My waters broke at 3.50am and we went to triage at 5.45am after my parents arrived to look after my 4 year old son. Mild contractions started while we were there. We went home with rough plans for either an induction or caesarean the following morning if things didn’t progress due to waters having broken and associated risk of infection. As a VBAC mum I wanted to keep my options open.
Once home I used my Hypnobirthing techniques to help bring the contractions on fully. Things that really helped:
– watching my favourite film eating doughnuts and chocolate
– having a bath with dimmed lights listening to Hypnobirthing script
– using TENs machine once out the bath listening to my favourite songs
– using the contraction timer from Freya
By 12pm I was finding the contractions intense and they were 3 in 10 minutes. As a VBAC mum I wanted to go to hospital so they could monitor me more closely.
In the car my contractions ramped up and I started to panic when we hit traffic so I used my breathing techniques and put the radio on (kisstory!) to keep myself in the zone
I contracted four times from the car to triage and just blocked out all the things around me. I never imagined I could stay focussed in the middle of GRH car park! We randomly bumped into my community midwife on the way in which was great to see a familiar face!
When I got to triage they hooked me to a monitor but didn’t offer any pain relief or gas and air so I kept with my TENS machine and breathing.
At this point things went a bit off plan, the monitor showed baby’s heart rate was dipping when I was contracting so I was admitted to the labour ward to be examined. I was allowed to use the jasmine room which is a special room with mood lighting and birthing pool a bit like the rooms in the birthing unit.
I was 3cm dilated but cervix was stretchy. I went on the gas and air and wireless monitoring whilst my husband set up the room with aromatherapy, photos and tea lights. The contractions were coming very close together and were very intense. The midwife and doctor were concerned about baby’s heart rate and the doctor examined me to find I was now 6cms dilated just an hour after the last examination. Labour was progressing quickly but baby’s heart rate was really worrying me and I found I couldn’t focus on my breathing as well. Then baby turned back to back and I had the overwhelming urge to push but knew I couldn’t. This is when this labour started to feel like my first labour. My first baby ended up being born by emergency c section and had a short spell in special care with no skin to skin for over 24 hours and my ultimate outcome I wanted this time was to avoid this baby being separated from me.
At this point my baby’s heart rate was recovering well from the contractions so I knew she was ok. My instinct was to ask for a c section. The dr explained there was no medical reason for this but they wanted to take a blood sample from baby to see how she was coping. They explained the results would take an hour. I agreed to the test but shortly afterwards decided an hour is a long time if baby is in distress so I finalised my decision to have a c section. Instead of feeling a failure as I’d expected if my VBAC failed I actually felt really empowered and that I was following my instincts for the best outcome for my baby.
Preparations were made and my midwife, Beth, was fantastic at keeping me calm and had obviously read my birth plan as she informed the theatre staff what we wanted. My playlist was put on and I heard all the staff singing along to sex on fire and mr brightside! They were all so happy and relaxed. Everyone introduced themselves and said encouraging things to me. My tealights were put out and after the spinal was put in and I was lying down the anaesthetist asked me and my husband about our son and a recent holiday. I kept watching the tealights, thought back to the holiday and my breathing and trembling (from the adrenaline) calmed down. Not long after that my beautiful daughter was born. She had delayed cord clamping, was weighed in front of me and had skin to skin for an hour while they completed the operation.
Olivia had no health problems and she stayed with me in recovery (and every minute since 😂)
The doctor visited me in recovery and explained the blood test for Olivia had showed she was in distress so they would have recommended a c section had I waited for the results. There was also something about my placenta which was unknown during pregnancy which could have resulted in a serious bleed and risks for me and Olivia as labour progressed. He was pleased I’d followed my instincts and it was absolutely the right birth for me and Olivia.
Without Hypnobirthing classes I wouldn’t have had the confidence or knowledge to decide on a c section and the techniques/toolkit helped in so many ways on the day I can’t recommend it highly enough!
If, like Emma, you want a toolkit of techniques to help you in all birth scenarios then…
You can join our Hypnobirthing classes in Cheltenham. We do antenatal classes too in Gloucester and Cheltenham.
If you want all the information from our award-winning hypnobirthing and antenatal classes but from the convenience of your own home on your own time, then you can get this with our online course.
Check out our series of YouTube videos on how to make your birth better.
