I went into labour on a June Friday early evening with my first baby at 40 weeks +2 days.
Having taken Rachel’s Group Hypnobirthing course & her Newborn Prep course I felt pretty calm & in control. I was sat at home on the sofa & Pointless was on the tele 🙂
All of a sudden my waters broke all over the floor, but it wasn’t the big EastEnders gush & panic you see in the soaps. I wasn’t in the least bit scared despite being on my own, because thanks to Rachel educating me on the stages of labour, I knew I didn’t need to worry. I calmly phoned my husband & sods law he was still working on a complex job so was late! Still….no panicking from me.
There was no pain or discomfort. The only thing that concerned me was that my amniotic fluid looked ever so slightly off colour. My maternity hospital said that really it should be clear so they advised me to come into hospital just in case. I wasn’t too fussed about going into the hospital early. I would have been perfectly happy staying at home longer and I was very relaxed.
We took our time & arrived at the hospital about 8pm. I was assessed & examined by an experienced midwife. Unfortunately, my fluid was getting slightly darker so they suspected it was Meconium, when baby poos inside you. This can be very dangerous but at this point it wasn’t confirmed. Different midwives & doctors were giving us conflicting information.
My midwife advised me that she was "going to induce me". My husband & I made it clear that we wanted to avoid induction & any interventions unless absolutely necessary. The midwife seemed surprised & said if I was induced "we could get baby out in record time" & questioned how I could possibly not want to be induced. She said she had been a midwife for many years & that she knew best! This made me feel a bit like shit at a time but Rachel had prepared us for all of this. We knew what questions to ask to determine if the induction was necessary or not rather than feeling forced into it. The midwife seemed a bit taken aback by how assertive we were being. We asked to be left alone to make a decision together. I decided to give Rachel a call for a chat because I was so confused. Rachel knew I was in labour & told me I could contact her if needed. By this point it was after 10.30pm so I felt a bit bad calling, but Rachel was fantastic & put me at ease. She didn’t decide for us but speaking to her & hearing her perspective helped so much. It was quite funny because our midwife came in the room whilst I was on the call. Afterwards I again calmly explained that I was a Lionheart Hynobirthing Mother. The midwife seemed much more understanding & receptive at this point. She seemed genuinely interested & I was so proud of myself for being assertive & standing my ground with her! I definitely had fire in my belly as well as my baby, & I don’t think I would have been that confident challenging a Medical Professional if it wasn’t for Rachel’s course. I was able to express myself eloquently & calmly & I think my midwife respected that & more importantly, respected my decision in the end.
So what started off as quite a negative relationship turned good….my midwife later came back & dimmed all the lights in my room & brought me a birthing ball! She wanted to "get the Oxytocin flowing". From then on she was lovely & supportive which was a compete turnaround of attitude, which made our experience so much better.
I had to go on the monitor for a while to check baby periodically, but was still able to have periods of moving around, pacing up and down & bouncing on my birthing ball.
Things then started to progress & the surges really started. I was reading my hypnobirthing notes & reciting my affirmations. I also listened to the Hynobirthing audio. We even watched an episode or two of Friends….a bit of comedy to keep husband awake, make us laugh & occupy my mind.
A good few hours passed. At this point, contractions had started in full force. When they intensified I started using my TENS machine which was a lifesaver! My husband even gave me the odd massage! I refused invasive vaginal examinations when offered & felt comfortable in my decision as did my husband.
My midwife kept saying she was ready proud of me. I had gone from nothing to about 4cm dilated & could make my way to the Maternity Led Unit for my lovely pool birth….finally 🙂 She admitted she wasn’t sure if I’d get there on my own without interventions but I did & she said that was fantastic! She said she had never met anyone so determined to have a pool birth in her life 🙂
So I was finally able to use my gorgeous oil diffuser and get in the lovely warm pool. It was so soothing but the room was very hot & steamy. I was still feeling really sickly & my surges were getting much stronger & closer together. I was starting to get really tired.
My lovely hubby bought me lots of snacks to eat during labour but unfortunately because I felt so sick, I couldn’t stomach any food, so my energy levels starting getting low. My husband was doing his best to get me to eat but I wasn’t having none of it. Eventually I angrily took a bite out of a breakfast biscuit just to shut him up 🙂 I think he could tell I was in no mood for fun and games at this point.
It was now light outside & in the morning my Mum arrived. It was so lovely to have my mum there too. I can’t stress enough how amazing both my birth partners were; getting me water, stroking me when I wanted to be touched & making me feel safe.
Unfortunately it turned out that they could establish that the baby had pooed inside me. There was definite evidence of Meconium. I had no choice but to be transferred to the Main Labour Ward, the place I really didn’t want to be! The midwives said they couldn’t believe how calm I was. Despite being in advanced labour I had no drugs, just gas & air. I was using my hypnobirthing techniques & the support of my husband & Mum to get me through without any further interventions.
I then consented to what was essentially a vaginal exam/sweep because the midwife thought my waters were only partially broken & there was a sense of urgency now. This was extremely painful & was followed by the most earthshaking contractions ever but I was getting closer. I kept thinking that I would soon be meeting my beautiful baby.
I was so exhausted & started having my first proper doubts & wobbles in the delivery room but Mum & my husband were being strong for me at this point.
Then I somehow ended up on a bed about to give birth! My husband knew this wasn’t what I wanted, so he became my advocate and told the midwives to stop so I could change my position. I was now on all fours on the bed.
I was the most tired I have ever been & felt like I had no energy left. I was physically & mentally drained. But my birth partners kept me going.
After what felt like a marathon, my baby girl Mila was finally here. A beautiful healthy 8lbs 2.5 oz.
My labour was tough, but I know that it would have been much tougher if we wouldn’t have done Rachel’s course.
What could have easily been the most terrifying moment of my life was made so much easier through my association with Rachel & Hynobirthing.
My story shows that whilst you can’t always control what is happening to you, amidst the chaos & drama, you can control your response to it.
Hypnobirthing reminds you that mindset is everything because the mind is so powerful. I was able to assert myself because I was so well informed, stay calm in a crisis & had wonderful calm birth partners looking after me throughout. It amazed me how much information my mum & husband retained from the course. I couldn’t have got through it without them.
Shit happens unfortunately, but what people may not realise is that this is exactly when all you learn through Hynobirthing becomes essential. It’s not about learning to have a pain or drama free birth, hynobirthing gives you the knowledge & tools to deal with anything birth throws at you, the good, the bad & the ugly….and it really did in my case!
I hugely value Rachel personally too because she was there to support me & went above & beyond. It meant a lot when she reached out to me after the birth knowing I was having a difficult time. You get the sense that this is not just a job for Rachel but a vocation and that makes all the difference to a woman at the most vulnerable time of their life.
Hynobirthing doesn’t promise you a smooth birth, but it does give you your power back & your control. You get to have a say in what happens to you, your body & your baby, whereas before Hynobirthing you may just let yourself get swept up in the medicalisation of birth because of fear, lack of knowledge & outdated ways of thinking that people feel are just the "norm". This sense of power is priceless, regardless of what kind of birth you have.
I hope Rachel continues to be a catalyst for much needed change.
And now Mila is 4 months old & we feel so blessed to have such an amazingly precious, beautiful little girl.