Sorry this has taken so long to write, I wanted to make sure I could do it justice and having three kids doesn’t really allow for much down time! This is so long so I hope you make it to the end 😂.
My pregnancy with this baby was very different from the last 2, which had been pretty easy. With this one, I had middle of the night sickness, swollen ankles and pelvic pain, you name it I seemed to get it! A combination of pilates, osteopathy with the wonderful Sarah Bayley, and swimming kept a lot of it at bay.
I also found it much harder to prepare mentally this time, I don’t know if it’s because I’d already ‘done it’ twice already, or life being generally busy, but I found myself quite anxious a lot of the time about giving birth, despite my first two births both being lovely home water births. I was dedicated to my hypnobirthing practice as ever, but I couldn’t get it to cut through with the same effect it had done previously. Thankfully you were there to encourage me gently back to a place of relaxation!!
My other two kids were born at 39 and 40 weeks, so I stopped work at 37 weeks expecting to have a couple of weeks off before I met our baby. My partner took our other two kids camping for a few days when I was 39 weeks pregnant, so my mum came to stay, and there was a night when I was sure I was going to go into labour, having quite strong surges. I didn’t, but then got a horrible cold / flu type thing, so spent 2 days lying in front of the TV. Interestingly the exact same thing happened with my second baby.
So I didn’t go into labour at 39 weeks as I’d expected to – my partner came home and I had a night of surges which went away when I got up. All I could think was ‘I’m not ready yet!’. The kids had just got back from camping, the house was a mess. Again very different to my first two births which had no warm up, started gently and progressed steadily over about 12 hours, both overnight, both autumn babies and both weighing 9lb6oz. This baby was also back to back – now I know rationally that babies can be born easily back to back / can turn during labour etc, but I wasn’t feeling terribly rational at this point, and all the negative things people say about back to back babies I found really hard to let go, despite many relaxation and fear release scripts!
We had decided to go with independent midwives for this birth when I was around 30 weeks pregnant – the wonderful Andy and Nicole at Maya Midwives. We’d had great experiences with the NHS for my previous two births, but I really wanted to have continuity of care for this birth and, because we live in Haringey, there is no home birth ‘team’ as such any more. Home births are very much possible, but with the community team, so you don’t know who will turn up at your birth, which was a big deal for me. I had also come across a few unhelpful midwives this time – your baby is too big, you might not be allowed a home birth, third babies hurt more if you’re over 35 (?!) and I felt like I’d had enough. Where as in previous pregnancies I’d always been happy to fight against these unnecessary comments, I seemed to have run out of energy this time! I hadn’t quite realised how accessible independent midwives are, I’d always thought it was something we couldn’t afford, but they are very good – offering payment plans or much reduced rates for those in hardship. A friend had happened to have her twins at home recently with Andy, and she recommended them to me. I’m a complete convert and think that if people spend money on important life events such as getting married or buying something expensive like a new laptop, then birth is absolutely as important (if not more!).
After a false start at 39 weeks, and my baby being persistently back to back despite me swimming, sitting upright and walking throughout pregnancy, having osteopathy, doing rebozo, doing spinning babies, looking at the picture of the baby in the most usual position, I started to have surges on a Friday afternoon at 40 weeks. I picked my eldest up from school and went to the park, then returned home thinking ‘this is it’. I had strong surges throughout dinner and bedtime, watched some tv and thought I’d go to bed, at which point everything completely stopped!!
Over the next week or so, I had some surges that I’d notice whilst dozing in the middle of the night. Frequent toilet trips, ballooning ankles, not leaving the house a great deal so I could nap, and soaring temperatures meant I was getting fed up and was as ready as I’d ever be. The only thing that saved me was frequent trips to the lido for swimming and ice lollies.
At almost 41 weeks (and I thought this baby would be early haha!), I woke up once again with relatively strong surges. As soon as I got up, they stopped. Arghhh. I was starting to doubt I was actually pregnant 😄. My partner dropped my eldest at school. I called the midwives because they had said to keep them updated, and I had had a show, so I told them my surges had gone but there had been some!! A friend was due to come over but I was so knackered I thought that it’d be better to have a nap, and my three year old (who hasn’t napped for a good year) decided he wanted to come for a nap with me – most odd. We had a lovely 2.5 hour nap and got up for some lunch. Sometime after lunch, I started having very infrequent, but strong surges. Having had so many warm ups, I ignored them and went about my day. My eldest was going for a play date after school, and my 3 year old was joining him. My partner left the house around 3.30 to drop my 3 year old off. I’d told him I was having surges but that they were very irregular and I’d give him a call if I needed to. I listened to some affirmations, bounced on my ball and had an ice lolly with the doors to the garden wide open – it was a glorious sunny day. At this point I thought I’d time some surges just to see what was going on. After downloading an app (usually my partner would time them but he was out!), my surges seemed to be completely irregular, one every ten minutes, then every three minutes, then every five minutes – no help what so ever as to what might be going on or if I was actually in labour (they’re clever these babies!). My partner returned home and we had a chat as to whether I was actually in labour. I wasn’t sure, but we decided to ask my mum to pick the kids up from their play date later just incase. We had not decided previously whether to have them at the birth or not, but I felt like I needed some quiet at this point! So my partner arranged that and I decided to go for a shower because I love showers and they always relax me. I also became obsessed with charging my phone because it was low on battery and I didn’t want my hypnobirthing recordings to run out.
