It was my first pregnancy and I was too scared to plan a home birth for my first one. I didn’t know what to expect and it being my first time I was frightened. I’m not a lover of hospitals and so we opted for a middle ground and booked us into the midwife led birthing Centre. I felt happy I could use the birthing pool as I had always envisaged a water birth and having looked around it felt like a home away from home.
2017, it was a hot August and I felt huge, could barely see my toes and I had been working right up until 38 weeks as a primary school teacher and I was tired, slow and ready for baby. Despite the uncomfortableness I felt awash with love and excitement about meeting this little babe that I had grown inside me for 9 months and I like to think I was “glowing”. I had the most amazing class of children and I felt so lucky that I could share my pregnancy with them as they watched me grow; to see how my body changed, stretched and nurtured this precious being inside me. It was such a treat for them to witness nature and new life first hand.
On the morning of 11th August I thought my waters had broken. I couldn’t be sure as it was not a huge amount of fluid, so we went to the birthing centre, just incase, to be checked over. Nothing was conclusive but I was told, if I didn’t go into labour that night then I would need to contact the hospital to check my waters and to ensure the baby was ok. Change of plan number 1. I was not allowed to go to the irthing centre anymore as if my waters had broken there could have been risk of infection. This was the first metal test to now being to visualise myself in hospital. The next morning we went for a walk to see if that would get things moving. Broadwater Warren was laced with purple heather and it was beautiful, Tom and I discussed baby names, took in the views and enjoyed our few hours of being ‘just us’, before I got far too sweaty and could barely walk another few steps without waddling!
We went to the hospital that afternoon and baby was monitored, my waters had definitely broken and so we were given until the following morning to go into labour. Change of plan number 2. I would not be allowed a water birth now, as my waters had broken. All fine with baby and the midwives said that if baby didn’t come that night then we were going to be booked in for an induction the next day. Change of plan number 3. If I’m totally honest I didn’t want to go for an induction. I had had a near perfect pregnancy, very organic and natural and I just didn’t want to be in hospital. Next test I faced was to really begin to imagine me being in hospital and getting my head around that with the used of labour inducing hormones.
But… that night on the way home we stopped off for pizza. On the way back home I did feel a couple of twinges but nothing serious. It felt a little like a period pain but nothing to rave about but we did get a little excited. We ate, I bounced on the ball, we played cards and called my mom to let her know what the plan was for the morning. I would call first thing when I knew the time I was given for an induction so she had enough time to get over from France on the shuttle. I reread my affirmations and focussed on my breathing and we decided to download an app to monitor contractions. According to the app, things were ramping up fast and we were instructed to pack the hospital bag and get the car seat ready. We laughed it off. I went to have a bath with a couple of drops of clary sage and Tom made me a cup of tea. We carried on playing cards but I felt the contractions getting stronger and so went upstairs again but can’t remember what for.
From that point on it gets pretty hazy. I threw myself onto the pillows on the bed (I think because it meant I was in the dark) and breathed through the contractions whilst simultaneously trying to use the app! Tom rang the midwives who told me to take paracetamol… I told Tom very clearly and probably quite aggressively that I did not want paracetamol…. I may have even screamed it! I took the paracetamol.
I faintly remember Tom telling me he was packing up the car and it between the next contraction I was to make my way downstairs. I did as I was told but as I made it to the bottom step I knew the baby was coming as I could feel him between my legs….at that point I was wrestling with fear and trying to remember all the skills and techniques I had been through on my hypnobirthing course.
Tom tells me he had 2 phones on the go, one to the midvives and the other on the line to 999. He was washing his hands and getting the towels. My hero.
Change of plan number 4 – a home delivery.
I remember being scared because I didn’t know “how to be”, which pose to be in, on my all fours or standing up. This was for me the hardest thing. I tried to listen to my body but we were on our own and the baby was coming so it felt frightening but as soon as someone arrived I remember feeling better; someone to take control of the situation. I was debating having gas and air at one stage until Tom said yes I should definitely use it. Crazy I know, but I didn’t feel like I was in pain. To me, the sensation felt like the biggest ball of energy circling in my pelvis. I carried on breathing and needed total silence to focus on each surge. so much for the calming music and fairy lights I had prepared!
It is hard to recall the timings of that evening but I do remember how it felt. The room was filled with 7 strangers ( 2 ambulance crews and a midwife, who arrived 10 minutes before our boy was born) and in our living room, a shooting star – my beautiful baby boy was born safely and with control under a Perseid meteor shower at 00:31 on 13th August 2017.
So despite not going to plan, I wouldn’t want to change a thing.
We both went to hospital to be checked over and to have a little TLC down below (with proper lighting!) and my mom was there waiting at home to welcome us and basically look after us for the next week! (see ‘The Day I became a mother…” blog post)
I hope by sharing this honest account of my labour, it will give you the confidence and strength to know that you can do it and that your body knows exactly what to do, as does your baby in this amazing miracle we call child birth. It is sheer magic and Mother Nature’s greatest work so don’t fear it – we were made for this!
MY BIRTHING TOP TIPS
AFFIRMATIONS– tell yourself daily in the mirror how much you respect your body, how much you trust it and visualise how this baby is going to come into the world.
REST – listen to your body and take the time you need to save up all your energy.
DRINK – lots of water – it is the best medicine there is!
READ -I found reading really gave me lots of knowledge and in turn power. Obviously not everything will match your beliefs or your philosophy but it really gave me confidence knowing that others had been through the same and had experience.
My best reads were:
How to Grow a Baby and Push it Out by Clemmie Hooper
Why love matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain by Sue Gerhardt
What to expect when you are expecting by Heidi Murkoff (more of a dip in and out)
BREATHE – practice practice practice. If you already practise yoga then you will know just how important the breath is to your bodies movement and your mind’s clarity. It served me so well and I would encourage all pregnant ladies to try and master their own breath and see the benefits and how it can empower you when you need it most.
Sending you all so much love and courage
It’s worth every second!