I always thought that I would be ‘early’ and go into labour around 38/39 weeks. In the late part of pregnancy I had almost daily migraines and had to start my maternity leave early. I assumed that was a sign that this baby would be arriving ahead of the due date. However, the baby had a different plan and arrived 41+1.
The night before labour began I had a sense that the birth was imminent. It was the pink full moon and I went to bed and could see it so brightly out of the window. I said a silent prayer to the moon to bring my baby earth side. I spoke to my bump and said I was ready for them to arrive.
I woke up around 5 am and suspected my waters had broken. I couldn’t get back to sleep after that, so I listened to the hypnobirthing tracks.
At 6am I woke Josh up and told him that I thought my waters had broken. I rang Dani, my home birth midwife. Dani came over at 8 and confirmed that it was my waters. I had no other signs of labour so she said to contact her again when I had surges. She suggested spending the day relaxing to help bring on the labour.
As my waters had broken I was now on a 24 hour clock and the hospital would contact me at 5am the next day asking me to go in for an induction. I was adamant that I wanted to avoid any medical intervention that involved drugs or synthetic hormones unless it was absolutely necessary, so I informed Dani that I would like to wait 36 hours. She was happy with that.
So I set about making sure the rest of Good Friday would be a restful and relaxing day.
All day I had the clary sage oil in my diffuser. My Mum came round in the morning for a chat and I sat bouncing on the birth ball.
Then I went for a walk and listened to a funny podcast. After that I listened to hypnobirthing tracks and had a nap. After lunch I watched a romcom and started to notice some crampy feelings.
At 4 pm, I went for a 70 minute walk with Josh and noticed the cramp feelings were coming every 13-20 mins. I assumed this was the start of surges. They weren’t painful, just like period pain. I rang Dani to let her know that things were happening and she advised to call again when they intensified or if I had any concerns before then.
As I was planning a home birth, Josh started to get the birth room ready. I have a spare room in my home which I use to teach yoga so we were able to transform this into a birth room!
He got the pool set up, put out the candles and fairy lights. He also blacked out the windows and made a comfy area with cushions.
We went to bed early that night, I think we knew we wouldn’t be getting much sleep! I went to sleep in the spare room as I wanted to have space to move around if surges intensified!
Around 10pm, the surges became more frequent and more intense and it was uncomfortable lying down. I started using the TENS machine and this was a really helpful distraction.
I also started timing the surges with the Freya hypnobirthing app. This was so helpful as it did a breathing exercise for each contraction and played relaxation tracks inbetween. I went downstairs as I couldn’t sleep or stay lying down.
I really wanted to rest but I couldn’t so I ended up kneeling on a yoga bolster next to my sofa and then flopping my head onto the sofa seat in-between surges.
I woke Josh up around 1am as the surges were closer together and more intense. They were pretty much coming 3 in 10 minutes although not consistently. I spoke to Dani and she advised to continue timing for 30-60 minutes and call her again with an update.
Josh started filling up the pool. He put the playlist on and made sure the room had soft lighting. He had made the playlist for me and I didn’t know what was on it, so it was really nice distraction and something to focus on!
I spent that next hour leaning on the kitchen counter, still using the freya app and TENS machine. The standing up position was definitely the most comfortable, although I remember just wanting to lie down as I was tired!
I rang Dani again and she arrived around 2.30am. She listened to the baby’s heartbeat and confirmed that baby had moved over to my left side so was in the perfect position.
I didn’t have any internal examinations due to my waters’ breaking but Dani said I could get in the pool. I got in the pool around 3 am and felt instant relief! It was amazing.
I felt like I could rest in the pool and could move around. The surges continued but were less intense in the pool, they felt a bit shorter. Josh said I looked instantly calmer.
The next part is less clear in my head but I remember getting an urge to bear down pretty quickly and felt like I needed to poo! I remember having an urge to push whilst in the pool at this point. Dani kept telling me to listen to my body and do whatever I needed to do.
