The Calm Birth School

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“..I have to say that I think I was able to cope with the situation so much better from having done the course, read the book and listened to the MP3’s..”

Here is a wonderful Birth Story from Lucy and Steve! Thanks for sharing guys!

“After our course I read The Calm Birth School book several times and referred to certain pages almost daily. Every night I’d get into bed and put the birth rehearsal MP3 in and practice the 4/7 breathing and despite having several aches and pains during my pregnancy, and a history of not being able to get to sleep for a while, it really helped me relax and drift off to sleep really quickly, even towards the end of my pregnancy when sleep was a luxury. 

I’d talk to anyone who would listen about hypnobirthing and after discussions with Liz and my midwife (and obviously Steve and my family), I’d set my goals (and heart) on having a peaceful homebirth. Two weeks before my “guess date” I picked up a birthing pool from hospital and we had everything prepared for welcoming our new arrival at home.

I’d always had it in my head that I just needed to reach my guess date of 2nd September so that our baby would be the oldest in their year at school and not the youngest, and was convinced because of this and how active my baby bump was (we called it baby sprout, with our surname being Russell and that I found out I was pregnant on Boxing Day Russell sprout stuck) so when the day came and went I was thrown a bit. There was someone’s birth story in the book where she went for a massage with her mum the day before her due date and had a really relaxing day then she had friends round in the evening for a pizza. She then went into labour overnight and her baby was born early afternoon. This sounded perfect to me so I replicated this by going for a relaxing spa day with a facial but to no avail.

I turned down the first sweep I was offered but made the decision to have a sweep at 40+ 6 weeks as this was a Friday and I’d been told I could have another on the Tuesday and if nothing happened I’d be booked in to be induced on either the Thursday or Friday (I’d decided to not go against the guidelines and go over 42 weeks so knew that being induced in hospital was now a possibility and I wanted to do everything I could to get my labour started so I could have the home birth I wanted).

My midwife came to my home and did the sweep on the Friday afternoon and during this she flagged up that she could feel the “head” but couldn’t feel the fontanelle which gave her a slight niggling doubt that the baby was actually breech and with me being a home birth she couldn’t leave it without me being checked in case anything came of the sweep. So I was sent off to hospital for a scan. 

The antenatal clinic was fully booked so I was sent to triage for a “quick” scan just to rule out baby being breech. I’d told Steve but said not to rush back in case it was nothing and that the sweep set me off into labour over the weekend so to finish up in work in case he wasn’t going back for a few weeks. 

I was hooked up to the heart monitor and the midwife had a feel and decided that the baby was definitely breech and she’d bet her house on it but we had to wait for a consultant to come to do the scan. This took a couple of hours and during this time I felt what I thought was my waters breaking. It wasn’t like in films where there’s a big splash on the floor! But there was definitely a warm trickle every time I moved which the midwives said the consultant would need to check. 

The consultant came and did the scan and within seconds declared baby sprout was breech and as I “was the boss” I’d be sent home over the weekend with a leaflet and could either choose an elective c-section for the Monday or could try and have the baby naturally but I’d need to be in hospital for this. They didn’t seem to think there would be capacity with the high risk team for a home birth and to be honest this had added a massive complication that I’d never envisaged. There’s a family history of the women on my mums side either being a breech baby themselves or having a breech baby which I’d mentioned initially at my first antenatal visit but everything had seemed to be fine and I’d even been told the babies head was engaging but as we now know it wasn’t, it was a little bum instead!

My mum has always said that when she had my brother 38 years ago (before c-sections were the preferred option), she had been cut and forceps had been used and she said the pain afterwards was unbearable. So there was no way I was risking a home birth and a natural birth didn’t sound like the safest option in hospital either. The consultant went off to get a leaflet and came back with a doctor to check if my waters had broken. The doctor confirmed they had so this then kind of took the decision out of my hands as I didn’t want to risk a painful natural birth (apparently the type of breech the baby was wasn’t the easiest one for a natural birth) with a possible emergency c-section so I was booked in for a c-section the next morning and was told I wouldn’t be going home. By this point Steve was home and I’d told him to start cooking tea as I thought I was going home and had to call him and tell him to get my half packed hospital bag (as I didn’t think I’d actually need it with staying at home) and get down to the hospital as I was being transferred to the ward to be monitored overnight. 

During this time I was seen by a consultant, a doctor and several midwives all telling me what was going to happen and the possible risks and asking if I understood and would sign the declaration forms. Luckily my parents had taken me to triage in the afternoon and had stayed with me as it was all a bit overwhelming but I just went with it knowing it was the best and safest option for me and my baby. My mum had read the calm birth school book and my dad had heard so much about it that we were all thinking “BRAIN” and it definitely helped to focus on what was important and to forget about my birth preference of being at home on some kind of labour spa day in the birth pool with my fairly lights and aromatherapy atomiser and just do what was needed to get the baby here safely. 

It’s fair to say I didn’t sleep much that night, not just because the bed was uncomfy, I’d not been sleeping well anyway with my hips aching, the ward being noisy and having someone come round to take blood and my blood pressure every few hours. But despite previously being terrified of the thought of any kind of operation, none of it really phased me. I played the birth preference MP3 and affirmations through headphones on my phone and was just concentrating on the fact that I’d be meeting my baby in a few hours and how excited I was.

Steve arrived on the ward about 8am and I was prepped for theatre around 9am. We were told that it could be anytime and I’d been null by mouth since midnight (all through my pregnancy I’d been ravenous so this wasn’t going down well at all!) and we’d just be fetched when there was a space in theatre and on the c-section ward at the same time. It wasn’t long before we were seen by the anaesthetist, then the doctor and the midwife who was escorting us to theatre. Each time I asked for as many of my original birth preferences to be put into place such as playing the affirmations MP3, for us to find out the sex of the baby ourselves and not to be told etc. Obviously things such as Steve cutting the cord and me not having the injection for the placenta delivery were now out of the question (Steve cut the cord once it had already been cut – a token gesture that he wasn’t that fussed about but I told him to do it rather than not at all). 

I was taken down to theatre and Steve to the waiting room and that’s when the nerves and reality finally kicked in (I’d been in high spirits beforehand). As I sat on the operating table with about 7 staff all milling round me asking me if I could feel things and sticking needles into me the reality that I was about the have my stomach sliced open became real and I started to shake and have a cold sweat. One of the girls in there was lovely and held my hand and stroked it to try and keep me calm. All the staff in the theatre were all so lovely to be fair, asking what names we had picked and trying to make it as normal a situation as possible. 

When I was finally numb and lying down Steve was brought in and as they said they were about to start operating I closed my eyes and concentrated on the 4/7 breathing to try and remain calm and after lots of tugging and some heavy pushing on my chest I heard a little cry and our baby was being held up above a sheet for us to see what we had got. Because of the swelling it took me a while to realise she was a little girl and that we had got a gorgeous baby daughter!! They did some quick checks on her and then we had skin to skin for the next 4 hours or so. Florence started breastfeeding while we were in the recovery room so she’d only been born about 30mins and was already tucking into some food. Something that’s set a precedent for her feeding habits even now!

So as you can tell from the massively long story, it was as far from my birth preference as you could get but I have to say that I think I was able to cope with the situation so much better from having done the course, read the book and listened to the MP3s. Without it I’d probably have been an emotional nervous wreck!

So a big thank you to our Liz and Suzy!”

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