My Birth Was Wildly Different To What I Had In Mind

This week’s birth story comes from a lovely couple who attended a TCBS Hypnobirthing Course with Ruth Warrilow of Flora-Lily Birth School covering areas across Chester.

Thank you for sharing your birth story of the amazing Lula!


“After 2.5 years of trying to conceive and having 7 consecutive miscarriages it’s been a very difficult journey to parenthood. It was the toughest time of our lives and there were a lot of dark days but in the end, we were finally blessed with a daughter. Our fertility and conception journey is a whole other story but during that journey I’d created a clear vision of the type of birth I wanted.


I wanted to have a natural homebirth in a pool and for 2 years I had a picture of this by my bedside as part of a vision board. During the relentless periods off loss, I coped by using various holistic therapies some of those therapies I used included exercise, meditation, acupuncture, reflexology and the use of essential oils. Being actively interested in these types of therapies naturally led me to being interested in hypnobirthing and I was also influenced by some really positive birth stories from friends that used hypnobirthing.


I started my hypnobirthing journey when I reached about 20 weeks and my husband also joined me in the learning and preparation for birth. I took a self-guided online course and a one-to-one course with Flora-Lily Birth School whose teachings are based on those from The Calm Birth School. I embarked on self-guided course first and thoroughly enjoyed all the learning. I found getting to know about the physiology of the body during birth fascinating and it really helped to give me a clear mental picture of the body during birth and what to expect. The course helped me to make an informed choice on where I wanted to birth and define my birth preferences. Closer to birth I did a one-to-one course with Ruth at Flora-Lily Birth School which was the perfect refresher. While concepts like the physiology and techniques for hypnobirthing were the same the one-to-one support was invaluable. Ruth supported me with such great advice and resources for any questions I had. We had a lot of open and honest conversations around various topics covering pregnancy, birth and parenting. You can be re-assured you are in safe hands with Ruth, having 3 children of her own she’s got plenty of lived experience to share. I felt so prepared and SO excited for birth by the time I finished up with Ruth. I was so ready. We finished up about 3 weeks before I gave birth.


From 37 weeks I was on-call with the midwifes at my local MLU for my homebirth, my gasses and the midwives medical kit had been delivered and so had the birthing pool along with a tens machine. We’d done a dry run with the pool and I added some other essentials to the kit and packed hospital bags for myself, baby and my husband should a hospital transfer happen for whatever reason. Everything was ready to go!


I reached 40 weeks still very active and comfortable so didn’t feel any need to have a membrane sweep. However, at 40+4 I decided to go for a membrane sweep as I didn’t want to end up with an induction. On the day of my membrane sweep when I returned home each time, I felt baby pushing out against me I did some deep squats and throughout the day I was also inhaling some clary sage oil on a handkerchief. A combination of these actions seemed to bring the labour on and by midnight I was in labour. I knew at this time of night the best thing I could do was get some sleep. However, the excitement and anticipation made this difficult for both me and my husband to get sleep. I also found that I could not get any comfort in any sort of lying down or seated position. So throughout my whole labour at home, I remained standing where I could, supporting myself in different spots around the house, dining room chairs, breakfast bar chairs, bedroom shelf, bathroom towel rail! During this phase of labour, I used the tens machine and up-breathing. Breathing in for 4 and out for 8. I always felt much relief during the slow out breath and using the boost button on the tens machine. These two methods of pain relief really worked for me. Morning came and surges were very regular. So, we rang the maternity unit to let them know I was in labour. Their advice was to keep going as I was and call back when the surges ramped up even more. 12 hours into labour we called back and was advised a midwife would be with us soon. I was keen to know at this point how far I’d progressed. The midwife arrived about 45 minutes later. She got me to hop onto the bed to examine me while my husband started to fill the pool. I was so looking forward to getting into the pool and starting with the gas & air to get more relief.


During the examination this was when my birth preferences all changed. I was firstly delighted to find out I was 5cm and the head was well down. The next piece of news changed everything. During each surge baby’s heartrate was dropping significantly, a condition known as Bradycardia. At mid-point of labour this is not typical and is an emergency situation. After listening in to baby across 3 surges the midwife instantly made the decision to call for an ambulance with an emergency transfer to hospital. My nearest hospital is a 45-minute drive. The ambulance crew were on the scene very promptly and had me into hospital within 30 minutes.


