Birth story - Phoebe and baby Cleo

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I was so happy to have discovered The Positive Birth Company about 36 weeks into my pregnancy. I’d had a very straightforward and positive pregnancy so far, but was keen to learn more about hypnobirthing having heard such good things from other mums. I was keen for a natural water birth at the birth centre, and after purchasing the digital pack, was very much in the spirit of preparing a cosy environment in which to birth my baby; LED tea lights, delicious snacks, essential oils, a carefully curated playlist and so on!

Then on the 26th July, the day before my official due date, the hottest day of the year, (and also the day Mercury went into retrograde if you’re into that sort of thing!) I was feeling a little out of sorts; I was sat in front of a fan, bouncing gently on my birthing ball when, shortly after midday, my waters broke. My boyfriend had conveniently just finished a work meeting at the time, so he hurried home and we headed to the birth centre so that they could confirm that it was indeed my waters (which, hooray! It was!). We were informed that labour would need to have started spontaneously in 24-36 hours time before an induction would be necessary. I was keen to not focus too much on the clock from this moment- but instead to encourage the flow of oxytocin by just having a lovely day doing our favourite things together!

We went to the supermarket to stock up on our favourite snacks and then went home to snuggle up on the sofa and watch our favourite movie. By 7pm I was having gentle surges and so I put my TENS machine on…..and we walked to the pub! It was a gorgeous summer’s evening and I was able to enjoy a couple of pints of icy cold water in the evening sun, pausing and using upbreathing when surges came (they were totally manageable at this point!).

By 9pm I decided it was best we walk home. We were in high spirits and continued our picnic in front of the telly- I bounced on my birthing ball whilst eating sticky toffee ice cream and we made the most of our final evening together as a twosome! By midnight, things had started to ramp up. My boyfriend (who’d also studied the digital pack and so was familiar with the breathing techniques and terminology) was fantastic at coaching me through surges and making sure I remained calm throughout. Surges were now coming 3 every 10 minutes- but whilst on the phone to the birth centre, they didn’t feel they were long enough for us to come in just yet. It was quite frustrating to be told to sleep or rest between surges, as it felt as though sitting or lying down seemed to trigger another surge! I rocked from side to side while hanging onto our clothes horse and we developed a flow that saw us through to 04:30 when we decided it really was time to head to the birth centre.

Once there, I was examined, and disappointingly only 2cm dilated. We were told either to return home, or to pace around the hospital corridors whilst things progressed. As things by this point felt too intense to return home, we opted to wander aimlessly round the hospital for another 4 hours. I have to be honest, this felt like forever! My boyfriend was extremely caring and patient with me as I paced up and down making all sorts of interesting noises! At 9am we returned upstairs and the midwife was now happy to run the birthing pool for us. I was delighted! The relief I felt when I climbed in the water was incredible. My boyfriend put on our calming playlist and I continued to use my up breathing through the powerful, seemingly relentless surges.

Then a few minutes later, I suddenly felt overwhelmingly calm and exhausted. I felt my head flopping forward and felt the need to rest it on the edge of the pool. The midwife then checked on baby’s heart rate which appeared to have stayed low following the previous surge. She continued to monitor baby, but the heart rate was not returning to normal. The mood began to shift somewhat, and my boyfriend was instructed to pull a cord to alert another specialist to come and examine things further. It was soon agreed that I would be best off out of the pool. As baby’s heart rate was now not being detected at all, we were then told that an emergency cord was about to be pulled and that a lot of people were about to come into the room. Within seconds, they absolutely did. The next few minutes were a bit of a blur, but a gown was put onto me, I was lifted onto a trolley and carted off to theatre. Despite the urgency, the medics around me kept me so well informed at every stage- introducing themselves and telling me exactly what was about to happen. As there was now deep concern for baby’s wellbeing, it was decided I should have a Caesarean under general to get the baby out as quick as possible. I absolutely trusted the professionals around me and can be 100% certain that their attentiveness and quick response saved the life of my little one!

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At 09:49, a mere 9 minutes after the emergency cord was pulled, baby Cleo Frances entered the world (bang on her due date- also a full moon/blood moon/lunar eclipse!). Yes, my birth preferences went mostly out the window, but my baby was here and that is all that mattered. Cleo was rather poorly and went straight to the NICU as there were concerns for her brain and for her lungs. Incredibly, she made a full recovery within 48 hours and I was able to hold her, tube free for the first time. It was amazing! Even after close examination, the doctors were unable to pinpoint what exactly caused the prolonged drop in baby’s heart rate. There was a possibility that her position had placed pressure on the cord, cutting off the blood supply, though this is just one of a few possible theories. I know that some may not be able to see this birth experience as a wholly positive one, however I’m absolutely certain that the digital pack kept me calm and focused, even during an unforeseen emergency. My birth experience has only magnified my admiration for the NHS, my hero of a boyfriend, and of course for The Positive Birth Company for equipping me with tools to cope with the circumstances that unfolded. We are now home safe with the most chilled out, contented little baby and have been singing your praises to all my pregnant friends ever since! Thanks Siobhan!

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