Birth story - Emily and baby Clementine

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I cannot thank you enough! we just had THE most magical calm birth experience.

I have always had a very positive outlook on birth and upmost confidence in my body and baby. My first birth was on a labour ward after meconium in my waters and not quite having the confidence to speak out about not wanting to be on my back led to an episiotomy and ventouse assisted delivery ( I believe ) . Baby wasn’t in distress although I understand with meconium they have to be cautious. But my first little girl had her hand up by her face making it hard for me to push her down (although I am convinced if I had been able to move and be upright she would have been born sooner and without intervention). Despite this I found labour an experience incredible: positive and empowering and with just gas and air I was conscious and aware and I really did live the oxytocin high for months after. But I knew I wanted this next one to be as natural as possible with me free to labour unassisted so it was a no brainier for us to decide on a home birth which the midwives were just so supportive of. Excited even! Every one I told said “how wonderful and that they love a home birth”. It was great to be handed over to the home team at 34 weeks and then get to know a named midwife who would potentially be there on the day/night too. Another bonus of home births.

I bought the positive birth digital pack some months ago and listened over the course of a few weeks on my commute to work. I didn’t complete the relaxation techniques but as I practice yoga I am confident I can take myself to a place of calm and focus on my breathing. The arm stroking isn’t for me and my husband either so we skipped this too and just focused on learning how the incredible human body works. I did practice down breathing when going for a poo though! I also bought your book so I could refer to this too. My husband then downloaded and listened to the MP3’s in the 4-6 weeks leading up to the end of my pregnancy - again over just a week or so on his commute into London.

From then on it was just wait for “the day”!

I always said my baby would come anytime after the guess date: 16th July and sure enough she did.

Off I went to my 40 weeks appointment with my lovely named midwife on 16th July. “Any sign of baby?” Not yet I said... she’ll come when she’s ready so we made an appointment for the following Weds for her to visit me at home for another routine check up. I said before I left I just can’t imagine it happening any other way than It did with Margot - where I wake up one morning in labour.

My little girl was born Wednesday 6th July 2016 at 3.31pm. I had gone into labour with her at 0730 that morning, had travelled to triage and been 4cm by 0930 and 10cm by 1230. The night before I had been at my pregnancy yoga class which ended with a lovely relaxation / 15 mins shavasana. I always joked to my yoga teacher too that that practice and support of her bolsters and pillows in shavasana had put me in such a calm state that it is what sent me into labour 10 hours later at 40 +6 days.

So when I left yoga again on the Tuesday evening this time of 16th July 2019 I said she should bring her bolsters for me again next week although “I doubt it’ll be another Wednesday morning”.
Well I can’t believe it was!

Maybe the full moon helped too but I woke up at 0430 really needing a wee and with slight cramping which persisted. The cramps were very gentle so I was really unsure this meant anything and was half expecting them to stop. They continued on and off so I downloaded the Freya app and started timing them from around 0530. I did at this point have a feeling I might have another baby girl by midday! But they were mild .... I really was unsure / in denial!

I woke my husband John at 06.10 and said we’d better get Margot up and to her child minder a little early today. My mum was in line to come and get her so could do the pick up that afternoon. He was a bit shocked I think, and asked “why what’s going on!” I said I’ve been having contractions since 5am and he laughed and asked “why are you so calm?!” . He showered and made me a cup of tea and from bed I called the midwife home team number to say I “thought I was in labour” . It was 7am. I then got up and ran a nice Jo Malone bath, lit a candle and climbed in looking out to the sunshine rising over my garden. Surges continuing. By 8am, just as John got back from dropping Margot, the midwives had arrived and although I was still unsure if “this was it” the Freya App let me know that due to length and frequency of surges now that I was in established labour! I was literally astonished! How could I be in established labour when I was still doubting it was labour at all and I was so calm and comfortable. I had a lovely chat with one midwife while I sat in the tub - about my last birth and my preferences for this labour. I showed her the timings of the surges from the app and that I was still so comfortable and she nodded and smiled at me encouragingly and said they were filling the pool for me and to take my time coming downstairs. I was breathing through each so calmly and I was just very excited and couldn’t get my head around meeting our baby soon! I washed my hair got out and into some fresh comfy PJs and came down stairs. The surges felt stronger now I was out of the water and I stopped to lean over and rock my hips in gentle movement through each and it was necessary to focus on my breathing now. In for 4 out for 8. I came downstairs to sit and rock through each contraction on my birth ball while John lit my candles and I listened to some favourite music. I was happy there chatting in between and leaning on the arm of the sofa through each one. John reminded me it was important to stay hydrated and well fed so bought me drinks and something for breakfast while the pool got up to the correct temperature. At around 0930 I remember thinking I must be in for the long haul as I just didn’t think my surges were strong enough or as intense as I remember at this point with Margot. I asked the midwives to leave the room as I felt a little like a “watched pot” and sure enough as soon as they went out to sit in the garden I had 3 or 4 stronger and longer surges and I really needed Johns hand to squeeze, some pressure on my lower back and to concentrate on the breath and get in that “zone”. I switched play list and were ready for the pool.

It felt so good to be in the warm water and with only a few more lovely long strong surges and some gas and air, my waters broke, and I got to transition. I was ready to push! A total turnaround from not long before and an incredible although intense feeling. I was in the thick of it now and I had a little wobble at this point but my husband and all the midwives reminded me I could ... and WAS “doing it!”

I could feel the rush of energy with each surge take over me and I tried my best to breath and just roll with it working with my body not against it. I reminded myself I was safe. I visualised opening up and becoming “big” as I had been doing all weekend and just said to myself this is what my body was made to do / this is supposed to happen and every time the urge to push came I dug deep to help it along as much as possible - “go with it not against it”. The midwives were looking in with a mirror and gently reminded me to keep a few of my pushes long and gentle. They encouraged me along saying how great I was doing. I literally felt her head coming down until it was out. I kept my face soft and instinctively made some low deep groans sending the breath down, down as low as I could to get to this point. It is so surreal to think back to it now... her head out and then a good few minutes break before and in between the last 3 or 4 long surges. With these last few pushes out came a shoulder, little hand up by her face like superwoman the midwives told me (just like Margot!). I felt her moving and turning between my legs and the next push got the other shoulder free and then at last saw her whole body come out and she was there - floating in the pool beneath me ready for me pick her up for our first cuddle. Just there.... in my dining room on such a glorious sunny day surrounded by John and wonderful lovely midwives who hadn’t touched or examined me throughout as per my wishes - they had just looked in with a mirror and monitored babies heart rate when they needed to. What a magical experience! We stayed in the pool a few minutes in utter disbelief that this little human was in my arms. We then moved to the sofa for 3rd stage. We waited a full 10 minutes for Clementine to receive all her blood from the placenta and then John cut the cord. We settled in for continued skin to skin and she had her first feed. The midwife checked me briefly and confirmed I didn’t need any stitches. A little while passed and baby had pooped on me so we had her weighed and popped on her first nappy. While John had skin to skin I had a quick shower and got in some fresh pyjamas and came back downstairs to the sofa where we then stayed in our new born bubble of love all day.

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The last midwife left just after 1.30pm after doing the final check up on babe and feeling my tummy to ensure my uterus was contracting nicely.

I can not describe how absolutely incredible it all was. She was born at exactly 11.45am after just one hour of being in the water and weighed 8lb 11oz with no need for a stitch.

I feel empowered and so proud of myself. John was incredible reminding me of the important things from the positive birth video course and we worked as a team - he with me and me with my body and our baby. I couldn’t recommend the positive birth company digital package highly enough. I have always had a positive outlook of birth - my mum always shared her 3 quick birth stories with me and my sisters and made it sound like a positive experience but this pack is so informative it really proves how incredible the female body is and what’s it’s capable of. You can’t argue with that. As I said we didn’t actually use the relaxation techniques or practice (other than the up and down breathing) so you can take from it what suits you and still have an amazing outcome. I am sure for someone not used to switching off or yoga and relaxation these would be amazing and helpful for pregnancy relaxing too.

What I also did was never let anyone share a negative or difficult birth story with me - this time or last. Just politely said we should swap birth stories AFTER my labour thank you . I read positive stories from the Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth every night in the last few weeks and reminded myself about the incredible workings of the insanely clever female body whenever I could.

Now Clementine Happy Mae is here and we are both doing so well and are just so in love. She is so calm and chilled despite the heat this week and I believe this is helped by her gentle entry to the world. Please feel free to share my wonderful experience and I wish everyone due a baby soon the best of luck

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