The birth of Alexander - At Darent Valley Birth Centre
Sole and Paul took part in my group hypnobirthing course in Dartford half way through their pregnancy. As first time parent they wanted to prepare for a calm birth at Darent Valley birth centre. Sole ended up having a fast labour and only just made it to the birth centre in time! Sole writes:
I was recommended Hypnobirthing by friends and was familiar with it before I became pregnant. Colleen’s course, whilst not as local, immediately stood out to us – it was also one of the few in person courses available! And so, we attended the course in my week 18 & 19.
I felt pretty well throughout my pregnancy and kept active, but not without having a few scares that included spotting throughout the first trimester, bleeding in week 13 and being treated for suspected PPROM, being monitored for baby tachycardia a couple of times and getting covid twice! We had a few important life events coming up too and having done the course really helped with my anxiety.
And so, on the lead up to my due date we increased the frequency of Colleen’s MP3s we would listen to, put together a mood board with pictures and my favourite word affirmation cards, worked on breathing techniques and went over our notes and birth plan using the template we did at the course. I was also the least further along in the course, so reading the birth stories of the other now mums was really encouraging and empowering.
I started losing my mucus plug on the morning of my due date so I spent the day doing things to bring my oxytocin levels up as recommended; I spent some time in the garden, ate some of my favourite snacks, bounced on the birth ball along to some of my favourite shows and ran myself a bath. I started having contractions around 8pm so I put the TENS machine on and started bouncing on the ball. We decided to get into bed to get some rest but by midnight my contractions were every 7 mins. Once the contractions were 5 min apart, I rang the birthing centre and they advised to wait a little longer at home, so we decided to go for a stroll in the park behind our house to see if that would make my waters break but it didn’t so went back to the ball. I rang 40 minutes after that once my contractions were 4 mins apart and was told the same and to wait , so when I rang after another 40 mins with 3 minute apart contractions I was told to come in. Our plan was always for Paul’s parents to drive us in, so they came to pick us up – and at 4am we were on our way to the hospital! I was listening to my labour music playlist on the way there and still had the TENS machine on to manage the pain of the contractions, as well as doing the UP breath breathing technique we practiced in the course – it was the ‘car journey to the hospital’ i had envisioned for so long, but boy was I wrong…
Once we arrived my contractions were every 2 minutes apart and walking was a bit of a struggle, but I pushed through. I was told to wait in an examining room where I waited for my urine to be tested and other checks for almost an hour… FINALLY I had a cervix examination and was told I was only 1-2cm dilated. This was disappointing to hear, and I asked for pain relief. I thought to myself ‘i’m ready for the the epidural now!’. I was told to take paracetamol, have a bath and try to get some rest… We argued I was in a lot of pain and with contractions every 2 minutes I wasn’t sure when my next cue to come in would be! I was told the same and we were sent packing with an Early Labour leaflet…
Once we were home again Paul ran me a bath and I got in, but i only lasted 10 minutes as the pain was getting harder and harder to manage. My contractions were now every 60 – to 90 seconds so asked Paul to ring the birthing centre again, this was around 6:30 am. I was leaning over the ball in our bedroom on the phone to a midwife when during a contraction my waters broke, I started bleeding and my body started pushing. I remember Colleen telling us about coached pushing vs waiting for your body to push and at that moment I understood what she meant by ‘your body will know what to do’, as I couldn’t stop myself. We were of course then told to come into hospital ASAP.
I was terrified, we weren’t prepared for an unassisted home birth (who is?!), and I was going into panic mode. I sat on the toilet and contemplated getting in the bath, which was still full, but I knew that if I got in it I wouldn’t get out and we would be having the baby at home. We decided to attempt the journey in and Paul rang again to advise that we were calling an ambulance and to expect us shortly.
Luckily, his parents had pulled into the driveway so we grabbed some extra towels and we were on our way again! I’m not going to lie, at this point hypnobirthing was no longer in my mind as I was in full panic mode, trying to stop myself from pushing at every surge. Paul and his parents we were encouraging and a great support, and once we got to the hospital Paul frantically wheeled me in.
We arrived at 7:18am and Alex was born at 7:32am.
We got to the birthing centre room and was told that if I wanted to get into the birthing pool they had to listen to the baby’s heartbeat for a minute so if I wanted to get in I would have to ‘hold him in’ for the next contraction as I was crowning already. I just about managed to and finally got in the pool, had some gas and air and after a few pushes he was born! I’ll never forget the relief I felt once I got into the lukewarm water, with the encouraging words of the midwives, and finally let myself push with my body.
You can always play the ‘what if’ game, and I have wondered many times what would have happened had I not been sent home. If i hadn’t done hypnobirthing and was less composed, would the student midwife had believed me when I said I was in a lot of pain? What I do know is that hypnobirthing gave me the knowledge and tools to stay in control and calm during most of the process and that ultimately led to an amazing water birth.