If you’d have asked me this time last year what I thought about writing a birth story I would have said, no way, why would I want to relive what was a pretty horrific experience? but then when I found out I was pregnant with my second baby I realised quickly that in order to be able to feel even remotely ok about giving birth again I needed to heal from the first time round.
In short, with Arthur (my first) I was induced at 41 + 10, and then what followed was a cascade of intervention which resulted in a forceps delivery and severe blood loss, meaning I had to stay in hospital for a week post delivery due to a blood transfusion. This impacted not only my bond with my new baby but deeply scared me in terms of giving birth again.
However, I was determined second time round to try and have a positive experience. First step to this was having a debrief (2 1/2 years on) with the matron at the hospital about what exactly happened first time round and start the healing process. It took Nick and I a while but eventually we felt ready to start thinking about birth again, we felt we finally had answers to our first birth and felt somewhat comforted to know that all of the things that went wrong weren’t due to something ‘in me’ it was due to the circumstances and therefore they weren’t necessarily going to happen again.
So onwards we moved. We decided quite early on in my pregnancy that we wanted to try hypnobirthing. This was single handedly the best decision we ever made. We did a private one to one course with the wonderful Elise from Birth Bubble, which totalled 8 hours of chatting through how birth actually works and then the hypnobirthing techniques. What amazed me most about the course was the fact that yes, it is all about mind over matter but also that the routes of hypnobirthing are based around the science of what is happening in your body during pregnancy and labour. Once I could understand the physical changes that occurred during labour I somehow started to feel like I could understand how to work with them and in turn control them. It’s also vital to know that hypnobirthing isn’t about the ‘perfect’ birth, it’s about a positive birth no matter what path your birth takes.
With the course done we practised and practised until our due time. With everything going on with Corona Virus I used a lot of the breathing techniques and calming exercises in my daily life to stop myself from getting worked up with the madness that was happening around us. Hypnobirthing for us, was something that helped us way before labour even started, I strongly believe it kept me in a confident and happy place in the weeks leading up to due time and that I would have gone into panic overdrive without it.
I reached 41 + 2 and my contractions were finally in full swing. I had had two days of on off contractions prior to this but this felt different. On the Tuesday morning I had a call from the midwife to say they were worried as to why my body kept starting to have contractions and then stopped. I told her I was confident that this time it was different and I felt my body was really in early labour now but she still wanted me to come in for monitoring. I agreed, so went in and was monitored.
Due to the hospital restrictions Nick wasn’t allowed to come in with me for the monitoring so I had to sit there alone, by this point my contractions where stepping up a level and all I wanted to do was move around but I couldn’t due to being linked up to the machine. So I got my headphones on, and breathed my way through the contractions, zoning out everything that was going on around me. After about an hour, the midwifes were happy that baby was fine and I was able to go home to see the rest of these early stages of labour through in the comfort of my own home.
There must have been something about the bumps on the way back from the hospital that stepped things up another level and by the time I got home at around 8pm on Tuesday evening, things were pretty intense. My mother in law had put Arthur to bed so he was fast asleep (she’d isolated for 3 weeks prior to coming down as we knew we needed someone to have Arthur), Nick put the diffuser, chilled music and candles on and I got into the zone. I breathed and I breathed, I moved around and I went into my bubble. We were waiting for the 3 contractions in 10 minutes lasting 45 seconds but 3 hours on I was still technically only at 2 in every 10 minutes but something in me knew that it was time to call triage. The contractions were pretty insane and I just felt like I was a lot further along than I technically should have been if just looking at the timings.
Nick called triage and they said as i’d been going for 4 hours now at home, and it sounded like things were progressing to come on in. So we packed up the car and off we went. I got to triage and was examined to find out I was 8cm! I have never felt so relieved, not only to know that i’d done most of it at home but also that it was nearly time to meet our baby girl.
We headed off to the birth centre, where we were met by two amazing midwifes, who although in full PPE gear still felt welcoming and kind. Nick again made the room feel like home, candles, music, my favourite smell burning away and I got into the birthing pool which was amazing. The water felt incredible and I stayed in there for the next few hours breathing through the contractions and staying in my zone. 3 hours later the wonderful midwifes examined me and I was 9cm, they had hoped for me to be 10cm by now and my waters still hadn’t broken. We agreed that them physically breaking my waters was a good next plan to try and get things going, as soon as they did, boom, contractions ramped up to next level, and needed some gas and air now to help me through.
I’m not sure how long it was from waters breaking to pushing, but it was under an hour. I’d wanted a water birth so the midwifes were frantically trying to fill the pool up again as i’d come onto the bed to have my waters broken but there wasn’t time! Everything everyone had ever told me about you just knowing when you need to push, suddenly all made sense. I had this overwhelming and uncontrollable urge to push and nothing could stop that (I had an epidural with Arthur and forceps so didn’t have any of this in my first birth). All I could hear was Nick’s voice telling me I could do it and then she was out, all 9lb 2oz’s of her! I’d done it, and I felt every single part of it, I literally felt her travelling down my body and entering the world and it was without a doubt the most empowering moment of my life.
There were a few bumps in the road along the way, I became dehydrated during labour so had to have fluids pumped into me and I did tear so annoyingly had to go and have stitches after delivering but all in all I can honestly say it was the birth i’d always dreamed of.
There were of course slight differences in the hospital environment due to Covid, ie Nick not being able to stay with me when I had to go on the ward for stitches but other than that the whole midwifery team were as lovely and reassuring as ever and it all for want of a better expression felt very ‘normal’. It is such a tricky time to be pregnant and give birth and I certainly had the odd freak outs about it but I can not tell you how much hypnobirthing helped me through all this. It taught me to just focus on what I could control and that was my body and my emotions, everything else was out of my control and therefore wasn’t useful for me to worry about. It taught me how powerful breathing can be, it taught me how amazing the female body is and it crucially taught me how anything is possible if you really put your mind to it and for that I will forever be grateful as it allowed me to welcome my little girl into this world in a calm and beautiful way.
I always thought that birth stories were a way for people who had had ‘good’ births to show off and that they were few and far between as most births don’t end this way right? but I now know that just because people are very quick to tell you the horror stories of birth (of which I was one of these people after my first experience) it’s also really important to share the positive ones. I’ve seen both, i’ve had the ‘bad’ and the ‘good’ and I hope that if anything this shows you that you history doesn’t have to repeat itself and that you pregnant mamas to be, you can do this, your body and mind is amazing.