But then on Thursday 1st January at 3 pm I started getting contractions that were less than 10 mins apart and pretty regular, so we knew that finally it was starting!
I spent 12 hours breathing through the contractions and trying to use surge breathing. The most helpful thing was the slow breathing between surges, using that allowed me to regain some composure in the breaks.
I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who experience no pain – the surges were painful from the start.
12 hours later at 3 am I was so tired and in pain that we decided to go to the midwife unit even though contractions were only 3-4 mins apart. I was only 2cm dilated so they gave me some oramorph and sent me home with instructions to have lots of baths. The midwife also said I should focus on the time between contractions, not think about the next one or worry about how things would progress. It was a reminder to focus on my breathing.
Around lunchtime I discovered the boost button on the Tens machine I’d hired which really helped!!
At 3 pm on the 2nd, after 24 hours of labour, I phoned the unit again but they advised me they thought I was likely still in the latent phase of labour so I decided not to go in.
At the time I was completely immersed in the pain and the new sensations of labour, and I felt I wasn’t Hypnobirthing very well – particularly since I didn’t feel completely relaxed. However, looking back, I am sure that a lot of the Hypnobirthing ‘conditioning’ had indeed kicked in. In particular, this was my first baby and I’d been in labour for over 24 hours, but I wasn’t panicked, I wasn’t afraid, and was able to just try and breathe through the surges. I may not have been so relaxed that my body felt limp but I was definitely in a positive place because of the Hypnobirthing.
At just before 5pm I started feeling something different and the pain had racked up to the point that I said to Mark that we had to go to hospital. We phoned again and then bundled in the car. I wasn’t sure what this different sensation was but I thought it could be the start of needing to push.
When we arrived, the midwife examined me and I was 9cm dilated. I had got to 9cm at home with only baths and a Tens machine! I was desperate to get in the pool but my temperature was elevated so I had to take some paracetamol and wait for it to take effect and bring my temperature down. In the meantime I asked Mark to put on the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ soundtrack – the midwife commented it wasn’t the typical hypnobirthing music but I wanted something lively and uplifting to listen to while I waited!
The brilliant thing about having practised the Hypnobirthing breathing, was that I could use it to take deep, long breaths of gas and air which meant that the gas and air was really effective and really helped. I groaned with each out breath which reverberated through the tubes and sounded like an elephant was giving birth in the room! I started pushing before I was allowed in the pool and was begging the midwife to please let me get in the pool!
Soon enough, my temperature was down and I could get in the pool. I asked Mark to put the Hypnobirthing calm music on. The pool helped so much with the pain and was deep enough for me to be on all fours which had been my preferred position for the whole labour.
The warmth of the pool really helped me relax and with that and the gas and air I had everything I needed. The baby was crowning not long after getting in the water and within an hour and a half of arriving at hospital our little baby girl was born at 6:34pm, 2nd Jan, weighing 7lb 12oz.
We didn’t do the perineal massage as religiously as we should have, but still, I had no perineal tears. I just needed a few stitches higher up.
I really feel that all the hypnobirthing practice we put in in advance meant that on the day, the relaxation and breathing kicked in instinctively. I didn’t feel I was concentrating on it very well but I didn’t need to.
For me, that is the difference to other birth preparation classes – they expect you to remember, during the most shocking, different, amazing thing you’ve ever done, what they spoke to you about in class – whereas if you put in the recommended practice with Hypnobirthing you don’t need to think or concentrate on it because the techniques kick in automatically.
Our gorgeous baby was born very calm – the midwife commented – and she has been doing brilliantly since. I feel a fantastic sense of achievement, am recovering well and am enjoying having my body back and no longer being pregnant.
A week on from her birth, we are a really happy content little family.