Charlotte gave birth to her 1st baby on a midwifery unit. She chose to approach birth feeling curious about the process rather than feeling fearful, the hypnobirthing techniques allowed her to do just that. Here is her story….
My birth story begins a few days before New Year. . .
On the 28th I woke up with a trickling of fluid running down my leg, “WOW” I thought, that’s my waters breaking. So I had a mince pie and a cup of tea (as you do) and waited to see what was going to happen next. Unbeknown to us, it was just a very ‘watery mucus plug’ which is apparently a thing, sounds delightful doesn’t it ! We didn’t ring the delivery suite straight away as I was only getting the odd twinge and wanted to see what was going to happen. In hindsight it’s ALWAYS important to let the midwife know if you think your waters have broke, as apparently you have a 24 hour window to birth your baby, before the possibility of infection etc.
Anyway, back to the story. So the following morning, after ringing delivery suite, they asked me to come in for a check. The lovely midwife said that my waters were still intact (Yippee) and that she could see lots of jelly mucus plug ‘up there’ which the she kindly showed me. She said it wouldn’t be long and that I was already 1-2 cm dilated. OOOOO how exciting I thought! And so panic over we went to my Nanny’s for a roast dinner.
I wasn’t sure if it was all the food or if baby was packing her bags and making her way to the terminal, but the ‘twinges’ (every 30 mins/hour) had definitely started to feel like ‘something’.
We went for a gentle walk/ waddle in the evening and then we settled in for a night of waiting and wondering. We decided to go to bed, as I figured I’d labour through the night and any sleep I could manage would be great. However baby had other plans and contractions were pretty regular through the night (every 10 mins or so) and I was really freaking excited, so sleep was impossible.
The night was a blur of trying to find my rhythm as I moaned and breathed through the contractions, though I was surprisingly quieter than I thought I’d be. I remember at one point a fox started squealing outside our window, it was a real moment of solidarity, though I’m not sure she was also in labour (LOL). But it all felt so natural and very primal, like I’d lived it before and really knew what I was doing, or rather my body did.
Things continued calmly and Oscar, my epic partner was with me all the time, we danced a little in the kitchen to some ‘Buenos vistas Social Club’ (Classic) and just feeling his presence was like a lifeline throughout the birth. Oscar and I attended the Hypnobirthing course together (with the amazing Sharon) and I do feel it helped define his role as a birth partner and give us a boost of confidence and reassurance as a team for the birth-day.
Also during this latent part of labour I used ‘clary gage’ essential oil (a few drops on a flannel and did the deep breathing) I must say it definitely gave me some relief, a momentary high perhaps and I’m pretty sure it also made my contractions more intense, which doesn’t feel great at the time BUT for a first time labour mine was apparently very quick and I DO think the clary sage pumped things up a notch.
Any ho, by that point sun had started to come up and I decided to wake Oscar, who had managed to get a mini nap and tell him “Umm I think I’d like to go to the hospital now!” Contractions were 3 mins apart, and I thought, “Hey isn’t that when we need to go!?” Alas, on ringing the midwife, she kindly recommended that we keep on going at home, that we seemed to be doing brilliantly and that it was better to wait until the contractions were 3 mins apart for a couple of HOURS (say what now!). She said to try the bath and see how things continued.
So into the bath I went, we kept the whole house very dark with only candles and lamps which really helped me to stay in this primal safe bubble. At this point the feels were pretty INTENSE but being in the bath was complete bliss. Oscar soaked a towel in hot water and pulled it around me, so I could sit up in the bath (the only comfortable position!) and I remember trying to just focus on the hypnobirthing visualisations, which had completely gone out the window but had been replaced by the visual of me climbing a mountain, so as a contraction started, I saw myself climbing up the mountain, then at the peak of the contraction I would reach the top and then make my way back down. It kept me soooo focused.
This is where it gets a bit blurry. I remember I got out of the bath and was making some new fox mama sounds on the sofa and I feeling so SICK, I actually threw up and felt much better! Then I could hear Oscar talking to the midwife on the phone “Yes, yes, contractions are like every 1.5-2 minutes apart. Yes, ok, we’re coming in.” I remember thinking WTF how did I get to 2 minutes apart, the baby’s going to be born at home! Oscar grabbed my biggest, warmest wooly dress and some socks (who needs pants right) and called the taxi. We had a very sweet driver and the coolest car ever, one of those glass root ones, AMAZING! So there I was looking up at the sky and thinking “I’m about to have a freaking baby, this is epic!” And by this point the heavy breathing was LOUD, I think I think I gave the driver a bit of a fright but it was working brilliantly for me. I also didn’t feel scared one bit, I just couldn’t wait to get to the midwife unit and jump into that birthing pool!
