I feel so bloody chuffed to be finally writing a POSITIVE birth story. Despite beginning our Hypnobirthing journey at 25 weeks pregnant, I think its fair to say that I doubted how this labour would pan out. I had a traumatic birth with Eli that lasted 30+ hours due to induction at 42 weeks. I won’t go into the story of Eli’s birth, because I have made ‘peace’ with it now and its not healthy to continue to dwell on it (hiya Mum-Guilt, great to see you again).
So I’ll push the previous history to one side and start from the beginning with Edie’s birth now.
I had initially set out to avoid ALL intervention with this pregnancy, including any sweeps. I’d had 4 failed sweeps with Eli and felt it was a pretty pointless procedure, in my opinion. I voiced this in my birth preferences and talked through interventions with my community midwife team. Instead, from around 35 weeks I started drinking in my all of the Raspberry Leaf Tea, I started eating 6 dates a day and then when we hit 37 weeks, I started taking a bath on an evening infused with Clary Sage essential oil, I started eating fresh pineapple (including the core, ‘cos Bromelain), I added Clary Sage to the oil diffuser with lavender, we added Clary Sage to Cowshed body oil and massaged it into my bump and ankles (!!), I used my Medela Swing for 5-10 minutes on each breast in an attempt to stimulate oxytocin and continued to go to bed and meditate using my Positive Birth Company MP3′s.
But at my 40 week appointment, I was HOT and beginning to feel a bit fed up. When asked if I still wanted to decline any intervention….I said “sod it” and agreed to a one-time sweep. Just to see…
I was advised if anything was to ‘happen’ it would do so within 48 hours. Obviously, all of the above are old wives tales – Hypnobirthing science aside, of course! Nothing is going to push your body into giving birth. Your baby will come, when your baby is ready.
At 1pm, 48 hours (practically!) to the minute, I started to have what I thought were Braxton Hicks. Eli and I hauled ourselves into my bedroom and I whacked Friends on whilst he played on Minecraft. We had lunch and I kept an eye on the frequency of the surges (contractions). They seemed regular. I opened up the Freya App on my phone and began timing the surges – they were lasting 30 seconds or so and were 6 minutes apart. I convinced myself this wasn’t labour and decided it would be a good idea to tidy the entire house, hoover, clean my bedroom window and then sew up a pair of James’ trousers that I’d been putting off.
Now it was about 4pm and the surges had continued to stay regular throughout all my weird nesting chores. I texted James and asked him to keep an eye on the trains (we’d had dreadful local flooding the day before) but assured him that I was fine and it ‘probably’ wasn’t even real surges. By 5:30, the surges were more frequent and lasting 40-60 seconds. I texted James and asked him to leave work because the surges were lasting longer and had become more powerful (painful). I was really feeling the effects of ‘Up Breathing’ at this point – I couldn’t get through a surge without it.
James got home just after 6:30pm and made me beans on french toast, incase I was in labour. Then he fannied about making tea for himself and Eli. Meanwhile, the Freya App told me I was in established labour…
By 7pm, the surges were less than 3 minutes apart and I was reallllllly feeling it. I had two paracetamol (LOL) and made James get a rush on with eating his tea and sorting Eli out. Of course James was ridiculously laid back about all of this! By 7:30pm I got in the bath and I asked James to ring Maternity Triage to ask for advice. We both spoke to the Midwives on Triage – they were so lovely and advised I should go in to be assessed.
I said my goodbye’s to Eli – and he kissed the bump for the last time. He told me he was proud of me and that I MUST remember to keep breathing! (I did). He grabbed his suitcase, iPad and monkey and off he went on his own adventure next door!
At 8pm, we were in the car making the 10 minute journey to Stepping Hill Hospital. I had the soothing tone of Siobhan Miller in my headphones and whacked on a eye-mask so I could concentrate – I’d also added Clary Sage and Lavender to one of Eli’s old muslin’s to breathe in. I’d convinced myself I must have been about 5-6cm, especially as the surges were so close together now.
