midwife came and took me through to the midwife-led unit, she actually showed us two rooms we could choose from – we picked the one with a ball, and a strange-looking ‘U-shaped’ stool. Once we’d got into the room, I did accept a vaginal examination, mainly because I was intrigued how things might be going, I think I was around 5cm at this point, but really took this with a pinch of salt, as I’d learnt cervical dilation isn’t a great indicator of progress. April also had to do some blood tests as we were in a completely different hospital – this was a bit annoying, but it was soon done.
Adam and April helped me get settled in the room, shoes off, and on the stool leaning forward holding a rope-type thing – it was super comfortable and I stayed in that position for quite a few hours I think! I had no concept of time during my labour at all. Adam set up the room, the lights were dimmed, there was a projection light with pretty colours and he sprayed the essential oil spray we’d been using during our hypnobirthing script practice and put some lovely music on. Adam then sat behind me, a reassuring presence and helped me focus on my breathing by helping me count. We were counting in for 4, really slowly and then out for 8.. there were some really funny moments when Adam forgot to stop at 8 and I’d shout ‘no, no’..! I couldn’t tell you how long we did this for, I was really in the ‘zone’ just calm and peaceful, breathing through each surge.
At some point, I stood up quite suddenly and declared to Adam that I was tired, I wanted to go home. I wasn’t comfortable anymore and it all felt too much, I’d come back tomorrow. I think he was a bit surprised! He tried to help me find a more comfortable position – we tried over the back of the bed with the TENS machine, which I couldn’t even feel – we hadn’t practised putting it on so I just got cross! And then April came back into the room and was a really reassuring presence – she reassured me everything was ok, that I’d been doing really well – my contractions had been quite consistent and on top of each other for some time and she thought baby was turning. She suggested some gas and air, but at this point I still felt I had ages to go and it couldn’t possibly be ‘bad enough’ yet to warrant it. I can’t remember if she offered or if I asked for another vaginal examination to see how things were – I really felt I needed some reassurance a this point. I moved onto the upright chair/bed thing, but as I did this my waters broke – oh it was such a relief! I decided gas and air was a good idea at this point and I had some glucose tablet/sweet things and also some cold flannels on my head as I’d got really hot!
Not long after this everything started to feel different, and I said, ‘Oh, I think he’s coming now’. I started to groan, I think I was quite loud! It wasn’t from any feelings of pain, more just an intense, powerful feeling that I needed to lean into somehow. April suggested I internalise it and breathe down and that really helped me focus again – the gas and air was also great for helping me to breathe slowly (and it felt awesome, not gonna lie!). After a few pushes, Leo’s head was born – Adam looked (!), but I for some reason didn’t want to feel! April encouraged me to take a moment (to let Leo turn), but I had another really strong urge to bear down and Leo was born – this part of the labour felt super-fast and then he was there, on my chest – wow – ‘a baby!’ was all I could say.
I felt completely elated, so happy and full of joy and shocked! Like wow, there’s a baby! I felt strong, and powerful. Throughout my labour, I felt an overwhelming sense of calm like I’d never felt before and credit this to two things – Adam, he was a constant presence and reassurance to me, I trust him completely and that was so important – and – hypnobirthing, Adam and I really did do the work, we were prepared for Leo’s birth, we’d got informed, we’d read about areas we weren’t sure of, we’d thought about different situations that might arise and how we felt about them, we’d written this out together, we’d practiced the scripts, recited affirmations and I felt ready, prepared and supported going into Leo’s birth. I honestly feel that this had a huge positive contribution to our birth experience. The impact of this has led me to re-train as a hypnobirthing instructor, whilst no-one can guarantee what will happen in birth, I can support people to feel prepared, confident and calm going into birth.
If you’d like to find out more about how hypnobirthing can contribute to your own positive birth story take a look at the Mama's tlc courses.