After attending our HypnoBirthing course A chose to have her first baby in a Midwife Led Unit. She describes her experience as not painful at all, ‘rather intense muscle work.’ Here is her story;
Our baby’s due date was in 22nd November, but I was sure he or she would join us earlier. I was very busy with work in the weeks before, and could not really let go immediately when maternity leave started. Therefore, ‘everything’ started only once I allowed myself to relax and we had ‘a show’ on the 1st November – a transparent jelly-like blob that I found on a piece of toilet paper. We were happy things seemed to be moving, but remained relaxed. In the end, it took another two weeks for our baby to be born… In the meantime, my partner and I carried on practicing the rainbow relaxation and I was reading the positive birth affirmations hung in our fridge. My favourite ones were about my body knowing how to give birth, which was exactly what happened…
On the 14th of November, my day started with the feeling of incontinence and a stiff back. Well – strange sleeping position and just another new side-effect of the pregnancy, I concluded. I took a relaxing bath, but strangely the pull in my back did not disappear after it. At some point, my partner and I stated to suspect that perhaps the pulling and my continuous “wetting myself” were something more than we thought… So decided to call the midwife-led unit to ask whether it could have been the waters breaking. The midwife offered us to come in and to be looked at, but advised that we very likely would go back home again as it was probably still early labour. By the time we packed our things, it was around 11 o’clock. At the hospital, I had to wait for 20 minutes in a half-lying position for the midwife to know whether our suspicion was correct. After examining me, the midwife confirmed that my waters broke. She asked whether we would like her to see how far I was dilated, and after we agreed to it she told us that it was 1cm and she could see lots of hair! We could not believe it!
However, as it was still early labour, we were heading back home. At that time, I experienced regular gentle pulling in my back. As I was not sure whether these were contractions I asked, and the midwife said ‘You will know when it is a contraction…’. We left the hospital around lunch and by now felt really hungry. What better place to go than for a nice takeaway curry?! We were making jokes how spicy food helps with starting labour. By that time, labour was well on its way, with regular contractions less than 10 minutes apart, which felt like muscle pulling in the back and by then also in the front. I started applying the breathing I learnt in the hypnobirthing course of ‘blowing up a balloon’, and made low ‘u’-sounds to focus. We arrived at home, me feeling properly hungry. I was kneeling on the floor, leaning on the birthing ball, eating a few spoonfuls, then breathing through a contraction, and eating again. At that point I was wondering whether we should prepare ourselves to go back to the hospital, as contractions were only several minutes apart. However, we were so excited and at the same time so unsure of everything, we called the midwife-led unit once again to confirm the necessary timings of contractions for us to come back in. They said: ‘3 contractions in 10 minutes, each about 1 min long.’ I said to my partner that we definitely had 3 contractions in 10 minutes. We started timing and had already 50 seconds long contraction! By then, it was getting to 3 o’clock. Since it was a Friday, with rush hour traffic starting earlier than usually, we decided to get going rather now than waiting on the road. For the bumpy ride, I took 2 paracetamol, and we arrived at the hospital around four o’clock. During the ride, I had to focus and breathe through contractions, but once one was over I felt completely myself, happy and fine.
At the midwife-led unit, I was examined (it took me several attempts to turn over onto my back, as I had contractions coming one after the other). The midwife said that she could not feel the baby’s head anymore, just shoulders, which meant that it was low in my pelvis. After asking whether we would like to have an internal examination, she told us that the cervix was 7cm opened and asked whether I would like to get into the pool. Oh yes, that sounded nice! All of this was achieved in a magical way by my body, me just breathing to support it, and holding my partner’s hand as loving support.
While we were waiting for the pool to fill up, I started breathing gas&air, paying attention not to clench my teeth to the inhaling tube, the way we were advised in the hypnobirthing sessions. I also asked for the rainbow relaxation cd to be turned on, and the surges felt immediately less intense. Overall, I did not perceive them as painful at all, rather intense muscle work by my body, as if doing tough sports. There were only two contractions that felt very intense and I wished them to go by faster. At that moment, I was telling myself that they will pass, they will pass, they will pass… and they did, of course.
Around 4.30pm, I went into the pool and my partner sat outside, assisting me with pretty much same order of things: water, isotonic drink (I liked the sweetness of it), gas&air inhaler. I had my eyes closed which helped me to focus on the breathing and my body’s work. Sometimes I felt warm, and sometimes I started shaking – the midwife told me that this is the effect of adrenalin in my body, and this was perfectly normal. I remember the midwife checking the baby’s heart rate every so often, but apart from that and her assurances that I was doing great, I did not see her, as I was kneeling, leaning on the pool edge towards my partner. I felt very focused and in a space away from everything, eyes closed and breathing, knowing that I can trust my birth assistants to take care of everything else. It was an amazing experience to feel my body working, with a power I would not be able to control even if I wanted.
At some point, the feeling I experienced during the surges changed. I felt something wanting to move downwards and pushing. I told the midwife, and she told me to go with it. Before I could do anything, however, I suddenly felt some massive muscles, in the shape of a balloon, contacting from the top of my uterus, with a controlled fierceness of a very powerful machine. It was an amazing feeling, demonstrating once again how fantastic the body was designed to give birth, and I understood that my task was only to breath and to support my body. With each contraction, I felt something moving downwards, little by little. It felt very controlled and paced, giving my body time to adjust to the baby. At some point, the midwife said that she can see the head. ‘Impossible!’ I thought, and did not even dare to touch it when suggested by the midwife. When I did after another surge, I felt something slimy, and was assured that this is the baby’s hair! What I did not know was that the midwife had a mirror in the water which helped her to see the birth process.
The next surge was the only one that I felt some pain with, not very much, rather like a scratch inside (and I believe this was the small muscle tear that I had after the birth). I also felt some slight stinging, which I knew from our hypnobirthing course leader is often when the head of the baby is born. And indeed, the midwife confirmed this – a head full of hair!
“With the next surge, we will get the baby out” was the next thing I heard. I focused again on the breathing, and the next thing I heard was ‘It is a girl’. That was at 5.45pm, much quicker than we could have ever expected! While I was still catching my breath and adjusting, feeling tired, relaxed, amazed and still not believing what we just experienced in such a gentle and wonderful way, I heard my partner and the midwifes take care of the baby. It took me a moment to find the energy to turn around and embrace our beautiful little baby with black hair, whom I did not want to let go anymore. I was helped out of the pool, holding tight to our girl, as the midwifes examined me.
In the end, I needed a few small stitches, and once again, the hypnobirthing relaxation helped me through this task. The midwifes were very supportive and professional, and in a matter of minutes, our little family was cuddled up in a big bed, and we could give the baby a name, learn to breastfeed (again, a miraculous achievement by the body) and how to take care of a newborn, which we knew nothing about. We had a big quiet room for ourselves for several hours, with the midwifes coming and and checking on us now and then. What a pleasure! There was nothing we could have wished for more after such a fantastic birth experience!
Thank you to our hypnobirthing teacher for the great preparation and the midwifes at St Michael’s hospital who were absolutely brilliant! And to Mother Nature for knowing how to birth babies 🙂