“After seeing lots of information on social media around hypnobirthing and its benefits I did some research online and found Sandra’s course and free taster session. After meeting Sandra we soon decided it was something we both wanted to atleast try as first time parents to help ease the anxiety of pending labour, especially as most of our friends and family who have been through it had unpleasant experiences and we figured having the basic understanding would give us some comfort.
We luckily managed to attend the full 5 week course just before the lockdown and continued to practise the breathing techniques, massages and scripts in the weeks prior to the birth to help keep us relaxed during such uncertain times; remaining hopeful for things to take as natural course as possible.
I saw my midwife at 40+2 who began talking about performing a stretch and sweep and possible inductions for the week after if baby still hadn’t made an appearance. Although I was attending these appointments alone, I used my confidence I had gained from the classes to ask relevant questions as to why that would be necessary, and decided to decline the S&S offered to me that day and would return the following week to consider it again should the situation change. Something I’m so glad I did as after several days of more intense Braxton Hicks and back ache, my surges started coming at 10pm that same day and I instinctively knew I was in early labour.
They were coming every 10 minutes and lasting around 60-90 seconds so getting any sleep was difficult but I left my husband to sleep and I moved to the sofa to watch some TV and potter around to keep upright and mobile. By the time Dan got up the next morning, they were coming every 3-4mins so we called the Midwifery Led Unit who advised us to stay at home a little longer. With it being our first baby they advised it was unlikely she would come just yet. Around an hour later, after leaning on my birthing ball, listening to the scripts and the 4:8 breathing technique to remain calm, I felt and heard a pop as my waters broke. We called the hospital again as the surges instantly ramped up in frequency and intensity and I was finding it more difficult to speak through them. They gave us the option to stay at home longer or come in whichever made us more comfortable. We made the decision to go in as I felt like I’d be more comfortable with the pool as an extra pain relief option, and to make the journey to the hospital sooner rather than later.
When we arrived at the MLU I accepted an examination to see how far dilated I was. I was told I was 3cm, which made me feel like I still had a long way to go but this helped prepare my mindset; using the techniques we’d learned to know my body was working at the right pace for me and my baby and I instantly felt proud of how far my body and baby had already progressed. On reflection, it only took 3 and a half hours to go from this 3cm to our baby being born, so I was right to remain so positive at this progress!
We were taken straight into the birthing suite around 1pm and within half an hour I felt the need to start downward breathing. The midwife agreed we should start to fill the pool, stepping into the warm water was an instant relief taking the weight off of my pelvis and belly. At times the pressure of the surge felt really overwhelming, that something completely alien to me was taking over my body, so I requested gas and air, as part of our birthing plan, which really helped me to stay focused on my breathing. My husband also played a pivotal role at this stage, giving me invaluable support and encouragement and I found myself groaning quite deeply! After around 90 minutes of being in the pool and allowing my body to lead in what it needed to do, our baby Isabelle was born, passed through my legs and we had instant skin to skin contact, delayed cord clamping and natural delivery of the placenta.
Although without doubt giving birth was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, it was the most amazing and empowering experience. The strength I found within myself to keep going when it all started to feel too much (now realising I was in the transition phase and did consider asking for an epidural in my head! But I managed to keep these thoughts internally and brought my thoughts back to the breathing and thought of meeting my baby very soon). The whole experience lasted 18 hours but was so calm, stress free and Isabelle came into the world so calmly and is still a pretty chilled out baby!