AmazinBirth,    Marie Teale,    Northamptonshire,    07989174045

Laura's 2nd baby. 

The birth of my first son in March 2014 was a stressful experience from start to finish. I was induced at 40+12 for being overdue, I did not want the induction but I felt completely out of control. I asked for an epidural at 5cm as I could not bear the contractions and ended up having an emergency C-section due to my baby's heart rate dropping. The C-section was impersonal and emotionally difficult, other than the fact that I had a gorgeous baby boy at the end of it I did not enjoy one aspect of the labour or birth.

Second time around I knew I had to do things differently, when I fell pregnant I had a lot of fears from my first birth that still affected me, and I knew I had to deal with them in order to give myself a better experience. I had heard of hypnobirthing from other people, in particular Wise Hippo, and I booked onto a course with Marie Teale. 

The Wise Hippo programme gave me confidence in my body but also my mind, it gave me confidence to ask questions and do my own research, and to make my own decisions for my care based on what I knew was best for me and my baby.  Wise Hippo also helped me deal with the emotions I was still struggling with from my first birth, I began to accept that I couldn't change the past and I was able to let go of the fears it had left me with, therefore enabling me to look forward to labour this time around. 

I decided to have a home birth, as I knew the greatest chance I had of delivering naturally was to be where I felt relaxed and in control. This was the second best birthing decision I made (first was to do a Wise Hippo course!).  I went into labour at 40+5.  I had been having mild cramps for several hours at a time for a few days prior but hadn't dared to hope they would be building up to the real thing. I fully expected to go to at least 41 weeks and probably more. The day labour started my toddler was with my mum for the day and night, my husband and I went for a walk and I spent the afternoon snoozing on the sofa. That evening we went out for dinner and I was aware that I was getting regular tightenings. It was a lovely relaxing day and I think this is perhaps what caused labour to start, mentally I was in the right place.

About 1.30am I woke up to stronger surges, I remained in bed but couldn't sleep. By 5am I was having to concentrate on breathing through some of the surges, and at 6am I did the unthinkable and got up and watched One Born Every Minute. The only reason I can think of for doing that was so that I could see the babies. I'd been avoiding watching it at the end of my pregnancy as I wanted to be surrounded by positive stories only!

The midwives and my mum came and my husband got on with filling the birthing pool, a job that kept him busy for several hours. He also put some birth affirmations that I had printed at eye level so when I was in the pool I could see them between surges. Labouring at home was wonderful. I was able to exactly what I wanted - walk about, lean over my ball, walk up and down the stairs, be on my own etc. I was calm and in control and found myself looking forward to the surges as I knew each one was bringing my baby closer. The midwives were very much present but were not intrusive in any way, I was aware they were listening to me wherever I was in the house, paying attention to my breathing etc. so they could gauge what was going on, but they also left me to it as much as possible.

I got to 7 to 8 cm dilated by 4pm and can honestly say I hadn't experienced any pain, it didn't enter my head to even ask for gas and air.  There is nothing wrong with pain relief. I certainly needed it first time around, but I was so relaxed that the surges weren't painful at all. I found the techniques I had learned came instinctively to me and I was completely in tune with my body.  For example, when I began to tense up I found myself putting my tongue behind my upper teeth. I had found this an awkward and unnatural thing to do when I was practicing, but on the day it was completely natural and worked a treat! I was also constantly thinking of the affirmations in my mind, I did not listen to them as most of the time I wanted to be quiet, but I found I knew them off by heart - it was like a little positive person was on my shoulder whispering them in my ear! 

Unfortunately, my baby moved position, so I did not dilate past 7 to 8cm. I was still active, hydrated etc. but after over 7 hours with no progression I agreed to transfer to hospital. This was clearly not what I wanted but I still felt calm and was able to ask questions which meant I maintained control, and that decisions were mine and my husbands to make.

By the time I arrived at the hospital my cervix was swelling and so I was now only 6cm dilated. Our options were limited due to my previous C-section and it was recommended that I have a repeat C-section. After some discussion my husband and I agreed this was the best course of action; we could have waited to see what happened as our baby was happy but we both wanted to avoid a panicky real emergency situation and due to the swelling felt that the situation was unlikely to change.

This is something I never thought I would say, but the caesarean was a wonderful experience. My amazing home birth midwives spoke to the doctor and ensured my wishes (delayed cord clamping, immediate skin to skin etc.) were met as much as possible.  I was able to remain calm, breathing through my surges whilst they prepped me and administered the spinal block. I even remembered to ask for some pillows so I could see my baby properly when he was placed on me. When my new-born son was placed on my chest, still wet and slippery, it was a magical moment that I will never forget.

