First time mum hospital water birth

20 Nov, 2023

.one_time_btn { display:none !important; }Henry James Wilson was born on Tuesday 28th April 2020 at 10:20am weighing 7lbs 6ozs. He was born on the labour ward of Frimley Park Hospital.


As my pregnancy progressed I was nervous and scared about childbirth – how would I cope, would the pain be too much, what if it didn’t go to plan? I knew I needed to read and learn a lot in order to feel prepared and relaxed. A couple of friends had recommended hypnobirthing and so my husband Sam and I booked on to a course with a great midwife, doing face to face sessions with two other couples. We loved learning all about what my body would be doing at each stage, what techniques we could implement to remain calm and how to set up our calm birthing environment. All of this preparation, along with NCT classes, made us both feel so much more prepared and ready to face birth as a team (as ready as you can be for your first baby!) Facing giving birth during the Covid pandemic meant there were a lot of worries and concerns in the build up, so practicing our hypnobirthing techniques and breathing really helped in the weeks leading up to our due date.


I was due on Tuesday 21st April, this date came and went, and I was booked in for my 41 week midwife appointment on Wednesday 29th in the hope that I would go into labour naturally before then, and not have to consider being induced, which I really didn’t want. On my due date we had a lovely date night, we watched The Greatest Showman, ate sweets and popcorn and a cake I had made that day. I wanted the day to be positive and fun, rather than feel disappointed that I was still pregnant and having to tell multiple people who messaged that there was in fact no baby yet!


That weekend was pretty relaxed, which included making flapjacks, some weeding in the garden and the important job of clearing out the under stairs cupboard (nesting in full swing by this point, having had over 3 weeks of maternity leave already!), not to mention our daily walk which we started to refer to as our ‘yard time’ for the day!

On our Sunday walk I started getting some really minor period pain type cramps which I didn’t think too much of, possibly just some Braxton Hicks starting (we didn’t want to get too excited in case it was a false alarm). These went away until the next day and when the sensations started to ramp up on Monday evening we thought ok this is definitely it, time to get excited! We decided to call Frimley Park Hospital triage line at around 10pm to notify them I thought I was in labour, after about 5 minutes of Sam speaking to the midwife she asked my name, to which she then replied “Sam it’s Amy”, one of my very close friends! I was so glad to hear her voice and was so happy it was her on the end of the phone! She said it definitely sounds like I was in labour, and advised me to try and get some rest, see how things develop and call back when things were progressing more. So off we went to bed, not thinking I’d be able to sleep but determined to try! I didn’t sleep a wink and woke Sam up at around 1am when contractions were ramping up and feeling more intense. He ran me a bath with some lovely candles, where I spent the next couple of hours. We used the Freya app, a great mixture of hypnobirthing quotes, music and a surge/contraction timer which was great. We practiced our breathing techniques learned during hyonobirthing and I sniffed the some essential oils to help with labour. The app really helped us both focus and get through every surge, knowing it would only last a short while and then get easier. It notified us when I was having 3 contractions in 10 minutes and said it was probably time to go to hospital as I was in established labour! I got out the bath and we got the final bits ready to go to hospital. At this point I was the calm one, rocking away on my birthing ball and calming Sam down, who was now rushing about trying to gather up last minute bits around the house to take with us! I used a TENS machine from this point onwards which was so amazing, it sends little pulses of electricity to points on your back which really help manage the sensations and focus my mind during a surge. Sam had set up loads of candles in the lounge and put the blinds down, so it felt like our calm, relaxing little labour haven.

We called Frimley a few times to keep them updated on progress and so they knew when we were coming in. We left home around an hour after the app told us to go to hospital; I didn’t want any chance of being sent home again so wanted to make sure I definitely was in established labour. 


We finally went in to Frimley at 5:30am on Tuesday morning. The journey was short, no more than 10 minutes, as the roads were so quiet and it was raining. Due to Covid restrictions Sam was only allowed in to hospital when I was in established labour and was supposed to drop me at the front entrance to make my own way up to the labour ward. As my surges were so regular and strong by this point, he walked me up to the labour ward, and we had to stop several times while I had contractions. The hospital was so quiet, I don’t even remember seeing one person as we made our way up (although maybe that was just my hypnobirthing bubble I was in, blocking everything out!) When I arrived to the labour ward I was examined and I was 7cm dilated!! The combined relief of being able to stay, Sam being allowed to come up and that things were definitely progressing well was amazing and I burst into tears! Even though the surges were regular and strong, I was nervous that I wouldn’t be as far along as I thought and that I’d be sent home. 

I called Sam (who was waiting in the car park) and told him to come up with all the bags! By the time I’d got my leggings back on, had another contraction or two, and opened the door of the examination room Sam was already waiting right outside with all our stuff! I remember then seeing one other woman in labour in reception, but apart from her it was so quiet and I barely saw anyone else. It felt like our very own birthing ward!


The midwife went to set up a room for us (I forgot to tell her at this stage that we were hoping for a water birth so we actually had 2 rooms we used, one normal room she had already set up and a room opposite which had the pool in). At this point the Mulberry suite (midwife led centre) was closed due to Covid, but the labour ward rooms were so lovely and exactly how I imagined them to be on the Mulberry ward, nice and dark, relaxing and unmedical.


