My husband and I started The Bump to Baby Chapter online course when I reached the third trimester. The course was fantastic and really helped us to feel knowledgable and informed about labour and birth and helped me have such a positive birth experience despite it being very far from what I thought I wanted.
I had decided that I would love to have my baby at my local birthing centre and I had my heart set on a water birth, essential oils, relaxation tracks playing etc and we were really looking forward to this. However at 36 weeks, I was put up to high risk as my baby’s growth had slowed down so I needed consultant check ups, extra scans, 3x weekly CTG monitoring and a possible early induction. This was frightening and completely changed my birth plan and meant I’d need to deliver on the labour ward at the hospital. I was initially upset about this but used my EBRAN and affirmation tools to see this as a positive decision where my baby and I would be in the safest hands. Thankfully the baby’s growth didn’t tail off further and the consultant was happy for me to go into labour spontaneously.
When I was 40+2, my Braxton hicks that I’d been having suddenly started to become quite painful and I also had my show. My husband and I realised that this was probably it and baby would soon be arriving. The contractions were lasting 40 seconds or so and coming every 6 minutes, and they stayed this way for the next 24 hours at which point they were much closer together and were pretty strong. I went into hospital to be checked and was only 1cm so was told to go home and rest. This was disheartening but I had lots of hot showers, had my tens machine on full whack and breathed through each contraction using the techniques from the course. I must have spent hours in the shower as it gave me so much relief. Another 24 hours later, I was exhausted and the contractions were coming thick and fast. By this point, I could barely focus through them so we phoned the labour ward as I’d decided after 48 hours of contractions at home, an epidural was for me. They told us to come straight in and to my relief, I was 5cm and could make use of the amazing gas and air. It really helped me regain control of my breathing and focus through each contraction. As the anaethetist was in theatre, I also had morphine which somehow allowed me to doze off between contractions so I could recoup some energy. I was so focused and in my birthing zone, I totally didn’t care for a water birth etc. and was so happy with the gas and air. By the time the anaethetist was free, I was ready to push and within the hour, our baby girl was here. My body truly took over at this point! The midwife recommended an episiotomy to get baby out quicker but I wanted to try one last push myself and I was able to birth her naturally which was amazing.
Despite my birth being totally different from my initial plan, I still had the most amazing birth experience on the labour ward at the hospital. The midwives were absolutely fantastic and you would not have known a pandemic was going on!
The course really did enable me to enjoy my birth and make informed choices beforehand and throughout and I am absolutely amazed at what the body can do! The Facebook group has also been so supportive, as have Beth’s regular Q&A sessions. I dread to think how I would have coped with such a long labour without hypnobirthing and I am so grateful now that I can reflect on my birth with such positivity! 🙂
Want to know about ways to have a great birth?
You can get all the information from our award-winning, midwife led, hypnobirthing and antenatal classes but ONLINE with The Bump to Baby Chapter’s Hypnobirthing and Antenatal Online Course. Videos, checklists & a support group to get you feeling excited and confident for birth.
Emma Litchfield Birth Story – Unplanned ‘elective C – Section’ -Hector Andrew Litchfield
I just want to start this Birth Story by letting you know that you can have a positive birth even if it ended up being something you never even imagined.
My story starts 6 days before Hector arrived – it was a Friday night and I had a day of reduced movements- this was the second time this happened and so I called the Triage ward at Gloucester who told me to come in to be monitored– we knew the drill. So, I grabbed my notes and me and my husband, Henry, made the 40 min journey to Gloucester.
And of course, whilst we were waiting, our little man was having a party in there but we knew it was still a good idea to go ahead and get check and I am so glad I did.
Everything was perfect on the monitor and we were able to go home but we needed to come back in for a scan early next week- both of us questioned this as everything was fine and I don’t really like being messed with but the midwife explained to us that it was to check that the placenta was still functioning as reduced movements can be a sign that it is working as well as it could be.
My scan was booked in for the Tuesday so again we made the trip to Gloucester and I remember distinctly laughing during the drive there that I bet he would be dancing on the screen- what a cheeky baby! It would be nice to see him again at least.
We got to the scan and about 30 seconds in the sonographer comments ‘Oooo, He’s breech!’.
At 39 weeks which was such a shock especially as at my midwife appointments they were sure he was head down and 3/5th engaged.
So, we were sent up to the triage ward- I was in utter shock and started to really worry as I know my friend had a breech baby and ended up have a C-section which was something I really didn’t want, I spent time in my 3rd trimester visualising my birth and practicing hypnobirthing techniques and was hoping for a water birth with minimal intervention .
