This week’s birth story comes from a lovely couple who attended a TCBS Hypnobirthing Course with Anna Owen of Rock Your Birth covering Worcestershire.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful story with is!
After a difficult first birth which ended up in assisted delivery I was really hoping for a more straightforward second birth, ideally a water birth.
With the COVID-19 situation they had closed the Meadow Birth Centre which was disappointing but there was still an opportunity for a water birth within the delivery suite. Everything was on track for a natural uncomplicated delivery despite a few blips in the pregnancy (a low lying placenta which eventually moved and a gestational diabetes test which came back negative).
At 39 weeks + 4 days I had fewer movements than normal so went to the hospital to be monitored. All was fine which was a relief and I was sent home. Prior to sending me home they did discuss a possible induction with me due to baby measuring big and that I should come back for a scan the next day to check baby’s size and discuss options. An induction was really against my wishes and to be honest I didn’t know how much to trust the bump measurements for accuracy of baby’s size or a scan that late in the pregnancy.
I got home and was about to settle for the night but around midnight my waters started leaking so the decision on induction was then taken out of my hands which in some ways was a relief! From then on, I was on a time limit to deliver due to risk of infection to me and the baby. That night I started having tightenings and cramps overnight and got very little sleep. I was expecting and hoping for things to ramp up overnight. However, the next day things did not progress, and I only had mild tightenings throughout the day. I went to the day assessment unit at 1.30 pm to be assessed and make a plan. They were happy with baby’s movements and I was sent home to see if things would progress naturally before being told to return at 10 pm if labour was not progressing.
I went home and spent some time doing things I enjoy with my toddler and my partner Colin, hoping things would start naturally. It at least gave us a chance to organise childcare and pack last bits into the hospital bag!
Despite lots of relaxing and bouncing on the ball there was no further sign of labour starting so Colin dropped me back at the hospital at 10 pm where I was admitted to the antenatal ward. As my waters had released already, they quickly admitted me to the delivery suite to start the hormone drip. I accepted an examination at this point and was not dilated at all. Colin then joined me, and they started the drip at 1 am. I was expecting things to ramp up quickly as soon as they started the drip but it was quite a slow process. I was able to lie down and have a little rest, focusing on my breathing while my partner even managed to nap for a bit!
After several hours the contractions started to get more intense and I moved from the bed to the birthing ball. Despite being heavily hooked up and monitored I was able to move around and found a great position on the ball resting my head on pillows on the bed. I was able to use my tens machine and breathing to breathe through the contractions and relax in between. I didn’t find the tens machine helped much as a lot of the sensations were at the front. I also listened to some music and MP3’s in these earlier stages to help relax. I found visualisation of the uterus muscles doing their job really helped me at this stage.
Despite not being able to eat I was allowed energy drinks and had a few sweets to keep my energy levels up (I was sneaking a couple in until the midwife said it was fine for me to have them, then I ate most of the bag!)
During contractions baby’s heart rate was dropping a bit so they got me back on the bed to try lying on my side. This did not help and was quite restricting and uncomfortable for me during contractions! The midwife suggested examining me again at 9.30 am but as they could tell things were getting quite intense & the sensations were strong, they offered an examination earlier. So around 8.30/9 ish they confirmed I was 4 cm dilated. The sensations were very strong at this point and honestly hearing 4 cm was a bit disheartening. I remembered the advice from Anna that dilation is not linear and also the midwife reiterated this to me and reassured me things can move quite quickly from 4/5 cm. I remained focused and tried to forget about how much time had passed, monitoring of contractions and dilation and just focus on how I was feeling and breathing through the contractions. At this point I started to use gas and air to help with the sensations. I also moved positions to kneel on the bed and rest over the end of the bed which was a lot more comfortable as I was getting cramp in my leg and had restricted movement lying down. I think baby was happier in this position too!
As things got more intense my Colin reminded me to keep breathing and also massaged my back which really helped. I also kept my eyes closed through the most intense part of the labour as this helped me to remain in the zone and stay focused on breathing and remaining calm. I did find the whole experience intense, tough and overwhelming but I listened to my body and had Colin and the midwife encouraging me. I was still being monitored at this point and the monitors kept coming off and my cannula fell out but I managed to completely ignore this and let the midwife worry about that while I was focused on breathing through the contractions. Colin kept me hydrated by offering me water through a straw as my mouth was really dry from the gas and air. This was a lifesaver and something else I did not need to worry about.
As things progressed and it was clear we were getting close to delivery Colin kept reminding me baby was almost here and we would meet him soon. The pushing stage itself did not seem to last very long. The midwife told me to listen to my body but also guided me when to stop pushing to minimise any trauma.
Our baby boy, Joshua, was born at 11.17 am on Monday 25th May, one day before due date. He weighed a whopping 10 lb 1 oz! I felt amazing post-delivery that I had managed to have a natural delivery without any interventions despite it being an induction, which previous to my hypnobirthing course I had only heard negative stories about. And despite baby being very big, with the guidance of our fabulous midwife Sam, I only came away with a few minor stitches.
We were able to stay in delivery suite together with Colin for a few hours after delivery. I even had a shower and had some hot food, so it was lovely have that time together as a family before I was moved to the postnatal ward where no visitors were allowed. Due to the uncomplicated birth I was then discharged at 10 pm the same day and spent the first night at home together.
I would recommend hypnobirthing, and Anna’s course, to anyone expecting a baby to help get prepared for birth and also navigate the different paths a pregnancy and birth might take. I feel so lucky to have had a positive birth experience and to come away feeling empowered and proud of myself.
If you want to create your own positive birth you can start today!