“We had a wonderful and calm labour and birth”

Catherine and Andrew’s birth story:

“My Mum had always told me that giving birth was not the excruciating experience that you see on TV and films. However, viewing myself as a complete wuss with pain I didn’t necessarily believe her!

I starting research hypnobirthing when we found out we were expecting a baby.

One night I came across an Instagram Live session which Rachel was running. She spoke so positively about her own birth experience and gave so much of her midwifery knowledge as well. I realised I knew nothing about the process of birth, possible interventions and what my rights were. I signed up for her first online cohort session in May.

Over the 3 sessions I became empowered, knowledgeable and fully equipped for the journey ahead. It was great to experience the course from the comfort of home with my mug of milk and chocolate buttons to hand!

Alongside this, my growth scans indicated that we may be dealing with a large baby. The doctors were also concerned about our baby’s kidneys. I was assigned a consultant. Around the same time I was also transferred to a new midwife. At my 36 week appointment we discussed my birth plan. I expressed that I’d always been fascinated with the idea of a home birth but felt that it was something that happened to other people. She fully supported my wishes and put the wheels in motion. I was on cloud nine, starting to prepare for a home water birth. Throughout the preparation I kept Rachel’s comfort ladder tools in mind. I bought a TENS machine, candles and more chocolate buttons! Our sitting room was converted into a birthing room over the next week.

They came the spanner in the works. My consultant was not happy for me to give birth at home. Baby’s kidneys were looking better but she was concerned that a possibly large baby would get stuck. My gut feeling was that I wouldn’t create a baby that my body couldn’t cope with. In addition, the consultant wanted me to be induced at 40 weeks and baby’s heart be continuously monitored during labour. This was the last thing I wanted, knowing that labouring on my back would make things more difficult for me and my baby. Through tears and wearing a mask, I defended my choice to give birth in the way I wanted. I declined the induction, left the hospital feeling shaken but I wouldn’t change my mind yet. My midwife was fully supportive of my choice.

About a week later, I started getting tight feelings in my stomach and back, like someone was pulling a rope around my middle. I’d been having twinges intermittently for about 2 weeks prior to this. This time, it felt different. As the afternoon wore on, they get stronger. I used my breathing techniques each time, still managing to prepare our evening meal (even if eating it was another story!) This was the real deal, but I kept going, breathing to cope with the increasingly intense waves.

As evening turned to night, my waters broke. Andrew and I worked through different ways of making me more comfortable – TENS machine, a warm bath whilst eating wine gums, pouring water on my back, swaying – the lot! Around 2am my surges were coming every 2 minutes so we called the midwives and filled up the birthing pool.

When the midwives arrived I was getting a strong urge to push and the water wasn’t providing me with enough relief. I was so grateful for the gas and air, remembering what I’d learned about building up breath before the surges peak really hit. In the calm darkness, the midwives left me (in a positive way) to go with things as they happened. They monitored my temperature, blood pressure and baby’s heartbeat when needed but I was in the zone.

Then it came to the actual pushing! I soon realised that I was wrong. Despite all my previous thoughts that I would be delivering a ‘normal size’ bundle, I now felt like I was going to turn myself inside out. This was not your average size baby!

Again, I pushed through my doubts and allowed my body to tell me what to do. After what seemed like ages, the midwives told me to reach down to feel a downy-covered head. A few more pushes, trying hard to listen to my body and the head made an appearance, followed quickly by baby’s body. Pulling little one up and out of the water; I had done it. My home water experience had been achieved. But who was this person who had entered the world?

James Andrew, born at 5.46am as the sunlight streamed through the gap in our curtains. A bright new beginning. The doctors hadn’t been wrong. He weighed in at a chunky 9lb 6oz.

I cannot thank enough everyone who was involved in our journey. To be able to give birth in the comfort of my home was everything. Although I ended up being admitted to hospital postnatally (which wasn’t as bad as it could have been) I would do it all again thanks to the fantastic hypnobirthing knowledge I gained and the supportive midwife team that I was so lucky to have”.

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