So we arrived at St Micheal’s around 9am and went straight into the room where I was examined the day before. However this time it was GAME ON and I didn’t even wait to hear what the midwife said. I got Oscar to open my suitcase, pass me my ‘Birthing wear’ (a very old pink embroidered tunic that is beyond comfy) and my fluffy slippers. I was ready to GO before they could even confirm I was 5cm dilated.
I was and so it was into the beauuuutiful birthing room we went. Oscar was like some kind of birth partner ninja, he put fairy lights and tea-lights everywhere and my Indian flute music was already chiming in the background, this was the place to be I thought. I felt so at home despite being in a hospital.
So while the midwife filled the pool, I found total joy sitting on the toilet, (literally the best position ever) and they said they could see my waters just bulging and so with a little strain (which my body was telling me to do) POP GUSH waters broken and into the pool I went.
The most unexpected thing of the whole birth was the incredible urge to P U S H, which I’d heard would happen except I was feeling that urge 2 hours before baby arrived! After some research online I found out Baby B may have been back to back, in which case there’s lots of pressure on the rectum. Also since all the intensity I felt was in my back, I’m pretty sure I experienced back labour.
Once in the pool I was away with the fairies, a little bit of pushing/ contracting, which I just could not control. I was floating in liquid oxytocin! But after about an hour the midwife suggested coming back onto dry land, as things seemed to be slowing down (apparently you CAN relax too much in the pool!).
And literally just moving out of the pool ramped the whole thing up. I remember the moment they said “We can see the head, in the next few contractions the baby will be born.” I just broke down in sheer exhausted joy. That has been the moment I’d be waiting for. Midwife Rosie took my arm and guided me to the birthing stool for the final pushes. I felt like a divine mother Goddess, so full of power and reverence. Everything felt just so sacred. I was filled with gratitude, this is what birth should feel for all Mamas, I thought.
The pushing started and honestly for me the ‘pushing’ part, while physically exhausting, was mentally easy. I had only been officially’ pushing 5 minutes but the midwife said the heart beat was slowing so and we need to get baby out quickly. She looked at me and said “We might have to take you down to the delivery suite…” HELL NO was my first thought, I’d come this far without drugs or interventions, of course if it had to happen I would have done anything to get baby out safely, but something inside me said I could do this! My husband, who had been completely chilled and pretty much silent throughout the whole birth (which I wanted) was now cheering me on with all his might “Come on you can do it!” And from some unknown place, I managed to find the power to push baby a little further and with a helping snip snip from the midwife (essential and with my consent) Baby Beatrix was born. She was 7lbs exact, with a beautiful cry of life telling us all ‘I AM HERE!’ then straight into my arms. She recognised my voice instantly (I’d been talking to her everyday throughout the pregnancy) and she was so calm. And paying in the background was the song I walked up the aisle to. It was beyond beautiful.
Of course because of the episiotomy I needed some stitches, so meanwhile Baby B had skin to skin with her daddy, which was lovely. I should say, the episiotomy was NOT in my birth plan but it meant that baby B could be born safely with no other interventions. And really I didn’t feel a thing and the stitches were nothing how I imagined. They had gas and air at the ready but I didn’t need it, I just sat back and let the midwife do her thing, while I sipped on THE BEST apple juice of my life (at that point I was running on thin air and pure joy!).
So that’s my birth story, no pain relief, just oxytocin and sheer will. Labouring at home and birthing in the midwife unit for only about 2 and half hours! We also came home the same day (after spending the whole day/ eve in hospital). I know that’s no for everyone but I felt I could rest better at home.
I also want to add that I went into my birth completely fearless and I think that’s because I viewed birth as an adventure, it was a rite of passage and something I’d actively decided to be curious about rather than dread. The hypnobirthing affirmations and positive birth stories had actually made me excited for birth!
And I think that’s one thing Hypnobirthing does so well, it shows us that birth is something to be EXCITED for, something you can ENJOY and really embrace because birth is YOUR experience, it’s very unique just like you and your baby.
Also I really believe that you have to WANT to experience a natural birth because in the moments when I was utterly exhausted (mentally) I thought “Hey I have to keep going because I really don’t want an epidural!” and that kept me focused, as crazy as that sounds.
On a final note, I wish all woman could understand that they already have everything they need to navigate the waters of birth and that WE ARE ALL SO FREAKING BADASS!
P.S I love talking about birth! So if anyone wants to chat more about my birth story or just natural birthing in general you can find me on instagram @petite.words