Although the birth was not what I had hoped for, and I would have preferred to give birth vaginally, it really was an incredible experience that was both healing and empowering.  Previously I felt like a fraud when I described my first son as being born, whereas I now feel I have more than earned the right to say I birthed both my babies, even if they did need some help to enter the world. Wise Hippo made the world of difference to me, and I will be singing its praises for ever more to anyone prepared to listen!

My Birth Story - A positive induction
***Get your cloaks of protection on***Sorry, it’s a bit long!!...Becky's Story

I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes at about 28 weeks which I managed strictly but still ended up on a night dose of slow release insulin as my morning readings were high - my body was kicking out glucose through the night. I had a big growth scan at 32 weeks and at the 36 week scan my baby was predicted to be 7lb10. I had been steering towards having a homebirth prior to the GD diagnosis but went with the consultant to have a hospital birth, I used ‘BRAINS’ along the way at my consultant appointments.

After a long discussion at my 36-week appointment, I agreed to be booked in for induction on Sunday 17th April at 38+3. I upped my hypno practice and perineal massage, started using the birthing ball and was hand expressing colostrum in case the baby needed topping up. I also had a sweep at 37 weeks and used clary sage oil the day before I went in to hospital and when I got to hospital I was 1cm, I had been closed the week before at the sweep.

I had the pessary inserted at 10am, I got surges at 11am but couldn't sit down as it was sore to do so, I queried this with the midwife as I wanted to use the ball and couldn’t, my husband had to lift me on and off the bed - the midwife said it was normal. I had really strong and long surges (2 and a half minutes long, 2 minutes apart) for 9 hours. At shift change at 7pm I mentioned the soreness to the new midwife who examined me and the pessary hadn't even been in properly and I was still 1cm! I am not going to lie, I had a little cry at this point! She put the pessary in properly and I started to contract more evenly. At 3am I asked to be examined and I was 3cm and ready for my waters to be broken, so I asked for the pessary to be removed.

There were lots of emergencies so I waited 16 hours (7pm Monday) for a room in the labour ward (having surges all day) I didn't sleep or eat from when I got to hospital but remained calm throughout. I had 2 paracetamol Sunday night but was sick a few times so they came back up.

At 7pm on Monday night I had my waters broken (I was 4cm by this point) I was scared about this part but it didn’t hurt and I instantly felt relieved. I started walking up and down the corridor trying to get regular surges in the 2 hours they gave me. I didn't quite get there so they wanted to put me on the hormone drip, I was advised to have an epidural to give myself a rest as you can be on the drip for 12 hours and surges can be intense. I used BRAINS, and took my time to decide, talking it through with my husband, I went for it as I didn't have any energy left to endure the strong surges and push after! I had the epidural and drip at 11.30pm, the anaesthetist got the needle in my back and dropped everything on the floor so it took double the time, I remained calm.

The epidural was great; I could feel the surges as tightenings but I could relax. The baby's heart rate went a bit funny for a little while but they moved me on to my side and it regulated, so she must have been on her cord. After laying on one side, the epidural wore off on the other side which meant I could feel the surges which was nice but I am glad I had it.

The midwife said I would be examined every 4 hours and would likely go 2cm between each examination. I sat with my birth partners laughing and joking and resting, my husband even had a nap in the corner of the delivery room in a nest he made himself. At the first examination (3.30am) I'd gone from 4cm to 10cm, the midwife was surprised as she said I wouldn't deliver to 1pm Tuesday. We waited another hour

I began pushing at around 5am, it was coached as I had little feeling, I tried humming but it didn't work unfortunately. The midwife gave me 2 hours but after about hour she called the doctor as she thought we needed the suction cup, he was marvellous, he didn't want to interfere, he said ‘I don’t know why you have called me in here, she will have that baby here on her own in 30 minutes’. About 20 minutes later the midwives got the scissors and were about to do an episiotomy, I gave all my might and out the head came, on the next push out she came!

We had skin to skin for about 15 mins and she was super chilled, but when the placenta came out I haemorrhaged badly. It was quite scary as about 12 people rushed in and began fixing it but I still remained calm.

Baby Ettie was born on 19th April at 6.30am weighing 8lb8oz, both of us stayed calm throughout the 45-and-a-half-hour labour and she didn't even poo inside me. I gave birth without any assistance from forceps etc. and didn’t have any perineal tears, just a couple of random stitches needed.

