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We are so thrilled

We had decided very early on we wanted a water birth in a birth centre which also meant no epidural. I didn’t know how I would feel about that at the time but as we were having our baby at UCLH, if I changed my mind and things didn’t go to plan, we could always go to the labour ward. I suffer from Epilepsy and one of the battles was that my doctor had recommended I give birth in a Labour ward as there was a higher risk of seizure during labour. When I asked about statistical evidence of this he said all women have 1% chance of having a seizure during labour but my odds double. So at 2% chance I decided I still wanted to have my baby in the birth centre as the risks of all other unnecessary interventions that would ensue in a more medical environment outweighed the risks of a potential seizure. And surely a known risk is better than all the unknown you already have to juggle in labour. We took a chance and are so glad we did even if it meant that we had to have several difficult conversations with the medical body. Again without your insight, I don’t think we would have had the courage to challenge this. 

At week 37, I was told I was ‘measuring big’ and told I was to have a growth scan, again this wasn’t put to me as a question. We said we didn’t want a scan and left it at that, we were never bothered again about it and I thought nothing of it as I knew from what you had told us that these growth scans are not accurate and we decided it wouldn’t help us. 

We had refused to book an induction or have a sweep that had been offered on 14th August as routine.

I had my first surges at around 10pm on Saturday 17th August at 41 weeks and 3 days. I was so ready I got really excited but very shortly after that I started to really concentrate as the surges were quite intense and I felt I needed all my concentration to get through each one. I focused on my breathing and my husband set off to create the soft light atmosphere with candles and fairy lights and put my playlist on which he alternated with your Colour and Calmness tracks. 

I jumped in the bath pretty quickly and was in and out of it until we finally decided to leave for the hospital around 1.30 am. We were so keen not to get there too soon that I think we may have left slightly too late as I didn’t think I could face the cab ride. I manage to muster up all my energy and go downstairs to the cab and my husband Adam put my earphones on me with my tracks playing. I had my eyes shut during the whole journey and I was concentrating so hard on my breathing and holding on that my husband later told me he didn’t think the taxi driver knew I was in labour, he only said we were driving to hospital but didn’t extrapolate in case it was going to be an issue.

Once I arrived at UCLH hospital at 1.55 am I thought I wouldn’t be able to get out of the taxi. I felt an immense pressure building up and didn’t think I could move. I didn’t fancy having my baby in this taxi and so I didn’t have a choice and again mustered about all my energy to move and go though to the birth centre. We went straight through to the birth centre and as soon as I entered the room my waters broke in quite a dramatic way! I was so surprised as I had assumed this had already happened and if it hadn’t would only be a trickle as I knew it wouldn’t be like in the films ! The pressure relief was fantastic, I suddenly felt better and ready for the next step. 

Frustratingly they hadn’t yet run the birth pool and I felt as though I needed to get in it straight away. They wanted first to do a vaginal examination and take my blood pressure. I felt like I couldn’t do it as I just had the urge to get in the water and keep breathing. Eventually, I had to lie on my back as they wouldn’t let me go in the water unless I agreed to these examinations.

I quickly then got into the birth pool and felt an immense sense of relief. I found my corner and concentrated on my breathing. The lights were dimmed, our music was on and Adam had shared our birth plan with the midwives which included no direct interactions from them towards me unless absolutely necessary. 

This was so helpful to me as I felt in my own bubble concentrating on my breathing and thoughts. Adam was there throughout with water and offering snacks if needed (I felt quite nauseous from the surges and didn’t want anything). I tried the gas and air but it made me feel light headed and couldn’t quite get used to it so I just gave up using it and concentrated on my down breathing instead. The surges were becoming more and more intense. I kept trying to remember that the more intense they were the closer I was getting to meeting my baby and that it was a good thing. I was using all my energy to focus on breathing down and resting between surges. The midwives were checking the baby’s heartbeat throughout which was a bit distracting but I know this was necessary. When I felt like the head was crowning, I took my time and kept breathing and resting as much as possible. Once the head was out (I didn’t really know when this was) but the midwives only said one thing to me throughout labour: ‘ In your next breath your baby will be born’ 

I suddenly became aware of the enormity of the situation, it was such a great feeling and it was nearly over and I was going to meet my baby. I waited patiently for my next surge, listening to my body and waiting for the moment to breathe down. It was taking a bit longer than my previous surges so the midwives asked me to stand up quickly and the baby dropped down. The midwives lifted him up and handed him to me. He didn’t cry and looked quite peaceful, he seemed half asleep. The midwives jiggled him a bit which woke him up and he cried out. He was happy and healthy. Louis was born at 4.06 am weighing 4.8kg. 

We had agreed on delayed cord clamping and after a while the midwives gave Adam the scissors to cut the cord. He was a lovely bright pink colour ! 

In all our joy and relief, I had forgotten about the placenta… We had discussed natural expulsion so I was quite relaxed about it and was concentrating on our baby and him suckling to release oxytocin but the midwives thought there was a lot of blood in the birth pool (as you and Kemi has said, hard to quantify but we were not in a position to argue this!) so they gave me the synthetic oxytocin and to my horror started pulling on the cord.. I tried to object but it was already being done and a few seconds later the placenta slipped out. It was such a relief and such a lovely feeling that I was quite glad they had done this (only because it had gone well naturally).

They then checked if I needed any stitches but I only had a minor tear so they didn’t think any intervention was necessary. I remember you saying how your body can birth the baby you made ! I am so happy we didn’t listen to the midwives when they wanted me to do a growth scan. If I had known in advance I had to birth a big 4.8 kg baby I probably wouldn’t have had the same relaxed experience I did. I trusted my body, took my time and was able to cope.

We will never really know the extent of the effect of hypnobirthing on our baby Louis but what we can say is he is a very chilled baby, he doesn’t cry much, is generally very content and has been sleeping peacefully through the night since he was 9 weeks old. We also used colour and calmness during the first weeks which soothed him really well.

We are so thrilled we had such a positive pregnancy and birth experience and we have you and Kemi to thank for empowering us and giving us the knowledge.  -Louise

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