Guest blog post by first-time mum Sarah. Read how excited and in control Sarah was during her labour, and how her Wise Hippo hypnobirthing techniques helped her to have a really positive and natural hospital birth.
Ridley’s birth story, 18.3.16
My husband George and I were incredibly excited leading up to the birth of our baby, partly because we felt ready for the birth, but mostly because we were going to meet our little person for the first time.
We had been given an overwhelming amount of negative advice leading up to the birth and even more horror stories:
‘You’re never ready for parenting’
‘It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do’
‘Your life will change forever’
‘Take all the drugs you can get’
‘Birth is so painful’
… But, we actively ignored them all. We were embarking on what we thought was going to be the most exciting and amazing time of our lives and couldn’t wait for it to begin.
Our Wise Hippo classes
That said we did want to be the best prepared we could be for the labour – we’d never been in labour before so knowing how we could make it a positive experience, where George could be included and involved and I felt in control, was very important to us.
We didn’t discover Wise Hippo hypnobirthing until I was almost 30 weeks pregnant and managed to book in our class from 35-38 weeks. Just in time too as our baby boy arrived 2 days early at 39+5.
We were hoping and visualising an early arrival, so we had our bags packed and detailed birth plan ready at the door from 36 weeks.
My labour started on the Thursday, I was on my way to my mums for coffee at about 1 pm and experienced what I thought was a Braxton Hicks before leaving. I had another in the car on the way over, but as I’d had many of these already I thought nothing of it.
At my mums I continued to have moments of discomfort over coffee so I would get up and walk around to release the pressure… I didn’t realise I was in labour at this stage until my mum told me I had had 4 of these periods in the last hour – perhaps something had started!
I remembered that I needed to keep my endorphins up if this was labour and, as my husband was still at work at this time, being at mums was a pretty good place for this. I had my mum ecstatic at the thought of meeting her grandbaby and my sister who had got out videos from our wedding to giggle at. I was supposed to be meeting a friend in town for a catch up so I rearranged for her to come to my mums.
I felt very in control at this stage and wanted to keep busy and happy! My surges were 1 in every 15 minutes at this stage and I used my Wise Hippo breathing techniques to ease the discomfort (surge breath).
By about 5pm I realised that this sure was labour and phoned my husband to come and pick me up.
By the time we were home my surges were starting to feel more intense so I sat on my birthing ball and George put Friends on TV to keep those endorphins going!
We phoned Wallingford Birthing Centre where we hoped to have our baby. They told us to keep monitoring the surges and phone back when they increased to lasting a minute in length every 5 minutes.
I continued with my surge breath and was getting excited that this was really happening! George ran me a bath as my surges became more intense again – this was a lovely relief, the water took away the intensity of the surges and I felt more relaxed again. I continued with my surge breath whilst George monitored their length and duration so I didn’t have to.
By the time I got out of the bath my surges had increased to the suggested duration and George phoned up the Birthing Centre to inform them. I continued with surge breath and waves of relaxation – back on my birthing ball now. Wallingford was unfortunately full, so they redirected us to The Spires at John Radcliffe (Oxford) who told us to come in as soon as we were ready, happy that my contractions were frequent enough.
Arriving at hospital
By the time that we arrived at The Spires (9pm) I was 2cm dilated and was offered a stretch and sweep to see if it would hurry on the labour.
I then spent the next hour walking about the ward with my ‘Waves of Relaxation’ mp3 on headphones and George encouraging me to remain relaxed and use my Wise Hippo hypnobirthing techniques. I also practised some yoga positions to stretch out my hip that had started to feel stiff after the car journey.
When I was re-examined I was 4cm dilated and ready to move into the delivery suite- a small, windowless room, with mood lighting, a foam mattress/lounger and a birthing pool. I continued to play my relaxation music and continued with my surge breath.
When the birthing pool was ready I climbed in, now in established labour (11.30 pm). At this stage where I anticipated being quiet during surges (like in the videos we’d seen in our classes) my experience felt much more animalistic, breathing through the discomfort with long, low groans (George likened it to a dinosaur!).
George tried soothing strokes but I preferred to be alone and in my own ‘zone’ at this stage with my eyes closed and focused on my breathing. He was supportive in reminding me to refrain from tensing up and use my breathing to control the surges. I asked for Gas and Air to ‘take the edge off’ the surges, but after using them for 2 or 3 surges I felt the device annoying and dried my mouth out, deciding instead to ‘go it alone’!
A natural hospital birth – breathing baby out
As the surges continued to intensify, I felt the need to ‘bear down’ as I could feel my baby’s head moving further down. My Midwife offered the advice of breathing into my bottom and within (what felt like) 3 surges my baby was born.
The midwives passed my baby up through my legs where I was then able to hold him in my arms and announce that he was a little boy. George came behind me and cuddled us just as our baby placed his hand on my cheek. I was able to cut the cord when it had stopped pulsating.
Shortly after, our baby boy was taken out and handed to George for skin-to-skin cuddles. I had the injection to release my placenta and rested on the bed. When examined by the midwife she told me I needed stiches so I was taken to theatre where a doctor sewed me up. At this stage I had asked for a spinal to prevent any pain during the stitches as I felt exhausted from the labour. I therefore had a full team taking care of me whilst I left our baby boy in the safe hands of his daddy.