We were met with a surgeon to go through our options which were 1. to have an External Cephalic Verson (ECV) to try and turn him so I could have a natural birth and if that didn’t work to decide to carry on with a breech birth which could be tricky to get the right team on to support me or to have an elective C-Section.
After a what felt like hours and a huge amount of upset and tears, I decided to go for an ECV the risks to our baby were low and I really wanted a natural birth. On a side note the tears were not helped by the fact I hadn’t eaten since 7am and now I couldn’t eat in case the team needed to perform an emergency C-section after the ECV!
We were able to go home before the ECV was performed so we made sure we had everything we might need so a bag for me the baby bag just in case he arrived after the procedure- and then headed back in.
When we arrived back at the hospital, we were met by such a lovely midwife team who really helped to relax me, made me laugh and made sure I felt comfortable. They also felt the bump and were totally baffled– he felt head down!
I had quite an audience for the ECV as I don’t think they get many 39 week pregnant women in for one so I had two surgeons and a trainee doctor in with me as well as a midwife- who was brilliant in talking to me whilst the procedure was going on and holding the gas and air for me- she was wonderful.
The procedure itself is painful but worth it even if your baby doesn’t spin. It feels really wrong especially as we spend all of our pregnancy trying not to knock our bumps but at one stage I had two people pushing up and down on my bump trying to get him to spin- they gave it two tries but in the end it was just too painful to keep going but as soon as they stopped the pain stopped immediately. If I was in the same situation in the future, I would hands down have the procedure again.
Both myself and Henry had both decided that if the ECV didn’t work that we would go for an elective C-Section- so it was really easy once I had made a decision to go forward with it.
Again, the team were great- they talked us through what would happen and we booked a date – 6th February 2020- a Thursday.
It felt really surreal knowing the date of our baby’s birth rather than waiting for it like the other Mum’s in our TBTBC group – we spent the evening having dinner (hurrah!) and chatting through the day. It was a long chat, where I felt sad and disappointed that I couldn’t get the birth that I wanted, Henry was brilliant and listened to my thoughts and confirmed that fact I grew our little man and he would be arriving safe is an achievement in itself and a C-Section was still a birth. We ended up chuckling that we were so grateful that Bunty, who ran the Cirencester TBTBC, took us through what a C-section would involve so we felt less intimidated and before we left to come home from the hospital she came and found us to show me the operating theatre and the recovery room so I would be familiar with it when we came back in.
What happened next is something that I hope wold never happen to anyone else but sadly in the early hours of the Wednesday Henry’s Dad died. It wasn’t unexpected but it was a shock that it happened the day before his grandson was born- so where we were meant to have a day for us to get our head around that fact I was about to have major abdominal surgery and welcome our baby boy into the world it was now a day of grieving and making sure my husband was ok. Henrys family came over to ours for the day so we could be together. Henry messaged Bunty to let her know what had happened and to find out if we could book a private room- again the Gloucester maternity midwifes were incredible they made sure we had the space after the birth to have the privacy we knew we needed and I cannot thank them enough.
We both actually slept well the night before which was down to just being emotionallyexhausted but also because as I was going to sleep, I used the breathing techniques from my hypnobirthing course and it really helped calm me. I think I subconsciously used the techniques all through that day to keep me calm.
The next morning, I was a bag of nerves – I don’t like being messed with or having operations and I knew the recovery would take its time I felt quite scared and excited at the same time. To say I was a roller-coaster was an understatement but I kept myself busy- cleaning the house one last time! And Making sure everything was set for when we arrived home.
We were told we would be last on the list and so we didn’t need to go in until 11am however when we arrived, we met with our surgeon, Sophie, who then told us we could go now! Which was much better for me as I then had less time to worry. A Midwife came and got me and showed me where to get dressed and I was then walked down to the operating theatre – it all felt quite surreal.
Sitting on the bed receiving my epidural and spinal I was really nervous and used the breathing techniques to help calm me – the team were so lovely and there was a real excitement and positive vibe in the operating theatre – they seemed just as excited as me to meet our little boy. We had our playlist playing and some mini electric candles which made everything feel just that bit special.
I used my calming techniques throughout the whole birth and it was really lovely having Henry by my side. The surgical team also seemed to really like our playlist and were singling along and dancing to it- you really could forget that you were in an operation.
