Bex's Birth Story
3rd July 2020
The most incredible birth during a far less than incredible time!
I was woken shortly after midnight by a contraction and knew instinctively that this was it despite the contractions at this stage being mild and irregularly. I tried to get some more rest but sleep wouldn’t come so I settled on distracting myself with a feel good film instead (Ferris Buller’s Day Off!). It wasn’t until light started to appear outside, around 4.30am, that my contractions began to get stronger and I felt like things were really starting to move.
It’d been a tough journey to get to this point!
The pregnancy itself had gone very well (except for horrible prolonged morning sickness for the first half) but being in the midst of a pandemic had completely turned our lives upside down, removing our home, work and financial security and, worst of all, throwing us into isolation at a time when I so desperately wanted to connect and share with others. My nerves about the birth and new arrival slowly turned to anxiety and, if I’m honest, a lot of the excitement that I had about becoming a mum had been lost. I started to worry if I could ever salvage my emotions enough to have a positive birth.
By luck though, we found ourselves on The Mindful Birthing Company hypnobirthing course run by Chloe. During our online classes we learnt what would happen with my body in labour and how we can manage the process in a more holistic way. A big part of the course was breaking down misconception. I’d never thought about it before but in the UK we’ve really medicalised labour and, thanks to media, the image most people have is of a woman lying on her back, legs in the air screaming!
By the end of our time with Chloe though my thinking had changed. I trusted that birth was a natural thing and my body knew what to do. Regardless of what was going on externally, I had the power to control what was happening internally. And I felt confident that I now had the tools I needed to have a calm home birth, which also had the added benefit of being away from hospitals with all their restrictions and reminders of the dreaded Corona virus!
As the intensity of the contractions increased my Hypnobirthing practices kicked in, all of them focused on being relaxed because relaxing is the biggest pain relief in labour. Gil created a calming environment, plying my favourite album (Songs of Distant Earth), dimming the lights and lighting candles. And I focused on breathing through each contraction (in through the nose, longer breath out through the mouth), using visualisations and repeating my favourite affirmations - ‘this will pass’, ‘I breath out tension and stress’, ‘Each contraction is one closer to meeting my baby’!
And it really worked. Occasionally a contraction would take me off guard before I was able to relax my body and start my breathing technique. These were noticeably more painful and stressful! The more relaxed my body was, the less I felt the pain.
Gil called the midwife at 11.15am and she asked if I wanted her to come and check my progress. I still felt very much in control but wanted the reassurance of being checked so she came shortly after. I was amazed to hear I was already 6cm dilated. Things suddenly started to move fast.
Gil set up the pool downstairs and I intuitively took myself back to my dark quiet bedroom where I leant over the end of the bed and just focused on relaxing, relaxing, relaxing. Before I knew it I was stepping in to the pool, briefly saying hi to the 2 other midwifes that had turned up at some point without me knowing! The warm water was an instant relief. It felt amazing.
Very suddenly, the intensity of my contractions started to grow. I still felt very much in control until something shifted internally, I felt a bearing down and an overwhelming sensation to push. In that moment I felt frightened by the pain and like I couldn’t do this. There was a little voice in my head that remembered something Chloe had said on the course about the transition stage when you get a rush of adrenaline and mum starts saying she can’t do it and wants an epidural. All my techniques went out the window at this point but it didn’t matter, this really was the end. ‘Just listen to your body’ I heard the midwife say. I could feel the baby coming down. Then came another contraction, out came the head. I braced myself for one final break and then one final push but my body had other ideas and in the same contraction the shoulders shot out then the bum. It was over!
I turned around and leant down to pick up my baby out of the water to bring to my chest. Until this point my baby had been such an abstract thing but suddenly in my arms, warm, heavy and very much alive, I was overcome with emotions. Love, shock, relief and pride swept through me. ‘It’s a girl’ Gil said, the first to check the gender….’we got a girl!’
After some time I moved to the sofa where the midwifes cleaned and stitched me up. They went about cleaning their items away and filling out paper work while I fed and cuddled my daughter, born at 1.45pm. Then they left us to it snuggled up in our living room. A new family. The most surreal moment of my life!
It’s hard to put into words how incredible my birth experience was and I 100% put that down to doing The Mindful Birthing Company course with Chloe. Chloe supported us every step of the way. I always saw labour as something that I had to ‘get through’ to reach the end goal - the baby. But I feel really proud of the birth I had and quite protective of the experience and the relaxed home water birth that brought my daughter into our lives. Apart from gas and air in the final stages in the pool, I used no pain relief beyond the hypnobirthing techniques I’d learnt. It was the most transformative and empowering experience of my life and left me oozing with confidence that I can trust my intuition and body as a mother. My positive birth experience has completely set me up for being the best mum that I can be!