In the evening of Monday 13th January, 6 days before my due date, I felt a few twinges along with mild cramps and instantly felt a mixture of excitement and nerves that this could be the start. Everyone had predicted that my baby would be early and with him measuring 2 weeks ahead I thought this must be it. Following our hypnobirthing class and everything we learnt at our weekly antenatal classes we made everything cosy with our oil diffuser, candles and playlist I had created. By 11pm I decided to go to bed and hoped that I’d be woken in the night or early morning with contractions. I woke up the next morning and all of the cramping from the night before had totally disappeared so I told my husband to go into work as normal and that I’d call him if anything happened. This continued for the following 7 days- every evening thinking it was all about to happen followed by nothing the next morning. I had started to think that it was never going to happen when our due date of 19th January came and went.
At my routine 40 week midwife appointment on Tuesday 21st January I asked for a stretch and sweep to see if this may start things off for me. I had read many horror stories about the procedure but decided to put on a brave face and give it a go! I can honestly say that I barely felt anything and it was over in less than one minute. I was very pleased to hear that I was around 1-2cm dilated already and my cervix had thinned – a relief that the week of on and off mild cramps hadn’t been pointless. My midwife warned that I may experience some bleeding and have some period pain like cramps that evening due to the procedure. She booked me in to have a repeat stretch and sweep for 4 days later as she said often the first doesn’t necessarily result in going into labour. I went home and spent the evening on the sofa in my pyjamas with cramping as she had warned me of. The following morning, on Wednesday 22nd January, I woke up at 4am with what felt like braxton hicks contractions like I had experienced each evening so far. But this was different, it was the morning and I just had a feeling inside that this was it. Maybe the stretch and sweep had worked after all and that the cramping the evening before had been the start.
I decided to take a hot shower whilst my husband slept and to take it from there. By 6am I woke my husband to let him know and told him that I didn’t think he’d be going into work. We started to time the contractions as they felt quite frequent and realised that they were around every 6 minutes and lasting around 30-60 seconds. The TENS machine I’d hired worked brilliantly to ease the contractions. After calling into the birth unit we were advised to stay home as long as possible so spent the morning bouncing on my ball, keeping mobile around the house and making sure we had everything ready to go. At 11am my waters broke which was a huge shock to me as everyone I knew had told me that theirs hadn’t gone until near the end. I cried in this moment as I think it finally sank in that this WAS it. We called the birth unit again and they told us to go in.
On our way into the hospital I felt excited and calm rather than scared and I can honestly say this was purely down to all that I had learnt through hypnobirthing. Positive mental attitude! I continued to use the TENS machine and to time contractions as we arrived and were shown into one of the lovely rooms. We were hesitant to set everything up as planned as knew we’d be moving into one of the birth pool rooms later on. For the next 6 hours I walked around the room and used the TENS for relief which really helped. I couldn’t bare to sit or lie down through contractions and remember my feet starting to ache from being stood up for 12 hours. My husband used the essential oils to give me a lovely foot massage and we set up the oil diffuser.
By 5.30pm the contractions were getting very intense and close together and this is when I started to panic and worry about how I’d cope with minimal pain relief as I had planned. The midwife examined me and I was upset that I was only 3-4cm after over 12hours.
I was moved to the poolroom and the warm water was relaxing and the gas and air gave me a new focus. The contractions were very intense and strong by this point but I remained calm and focused on my breathing. From this point onwards I was in another zone and barely talked to the midwives or my husband (which is very unlike me to be quiet!). I had no concept of time passing nor did I think about how long might be left, I just took each contraction one at a time.
By 8.30pm the midwife asked me to get out of the pool to try to go for a wee as I hadn’t for hours. I was scared to leave the comfort of the pool and gas and air but managed to get to the bathroom with the support of my husband. After 20minutes of trying the midwife advised me that I would need an in/out catheter. I got on the bed in the room and from this moment onwards I can only describe the rest of labour as a total ‘out of body experience’. I don’t know if it was my body’s way of coping with the pain or the gas and air but I remember feeling as though I was watching someone else give birth and that I’d have to do it for myself afterwards. They decided to examine me whilst I was on the bed and were surprised to find that I was fully dilated. As soon as I got back in the pool I had an urge to push and just went with what my body was telling me. The midwife went around to the other side of the pool and noticed that I had already pushed the head out in that first push! I pushed again twice more immediately after and our beautiful son Jenson was born. Within 4 minutes of getting back in the pool he had been born. 21.55pm, weighing 7lbs 3oz. It was nothing like I had imagined, I don’t remember feeling any pain or stress at all with the pushing stage of labour and it felt completely natural. My husband picked our baby up out of the water and handed him to me, it was magical. He cut the cord and then took baby for skin to skin whilst the midwife helped me out of the pool to deliver the placenta. This happened right away on the bed and again I don’t remember feeling any pain or discomfort at all. After a final examination, the midwife was shocked to find that I didn’t even have a graze! I honestly believe that it was due to using all of the techniques from hypnobirthing that I was able to deliver my baby so naturally and easily as I just went with what my body was telling me. I feel very fortunate that everything ‘went to plan’ but am confident that I would have been able to cope if the situation had changed or had been different. I look back on my birth experience as it being positive and enjoyable rather than something to be scared about or something to just have to ‘deal with’ which I never thought my I’d say. Having my husband attend the hypnobirthing and antenatal classes with me enabled us to work as a team throughout pregnancy and labour and I couldn’t have done it so easily without his a support and encouragement.
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