Birth story - Emily and baby Dora

I loved reading all the wonderful Mummy's birth stories, and am now so thrilled to be able to share mine. It was a wonderful, joyous, incredible experience and certainly an extremely positive story - I hope you enjoy..!

For context; the birth of my first daughter Edie in 2017 started when my waters broke at 37 weeks, I was induced with syntocinon drip at 37+1 and gave birth at 37+2 via ventouse with episiotomy at hospital.

I was keen to avoid any intervention this time around, and after having heard of hypnobirthing, (which I’ll admit, I thought was a bit hippy mumbo jumbo), I thought I’d read a book to see if it was something I could get into. What did I have to lose? If it didn’t work, I could just take all the drugs anyway! I read the Mongan Method book, really related to it, and it taught me a lot about where things could have gone better the first time around. I was also shocked at how much was based in science and basic physics! I started following PBC on Instagram and bought the digital pack soon after at 36 weeks. I binge watched the videos and listened to the MP3s at night. Siobhan was such a wonderful teacher, it was easy to absorb so much. Watching the videos made me so confident and excited, it even made me change my mind and decide I was desperate for a home birth! I told my midwife at my 38 week appointment and she was incredibly supportive. My iron levels has been low throughout my pregnancy so I was relieved when at my blood test results came back and I was approved for a home birth as my levels had improved (if they weren’t high enough I would have had to go to hospital).

On Friday 14th September, I woke up at 4am and felt as though someone had clicked their fingers inside me. I jumped out of bed and about a glass-full of water came down my PJs. I went to the toilet and then the rest gushed out. I put a pad on, got back into bed and told my husband my waters had just broken and to try and sleep for a few more hours. Within half an hour, I was thrilled that my surges had started and felt super excited I would soon meet my baby! In bed, I was able to stay relaxed and just breathe through them to try and rest as much as possible.

By 7am they were every 10-15minutes and so I got up, phoned my Mum to tell her the exciting news and to ask her to come and collect my daughter Edie, then ran myself a bath. My husband Ian went downstairs and began setting up the birthing space so it’d be ready, and he phoned the delivery suite to let them know what was happening and we’d need a midwife that day. In the bath, I was able to relax by putting on the positive affirmations MP3s and focusing on my up breathing.

My Mum arrived by 8am and helped me to get Edie ready. We said goodbye to her, with her overnight bag packed. It felt exciting knowing the next time we saw her she’d be a big sister. We were particularly comfortable as Friday is the usual day she spends with her Granny and goes to a toddler sense class so I knew she’d have a wonderful, and normal day which put my mind at ease.

By 9am, I was bouncing on my ball and leaning on our bed using up breathing throughout the surges. Ian suggested we go downstairs, which we did, where he’d set everything up perfectly. Lights dimmed, birth pool out, my drinks/snacks laid out and a little station for the baby. He put The Greatest Showman DVD on for me and I bounced on my ball watching it. I was almost dancing through the songs and tapping long.

By this point, the surges were regular and gaining in intensity so I asked Ian to start timing them. Rather than speaking, we developed a system whereby I’d tap the ball once to let him know a contraction was starting and tap again to let him know it was releasing. This worked really well as it meant I could focus on my up breathing.

The film flashed by quickly, as did the next few hours. Surges were every 8-10minutes by now and I was fully relaxed and in the zone on the ball, with Ian rubbing my lower back, talking to me and listening to the MP3s. He also made sure I was drinking plenty of water and eating little and often, although sometimes just a couple of sweets.

I’d never used a tens machine before but thought I’d try it and Ian put the pads on my lower back. After adjusting the settings, mode and power for a while we found a rhythm I was comfortable with and got on well with it. By now, Ian was able to tell when the surge was releasing which helped to hear him say and count effectively.

At 1pm they were 3 in 10 and lasting a good 45 seconds to a minute so Ian called the midwife to come over. She arrived at 1.40pm and I barely noticed her arrival. She was quiet as she read my birth preferences and settled about bringing in in the equipment. I was aware of her being there and pottering about but still focused on my up breathing. She could see I was doing well and after observing me for a little while, asked if I’d like to be examined. Curiosity got the better of me, and I felt like I was doing well and managing so I agreed. I was over the moon to hear I was already 7cm and that I could get on the pool whenever I wanted. This had me elated and I was super excited to be coping so well and be so far along. Ian began setting up the hose and filling the pool.

Despite me asking him to practise filling it so we knew how long it took, he was adamant he could work it out based on water pressure, tank volume, pool size etc and had assured me it was 12 minutes. Well, 12 minutes...more like 42 minutes! I tried to keep as calm as possible with every surge, but was desperate to get in! Finally made it in and the relief was lovely. Especially when the hose was directly on my lower back.

After a few surges, I felt something change and instinctively began to bear down. I changed my up breathing to down breathing and blew bubbles into the water. I did this on my front, kneeling at the edge and then on my back too. At this point I was so relaxed I was almost asleep. The midwife monitored baby’s heart rate after every contraction but did so without me having to move position, and thankfully baby was happy throughout.

After a good hour and a half of pushing, the midwife suggested I be examined as she thought baby was slightly off centre with head turned, not in the optimal position for birth. I said I would get out after one more contraction, (I was also beginning to get a bit cold). This gave me a huge incentive and I used the surge to bring baby down, and for the first time the midwife saw the head. Again, this gave me a huge amount of confidence and an incentive to keep using the surges effectively.

I got out and the midwife suggested I try lying back but with legs over the back of the sofa. I wasn’t keen as didn’t want to be on my back at any point, but during the surge, I felt baby move down and closer out so knew it was a really effective position; it was also turning baby’s head to be on the right path. Baby’s head was born, and then I turned into a squatting position for baby to born. Our darling baby was born at 5.27pm, my husband told me it was another beautiful girl!

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I felt euphoric! I had done it! And with no pain relief whatsoever! My baby was here!

She was placed onto my chest straight away. Unfortunately the cord was wrapped around her neck and she hadn’t made a sound. They asked if they could cut the cord, which we agreed and then they asked to take baby, just to the floor at my feet to work on her. Ian had to phone 999 and explain the situation as we could have needed to get to the hospital fast. Thankfully though, after a few puffs of air into her via the respirator she squealed, followed by an almighty cry that grew and grew. It was the most wonderful noise. I remained totally calm, and even though we had a scary minute or so, I instinctively knew she was absolutely fine. I credit this to the up breathing and the knowledge I'd learnt on the course to remain calm.

She was put back on my chest for skin to skin for a good few hours and I breastfed straight away which helped the placenta to come out. I had a second degree tear, but I honestly didn't feel it and it feels so much better than the episiotomy I'd had the first time around.

Within 2 hours of Dora's birth, we were snuggled up together on the sofa, watching Googlebox and enjoying a celebratory gin and tonic! I'd also told Ian I wanted another baby too!

It was the most magical time and I could not have wished for a better birth experience. I can't thank Siobhan enough for creating such a wonderful, accessible and empowering toolbox.

Good luck to all you wonderful, strong, amazing pregnant women - you’ve got this!

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