I felt calm, in control and I had this lovely idea of how it would go

Claire and Ed did a hypnobirthing course with TCBS Instructor Anna Owen from Rock Your Birth (based in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, UK) via Skype. The couple were expecting their first baby and had planned a home birth.

“Due to the hypnobirthing, I wasn’t feeling worried about my birth – I had my affirmations written on post it notes and stuck on the wardrobe doors in the bedroom and I was genuinely excited to meet my baby.

I felt calm, in control and I had this lovely idea of how it would go – a nice walk with my husband and dogs whilst I was in early labour, keeping active and allowing my body time, and when it was ready a pool birth in front of the fire at home. I knew not to focus on my ‘guess’ date – my husband finished work the day before and I was looking forward to spending some time before the baby arrived.
It was quite a surprise, therefore to wake up on the morning of my due date having surges a minute apart. I had no signs the day before and if there were any during the night I slept through them! As my surges were so close together and I was a planned homebirth the midwife said she would be over in the next half hour. During that time I bounced on my ball and watched my husband getting increasingly flustered trying to build the pool (practicing putting the pool up was on the list of jobs for today, because the baby was obviously not going to arrive on my due date!).

When the midwife arrived she asked to see my Birth Preferences and had a chat with me about how I felt, listened to the baby and reassured me all was well. I had decided that I was not averse to vaginal examinations (I am too impatient and wanted to know how things were progressing) but my midwife was in no rush to examine me, instead basing her actions on her observations of me. When she did ask if I wanted to be examined and I said yes and I was already 7cm dilated.

At this point we both wondered if the pool was going to be assembled in time. Things were going so well we thought we might have a baby within a couple of hours. The second midwife was called as at a homebirth two are needed to be in attendance for the actual birth.

The pool was finally up and filled and I got in and laboured. It was intense but I felt in control of the pain. I used some gas and air but didn’t really feel it made a huge difference to me. The midwife was amazing and the experience was everything I had hoped a home birth would be, I felt respected, reassured and really special not just another person passing through. A lot of people had doubted my decision to have my first baby at home and this had made me anxious but the way I was being treated validated my decision totally. 

I was soon fully dilated and started to push, my midwife quietly supporting me allowing me and my body to do what it needed. She just kept telling me to do what I felt I needed to. She was regularly listening in to my baby and reassuring me how happy they were.

Unfortunately, things didn’t progress as we had hoped. I had been pushing for a long time and there was no signs of a baby. I was incredibly exhausted and whilst the midwife was trying to encourage me to move around and change position (exactly the sort of birth I wanted) I felt like my legs couldn’t support me and I just wanted to lie in the pool or on the sofa. As things had gone so quickly I hadn’t eaten and my energy was low despite constantly being made to sip on isotonic drinks! My friend had given birth two weeks earlier and the drinks were her tip so we had stocked up – I am ever thankful to her for this! After another hour or so the midwife spoke to me and my husband as requested in my birth plan. She explained that she would have expected for the baby to be born by now and she felt they may need some assistance. If we were happy to do so she recommended we should call the ambulance to transfer to the hospital. She said that it would take 20 minutes to arrive and if the baby came before or things progressed then we would send it away. She said she would leave me and my husband to have a chat and reassured me again that the baby was completely happy and stable.

We decided that we would follow her advice and go to the hospital. From getting in the ambulance to arriving at the hospital was the worse part of the experience. The surges were very intense and despite my midwife travelling in the ambulance with me I felt very out of control – I was strapped in and couldn’t move and every twist and bump in the road felt painful, I was quite upset and did some decent screaming – I think I got some blue lights at one point. Luckily the hospital is only 10 minutes away.

I arrived at the hospital and my midwife handed me over to the staff there. I remember her giving me a kiss and saying goodbye and realising what a different experience this was now going to be than my time at home. There were numerous people in the room, they were strapping monitors on me and giving me pain relief – I was confused as to what was happening and struggling to keep up.

The doctor soon came in to assess me and after examining me told us that the baby had moved and was in a transverse position. I needed to have a spinal block and then I would be taken to theatre as soon as it was free where plan A was they would try and move the baby then deliver with forceps and if that didn’t work Plan B was a C-Section. I agreed to this without much thought as I really just wanted it to be over now. It was interesting that they were struggling to monitor my baby’s heart – they were getting different readings depending on how I was lying and was unsure if it was the baby that was unhappy or if the equipment wasn’t working properly – I heard several stories of this from other people later on which I though was ironic as the midwife at home used a simple hand held doppler without any issue!

I was taken to theatre where I had the spinal block, I remember the doctor telling me I needed to be very still and finding this quite hilarious (in a not at all hilarious way) as I was having crazy intense surges about every 30 seconds. Once he did it however, well I felt completely normal again. It was quite bizarre and it was at this point I started to feel a little put out at how I had been treated and to remember my hypnobirthing and whose birth this was. Nobody at the hospital had asked to see my birth plan, I had been given painkillers my plan specifically said I didn’t want and I had some quite specific requests regarding my birth which I knew nobody was aware of.

Despite my current situation being very far apart than what I had hoped for, I felt completely at peace with how it had panned out and able to calmly ask for what I wanted, particularly that my husband would find out the sex for himself and be the one to tell me. During the surgery I was happy and content, ready to meet my baby.

My daughter was delivered and I was disappointed the cord had been very quickly cut and I hadn’t seen her before she was taken away but reassured that my husband was with her and I could certainly hear her! After about 5 minutes they were back with me and I had some much anticipated skin to skin before being taken to recovery where I was helped to breastfeed her for the first time.

I really felt the difference between the personal nature of being at home and being moved through the process at the hospital but I have to say the staff on the ward after she had been born were amazing and I was so glad of their support over the next couple of days. I kept saying I had the best of both worlds – labour at home and the birth, aftercare (and drugs ha!) of the hospital. 

It may not have been what I imagined but it was my birth and this was my story. I had an amazing healthy baby girl (I was convinced I was having a boy) and that was all that mattered.

Thanks to the hypnobirthing despite a somewhat difficult time I had no regrets and suffered no mental trauma post birth. I have absolutely no concerns about doing it again (if I decide to have another child) and wouldn’t change a thing in my plan, other than perhaps not totally discounting my due date!”

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