Right from the moment I found out I was pregnant I was looking forward to the birth. I know that seems crazy but it’s something I really wanted to experience, due to a previous pregnancy that ended prematurely and the fertility issues we experienced. I also knew early on that I wanted a home birth and that I was going to be hypnobirthing. Our bundle of joy was due 6th November 2019 and we were over the moon.
One of the best books I read whilst I was pregnant was “The Positive Birth book”, this gave me a huge insight into what a birth could be like and made me feel even more excited to experience it, despite a lot of comments like “are you sure you want a home birth, it is your first time” and “I wouldn’t have a home birth for my first, you don’t know what to expect”. I knew and had the confidence, to trust my body, my baby and do what woman do naturally.
Saturday 19th October - 3 weeks before due date
Stuart and I arrived home from a long day, we were at The Baby Show in Olympia, London. We arrived home at 6pm, Stuart started getting ready to walk the dogs and I sat down on my birth ball (would highly recommend one of these by the way). At 06:30pm I felt a very strange sensation, my waters had broken or I’d wet myself. There wasn’t a huge gush but enough liquid for me to notice I was wet and it continued to constantly trickle. Stuart’s mum was looking after the dogs while we were in London, I didn’t want her to know my waters had broken so I sat on my birth ball until she had left and at 7pm we called ADAU.
ADAU advised me to go to the hospital, at this point I had no other signs of labour so they wanted to be sure it was my waters. We arrived at the hospital around 07:45pm, they confirmed my waters had broken. By now my surges had begun and were lasting around 30 seconds, I was breathing through them every 2 minutes.
I use the word surges to replace the word contractions. Contractions sounds so harsh and painful; my surges were manageable and intense. I learnt in hypnobirthing, that the language we use is so important to ensure a positive pregnancy and birthing experience.
Stuart had also been keeping an eye on my surges and started to worry, we hadn’t yet done a test run of the birth pool (I was having a water birth) and we still needed to get the waterproof membrane from his Dad’s house.
It was around 9pm by the time we arrived home. My surges became more and more intense on the journey home. I wanted to get my hypnobirthing tracks on, dim the lights and focus on my baby and my body. Stuart was the perfect birthing partner. We had discussed my birth preferences in so much detail and for so many different scenarios (should things take a different turn to my preferred birth) that he was just as confident in my wishes as me. I was kneeling over the sofa, concentrating on my breathing and listening to my hypnobirthing tracks and Stuart was getting the birth pool ready. Tea lights were scattered around the living room, hallway and downstairs toilet, this meant I could get to the toilet with the same vibe and be able to see, even with the lights off. Going to the toilet regularly during labour is so important, I remembered this from my NCT classes so I was regularly going before settling into the pool.
At 21:50 Stuart made the decision to call the midwife, my surges were coming every 2 minutes, lasting over a minute and had been since 21:30. When I spoke to her, I felt calm and in control. Lucy arrived at 22:30, Stuart greeted her and advised “I was hypnobirthing, if I felt I needed pain relief I would ask so not to offer, and if I required any help during the labour I would ask for it.” Lucy was amazing and I am forever grateful to have had her as my midwife.
I was 7cm dilated when Lucy arrived so she called for the second midwife. When you home birth you have to have two midwives, one for mum and one for baby. I was amazed and a little relieved to hear her say I was 7cms, after only 4 hours since my waters had broken.
After being checked I entered the birth pool and it was the best feeling, a sensation I can only describe as weightless. I positioned myself on my knees leaning over the side of the pool, Stuart on the floor next to me and the midwives in the kitchen, this was my preference not the norm. They would only come in to check baby’s heart rate and my temperature.
This time in the pool was incredible, the feelings and sensations during these final surges were definitely intense but totally something I could handle. Around 12:30am I had hit, what some people would call a brick wall, this is known as transition, where your body prepares to “get baby out”. I was calm and knew that it would happen, I felt confident and asked Lucy “can you see my baby’s head?” I wanted to confirm my instincts. After this I took time to rest, my surges had stopped and I knew my body needed time to relax before entering the final stages of labour. For me this time of rest felt like minutes, it turns out that I actually fell asleep for half an hour.
Just after 1am my surges started again, they felt different to before and I knew it was time to meet our bubba. I began to breathe deeply and focus all my energy on getting baby down the birth canal. I could feel everything, it was incredible! I’d had no pain relief or Entonox (gas and air) and was able to really focus on what was happening. I could feel baby moving down and I knew when baby’s head was crowning. This wasn’t painful or a burning sensation, like I had been told to expect, the best way I can describe it is a feeling of pressure.
Stuart and I had decided, before the birth, we would be the ones to deliver the baby, we had wanted to be the first people to touch or hold them when they arrived. Lucy asked Stuart to come behind me and at 01:27am our baby was earth side. I have no words to be able to explain how amazing this felt, it was magical. I turned around and Stuart placed baby on my chest. He took a look and questioned “I think it’s a girl?” I asked him to double check, there hasn’t been a girl born into the family for at least 4 generations. The midwives both laughed and confirmed baby was indeed a girl.
Not long after this I decided to get out of the pool. Lucy and Stuart helped me out with our little girl in my arms and I sat on the sofa. Our little girl then found my breast and begun to feed, that was the best feeling in the world.
While she was feeding, I was expecting more surges to deliver the placenta, I preferred to have a physiological third stage rather than an injection. After 10 minutes, I felt a few twinges and then a sudden need to stand up, thankfully Lucy was on hand and as I stood up my placenta fell out.
I continued to hold our little girl for nearly 2 hours before the midwives weighed her and did the checks they needed to do. Having skin to skin for the first hour after birth was really important to me, something I will always treasure.
Labour was recorded as 3 hours, that is the time the first midwife arrived. However, to me it was 7, either way a very short first labour.
My birth left me feeling so empowered and strong, I felt love that I had never felt before and I immediately said I would love to experience labour again. I truly believe that hypnobirthing played a huge part in my positive birth experience and would highly recommend it. Birth certainly wasn’t what I had been brought up to believe, “painful, hard, lots of screaming, lights, doctors, everything you see on the TV” instead it was calm, relaxed, intense, empowering and truly magical. Now I’ve experienced what a woman’s body is capable of, I feel able to achieve anything.
By Amber Lindsey
Instagram : @amberlindsey_newmummajourney