I don’t really know where to start with the labour. I could potentially say I was in early labour for a few days, contracting on and off throughout the days and evenings prior to the birth with it not amounting to anything. For the sake of time, I’m writing this whilst the baby is sleeping, and to save your boredom I’m going to fast forward to when it finally and thankfully stepped up a gear. This was Friday evening. The evening started like all the other evenings before, me bouncing on my ball in front of the TV. Rob had gone to football and I was contracting as I usually did in the evenings. It got to 11pm and the contractions were coming regularly. I said to Rob tonight is the night, he rolled is eyes and carried on watching 8 out of 10 cats does countdown, as I’d cried wolf every day already this week. From how ‘stop and start’ my contractions had been this week I had lost all faith in my ability in judging whether it was happening or not. I went upstairs to take a shower and to have a word with myself. I was probably not going into labour at all.
Half an hour in the shower I rang my friend to come over. The contractions were becoming stronger and staying regular, I was still not totally convinced though and prepped her that it may all stop. I rang the birth unit too and said the same to them, “I don’t think I’m in active labour, but I think I may be getting there.” Being a fourth baby, I knew that being in active labour (from 4cms and regular contractions) to having a baby wasn’t going to be long and I wanted to be in the hospital as I bled last time. They invited me in.
This is probably a good time to give you a bit of background. My 3rd baby was born prem at 34 weeks and I lost more blood than deemed normal. So the advice for me was to have my baby on a consultant led unit as I was “high-risk” of bleeding again. I looked at all my options though and chose to go against this advice after having a conversation with the lead midwife on the birth unit. My last birth, I had polyhydramnios, prematurity, a suspected infection and the cord snapped on the placenta all things that mean you’re more likely to lose more blood. This pregnancy, I had normal waters, a normal size baby and was full term so I didn’t have the same risk factors. With this in mind I chose to give birth on the midwifery led unit and I was supported in this choice.
So back to that Friday evening… I was in the shower. I had my birth ball in the shower too. It was on the bath so that I could lean onto it to have the water on the bottom of my back. I used my breathing here that I’d learnt from hypnobirthing. Counting my in breath and my out breath gave me something to concentrate on and kept me relaxed. Things were going great guns, I was calm, comfortable and getting into the swing of the contractions. My friend arrived and so I got out of the shower and myself and Rob made our way to the birth unit.
It was about 00.30 when we arrived to the birth unit. My midwife was Brenda, she showed us into our room Poppy. It was dimly lit and the pool was half full. I again said to a Brenda that I didn’t think I was quite in labour but knew my contractions were getting there. They were coming every few minutes at this point but they felt manageable. She brought me in some essential oils – Bergamot and Frankincense- on a taper and I got back into the shower leaning over onto the birthing ball. Chui my birth photographer arrived at this point. My only concern here I remember was what happens if this all stops, what happens if I’m just in early labour and I’ve got my friend at my house and Chui’s here. I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time! Silly really looking back as it was obvious I was in labour!
I spent a good hour at least like this in the shower. The next thing that happened was at 02.30 when I had my first vaginal examination. I know it was 02.30 because Rob text Emily at this time who was home with the kids. I still wasn’t sure at this point that it was it… I remember saying to Brenda, what happens if I’m just 2cms. If this was going to be the case I didn’t want to know! Brenda thought that would be unlikely and she was right. It’s funny how much you lose your ability to rationalise in labour! As a midwife, I should’ve been able to recognise the signs but I still had in the back of my mind that I may not be dilating at all! I was 8cms. Happy days! I got gas and air at this point which is when all of the fun started.
Brenda filled the pool and I got in. The water was instantly comforting. It was here that I remember really wanting to take it all in. As pregnant mothers, we are so desperate for this moment, desperate to feel the contractions and to know that after 9 months we are finally going to meet our baby. The labour and the birth we prep for, go to classes, pack 3 suitcases for which is more than what we’d take on holiday, we play it out how we want it to be in our minds but the reality is that it’s all done and dusted in a day. That moment in the pool was a nice one, I really appreciated what was going on, that what I’d been waiting for was actually happening that very night. These thoughts were helped from the fact that I was high as a kite too! I actually told Brenda all of this between contractions. She probs thought I was cuckoo!
