Category: Birth Stories

Suzy’s Cesarean Birth

Birth StoriesUncategorized

So having been told early on in pregnancy that I would need a c section as I had Placenta Previa (placenta blocking cervix) to then be told at 30wks my placenta had moved and you can have a normal delivery… left me absolutely crapping myself as it isn’t what I had been preparing for and all the uncertainties that came with it!

Then I was told about Hypnobirthing… decided to book on a course that was relaxed, informative and empowering… I came away with more confidence that I can handle labour. Not to mention meeting some lovely people to share the journey with.

Turns out on the last scan they found unusually large fetal blood vessels all over my placenta (Vasa Previa) that could tear during labour meaning you and your baby could lose a lot of blood and would end up being rushed to have an emergency c section, where neither I nor my partner would witness the birth of our first child (as in this situation a general anaesthetic would be necessary).

So I took control and requested a planned c section. I had an amazing little boy through a calm and magical experience 😍 … someone said, so you didn’t need the hypnobirthing skills after all?

Wrong, very wrong!

I used them several times:

• When being made to get out of bed and walk to the bathroom, lowering myself on to the toilet, getting myself off the toilet and back into bed – not at all easy the day after major surgery!

• Then I also needed them again after having far too many pain killer tablets over a week (too much information coming up!) which basically blocks you up badly… I felt like I’d given birth 3 times before it all returned to normal! 💩😬😱

• Throughout my recovery after coming off the blocking pills! I used them, getting in and out of bed and on and off the floor when you are sore… you need to breathe through all of that.

I also made a lovely group of friends and now meet up regularly with all our little ones, as well as having that all important out reach text group – when your baby is going through something like constipation or colic or you want to compare explosive poops 💩!

Birth at home on the toilet- Not quite the birth planned

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

After experiencing 2 births, I can safely say that it rarely goes according to our imaginary plan or so we believe when we reflect on it later on. Some plan a free-medical pain relief option and end up with emergency C-section, others elect to have a home birth but have to be rushed to the hospital for health reasons.

With this in mind, I drew a birth plan for my second baby with a few options marked in. My main point was to stay comfortable so all options remained on the table.

I still prepared myself for the birth unit, practising yoga and religiously listening to my hypnobirthing track. I visualised almost to perfection how I would deliver the baby myself in the warmth of the pool surrounded by professional midwives and my husband (OK he was in one corner of the room, just like the first birth).

Little did I know…

In a nutshell, this is how it went: I gave birth to our second daughter in the ensuite bathroom, without any kind of medical pain-relief (no not even a paracetamol). Child number 1 was fast asleep in her bedroom. My husband being downstairs to call 999 (he had the nerve to ask me ‘who should he call?’ while the head was crowning… Ghostbusters maybe?).

When I talk about my unexpected home birth to people I always feel stupid with the following remarks:

‘Did you not notice you were in labour?’ Yes I knew.

’Why didn’t you go sooner to the hospital?’ Contractions every 5-10 minutes, and I live 10 minutes away.

‘Were you not in pain? It only became unbearable 15 minutes before birth, by that time the only reasonable thing to do was to stay home.

I thought that as long as my daughter was in the house, I wouldn’t believe it would actually happen. But my body/mind interpreted it differently: She is in a safe place so bring it on.

I strongly believe hypnobirthing brought me comfortably up to the pushing phase. I’m not gonna lie, when it was game on I was dreaming of an epidural. Weirdly enough, I think my body knew. I installed a maternity mat on the bathroom floor and thoroughly washed my hands an hour prior to fun time.

Tip for any future second time mummy: Get rid of child number 1 after a few contractions in a row (Mum of the Year Award anyone?).

The community midwife who arrived 20 minutes after birth managed to diffuse the touch of drama that was going on in my head. She asked to have a look at my birth plan, I laughed and enquired why as I clearly didn’t follow it. She went through it point by point and made me realise that if you twist things a little bit, you always nail your birth plan.

OK I didn’t plan to stain the carpet with blood. Yes having strangers (paramedics) looking at my fresh-from-birth-vagina is not what I had in my mind. Nor panicking the neighbours (two of them pregnant at the time) in the early morning with the ambulance (thank god to paramedic who prevented anyone to go inside the house…see point about strangers and my vagina). Finally, I certainly didn’t plan that baby’s first trip in the car seat would be in the ambulance going TO the hospital. But I did plan for a calm, comfortable, straight forward birth, which was exactly what it turned out to be.

My husband said that he curiously enjoyed it more than birth 1: It was quick and he was the most useful person in the house, organising ambulance, midwife, babysitter, throwing towels at me to warm the baby, and cleaning the whole room!!

If only I could have photographed his face when he found me sat on the toilet holding a baby, priceless!

So if you ever find yourself in this situation, at home or elsewhere that isn’t a hospital, keep this in mind: If it goes that quick, it means it’s all fine! (That’s not from me, it’s from the pediatrician!)

Gemma’s Birth Story

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

You finally get the positive test and after the initial anxiety of getting to that 12 week scan has passed, thoughts turn to labour, or at least they do for most people. Me? I figured there was no point worrying about it – I would deal with it when I had to!

As time progressed, people started to ask me if i was nervous or scared, and of course lots of people started divulging their horror birth stories to me, whether I’d asked to hear it or not! At that point I decided it was time to get my butt in gear and start finding out what I was going to do about this labour thing. So I got us booked into the Bump to Baby antenatal classes, bought some positive hypnobirthing books and started to make a plan of action. I quickly decided I was going to be one of these boss mums who serenely breathed their baby out while in pool with plinky plunky music on in the background. Obviously. So when my consultant told me they would admit me to hospital and induce me bang on 40 weeks (due to my blood clotting disorder) I was absolutely devastated. I felt utterly out of control and all the lovely natural birth plans I had disappeared.

After a few days of holding a spectacular pity party, I decided it was time to pull my (seriously enormous) big girl pants up, and take all the great info we’d learned at the antenatal classes and make up a new birth preference. We’d learned all about boosting the all important oxytocin while in an unfamiliar environment and also not to be afraid to ask questions so I spoke to the consultant and asked that we delay the induction by just a few days to give my baby one last chance to make his or her own way. He agreed, and although I only had 3 extra days, it really gave me back a sense of control.

Sadly, despite endless frantic hours bouncing on the birthing ball like a mad woman, my baby was in no rush so on the morning of the 28th September we dutifully trundled into GRH, all ready for the inevitable 3 day long induction process I’d heard so much about.

I was examined and, at 2cm already (how secretly thrilled was I?) my first pessary was inserted at 1pm. After we were allowed to get up, hubby and I went on a 2.5 hour long waddle around the hospital grounds in the hope it would help speed things up. I needn’t have bothered really as within an hour I was feeling some discomfort and by the time we returned to the labor ward I was contracting regularly. By 10pm I was contracting every 2-3 minutes for 40-60 seconds and I was scared. Surely this was too much too quickly? Inductions were meant take days weren’t they? I was still 2cm (smug feeling from earlier now gone) and I was beginning to think I’d massively over estimated my pain tolerance. How on earth was I going to manage another 8+ hours of this? To add to my ever growing panic, the midwives were also telling me Alex would have to go home as men aren’t allowed on the ward overnight. How would I cope without my rock? Oxytocin had left the building and I was struggling.

