We found out we were pregnant and were absolutely thrilled, excited, nervous: all the normal emotions. But as the first trimester continued my nervousness and fear about actually birthing a baby started to get quite real. I heard about hypnobirthing from my friend and decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did! As the fear I had been feeling was replaced with knowledge, empowerment and excitement.
The night before my due date I began to feel some period pain like sensations every 2 hours or so but not at all painful so I could sleep in between and in the morning take the dog for a short walk. I was pretty sure that this was the start of labour but felt very calm and very much in control. Being my due date, I had a midwife appointment scheduled: A member of the home birth team was due to come and visit as we had planned a home birth a few months previously. Though a week prior to our due date, we had amended our birth plan to head to the birth centre due to my placenta having an extra lobe and some increased risk around needing a blood transfusion. Even though this was a different plan. We were really happy with our decision to head to the hospital and felt really well informed and completely supported the whole way.
By midday the contractions were starting to ramp up, I popped the tens machine on and sat on my birthing ball and tried to watch a film and eat a banana. Soon, it was getting pretty intense and focussed in to my hypnobirthing tracks and concentrated on breathing through the ever-increasing contractions. I began to use the contraction app and was told I was in active labour and things were intensifying really quickly. By 1:00 p.m I got in the tub at home, having still got all the home birth kit to hand, I found this really relaxing and comforting knowing that if I still wanted the home birth, I could just stay put. But by 2 I was really ready to go to the hospital. I donned my sunglasses and my tens machine and headed straight there (despite being told to wait an hour - but my body knew that it was time).
Once there I agreed to a vaginal exam and was told I was 6 cm dilated and ready to head to the pool. 10 minutes later my water's broke and before the tub was even filled to the brim I got into the pool and began to feel really intense contractions. At this point I had some gas and air and settled into some controlled breathing, trying to keep the panic from creeping in.
Once in the pool I found my position, on all fours with hands on the bars of the pool and focussed on my partner and getting through each surge. (May I just say how incredible Rich was supporting me through each stage of labour, couldn't have done it without him) The hardest thing was not knowing how far into labour I was (thinking: is this going to last 10 hours or 10 minutes?) I became a little spaced out from the gas and air and needed some guidance from my partner. All the while the midwife remained quiet and very much in the background letting me do my thing. After the most powerful contraction yet, I reached down and felt the head and with one more push, completely controlled by my body's instincts, my baby swam up between my legs: I scooped her out and cried tears of joy.
From arriving at the birth centre to holding my baby girl, Lola, it had been less than two hours. Such a speedy delivery that after birthing the placenta a few moments after, I was informed I had sustained a third degree tear, not something I could feel with all my hormones racing around and actually not as scary as I'd once thought. All I cared about was my little girl who I was currently having skin to skin with. I headed to theatre for an epidural stitches (feeling a little disappointed that I'd have to have one after such a natural delivery that I'd hoped for, but grateful of course to get the care I needed) and let the whole amazing event try to sink in as I held my baby in my arms through the procedure.