It wasn’t long after I’d got into the pool that I’d started to transition. I remember saying “I can’t do this anymore!” Whilst thinking that’s a textbook ‘You’re just about to have a baby comment’ whilst uncontrollably pushing. I can’t remember “mooing” here but Rob assures me it happened! This feeling was overwhelming, I had this full feeling, which would have been her head coming through my pelvis. The only thing that helped this feeling go away was to push. All the signs were telling me I was just about to meet my baby and a few pushes later she was born under the water at 03.31. I got to bring her up out of the water myself. Holding her in front of my face, seeing her scrunched up face, feeling her skin, hearing her little cry and knowing that she was here safe in my arms was the most incredible feeling ever.
All went well after – no bleeding!🙌🏼 and we were back home by 7.30 am for when the other 3 children woke up.
There’s a couple of things that I’m so glad that I did.
1. Getting a birth photographer– I felt like a bit of a diva doing this but now I wish that I did it for all of my births. For me, remembering the birth is so much more important than say a wedding day, yet a wedding photographer is something we see at every wedding! The photos that i have are priceless and Delphi is lucky that she gets to see her first moments in the world. Thank you Chui 🙂
2.Hypnobirthing– Through teaching hypnobirthing I have inadvertently been practising the techniques for a lot longer than my 9 month pregnancy and boy did it pay off. Reinforcing that everything in your birth is a choice, learning the importance of keeping your mind calm and how to control pesky negative thoughts like fear and doubt that always seem to enter our minds meant that this birth was by far my most empowering, calm and magical experience. I could live it with such clarity and for me that was I really wanted, I wanted to be able to remember every minute of it and enjoy it! I’ll write another blog on what techniques I used that were most helpful.
3. Writing it down- this little story completes it for me, it’s something else that means I’ll remember what happened that night.
For me sharing birth stories is important. I want pregnant mothers to know that birth isn’t always the fear-filled, ear- piercing shrieks and painful experiences that you see on TV. It can be empowering, calm and beautiful. My births are by far my biggest accomplishments in life. I look back on this birth especially, and it was everything I wanted it to be and I would happily do it all again in a heartbeat.
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 on your own time, then you can get our online course.
You can join our Hypnobirthing classes in Cheltenham. We do antenatal classes too in Gloucester and Cheltenham
Check out our series of YouTube videos on how to make your better.
Fayes birth story.
So…. We didn’t have a birth plan we were just happy to go with the flow and it’s a good job we did! My due date had passed, and I was starting to feel a tad inpatient so I had a bath with a ‘sex bomb’ (bath bomb from Lush!) which was recommended to me by a new mummy friend I had made on the Bump to Baby Chapter antenatal course. I even had to go to my mother in law’s for the bath because the previous week I had got stuck in our bath due to the taps being in the middle!!
I was 5 days overdue so my partner and I went out for a thai curry at lunchtime, again in a bid to get things started. By 4pm that day the contractions had started…. 10 minutes apart and not very consistent however it was all starting to happen. My partner went off to five-a-side football at 5.30pm and when he returned at 7.15pm they certainly felt stronger and were more like 7 minutes apart however still not always consistent.
I had a tiring night, however I managed the pain using my hypnobirthing breathing and visualisations, paracetamol and a tens machine. Sleep was tricky though because well… I was a tad uncomfortable and I was needing to time my contractions. By 4.30am the following day it was time for us to make our way to the birth unit at Gloucester Royal, things seemed more consistent and my pyjamas bottoms suddenly appeared wet! My partner drove us to the hospital saying ‘this is it!’, it reminded me of that early morning trip to the airport when you are feeling a mixture of excited and nervous!!
We arrived at the birth unit and after being assessed I was advised I was 3cm dilated and only part of my waters had broken, therefore diamorphine was recommended to me so that I could rest and catch up on some sleep for the day that was ahead of me. They also started me on some IV antibiotics because I had Group B strep.
Several hours passed, my waters hadn’t broken naturally, I felt super relaxed and drowsy and I hadn’t dilated anymore. I felt at this point a little frustrated and waved goodbye to any hope of a water birth because I needed to be looked after in the delivery suite and have the rest of my waters broken. It was at this point that I was started on the hormone drip to try and increase the intensity and frequency of the contractions (or so I thought this was).
