I saw a few posts on Facebook and when I read the comments, I realised the idea of hypnobirthing was growing on me. As soon as I was in touch with Sarah, she was really helpful and understood where I was coming from.
I was a nervous second-timer. My previous labour 9 years ago was an uncomplicated 4.5 hours and I'd used some improvised counting/breathing techniques and wasn't worried about pain. However I'd had a bad tear with the delivery and was very nervous that the same would happen again. I felt that it was inevitable.
Before the tear with the first, I'd felt very positive overall about labour and delivery. I wasn't too nervous about it and felt happy that I knew my options in terms of pain relief and procedures. I had expected to be induced the next day at 40 weeks plus 13 days, so when I realised (during a shopping trip) that it was labour rather than Braxton Hicks, I was delighted, and coped at home for about another hour before we headed to hospital.
Although I'd hoped to use the pool, I did a lot of walking in the first couple of hours of labour and perhaps because of that, was 10cm dilated when I arrived. We didn’t make it up to the ward and I delivered my son in the assessment room, though I wasn’t disappointed in the way it worked out. He arrived quickly but very lively and well, and giving him the first cuddle, I had a big soppy grin.
The session with Sarah (I didn’t have time to do the full course, but in retrospect wish I had) was the day after I stopped work, and it was the first point in the whole pregnancy when I had really spent any time actually preparing for the birth and thinking about how I felt and my expectations.
Again, I knew my options and all about the COVID-related changes, but I hadn't considered how I felt, or addressed my worries and thought about any useful techniques.
To sit down that morning with a cup of tea and talk through everything was invaluable. Sarah was able to help me overcome my fears regarding a tear, and understand that it was not inevitable and that there were things I could do to work with my body in order to lessen the risk. I came away from the session informed, supported, and confident.
At the end of the session, a guided meditation (something I've never been able to do successfully) left me feeling incredibly relaxed and ready.
It was surprisingly natural working via Zoom- it's not something I'm familiar with using at work, but it worked really well and was comfortable.
I feel very lucky in a number of ways, though it is quite surreal to look back on.
What could have been a scary experience was actually calm and really lovely, and I feel really grateful about the way things worked out.
The day started with the session with Sarah in the morning, which turned out to be good timing!
The rest of the day consisted of packing for a house move, and a hair trim courtesy of my sister (we’re her lockdown support bubble). In the afternoon, my sister and I drove to my 40 week appointment and everything was fine, 1/5 engaged but no indications of things kicking off.
On the way back, I had a sense of being ready to meet our new baby.
We got home at 4.30pm and not long after, I realised waters had started to go (just a little). I told my husband, son and sister, called the triage line and discussed what to do when contractions start. As I came off the call, a few minutes before 5pm, a gentle ache started at the bottom of my stomach. This very quickly turned into increasingly strong but manageable surges, which were 3 in 10 minutes almost immediately, and we got our bags together, rushing about and feeling very excited.
We arrived at the hospital at 5.25pm. My sister took our older son to hers, and I went in to the Maternity block alone for assessment (wearing a mask and very hot and sweaty).
By this point, I was having to sway and count through each contraction, however I felt that I would have perhaps hours more like this, so kept calm and just tried to relax into it.
I found that the birthing pool room on the Rushey Ward was available for us, and my husband re-joined me and we went up. By the time we got into the room, the contractions were right on top of one another with no gaps. We put the bags down, and I felt calm, but could barely stand.
Holding onto the walls I went toward the loo, and as soon as I sat down, an incredibly powerful urge suddenly took over my whole body and I shouted to my husband ‘Get the people!’.
Midwives instantly helped me off the loo and I lunged toward the chair, kneeling in front of it and holding onto the handles.
The surge was incredible and I was bearing down for just a few seconds. I couldn’t believe it when the midwife behind me said ‘Beautiful! That’s his head’. Instantly, a second surge delivered the rest of him. ‘Perfect!’, the midwife exclaimed, and helped me turn around to sit, while passing this beautiful baby up to me to lie on my chest.
He was born at 6pm weighing 6lb6, small but perfect, calm and beautiful, and I was feeling deliriously happy and in a bit of disbelief.
Labour was just one hour in total, with 30 minutes of it in hospital, and it felt shorter. The second stage was so short - perhaps one minute long- in two pushes he was magically here with us.
The swaying and counting was helpful in the short time in the assessment room, but overall there wasn’t really time for me to use any of the specific techniques in labour - as it advanced so quickly I wasn’t able to get into much of a rhythm.
However, knowing that I had the techniques and tools was calming, and although I had no pain relief, the mental state that I was in, helped by Sarah’s preparation, meant that there wasn’t any point when I thought it was getting too much to cope with.
I don’t remember it as painful at all, and the surges that delivered him were the most incredible feeling.
I used hypnobirthing methods afterwards; a very minor tear was sutured with the help of the ‘square’ breathing technique that Sarah taught me.
I felt wonderful through all this, almost invincible. It had all happened so quickly, but still with an element of control and a lot of positivity.
I think the calmness and the feeling of being really lucky has continued throughout these early weeks, and I hope it stays.
Physically, baths with essential oils / postpartum ‘tea’ (even if they are shallow and really brief) were helpful in healing.
Emotionally, a detailed chat with a trusted friend (a fellow mum if possible) is great for getting your thoughts and feelings in order.
It’s really important as well to give yourself a break from comparisons to anyone else, or any self-criticism. Enjoy feeling proud of what you and your body has achieved, and be kind to yourself.
I’m so relieved that we managed to arrange the session despite the problems I faced time-wise, and I would recommend Sarah’s sessions to anyone, even those who aren’t sure it’s their kind of thing.
If it can be really helpful in an incredibly short labour, I can only imagine how much it would help in a more typical labour of several hours!
24 August, 2020