Mama K – “Not once did I feel any pain. At all times I felt in control and empowered. I felt like I was doing an incredible job….and I was! I bought my little boy into the world in a calming and beautiful atmospher. If I could go back and do it all again, I would”
I did it! I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy and it was the most amazing experience of my life. He has been with us just over a week now and I can’t imagine our life without him! We’re finally starting to settle into life with a newborn and as he sleeps soundly next to me, I thought this would be a great opportunity to share my story with you.
On Wednesday 4th July (interestingly, my original prediction and 40+6 according to the dating scan) at 1:00am, I got up to go to the toilet when suddenly I felt a little gush down below. Originally, I thought it may be my waters but when I got to the toilet, I realised soon that it was in fact my “show”. I woke up my partner and explained that I thought this was it! Looking back now, I wish I tried a little harder to go back to sleep but I just couldn’t, I was too excited, especially when I realised I had started to feel the surges.
Anyway, I called my mum (her and my partner were my birth partners) and explained that I thought this was it and she decided to make her way to us. I was worried that it may be a false alarm, but mum was keen to make her way anyway. I went downstairs and put ‘Friends’ on as it never fails to make me smile and I wanted to get the oxytocin flowing! At this time, the surges were manageable just sat up right and getting on with things. They were definitely getting more intense though and I started timing them. They were a little irregular at this point. I kept losing my show throughout the whole of the labour. I didn’t even know this could happen. I always thought the show was a one-off occurrence but mine just kept coming and coming. I sat on my ball and swayed a little and felt instant relief so that was nice. The ball turned out to be a bit of a saviour really and I used it pretty much the whole way through.
On Wednesday evening, after my partner had been timing the surges, we decided it might be time to go to the hospital. I had a feeling I wasn’t going to be far along but because it was my first time, I just didn’t know what to expect so decided to go in to get checked anyway. I’m not sure if you remember Claire but I had told you that I was really worried about have examinations (more so than the birth) because of bad experiences with smears in the past. However, the up breathing and pelvic floor exercises were invaluable because I was able to breathe through it and really concentrate on relaxing everything. The assessment confirmed what I thought and 24 hours after my labour started, I was told I was only 1cm and in the latent phase of labour. I had a decision to make, I could either get annoyed and frustrated or soldier on and at this point I was feeling in really good spirits and managing fine so just kept positive knowing that he was coming and didn’t matter how long he took.
We returned home and things really ramped up (we were told that the surges may get more intense after the examination and they sure as hell did). I felt in a really tricky position now though as I had absolutely no idea when to go back. I was worried about going back and being told I was 2cm but I just listened to my body. We spent the night just managing the surges, Mum and my partner were helping me with the Hypnobirthing up breathing (counting in for 4 and out for 8) and I listened to the positive affirmations to make sure I reminded myself that I CAN DO THIS and that I stayed positive and didn’t panic. The breathing was absolutely incredible for a number of reasons but mainly because I knew that all I needed to do was 4/5 breaths and the surge would be over, that REALLY got me through each surge and I was reminded one more surge was one less surge! I also kept reminding myself that they weren’t actually painful and were just powerful and this REALLY helped. Mum and my partner never asked about the “pain” but only ever about the “intensity”, “power” or “comfort” and this use of language was invaluable, it helped me stay in control and calm.
During the morning/day of Thursday (I’ll be honest, I completely lost track of time and have to ask my partner what happened and when for some bits but just because I was completely zoned out and concentrating on my breathing/getting through the surges), we watched some films to help keep the oxytocin flowing. My partner and mum were amazing, taking it in turns to be at my service and reminding me how amazing I was doing. They listened to me and supported me and I genuinely am not sure what I would have done without them. My partner was so clued up on the Hypnobirthing and for someone who wasn’t overly sure of it in the first place, he really stepped up and was a real rock to me throughout!! It really gave him a role in the whole process. I was absolutely shattered and decided to lie down and try and sleep but it wasn’t happening, the surges were too intense for me to sleep. In the end, I was managing the surges by leaning over a dining room chair, using my up breathing. Something in me said it was time to go to the hospital and although I was still worried I’d be turned away again, I needed to go just for peace of mind. So, on Thursday afternoon (36 hours after it had started) we headed to the hospital where I was examined again. It was at this point things took a route that I really wasn’t expecting. The midwife said she had good news but some not so good news. She explained I was 5cms which meant I could stay and didn’t need to go back home but she then explained that baby was measuring big and that she wouldn’t advise staying on the MLU. Now, this was something I had battled with throughout the later stages of pregnancy and I thought I had nipped this in the bud weeks ago and was not prepared to face this challenge again. I explained to the midwife that the consultant midwife had signed me off to be on the MLU but the midwife still explained she was following protocol and really thought I would benefit more from going upstairs to the labour ward. I wanted to make sure I was using my BRAIN and asked if the consultant midwife was around so I could speak to her. The same lady was there who saw me previously but this time she was also suggesting that baby had grown quite a lot since and it would be better for me to go to the labour ward. This was really disheartening for me. Don’t get me wrong, the midwives were lovely and just following the protocol but I felt so bombarded sitting there, not long away from delivering a baby and having to make a decision I thought I had already made. The consultant midwife explained that nothing needed to be different upstairs than it was in the MLU. She said I could still have everything on my birth preferences and the only difference would be that there would be a consultant