First time mum Susie had a wonderful and natural water birth at the Birth Centre at The Royal Berkshire Hospital. She was so calm and relaxed that she even managed to sleep between surges towards the end of her labour.

My Wise Hippo birth story


I went into labour on a Thursday evening at about 8.55pm, after a hot bath. My surges were five minutes apart straight away and lasted about 45 seconds.

I was breathing through these until about 2.30am, when they were only 2 minutes apart and we called triage. We drove in and arrived at 3am. The first examination showed that I was only 1 cm dilated. I was quite demoralised by that and we were sent home.

I kept breathing through my surges, and they ended up spreading out to every 20 minutes, which allowed me to get some sleep in between for about 3 hours.

The next day the surges stayed the same, coming and going every 5-10 minutes. It was a gloriously sunny day and my husband and I went for a nice long walk with breaks every time a surge came. I was leaning against him and breathed through them. I sat in the sun in our garden for a while and was on the phone to my mum.

At about 5pm I had another hot bath and that seems to have done the trick – my surges came back and gained momentum. Every 2 minutes lasting about 45 seconds. Because they weren’t longer than that, triage advised against us coming in – however 30 minutes after that phone call I felt that something was different and I decided to go in.

The surges were stronger now and I had to trust my instinct. As we pulled up outside the hospital the surges were every minute and I was eager to get into the midwife lead unit at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. As I walked through the hospital doors my waters broke, which was a real relief.

When we got upstairs we found out that I was 4 cm dilated and that luckily, the room with the birthing pool was free and being prepared for me. There was quite a bit of delay until I was able to get in as I had to be put onto an antibiotic drip. 1.5 hours later I was already 8cm dilated. Sinking into the warm water was the best feeling in the world! I was just able to surrender completely to the experience. 

I was in active labour for quite a while breathing through each surge. My midwife informed me that although she respected this form of breathing, she said I had to push instead of breathe through the surges. I trusted my instinct that I needed to push, and when I did we made real progress. Our little boy Constantin was born a couple of hours later. Despite being in the ‘pushing stage’ I was so relaxed that I actually fell asleep in between surges! 

We were very surprised to find out that Consti was over 10 pounds in weight!

All in all it was a 30 hour labour. However, I always felt in control, due to the training I received and I managed the whole labour without any pain relief. In hindsight it became very clear that my mindset was what made it such a wonderful experience.

I have applied this ‘Wise Hippo’-mindset of acceptance and commitment to parenting and the healing of my body ever since. As a result I have been able to deal so well with the lack of sleep (something I was very anxious about), as well as breastfeeding. It has really helped me stay relaxed especially during the early stages of breastfeeding, which were uncomfortable.

Consti is a very calm and friendly little soul and loves to smile and giggle, which I am sure are also in part due to the calm journey he had, entering this world. 

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