If you followed my blog throughout my pregnancy, you may be aware that I was following The Calm Birth School course - a hypnobirthing program designed to equip mothers-to-be with the knowledge, confidence and skills to have the calm birth they desire. The online videos were extremely informative and I found listening to the MP3s on a daily basis really empowering. After months of waiting, on the 28th October, it was time to put everything I'd learnt into practice.
It all started with my waters breaking at 2am on Tuesday 27th October. After feeling an intense pain low in my stomach and deciding I better head to the toilet, I got up to find water soaking through my pyjama bottoms. I considered the possibility that I'd wet myself, before realising no, I still needed the toilet and my waters had in fact broken. It wasn't a movie-like gush with a huge puddle but I was pretty damn soaked and the water just kept coming.
I'd hoped that after that my surges (contractions) would come thick and fast but I only seemed to be having the odd few here and there. I'd been told by the hospital to sit tight and that hopefully things would develop naturally but unfortunately that wasn't going to be the case!
Tuesday lunch time, I headed to the birthing unit, as they wanted to check my waters had definitely broken. I was pretty certain my waters had broken, unless I was constantly weeing myself (an unlikely possibility) and as soon as I took my leggings off, the puddle on the floor told them everything they needed to know - no test necessary! I was sent home and told that if my surges didn't progress, I was to come back at 8am the next morning (October 28th) for augmentation (also known as induction) to avoid risk of infection.
I hoped that my surges would progress but it the back of my mind I had a feeling it wasn't going to be the case. Don't get me wrong, I had surges but they were irregular and whilst slightly uncomfortable, they weren't nearly as painful as I thought they should be. So after another broken night, full of anticipation, I headed in to be induced, with my mum by my side.
My actual birthing experience was nothing like I'd planned or imagined. I'd hoped for a water birth or failing that to be able to walk round and keep upright as much as possible during labour but all of that went out the window when the doctor told my midwife I was to be put on constant monitoring. Was it necessary? Now, I'm not so sure but hey-ho, I was so 'in the zone' that nothing could phase me or distract me. I just wanted to meet my little boy. Whatever birthing experience I had, it was going to be perfect.
I can credit my open mind, calmness and positivity to the Calm Birth School. The affirmations I listened to on a daily basis were a constant in my mind and really helped to get me through. A particular favourite was 'my surges cannot be stronger than me, because they are me.' But it was the breathing techniques that were most invaluable to me. Thanks to my hypnobirthing breathing, I was able to get through the majority of my contractions (stimulated by the drip) without any pain relief.
Throughout the hours, my drip was increased and so the surges got more and more painful but I remained calm and in the zone. The midwife and student midwife kept telling me how well I was doing and how calm I was. I remember another midwife coming into the room several times and commenting on how peaceful it was. She said it was a nice room to be in and the calmest on the unit, which made me feel even more determined to carry on with my breathing and remain strong. It was only for my last few contractions that I needed gas & air.
Finally when it came to pushing, which I believe must have been around 18:45 (such a long day) I decided to put down the gas & air and just go for it. I knew I was going to need to use all my strength to push down on the bed, so holding a mouth piece certainly wasn't an option for me. Pushing was tough and although I kept being assured that I was doing well and they could see baby, it was just taking so long to get him out. After around 2 hours of pushing and a change of midwives, my new midwife told me that she was going to have to get the doctor, as I may need a little help getting my baby out. I really didn't want forceps but at that point I was so tired and getting to the point where I was willing to try anything.
The doctor arrived shortly after and upon examining me and seeing how close I was to getting Arthur out, he thought an episiotomy would do it. Thankfully he was right! A cut was made (which isn't half as bad as you'd think it would be) and with a couple of pushes Arthur was here, pulled out by the lovely student midwife! 28th October at 21:13.
Looking at Arthur, I couldn't believe how beautiful he was or that he was actually here. The baby rolling around inside my huge bump had become the baby in my arms. It was so amazing and something I will never forget. I definitely recommend having skin to skin with your baby for as long as they'll let you after giving birth because those first moments are so magical.
Even though I didn't get to have my water birth, I didn't get my own contractions and I didn't have the birth I'd planned, it was still a calm and beautiful birth. Don't get me wrong, the pain was intense and the hours pushing felt longer than any other hours before but I felt calm, strong and empowered. Without the breathing techniques that kept me going, I dare say that I'd have needed other pain relief or maybe even required even more help getting Arthur out.
If you're considering hypnobirthing, I honestly think it'll be the best thing you do in your pregnancy and strongly urge you to look into The Calm Birth School. The knowledge you will gain and techniques you will learn will greatly assist you in labour and any other stressful situations you find yourself in. My experience taught me that a perfect birth isn't always the birth you imagine in your head but you have the power to make it calm and beautiful.