After about half an hour in the shower I emerged and decided to call the midwives – it was about 5pm at this point, my partner also started to fill the pool (for the first time ever we were actually organized enough to have it blown up already). I also sobbed on my partner saying ‘I can’t do this’! Felt much better after a hug. I then went to the bedroom, got really annoyed at the dressing gown I’d put on so stripped naked, and got my partner to bring the birth ball up so I could sit in a corner of the bedroom bouncing on it, whilst leaning on some cushions. I also put the tens machine on which curiously didn’t help (I’d loved it in my first labour but not my second, nor this one it seemed). All this time I was still not convinced I was in ‘proper’ labour – hilarious! I found being on the birthing ball oddly uncomfortable, again something I’d loved in previous labours. After a short time I became aware that Andy our midwife had arrived and was sitting quietly on the bed. I turned to her and started crying – I don’t think I can do this! She gently rubbed my back and said she thought I might be in transition. How can I be in transition if I’m not even sure I’m in labour I thought? She asked if I wanted to try the side lying release from spinning babies – it can help to open the pelvis so can be useful for back to back babies. I didn’t but she was gently insistent. I said I’d try and as soon as I stood up I was hit by surge after surge. I’ve heard women talk of not having a break in between surges before and hadn’t understood what that was like but now I do! Each time I tried to take a step towards the bed, I was hit by another long surge, and had to lean over whatever was nearby and breathe. I tried to repeat my mantra – inhale peace, exhale tension, which I had practiced throughout pregnancy, but the surges were so strong I couldn’t get into the zone. So I just concentrated on my breathing which really helped, long slow deep breaths. I could feel my shoulders tensing and Andy was very good at reminding my gently to relax my shoulders, all the while with a gentle hand on the base of my back. At this point I’d decided there wasn’t a hope of my lying down so was refusing to, but went to the toilet for a wee – it took me about half an hour to get from the bedroom to the toilet because I had to stop every five seconds for a long surge!!
Nicole then arrived, and, hurrah, the pool was full. I got in and leant over the side, but found it uncomfortable so ended up just sitting in the pool. Not a position that I’d ever expected myself to be in! I had about a minute’s respite from surges at which point they became more instense and after a few ‘up’ surges, my body started pushing with down surges. They came one on top of each other. I couldn’t get the down breathing this time (sorry Kat 😄😄) because things were so intense and fast, but curiously I started to sing a series of long notes. I remember thinking it was absurd, but at the same time it was the only thing that seemed to help with the intensity. My partner also mentioned afterwards that he almost got the giggles a few times, but thankfully managed to control himself!! After what felt like an enormous effort, my baby’s head emerged. It felt like it went incredibly quickly and took forever at the same time. Her head was massive (the second biggest the midwives had seen in 16 years apparently), so it was not surprising it felt like that and took a while to come out. Amazingly, she seemed to have turned at some point during labour, and had the joy of facing my bottom! It took her quite a while to turn, so she was in the pool with her head out for what felt like a long time. The midwives kept asking me to open my legs wider and I kept furiously shaking my head! Then she turned and came out – she was so long that he body was out but her legs still inside and I lifted her out of the pool like that. She seemed relatively cross at being born (it was hot and sunlight was streaming in to our front room) so shouted in a slightly annoyed voice at us for a while! She was the most beautiful creature. Andy and Nicole were wonderful and sat quietly watching. At this point we didn’t know if she was a boy or girl and, after about ten minutes, they asked if we wanted to check. I had just assumed it was a boy (I have 2 already), so was really surprised to find we had a girl.
The hour after birth was lovely, we sat on the sofa (I had delivered my placenta in the pool shortly after giving birth) with our lovely new baby for an hour whilst Andy and Nicole sat talking quietly in another room. When she’d had a feed, my partner cut the cord and tied the cord tie on, and we weighed her – 10lb7oz!! We also gave her vitamin K – never very nice but something we’d decided we wanted to do after thorough research. I had torn a very small amount, but no stitches were needed. After helping to empty the pool, Andy and Nicole went home, said they’d see us tomorrow and we all snuggled up in bed together – bliss.
And all of this happened by 6.45pm, less than 2 hours after I’d called the midwives.
I think this was the least ‘hypnobirthing’ birth of all my births. I was very present during it – talking to my partner and Andy and Nicole, it was a blazing hot day, very bright. I couldn’t get into my zone and my neo cortex was definitely in use. But with all that, two of the main principles of hypnobirthing saw me through, breathing and trusting my body (and my baby). It was the most wonderful birth, and because it wasn’t the middle of the night and dark, we have some lovely pictures and a video to remember it by. Once again Kat, thank you for all your support – that’s all three of our babies who you’ve helped bring into the world.
Chloe & Alex x x