I was 9 days overdue and had been instructed by my midwife to try everything possible to start my labour naturally as the hospital wanted to book me in for an induction which would mean I would not be allowed the water birth I had planned. I had been very relaxed about when our baby would decide to join us so the only encouragement I had given before this was eating dates during the last six weeks of my pregnancy which according to a recent study reduces your chance of needing to be induced as helps soften your cervix!
I agreed to a sweep which was on the Friday morning and my husband Luke and I then went for a long (in heavily pregnant women terms) walk over Hampstead Heath. It was the weekend of Glastonbury so I spent much of Friday evening and Saturday watching the festival on iPlayer while bouncing on my birth ball, eating spicy food and drinking a glass of red wine each evening. I also tried some acupressure points for inducing labour and invited our baby to join us during meditation.
I was having warmup contractions all of Saturday and then woke up Sunday morning at 7am with my first real tightening of my belly which felt like period cramps. It did not last long but made me feel tired and sick and I felt like I needed to poo due to intense pressure in my back passage. My second contraction really took me by surprise as it was so strong and I had a real wobble as thoughts like “ I can’t handle this if it is like this for a whole day” and “I’m exhausted already and it is only the second contraction.” I noticed myself starting to feel anxious and focused on my breath and repeated my favourite affirmation: “I relax, release and let go.”
I immediately felt better as I had been holding a huge amount of tension in my body that was fighting against the contractions. My head cleared and I remembered about the tens machine I had hired. Luke stuck the pads onto my lower back and I buzzed myself just before each contraction. I made myself a nest in our bedroom looking out onto the garden and started listening to my hypnosis tracks which allowed me to get myself very relax.
I tried to eat a bowl of porridge but I felt sick during each contraction so gave up halfway through. I did try sitting on the birth ball at one point but the pressure on my back passage was too much and I felt more comfortable leaning forwards. Luke started timing my contractions and they were four minutes apart at 7.40am! I had planned in early labour to watch a film, eat and make a video for our baby but all I could do was focus on my contractions and rest in-between.
Luke packed the car and brought me drinks. He rang the birth centre at 9.20 and they said to wait until my contractions were three minutes apart before coming in. By 11am I really wanted to get to the birth centre so I could settle in so we set off in the car and I sang along to Phil King in between surges. I felt more alert in the car than I had at home and started getting really excited about the fact we were possibly going to meet our baby in a few hours.
It took us about 30 minutes to get from the car park to the birth centre as I had to stop and lean against the wall during each contraction. I got a bit nervous in triage as the lady in the bed next to me was told she was only 1 cm dilated and needed to go home until she reached 5cm. I really felt like I needed to poo and asked about having an enema as I thought I would feel more comfortable but was told I was already 6 cm dialated and it was our baby coming that I could feel!
The birth pool was free and as soon as the pool was full I got in. I was apprehensive about taking the tens machine off but the water felt lovely and I swam around like a goldfish. I changed my affirmation from “I can do this” to “I am doing this” and kept repeating “Release, relax and let go” during each contraction. I had Quietude playing on loop as I didn’t feel like listening to my hypnosis tracks anymore. I felt very alert between surges and was joking with Luke and my midwives Alina and Sarah when I was 10 cm dilated. Sarah said I was “Amazeballs” for being so calm and birthing without any drugs. I was surprised that I was not experiencing any pain (even though I had done so much preparation) because I have such a low pain threshold normally.
When it was time to start pushing Luke put the song ‘1000 years’ on and it gave me such an energy boost. I closed my eyes and visualised myself holding my perfect, healthy baby. I started to get tired and asked for gas and air but Alina said I was very near the end and having it now would make it harder for me to connect to my body and push with my contractions so I decided to carry on without it.
Pushing felt like concentrating on the contraction and bearing down with it, I moaned during each one and focused on keeping the noises deep. I was holding onto Luke’s arms really tightly which felt amazing like he was giving me his strength. It was really hard towards the end not to tense my whole body against the contractions and hold my breath so I had to really focus on releasing all tension and I kept sniffing my pulse oil which helped me to breathe deeply.