The level of hormone drip changed throughout the day, and by 10pm that evening I was 6cm dilated, this felt so wrong to both my partner and I at the time after such a long day. However, earlier that night we had a wonderful surprise when Beth came on shift and was assigned as our midwife. Seeing a friendly face was just the best we could have hoped for and my partner was pleased because he could straight talk with Beth! I was shattered and was only using gas and air as pain relief, otherwise I was managing with my hypnobirthing techniques. I remember feeling really quite insular and just focussing in on my breathing. A cesarean was offered and discussed at 11pm however we declined this suggestion on the basis that I didn’t want the recovery afterwards. Albeit, I was very tempted and did ask whether they could guarantee our baby would be born in the next hour so that it’s birthday could be the 16th of the month the same as her dad- barmy I know!! My partner laughed at this reasoning, in my head it was justified given the day I had experienced! Instead we were advised the hormone drip would be increased and we would be assessed again in 2 hours.
Those two hours I remember being really tough, however both Beth and my partner were very supportive and I remember them both being really positive. Finally, at about 1.30am I was more or less fully dilated, however (there are lots of ‘howevers‘ in this story!!), our baby’s head was facing 10 o’clock as opposed to 6 o’clock and therefore I needed some help from a doctor to move baby into a more optimum position for birth. I have also learned since that her heart rate was also creating an odd pattern and I wasn’t in any fit state to take instructions on how to push because I was attached to the gas and air for comfort and was exhausted! Therefore, the next part of the story involved signing a consent form and going to theatre. The two options I had were forceps and C section- both of which I had prayed I wouldn’t need so I remember feeling like a failure. Given our feelings about the recovery after a C section, we opted for forceps first.
I recollect being in theatre feeling like I was on Holby City- surrounded by lights, legs in stirrups and lots of clinicians around me including an anaesthetist trying to get a spinal block into my back however I couldn’t sit still due to the contractions. I recall him getting more and more cross and frustrated with the situation and perhaps me due to my lack of cooperation (not on purpose I might add!!). Once the spinal block was in, the process started and the one doctor could not turn her head, nevertheless I was lucky enough that another doctor was available to try. She was successful, however our little baby turned back! At this point, I remember Beth saying ‘you are definitely having a girl because she is being a right diva!’ this made me smile because we didn’t know at this point what we were having. The same doctor managed to turn her again and very much gave the impression that this was my opportunity to push my baby out. Beth was monitoring the baby’s heart rate and feeling my tummy for contractions, when a contraction came I was supported, encouraged and motivated to push as hard as I could three times. I am pretty sure after 3 lots of 3 pushes our baby was born! Forceps were used to help direct her out and I had an episiotomy.
Beth told us we had a baby girl and I was ecstatic because my partner already had a boy so I secretly hoped for a girl! Unfortunately, she was born very startled and with a slightly disfigured chest so was whisked off to the corner of the room for checks. My partner recalls how anxious he felt at this time, nevertheless within 15 minutes of being checked over by the doctors, her chest had recovered and all was good in the world. Well for her anyway… I on the other hand was still lay on my back, legs in stirrups feeling quite uncomfortable whilst the doctors manually removed my placenta which got a little stuck, hence my 1.7 litre blood loss. Due to this loss I started to feel more and more unwell- shaky and sick. By now, our baby girl was in my partner’s arms having lots of lovely cuddles and I couldn’t control my shakes whilst in recovery so had to opt for looking at her and stroking her hand for the first hour and a half of her life. Once I felt better I made up for it with some skin to skin contact and a good feed. Holding her for the first time was just the best medicine for feeling better and this is how I have decided to remember her birth.
11th August 2018. My due date and the date my precious boy arrived into the world. I hadn’t slept much because his movements had changed and I was worrying, so at 8am I rang triage who asked me to come in to be monitored. We very nearly didn’t take the hospital bags as I was so sure I would be sent home, and anyway, we had plans to go to Birdland!
We arrived at Gloucester, I was monitored and told everything was fine so we were just waiting to be told we could go home. The doctor came in to chat and said she wanted to examine me, I was 1-2cm dilated and she could feel baby’s head. So she said we might as well get things moving! We were in complete shock. I immediately needed a nervous poo! I rang my Mum straight away to tell her! I’d been quite chilled towards labour throughout pregnancy, I just think it’s the type of person I am, but this was further backed up from my ante natal classes with Beth at the Bump to Baby Chapter, I started looking forward to labour!
