Birth story - Claire and baby Harry

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Background info: My first birth was in 2015. It was a natural birth which included diamorphine, an episiotomy and an assisted delivery using forceps. The cord was around my baby’s neck and there was also a knot in it. Luckily, my baby was fine and healthy. Unfortunately, the stitches came out of my episotomy scar early and it took a long time to heal which was quite difficult. I felt quite spaced-out due to the diamorphene when my baby arrived and I always hoped that I would have a more positive birth experience if I was to have another baby.

In January 2018, I was delighted to find out that I was pregnant again! I really struggled in the early months of my pregnancy as I suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum. This involved 2 hospital stays with IV drips and anti-sickness medication. I was wiped out for months and it was a tough time, especially with a 2 year old! Luckily, I have a very supportive family who helped me out lots. Once I started to feel better at around 18 weeks, I decided to look into hypnobirthing so I could really start to relax, enjoy and embrace my pregnancy. I appreciate how special this time is and I was determined to turn it into a positive experience.

I read the hypnobirthing book by Katharine Graves and it really made sense. I found it so interesting, especially the science element of what happens to your body during labour. I looked into hypnobirthing courses in my local area but they were all so expensive. I then came across Siobhan Miller’s YouTube videos and they really grabbed my attention. I found out she had recently brought out the digital pack which sounded perfect. I loved the fact that you could work your way through it at your own pace and in the comfort of my own home. I felt I learnt so much and it was such a lovely way to prepare for labour. My partner even got involved in some of the videos too so he was able to support me with the breathing etc when the time came.

In September 2018 (a couple of weeks before my estimated due date), I’d had a few signs that things were going to get started very soon! Gradually, I’d started to lose my mucus plug over a few days and I’d had lots of Braxton Hicks and period like pains.

At 2am on 19th September 2018 (39+1 weeks), I was woken up with a trickle running down my leg. When I got up, it just kept coming and I knew my waters had broke. My bump felt so tight and I knew I would meet my baby soon as mild surges had already started. I excitedly woke my husband and we phoned the birth centre to see if I needed to go in or if I’d be ok just seeing how things would progress from home. The midwife informed me that as my waters had broken, I’d need to go in to the birth centre to be assessed.

Once we had arrived at the birth centre, the surges were coming on much stronger. They hooked me up to monitor my baby’s heart rate and my surges. The midwife described my surges as infrequent and advised me to go home and come back when they were a little closer together. I seemed to be having lots more surges on the way home and used my up breathing to get through them in the car journey which really helped.

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Once at home, my husband ran me a bath, lit my Neom essential oil de-stress candle (which I had been using throughout my pregnancy) and dimmed the lights. We listened to the MP3s of the positive birth affirmations which were so relaxing and I used the breathing to get me through. I particularly liked the ‘inhale peace, exhale tension’ and ‘each surge brings me closer to meeting my baby’ affirmations. My husband used the traffic light system to bring me back down to a calm state between the surges. He poured warm water down my back in the bath which was really soothing. I vomited at this point and was aware that I was definitely getting closer to meeting my baby. After about half an hour in the bath, my mum came round to help support too as I’d really wanted her to be present at the birth. She helped to keep me calm and timed my surges. After just an hour in the bath, surges were very close together so we decided it was time to go back to the birth centre. It was such a struggle to get my clothes back on, walk down the stairs and get in the car so I was thankful that my mum and husband were there to support me during the process!

We arrived back at the birth centre and I agreed to an examination. At this point, I was 8cm! I couldn’t believe that I had managed to get this far on the up breathing/relaxation techniques alone! I agreed to try some gas and air in the UFO position on my knees leaning over the top of the bed as the midwives starting filling up the birthing pool (it was all a bit of a rush!) and we dimmed the lights. After around 30 minutes like this, I started to have a wobble. I knew this was the transition period where I was moving from the up to the down stage of labour and that’s why I was doubting if I could go on. It was hard to come back down to the traffic light ‘green zone’ as it was all happening so quickly not giving me much relief between surges. My mum reminded me to keep focusing on the positive natural birth I wanted and with lots of encouragement and support I got in the pool as I started to feel such an intense pressure below.

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In the birthing pool, I again took on the upright, forward and open position whilst on my knees leaning over the edge. The warm water felt lovely and soothing and I could start to feel my baby’s head moving down and then sliding back up again. I was so aware of what my body was doing because of all the science I had learnt whilst studying the course. My breathing then started to change and I could really feel myself breathing my baby out, instead of ‘pushing’. With each breath, I could feel my baby moving lower and lower. The breathing techniques really helped me to focus at this point. It was such an incredible experience!

After around just 15 minutes in the pool, my beautiful baby boy Harry arrived at 6.28am. There was an instant relief over my body. Once out of the pool, we had an amazing ‘golden hour’. I had an hours skin to skin with my baby and he was breastfed straight away. We also had delayed cord clamping which I had requested in my birthing plan. I had a physiological third stage where I delivered the placenta naturally. I needed a few stitches due to a 2nd degree tear and a minor graze. My labour was so quick and I couldn’t believe that I got through 80% of it at home calmly in the bath, with the support of my husband and mum to share this amazing experience with.

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I can’t thank Siobhan Miller and her team enough for putting together the affordable and accessible hypnobirthing course. I really felt it gave me the knowledge I needed and equipped me with the tools to have a positive, natural and empowering birth experience. My birth partners had such an important role throughout too and the course helped me to feel more relaxed and informed ahead of my labour. I’d recommend the Positive Birth Company digital pack to anyone at any stage of their pregnancy!

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