Hi Dani

It’s a bit of an epic, I’m afraid, but here is my birth story:

I had gone to bed quite late only to be woken just before midnight by Tom. He had diarrhoea, so Jack and I cleaned him, his bedding and the floor up before settling back to sleep…only to be woken an hour or so later when Tom was sick all over himself and his bed (Sod’s law meant that this was the night he went down with the norovirus!)

Having once again undertaken a massive clean up operation, we went to bed around 2.30…only for me to wake at 4am with a strange feeling between my legs. I got up to go to the toilet and as I did, my waters went in a gush.

My Mum came over to look after Tom, while Jack and I went into the hospital, (ABC) where they monitored me. The midwife told me that they needed to check the baby’s heart rate and to see if I was having any contractions, although she didn’t think I was having any yet. (I was!)

This was the most nerve-wracking bit of the whole experience, because I could see that at one point the baby’s heart rate had dropped: this was what happened last time and what led to us being transferred to the delivery suite (and the beginning of the cascade of interventions).

I began to get a sense of déjà vu when the midwife said they’d have to monitor me for a bit longer because she thought that the baby might be getting distressed.

I was already using the hypnotherapy techniques to deal with the contractions, so I decided to stop looking at the read-out and to just concentrate on relaxing as much as possible, whilst listening to the hypnotherapy track on my ipod (realising that my stress was probably what was affecting the baby in the first place!) When the midwife went out, Jack also ‘shook the apples’ which worked brilliantly!

Thankfully, all was eventually well and having been given the ‘SROM’ info we returned home. (Interestingly, the midwife who discharged me also didn’t seem to realise that I was having contractions. Also interesting to me was the fact that the first thing she mentioned in her ‘discharge spiel’ was induction: …”if you haven’t had the baby within 48 hours, then you will be induced” etc. I was pretty sure the baby would have arrived by then but, what a way to approach it, mentioning the intervention first rather than reassuring you with the fact that most women will go into spontaneous labour!

We got home around 8am, where I sat on the birthing ball and told my Mum what had happened at the hospital. Jack gave Tom some milk, which he then sicked up on me and the birthing ball!

Once they had left, I went up to our bedroom, which was ready with everything I felt I needed to labour in comfort. Jack put the tens machine on me and I ‘got on with it’, smelling clary sage whilst leaning forward over the bed and every so often being violently sick into my specially purchased sick bowl! (At least I knew this time why this was happening – it just meant my body was preparing to birth my baby.)

I also made a lot of long, low moans, mainly because it helped me deal with the sensations, but also because Jack wanted to time the contractions from the next door room (I didn’t want him near me – but not in a bad way).

I was determined to stay at home as long as possible, especially after last time, but around 11am, Jack told me that the contractions were getting really close together and that he thought it was time to be going in. He was really useful in this respect – I was able to totally concentrate on being in the moment and dealing with each contraction, while he timed them and made the judgement as to when to go in. (We arrived at the hospital at 11.50am and the baby was born at 12.40pm, so he did his job well!)

Once in the ABC, the midwife introduced herself, took a urine sample and palpated my stomach. I asked for gas and air, then stood by the bed, leaning over a few pillows (mine!), tens machine in one hand and gas mouthpiece in the other.

I had barely had a chance to take off my knickers, when I felt the URGE TO PUSH!

It was amazing, and just like you and Ina May described. There was nothing I could have done to stop it, even if I had wanted to and it felt very good because I knew I was nearly finished (and I hadn’t even had the self doubt phase!).

Leon came out in three pushes – weighing 9lb 9oz, (bigger than Tom) – but this time helped out by gravity.

The cord was around his neck three times, but just like Ina says, no problem – the midwife simply unwrapped it and told me when to push again.

The midwife was the polar opposite of the ones I had at Tom’s birth. She was a community midwife who had been called in to help because the ABC was so busy, and she was brilliant. An example of how good she was, was when I got a bit fed up waiting for the placenta to come out naturally and just wanted to hold Leon: instead, she encouraged me to go with what I’d planned, to get into another position and keep trying, rather than have the injection.

So, I didn’t get to have a water birth after all but it was perfect just the way it happened– no interventions, no checking how dilated I was, no timings, no drip, no catheter, no episiotomy, no lying on the bed – just me, at home, on my own, blinds drawn, feeling safe until I absolutely had to go into hospital.

Natal hypnotherapy was a big part of why it went so well – and I’m also very grateful to you for telling me to read Ina May. Jack used to see me reading ‘Effective Birth Preparation’ and ‘Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth’ every night in the run up to labour (and making notes) and joked that it was like I was studying for an exam, but that’s exactly how it felt. Last time, I didn’t really have a clue what was happening but this time, I was as prepared as I could have been!

Emma – Watford