We set ourselves up in the first room while the pool was being prepared. At this point (around 6:30am) Sam text both our mums to let them know I was in labour.


I got into the pool at around 7am, not batting an eyelid that I was completely naked and didn’t think to put on the bikini top I’d packed in my bag (my birthday suit was clearly very apt for my baby’s birthday!) I remember the water being super hot and Sam thought that too, I wondered maybe they just let you have it hotter in hospital to help with the pain. Anyway, I adjusted to the heat and settled into the pool where all being well our baby would be born!


Sam kept going back and forth to the other room to get things from ours bags (LED candles, drinks, snacks, etc) so after a while I said “just bring the bags in here so you don’t have to keep running back there”! We had brought so much food in with us as we didn’t know how long we’d be in for and Sam couldn’t leave to get anything once he was in; we looked like we’d bought half the kitchen with us! The midwife switchover happened shortly after I got in the pool and we then had the lovely Sarah, who had previously given birth to her daughter in that very pool! The first thing she did was take the temperature of the pool and realised it was too hot, so added some cold to make it more bearable! She read through our birth plan whilst sat next to the pool; she pretty much just left us to it and I barely noticed she was there. Every now and then she checked baby’s heartbeat and had a little look underwater with the mirror. I remember her saying how calm I was and how great I was doing.


I completely got into the hypnobirthing zone, using the gas and air, eyes closed, swaying from side to side, imagining my happy place. We learned this in hypnobirthing, to go to your calm happy place to make you feel relaxed; mine was drinking wine in our old mill wedding venue in France, and also picturing holding my baby after he had been born (not that I knew it was a boy at this point!) I also remember a lot of the hypnobirthing phrases which I’d had pinned up in the kitchen for weeks leading up to this moment, especially the one that said ‘each surge brings you closer to meeting your baby’. The whole pool experience was so calm, I felt in complete control and able to work through each surge with my breathing exercises and the gas and air. Sam was incredible at keeping me focused on my breathing, passing me water and feeding me haribo when I pointed to them. I don’t think he appreciated having his hand crushed during my surges! 


At one point I remember a feeling of intensity and I said to Sarah ‘is this the head?’ At this stage my waters still hadn’t broken and so she said ‘maybe, why don’t you feel down to see if you can feel it?’ I did and at that point i felt a big gush and I popped my waters myself!


During our hypnobirthing classes I remember learning about the ‘transition phase’ where you feel like you can’t go on and things get more intense. I definitely remember this as an overwhelming feeling that my body wanted to push, it felt like needing to push a poo out, except I wasn’t doing any of the pushing! It was the strangest feeling I’ve ever experienced as I didn’t have any control over it, my body was taking over and doing the pushing for me (that’s not to say it wasn’t tough!!) I remember asking several times if the second midwife was in the room yet as I wanted to know if I was close to the end (Sarah had told me she’ll call another midwife in when the baby is close to coming out). When she said there was another midwife in the room I felt a sense of relief as I knew I must be close! 

After a short while and some intense surges and pushing, Sarah looked underwater and saw the head coming. It was such a surreal experience just waiting for my baby to be born and everything then seemed to happen so quickly. All of a sudden I had one final surge and at 10:20am out came our beautiful baby into the water – Sarah whisked him straight up and on to my chest, with Sam declaring “it’s a boy!!!” Our little baby boy was popped on my chest and a towel placed over him, at which point Sam and I completely broke down in tears, sobbing at the immense relief and happiness we both felt. I did it, I birthed a baby!!! I was sooooo happy it was over and felt so incredible having given birth in the water, just what we’d hoped for!!


We did delayed cord clamping and Sam cut the cord. After about 15 minutes I got out of the pool, and lay on the bed next to the pool to deliver the placenta. Sarah gave me the injection to speed things up, and it came out super quick.


The golden hour after Henry was born felt so long, involving lots of skin to skin, crying from Henry and the first feed! Looking back at the photos now both Sam and I look like a couple of very tired rabbits stick in the headlights, and that’s exactly how we felt! Plus so in love with our new little bundle of joy!


After this things were a bit of a blur, but I had to have some stitches as had a second degree tear. I struggled with the stitches as I hadn’t prepared for this and didn’t know what to expect, whereas I’d done so much research about the labour! I definitely overdid it a bit with the gas & air for this bit, as Sam had to tell me to lay off it after a while!


Sam got to stay for 6 hours after the birth, which was so special and completely unexpected; we’d heard other couples being separated after only an hour after birth so 6 was amazing! We decided that I would stay in overnight to get some help with feeding as Henry hadn’t fed much since he was born. It was so tough when Sam was sent home around 4pm, at which point Sarah wheeled Henry and me round to the post-natal ward. It took quite a while for a midwife to come and see us and I remember just lying on the bed looking at Henry and thinking what do I do now?! Is someone going to come along and tell me how to look after my baby?


There were around 5 other new mums with their babies in the ward, who came and went over the next 24 hours. Because nobody could have any visitors there was a really nice atmosphere between the mums, all talking to each other and giving advice. I am so glad we stayed in as I get so much more confident in being a mum when we left! We weren’t ready to be discharged until around 6pm the next day; Sam was waiting outside the post-natal ward and we were reunited as a family of 3. Homeward bound to settle into our newborn bubble!

Posted by Little Birth Company Trained Instructor: Fiona Wilson