I had thought in advance that the baby crowning would be the hardest part but actually it just felt uncomfortable and kept me focused on working with my body to birth. With the final push our baby came out under the water and Sarah helped me scoop him up into my arms. We had not known if he was a boy or girl in advance so it was really exciting to find out in that moment. I kept saying “Oh my God” and both Luke and I were crying. I felt immensely proud of myself for what I had just achieved and could not quite get my head around the fact that now I was a mum.
Jasper’s birth had gone incredibly smoothly and I had the drug free waterbirth at the birth centre like we planned after an eight hour labour. However he was crowning for a really long time so I needed internal stitches afterwards and almost ended up with an epidural in theatre as gas and air was not enough to let them even examine me! Painfree birth to wowsers! I was determined after doing the whole labour with only a tens machine to 6 cm and then the water and my hypnobirth techniques that I didn’t want to have a spinal for stitches! I told them I would man up (the phrase really should be a woman up) and asked the doctor to come back in 15 minutes. I whacked the tens machine back on, started puffing on the gas and air like my life depended on it and put my pain management hypnosis track on loop. I set off on a rather bizarre mind trip which included opening my eyes at one point and looking at Jasper and he had turned into a miniature version of Luke complete with blue paisley shirt and full ginger beard!
When they started giving me the local anaesthetic injections I could feel them and flinched so took myself deeper into hypnosis which included visualising being back on Hampstead Heath with Luke where we have been on Friday afternoon. I thought at this point they were still just examining me it wasn’t until I could feel the pull of the stitches that I realised they were actually patching me up. I started laughing hysterically about the fact that the hypnosis was working! (Obviously alongside the anaesthetic and gas and air.)
I apparently got Luke to film me afterwards talking about my ‘trip’ while I was still high so we will enjoy watching that one at some point in the future! Luke was an amazing birth partner and we were left in the birthing suite into the evening to enjoy bonding with our gorgeous little boy. I was on a high following giving birth for weeks afterwards and only had a few hormonal moments.
My parents came to visit on the Wednesday following Jasper being born on the Sunday and were really surprised how well and energised I looked! Words I would use to describe my experience of labour and birth include intense, powerful, overwhelming, life changing and hilarious! I experienced moments of fear and apprehension, at one point I got really pissed off as I wanted to eat but there wasn’t time in between the contractions and definitely towards the end I was getting tired and did have moments when I thought I just couldn’t continue.
All of the techniques I learnt and practised in advanced helped me to bring myself back to focus and allowed me to overcome the wobbles. On the day I used my hypnosis tracks early on to get myself in the zone, my anchors of pulse oil and having my own pillows and clothes at the birthing centre. Music was incredibly powerful for me both to relax me and then empower me during actually birthing Jasper. I used a tens machine and added Bach flowers rescue remedy to my water. I did some EFT in early labour to focus myself and then while preparing to be examined after birth. I used all of my pain management techniques after labour while having stitches and then used these in the weeks after birth while I was healing. I am very glad that I took the time to prepare for labour and birth and look back on my birthing experience with fondness.
I created the affirmations and hypnosis for pregnancy pack to support you right from the very start of your pregnancy and now my Embrace Bump to Baby confident pregnancy and birth course is alive and kicking.
A woman’s body is designed to give birth and part of the natural process of birth involves her body releasing endorphins and oxytocin our natural painkillers. The Embrace Bump to Baby course replaces anxiety and fear of birth with education and inspiration.
Carve out some time each week for you to connect to your body, baby and partner.
A blend of hypnobirthing, mindfulness, practical preparation and having a chuckle during pregnancy. This 4 week course teaches you a range of techniques allowing you to work with your body, baby and birthing team to experience an empowered and calm birth no matter what happens on the day – induction, c-section whatever.
Hypnobirth classes central to Henley-on-Thames, Marlow, High Wycombe and Princes Risborough start next Tuesday 4th April.
Group classes Tuesday evenings 7pm to 9pm at the beautiful St. Katharine’s retreat at Parmoor.
Big comfy sofas, cup of brew of your choice and a log fire on chilly nights.
Meet other like-minded parents-to-be. Course suitable no matter what stage of pregnancy you are at.
Course includes online hub packed full of videos, MP3s and ebooks.
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