My birth story
I loved being pregnant with my son, Louie. My pregnancy was low risk and was relatively complication free. I had completed a face to face hypnobirthing course with my husband Tom and thanks to regular practice of the techniques along with regular pregnancy yoga classes, I felt excited and ready to birth.
In my third trimester, Covid hit, and pregnant women were told to shield as they were extremely vulnerable. I barely left the house and if I did it was for the one hour of exercise allowed per day, to walk around fields where I wouldn’t see anyone. It was an anxious time and I was worried about my baby’s safety, and what this would mean for my birth. I had planned for my mum to be a second birth partner along with my husband, although sadly this couldn’t now happen, and I was fearful of having to birth alone. I did my best to stay wrapped in my own pregnant bubble, continue to practice my hypnobirthing techniques, rest and prepare for birth. I was born two weeks early, and had it in my mind that my baby would be early also - imagine my surprise when 40 weeks came and went with no sign! My midwife had suggested sweeps from 39 weeks, which I refused; I had trust in my body to go into labour when it was ready. Besides, a baby is considered full term up until 42 weeks, so I wasn't anywhere near overdue at that point. I tried some gentle ways to get things moving naturally instead; walking 3-5 miles a day, using my yoga ball religiously, eating pineapple, eating curries, eating dates, bathing in clary sage - you name it, I tried it, yet there was still no sign of labour.
At 40 weeks and 12 days I was booked in for a ‘routine’ induction at my midwife's insistence and in line with guidelines at my local trust, however once I had been monitored and could see that baby and I were fine I declined to be induced. I did however consent to a dilation check along with my first sweep. The midwife found that I was already 1cm dilated, and the sweep seemed to get things moving along as my surges started 30 mins later in the car on the way home at about 3.30pm.
When I got home I got changed into my comfy pyjamas, sat on my birth ball and reminded myself of my affirmations and yoga positions to help early labour. Surges were every 10-15 minutes and quite manageable, so my husband Tom cooked a pasta dish for dinner to carb load for the feat ahead! We even got a selfie - the last one as just a twosome.
I was determined to labour at home as long as possible. We turned the lights down, lit some candles, got the affirmations playing and set up my vision board which had my favourite affirmations along with some 4D scan pictures of our baby. As surges got more intense I started to use a TENS machine which really helped, whilst laying over my yoga ball. At around midnight my waters broke naturally at home, and my surges were around a minute and a half apart - at this point we left for the hospital.
I had planned to birth in the midwife-led birth unit, however when Tom rang to say we were on the way we were told this was closed due to Covid and I’d need to go to the labour ward instead. Luckily I had written a clear birth plan which outlined my wishes for a hands off water birth, and by the time I had been examined and led to the delivery room the midwives had run the pool, turned the lights off and got my affirmations playing. As soon as I stepped into the pool it was instant relief. I had requested to be as uninterrupted as possible. The midwives respected this and only came to monitor baby’s heart rate every 15 minutes or so - other than that they sat back, writing their notes or even doing a little happy dance in the corner when they knew baby was near!
Not long after getting into the pool I could feel my surges changing - the feeling of my body working to push the baby out was incredible, an uncontrollable sensation that I just breathed through, using the techniques I had learned in my hypnobirthing practice. At no point did the surges feel unmanageable - I remember thinking ‘when is it going to get really bad?’; it never did! Louie was born in the water at 5.18am, 14 hours after my surges started, with no pain relief. I reached down and picked him up and was the first person to touch him - the feeling of joy, relief and utter disbelief at what I had just done was immense. I even forgot to look if he was a boy or a girl, the midwife had to remind me! After lots of skin to skin, cuddles and some tea and toast, Louie and I were back home the same afternoon, ready to start our journey as a family of three.