Birth story - Frances and twin boys

We finished the Digital Pack online hypnobirthing course on Sunday night, when I had just turned 30 weeks. I printed off the course notes, birth plan, example birth plan, and some BRAIN templates for us to fill in. I'd had my last scan a couple of weeks before, and one of the placentas was lying low, quite close to the cervix but not covering it. With twins, I was under consultant care and had been privisionally booked in for a c-section at 37 weeks unless I went into labour naturally before that, with the additional proviso that if twin 1 was head down and placenta had moved up by 34 weeks, we could push the c-section date back to 38 weeks to allow me another week to go into labour naturally. The reason was that I'd had a previous unplanned c-section after an attempted home birth, where I laboured all day with very intense surges right from the start, to fully dilated and after 2 hours of pushing I was exhausted and baby was becoming distressed, so we were blue-lighted to hospital where they found she was back to back and had the cord around her. They tried forceps, and then we had the c-section. The section itself was fine: they were able to do delayed cord clamping and almost immediate skin to skin, and then a breastfeed. The recovery and subsequent breastfeeding were very, very hard though, so I really didn't want to go through another c-section. However, due to my previous labour, I was fairly confident that as long as my twins were in the right position, I had a good chance of birthing them vaginally. The consultant also would not consider inducing me because of the risk of uterine rupture, due to the pressure induction would put on my c-section scar. Therefore we did the hypnobirthing course knowing we might be using it for a c-section, and we looked up 'gentle c-sections', which was actually really encouraging.

After work on Wednesday I went to drop something round at my friend's house (which she'd left in my car the day before) and at 5:45pm as I was standing just inside her house, I felt my waters squirt all down my legs, into my shoes and onto the floor. I looked down and said, "oh, I appear to be leaking all over your doormat!" I had just had a bit of an argumentative, emotional pickup with my 4yo daughter from preschool, so my lovely friend was firstly concerned about my tearful face, and secondly concerned about me leaking. She exclaimed "Have your waters just broken?" and I replied saying I wasn't sure but I'd better get home ASAP. She gave me a plastic bag to sit on in my car, and I drove home. Got home, got 4yo out of the car with her bags and bike and my work bags, through the door. I said to my other half, I think we had better call triage, and I explained what had happened. He cooked our 4yo dinner while I phoned triage, who said it sounded a lot like my waters but I had better come in for assessment. So Grandad was called to look after our daughter, and other half used the lists I had written to pack my hospital bag and babies' bag too. Then we drove to the RBH and arrived at about 7:30pm.

We waited a while and were assessed by a midwife, who got a doctor in to swab and examine me. The doc confirmed it was definitely amniotic fluid, and the midwife said they would like to keep me in overnight for observation. I said I was quite happy to go home, and she said it was likely contractions would start soon and she was almost certain that babies would be born that night, and under no circumstances was I to go home!

We got settled into a delivery room and since it was 10:30pm by then, I brushed my teeth and did my nighttime Lush massage bar routine to help me relax, and tried to get some sleep. I started to feel tightness building in my lower abdomen, and within 30 minutes I was having regular surges. My partner and I got the battery operated tea lights going, some relaxing mp3s and I bounced gently on the birthing ball as I felt I couldn't lie down. My other half massaged my shoulders and back, helping to keep me relaxed.

The midwife returned and examined me, to find I was 2cm dilated. She said that due to the low-lying placenta I would need a c-section, so we did a BRAIN template to think it through. Then the on-shift consultant arrived (not my normal consultant) and said that if labour was going well, she was happy for it to continue. So we carried on, and after a while they decided to move me to a delivery room used for higher risk births as my surges were getting more frequent.

In this room the surges became more and more intense, and I was checked again and found to be 8cm dilated. The doctor had gone into theatre and it was the early hours of the morning, so there were no other doctors around. By the time she came out of theatre it was too late to do a c-section, and so I continued to labour in the delivery suite. The midwives and my birthing partner were fantastic during this time, encouraging me through my up breathing and telling me I was doing wonderfully. I was offered gas and air but declined, wanting to use just my breathing. The surges came very frequently and I started to moan. I remembered on the hypnobirthing videos about mooing like a cow means that the uterus is now pushing down instead of up, so I went with it and began to push. My birth partner also remembered this, so he knew what was happening and wasn't afraid of the noises I was making! I was on a bed, on my back sitting up, which wasnt ideal but they had to monitor both twins quite closely.

I was encouraged to push and it was the hardest thing I've ever done. It was really hard to get my head around pushing into my bum - it felt like I was just trying to do a huge poo. But the midwives and my birth partner kept me going. The doctor had her fingers inside my vagina to feel where the baby was, and at one point I hallucinated that the baby had been born because I got confused at all the sensations down there. I was gutted when I still had to push! I remember saying "I can't do it, I can't", and everyone insisting that I could and I would. I tried to remember the affirmation that my surges are not too much to handle because they are my body. I was given a small cut to avoid tearing (the midwife said afterwards it looked like I was going to tear quite badly - I hadn't started any perenium massage yet as I was only 30 weeks). The team got me to do little pushes and breathing and then another big push and then in a rush the first twin was born! I was so relieved! He came out crying, which was a great sign. Because he was so little, 3lb14oz, he was taken to be stabilised, and I got to see him all wrapped up and give him a kiss before they whisked him away to scbu (specialised baby care unit). It was 02:43am.

My surges calmed for a few minutes, and my other half took the opportunity to go and look at Twin 1 and talk to the team looking after him. Then the surges started again for the second twin. The doctor waited until the surges pushed Twin 2 into the cervix, and then broke the waters for that twin. She got soaked! It really helped intensify the surges, and a few big pushes into my bum, then little pushes and panting, then another couple of big pushes, Twin 2 was born 20 minutes later at 03:03am. While he was a bit bigger at 4lb10oz, he felt smaller because I'd already been cut and stretched by Twin 1!

Twin 2 was also crying, and he was taken to be stabilised and given oxygen, and wrapped up. I got to give him a kiss too before he was taken to scbu.

It felt very strange to lie there without my babies. With my first birth, my baby was put onto me skin to skin right after the c-section, as soon as she had been weighed and checked and cleaned up a bit. However, I was so happy this time to have given birth vaginally and not have the recovery time needed for a c-section! Everyone was smiling and relaxed and it was such a lovely atmosphere. My uterus started to cramp and I was given some injections to reduce blood loss and help the uterus along a bit. The placentas were a bit tricky to get out, but the cramps helped and with a few more pushes, eventually both placentas slithered out. They were checked and were both whole, which was a relief. I was stitched up and then left to rest. Both me and my other half, after the initial high, were very tired and needed a good sleep. I had lost 2.2l of blood, so started to feel nauseas. I was put on a drip of fluids, which really helped me to feel better.

It was an amazing birthing experience and I don't think I or my other half could have done it without the Positive Birth Company hypnobirthing course. The videos really helped us to understand the birthing process in a way we hadn't before, and have confidence that my body was doing exactly the right thing. Knowing about the process (the 'science' bits) helped us to recognise when certain stages were taking place, like when I started to moo: we knew that was normal and my body was ready to push, which filled us with confidence. My oh as my birth partner was fantastic - the first time around he felt a bit sidelined and useless and anxious, but this time he was fully involved and having him right there was a massive comfort and a big help. He was much less anxious, which had a really positive effect on how I felt too.

Having that confidence helped us to be strong and go through with a vaginal delivery (although if a c-section had been necessary of course we would have done it). The up breathing technique was fantastic, and the breathing and counting really helped distract me from the intensity of the surges, which were a little overwhelming at times. I feel great after my vaginal, drug- and intervention-free delivery! I'm so happy it all worked out so well and can't quite believe I (we) did it and that my twins are here!!

Thank you to all the ladies who recommended hypnobirthing and The Positive Birth Company specifically, and thank you to Siobhan for creating an affordable pack that has made such a positive difference to my life ❤️

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