Planning for a natural childbirth
Two years ago I had a wonderful and very positive natural childbirth with Sydney. My labour was roughly three hours long and completely un-medicated. (you can read the full story here). For my second birth I wanted the same experience but as a home birth. My main reason for this was because it would mean less time away from Sydney. I also know in a low risk pregnancy home births are safer, and usually progress quicker. Plus although my first labour was great, I didn’t like being on the hospital ward afterwards.
I started practicing my hypnobirthing techniques at around 25 weeks pregnant. At first just once or twice a week, and as the pregnancy progressed increasing this to every other day. Fortunately, as a hypnobirthing teacher, I spend a lot of time talking about birth! Which means that all the positive affirmations and vibes would have already been having an affect on me before I was even pregnant. Although you can not guarantee a natural childbirth, I knew that my hypnobirthing techniques would help make this more likely.
Early stage of labour
Sydney woke me up at around 7am, I took him into my bed and we read some books together. Soon after I had a quite intense contraction, which came out of nowhere. I’d had no other labour signs, unlike with Sydney, where my waters went a couple of hours before labour started. I was able to breathe through the contraction, and although I knew it wasn’t a braxton hicks I also didn’t think that it was labour starting.
At around 7.30 I phoned my Mum to see if she was available to come and get Sydney if needed. I wasn’t in active labour so was able to talk to her perfectly normal, and just explained that the baby might arrive that day. Unfortunately, she wasn’t around so me and my husband Matt had to start thinking of another plan. Matt phoned his sister, who agreed to come and collect Sydney after breakfast.
At this point I’d had a few more contractions, but I still felt quite in denial that this was labour. This was because I had expected my labour to be fairly similar to my first, and so far it was very different! I’d expected a night time natural childbirth, and to not have contractions straight away. I packed a bag for Sydney and helped to prepare him some breakfast. When I found myself swaying my hips through a contraction I finally admitted the baby was on the way. My body was clearly progressing quickly and the movements were keeping me comfortable.
I knew I needed to be in water, but I didn’t want the birthing pool to be filled up with Sydney around. Instead, I went upstairs to run a bath. I also told Matt that I needed to concentrate on getting into the hypnobirthing zone, so could not mentally concentrate on anything else. This meant he would have to quickly hand Sydney over and then fill the pool.
Once I was upstairs, Matt phoned the hospital to arrange for the midwife to come out to me. I’d only had a few contractions, so they told him to call back once they were every 10 to 15 minutes. Matt then phoned my sister, a midwife. She told him to explain to the hospital that my last labour was only three hours long, so it would be best not to wait. However, Matt was unable to get through to the hospital again.
Once I was in the bath, Sydney had been collected and my sister (my second birth partner) arrived I mentally relaxed a bit and active labour started. This was around 8.30am. Active labour is often described as when “your contractions will suddenly require more of your attention. If you could walk and talk through your contraction before, you probably can’t now.”
I listened to a relaxing natural childbirth script which was half an hour long. It was the same hypnobirthing script that I used in my first labour. Although I knew the script to be very effective, I didn’t feel as if I was getting into a deep enough relaxation. This is because my labour was progressing so fast there wasn’t enough time to switch off between each contraction. To help make my breathing more effective I moved my hands up and round my belly, to mimic the movement of the breath. This wasn’t something I had practiced during pregnancy, but it felt right at the time.
Throughout this time I was in the bathroom alone. Matt was filling up the birthing pool. My sister was downstairs listening to my progress, knowing that I would birth better un-observed. My midwife hadn’t arrived at this point as Matt had not been able to get through to the hospital again. As a last resort my sister sent a facebook message to my community midwife who luckily was on call! (a great benefit of having a midwife for a sister).
After listening to my script for half an hour, although not in a deep relaxation, I knew that I was not going to be able to relax any more. Instead I put on a hypnobirthing music playlist that I’d found on spotify. At this point I remember being confused about how irregular my contractions were. One stopped and another started immediately afterwards. What I should have realised was that my contractions were not irregular, my body was getting ready to push.
The natural childbirth of Robyn
My midwife Jane arrived at 9.00am. Already in the birthing zone, I was not able to communicate too much with her. I had been laying on my back in the bath, which is not an ideal position for giving birth. I knew I needed to be upright, so moved into a kneeling position. As soon as I did, my body took over and began to push.
Jane asked to listen in to the baby, but I told her no as the head was coming! I struggled to get comfortable enough to allow my body to open and release the baby. This is because the bath was too narrow for me to open my legs wide enough. Jane told me to turn around and face outwards. Once I had done this I was comfortable enough to birth. Robyn was born at 9.09am, with two pushes for her head and one push for her body.
The labour and birth was so fast, there was no way that I could slow it down. My body instinctively knew what to do and took over. Although this was not the birth that I had carefully planned for, birthing naturally at home was a great experience.
After the birth
Once Robyn was born, everything afterwards also happened very fast. I had planned to have a golden hour with Robyn once she was born. The golden hour is when mother and baby are left alone, to bond, with no intervention immediately after birth. However, this was not possible as the bath was not very big and the water was starting to get too cold for her. Instead Matt took her downstairs for some skin to skin.
Whilst Matt and Robyn were downstairs, I birthed the placenta and was examined too see if I needed stitches. (Which I didn’t). I was then able to go downstairs and give Robyn her first feed, and to eat myself. By 11am the midwife had left, and we were enjoying a nice cup of tea on our sofa. Having a homebirth meant that I could be comfortable immediately after birth, instead of waiting on a hospital ward to be discharged. It was a brilliant start to becoming a parent again.