This week’s birth story comes from the lovely Julia;
“….When I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant, I was adamant that I was going to have an elective caesarean. I’d heard nothing but birth horror stories from friends and friend’s of friends and films/TV. The idea that birth could be an enjoyable and positive experience was laughable to me and I thought nothing would change my mind.
Then one day, during my 28th week of pregnancy, a Facebook friend happened to mention The Calm Birth School in a Facebook post and I took a look. I was intrigued by what I saw so I signed up for the three free videos and just like that, everything I’d thought about birth changed!
Once I understood a little about the science behind what would happen to my body during labour, if I allowed it, everything made so much sense and I was converted to the idea of calm birthing.
With the support of my partner I practiced the breathing techniques, said my affirmations aloud and listened to the guided meditations during my tube journey to work every day. I ended up feeling so confident about my impending labour that I decided to have a home birth! A total turnaround!
Nine days after my guess date, at 5am, I felt the first pang of labour and knew that it was going to happen that day. I wrote a long list of demands for my partner, ranging from the practical (remind me to keep my jaw relaxed) to the cheeky (stock up the flat with fresh flowers and ice lollies!)
and then decided it would be a good idea to go back to sleep and get as much rest as possible.
I woke again at 8am and my surges were stronger so I got up, had some food and started my breathing techniques in order to get into a calm state of mind.
This went on with me breathing through each surge until my midwife who happened to be in the area popped in to check on my progress at around 12pm. We decided that things could be moved along a little bit more quickly so I agreed to a sweep. She left immediately after and within half an hour my surges were coming thick and fast and my partner called my best friend who was also my birth partner.
At about 5pm we decided it was time to call the midwives. They were really pleased to arrive to such a calm atmosphere and were happy with how I was handling each surge but they were concerned that the baby wasn’t moving down into place quickly enough so we put the party music on and all got down to dancing with the midwives encouraging me to dance low with my hips! At this point I was making loud moans to help stay relaxed during each surge and we all laughed about what the hell the neighbours would think we were doing in our flat!
The midwives kept my energy up by feeding me glucose sweets and after an hour of dancing and stomping around my waters finally broke and we were nearly ready for the final stage.
My amazing midwives suggested I have a rest before active labour began so I was wrapped in blankets and had a much needed nap on the floor with my poor confused cat cuddled up beside me!
I hadn’t planned to have a water bath so didn’t have a pool but my midwives suggested that a hot shower would feel good at this point. For some reason I got very concerned about getting my hair wet so ended up wearing a ridiculous bright green sequinned shower cap which provided much entertainment for everyone!
After standing in the shower for a while, they encouraged me to lie on my side in the bath. I later found out that after an examination at this point I was only 7cm dilated and the baby still wasn’t in the prime position and still needed to turn but my midwives only told my partner as they didn’t want to discourage me.
I think I perhaps knew that something wasn’t quite right and (still wearing my shower cap!) asked my midwife “Am I going to have to go to hospital?” She replied, “Do you feel like you want to go to hospital?” to which my answer was a big NO and she smiled and said “well then you just answered your question.”
I know for a fact that it was due to my affirmations and putting so much time into trusting my body that gave me the confidence to know that at the toughest point for me I was still capable and this gave me the energy I needed for the final push.
Lying on my side worked, and my baby was born just after midnight in my bathtub, in candlelight. My best friend who had held my hand throughout the final stage while my partner was feeling a bit overwhelmed cut the cord.
We hadn’t found out the sex in advance and didn’t even think to check for at least 10 minutes but I had a boy and called him Felix. He weighed 7lbs.
I had to have a couple of stitches and asked for the gas and air for the first time. “It feels like being at a festival” I apparently said as I was stitched up on my bathroom floor with my head in my best friend’s lap and my new baby having some precious skin on skin with his daddy!
I hadn’t considered keeping the placenta but my midwife said they had a tradition in her home town in Nigeria of burying the placenta and planting a tree over it so we decided that we would keep it and do that in honour of her.
My baby is now 5 months old and thriving. I have nothing but the happiest memories of his birth. I truly look back on the day like it was a weird but fun party!
This time last year I would have been unable to imagine feeling anything but trauma connected to my birth so I have so much appreciation for Suzy and the Calm Birth techniques and think it’s wonderful that it is totally accessible to everyone, whatever their income.
And with that being said it wouldn’t feel right not to mention how lucky we are in the UK to have the NHS who provided me with two absolutely incredible, tireless, inspiring midwives for free.
I hope my story inspires someone else to think about requesting a home birth…”