We made it to Triage just after 8:15pm and were immediately seen. I really struggled with the examination due to the frequency and power of my surges. It took my Midwife, Deb, a little while to get me on the bed to be assessed. Eventually she managed and announced that I was JUST 1cm dilated. I couldn’t believe it. If this was barely the beginning, I had absolutely NO IDEA how I could cope with the rest of labour. I had to knock that doubt straight out of my head and by 9pm, we were on our way back home.
James put candles around the bedroom, closed the curtains then on the oil diffuser went. I kept the Positive Affirmations MP3 going via my headphones, rocked back and forth on my birth ball and we continued to time the surges. By 10pm James noticed that my breathing had changed and kept putting me back on track. Sadly, I couldn’t deal with him massaging my back or doing the light touch we’d planned on – I was completely in the zone, kept my eyes closed, and was doing exactly what my body told me to do.
By 11pm, I couldn’t cope with the sheer power of the surges and there was little to no break between them now. I had to switch off the MP3 at this point because some of the affirmations weren’t totally relevant. Instead, I used my visualisations (of St. Ives beach! and also of the placement of my favourite positive affirmation cards around the house) and I kept repeating my favourite affirmations to myself: ‘my surges cannot be more powerful than me, because they are me‘ and ‘every surge brings me closer to my baby‘. I got James to ring Triage again, they advised that being in our home environment for as long as possible would be better than going back to the hospital again – especially as it had only been 2 hours since we left (and my waters were still in tact).
Reluctantly, I continued to labour at home – we knew I was in real labour so I turned off my phone and the Freya App which had proven to be so invaluable during and up till this point. By 11:30 I found I had too much discomfort in my coccyx and it felt like my bladder was overly full – but I couldn’t pass urine (I couldn’t get off the ball to get to the toilet to be truthful!). I’m not gonna lie here, I was in total agony. My breathing had changed once again and I was actively ‘Down Breathing’, James kept trying to bring it back to Up Breathing, but there was no chance. I was screaming out as I reached the peak of each surge now too. It was an animalistic release – which brought me a real relief too.
I was thinking I needed an immediate Epidural – or even better -to be knocked out for a C-Section. I felt like I couldn’t go any longer*. There was no way any other drug would help me now. I needed my baby to come out and we HAD to get to the hospital. Then POW my waters broke. It was a massive gush of warmth down my legs, which I ignored and continued to breathe and bounce. Thankfully, my waters were clear. PHEW.
*I now understand that what I was feeling here was TRANSITION.
Transition is the final phase of the first stage of labour, following early and active labour. At this point, a woman progresses from seven to 10 centimetres, often in less than an hour. The word transition means that her body is making the shift from opening the cervix to the beginning of the baby’s descent.
As I’d been induced with Eli and the midwives failed to break my waters on no less than 3 occasions, I had no experience of what it felt like to have your waters break naturally. It was absolutely crackers – it was a big pop towards my public bone and I knew then, that she was coming. James rang Triage and told them we were en route again and my waters had now gone.
It took me about 6 minutes to get from our bedroom to the car on the drive. How I managed to get down the stairs I will never know.
Outside was so eery. It was midnight and there was a low cloud – you could barely see in front of you – it was completely silent. James drove SO carefully to the hospital – I screamed at him “this is one time you’re allowed to rag the car about!”. It was quite honestly like a film.
But he kept his cool. He has since admitted he didn’t think I was much further along than the 1cm, so he was relatively laid back.I do have a reputation for over-dramatising situations – so this isn’t his fault.
We got to the hospital and he parked up. I couldn’t get out of the car. I was screaming through my surges and my body started pushing down. I had no control over the pushing. It’s what my body wanted to do. Once through the hospital entrance, James grabbed a wheelchair. I jumped onto it, on my knees and he dragged me to the lift. There was another woman behind us, who was apparently also pushing. She waited for the next lift.
