I’ve been meaning to write and say thank you so much for your session with us back in the Spring, and to tell you that all went well with the birth of F, at home as we had hoped.
She arrived on 6th April, a week ‘late’ but perfectly on time given that our midwife Kate came back from a week’s holiday that day.
I felt the first twinges at about 3 in the morning but was able to snooze until 5ish when I got up and pottered to let Gav sleep a bit longer. Things got stronger around 6am, so I woke him up and he was able to put the pool up and get a few things ready before J woke up. He called my brother who came to pick J up around 8, which worked out perfectly so that Gav and I could focus completely on the birth.
When Gav called the Homerton at 8am we couldn’t believe it to hear that Kate had literally just started her first shift back from holiday, and would be able to come straight to us. She was joined by Laticia and together they made a brilliant team, both unobtrusive but also amazingly supportive and encouraging.
They had both arrived by 9am, and unlike at Js’s birth, I felt in control and present enough to chat with them, whereas first time round I really retreated into a kind of ‘zone’. I had spoken previously with Kate about wanting to minimise the number of examinations I had, or even to not have any at all. So when she arrived she was very good and asked me if I wanted one or not, and if I had one did I want to know how dilated I was (first time around I had found it discouraging and confusing to be told I was ‘only’ 3cm, then suddenly 8cm etc). In the event I felt that all was going well and so asked her to go ahead and tell me – the examination wasn’t painful at all this time (maybe I was more relaxed as I knew Kate so well) and I was excited to hear I was well dilated after only a few hours of regular contractions.
Up to this point I’d been managing the contractions by squatting and leaning on our sofa, concentrating on breathing deeply and slowly, and smelling lavender oil which I had sprinkled on a pillow. But the contractions were now getting stronger so I asked Kate and Laticia if they were happy for me to get into the pool. It was absolute bliss to get in! As during J’s birth, I found it amazing how effectively warm water can relieve the pain of the contractions, and how much easier it is to change position and move around when supported by the water.
The next couple of hours were exactly as we had hoped – Gav lit some candles, we had Otis Redding playing and Kate and Laticia basically left us to it except for popping in to listen to the baby’s heartbeat (which Laticia did while I was in the pool). Gav made sure I drank and ate (guava juice and dried apple which I had prepared in advance and was grateful for!) and reminded me to go for a wee as often as I could. I was still mainly squatting during the contractions, or kneeling – it was wonderful to be able to move freely and be upright, compared to lying on my back on a hospital bed with J.
Then at about 11am Laticia used a mirror to check what she called my ‘external signs’, which she said were excellent, and sure enough soon afterwards I felt the need to push. During one the early pushes I felt a pop and a rush as my waters broke, which was an interesting feeling and a great relief!
Now that I was in the pushing stage both midwives came into the room (they’d previously been sitting in the kitchen except when coming in to do checks), and they were really encouraging – quiet and calm but enthusiastic. Gav was amazing – he had been holding my hand amd squeezing it during contractions, which I found helped me focus and feel supported through each one. Now that I was pushing I needed to squeeze his hands, and then to lean my full weight on him.
It was incredible to gradually feel the baby get lower and lower, and then to hear from the midwives that they could see a head. I really couldn’t believe that it was all going so well and smoothly, and that we might actually be going to have the baby at home! After our experience transferring in to hospital with J I think I had just mentally prepared myself for having to transfer in again, somewhere at the back of my mind.
Each push was definitely painful, but I still felt I could cope, by focusing on breathing and really leaning on Gav. After not quite an hour of pushing I felt the huge relief of the head coming out. Gav was able to see the baby’s face as she turned and freed her shoulders (I could feel her moving of her own accord!) before shooting out with one final immense push. Kate helped me to scoop her up and untangle the cord from around her neck, and then I was able to hold her on my chest in the pool and discover that she was a girl!
As we had discussed, the midwives left us in the pool for half an hour or so, I just kept her half under the water to keep her warm, and was able to give her her first feed. We then got out and moved to the sofa, where we agreed to cut the cord as it had stopped pulsing.
Gav then held F against his bare chest to continue the skin-to-skin contact, while I delivered the placenta. This was something we had discussed as I had officially had a post-partum hemorrhage with J and so the standard NHS advice was for me to have the injection to bring on delivery of the placenta straight after the baby was born. We had researched this and decided to wait and see before having the injection, which Kate had agreed to. In the end the placenta came of its own accord about 45 mins after the baby arrived, and arrived with just one uncomfortable push. As I was bleeding fairly heavily at this point the midwives then gave me the injection to contract the uterus, but with no feeling of panic or urgency, just as a precaution.
Next Kate had a look to see if I needed any stitches, which I did as I had a small tear. Kate said that it was in a slightly awkward position so normally they would send me in to hospital for a doctor to do the stitches, but she knew how keen we were to avoid going in to hospital so said she was able to do them herself if we were happy. She did an amazing job with me sitting on the sofa, legs up on two chairs and her sitting on the floor using Gav’s head torch to see what she was doing! The stitches didn’t cause me any problems this time around, and healed in a week or so – very different to when they got infected after J was born and I had such a miserable first few weeks physically.
Kate and Laticia then did a great job of cleaning up both me, F and the room, and even helped Gav to sort out the pool. We all then had some tea and ginger cake, and by about 3 they were done and left us to get to know F. It seemed incredible and wonderful to be in our own home, eating soup and toast, having only felt the first contraction that morning. At about 5pm my brother brought J home and there we were, a family of four (plus Humphrey! who had also spent the day with my brother)
Obviously many things are different with a second baby, not least the fact that the baby themselves is a different person, but we do both feel that F’s wonderful arrival into the world had an impact on her first few weeks – she seemed very alert to what was going on (perhaps as I hadn’t had to have any drugs or hormones during the birth).
I have a much clearer recollection of the birth this time round, and remember it strongly as a very positive experience from start to finish. I think Gav and I both were on a high for a good few weeks afterwards!
F has continued well and is a hilarious baby – spends a lot of her time when not asleep or feeding in laughing at us and her brother.
Thank you so much for all your support this time around, and for your original hypnobirthing course – we really felt we were able to put everything into practice this time, the stars must have been aligned, and we really had what felt like the perfect birth!
I didn’t mean to write such an essay, but it’s a joy to recall it all 🙂
Hope all is very well with you – we have recommended you to a few pregnant friends, and hope they enjoy your course as much as we did!