I was wheeled through to delivery suite and was given a pessary. I had a good idea of the induction process because of my ante classes and was fully aware it would probably involve a lot of waiting around, something I wasn’t overly filled with joy about. However, that was not the way it was going to go for me. Within seconds I started contracting. Similar to Braxton Hicks which I had had throughout pregnancy, so I didn’t think too much to begin with. But they didn’t let up, and started getting more frequent and more painful. I remember being told about the pain in labour, and that you needed to concentrate on the breaks between contractions. Well when you’re having seven contractions in ten minutes, there isn’t much of a break! My body didn’t react well to the pain, and I was sick, hot, high heart rate and I had diarrhoea – which I wasn’t too bothered about, better to have a clear out now! Baby wasn’t too much of a fan of the pessary either so they decided to take it out after a while and I had my waters broken. I was given something to slow down the contractions and I was put on fluids for my heart rate. I also had gas and air. Gas and air, for me, really didn’t do much at all, if anything it was something to do and focus on during the contraction and it was also the sign for my husband Rich to start rubbing my back! Once my contractions had slowed down to four every ten minutes, things were great. I knew I could do this! Due to the fluids, I started needing the toilet quite regularly, and the diarrhoea continued. I’ll never forget the image of me on the toilet while my husband was holding my fluid bag! Not once did he ever question it, just gave me love and reassurance. At some point, I decided that I couldn’t be bothered to keep going to the toilet to wee, so I just kept weeing the bed! and to think I was worried about pooing on the bed. When you’re in labour, you just don’t care. I remember apologising to my midwife Louise, but it was a half hearted apology because I knew what I was doing ha!
Anyway, contractions were slower – still painful, but manageable so I asked Rich to put on the gymnastics followed by the athletics. Not what I thought I would be doing during labour at all, but it was great. I loved watching the GB team win the men and women’s 4x100m relays! It was coming up to four hours after my waters had been broken, so I was due to be examined. I asked for more pain relief and said I wanted it no matter how many cm I was dialated. I had diamorphine and again, I don’t think it did much for me, just made my head very woozy! Louise examined me and laughed and said I was 9cm. Both Rich and I laughed, 9cm, how!?? Active labour started at 4cm and I had by passed that without even realising! I knew it wouldn’t be long before I needed to start pushing. I was very fortunate that I had a good friend as my midwife, and then Beth joined us for delivery. I’d been kind of hoping for at least one of them during labour, but to end up with both was amazing! I trusted everything they said, and was able to have a joke and laugh with them. Something I didn’t expect to be doing just as I was about to push!
Pushing, for me, was hard. I’m someone who likes to know exactly what’s what. I think if someone could have said ‘you’ll have 20 contractions then baby will be here’, I would have found it easier. It doesn’t quite work like that though. There were parts when I didn’t think I could do it, when I didn’t think I was getting anywhere. But I was, every contraction meant I was getting closer to meeting my little boy, and Rich, Louise and Beth gave me encouragement throughout. I do remember thinking (I may have even said) that they were lying when they said I was close now. Ha! But they were right, I was getting closer. Rich put on my Disney/Greatest Showman playlist while I was pushing and that definitely helped too! At some point a sanitary towel also appeared on my head too as I was getting hot. Like I said before, you don’t care about anything during labour!
Baby’s heart rate wasn’t very happy and so Louise said we needed to get baby here sooner rather than later, the way she said it, I knew she was being serious but at the same time I didn’t feel panicked at all. She told me that if she cut me she thought there was a 90% chance it would work. I didn’t really care by the point and didn’t hesitate in saying to do it. I wasn’t aware of being cut either. However I still couldn’t get baby’s head out, so they called in a doctor who said they would give me one more contraction on my own before they used a ventouse. I made them promise that there were only three contractions left. One on my own, one with the ventouse and then one for the rest of baby’s body. She promised. It seemed to be exactly what I needed, and that final push on my own was the push that did it! The head was out. It was the weirdest but greatest feeling ever. I waited for my final contraction and started pushing, Louise told me to open my eyes as I pushed and I watched my baby enter the world. Crying before he was even fully out. Sebastian Matthew John was born to Tightrope from Greatest Showman and a song from Moana. After that nothing else mattered apart from my little boy in my arms.
I look back on my birth experience, and I can honestly say I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the seven contractions every ten minutes as I think it made me handle the rest of labour easier. I enjoyed the athletics. I enjoyed the music playlist. I even enjoyed the pain. And I enjoyed the company I had throughout, Ellie my first midwife, Louise my friend and second midwife. Beth, who I’m sure did lots of important things but I only remember her taking some amazing photos! (that sanitary towel was on my head for a long time after birth!!) and of course my husband Rich who was amazing throughout. I smiled, I laughed and I got to meet my little boy. A pretty perfect day if you ask me!
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!)