Hearing Hector’s first cry was the best (he was born to Elton John , Benny and the Jets) and he came straight to my chest so we could have a cuddle. I felt pretty tired and so the team then took him to be weighed and checked over whilst I had a little nap. Hector was born at 12.31pm a mere 1 hr 30 mins from when we arrived.
The reason why I put the Elective C-Section into air quotes as the title to this birth story is because I would never say that I feel that I elected for my C-section once the ECV was completed and failed we felt that it really was the only way to move forward safely however even if I didn’t choose to have it, it was still a positive experience. I was given the respect and time to make my decisions about the procedure- to have the drape up, to have a playlist and to have skin to skin straight away, our surgeon was great, she really understood it wasn’t my preferred method and made sure everything was a perfect as it could be. I was also given the space to be nervous without being judged and was treated with such warmth and kindness from the midwives and the surgical team – I will never forget and am so grateful to them.
Beth’s course was so useful especially around the different types of birth. The course helped us immensely and we didn’t even know we were going to need to know all about C-sections! I cannot recommend this course enough!
Hector’s middle names were after Henry’s Dad ‘Andrew’ and also his Great Grandad ‘Percy’ who was born on the same day.
Thanks so much TBTBC!
If you want to know about ways to have a great birth, how to stack the odds in your favour to get the birth you want and feel calm in all births then…
You can get all the information from our award-winning hypnobirthing and antenatal classes but from the convenience of your own home and on your own time, with The Bump to Baby Chapters antenatal and Hypnobirthing online course.
I would like you all to meet my little Oliver, who arrived 6 days late, today at 11.41am! He is 8lbs 6oz and 53cm long!
I definitely did not have the labour I thought I would- quite the opposite in fact, but I wanted to share the positives I am taking from it, thanks to Beth and all the team at TBTBC ❤️
Contractions started on Thursday morning at 5.30am, every 8 minutes or so. This was after my failed sweep on Tuesday, followed by a bloody show on Wednesday. I telephoned the birth centre where I was planning on giving birth, and was advised I was likely in very early labour, and to see how things went. The contractions waxed and waned all day. I used an app to time them, and they always ended up finishing without progressing, despite bouncing on my ball and going for a power walk.
Fast forward to 7pm that evening. The contractions started up again, and started feeling a little more intense. My partner and I joked about what would come of it, convinced they would stop. 8pm rolled around, and as I relaxed on the sofa, I felt a pop and a gush of warm water. Suddenly reality hit that our baby was finally on his way! We telephoned the birth centre and were told to make our way in. Feeling quietly confident, I was gutted to learn I was only 1cm dilated. Loaded with dyhydrocoedine, I was sent home and told to relax in the bath. I stayed in the bath for around 3 hours. I used my breathing techniques from the course, and snoozed inbetween contractions. Then something changed. Baby seemed to do a big movement, and the pain shifted to my back. I was suddenly in agony and could hardly catch my breath. In the end, my partner telephoned the birth centre again to tell them I wasn’t coping and needed to come back. The car journey back to the hospital was awful.
When I was examined, the midwife was delighted to tell me I was now 4cm dilated and now in active labour but baby’s heartbeat was too fast. I was sent down to triage to be monitored without my partner, and the anxiety started to kick in. Re-examined, I was told I was actually 2cm dilated, baby was now back to back and that’s why the pain was so intense. Panicking, everything I learned on the course (or so I thought) went out of the window. I finished off 2 cylinders of gas and air with little relief, crying out for my partner and someone to help me. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew there were still choices to be made, and despite birth preferences, the plan had always been to do what I needed. I plucked up the courage to ask for an epidural, despite it meaning I would have to birth on the delivery suite. Once the epidural had been administered, I completely relaxed. I was able to nap, take sips of water, laugh and joke with my partner and actually get excited about labour.
Our little boy’s heart rate continued to fluctuate, and it seemed to be every time I had a contraction. I had only progressed 1cm in 5 hours post epidural, and was warned that baby’s heart rate may be a cause for concern and a section may be needed. I used the tools from the course to stay calm. I told myself ‘if that’s what my baby needs, that’s what needs to happen’. I was given the hormone drip to see if things could be sped up, bypassing the need for a section. A clip was placed on baby’s head to improved the monitoring. Baby’s heart rate continued to misbehave, and I was determined as long as he was safe, it didn’t matter how he arrived. All of a sudden, I got a sharp pain in my right side and back. This coincided with a big drop in baby’s heartbeat, que doctors flooding the room, preparing to whisk us off to theatre. Because I was having pains, and fearing my epidural had started to fail, I was reexamined by my midwife. As she exclaimed ‘his head is nearly out, he’s on his way!’ I burst into tears. I was psyched up for a section, when there was no need.
