Birth story - Rebecca and baby Jacob

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I can't tell you how delighted I am to finally share my birth story with you all, nearly 5 weeks on I am still elated with how well it went and how totally amazing I have felt since. My gorgeous baby boy Jacob was born calmly and peacefully at home in the water as planned on 5th September, weighing 8lb 10oz (a full 2lb 9oz heavier than my first!).

My first baby was born at 40+11, so when my due date (27th August) came and went I wasn't particularly concerned. On the evening of the 4th September we were watching a film and I was having surges every 10-15 minutes. They were mild and not getting any closer together. I had experienced quite a few episodes of mild contractions and a couple of false starts that resulted in my husband and I being up and getting our living room ready at 3am only for things to calm down again in the days before this, so wasn't convinced this was the real thing. We went to bed and the surges continued through the night, but I was able to sleep through/between some of them. In the morning the surges were still coming but quite sporadic and still mild, I was fairly convinced by this point that I was in early labour so my husband decided to stay off work and we sent my daughter to my parents for the day just to see how things would progress. I had a routine midwife appointment booked for that day as I was 41+2 and hadn't had an appointment the previous week. I thought it best to still attend and get the green light for our planned homebirth and also thought that because of the stop start nature of the previous few days that I would accept a stretch and sweep to see if it would speed things up.

I have to say that I came away from that appointment very disheartened, upon examination I was given a cervix score of 4 (I cant remember what the technical name is) this is pretty poor in terms of likelihood of going into labour anytime soon. And the dreaded induction talk was had, I agreed to come in for monitoring and discussion at 40+12, I was low risk and felt no need to be induced if that remained the case. She did say that she had managed to do a very effective sweep, it was very vigorous, but that it was unlikely I would be in labour anytime soon. So we had gone into the appointment thinking I was in labour and come away expecting labour to be days away. Walking back to the car I was still having my surges and they were slightly stronger but I assumed that was an after effect of the sweep. My husband decided to go into work and I went home to potter around the house. I had surges all day, that again I just assumed was an after effect of the sweep, however they were definitely getting stronger and closer together. I started to time them and they were every 7 mins or so, but because of what the midwife had said I still wasn't convinced (always listen to your bodies ladies!) During this time I cleaned my bathrooms, bounced on my ball whilst watching Russell Howard and Rhod Gilbert stand up DVD's and in the later afternoon when I was starting to get more uncomfy I had a nice hot bath.

My husband and daughter came home at about 6:30pm and I swear my body had been waiting for them because as soon as they got back things really ramped up. By 7pm surges were every 3 minutes lasting at least a minute. My husband was putting our daughter to bed and I was having to stop and breathe and sway, either leant over our kitchen counter or my ball. When he came back down we finally realised that this was definitely the real thing and that things were now progressing quite quickly. He rang the labour ward who decided that they would send a midwife out, I'd only been having these stronger surges for 40 mins or so but they were very intense and because my latent labour had been long and it was my second baby they thought I may progress quickly. My husband began filling up the pool that we had hired, he lit the candles that we had been using during our practice and dimmed the lights. I did struggle to remain focused a little at this stage as he was busy doing his tasks, however I got the hypnobirthing tracks on my phone and listened through headphones and managed to find my little zone. Next thing I knew the midwife was here and the pool was nearly full. The midwife was lovely, she sat and read though my preferences quietly and just observed for a few surges. I then accepted an examination as I was desperate to get in the pool, amazingly I was 6cm at around 9:30pm. This is the only examination I had, another was never even suggested. I got in the pool and the relief was lovely, I found a comfy position kneeling whilst resting on the edge and stayed that way for most of my labour. My husband was excellent sat in front of me holding my hand, telling me how amazing I was doing, counting and rubbing my back. He kept reminding me to drink and eat, but I couldn't stomach any food. We also had Love Actually on in the background, but it wasn't something I payed much attention to. I don't know the timings from here on but I remember having a very intense surge, feeling a small pop and then immediately needing to be very sick! I could hear the midwife telling my husband that this was a very good sign and I think now that this was my transition as there was quite a pause then until my next contraction and I kept saying that this wasn't very fun anymore. It was at this point that I asked for some gas and air as well, which I really liked and found very helpful for coping with my now very intense surges. From then I found that my surges would build like normal and then as they were coming back down there would be some pressure and my body involuntarily give a little push and moo! Once I realised that I was now in the down stage I tried to control this and use my down breathing alongside by body pushing. This is how things continued until my baby was about to crown, this was my only panic, my contraction ended when his head was halfway out and I was convinced he was stuck, I didn't know whether I should keep pushing till his head was out without a contraction or wait until the next contraction. As it was I gave him a bit of a nudge and his head came out. During crowning I didn't like the gas and air and preferred to be fully aware of what I was doing, consciously trying to breathe and cause as little damage to myself as possible ( I had a second degree tear first birth). The midwives told me to reach down and touch my babies head, that was truly amazing and I could feel him moving inside still. The pause here felt like forever but with the next surge my baby was born, I can remember so clearly seeing his little face under the water and I took my time to make sure I had hold of him properly before pulling him up to my chest. He was so quiet and calm to start with that the midwives said that they thought he didn't realise he had been born, although he has since made up for that 😂.

We then had lovely skin to skin, myself and my husband looked together to discover that he was a boy, and delayed cord clamping. I couldn't believe that I had actually done it and kept repeating that over and over! After the cord had stop pulsating it was cut at my request as I was beginning to get cold. I then moved to the sofa for further snuggles and our first feed. I had a physiological third stage that took about 40 mins for my placenta to deliver. Amazingly when examined I had no tears or grazes, so no stitches were needed. The midwives spent about 2 hours with us post-birth helping me feed baby and then shower, filling in paperwork and generally observing that all was well. I then took my little one upstairs and my husband brought up tea and toast and it was all very surreal and amazing laying in our own bed with our new babe.

I truly can not thank Siobhan Miller and this community enough for the amazing experience I had, I know for a fact that this is 100% down to the techniques learnt from the digital pack and subsequently the change in my attitude and approach to birth this time. The birth I had this time round was a truly healing experience that I will treasure forever. And not only that but these first few weeks of his life I have felt fantastic, my baby blues have been minimal, breast feeding is going really well and our bond is amazing, all of which I put down to hypnobirthing!

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