This week’s birth story comes from one the lovely Rachel and Jack who attended Hypnobirthing classes with Louise from Prepare for Birth. Louise covers Southampton, UK and surrounding areas, as well as online.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful, positive birth story!
Before the classes with Louise I had very limited knowledge about the actual process of giving birth, what happens to your body and how to manage this. I felt pretty apprehensive about the prospect of giving birth and completely unaware that it could be a calm and positive experience, rather than just something ‘to be endured’.
After my classes I felt much more prepared! I had a much better understanding about what happens to the body, how important hormones are in the process, what me and my partner could do to prepare for birth – both individually and collectively. That while there will always be things happen outside of your control, there are things within your control that you can do regardless of the way birth progresses. I felt much calmer about giving birth, and even a little intrigued / excited about it.
I would highly recommend the Calm Birth School and my instructor Louise. I am really pleased with the classes. It totally transformed my approach to birth. Without doing the classes, I don’t think I would’ve managed the birth in a calm, positive and empowering way. I really think this course was transformational for me. I still use some of the techniques in my everyday life! I really appreciated the openness with which the course was delivered, that it wasn’t about pushing any kind of agenda, but rather providing participants with the tools to have a positive birth experience in whatever form it takes.
My Birth Story
Before my ‘guess date’ I felt surprisingly calm and mostly just enjoying finally having finished work, so I could take some time to relax. I also tried to keep myself busy and not to fixate too much on it. However, after my due date had come and gone it was only natural that I became more focused on it and nervous / impatient. When I was a week passed my due date, I was offered a membrane sweep and booked in for an induction a few days if there was still no movement (this is common in Belgium where I am currently living). I was happy and open to having the sweep and felt well informed about my options from hypnobirthing and NCT classes. A few hours after the sweep my waters broke, which the obstetrician told us that meant that that our baby and my body must have been pretty ready to go for that to be the case.
My waters broke when I was home alone, except for our cat Waffle! I called my partner, and he came back home to meet me. I wasn’t experiencing any surges, so we had time to sort out some things in our flat (including the cat) before heading to the hospital. Looking back, I am shocked at how calm I was during this whole period. I think I was mostly relieved the process was beginning. For someone who is usually quite health conscience this is entirely out of character, and I really think the hypnobirthing preparation that I did was a major contributing factor. That and maybe a few hormones at play!?
As my waters had broken and I had tested positive earlier in pregnancy for Strep A I was kept in hospital. We settled into the hospital room and watched some Netflix; we were told if labour didn’t start to progress I would be put on an oxytocin drip later in the evening. This wasn’t needed! A few hours later I was very much in active labour. Our midwife very much respected our privacy and really left me and my partner to manage this process. There was a bath in our hospital room, so I pretty quickly moved into it. We also used music and dark lighting. Keeping calm, using the breathing techniques, swaying in the warm water, and support from my partner really helped me manage this stage. I used the short breaks between surges to regain energy (mentally and physically) for the next. I was fortunate, labour progressed quite quickly and after about 4-5 hours I was fully dilated. It was only when I felt a very involuntary and strong urge to push that we called the midwife in for further support.
Because I had a private hospital room (as is the case in Belgium) and this was the same hospital I had been to throughout my pregnancy for check-ups etc. it felt a more familiar environment. In Belgium, you also have one obstetrician that you meet with during pregnancy and the same obstetrician at the birth. He came to check on us, and I think because we already knew him well, I felt calm and safe. As a normally health anxious person, I knew that feeling like I was safe would be a really important factor for me to manage my birth, so I really do feel lucky for this. After the doctor checked on me, we were introduced to the midwife who would be supporting us until the ‘push phase’. She was very gentle and reassuring. To be honest, we really didn’t see much of her, as she wanted us to be left in private for as much as we needed / felt comfortable to do so.
In the hospital I was in, you were only allowed to use the bath as a comfort measure, but I needed to give birth outside of the bath. This was the hardest part!!! After feeling the urge to push, I was moved from the bath to the bed. I think this change really affected ‘the zone’ I had worked myself into. The natural urge to push stopped, and to be honest I just didn’t feel like I knew how to push in the right way. I was proud of myself (and hypnobirthing taught me this) that I really tried to follow the lead from my body and when a certain position wasn’t working, I asked to change. I have to be honest; this phase was hard and painful. I really had to dig deep. After almost two hours of pushing, the doctor used a ventouse to help my baby out. Then he arrived very quickly! This part is still all a bit of a blur – he had fluid in his lungs and a compressed chest. All of a sudden, a lot of people were in the room. I was able to see him very briefly before he was whisked away, with my partner. I was pretty overwhelmed at that stage, and probably a bit in shock. It wasn’t the skin-to-skin first moments with my baby that I had hoped for. He spent the first 24 hours in the NICU for precautionary measures, so after I had stitches put in, I was able to go visit him and breast feed him while he wore a CPAP machine. It wasn’t the exact start I had envisioned but meeting him for the first time was still the most perfect moment to me. After 24 hours he was fit and healthy enough to move with us to the maternity ward. I spent some time after the birth feeling guilty that I was responsible for him ending up in the NICU, but now I feel proud and strong that I carried him and brought him safely into the world – even if a little extra help was required. For years I have completely underestimated my body, and this experience has entirely changed my relationship with it and what I am capable of.
In the lead up to giving birth I was always open to using any kind of comfort measures that would help ensure I had a calm and positive birth experience. In the end, I didn’t have any medical intervention. I managed the contractions using hot water, swaying, breathing techniques and support from my partner. I was lucky that my labour progressed relatively quickly for a first-time pregnancy, so I didn’t reach a point / have a chance to consider other comfort measures.
Our hypnobirthing course really helped my partner and I prepare together for the birth. I think a huge benefit of doing this course together was also building his knowledge about what happens during the birth, and to discuss together his role during the birth and how best he can help and advocate for me. He was so helpful during the birth. His support ensured I felt calm, safe and protected throughout.
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