I started pushing at 11:28, and at 11:41, our Oliver made his entrance into the World. I had to have stitches for a 2nd degree tear, and I have a graze- but apart from that I’m feeling on top of the world. My epidural wore off about an hour later, and I was soon in the bath, eating toast and drinking tea.
So as well as sharing my news with you all, I just wanted to share my story. Despite the scary moments, the pain, and the change of plans… I was able to stay focussed, accept the change of plans and also ask sensible questions using EBRAN. And that’s thanks to Beth, this wonderful group and the amazing work done by this team. Thank you everyone, and Good Luck with your journeys ❤️
If you want to know about ways to keep calm during your birth, ways that you can stack the odds in your favour to have a great birth and techniques that you can start practising now in your pregnancy to prep for birth, then you can get all the information from the convenience of your own home on your own time, by accessing our online course.
An online course put together by UK midwife, Beth offering both hypnobirthing and antenatal education, which has helped women across the globe feel confident and calm during their birth.
💥Home Dopplers are dangerous. Period. If you listen in to baby’s heart rate and you hear a nice normal heart rate sound because you’ve googled a normal heart rate for a baby, you may get false reassurance from this. There are many things that we look for on a baby’s heart rate and the number is just a small part of this. Don’t get false reassurance from a home Doppler.
💥 Don’t drink a cold drink to make baby move… if you are ill with an infection in bed, you move less because you are conserving your energy. If someone makes you cold by pouring coldness onto you, you will move. It doesn’t make you well, but you will move.
💥The risk of catching the Coronavirus from going into your hospital/unit should not outweigh your need to go into get checked. Remember, a maternity unit is filled with women who, like you have been self isolating for the last 2months. It is a safe place to be.
💥 It is usual for movements to be felt between 16 and 24 weeks. As you first start to feel baby move you may not notice movements all the time as you start to realise what they feel like. This is really normal. This is why if you report reduced movements before this time, you may be invited in for reassurance or given advice over the phone.
💥 From when you start to feel movements regularly, about 24weeks, they should increase over the weeks till about 32 weeks when from this time they stay about the same every day. They don’t reduce as you get closer to your due date.
💕Baby’s don’t run out of space to move. 💕It is not a sign that labour is starting. 💕 It is not what baby’s do as they get closer to their due date.
💥Please remember, if you ever are worried about baby’s movements, always call your local triage/assessment unit or maternity advice line. You should all have a number to ring on the front of your notes that is a number to call for things like reduced movements and any concerns that you have.
💥When you get reduced movements or a change in your movements , your Triage/assessment unit/local midwife unit is the place to call usually. Your community midwife is not usually the person to call as they will advise you to call triage as with reduced movements, at a hospital unit they can assess you properly with a CTG/CEFM machine to pick up a trace of baby’s heart rate (these machines are used from 28weeks). These CTG machines show a longer recording of baby’s heart rate and are much more helpful to determine the well being of a baby compared to a snap shot that a Doppler provides.
Good websites to go on for questions about movements are Kicks Count and Tommy’s.
If you’ve landed on this page then I’m sure you’ve heard this term thrown around many times … I’m sure you have heard it talked about amongst those positive birth stories but wonder whether it is all too good to be true. A good birth is something that only happens in your imagination right? So let’s look at the facts…
Clock swaying and Derren Brown type voodoo is definitely what it’s not, even though the name suggests. Without dumbing down it’s marvellousnous…it’s just science. So let’s throw it back to secondary school biology.
Fight or flight? Neither possible for birth.
So you hear a buzz of a bee, or see a spider, or you have to do a presentation at work. All these things create a reaction in our body, our heart rate increases, palms get sweaty and we get that sticky feeling in our tummy. This is a programmed response that would have served us well in the Stone Age times. Blood shunts away from our major organs to the arms and legs, our breathing increases and heart rate increases as we prepare to fight or run from a sabre tooth tiger or woolly mammoths. It would have helped us survive tricky situations.