Josh helped me with my breathing and I found making a low ‘om’ sound as I breathed out was particularly helpful! Things intensified again I remember at this point thinking “I can’t do this” “I need a break” and “I understand why people as for an epidural now”. I recognised this as transition and as my mind ‘suffering’ and tried to refocus on my breath.
I knew the next stage of labour would be happening soon! I had 4 puffs of gas and air at this point, but I didn’t like it. It made me feel spaced out.
After transition, Dani suggested getting out of the water and trying some different positions to see if that would help and also to try and empty my bladder.
I went to the loo but I couldn’t empty my bladder so downstairs I had a catheter and definitely felt some relief when my bladder was empty.
I tried lots of different positions out of the pool, hands and knees felt best to me. I also tried lying on my side and sitting up in a C shape position.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the push surges or the feeling that my body was moving my baby out. I didn’t really have a sense of surges coming and going at this point, it felt like a constant intense pain in my public bone.
This was not what I was expecting! I was expecting the Ferguson reflex to kick in and that I could breathe my baby out! I had practiced the breathing for this stage, so much in late pregnancy but I didn’t feel like I could really use it as I had expected. It was really hard to know when to push so I did it when I had the energy. Dani helped me by encouraging me to use my pelvic floor and to push whenever I needed to.
It’s hard for me to remember clearly the time intervals but towards the end of the pushing stage Dani said that the baby had turned sideways facing and this was why it was so hard to get the baby out and possibly why I wasn’t feeling the push surges.
Dani informed me that I had been pushing for almost two hours and that I had to get the baby out or I would need to be transferred to hospital. She said that if I went to hospital, I’d be taken to theatre and have an assisted delivery. She suggested an episiotomy and I agreed.
After this, I felt the baby’s head crowning. I reached down and touched the head. It felt kind of squishy! The crowning felt like a stretching, burning feeling but it was totally manageable with focusing on my breath.
I gave birth in an upright C shape sitting against the wall. This unfortunately put a lot of pressure on my lower back and SI joint which I have pre-existing problems with. That caused me a lot of pain but it was the best position given that the baby was facing sideways.
The baby came out quickly after the episiotomy and all the pain went and I felt amazing.
Throughout the labour the baby’s heart rate remained calm and she was born peacefully. Dani passed the baby to me and I saw that she was a girl! Although I did ask someone to confirm and check in case I had gotten it wrong haha!
After she was born we had immediate skin to skin. I remember thinking ‘how is she even real?!’
I had a physiological third stage (no medical intervention) as planned. I ate some dates immediately after having her. I’ve read some research studies that show having dates immediately after birth reduces postpartum bleeding (I also ate them daily from 36 weeks).
When we were waiting of the placenta, I remember feeling a bit afraid to push again. I didn’t have a surge but had a heavy feeling in my lower back. The placenta came out after 1hour 15 minutes. It wasn’t painful.
During this time I was just holding and cuddling the baby. Dani took a picture of her with the placenta still attached. She clamped her cord and I cut it. Apparently I had very little blood loss, much less than expected. I definitely put this down to the dates as usually I bleed a lot and feel really faint with even a blood test!
We decided to name her Eira (pronounced A-ra) which is a Welsh name and means snow.
Although we didn’t find out the sex, I knew during pregnancy I was having a girl. I had a strong intuitive sense that I would have a daughter. In my last week or so of pregnancy this feeling intensified and I knew then that Eira was the right name.
After the birth, Josh, Eira and I got into bed and had lots of skin to skin. The rest of the day and even that first week is a bit of a blur now!
I am so grateful for the support I had from my husband and my family and from the home birth midwife team. I am so pleased that both she and I remained calm during what was a more challenging labour.
I can’t recommend the home birth team enough! Eira is a very calm, chilled baby. I think the daily meditation and hypnobirthing I was doing in pregnancy, along with a natural home birth and ongoing meditation postpartum has helped.
Birth was definitely a challenging but also very empowering experience, and I will be forever grateful for the smooth, calm entry Eira had into the world.