James tried to get me through the double doors once at Triage, but he was struggling, so I jumped off the wheelchair and ran into a room, stripped all of my clothes off and got on the bed, on all fours. I announced I was Hypnobirthing and pushing.
Deb, my midwife, who I’d seen only 3 hours earlier, was attempting to calm me down so she could assess if I was indeed dilated enough to be pushing. She said she could see the baby’s head and that she was going to coach me through the pushing. Sarah, the second midwife on Triage came in and let us know that the lady behind us was also pushing and she had alerted the Delivery Suite about the two of us. But it was too late for me – I was going to give birth in Triage!
I pushed Edie’s head out in 3 pushes – 2 pushes later she was completely out – shocked, but blinking. She’d been born in the wrong department, 10 minutes after arriving. I scooped her up between my legs and rubbed at her little body. She wasn’t breathing – Deb cut the cord and grabbed a towel to try and rouse Edie. After a minute or so, Edie was taken away to Resuscitation.
As we’d not been able to have delayed cord clamping because Edie had rushed into the world, I used my B.R.A.I.N and agreed to having Active Management of the placenta. Deb administered the injection of Syntocinon and began massaging my tummy. A few minutes of surges and pushing later my placenta was delivered. While the placenta was in tact, Deb noticed that out came a gush of meconium with it. This indicated that Edie had passed her first bowel movement with the stress of coming out so quickly.
We were all shell-shocked.
It felt like a lifetime before Edie was brought back to us.
When she was finally placed in my arms, I relaxed down. I felt the biggest rush of love, EVER. I’d done it. I’d given birth to our daughter, using Hypnobirthing tools and without any pain relief whatsoever. I’d gone from 1cm dilated to giving birth in the space of 3 hours.
I couldn’t believe it.
I still can’t believe it – almost a fortnight on. It still feels like a totally surreal, but serene, experience. Kind of out of body. I can remember every single detail. Which is something I am missing from Eli’s birth, due to the amount of drugs that were administered.
Deb finished cleaning me up and then we were taken to the Delivery Suite (ironically). Once there, Edie was taken to the warming cot by my new Midwife Eileen, who took bloods and called a Paediatrician down. There had been issues with the PH gasses of the placenta, meaning Edie needed some extra monitoring. Eileen was an Irish midwife who was just the biggest and brightest soul. She was old school and simply magical.
There was a struggle with getting the right amount of blood from Edie so more specialists were called. Remembering my Hypnobirthing kept me as calm as I could possibly be. James didn’t leave her side – he held onto her tiny hand while Eileen repeatedly checked my stat’s and then called for a Doctor to repair the 2nd degree tear I’d received. After a fairly shocking Episiotomy (that landed me with blood poisoning and a week back in hospital following Eli’s birth), a specialist was required for the repair job. I finally got my hands on Gas & Air. I did as I was asked and took 10 deep and quick breaths on the gas, I shouted that it didn’t work in that oh so familiar low-tone and then felt that floating feeling. My Doctor, Sarah, started stitching, I could feel it, so I got my breathing in order using Up Breathing and sailed high and free. Bliss.
I didn’t want to hand the gas back, but Eileen made me. She then brought that Tea and Toast… so all was forgiven!
This experience was so far-removed from my previous labour and recovery. For one, James was addressed at every single opportunity. Which made such a difference.
Eileen ever so sweetly grabbed my toiletry bag from my case and started unpacking the shampoo and conditioner so I could have a shower with everything I needed. It’s such an intense relationship that you form with a Midwife, in such a short time. I felt so overwhelmed with love and support from Eileen – I could actually cry right now, remembering how she cared for me.
We weren’t rushed at all; given all the time we needed, but by 5am, it was time to head to the postnatal ward, MAT2. I went into a wheelchair, pulled by Eileen, holding tightly onto Edie who was now bundled in blankets and her very first baby grow. A red knitted hat was given – this was intentional – we later found out that different coloured hats meant different things. For us, the red hat was a signifier for staff that Edie had needed special care (as well as keeping her little head warm!). We said our goodbye’s to Eileen and settled into the cubicle on the ward. James was even allowed to stay – again, this meant the world to us as he’d been sent straight home following the birth of Eli.
