I had my daughter Eliza Ivy on 9th April 2020 – I elected for a caesarean following my previous induction and emergency caesarean under general anaesthetic with my now 26 month old daughter CiCi.
Throughout my pregnancy I thought I would have a VBAC – I wanted to experience going into labour the natural way and to feel my waters break and so on… Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, I started to feel panicked and decided that an elective caesarean would be the right choice for me. My husband also needed to look after our 2 year old so it became a reality that I would need to undergo the surgery alone. I was terrified and couldn’t sleep the night before. When I thought about it practically, I calmed down but it was the thought of not having my husband to hold my hand that made me quite emotional.
When the morning arrived, everything was calm – virtually tranquil. The ward, despite not being empty felt quiet and the staff at East Surrey Hospital were kind and reassuring. I was determined to breastfeed this time round after struggling and ultimately giving up the first time. So in I went with my colostrum syringes ready to store in the fridge. When it was my turn to have my baby, despite everything being explained to me, I will never forget the range of overwhelming emotions I felt in such a short space of time. Fear, relief, discomfort, ease, panic, calm, worry, joy, adrenaline, elation…
Ahead of time, the midwife in the surgery team offered to play my choice of music and to take any photos/videos I would like. In the end, my anaesthetist FaceTimed my husband so he could see my daughter being carried over the drapes – this was a new experience for us both as we had not seen our first daughter so soon after the birth. My midwife helped me downstairs to meet my husband and daughter – she took her time and didn’t rush us. This really made our reunion post birth so special.
I had skin to skin with my daughter and she fed from me straight away – our breastfeeding journey has been strong for nearly two weeks and I feel so lucky to be able to manage this time. I think that the pandemic has given me the blessing of time so that I am not rushing feeds or worrying about getting too much done at home. I’ve been able to recover at a steady pace and after he initial two days, it’s got easier each day. It’s not easy with a two year old, especially when she wanted to be carried and I can’t because of my wound but we’ve been making a conscious effort to make sure CiCi has lots of special time as well as fresh air and park visits so she doesn’t feel left out.
After my first birth which was challenging, painful and frightening, I felt so much more calm and in control this time round. I wanted to share my story with other mums to be who might be feeling quite anxious and unsure about their births. It might not be exactly what you imagine but the NHS staff are with you every step of the way 🤍
Thank you to Katrina for sharing her positivity with her birth story during this pandemic. For more birth stories click here.
My husband and I did a one day hypnobirthing course in August and I just wanted to thank Beth and TBTBC for making such a difference to our birth experience. It was more wondeeful than I could have hoped for and I am sure that all the advice, positive stories and hypnobirthing tools made it possible. I’ve written my birth story below if you wanted to share it…
My first birth was not a great experience, my son was induced after my waters broke and nothing happened for 48 hours. I ended up having an epidural and a stressful delivery which resulted in a third degree tear. Even after leaving hospital the early days with my baby were equally stressful as my milk did not come in for several days and my son was unsettled and losing weight. We were ok after a few weeks but I always wonder about the impact of stress during the birth on my son’s start in life.For this, my second baby, I was offered a planned C-section due to the risk of severe tearing a second time around. I felt confident using BRAIN and saying no to the consultant, wanting to avoid a medicalised birth and give my body a chance to do what it was built for. My due date came and went without any signs of labour and my midwife offered a stretch and sweep, which I declined at my 41 week appointment to allow a few extra days for nature to take its course. She booked me in for an induction at 41+5 days, which would mean I could still go to the birth unit rather than the hospital for the birth.
With nothing happening, I decided to go for the sweep at 41+2 days to try to move things along before the planned induction. I started to feel mild cramps the next day and after two days (the day before the planned induction), they became stronger and more regular. I relaxed at home listening to my favourite music, eating chocolate and pottering around, playing with my son, breathing through the surges, which felt like stronger period cramps. I put on my TENS machine which was a very effective distraction and made me feel in control of the surges. By late afternoon they were coming around every three minutes so I called the birth unit who advised to wait until the surges were strong enough that I couldn’t talk through them.
An hour later we made our way to the birth unit and were taken to a lovely room with a birthing pool, leather sofa, bathroom and soft lighting. I declined an immediate internal examination and said I wanted to settle in first. The lovely midwife was fully supportive and listened in to our baby on the Doppler instead, commenting on how nice and relaxed I was (and probably thinking I had a while to go…) The baby was very active and the midwife suggested we went for monitoring in the triage unit to make sure everything was ok. We agreed and I focused on my music and TENS machine to help me breathe through the surges while attached to the monitor. Thankfully everything was fine. My husband stepped in to make sure we were released to go back to the birth unit as quickly as possible as I could feel things were progressing and I wanted to get back to our comfortable space and get refocused. Not long after getting back in the birth unit room the next few surges were coming thick and fast and I asked my husband to fetch someone. He then gently massaged my shoulders and mopped my brow which helped make the strong surges more comfortable.
I could sense my body was ready to push and sure enough, when the midwife returned to examine me, my waters had broken, I was fully dilated and making primal noises through the surges! After breathing through a few more surges with gas and air to help I could feel my body start to push and the down breathing that I had been practising on the toilet for the last few months came into play! I really did feel as if I was doing a giant poo! The midwife helped me into an all fours position on the bed and after a few more surges I could feel the baby’s head emerging. The next surge, the head came out fully and then I felt the rest of the body slip out with a massive sense of relief and joy. I actually shouted “Amazing!” as it happened. The midwife said “Look down!” and there was our baby girl.