The same would have happened for women giving birth in the Stone Age times. Imagine they’d be in their birth cave, doing their birth thing and in walks a sabre tooth tiger. That birthing Mum would have seen that tiger, thought, “Oh crap. I’m not safe” and triggered the fight or flight response. Her heart rate would increase, her blood would shunt away from her uterus causing her contractions to slow and her labour to stop and this would give her some more time to move away from the tiger and find another safe place to have her baby. As you can see, this bodily response is a great thing, it helped her body stop labour so that she could give birth in a safe birth cave. Us women, are like lionesses when it comes to their baby’s and giving birth when feeling safe is a massive priority in our thoughts. But, the difference in this situation to that of now, is that we are not cavegirls. We do not have sabre tooth tigers coming into our environments. We do not have to deal with these kind of threats …. so why does this response still happen?
The problem that we have is our thoughts. The thoughts of bad things happening. We are basically always thinking about sabre tooth tigers coming into our birth caves- but the modern day equivalent.
We think about that episode of one born every minute when the woman was screaming in pain.
We think of the story that our Mum or Auntie told us about what giving birth was like when we were 11 years old.
We think of the story that our bestie told us, about how nothing went to plan, and she had a tear and it was all very dramatic.
And when we haven’t done birth ourself, we only have our imagination and snippets of what we have seen from the TV and heard from stories, to piece together what may happen. And often it is on the dramatic side, as one born every minute wouldn’t be on its 6th series without a bit of drama to feed our drama craving minds, and a story wouldn’t be a good story without that shock factor.
So what happens when we go into labour and we feel those contractions? Our mind says,
“Ah ha… I know what happens here, I’ve seen this lots on the TV, this is when the drama happens, there’s going to be pain.”
Then our other part of the brain says,
“Did someone say PAIN? Holy crap, let’s get out of this situation. Now!”
Cue the fight or flight response…
So your feeling more pain, because that’s what you’re telling yourself is happening. You feel more fear, because you’re mind is telling you that what is happening is exactly the drama that you expected. Then because of the fight or flight response, your labour stalls, intervention is recommended so it reinforces your initial thoughts that something is in fact going wrong. You then feel more fear, more pain, more tension and more intervention…. And the cycle continues.
So now, to answer the ‘What is Hypnobirthing?’ question.
Well, it’s actually just a different type of birth prep with the focus on having a positive birth. It’s main focus is reducing the fight or flight and increasing oxytocin. And here is how, as a midwife, I teach it over here at The Bump to Baby Chapter.
1. Change your thoughts and rewrite the way you think about birth. This isn’t done by doing anything wacky… just watching positive birth stories, birth affirmations, some relaxations and a whole lot of understanding. Lots of birth stories often come with wrong information. When in fact, the more you know, the less that is unknown. This goes for what contractions are actually like, what vaginal tears are like (not as scary as how you’ve read it on MumsNet), what cesareans are like… etc? All the things that you might be pushing far down now, are only going to come to full surface if that happens bringing fear. Knowledge is power 🙌🏼🙌🏼 Always.
2. Learn ways that will help you stop the trigger of the fight or flight. How to keep yourself calm, how to cope with contractions etc. Learn what to do when you think you might be losing it. You know when you breathe out for a long time ( for example in for 4 seconds, out for 7 seconds), you actually trigger the calming response in your body that will stop the fight or flight response. Meaning that oxytocin will increase, endorphins will increase (your body’s natural pain relief) , you feel happy with oxytocin, calm, you bond with your baby more when she’s arrived, your breastfeeding is encouraged. Learning ways that will help increase your oxytocin and reduce your fight or flight is the key to a positive birth. This section of Hypnobirthing is great for birth partners too as it gives them tips on how they can help too.
3. Extra things you need to know. This is practical things that can help your birth go smoother. Things like positions that help labour go quicker, eating and drinking because your uterus is in fact a muscle that won’t work as effectively if it’s not being watered and sugared- think lucozade, jelly babies, water etc.
I think the main thing that can be learnt from Hypnobirthing is that the more you know, the more things you can do to increase that oxytocin. Oxytocin isn’t just important to help your birth go smoothly. But it’s the hormone that will encourage bonding between you and baby, it will encourage your breast milk production, but most of all it will mean that in years to come it will be a time that you look back on with fondness, love and happiness, rather than experience tainted with fear.
So what do you think? Not as whacky as you once thought!
For everything you need to do Hypnobirthing then you can enroll in The Bump to Baby Chapter’s Antenatal and Hypnobirthing online course, for the duration of the lockdown it is only £27 to give everyone the opportunity to have a great birth. This course is led by a midwife, includes antenatal education birth prep, Hypnobirthing and access to post natal sessions later down the line for baby sleep help, colic and reflux and weaning.