6am and James was snoring in the corner, I watched the sunrise through the gap in the curtains and felt the most intense love for this little human in my arms.
At 6:30am I was introduced to Emma, the Midwife on duty – she took mine and Edie’s stat’s and I was given Paracetamol for the after-pains you experience post-birth. We were also shown to the family kitchen, which was stocked to the brim with breakfast foods and an array of tea’s and coffee – of which James was allowed to access too. I was soon given a menu to choose my main meals for the rest of the day. We were then left to chill for 3 hours until our stat’s were repeated again. I tried to sleep, but it was warm and loud as new patients were added to the ward – along with people having their own stat’s read. I couldn’t stop staring at my new sweet baby girl anyway, so nothing was going to interrupt or impact on that!
By 9am, James wanted to grab Eli from our amazing neighbours next door and freshen up. At 11am he returned and our glorious children met for the very first time.
To say I was emotional at our little family all meeting for the first time, would be a total understatement. I cried the happiest tears I imagine I’ll ever cry. I am so proud and so happy and so full of love, I’m not sure how I haven’t burst yet!
As Edie had needed special care, she was closely monitored by specialists – they found that her temperature was going up and down (only very slightly), but enough to warrant an extra night in hospital.
This was completely fine by me. It was a welcome stay. I wasn’t rushed out – in fact, the nurses told me we could stay as long as we wanted to! This really helped with my anxiety and stress. I felt like we had real personal care here – by professionals who were passionate about our wellbeing. We weren’t just another ‘number’ – which is how we felt at the hospital where we had Eli. (I am trying not to dwell on that past experience!)
Unfortunately, our first night, just us two, was not so successful. Edie screamed the ward down from 11pm until around 6am. I think she was over-tired and nothing I could do would overcome that. Two midwives came to the rescue and she eventually calmed down. I tried my best not to get stressed over it, but when you’re on a ward, its difficult to not worry about everyone else! I ended up walking up and down the hospital corridors for a few hours. As soon as I fell asleep, James and Eli arrived for the day.
We had a full day of monitoring to get through before we were allowed to go home. Edie’s temperature eventually stabilised and all my stat’s were good. We then had a the Newborn hearing test and as Edie had received special care, a Paediatrician had to sign her Newborn Check off before we were discharged.
Everything was signed off and we were given the A-OK to head home in the evening!
We got home and all our neighbours came out to greet us. We had fish and chips and we all slept mega soundly. It was just the perfect start to our new family life.
In complete honesty, I would not have had the same pregnancy OR indeed birth experience without The Positive Birth Company. I may not have had any of the TEN birth scenario’s that I wrote preferences for, or planned for (didn’t get to use the LED tea lights, playlist, oils or massage, birth pool or delayed cord clamping) but this was still such an incredibly positive birth. An amazing labour and birth and so far, postpartum period.
From the Digital Course to reading the daily positive birth stories, I would not have been able to do it without the PBC and the Freya App. I felt so prepared and at ease this time around. I was genuinely excited for Edie’s birth and I’ve probably never felt more ‘zen’ in my entire life – which is quite the statement, coming from me. I feel a peace with both my birth experiences and the Hypnobirthing tools I learned will live with me forever! I’ve even used several affirmations and the breathing techniques since having Edie.
I have never, felt so empowered and strong and brave in my entire life – and I doubt I ever will feel like this ever again.
So thank you Siobhan and the PBC for allowing me to have confidence in myself and my own decisions. I cannot recommend The Positive Birth Company enough. From our little family of four to you Siobhan, THANK YOU!
For clarity, I was kindly #gifted The Digital Course by The Positive Birth Company. This is not a sponsored, paid post or an ad.
I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m in love The PBC!