nearby should I need one. I spoke to mum and my partner and we decided, based on what the consultant had said that going on the labour ward may not be a negative option for me, so we agreed and made our way upstairs. The room was absolutely fine, a little more medicalised than the rooms I had come from but mum and my partner set to work putting out my battery candles and playing my MP3s through the speaker. I was still swaying and breathing through the surges at this point. The two midwives came in (one student midwife) and I have to say, they were absolutely amazing. They complimented me throughout, were so so kind and helpful and really helped to ease my mind about having to change my birth preferences. We filled the pool and I got in, ABSOLUTE BLISS!!!! The best feeling ever. I was in the pool, leaning over the side for a while and managing the surges by breathing and with MP3s. it was such a surreal and magical feeling and I didn’t feel out of control, in pain or panicked at any time. I knew the midwives were due to go off shift at 7pm but we were all convinced I’d been done by then. I was told I couldn’t give birth in the water but that if it happened, it happened and they wouldn’t stop it which really gave me some hope. However, 7:00pm came and went and I saw a change of shift. The midwives ensured me they’d be replaced with someone who would completely understand what I was doing and my birth preferences which was really reassuring. The new midwife was equally as lovely and VERY supportive. She was super calm and just took things step by step. She asked if I minded getting out of the pool to be examined and after checking 100 times that I could get back in, I agreed haha! It was about 9/10pm (nearly 48 hours into labour) and I was 7cm which disheartened me because we were all sure I’d be done by 7pm but the midwife assured me that the progress was positive and she was really happy. I asked again about giving birth in the pool but the midwife explained that I couldn’t, that I’d need to get out so they could monitor me and the baby more. The next part is quite fuzzy for me partly because I was so tired but may have had something to do with the introduction of gas and air!! Gas and air by the way, was a BEAUTIFUL addition and felt amazing. They say it doesn’t work as well for everyone but at the time it was a huge relief and it really helped take away some of the intensity however did give me some strange hallucinations (I won’t go into those haha). Anyway, the midwife asked if she could examine me again to which, at this point, I refused (not too sure why but I did). She decided it was time for me to get out all the same, as she thought it may be time to start pushing (I’m not too sure how she knew and this part is very blurry to me but it just shows that you don’t NEED lots of examinations if you don’t want them). I reluctantly got out and this instantly changed things for me. I was disheartened and my breathing went a little out of the window and I believe that the sudden change really made my second stage of labour by far the hardest. I told the midwife that I did NOT want to be lying down, I wanted to be upright and breathe the baby out and she fully accepted my wishes. During this stage, my midwife needed to take a break which meant a change in midwives which is completely understandable but also threw another change into the mix. This stage lasted hours and at about 2am on the 6th July the midwife suggested that it was taking too long and that she’d need to get the consultant in. I was determined not to have any intervention and so asked for a little more time. She asked if I minded if the consultant could come in just for advice to which I agreed. The consultant agreed to give me more time but stayed in the room watching the progress. My partner and mum were still doing AMAZING. My partner was by my side the whole way, encouraging me, getting involved and telling me how proud he was of me. He was in complete admiration which made me feel like a goddess. However, I still didn’t feel like I was making progress. Eventually I gave in and turned over from my all fours to upright on my back at which point the consultant said “the baby’s heartrate has dropped and if baby didn’t come on my next push, she would have to intervene”. “NO WAY” I thought and I have never felt more determined in my life. I gave one final push and out came his head. The midwife asked me to stop pushing at this point and take my time and with the next contraction his body came. This was the most surreal feeling in the world but I would never ever explain this as painful. It was powerful, it was surreal but it was empowering and incredible. A feeling I could never explain. My partner saw the whole thing and was in awe of what my body could do (as was I). A real cliché but my first words were “I did it”! Our son was born a mere 8lb 9oz which is NOT a “BIG” baby and considering he had been measured over 4 weeks previously as 7lb 4oz is hard to believe. Just goes to show how wrong they can be! He was born at 3:23am (over 50 hours after my labour had started) and was perfect. He is (and the experience was) completely worth every single second of the labour and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I did have a 3rd degree tear. In all honesty, I didn’t even feel this happen and had to ask the midwife if I had a tear. I also had an amazing recovery and can honestly say my tear was nothing to be scared of. However, I will just add how much my pelvic floor exercises helped with recovery. Initially I was disappointed and angry about some of the things that happened during labour. Disappointed I didn’t stick to my guns to stay on the MLU, disappointed I hadn’t fought harder to give birth in the water and angry for being bombarded in the middle of my labour HOWEVER, on reflection of my experience it was absolutely incredible. Not once did I feel any pain and at all times (even when things took a turn) I felt in control and empowered, I felt like I was doing an incredible job and…I was! I brought my boy into this world in a calming and beautiful atmosphere and my partner and mum helped me do it. If I could go back and do it all again, I would and although initially I wanted to change aspects of my birth on reflection I realised that perhaps it was the path I was meant to take just to prove to everyone how strong I could be.
Claire, I can’t thank you enough. The Yoga classes and Hypnobirthing were INVALUABLE. The techniques I learned and the opportunity to be in a relaxed atmosphere on a weekly basis helped me enormously not only during the birth but throughout the pregnancy. My pregnancy and birth were faultless and I enjoyed every second. I truly believe this is because I was informed and prepared by the Hypnobirthing and not worrying about every little thing. I will forever be in your debt! I will be recommending your Hypnobirthing to everyone!
Wishing everyone calm pregnancies and births xxxxxxx