Camilla and Baby William
I’d struggled emotionally during my pregnancy and had made a commitment to the baby that I would birth them as gently and smoothly as I possibly could and that I wouldn’t complain during the labour. However, before I’d done the course I was totally resigned to the fact that it would be exhausting and that I would be in a lot of pain throughout.
After the hypnobirthing course: I felt confident about the birth and almost excited to put all that I’d learnt into practice. I felt that I better understood the physiology of labour which helped me to feel empowered and prepared rather than feeling like labour was an abstract notion full of negativity that I would just have to ‘deal with’ when the time came. I did naturally have some doubt about my ability to use the tools I’d learnt and how effective they would be when things really got going, but I was more curious then apprehensive in the lead up to the birth.
I went a week overdue but the midwifery team that I was under were excellent and didn’t put any pressure on me to have any interventions, they left me alone and didn’t contact me which I think enabled me to relax and in turn helped labour to start naturally.
I had a long latent phase of labour whereby I started having mild surges on Friday night which then stopped all of Saturday day and then started up again on Saturday night at about 730pm (whilst watching strictly with my husband Rowan!). These mild surges continued through the night and were strong enough to stop me sleeping but didn’t seem to progress, so by the morning I was feeling a bit frustrated and concerned that the surges would stop again so at 7am on the Sunday morning I went out for a walk to bring them along a bit more. It was really quiet outside being a Sunday morning and raining which felt calming and I enjoyed breathing the cold fresh air. The surges began to get stronger during my walk and then when I got home I sat and watched some children’s tv with my two sons Harvey and Stefan which helped to increase my oxytocin and get things moving even more. At this point I also managed to eat a big plate of beans on toast to keep me well fuelled! As the surges intensified we realised it would be too difficult for Rowan to manage the two children and look after me at the same time so we asked Rowan’s mum to come and collect the boys, who left about 10am. As Rowan got the boys ready I lit my essential oil burner, drew the curtains all around the house so that it was dark, put on the mp3s and spent some time leaning on my birthing ball and breathing through surges in our sitting room where I had lots of affirmations and pictures of the boys up on the wall. The affirmations and pictures of my older children/ our wedding and other relatives in our sitting room really helped me throughout the labour. I ran a warm bath and spent time in there still listening to mp3s. I think at about 11.30 we called triage to ask for a midwife to come. Our lovely midwife Marni arrived at 12.30 where she came upstairs to find me on my bed having just got out of the bath. Between surges she took my obs and checked how dilated I was, I think I was about 6 or possibly 7cm dilated which I thought at the time ‘yeah not bad, I’m happy with that!’ (Lol!). She told me that baby would be along soon and that I was doing really well and commented that we had created a really nice environment for giving birth. A second midwife, Debbie, I think arrived about an hour after Marni, she came in very respectfully and quietly, and introduced herself when I was between surges.
After Marni arrived, Rowan went downstairs and began filling up the birthing pool which was in the kitchen. I got into the birthing pool and continued to listen to fear release and birth affirmations (my favourite during labour!). I found the birth affirmations particularly helpful as every time I’d start to fatigue of breathing through surges, phrases like ‘each surge brings me closer to meeting my baby’ would remind me what was going on and why and that it was all progress. I also found connecting with my midwifes and birth partner by talking to them and looking into their eyes really helped me to stay focused and grounded as well as provided me with reassurance when I needed it. I wanted to keep my sense of humour throughout and so laughed at peoples jokes and even cracked a few myself! The oxytocin that laughing released helped to ease discomfort. The warmth of the water and the weightlessness it gave me helped to relieve discomfort whilst in the pool. I was offered gas and air but declined as I tried it once in my first labour and it made me feel very nauseous. The surges felt manageable throughout, it was only the pushing phase where I felt that I ‘lost it’ a bit, I felt that in the last 15 - 30 minutes I started to lose control but Rowan said it was more like the last 5 minutes where I became a bit shouty!
The birthing phase: As I approached the birthing phase, I had a window of time where things calmed down and I had a moment to reflect on the labour so far. It bought a tear to my eye how manageable it had been because of the hypnobirthing and I felt quite proud of us all in the little ‘birthing team’ (myself, the baby, Rowan, the midwives and jade!). I was starting to feel tired and so was looking forward to baby being out. When I knew that baby was getting close to being born I even started wondering ‘what takeaway will we have for dinner tonight?!!’ (Haha!).
William came out with his elbow up by his ear (which the midwives said may have explained why the latent phase of labour had been so stop start) which definitely intensified the discomfort when he was born. This was the only moment in which I felt a bit desperate and questioned the midwives ‘do I really have to wait for another contraction to push again’ to which they replied in unison ‘yes!’. I think I remember Debbie telling me with some authority to keep my cool and remind me of how well I’d done so far which in that moment was just what I needed. When he finally came out fully, I was so happy and relieved. He was born lovely and pink and put straight on my chest and he was given an apgar score of 10/10 which apparently is not the norm!!
Our overall experience of hypnobirthing: For me the birth felt like a very spiritual experience. Both Rowan and I were pretty blown away by the overall experience and how effective the hypnobirthing techniques were. For me the combination of the mp3s and breathing were a powerhouse that I feel would have worked for me in any environment but I think worked to their full potential being at home. Both Rowan and I can’t recommend hypnobirthing and (where possible) home birth highly enough!
After the birth: The first hour after his birth was pretty wonderful. He was put straight to my chest and started feeding within a minute or so. We did delayed cord cutting and Rowan cut the cord once it had gone white. I watched as he tried to cut the cord with the worlds bluntest scissors which was interesting as I’ve always been quite unaware of that part before. I think about 10 minutes or so after he was born we got out of the pool as I felt the water was getting cold and also the knackered old blow up pool had several punctures and was about to flood the kitchen!! When walking through to the sitting room a lot of clots of blood came out and there was talk of me having some injection to ease blood loss and help placenta along however we realised that I hadn’t lost much blood at all in the pool and I felt confident to reason with the midwives that the placenta had always come out naturally in other labours with no problems so they allowed me to wait for placenta naturally to come out which it did soon after. Once all the initial care things had been done I had a shower and got into my comfy clothes. Rowan made us all teas and we sat there drinking tea, eating chocolate biscuits and chatting with the midwives which was such a pleasure as I felt really cared for and it was nice to give something small back to the midwives.
My birth partner: Rowan was amazing throughout the labour, just getting on with things without asking any questions. Every so often he’d tell me to have a sip of coconut water or a nibble of an ice lolly which helped to sustain my energy levels throughout. He spoke quietly and reminded me how well I was doing. Connecting with Rowan and even having a little kiss every now and then really helped to release endorphins and keep me grounded!