My partner followed in the car with all our packed hospital bags and was told not to keep up with the ambulance and to get there in one piece! There wasn’t room for my husband because the midwife had called for her colleague to join in the ambulance should they have to deliver en-route. The ambulance crew had advised my husband if he saw the ambulance pull over then he’d know to join as baby was coming.


During the initial examination where the transfer was advised I had no feelings of resistance or disappointment. I accepted very quickly what I’d spent months planning for wasn’t going to happen. The hypnobirthing courses not only helped me to create my birth preferences but taught me the importance of remaining calm and being adaptable in any situation.


On arrival at hospital by the time I got my gown on and hooked up to the tracker to monitor baby’s heartrate my husband had arrived. I then had a canula put in and high dose antibiotic’s administered due to being Strep b+ (which I’d taken private test for prior to birth). Then I was offered to start using gas and air. This was a welcome relief and I used it alongside my continued up-breathing. The first thing the team wanted to establish was what was causing baby’s heartrate to drop so the charge midwife wanted to release my waters and check if the cord was around baby’s neck. During this procedure she could feel the cord wasn’t around the neck so that wasn’t the cause, and she could see I had a lot of meconium mixed through my waters. This was a result of baby being in distress and that became another risk factor to deal with. At this stage I’d progressed to 7cm.


A surgeon then arrived to discuss to possibility of an emergency section as the heartrate continue to drop with each surge and there was no known reason for it. However, because I was already at 7cm they wanted to see how I’d progress over a 30 minute period. During those 30 minutes they took a blood sample from baby’s head to test oxygen levels and also attached a probe to baby’s head to monitor heartrate even closer. During all of these interventions I never once felt out of control, I felt calm and completely in the zone breathing through each surge using gas and air and at this stage I’d handed the tens machine control over to my husband and he was boosting it up during each surge for me. In-between each surge the medical team kept me fully informed. In the moment I didn’t realise how dangerous the situation was and that’s because the team were incredible. Each person in the room was focused on their role and created a space that was calm although there was a lot going on.


By the time those 30 minutes had passed I’d progressed to 10cm and was ready to push. I really focused during this time and I think I was so headstrong about not wanting to have an emergency section it really spurred me on to get the job done. Once it was decided that the section was off the cards this was when I was advised that they’d like to do a precautionary episiotomy to ensure there was no delay with baby coming out. I agreed and in fact this was one of the only things in my birth preferences that happened! I’d stated it was ok to have one done in an emergency situation. The same surgeon had also started to prepare a ventouse to have on hand and again in my mind I wanted to reduce any further interventions and before she was able to get the instrument out of its packet the head was being born! A couple more pushes and our daughter was born. The second stage (pushing) lasted for 20 minutes followed by the third stage (placenta delivery) only 6 minutes and the cord had to be cut immediately.


Lula was placed on my chest for only a few minutes then she had to be taken away for further support. We were separated at birth and didn’t get that immediate prolonged skin to skin, delayed cord clamping or the first feed during that golden hour, but I was ok with that. It was a very worrying time that followed with her requiring care in the Neo Natal unit but after almost a week in hospital we were both discharged well and healthy. My birth was wildly different to what I had in mind, but I still view it as a really positive experience (although that may seem strange) on paper it was a traumatic birth but I really didn’t experience it that way and I put that down to Hypnobirthing.


The Hypnobirthing techniques assisted me to control my mind, my level of pain and gave me confidence in my ability to give birth. I felt very calm throughout the duration of my birth and the pain relief methods I opted for felt adequate alongside Hypnobirthing. I also felt very informed and in control even when things were changing quickly. I always referred to the BRAIN acronym during my birth and after when we were in Neo Natal. I’m really proud and pleased at how I coped as a first-time mum and I hope I’ll be fortunate to give birth again in the future and re-visit Hypnobirthing. I’d absolutely recommend it to any pregnant person!”

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