My Birth Story by Laura
At the end of a healthy and uncomplicated pregnancy, I feared my home birth was under threat when, at 41weeks after I turned down the option of a stretch and sweep, I was asked to meet with an obstetrician registrar to discuss possible interventions. Apparently I was ‘unusual’ for turning down this initial intervention, my response to that was perhaps I was unusual but all I was asking for was to be left until 42 weeks to see if our baby would come of its own accord. I met with the consultant and after some negotiation I agreed to go for non-intrusive monitoring at 41weeks +5 if the baby had showed no signs of making an appearance and again at 41+6 with a meeting with the consultant at 41 weeks +7. I made it clear to the consultant that if there were any concerns about my health or the health of my baby, I would do whatever was required, but if all looked well, I wanted to be left alone to give my baby time to come when he was good and ready.
That afternoon I had a reflexology session where I practiced my visualisation, encouraging my baby to begin his journey and felt utterly calm and relaxed. The next day I had a hypnotherapy session with Sandra, which helped me further still with my visualisation; went for a long, brisk walk; ate a way-hotter-than-I-would-like-curry and a few hours bouncing on the birthing ball jiggling along to Strictly Come Dancing.
Later that evening, we tried to take the dogs out for a walk but one of them wouldn’t come, he just sat firmly at the back door. Shortly after, at about 9.45pm I had a show. I think the dog knew something was about to happen.
By 10.30pm my surges had begun, steadily at first and then quickly progressing. I tried to go to bed and let the surges wake me up later but I couldn’t get comfortable lying down. The surges were coming every 4-7 minutes lasting approximately 40 seconds and I was convinced that by morning our baby would have arrived. At 1.30am I called the labour ward to let them know I was in labour; the community midwife called me and advised to call again once I was having a surge every three minutes lasting at least one minute. But that wasn’t to be, it ended up being a long and lonely night having sent my husband back to bed, there was nothing he could do for me at this stage. So three baths, a lot of standing, pacing and bouncing later, I made it through to the morning.
By 7.30am, I had accepted that I was not going to be able to get uncomfortable any time soon. The best place for me was standing, leaning over our dining table with my husband holding my tummy and rubbing my lower back during each surge while I concentrated on my breathing.
What surprised me the most was my inability to drink anything, never mind eat anything. This was something I had not prepared for and in hindsight, should have perhaps considered my nutrition more carefully once I was close to my due date in terms of ensuring I had plenty of energy and was fully hydrated.
At 4pm, the midwives arrived at which time the surges were every three minutes lasting at least one minute. They had also increased in intensity and after 17.5 hours of intense early labour, I was now in established labour. I continued like this until 7.30pm when I was starting to get a bit fed up; I was bored, my legs were aching from being stood up for so long and I was still struggling to eat or drink anything.
The midwife examined me; I was 7cms dilated. At the time I felt relieved I was so far along so got into the birthing pool to try and relieve some of the pressure; looking back, I got in too early. The moment my body hit the water I felt like I’d been given a really strong drug. Suddenly I felt energised and rejuvenated; the next surge was easy to breathe through. I thought it was a miracle pool and was convinced that things would start to pick up now and that our baby would be born that evening.
But I was wrong yet again.
Feeling calm and happy, I was able to talk through my surges for a while. They then started to develop quite quickly and I felt an incredible intense pressure deep within me which made me a little nauseous, almost like I was retching – this was a surprising sensation which was quite uncomfortable. I felt exhausted too and started to fall asleep in between surges.
The midwife checked the baby heart rate every 15 minutes, it never changed and remained at a healthy pace throughout the labour which was a relief. My blood pressure was also in a good place, the only concern I had (and what I thought the midwives were also concerned about) was how exhausted I felt. I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough energy for the rest of the labour.
The midwives had to cross out the date they had written on their paperwork, as by midnight our baby still hadn’t made an appearance. I was assured that I was making good progress and was advised to get out of the pool so I could be examined and to see if walking around would help things move on a little.
As soon as I got out of the pool I had an incredibly strong surge (I panicked, foolishly, that the baby was going to pop out there and then and land on my stone floor!), I managed to make it onto the sofa where I was examined. Thankfully the midwife could feel the baby’s head. I was asked if I wanted to walk about or get on all fours, the position I had prepared myself to birth in, but I had no energy or inclination to get off the sofa – I just wanted my baby out!
I continued to focus on my breathing and urged myself to stay strong throughout this final stage. As the surges continued I began to feel a great urge to push down. I used the J-breathing I had practiced and used three breaths with each contraction to move the baby down. I recall making quite a lot of noise and worried I’d wake the neighbours! My husband described it sounding like I’d been winded.
As our baby’s head crowned, I understood what everyone had said about the ‘ring of fire’, I knew then that things were nearly over and I just counted, breathed, concentrated and gave everything I got to breathing the baby out. And after his head was out, the rest of his body came out with the pressure of the final surge. And it was over – 27 hours of intense, drug-free labour, our baby was born. I was exhausted. I’ve run a couple of marathons in the past and felt then that I’d given it all I had, but this experience proved that I always had more to give. It was the longest endurance test of my life and I felt so proud that I had done it and given our baby a natural entrance to the world.
Our little boy did not cry when he was born, he decided to wee and poo on me instead, and I smiled knowing that the reason he hadn’t cried was because he wasn’t distressed, he was quite relaxed, just as he had been throughout the whole labour – I think I’m going to have a trouble getting him out of bed in the future if this was anything to go by.
17 months later, I am now expecting our second baby and plan to have another home birth using hypnobirthing techniques. I have friends who have gone on to have successful natural, drug-free home and hospital births, and we all agree that the feeling it gives you is incredible. I feel so thankful that this worked for us and that I was able to have this wonderful – if not challenging – experience.