I lay back on the bed and had skin to skin and a first feed with her while my husband cut the cord, and I then delivered the placenta with a few more pushes. I needed a few stitches but minor damage compared to my first birth. The brilliant midwives then prepared a bath for me and tea and toast, and my husband and i had a wonderful peaceful few hours with our new arrival while awaiting the all clear to go home. Having arrived at the unit at 6pm, baby Daphne was born at 9.10pm, and we were back at home by 6am the next morning to introduce her to her big brother and grandma and grandad.The whole experience made me feel like a superhero, so amazed by what my body was capable of. Most importantly Daphne’s first moments were peaceful and calm, and she is a healthy and relaxed baby.
It really was as simple as breathing, relaxing and letting my body do its thing with the help and support of my husband and some brilliant midwives. And of course the knowledge, tools and positive mindset provided by TBTBC that prepared me for this magical experience Thank you TBTBC!
Gayle and Luis,Mum and dad to baby Daphne, born 27th October 2019
I had my first baby 10 years ago and the whole experience was so traumatising that I vowed that if I ever had another baby, I was going to be one of those ‘too-posh-to-push’ mums and have baby extracted via the sunroof.
I met my now husband, James, in 2009. We got married in May 2015 and I was pregnant by August. We were absolutely over the moon. This time, I decided that I was going to completely embrace being pregnant; I was going to look after myself, carry on working out and contrary to the first sentence of this post, I was going to plan to give birth naturally BUT I was going to do something about the fear I still held onto and decided to enroll hubby and me onto a hypnobirthing course.
The hypnobirthing course was fab and made it real for James too. I was totally keen for all of the breathing techniques and the course was worth it just for those. It was also worth it because hypnobirthing empowered us to ask the right questions with the medical staff looking after us. For example, during my first labour, I would have asked them why they needed to intervene and speed up my contractions when I had been getting on just fine? As a result of the course, I also decided on a homebirth… yes, away from all the medical intervention, surgeons and drugs! We moved to Cheltenham from Berkshire when I was 8 months pregnant and I immediately noticed how amazing the midwifery care was here compared to where I had moved from. My desire to have a homebirth and use hypnobirthing terminology, like saying “surge” instead of “contraction,” was fully supported. I felt excited about the impending arrival of our second baby girl! A complete turn around from the fear of birth that I had at the beginning.
We got the spare bedroom ready for the birth and 3 days after my due date, I started feeling tightening in tummy. I went to sleep that night and woke up to the same tightening. I had breakfast and decided to take a warm bubble bath. Whilst in the bath, the tightening felt stronger and I felt I had to breathe through it. I called Cheltenham birthing centre and had to stop talking when another ‘surge’ came – the lovely midwife said, “If you couldn’t talk just then, you’re in labour my love.” I put on the music that I’d listened to during my hypnobirthing relaxation sessions and sat on a swiss ball, gently bouncing. The first midwife arrived at about 10am and asked me if I wanted her to check how things were progressing. I said yes and found out that I was already 6 to 7cm dilated. The surges started to come in stronger and I used my breathing techniques to breathe through them. I wouldn’t say they were pain free, far from it, but the breathing really did help. I buried my head in hubby’s neck which I found really comforting and hubby didn’t speak… also comforting. 😉 Two more midwives arrived and they were all fantastic – kind, patient, friendly, chatty – everything I could have wished for. I got to 10cm dilated with no pain relief but it was becoming unbearable so I asked for the gas and air. My water’s still hadn’t broken and I didn’t really feel the need to push but they told me to start pushing. I felt exhausted and just wanted to sleep. I felt like I had nothing left in me. I then heard the midwives saying that they were calling for an ambulance as the baby’s heart rate wasn’t recovering quickly enough between surges. I remember lying there thinking, “Wait a minute. If an ambulance comes, I’m going to have to get downstairs (there’s no way I could have walked), get into the ambulance, travel to Gloucester hospital – all the while with no pain relief – and our baby was going to be pulled out with forceps or worse, I was going to end up having a C-section.” Within seconds of hearing this, I put my chin to my chest, closed my eyes, breathed down and gave it everything I had. Before I knew it, I heard the midwives saying, “Cancel the ambulance, the baby’s coming!” And come she did at 1.19pm – my waters broke as she arrived! Gosh the relief was dizzying and I was ecstatic that baby girl and I had made it. We left the umbilical cord pulsing for nearly 30 minutes before James cut it and I delivered the placenta naturally too. The midwives stayed for nearly 2 hours after the birth and left me, James, baby Jasmine and the room I’d given birth in, all clean, fresh and ready to start our new adventure together. We relocated to our bedroom and ordered Chinese takeaway at 6pm. Hands down the most delicious meal I’ve ever eaten!
If you’re low risk, I can’t recommend a homebirth enough. Not having to worry about when you can or can’t go into a hospital was brilliant and I genuinely felt excited about being at home, amongst our home comforts. When friends come to stay, I love saying, “I gave birth to Jasmine in the room you’re staying in.” ☺
If you want to know about other ways to have a great birth then…