Thankfully we managed to keep Alex there for another couple of hours and as I gladly accepted the offer of pethidine, I was told at now 3cm dilated, we could go down to the delivery suite. Hooray!!! Once wheeled down and settled in, Alex quickly got to work putting my affirmation bunting up and getting out our battery operated candles. I had my waters broken and then the fun really started! Within half an hour I was seriously contemplating an epidural – something I swore I’d never have but I was really doubting I could cope with much more. The midwife suggested gas and air which despite being quite nervous about trying, I found to be brilliant. With Alex and the midwife cheering me on, I soon found myself wanting to push at the end of each contraction. It wasn’t until the midwife brought it up that I even realised I was doing it and at that point I completely panicked – why was I trying to push at 3cm?? I’m sure I was told to trust my body during labour but at this point my body didn’t seem to know what it was doing, or so I thought. The midwife didn’t seem overly concerned but after an hour of increasingly more urges to push, she decided to examine me and I heard the words every desperate labouring woman wants to hear: “You’re at 9cm!”. Hallelujah! The midwife admittedly seemed as shocked as me and all of a sudden the room sprung into action. Other midwives appeared, the tray came out and the gas and air went away so I could really start to put all my energy into pushing. After a good half an hour of pushing and despite all my visualisations of my vagina opening up like a lotus flower (ha ha!!), nothing was happening and the team were starting to get worried about my baby’s heart rate which was distinctly elevated. A clip was put on baby’s head to monitor the heart better and the decision was made to call in a doctor.

The next few minutes passed in a blur, and before I knew it, the midwife was explaining that as my baby’s heart rate was elevated they wanted baby out double quick so they were preparing to give me an episiotomy. Prior to going into labour this would have been a horrifying thought, but I just wanted my baby here safely. I calmly consented to the episiotomy and the doctor acted quickly. Once the cut had been made I was urged on by the midwives and my husband – a few more pushes and we’d finally find out whether we’d got a girl or a boy!

That last stage of pushing was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I literally had nothing else to give and at one point I thought my head would explode before this baby came out! I remember Alex saying he could see the head and the midwife getting me to feel it. That meant my baby was so nearly here! I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and re-grouped. I’d doubted myself all the way through this but I knew now could do it, the end was in sight. A few more pushes and the infamous ring of fire sensation hit. I know it’s meant to be really unpleasant but for me it was a reassuring sensation, it meant the head was right there! At 3:40am we welcomed our baby girl, Eloise, to the world. She was here and I’d survived!! We managed to have a little skin to skin but unfortunately her breathing wasn’t great and after a few checks it was decided she needed to go to the NICU for further treatment. It turned out she had fluid on her lungs and an infection but responded really well to treatment and the following day she was out of the NICU and back with me on the ward, where we stayed for another 4 days.

My labour story was like nothing I ever imagined and I don’t think I did any of the things on my birth plan! To top it off I don’t think I ever considered how physically demanding it would be! Sounds ludicrous to say that out loud but at the end I really felt like I’d run two marathons back to back. In flip flops. On sand. I wasn’t prepared for the level of exhaustion that inevitably followed. I learned that I should trust more in my body (it really does know what it’s doing!) and trust less in other people’s stories. I’m so glad I attended the antenatal classes because despite being scared at times, I understood everything that needed to happen and felt comfortable with the decisions we made. The only thing I would do next time that I didn’t do this time is attend an actual hypnobirthing course, to really cement my belief. Oh, and maybe work out more so that I’m fitter for the marathon that is labour!!

I am incredibly proud of myself and my husband, we were a total team and he really showed how much he’d taken on board from attending the antenatal classes, which was so reassuring for me. We’ve stayed in touch with all the couples we met at the antenatal group and they have become firm friends and a source of comfort and support during those sleepless nights! Labour was an epic ride and I can honestly say I can’t wait to do it again!

Choose what to hold on to and what to let go of- Ellie’s Hypnobirthing Cesarean

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

Two and a bit years ago I was bouncing on my birthing ball watching Bake Off, feeling a bit peeved that it was my due date and nothing seemed to be stirring. I’m a very punctual person and spend a significant portion of my life (pre-children anyway) waiting around for people/transportation/appointments. So although I knew statistically things were unlikely to kick off at exactly 40 weeks, it still irked. And then – splosh – my waters came gushing out just as Mel or Sue announced star baker. Talk about a soggy bottom.

We were living in Cornwall and it was a quick 10 minute journey to the hospital for a check. I was excitedly waiting for the first contractions and felt unnerved when the two options were to have an immediate induction or wait 24 hours to see if things started naturally. Another deadline for my poor pedantic brain. Anyway, despite some epic hoovering, nothing occurred and we trundled back in the following evening.

From that moment everything becomes a bit tumbled and jumbled in my memory – like an amazing night out but with fewer shots and more vaginal pessaries. My ideas about an active labour, ideally in the birthing pool, were usurped because I needed to lie on my back and be monitored. As the intensity of the contractions increased I moved from gas and air to Diamorphine to an epidural in a blur. After a day of this and less than 2cm dilation, a wonderful surgeon examined the baby’s heart rate and said it was time to get her out.

The caesarean was smooth and quick, our daughter burst onto the scene in perfect health and two days later we were home.

In the beautiful chaos of life with a newborn it took a while to address the fact I wasn’t ok with how the birth had gone. Countless well-meaning people said nice things like ‘well you’re both fine and that’s the main thing’. And it truly is, but I still struggled to talk about it truthfully. The strongest feeling was a lack of control; it was like something that happened to me, rather than by me or even with me. I read lots of helpful things about not letting yourself feel like a failure… made less easy when the phrase ‘FAILURE TO PROGRESS’ is written all over your medical notes.

When I fell pregnant last year I was very keen to have a different experience. The doctors said there was no reason not to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) and I tried to walk the line between hoping I could labour and deliver ‘naturally’ and bearing in mind that it might not happen. Pregnancy yoga was a great help (big up Ann at Lotus Bud Yoga in Cheltenham) and then the opportunity came up to attend the hypnobirthing essentials day.

Aside from meeting some lovely expectant mums in a beautiful setting with regular tea and shortbread breaks, it’s no exaggeration to say it transformed how I was feeling about the birth. I had expected to learn about breathing and visualisations – and did – but it was also the practical toolkit of methods and information which enabled me to feel more prepared, calm and positive. The entire day and the book we trotted off home with made me confident that although I might still encounter the same circumstances and language and influences, I’d be in a whole new position to question them and deal with the upshot. Beth gave us each a set of the excellent Yesmum cards and the one I held uppermost in my mind from then onwards was: ‘I make informed decisions that feel right for me and my baby.’

In this new mindset I felt comfortable making contingency plans in the days running up to my highly inconvenient Boxing Day due date. As induction wasn’t a good option the consultant, midwife, my husband and I had a discussion about what to do if I was overdue. They were keen for an elective caesarean earlier rather than later but as I wanted to give the baby as much time as possible to make an appearance we compromised at eight days. As it was, on the evening of day four I had a show and on New Year’s Eve I started having contractions. I felt warm and calm and excited that things were progressing. In the car on the way in I used the time between contractions to make a new playlist of songs which suddenly seemed the most obvious tunes I would want to give birth to in the world.

I would love to tell you we rocked up, whipped out our LED candles and hopped into the birthing pool for a quick delivery with no pain meds in time to watch Jools Holland. In fact, I pretty much saw in the new year with a lovely midwife’s hand up my lady parts discovering my waters had broken discreetly some days ago (that cheeky little trickle I’d thought was an excitement wee perhaps). Knowing the risk of infection and with the knowledge there was nothing doing on the dilation front, I allowed myself to feel a moment’s disappointment that I wasn’t going to get my preference (again) and have a crack at pushing this one out, and then we moved on. That was one huge difference hypnobirthing made – months of resentment and feelings of failure reduced to about a minute of slight grumpiness. Then we got excited that we were about to meet our new daughter and made sure we could bring our playlist into theatre.

Everything we had learned and practiced on the essentials day came back out to bat for me during the operation. I breathed through the contractions in order to stay still during the initial spinal injection. I stayed calm when my heartrate dropped and everything swam and flickered about. When they needed to use forceps to pull out our stubborn baby and the weight and pressure felt untenable, I made myself imagine I was paddling out towards a set of waves on my surfboard, feeling the swell picking me up and then carving through the water towards the beach. It was one of the most powerful sensations I’ve ever known.

Ultimately, we have to choose what to hold on to and what to let go of. Things didn’t happen as I would have wished but, thanks to the steps and help I had taken this time, I was present and focused for the whole shebang. I wasn’t a passenger and that counts for a lot. And I got to whip out my tarpaulin-sized c-section knickers for a second outing. Every cloud…

Shani’s Birth Story

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

I suppose my birth story starts about 3 weeks before when I attended The Bump To Baby Chapter Hypnobirthing class. I remember saying to Beth, “I’ve only got 3 weeks left and I haven’t practiced at all yet!” but she was confident I would be ok. So after a lovely day, practicing breathing techniques, visualisations and having some yummy lunch I was sent off with the Hypnobirthing book, YesMum cards and MP3’s of the visualisation tracks to practice.

I would say I would probably manage to practice visualisations once a day and tried to do breathing beforehand and also with my husband before bed. This was so that he knew what rate I was counting at so he could be there to get me back on track when I lost focus. Turns out it was more help to him just to manage his stress levels when seeing me ‘in pain’!

Although I use that word loosely as I specifically said that I didn’t want the word pain used at all whilst in labour.

Contractions started just before I went to bed, however being a 1st timer I wasn’t quite sure if they were contractions or not so I just went to sleep as normal, waking about twice in the night with the same feelings… Again, not quite sure if it was anything other then Braxton Hicks/stomach ache, at 5.30am my husband got up for work, I told him about the tightenings and he quite helpfully told me I should maybe call the triage number….to which I replied, “I think you should just stay home from work instead!” 🙂

We spent the day burning Clary Sage, listening to ‘spa’ music and watching a comedy to keep the oxytocin flowing. I’m not going to lie when I think back it was quite a long day waiting but I didn’t mind. When the contractions started to get stronger and last longer, whilst breathing I started reciting the affirmations in my head, ‘Each surge brings you closer to holding your baby in your arms’, ‘The surges can’t be stronger then you because they are you.’

We finally got on our way to the maternity unit at around 7 in the evening. I was aware that sometimes things can slow down once you change your environment so we got settled into the room, put the ‘spa’ music back on and made a brew in true Yorkshire style. The contractions came thick and fast so I got in the pool at around 9pm. I wish I could say I had a water birth as that was the plan but, it wasn’t to be as after quite a few hours, I was made to get out to go to the toilet. Not what you want to hear when your contractions are barely a minute apart… how was I going to make it down the little steps and onto the toilet without having a contraction! The fear started to kick in at this point because I had to deal with something that wasn’t going to be at all comfortable, but thankfully, I managed to stay focused with the breathing and made it to the dreaded toilet. Needless to say, I couldn’t go for a wee (the midwife had thought my bladder was too full, therefore hindering baby coming out) but the toilet was my new favourite place! So much so that at one point the midwife had to pad it out just incase I gave birth on the toilet!! What a joyous way to enter the world that would’ve been! 🙂

After much coaxing I got off the toilet and tried the birthing stool. I would say to anyone when you go on the tour around the birthing units or wards, try out the apparatus just so you know what it feels like. The birthing stool was another unknown to me that throws you off your flow. I moved to the bed/kidney shaped foam thing, with my husband behind me to hold me as I perched on the edge…I was giving all I’d got by this point but my contractions weren’t lasting long enough so the midwife brought in some Jasmine as it’s supposed to help prolong contractions. I would say about 10minutes later my lovely little girl was born. I felt immense relief, joy, love and exhaustion. Amabell weighed 6lb 12oz and I managed the birth with no pain killers or gas and air, all down to the focus Hypnobirthing had provided me with, the mind is one powerful tool!

Oh and then my little bundle of joy wee’d on us…lovely end to the story! 🙂

What did Hypnobirthing ever do for us?

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

Channelling the sentiment of Monty Python, I am left thinking about exactly what we did gain from our Hypnobirthing course. I’ve read lots of blogs and testimonials about the benefits of hypnobirthing for labour and delivery and breathing and calmness. Unfortunately, I can’t help but feel it sells it a little short. I decided to write this as a ‘you’ll get a shed load more from this than you realise’ piece, but it actually turned into a celebration of what we as a couple got from the process we went through with Beth. If you’re unsold on the benefits of hypnobirthing, please consider the fact that the side-effects may be more wondrous and far-reaching than you could ever imagine.

What did Hypnobirthing ever do for us?

1. It helped us with team ‘US’ – oh my gosh did we build a team together…

My husband and I were together a year when we got married and have just celebrated our first wedding anniversary with a 9 week old. It’s been a wonderful whirlwind and I wouldn’t change a thing. What we didn’t have though was a decade of trials and tribulations to build up our joint resolve. We didn’t have that solidarity that comes from supporting each other through the good and bad times or a childhood of shared experiences and reference points. The one thing we were told by every other parenting team we knew was how important it was to develop that solid base. Beth helped us slow right down and look at the building blocks of what we had. We breathed together. We stopped and we held hands. We looked at one another and just gazed – it was nothing to do with the chaos of our lives and everything to do with the simplicity of living. When our daughter was born, that’s what we did too. We breathed together. We held hands. We looked at each other and we were a team.

2. It helped us carve out a shared approach to parenting …

We had dreamed about being parents for years (decades even) before we met each other. We had significant conversations about conceiving our daughter but the ideology, logistics and financials that made this the right time to start our family, didn’t touch on the minutia of day-to-day life. We hadn’t had chance to have the myriad of conversations about our thoughts on everything from breastfeeding to soothers and baby-wearing to cloth nappies that seem to crop up organically in most relationships. By working through the process of birth, we had those chats. During our sessions, we discussed what we expected from the first minutes, hours and days of our baby’s life and then we built from there. We used our conversations to dig deeper into the way we ticked. Why did I have the concrete views I did? Why was he so convinced about that approach? What were our non-negotiables and why? What hadn’t we thought of? This in turn lead us to explore our own very different childhoods and marvel at just how much we had in common and how many opinions we held jointly. It meant that no matter what was thrown at us, and how many plans went out of the window, we both knew what the end goal was and we could keep that in sight.

3. It helped us tackle and overcome our wider fears

Hospitals as buildings are somehow magically impregnated by the full range of human emotions. They are places that we go when something is wrong in order to be fixed and sometimes, it just doesn’t happen like that. My husband hated hospitals. They were places of pain and death and heartache for him. Hospitals provided the backdrop for some of his most difficult times and now we needed to find a way to walk into one without that emotional baggage weighing him down. I am somewhat of a control freak. I cannot stand the idea of not having a clear command of the outcome of a situation. I hate not knowing everything to know about a project and I didn’t have time to train as a midwife. Between us, we needed to do some serious work on balancing out our adrenaline with oxytocin. We were guided with a combination of understanding and humour through some of the rawest parts of our private lives. My husband learned to focus his efforts on the positives of a birth surrounded by the best medical professionals around. I learned to look for the wins that mattered and to let go of what didn’t. Together, we built our ‘joy bubble’. A selection of smells, sights, sounds and textures that made us feel safe and at home. We practised feeling safe and happy and loved and we spent ‘date nights’ building our oxytocin reserves. We ended up meeting our daughter in a space that felt like ours. It smelled of home (lavender oil and coffee). Examinations were punctuated by the familiar sounds of Family Guy, South Park and American Dad that signal our ‘down-time’ (Mozart is also an option if that’s where you find your calm!). A favourite picture of us was blu-tacked up like a little Polaris on the wall of our room. In short, we found out what made us feel safe and we took it with us. Since then, we’ve found ourselves reaching for our ‘joy bubble’ after long days or long nights. Currently we’re living on a building site with layers of carnage and chaos around us, BUT we have our smells and sounds and focus and so we’re safe and we’re ‘home’.

4. It helped us define our shared goals

We joked many times that if I had my way, I would give birth in a yurt in the middle of nowhere and if my husband had his, we would be in a sterile and controlled environment where nothing could go wrong. As my pregnancy progressed, we went from discussing the merits of a water homebirth to being closely monitored and consultant-lead with induction as a ‘best case scenario’ and a caesarean section as a distinct possibility. It felt as if everything I had ever dreamed of was taken away one test result and appointment at a time. Beth helped us drill down into what it was that we wanted and why. She then showed us how they could work in any situation. For example – we were insistent that my husband should cut the baby’s umbilical cord. Beth helped us to see why – having properly stamped my foot about not finding out the gender of our baby, I wanted my husband to tell me. I wanted him to know first. I wanted him to introduce me to our child and the thought of someone I’d never met doing that made me feel somehow desperately sad. So we made it happen. It was in our birth ‘preferences’ document and no matter how our child was delivered, he would be the one to introduce us. There were many other ‘strong’ feelings that we had and we managed to find a solution for all of them. If I was not able to do skin-to-skin, he would. If we were in theatre, we could hook up the ipod. If I had a cannula and therefore not be allowed in the birthing pool, I could still have a bath. The list went on. The process though, wasn’t about allowing a diva to have things her way, it was about understanding why they mattered. My husband and I were able to drill down into those core aspects, understand their significance and make them work.

5. It helped us stay in control

I did mention that I was a control freak? Like most people I know, I work in a setting where I am fully accountable for the results of my team and I work hard putting strategies into action, evaluating results and then amending the process. I was really frightened that I would lose all control of my labour. I was afraid that birth would be done ‘to me’ and not ‘by me’. So we worked through that. We learned about our options. We learned about processes. We went into hospital feeling as if we had done our homework and that we’d had the inside scoop from someone ‘in the know’. Three days before my waters broke and filled with the confidence from our sessions, I successfully convinced the consultant to push back our planned induction. The fact that he listened and we talked through options together made me feel so much more positive. In fact, our little lady decided to kick start things on the very day I had fought NOT to be induced, but she did things her way. I said ‘no’. I said it to a midwife who wanted to induce me after my waters had broken, but before the 24 hour limit. It was medically safe for us to wait and we wanted to see if my body would kick in by itself. It did. We said ‘no’ to the doctor who wanted to intervene with either a ventouse or an episiotomy when I was getting tired. We wanted another half an hour of pushing to see if we could do it. She said that wouldn’t make a difference. So we took that half an hour and managed to avoid either intervention. We were in control because we had the confidence to ask the questions and ask for the alternatives. Our hypnobirthing and antenatal courses gave us that confidence. We were in control. When I had to go to theatre for a retained placenta, we still felt in control because we understood everything. We weren’t afraid. We explored the options and made the best decision for us. The bonus was that our baby got extra skin-to-skin time with her daddy and their bond is so incredibly strong. It was our birth and we were imbued with the confidence required to make sure that it remained so. We owned it. We nailed it!

So in short … I’m not sure how to describe what our hypnobirthing experience gave us: whether it was counselling, philosophy, meditation, science, ideology, or just a chance to sit and put the world to rights with a kick-arse midwife. What I do know though is: it was EXACTLY what we needed. We have so much in our lives as a result: the investment was in far more than ‘just’ the awesome birthing experience we had!

Jamie’s Hypnobirth “I managed to reach 10cm dilation with just co-codamol.”

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

Like most Mums to be, the thought of giving birth made me feel anxious. However, in equal parts, I felt strongly that my body would know what to do. I felt it was important to focus on the positive feelings I had and so, I decided to enrol on a Hypnobirthing course. The Bump to Baby Chapter caught my eye because they offered a midwife-run women only Saturday course in a beautiful venue – what’s not to love?

Beth and Kate were wonderful, welcoming and instantly made me feel at home. The other ladies were absolutely lovely too and we spent the day giggling, relaxing and working through our hopes for the day our babies would enter the world.

The most important thing I learnt on the course was how to breathe. It sounds simple right? We do it all day, every day. However, I am 100% sure that the breathing techniques I learnt on the course enabled me to have the positive birth experience I enjoyed.

When I was pregnant I had a feeling that I would deliver early rather than going overdue. I knew to trust my instincts.

The day I went into labour I had slept in, listened to my KG Hypnobirthing MP3 tracks, had a pregnancy massage and bounced on my birthing ball. I was 39 weeks pregnant and I had a light show in the evening followed by my waters breaking an hour later. By 11:30pm we were in triage where I was checked for the presence of meconium and then transferred to delivery suite. I was unable to have the water birth I had dreamt of but I didn’t mind!

Most importantly, during the hypnobirthing course, Beth and Kate had prepared us to feel empowered if the unexpected were to happen. This proved priceless. We had spoken at length about how to remain calm and in control despite obstacles and to remember your BRA – what are the benefits? What are the risks? What are the alternatives?

As my contractions were not yet regular, we made the informed decision to introduce a Syntocin drip to encourage my labour to continue and minimise the possibility of baby becoming distressed.

I knew that this could mean that my labour would be faster and more intense than usual but I felt happy with the decision.

Unfortunately, gas and air made me sick during my first examination. I’ve always hated being sick so I did have a panicky moment at that point before a saline drip was given and I began to feel much calmer. Even though I didn’t want to listen to my hypnobirthing tracks whilst in labour, everything they had taught me whilst pregnant was replayed in my mind during those precious moments between pregnancy and motherhood.

From here on in I was able to breathe through each contraction, hugging the head of the bed, on my knees to allow gravity to assist. While I had packed a myriad of items in my hospital bag, I found the cheapest item – a 29p flannel – the most useful in the May heat. My husband massaged my back as hard as he could with the heel of his hand and I managed to reach 10cm dilation with just co-codamol. In fact, when it came to the midwives changing shifts, they thought I had been given an epidural because I looked so relaxed (I didn’t feel it!).

Bizarrely, I had envisaged the pain getting worse up until the point of pushing but, for me, I found the initial stages of dilation the most uncomfortable. Once I was pushing, the pain felt productive and I still felt in control using just my breathing and the encouragement of my fantastic midwife.

After two hours of pushing it became clear that baby wasn’t moving any further forward and that intervention might be needed.

When you’re pregnant, you write your birth preferences even though you have no idea what might happen in labour. I had thought that I wouldn’t like my legs in stirrups (did it!), that I wouldn’t want to lie on a bed (tried it!) and, finally, that I wouldn’t want to go to theatre (tick!).

In actual fact, going to theatre wasn’t the scary situation I had seen on one born every minute or holby city – it was calm, quiet and the staff couldn’t have been nicer to me! I remember laughing with the doctors and the radio was even on! Although, my husband and I are still wracking our brains to remember which song played as our baby was born with the first try of forceps…

Nothing can prepare you for the first time you see your newborn baby and the magical moment in which you become parents. It is the most wonderful, natural thing in the world. Simply indescribable.

Similarly, you gain a newfound respect for your body and what it is capable of despite the hang ups you may have had before. You have given life and that is the greatest gift there is.

I was a first time Mum who gave birth a week before my due date, had a quick labour and left hospital the next day. I am in no doubt that the hypnobirthing techniques I learnt with The Bump to Baby Chapter empowered me to have such a positive birth experience despite the obstacles faced. As everyone will tell you, every birth and each person’s experience is different but the important thing is to trust your instinct and know your body.

 

Gloucestershire born and bred Jamie lives in a leafy Cotswold village with her husband and five month old daughter. When she’s not looking after her family, working as a primary school teacher or searching the charity shops, you can usually find her on the beach. For more hints, tips, bargains and finds follow Jamie on

Instagram @thriftymummathriftybubba,

Twitter @Thrifty_Mumma_ or

subscribe to her dedicated blog Thriftymummathriftybubba.blogspot.co.uk

“My body knew exactly what it was doing and I remember thinking, ‘my body can do this. I was built to do this’.” Danni’s Birth Story.

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

In 1982 my mother gave birth to me with the assistance of hypnobirthing. She told me the birth experience was beautiful and she was in control throughout. 30 years later, I was in labour with my first child and I thought my experience would be similar to my mums. That I would be in control. That I would enjoy the experience of bringing a new life into the world. Well, the birth was awful. I felt I was not in control of my body. I was terrified. I kept my eyes shut throughout. I demanded all drugs going and completely lost all faith in myself. It took me a long time to recover physically and mentally. Hence, the long gap of five years before we decided, it was time to try for another.
 
Determined to be stronger this time and take control again, I was recommended a taster session in Hypnobirthing. I only did NCT previously and didn’t look into Hypnobirthing properly. The course was incredible. I talked through my first experience with other mums and the wonderful Beth from Bump to Baby Chapter. I came away from the meeting feeling empowered and ready to go.
 
Between the hypnobirthing course and yoga classes, I learnt how to breath, relax and focus. I also met some absolutely fabulous women. I felt that I was stripping back everything medical thrown at me and remembering, as a woman, my body is built to grow a human. An actual human AND its built to give birth. That I should not be scared of the birth, my body will know what to do and I just need to breath, focus and work with it and my baby to get through labour.
 
9 months and 3 days later, I woke up, got my daughter ready for school and felt a ‘twinge’. The period cramp kind of twinge. The ‘oh yes its finally happening…oh sh*t its finally happening’ kind of twinge. I was meeting a friend for coffee that morning, but as I got to her house, the cramps stopped.
 
I cracked on with my day as usual, but let the husband know that things might be on the move soon…at some point.
 
I demanded a curry for tea. But I couldn’t eat it. Not like me at all to refuse food. 9pm came and the cramps returned. We called ahead to my parents who live an hour away, to get over quickly to help look after my daughter. They arrived just after 10pm. I sat bouncing on my ball, visualising, breathing, eating (to keep the energy levels up). Had a few cat naps and by 3am, I was ready to head into hospital.
 
We arrived at the birthing centre in Gloucester and I explained to the midwife, I wanted a hypnobirth. At this point, everything was manageable. VERY uncomfortable, but manageable. I walked about the room, had a bath and ate some more. But not much was happening with the contractions. They were remaining at the same constant, manageable level of pain. At shift change over we had another midwife. She asked if it was OK to examine me. I agreed. Unfortunately, I hadn’t progressed any further. She gave me another stretch and sweep and said I had two options…. Go home or go out for a few hours. I felt a complete failure and just wanted to go home. So we packed everything up. Walked out of the birth centre door and WHACK a MASSIVE surge. I stopped, cried, breathed and walked further….WHACK….another surge. This happened all the way to the car park. My husband asked what I wanted to do, but I said I had been told to go home, so we were going home.
 
The journey back to Cheltenham was interesting. I cursed every road bump and pot hole.
 
As we pulled onto the drive, I thought the baby was about to pop out. I made it to our downstairs toilet, goodness knows how, but I made it. I had a quick wee and then said, HOSPITAL. Well, I screamed HOSPITAL at my husband. I didn’t want to go back to Glos and to be honest, I felt like we wouldn’t make it.
 
We headed straight to Cheltenham where we were greeted by a midwife at the front entrance. Lisa was incredible. She was the calming, soothing, chilled out midwife I needed. My husband set up the music, so I could listen to the tracks from my yoga classes. I plonked my massive (I was massive) tired body in the birthing pool and I cried. The water was so relaxing and relieved my body straight away. I don’t think I have ever felt such a sensation of relief. I felt, safe.
 
The contractions remained intense, however, things progressed slowly. I was in the water, on my side out of the water, leaning against the wall, leaning against the husband, on the loo…everything. It was now the afternoon and I was exhausted. My breathing techniques were being helped by gas and air, but I had reached my limit. I asked for my mum…which I never do. I needed some time to recoup ready for the final leg. So they gave me diamorphine. It took the spikey edge off every surge. I was able to have a snooze in between the waves and my hubby even managed to eat a chicken sandwich. Which, I wasn’t aware of.
 
When the final moment came, I was led on my side, legs, arms, bum entwined with midwife and hubby. I felt like I needed a massive poop. I didn’t experience this sensation in the birth of my daughter, as I had an epidural and by this point had my legs in stirrups in the operating theatre. She was stuck and needed a little helping hand to get out. But, this time round I could feel everything. My body knew exactly what it was doing and I remember thinking, ‘my body can do this. I was built to do this’. Lots of banshee screaming erupted (I had been vocalising my surges most of the birth, but this was on another level of loudness) I could feel the head coming. It didn’t sting. It didn’t hurt. It felt like a HUGE relief, finally I was at the end of this. I was finally going to meet my baby. One last push and out my gorgeous baby came. All 9lb 9 of him! No wonder he had taken so long to get down the birth canal.
 
My midwife, lisa was such a special lady. She helped calm me down and remind me I can do it in moments when I lost my positive thoughts. She understood hypnobirthing techniques and even had the music we were listening to on her phone. It felt like we were meant to give birth in Cheltenham in the midwifey unit. This was the birth I wanted first time round.
 
The birth was amazing. Long, painful but amazing. I had given birth to an absolutely beautiful baby boy. I did it naturally (apart from the diamorphine pain relief, which I think helped to save my husbands blood circulation to his hands. They were squeezed a lot during labour) The hypnobirthing along with meeting incredible women, reminded me of what I had achieved with my daughter and what I CAN achieve. Our bodies are incredible, we have got this. 
  

Photo credits Chui King Li Photography

Ruth’s Birth Story

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

I had been very apprehensive about this, my 3rd birth. After experiencing two very different, but equally long and difficult, births I wanted my final birthing experience to be…well amazing. I won’t lie in my head I wanted the magical and special birth that you see in films and hear about from that friend of a friend. I wanted someone to guide me and I was running out of ideas. I had read every book there was available on having the ‘best/calm birth’ and then a friend suggested we attend a hypnobirthing taster session at The Wilson. I went there honestly thinking that even if I came out with something…anything, that would help me look on the birthing experience in a more positive way, then it was worth spending a few hours of my Saturday morning there. 

Once we got to know the other mums, some of which already had children like me and some first time mums, I began to talk about my birth experiences with them. Something I hadn’t done in detail before. No one wants to listen to your horrendous birth story do they? Especially not a first time mum already apprehensive of her impending experience. This was different. Beth and the ladies gave me time to talk about it, work through it and actually find the positive in what I thought were totally rubbish births. My opening statement to Beth was ‘I’m no good at giving birth’ Beth changed that. Yes I had two different and not so great experiences but no I wasn’t rubbish at giving birth. I had, with my first, been unprepared (and not had the best support, but don’t worry ladies it was not a hospital in Gloucestershire!) I had after a horrible 21 hours of labour came out of hospital and straight into postnatal depression with a sprinkling of psychosis. My second birth I had wonderful midwives (Gloucester) who had been tremendous throughout. I had a very long birth, which happens, but I had been unprepared and panicked, fighting it the whole time. With Beth, I was finally able to talk about it.

I left after the 2 hour session feeling totally positive about my next birth. Feeling reassured that my last two births I had been brave and, although unusual experiences, I had done the best I could under the circumstances. I felt EMPOWERED!
So I enrolled on the day course. A whole day of amazingness. I learned about breathing…yes breathing! Something that we do every day but I learned how to use my breathing to help go with the contractions and to think about them positively. Now, not until I actually used them in birth did I realise the power of these breathing techniques (more about that later!). We talked about how our hormones help and adapt during pregnancy and birth and how our minds play a huge part in the whole birth experience. Overall I came away feeling ready, positive and prepared. Why, I thought to myself, had I not embraced hypnobirthing before? Why had I struggled through, alone? I no longer felt apprehensive or scared. For the first time, I was so excited to give birth. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I was now totally ready to have the incredible experience I had always hoped for.
Cue 2 months later…

I was in TGI Fridays with my other two munchkins and my amazing mum who had been living with us for a few weeks (travelling back to Yorkshire to feed dad at the weekends….Dad, if you are reading this, you’re 73 please learn to use the toaster!) I had been having Braxton Hicks from 2pm just tightening and not painful…but they became quite regular, between 5 and 10 minutes. I ordered an Oreo milkshake…it was time and I needed sugar! Then around 6pm they turned into mild period pains again regularish. The breathing techniques were so useful at this point. I was calm, my breathing helped me focus, I enjoyed the experience knowing that with each contraction I was one step closer to having my baby in my arms. I was happy at home imagining what my daughter would look like. I flipped through my YESMUM cards, Beth had added to our box of goodies on the course. Reminding myself I was strong, I could do this, I was totally ready, I was happy and positive. I checked my bag and waited.

Then at midnight the contractions literally changed instantaneously they turned strong and powerful. To Gloucester hospital we went.
After a comedy of errors; such as the motorway being shut, us getting trapped between the swinging doors of the hospital and let’s not forget the wheel chair that had a mind of its own and in our rush decided to behave like an out of control supermarket trolley. All the time reminding myself to breath. Remembering the hypnobirthing techniques and stories from the MP3s I had downloaded, I breathed with the contractions.
We got to delivery suite. I was so relieved. The midwife Hannah was amazing. She asked if she could check to see if I was ready and as she did so, my waters burst…well flooded! ‘Right’ she said, ‘Baby is on its way’. She asked how I would like to give birth and in what position. I told her that my other two births were fairly long and requested to get my hypnobirthing cds on. She gave me a look and I understood I would have no time and with that I stood up…I was calm, I was ready and I was excited, all the feelings I had longed for. I managed to have a few sucks on the gas and air before I could feel the urge to push. I used the breathing techniques we had been shown and breathed into the contraction. It doesn’t feel like you should be doing it at all but it really works ladies! I stood up and leant over the bed to let gravity take hold and 4 pushes later and much to the surprise of everyone she suddenly arrived!! It all happened in 30 minutes. I was elated and shocked and in love and my partner just kept repeating ‘she’s here, I can’t believe it she’s already here’. 
I’m so grateful for the breathing techniques, they made the contractions endurable. I wish I had practiced hypnobirthing before with my others. The birth was beautiful and funny and incredible. 

My husband delivered our baby, alone, with no medical help, on our kitchen floor….

Birth Stories
The stuff of nightmares, right?  Yet this is exactly how our beautiful baby boy came into the world, & let me first say it was one of the most amazing, surreal yet beautiful experiences of my life.  Hypnobirthing played a key role in this, albeit in a rather unexpected way.  But first, let me take you back a year or so. . .I should explain that my first labour with my daughter Vienna – although not traumatic (at least not at the time) – certainly wasn’t without complication.  In short, I was induced due to suspected (and later confirmed) broken waters.  When I was examined 7 hours later after contracting through the night to be told I was only 3cm dilated, I screamed out for an epidural, which was duly carried out.  A pain free afternoon of passed before it was time to push. . .but an episiotomy following a third degree tear followed & not far behind, two blood transfusions, one fainting episode and a number of unsuccessful attempts to insert a cannula.  At the time, it was lovely – painless due to the epidural, exciting, and of course, all but (temporarily) forgotten when I met my beautiful baby girl.  But. . .recovery after was tough.  Really tough.  I was a first time mum, my tear wound became infected, I couldn’t sit down.  I was bruised & blue from the spinal, I felt blue inside for a little while, and sleep deprived to the hilt. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and the more time passed, the more I wished so much I could remember the whole labour, birth and post birth experience with more clarity and positivity.
So, with my second pregnancy, I thought a little harder and a little longer about my birthing plan, and what kind of experience I hoped for.
I knew that I wanted to do as much as I could, go as far as I could, without intervention and within my four walls of home.  I knew I wanted to be calm, focused and present.  I knew I wanted to birth with confidence and without the fear that is so often associated with labouring.  Fear that I had felt first time around.  Of course, I wasn’t adverse to any type of pain relief or intervention if that was required for the safe delivery of my baby, but given the choice, I wanted a less invasive experience.  I did a little reading, then a little more, watched vlogs, read blogs. . .& the more I read, the more I became enthralled with the concept of hypnobirthing.  The mere idea that birthing a baby didn’t have to be painful, and that mindset could help to achieve this drew me in.  I downloaded the Maggie Howell & Natal Hypnotherapy series (there are numerous tracks depending on what type of birth you have planned or are hoping for), & I would highly recommend them.  I started practising some of the techniques from around the 30 week mark – late to the party I realise, but I was keen to give it a go.  Work was hectic, life was hectic. . .practising the techniques was almost therapy, a form of meditation.  I looked forward to slipping into the bath with my hypnobirthing track for company.  At around 35 weeks, I took it up a notch, sticking my Laura Ashley post it notes all around our home, with my affirmations of choice slowly seeping into my subconscious mind, day after day.  I’d chant them in my head on my way to work, walking the dogs, in the shower. . .hell, everywhere!  I still remember the feeling of pure luxury padding up to bed at 9.30pm on a Saturday night in December with a hot chocolate, my hypnobirthing download & ‘I welcome each surge’ on repeat in my head.
Friday 24th February, started like any other.  I was 5 days overdue, & after a week of pretty much no action despite a painful sweep (which I openly swore I would never endure again) and my kind midwife declaring ‘I think the next time I see you will be for your 4-day home check’, I had resigned myself to ‘going the distance’ and having to be induced at the 12 day overdue mark.  So, on I plodded, dropping V at childcare, walking the dogs then heading into our local town going about my business as usual.  Like the days that preceded it, I had no real pains or signs anything was about to go down.  Until. . .I tripped over my own feet and took a tumble on the street, luckily managing to land on my left elbow and protecting my precious cargo.  Ego bruised, I dusted myself on & abated the concerned passers by.  The action started soon after this – I recall sitting in a rather relaxed state having my lashes & brows tinted and suddenly feeling very period crampy!  Could it be?  Wandering around the markets a little later, it slowly dawned on me that yep, this could be it!  I felt. . . .excited!  Really, really excited!
By the time I had driven to the local supermarket, the surges were coming reasonably regularly, around every 5 minutes lasting 30 seconds each.  That said, they still felt very gentle and manageable.  I called my sister as I wandered up the bread aisle, followed swiftly by a call to the maternity unit to give them the heads up that I ‘may’ be in later.  I had a surge whilst talking to the midwife on the other end of the line, but was able to talk and breathe through it pretty well.  I then drove to yet more shops for an all important iced drink (hell, nothing and nobody was going to get in the way of satisfying my craving for ice) and the surges continued.  I continued to breathe, breathe & breathe some more, up and out through each one.  I focused intently on the break between each surge, and the respite and pleasure that bought me.  It worked!  By the time I had reached home at 6.30pm, the surges were uncomfortable but manageable.  I popped myself into the bath (which I’d called ahead to pre-order the running of) and settled in for the night.  The warmth of the water was manna from heaven; I started to relax into my body and continued to breath through each surge as calmly as I could, sometimes counting in my head for effect.  I genuinely felt at peace with my body; it knew what to do, it was capable of doing this thing.  We could do this.  We were doing this.  Upon request, my husband Kev stuck a random selection of my faithful, dog-eared post it notes in my eye line & I stared at them intently, eyes burning, breathing getting more focused and intending.
Some of my favourites included:
’Every surge brings my baby closer.’
‘My body knows how to give birth.’
‘I am present.  I am doing this.  We are doing this’
‘Breathe in love, breathe out pain’

I was deeply relaxed and in my zone.  Kev affectionally recalls me telling HIM to relax when he dared to ask what time I might be ready to go to hospital!  Continuing to fuss around me, I sent him out for an all-important carb fest.

The strange thing about labour is, although brief and fleeting, you feel very little in between surges. This kept me going for a long while, but the tightenings started to get more and more regular, and longer – up to 50-60 seconds with very little break in between.  Whilst Kev was out doing the chip run and with our first born sound asleep unawares upstairs, I felt an overwhelming wave of nausea sweep over me.  Changing my position sorted in nicely, but with the surges now coming thick and fast, I managed to snaffle a few chips in-between, and on we ploughed.  Eyes closed, humming, breathing, counting.  Warm bubbles on my back, my senses were engaged & I recall feeling. . .liberated.  Present.  Relaxed.  I was labouring, I was calm and everything was going to be ok.  We were going to meet our baby, and soon by the measure of things!  After timing a few more surges, thoughts turned to making the transition to hospital.  Kev made a phone call to the maternity unit and we were good to go.  Or so I thought!   Jumping out of the bath, I hopped upstairs, threw on a dress, grabbed my hospital bag, dashed back downstairs, leant on the dining room table through another surge – the most uncomfortable yet – before our lovely neighbour arrived to take care of our daughter.  I was still able to breathe through each surge but my vocal pitch was cranking up a notch by this stage.  What she must have thought at that time!
Then it came, the needing to pee sensation.  Which wasn’t needing to pee at all.  Was it needing to poop?  Nope.  I sat down on the loo and immediately jumped up again – cue waters breaking.  Not a drip, or a splash; a gush.  I immediately started to feel immense pressure as my body drew our baby down.  In that very moment, it dawned on me that hospital wasn’t going to happen.  It was happening and happening now.   ‘Oh my goodness, we aren’t going to make it’ (or words to that effect, think slightly stronger) left my lips in a less than hushed tone.  The hospital is only a 15-minute drive away from our home but alas, my body and baby were ready.  Yikes.  I knew what I had to do.  Hold on to a surface, breathe through and push.  Stop screaming, stop shouting, focus the energy to where it is needed.  For the first time in my life, I actually listened to the voice in my head.  I zoned in and breathed it through.  The immense pressure was like nothing I had ever felt before, but it was manageable, my body was doing it’s job.  I had such clarity of thought at that time, completely unthinkable pre-epidural with labour number one.
Kev called 999, who promptly transferred his call through to the fantastic midwifery team at our local hospital, one of whom was lucky enough to talk him through how to deliver a baby!  Seriously, a crash course.  There was talk of a cord around his neck, and how to de-tangle.  There was desperate pleas to ‘get her onto the floor, she needs to be on the floor’.  There were warnings of ‘he’ll be a slippy little fella, get ready to catch’.  There were demands of ‘fetch towels, make it soft, get her as comfy as you possible can’.  My neighbour was hushed into the sitting room to babysit the dogs.  All the while, I was sweating, panting, silently screaming but maintaining my breathing & letting my body birth our baby.  With the midwife on speaker phone and Kev doing what had to be done right there right now, Bodhi Ray Stallion was born at 20:24, on our kitchen floor, surrounding by various and random cushions, throws, blankets and towels.  There was blood, mess, water everywhere.  It didn’t matter.  Nothing else mattered.  Our boy was with us.  Against all odds, he was delivered safely by an alpha male with not a day of medical training in him.  All credit to the utterly amazing midwives coaching him through, they were absolute stars.  So to, the love I had for my husband grew ten fold in that very moment.  Kev is and always has been my hero – he has overcome so much in his life and is the strongest, kindest, most selfless person I know – but this really had pushed him to the limit.  He was utterly amazing.  inspiring, even.  Our real life super hero.  The sense of calm he emitted, his confidence and focus was just. . .wonderful.
An ambulance eventually arrived, & with a little help from my now nervous wreck of a husband and a kind but rather nervous looking paramedic, I was helped onto the stretcher where my placenta was delivered.  My knees were knocking together so hard I could almost hear my bones.  There was talk of shock.  I just felt. . .happy.  Tearful and emotional, but in a ‘look what we’ve just done’ kind of way.  It was then time for a little trip to the hospital to get us all checked over.  At that point, I could have just crawled upstairs to bed with my precious little bundle but, needs must.  Being wheeled out of our house was an experience I’m not in a rush to repeat, but in that very moment, all i remember was laughing nervously, cooing over our just born & silently praying they wouldn’t remove him from my grip for the ride.  Thankfully, he was allowed to travel with me, so we cuddled in tight for the trip.  With the ambulance driving at 15mph, one of the three kind paramedics that tended to us held my hand and chatted away.  I was flitting between shaking like a leaf and acting utterly delirious, but quite frankly she could have told me she was travelling to space the very next day & I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid.  My delicious babe in arms was with me, skin to skin, and he smelt so good, it felt so good.  My precious cargo, bumped from the inside earlier on in the day, now clinging onto me on the outside as we bumped along in an ambulance.  I will probably never again experience a feeling like it.  I couldn’t stop shaking, through tears of elation and joy.  I was on a cloud, and really my surroundings were just noise.

I arrived and following the customary checks, needed a couple of stitches so was given a quick local anaesthetic and a little bit of gas and air.  Kev left the hospital at around half past midnight, and I was given a chicken and leek pie with a ham cheese and pickle sandwich.  I’m not a big meat eater, but hell it tasted so good! It’s funny the things you remember.  At this point, baby Blue – as we affectionately named him in lieu of an actual name (we didn’t actually name him until he was almost three weeks old) – was still sleeping contently next to me, and I spent the next hour or so gazing dreamily at him,

delirious.
 Amidst all of this ‘action’, Blue had his first breastfeed with much help from the fantastic midwives to get him latched on and feeding.  It was just magical.  What of me at this stage?  Well, my chest and shoulders were aching because of my rather tenuous position on our kitchen floor.  A bit sore of course but just. . .exhilarated, pumped, fantastic.  We had done it!  With no pain relief!  At home!  Even at that early stage, I concluded it to be one of the most amazing, surreal experiences of my life.  I felt so proud of what we achieved together.  A little while later, around midnight, I remember taking a shower, washing my hair with the free Persil fabric softener sachet given in a random Bounty pack lying around (in the crazy rush, I forgot to pop my everyday bits into my hospital bag) & brushing my teeth with toothpaste on my finger but I felt AMAZING!  Seriously, amazing. 
Things then moved quickly & formulaically. . .we were moved to delivery suite, two more breast feeds followed, we dozed on and off through the night, in a sleepy daze of happiness.  We stayed in hospital for two further nights at my request to get much needed support with breastfeeding.  Monday came, we were discharged, and on our way home, popped to the supermarket for supplies.  I was walking, I was talking, I felt almost human!  No scrap that, I felt blooming invincible, if a little vulnerable – is it just me, or does that feeling naturally follow on from carrying such precious cargo within your person for the 40 weeks prior?
The days that followed were simply blissful, spent at home, just the four of us – sometimes just the two of us – getting to know our beautiful new addition.  It is no exaggeration to say my second experience of labour, birth and post birth couldn’t have been more different to my first. I was euphoric, on cloud nine.  My body was sore, but recovered quickly.  I felt strong.  Bodhi was, and still is, the most content, relaxed baby.  From day one, he has fed well, slept well, and has been happy to be dragged along to whatever we happen to be doing (which is just as well, as having two under two is pretty full on).  I don’t know whether we can attribute his relaxed personality to his birth, but my husband certainly likes to weave it into his story!

I wanted to share our positive experience simply because positivity and mindset are the pillars of hypnobirthing.  The principals that I learned & adopted throughout my labour and before it made my birth experience relaxed, enjoyable even. I never intended to give birth at home, but nature has a funny way.  I wanted to do ‘as much as I could’ on my own, and by golly I did!  It was a slight unintended consequence of my rather relaxed state, and I would not in any way recommend a planned home birth without the presence and supervision of medical professionals (sorry Kev, as much as you like to think it – you’re still not a qualified midwife nor are you ever likely to be!), yet I reflect on the birth with a sense of achievement and empowerment, and with a big old lump in my throat.  It was everything I could have hoped for and more.  Practising hypnobirthing, even for the short time that I did, focused my mind on how positive and beautiful labour and childbirth can be, and it certainly delivered this for me.
There are many quotes & sound bites given on the topic of hypnobirthing, but I thought it apt to sign off with one of my favourite, most empowering pieces of advice:
“The point of hypnobirthing is not birthing without pain. The point is to birth with love and confidence, without fear, without unnecessary intervention, and with a supportive team who shares your birth vision. That is the definition of a successful hypnobirth. The wonderful side-effect of this type of gentle, mother-centered, empowered birth is more pleasure and less pain.” – Lauralyn Curtis HBCE
Thank you to Emma for sharing her beautiful story and for her vision-That birth doesn’t have to be a painful experience- at all. Women should hear birth stories that empower them and tap in to their strength within to achieve a birth filled with positivity and where they felt in control. We hope that you have been inspired by this story. You can check out Emmas instagram of her and her 2 beautiful children here

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