I woke up at 1.15 am weds 27th May trying to decide if I needed the loo or could get away with more sleep – having decided the loo was wise I felt damp trickling down my legs as I went down the stairs and immediately suspected it was waters over developing incontinence! The day before I’d not had any signs of impending labour although in hindsight the frequent cramps down my right buttock and hamstrings could have been a giveaway! I’d also seen my chiro that afternoon who had said he thought the baby would be here in the next day or two from the feel of my pelvis and spine.
Anyway, my mucus plug came away whilst on the loo and I was then in no doubt as to what had happened. I wasn’t feeling any cramps or contractions so decided just to put a pad in and try and go back to bed and get some rest. I also decided not to tell Dan so he would at least start the day fresh after as much sleep as possible. My main concern at that point was being ‘put on the clock’ or being asked to go to hospital and talk of induction if labour didn’t start so I lay back in bed and started using the pressure points on the top of my thumbs which Juliet (hypnobirthing teacher) had said could be useful for stimulating contractions. Just before 2am I was aware of mild period pains coming and going. Between dozing for a few hours and continuing to use the pressure points I think these were around 10 minutes apart. At 5am I decided to have something to eat and have a bath so I could at least start motherhood with clean hair!
Going back upstairs at 6.30 Dan woke up as I went back into the bedroom and I told him my waters had broken but not much else had happened. I was due to see Laura (midwife) at 12 for my full term appt so we decided just to text her and our doula and ask for advice. Laura recommended holding out til she came at 12 so we lay back down to try and get more rest and I continued using the pressure points on my thumbs. Neither of us was getting back to sleep and my cramps were getting stronger so we got up and Dan started setting up the birth pool just in case.
From there things progressed rapidly and by ?7.30 it was clear labour was starting so Dan called Nikki (our doula) and asked her to come over. Dan put some music on and I listened to the hypnobirthing track I’d been practicing with and just focused on relaxing and regulating my breathing. From there everything went very quickly for me and I felt completely in my own world with my eyes closed most of the time. I know I was pacing around the house between contractions and spending time leaning over the mantelpiece or on my knees leaning on the sofa whilst dan or Nikki rubbed by lower back. Gently dancing and cuddling into Dan’s shoulder in the ‘slow dance’ position also gave me massive relief. I was shivery and cold despite it turning into a beautiful day outside so we lit the stove in the sitting room.
I was aware throughout that Dan was preparing the pool and staying in touch with Laura and at 11.30 Laura gave the go ahead on the phone for me to get into the pool. I know I said no initially – not because I didn’t want to but because I thought I was still quite early on and didn’t want to risk slowing anything down! After the next contraction however Nikki persuaded me it would be a good idea and I got in. The relief of the warm water was amazing!
Laura arrived around 12 and quickly realised I was further along than we all thought. Dan poured warm water over my back and Nikki continued to rub my back and buttocks (how did she reach?) whilst Laura had to climb round the pool to be able to see what was happening. She checked baby’s heart rate which was all fine and was the final thing I needed to relax as I had been slightly worried I’d not felt baby’s movements since my waters went. I was aware of baby’s head moving down and Laura saying I was crowning and thinking it was odd I hadn’t had the ‘I can’t do this’ phase at transition or felt the need to ask for the gas and air. The ‘ring of fire’ also wasn’t half as bad as I’d expected – it was more immense pressure and Laura and Nikki had to coach me then with my breathing to stop me pushing too hard to birth the head. At the time I felt I was starting to make higher pitched noises on the exhalation and Nikki reminded me to lower into vowel sounds. Once I’d changed my breathing the head birthed and Laura said with the next contraction he’d be here. I felt more of him come through on the next one but he wasn’t out – turned out little monkey wanted to come into the world superman style with his hand by his head so that second wave had been his arm and shoulders coming through. Laura encouraged me to reach down to feel him and it was in he next wave that he came out fully. I needed Laura’s help to fish him out properly as he was wrapped in his cord but then he was in my arms. Looking down to see he was a boy my immediate reaction was if I had dreamt the whole thing as it all went exactly as visualised in hypnobirthing practice and was true to my gut instinct of him being a boy. Writing this now (4 days post birth) it still seems surreal.
Deana (midwife) and their current student arrived a few minutes after he was born to the sound of a healthy pair of lungs announcing his arrival to the world.
We waited for the cord to stop pulsing and then Dan cut the cord and took Charlie skin to skin for his first cuddle whilst I birthed the placenta. We’d opted for a physiological 3rd stage and it seemed to take a while to come. I had to mentally refocus and tune back into my breathing for the placenta to come away.
Official stats were 4 hours of active labour with Charlie arriving at 12.43 pm weighing 7lb 9.
Afterwards Dan, Charlie and I snuggled on the sofa whilst the midwives checked us all over. I had a slight graze to my perineum and slight tears to my labia but nothing that required stitches. Everyone was surprised after the extra arm up so shows the perineum massage prep and being relaxed really helps. The mw helped us to breastfeed and fortunately Charlie took to it straight away.
All in all it really was the most incredible birth experience. The hypnobirthing lessons and practice were invaluable, as was the support of Dan, Nikki and the Surrey Hills midwives. For anyone wanting a positive birth experience my advice would be to choose your birth team carefully, prepare mentally and physically with hypnobirthing lessons, reading, perineum massage etc and choose to birth wherever you feel most relaxed. For me, that was always going to be at home and I have 100% confidence in our fabulous Surrey Hills Home Birth team – we feel very blessed to have access to such fabulous midwives on the NHS as we were expecting to have to go privately to get this level of care. I would also recommend everyone hire a doula if they are in a position to do so – it was invaluable to me with the support, breathing coaching and pressure applied to my back that got me through without medication and gas and air, and great emotional support for Dan, especially with labour progressing so quickly!