I’m often nervous to share my birth story as it could be considered one of those ‘horror stories’, but I really hope that’s not what people take away. I had a great pregnancy; healthy with no complications. I practised (& taught) prenatal yoga throughout as well as practising hypnobirthing relaxations and affirmations.
My ‘Due Date’ was 31st December, but as with every year I spent Christmas at my parents house which is over 4 hours away from where I live (& therefore the birth centre I had planned to birth at)
My mum often joked that the baby would arrive while I was there with her…and as usual, she was right!! Testament to the power of feeing completely relaxed, calm & safe!
On 23rd December, after spending a lovely afternoon with all my family I relaxed in front of the tv before going to bed around 10pm. I’d been in bed for no more than half an hour before feeling my first surge. It wasn’t painful; similar to a period cramp…which I thought may have just been the result of an overindulgence on food that day!
My husband was sleeping beside me so I decided not to wake him straight away. After feeling a few more I went to the toilet and had my show…when I emerged from the bathroom my mum was stood outside of the door waiting to find out if something was happening because she’d ‘sensed’ something! – mothers intuition?!
I woke my husband up and we decided to call the local hospital – it was too early to go, but we wanted to get in touch to give them a heads up because obviously I hadn’t been under their care and didn’t want to turn up as a complete surprise! They advised to take some paracetamol & get in the bath, which I did. We dimmed the lights in the bathroom, lit a candle and put on some relaxing music, I asked my husband to put some drops of rescue remedy in my water for me, and then laughed as he started putting into the bath water rather than in my drink!!
I laboured in the bath for about an hour and half, during which time the surges were becoming more and more powerful – I breathed my way through each one & remembered what I’d learnt through hypnobirthing about the muscles of the uterus. It really helped me understand what I was feeling and embrace it rather than fighting it. I instinctively adopted an all fours position with each surge as it felt more comfortable and my husband applied pressure to my lower back, which felt really good. In the space of a few hours my contractions had become much more intense & were regular & closer together. I decided to get out of the bath and we called the hospital again, while I went to rest on the bed – we explained that I was practising hypnobirthing and how close my contractions were but when talking to the hospital, were advised to wait longer before going in. I knew to expect this, but it still made me doubt myself for a moment and wonder if I still had a long way to go. I went to rest back on the bed and told my husband I’d give it another half an hour. Soon I had another powerful surge & urge to go to the toilet, where my waters broke. There was meconium in the fluid so we decided to go straight to the hospital.
As we made our way there I kept my eyes closed and focused on staying as calm as possible as the surges became much more intense and I was beginning to feel the urge to push – it felt like my body was naturally taking over and pushing in response to each contraction without me even realising.
On arrival at the hospital I was taken to a delivery room, where I was examined by a midwife and offered gas and air. She found that I was already fully dilated & pushing, but the baby was in an incomplete footling breach position & already beginning to descend. We were not aware that the baby was breech from any of the checks. As soon as she told me, I looked at my mum in disbelief because earlier that day I’d been telling them about a dream I’d had the night before that the babies feet were coming out of me!
Everything that followed happened so quickly & I was very much in my own ‘zone’ at this point so it’s difficult to fully recollect but a doctor was called to give me further examinations, including a scan. I managed to remain calm during this and focus on my breathing. He confirmed the babies position and as a result of other examinations the team called for a CAT 1 emergency C section (with my approval) Alarms began to sound and numerous people started flooding into my room rushing around me & giving my husband scrubs as we were being rushed straight to theatre.
The anaesthetist tried to perform a spinal block, but couldn’t get the right position – partially because I was already pushing so couldn’t remain still enough. Due to the urgency of the C-section, it was decided to give me a general anaesthetic; which meant my husband couldn’t stay with me – this was the first time I had a wobble and a small cry about what was happening. He reassured me that everything was going to be OK and kissed me goodbye.
The next thing I remember was coming round to the sight of my mum and husband sitting by my beside holding our daughter in his arms. The joy I felt at seeing their faces and meeting my daughter was incredible. I felt such a relief that she was OK and nothing else mattered.
She was immediately laid by my side and found the breast with ease. I had read about the importance of the golden hour after birth & establishing breastfeeding, which could sometimes be effected by having a C-section. I’m pleased to say this wasn’t the case – we bonded really well & our breast feeding journey was absolutely fine (We continued until she was almost 20months old!!)
We luckily overheard a midwife talking about the possibility of a private ‘comfort room’ with another couple, so when we were being taken through to the postnatal ward I asked if one was available. We managed to get one, and of course it was far from luxury but nice to be in a private space rather than sharing in a room with a curtain. My husband spent the night ‘sleeping’ in a chair by my bedside. I spent the entire night gazing in absolute awe at the perfect little baby in my arms. We were discharged the next day and back home with my parents in time for Christmas Dinner!
This was far from the natural water birth I’d hoped for!! but I think it’s an important birth story to share because on paper it could be considered a ‘worse case scenario’. That being said, I truly believe that the combination of hypnobirthing & prenatal yoga gave me the tools to have a calm & comfortable first stage of labour – I progressed quickly in the comfort of a home setting with the support of my partner. I’d go as far to say I actually enjoyed it! I felt confident, relaxed & excited that it meant we were going to be meeting our baby. Whilst my surges were definitely powerful & intense, they were manageable & I would not describe them as painful. Despite the outcome of my birth I still felt overall it was a positive experience. It was proof to me that hypnobirthing can be extremely beneficial regardless of the journey your birth takes. It gives you the tools to remain calm and focused, even in challenging circumstances & feel empowered & in control.
Cherona teaches yoga and hypnobirthing and can be found here: