EMILY & OWEN'S BIRTHS
Emily's Birth Story:
When we fell pregnant I had no doubts in my mind that I would have a natural childbirth. It was my chance to have a healing birth the way I had originally wanted, following my first experience of labour three years earlier, where my son Joshua had entered this world as a hand to face presentation and I experienced third degree tears, stitches in theatre and three days hospitalisation. With my first labour I was consumed with fear and at the point of crowning I panicked and pushed hard, so I wanted to make very sure that my birth this time was relaxing and I felt in total control. Hypnobirthing totally encompassed what I wanted from my labour experience and it was an added bonus that the hypnobirth instructor was Crystal, whom I had met two years earlier during her baby massage classes with my son Joshua. I went along to the course with my husband Dave, I read the Hypnobirthing book cover to cover, and diligently practiced my breathing every night while focusing on positive visualisations and affirmations. We practiced soft touch massage together and talked about the hands off approach I wanted from the midwives during labour. I never wavered with my assurity that Hypnobirthing would provide me with the skills I need to take charge of my birth experience. Even with hospital consultants 'strongly recommending' that I should have a c-section as I was at serious risk of lifelong bowel problems were I to tear in the same way again, I felt confident that I could breathe my baby out this time.
My given due date was 3rd November, and I visited the hospital two days overdue and declined the sweep and refused to book an induction. I was aware that if I went too far overdue I could be ineligible for the birth centre, but my Hypnobirthing had left me feeling very calm about the birth and I felt assured that no matter how the birth played out, it would be okay. I went home and did nothing other than continue to stay active, do lots of walking and spend quality time with Joshua before his baby sister came along.
On the day that my labour started I had been for a long walk at Ruislip Lido with Joshua and Dave. My friend's waters had broken in the Lido car park exactly one week earlier and we had joked about how it might be lucky for me too. Turned out to be true as by the time I had gotten home I strongly suspected the tightenings I had been feeling were first surges. They were very mild so I said nothing, fixed dinner, gave Joshua a bath and put him to bed. It was only after coming downstairs from doing this that I told Dave about the surges. We agreed to get a takeaway for dinner, relax and watch a movie, which I did whilst rocking on my birth ball. About two hours later I told Dave that I needed to fully concentrate on my Hypnobirthing breathing and I put the River Dawn song on my headphones. I felt in complete control of each surge, I walked up and down in my hallway in between surges and I sat on the birth ball when I needed to breathe through one. I had a microwave wheat bag for the cramping feeling during each surge and Dave silently took it and kept warming it for me. He also timed my surges and called the hospital when he felt they were close and long enough. They asked to speak to me but he told them I was Hypnobirthing so they asked to listen in to one of my surges and judged by my breathing sounds. By this point with each surge I was focusing on hard, strong 'up breathing' to manage each one. I would close my eyes and focus my breathing and visualise being in a park with sunlight on my face, coming through gaps in the trees. I couldn't have held any kind of conversation during a surge and for that reason they said it was time to come to the hospital. During this phone call the midwives broke the news that the hot water at the hospital was not working properly and I would not be able to have a water birth. This kind of information during my first birth would have sent me into a wave of panic, but the state I was in from Hypnobirthing meant that I stayed calm and relaxed in the face of this change of plans and I just let the news wash over me without any concern. My inlaws were already on their way to us and arrived at around 12.30am, to watch over Joshua and drive us to the hospital. I hadn't wanted them to come until the last minute as I had felt that any feelings of being observed might make me less comfortable and I wanted to preserve my bubble for as long as possible. The drive to the hospital was particularly hard, I can recall having three surges whilst in the car and all of them felt less manageable than they had at home. I had to brace against Dave in the backseat and I was relieved when we arrived at the hospital. Two more surges in the lobby almost floored me but once I was in the birth centre everything got back on track. The birth ball was ready and waiting in a dimly lit room as requested, and just that alone reduced pressure with each surge and helped me to refocus myself.
My birth plan was respected to the letter and in the two hours I laboured at the hospital I was not disturbed from my Hypnobirthing with any questions or internal examinations. My pulse was taken silently, and I can remember feeling a foetal monitor once or twice to check baby's heart rate, and a blood pressure cuff just once, but all other times when I opened my eyes (which mainly remained closed) the midwife was in a corner of the room at a desk writing out notes. I had no concept of time and I never once thought to ask it. I was handed sips of coconut water and Dave was given a stool to sit on behind my birth ball so that he could do light touch massage on the small of my back. At one point I opened my eyes and thought I saw the midwife running water into the birth pool but dismissed this thought as they had said earlier this wouldn't be possible. However, amazingly the boiler, although temperamental, had by some miracle worked when they needed it to and for what was to be the last half hour of my labour I was led into the warm waters of the birth pool which were utterly blissful. Dave sat outside the pool behind me with his arms stretched around me, palms of his hands facing up. I locked my fingers with his and used his arms to brace against during surges. My feet were against the other side of the pool and with each surge I felt my body arch and rise up. Having been silent throughout my surges up until this point, I felt the urge to scream out each breath and as my body rose out of the water I visualised myself flying and soaring upwards. There were times when I shouted out 'no' and then corrected myself to remain confident and shout 'yes' and 'please' I had not realised I was in transition or I would have begun breathing down with each surge but I had no idea. My midwife was monitoring me by the poolside but I had still yet to engage with her at all, it felt more like just me and Dave were having this experience alone. I had a surge that ended with what felt like an audible pop which was my waters breaking and my baby's head beginning to crown. This shocked me out of my visualisations and I locked eyes with my midwife for the first time, my fears about my first birth surfaced momentarily, I took out my earphones and spoke my first words to her which were 'please don't let me push'. My midwife was confident, reassuring and calm, just everything I needed her to be in that moment. With my next surge I breathed downwards and visualised the baby moving down through my body, I felt her head fully emerge and out slid Baby Emily at 3.12am, two hours after my arrival at the birth centre. I can honestly say that I didn't have to push her even the smallest amount, she came out along with the surge. With Emily in my arms I was completely euphoric and chattering in constant excitement about how amazing Emily was and that I couldn't believe I did it. I spoke to my midwife and we laughed through our introductions as I honestly hadn't felt like we'd interacted at all until the last moments of Emily's birth. Time passed without any urgency and before long I felt the urge to pass the placenta, which came easily, along with some fairly huge clots but no pain or real effort involved. The cord had stopped pulsating and Dave was offered to cut the cord which he did. I then handed him Emily who he transferred onto his shirtless chest and I was helped the few feet across to the bed to be examined for the first time since arriving at the hospital. Still euphoric and babbling I chattered about my hopes that there wouldn't be any serious tearing this time around. The midwife commented that aside from the clots the birth pool water was very clear and upon checking me she gave me the news that was the icing on top of what already felt like the perfect birth, not a single stitch required, not even a scratch. I remember thinking of the consultant who told me I absolutely needed a c-section and how I wanted to find her and tell her how wrong she was! I asked my midwife how soon before I could go home and had to be reminded it was 3am in the morning. I honestly felt like I could have walked out of the hospital there and then I was flying so high. Emily remained with us and they didn't ask to weigh her for at least the first hour. Other than for her weighing (7lbs 15oz) she remained constantly skin to skin for the next five hours, nestled in under my tshirt whilst I should have been sleeping but instead stared at her in amazement.
Back at home Joshua had slept through the night unaware that he had a new baby sister. He'd come into our bedroom that morning to find Nanny and Grandad, who dressed him and brought him straight over to the hospital. In truth he was very excited to see Emily but really more excited by the two toy trains she had brought him as a gift to her new big brother! I just felt relief that the birth had happened overnight and had not impacted Joshua in the slightest, and that we could now go home together and enjoy our newest family member. I felt overconfident and carried Emily in my arms downstairs and to the car but was surprised by the need to stop and rest multiple times as my legs felt weak and wobbly. The birth had gone so well that psychologically I felt amazing but physically my body was still reminding me that I'd just had a baby. I waved goodbye to the hospital eight hours after arriving, with my perfect new baby daughter nestled in my arms.
Owen's Birth Story:
Following a refresher session with Crystal, we brought our third baby into the world using hypnobirthing on 6th August 2017. I'm so grateful to Crystal yet again for helping me to trust my body and my instincts and focus my efforts on calm meditation and relaxation so we could yet again have the natural birth that we wanted.
Owen's Birth Story
After visiting the birth centre the day before for my41 week check up, where we declined a sweep and induction, we headed off for a nice long walk to see if we could kick start Owen's labour. I was feeling some surges that evening but very spaced apart and irregular so by midnight we headed to bed. Just one hour later I awoke with strong surges lasting about 15 seconds, around 10 minutes apart, so we headed downstairs so I could manage them better with my hypnobirthing music and sitting on the birth ball. My inlaws also came over and went to sleep upstairs, so we could leave whenever we needed to. Surges at home were very manageable and we weren't sure when to go to the birth centre. They got to 5 minutes apart, and it was reaching morning when the kids would awake so we headed to the birth centre and got there at around 6am. Disappointingly, protocol at the birth centre meant I wasn't left alone to hypnobirth initially and after mum and baby checks, they informed me there was protein in my urine and my blood pressure was high. They weren't sure whether to transfer me to the labour ward in case of late onset preeclampsia so they took blood tests and informed me that they would make a decision based on my next blood pressure test. This of course had a negative effect on my blood pressure and we agreed with the midwife that if she left us alone to birth, when she next came back my blood pressure would be improved. A changeover of midwives at this point meant that I was now being cared for by a different midwife who said that she wouldn't be moving me unless blood tests came back with positive results, which wouldn't be for at least a few hours, so finally we made ourselves comfortable and returned to hypnobirthing. The midwives left us in the room by ourselves and I put my hypnobirthing music on. I managed surges using the birth ball and walking around, until they were about 3 minutes apart and a minute long and feeling really intense. I was arching my body with each surge and Dave was supporting me by holding me from behind. We then decided to move into the birth pool which was serene and amazing and every surge became mild and manageable. Unfortunately they slowed down almost to the point of stopping and the midwife felt they were no longer being very effective. I had enjoyed the rest and was almost asleep in the pool, but agreed that moving around would be a good idea. I started standing in the water for a few surges holding onto Dave for support and without the buoyancy of the water they quickly amped up again. I pushed against him and rocked my body to handle each surge. Tiredness meant I was forgetting to breathe with them at times and Dave was good at bringing my focus back. I felt it helped the most to breathe a hard strong breath, as if I was trying to blow up a balloon, and to focus on relaxing every muscle in my body and letting Dave hold me up. I visualised Owen moving downwards and talked to him between surges. After two very powerful surges the midwives said they could see opening movement with each surge and I sat down into the water, on my knees with my arms over the side. Seven hours after arriving at the birth centre, and exactly like with my daughter Emily, my waters broke one surge before Owen began crowning. Exactly like with my son Joshua he was a hand to face presentation. I caught him from beneath me and carried him up to the surface, covered in vernix. He cried much quicker than the other two who were very placid after their water births, but then he latched on almost immediately, drank frantically and did an enormous poo everywhere! After passing his placenta we left it attached for the first few hours and cuddled up skin to skin. The midwives checked me over and in spite of his hand to face presentation he had come out without causing any tearing, so no stitches required. He was weighed about 4 hours after birth, 3.78kg (8lb 5oz) and we were then able to head home with our lovely new baby boy.