This was my first pregnancy and although I didn’t have a particular fear of giving birth I naively thought I’ll just go with the flow and probably end up having an emergency section like all the women in my family before me, I thought there would be a genetic reason that I wouldn’t be able to do it naturally.
I wasn’t really enjoying my pregnancy and found myself more and more looking forward to the birth and wanting to know if there was any way I could take some sort of control over how it played out.
This lead me to start doing some very basic research and after a quick Google of ‘how to have a good birth’ (inventive I know!!) there was one word that kept reappearing: ‘Hypnobirthing’. As I delved a little deeper I found Rachel at Lionheart Hypnobirthing who was based just up the road from me. My first thought was hypnosis, no thanks! But the more I read, it became obvious that this was about knowledge, understanding and choices in birth. I was very intrigued and booked me and my husband on the course with Rachel, the least I thought we would gain was for my husband to feel involved in the birth – and boy did he!!
Luckily I had a very supportive community midwife and when she found out I was Hypnobirthing she encouraged me to opt for a homebirth, which just seemed like a perfect option for us. Fast forward to my ‘due date’ and we were all set up, inflatable pool and all! There was no sign of baby and we were in no rush, happy in the knowledge we’d gained that baby and body know best and he would come when he was ready.
As the days ticked by I was coming under pressure by the hospital to be induced, we had learnt on the course how to make informed choices and be assertive when needed, now was the time our practice kicked in and baby wasn’t even here yet! 15 days passed my due date I went into hospital for routine monitoring and things started to change. Without knowing, my waters had broken and baby had passed meconium. This is a potential sign of distress and can cause infection. We had been briefed by our midwife that home birth would result in hospital transfer anyway, so the plan had changed and we had to quickly adapt to a hospital birth.
After much debate with the hospital staff we opted to be induced by gel pessary. The time was 3pm and surges began almost immediately – I’d been in latent phase for three days leading up to this – baby and body were ready. To stay occupied we decided to get lunch in the canteen – so silly thinking back because I was having to stop and breathe through surges after every mouthful and the walk back to the ward felt like a long one!
Once I was back I was straight into comfy clothes, lights off, wet lavender cloth over my head, on my knees leaning over my ball and reading my affirmations which hubby had laid out over the floor for me. It was around 6pm and the surges were coming thick and fast and I needed something extra. We put my TENS machine on, got my ‘surfer’ visual aid out and I started to groan through the surges. The on duty midwife asked if I’d like to try a bath, it was probably around 7pm now and as I’d had no medical pain relief this felt like a good next option. This however is the only part of my labour which I’d like to forget… It really hits home the importance of the birth environment. I went from a calm dark room to a clinical hospital bathroom with fluorescent lights and a shallow plastic bath being mithered by healthcare assistants trying to take my blood pressure with a faulty cuff, not good! Coupled with the fact I’d had to take off my TENs and the water barely covered my bump!!!
I recall this being the moment my labour went into “transition” stage and my doubts started to creep in! Jamie (husband) kept me strong at this point, he could identify what was happening and he truly believed in the process. He was calm throughout even though it took him 30 minutes to get me out of the bath! From here the ward staff had recognised that I was in established labour and wanted to move me to delivery suite quickly!! To do this I had to go in the wheelchair as the walk was too far but sitting was very painful, the midwife knew she had 30 seconds to get me there in between surges as once the next one came we all knew I’d be jumping up out of the chair, moving or not!
We laugh about this now… Through the doors of the delivery suite and straight in the first available room, there was a definite sense of panic around me but I was so focused and in my own zone. I was offered gas and air which I gladly accepted and asked for my TENS to be put back on. Without thinking I straddled the bed on my hands and knees, bed head raised in the fully upright position and feeling totally in control of the room. I was asked if a clip could be inserted onto baby’s head so staff could continue monitoring, when it was explained I could stay upright I gladly accepted! As the clip went on (which I didn’t even feel) I was advised I was 9cm dilated and would be meeting my baby soon!
Pretty soon I was feeling a small urge to push, for some reason I didn’t want to tell the midwives – maybe in case they told me not to! So I just whispered to Jamie ‘I need to push’ and he whispered back ‘just do it’. We also had a hairy moment later on when the midwife told me baby couldn’t get past my ‘u bend’ and again Jamie whispered in my ear ‘just ignore her you’re doing it right’, I was so happy he’d done the course!!!!
After a few more surges I knew I was feeling baby move down to make his way out, as I pushed more and more I started to roar and growl, sounds I didn’t know my body could make!! Somehow the surges had changed and with the pushing came a little relief, I think I quite enjoyed this stage of labour – the end was finally in sight. I found that recovery between each surge was getting longer as I was getting closer and I was able to shout out some instructions, my preferences about skin to skin and delayed cord clamping. Eventually our boy’s head was born followed by the biggest pause! Around 3 minutes later and another big push at 11.13pm Davie was born.
I was so overcome with emotions in the minutes and hours that followed but the biggest of all – I felt empowered! We’d had a clear birth plan which all went out the window at the last minute but we still had the knowledge of what to expect and how to get the best possible birth, and I feel we achieved that given the circumstances.
My experience would have been a negative one had I not taken Rachel’s course, I can say this with certainty now as I’ve got the benefit of hindsight. The best thing we did was wait for Davie to come in his own time (or as close as possible) and the result – a very positive induction story”.
Leanne, Jamie and baby Davie xxx