Birth story - Claire and baby Lewis

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I cannot explain how much the online hypnobirthing course helped during my last few weeks of pregnancy and labour. As someone who not only had quite a traumatic experience with my first baby but who also suffered with anxiety during my pregnancy, the positive affirmations and breathing techniques were a god send! Not only that, but the knowledge of how your body actually births your baby and what you need to do to keep that process moving along is invaluable.

Without going into too much detail, when I had my daughter back in 2016 I was very naïve and very much a hypnobirthing sceptic! During my labour back then, I went into the hospital only to be sent home as I wasn’t dilated enough which resulted in me having the mother of all wobbles, totally freaking out and basically unable to regain any kind of control. Baby ended up in distress and I ended up on my back with an epidural, an episiotomy and forceps delivery and then had a massive haemorrhage which I later had to be transfused two units of blood for.

Fast forward to September 2018 and the arrival of my beautiful boy Lewis:

I downloaded the online pack at around 36 weeks after hearing so many good reports from various friends who assured me its not all airy fairy hippy stuff – it actually all makes so much sense! The science bit, positive affirmations and breathing techniques (up breathing mostly for me) were by far most helpful. Right away I realised there were so many things I could improve on from my first birth – eating well, staying hydrated, staying mobile, trusting my body to do what it was built for and breathing....the breathing really prevented me from losing control like the last time.

I was offered a sweep at 40 weeks which I declined due to being GBS positive (I had one with my daughter which unknowingly punctured my waters, causing them to trickle for days before she was born – major infection risk AND it didn’t help her along any) used my BRAIN and decided that I wanted baby to come as naturally as possible. At 40+3 I was booked in for an induction for the end of the following week where I would have been 40+12. Instead of stressing about the thought of pessaries and drips I took my midwife’s advice and just resigned myself to the fact that that was my date baby would be here therefore taking the pressure off for wondering when he would arrive. I think having a date arranged helped me relax, so much so that on the Saturday afternoon (40+6) surges began, albeit very irregularly. They continued all night although varied from one an hour to every 15 minutes and back up again. At this point they were very manageable and just like period cramps however they were strong enough to wake me up from sleep. By the time Sunday morning rolled around the surges were stronger and ranging from 15-30mins apart. Things seemed to remain at this pace for most of the day, so I spent a lot of time with my husband, alternating between bouncing on my birth ball, watching my favourite tv shows (mainly Friends, ha!) snacking on yummy snacks and going out for a few walks. By the time we got to around 4am on the Sunday morning, the surges had intensified again and were approximately every 10 mins. I decided at this point to go for a bath to try and relax a bit, my husband lit loads of candles, put the affirmations on the ipod and used some essential oils in the bath which all definitely helped restore my calm (I hadn’t slept properly since the Friday so I think tiredness was probably my biggest issue here). By around 11am on the Sunday I started to get quite disheartened as things seemed to slow down quite a bit. The surges completely stopped and I started to panic that maybe it was all a false alarm and I would end up at induction on the Friday.

Thankfully my husband was able to reason with me and calm me down and encouraged me to take the opportunity to rest. I actually read in a book that some women get to a stage of labour called the “rest and be thankful” stage – it doesn’t happen to everyone but sometimes when you have been at it for a while its like your body just knows how exhausted you are and decides to give you a break to recharge your batteries before the big event; and I can honestly say I am so, so grateful for that knowledge and the opportunity to rest! Ha! I napped for around two hours, woke up, had some lunch, drank more fluids and got back on the ball with a refreshed and more positive attitude again!

By the time 5pm rolled around and after a visit from my mum (remember your oxytocin can be stimulated from anything you love that makes you happy, not just hubby! Turns out a hug from my mum was just what the doctor ordered) surges were coming 5-7 minutes apart and were lasting around 45 seconds. At this point the up breathing and rocking on the ball or standing and swaying my hips really helped me through. I also regularly took some paracetamol from the start of the day. My worst nightmare was getting sent home from hospital as I wasn’t “far enough along” so hubby and I wanted to make sure surges were regular enough before setting off to the hospital at around 8pm. We live only around 10 minutes away via car however even during the car ride I had around 3 or 4 surges.

I made my way into the outpatients area, was assessed and was 4-5cms dilated with membranes bulging - much to my delight. At this point I was desperate for some gas and air and was getting tired again so was swithering as to whether to just bite the bullet and ask for another epidural – despite having a traumatic first labour/delivery I did find the epidural to be a godsend as I didn’t feel a thing. However I am now so, so glad that I listened to the triage midwife who I’d told about hypnobirthing and she suggested I may as well go to the midwifery suite and see how I get on, so off I went where my lovely midwives Jean and Ann helped me get settled in and listened to all my preferences. Gas and air was amazing! I actually refused to let go of it the whole time, it was like my safety blanket. As I was GBS positive a doctor came in and sited a cannula for IV antibiotics. I was able to have these and still bounce on the ball and move around, I just got hubby to move the drip with me. They only took 30 mins to go in anyway. Surges progressed quite quickly by this point, they were strong and very intense. I lost all sense of time by this point but not that long before my son was born I felt I need to pee so was helped through to the bathroom however looking back now I believe this to be the baby moving down putting pressure on my bladder because as soon as I got to the bathroom I felt the “urge” – I was worried I wouldn’t know when to push but my God you know when! Lol! It just happened I actually had no control over it at all. I was quickly helped back out the bathroom – didn’t want baby born in the loo lol – and I just thrust myself onto my hands and knees on a bean bag on the floor. Instinctively it was just how I wanted to be. At this point I screamed for an epidural. I was desperate for one, so much so that when I was told it was too late but if I wanted I could have a shot of morphine I took it, however it was far too late for it to even have worked. Looking back now this is exactly the point Jean told me of when I first arrived; she said “If you go with this you’re going to hit a point where you think you cant do it, where you want it all to stop and you want to give up – but that means he’s right there, waiting to be born” and she was bloody right! Several big pushes and wailing screams from me and out came the head, a few more pushes and out came the rest of his body. What an amazing feeling! My gorgeous boy Lewis was born at 0052 hours 18/9/18 weighing in at 8lbs 15oz. I had a 2nd degree tear that the midwife stitched perfectly whilst I continued on the gas and air. I then had loads of skin to skin cuddles before hubby gave Lewis his first bottle and I went for a shower.

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As someone who underwent a course of cognitive behaviour therapy for anxiety during my pregnancy this is something I never thought I would ever be able to achieve. I read all the stories of all the women who managed to birth their babies naturally and was in awe of them. I never thought it could be me as I never thought I’d be calm enough to do it or strong enough. But here I am, typing out my own story to share with everyone and I am not ashamed to say I am so proud of myself for managing something, that for me two years ago would have been completely unachievable. I’m not for a second saying it didn’t hurt – for me, it did. But this course allowed me to totally change my perception of labour and birth and afforded me the ability to trust that my body and mind could 100% handle it. Its not about the pain at all, its about believing you can do it, and you definitely can!

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