Guest blog post written by new mum Rebecca Newton
Gentle surges began at about 2am on Wednesday 20 May. Initially I couldn’t sleep through them, but then I used the breathing techniques and listened to the Sea of Serenity and was able to sleep in between each surge. I told my husband James to go to work, as I was managing quite well. I got up at about 8am, had some breakfast and did a few chores around the house, keeping myself busy. I even managed to have a couple of phone conversations with my mum and brother, who didn’t suspect a thing! (We’d decided not to tell anyone that I was in labour.) At 11.30am James came home and began to get the birthing pool ready. The surges were still about 15 minutes apart, but as I was planning a home birth I rang the midwife to give them some forewarning. I had some lunch with James, although I wasn’t feeling very hungry, and we put on a film. I couldn’t fully concentrate on it though as the surges were getting more intense, so I went and had a bath, which relaxed me.
At about 4pm, the surges were about 5-10 minutes apart so I rang the midwife again and they said someone would be with me shortly. In the meantime, I was physically sick, which I saw as a good sign that my body was preparing to give birth. At about 6pm, two midwives showed up, by which time my surges were quite intense, but helped by the fact that James was using the soothing strokes we’d been taught to massage me. They measured me and I was 5cm dilated, which I found a bit disheartening. About an hour or so later, I got into the pool. It instantly relaxed me and I spent the next few hours breathing through the surges, with encouragement from James, who reminded me to remain calm and breathe through my surges when he could tell I was wavering.
I was still in the pool a couple of hours later when the ‘humming down’ stage began. I wasn’t able to use the techniques quite how I would have liked because I felt an overwhelming urge to push. By about 1am, I was about 8cm, so the midwives suggested I get out of the pool and try a different position. I eventually got to 93/4 dilated, but I had an anterior cervical lip, which was slowing things down, and the baby was in a slightly awkward position. It was at about 2am that the midwife suggested I tried gas and air to help me relax – after nearly 24hrs in labour, with no pain relief, I agreed that this was probably a good idea! By about 3am, I was still pushing and it was at this point the midwives suggested that I should go to hospital, as they were concerned that both myself and the baby we’re getting tired. Up until this point the baby’s heartbeat had been very steady and calm, but they were now unable to differentiate between mine and the baby’s. I was disappointed by the thought of going to hospital, but agreed, as I was very tired at this point.
I must admit that going to hospital threw me off kilter and I struggled to remain calm, but James was amazing and was a very reassuring presence, as were the midwives, who were all very encouraging and supportive. About two hours after arriving at the hospital, Jack was born on the morning of 21 May, with a little helping hand from a ventouse. He came out very peacefully with no crying and he was immediately placed on me and we enjoyed skin to skin for a couple of hours, which was wonderful.
Initially, I was upset that I didn’t have the home birth I had planned, and felt that I had let myself and Jack down. I also felt that perhaps I shouldn’t have agreed to go to hospital, as I’m sure the position of the baby would’ve corrected itself eventually. However, on reflection, I realised how amazing we both did for the vast majority of the birth and that going to hospital was the best thing to do at that time. Also, I managed with just a little gas and air, but had no other form of pain relief. Without hypnobirthing, I would never have considered a home birth and most likely wouldn’t have been able to labour for as long as I did calmly and without pain relief. My husband james was an incredible support, too, and had really taken in everything that we had learnt during our classes. So thank you Debbie for guiding us and showing us that you really can have a calm birthing experiencing whatever way it leads. And if I ever have another child, I would, without hesitation, opt for a home birth again using the hypnobirthing techniques.