The order girls who were induced at the same time as me or the day before me ended up with C-Sections.

I had my affirmations pinned up all around the room and lots of LED candles with the lights off in the room - it was lovely. I feel so positive about the whole experience; I could do it again. Knowing what I know now I would have paid 4 times what we paid for the course for the positive experience, healthy birth and happy outcome. I think the prep I did to get my body ready and the hypnobirthing course were the best things I could have done; I can’t recommend these highly enough. Ettie has been really calm and content since birth too, lots of people (including midwives and health visitor) comment on how chilled out she is. We are totally in love :)

Here are a couple of photos, a few hours old, the day we came home from hospital, 2 weeks old (when I started writing this!) and I couldn’t resist another one today (nearly 3 weeks old) in her sun dress!

Thanks Marie xxx

Two Very Different Hypnobirths - Maire Ni Shioridan                                                                                                                                              

I came across hypnobirthing when I was pregnant with my elder daughter. It resonated with me as something that could help me have a straightforward birth. I was keen on this, not because I had something to prove, or to achieve, but because I had decided I wanted a home birth. My partner and I did a lot of research, and knew that as a low risk pregnancy, a positive outcome was statistically very likely.

We did a hypnobirthing course at home with a wonderful instructor* and ended up feeling very excited about the birth. We learned about the physiology of birth, what birth could be like and why being relaxed is so important, talked about becoming parents and what changes that might bring to our relationship, addressed all kinds of worries, learned different techniques to help on the day, and became confident in our decision to have a homebirth.

My waters broke shortly before midnight one Friday. After our amazing Doula arrived I got in the bath. I remember clearly that wonderful feeling of deep relaxation as I sank into the warm water. I knew that my husband, my baby, and I were in good hands. I was very happy in the bath, my husband said it sounded like I was singing, and apparently there was a lot of smiling. Endorphins and oxytocin were flowing freely and our little baby made her way down and out into the world. I felt like I was watching somebody else do this amazing thing, and I couldn’t believe how awesome it was. My labouring body and my baby took over. I learned much later that this is called the fetal ejection reflex (1).

I was able to work with this amazing process because I’d learned to trust my body. Everything I had learned in our hypnobirthing classes enabled me to do that, as well as our Doula’s sterling work protecting me from all the drama that was going on downstairs with telephone calls from the midwifery team and talk of paramedics. She made me feel safe. I remember afterwards feeling like an Amazonian warrior woman. I could have taken on the world. I don’t remember actively using the breathing techniques, except briefly at the very beginning when my waters broke and it got quite intense quite quickly.

So for me hypnobirthing the first time was very much about the preparation in advance of the birth, in a way more about the psychology of birth as I worked to get myself into the right head space for the big event. I learned that normal uterine muscle function did not have to cause pain. I learned what I needed to do to facilitate a straightforward birth.

Second time around I grew incredibly anxious as the pregnancy progressed. I had gone 13 days past my estimated due date the first time, so worried that I’d be pressured into conversations about being induced, particularly because my EDD this time was very close to the Christmas holidays. Back then the thought of being induced terrified me. I was on crutches for the last six weeks because of debilitating pelvic girdle pain. I was also so much more tired this time mothering our gorgeous 3-year-old.

I’d put myself under immense pressure to experience another amazing out-of-body experience. Doubts crept in about the element of luck. So many people commented on how lucky we’d been previously.  I’d always believed that luck had very little to do with it, and that the hard work researching options, finding support that was right for us, doing a 10-hour birth preparation course and all the homework and practice etc. were the reasons we’d had a positive experience. Through an exhausted, anxious haze I started to think that maybe they were right; maybe I was incredibly lucky last time, and this time lady luck would not be visiting me and my little family.

I knew what I had to do. I listened avidly to my affirmations and hypnobirthing mp3s, did my version of fear release countless times every day, and constantly reminded myself to ignore negative thoughts and focus on the positive. A proper hypnobirthing addict, I was.

The head of the home-birth midwife team, who was very much on our side, agreed that they would continue to support us past 42 weeks as long as we had a meeting with the consultant on December 24th at 9am. This would make it easier for her to support us because of the protocols she had to follow. She knew I was anxious about the meeting, and stressed that I didn’t have to agree to anything at that point, just listen. We had the same wonderful Doula as before, who went above and beyond to protect our birthing environment.

On the morning of December 23rd I started to feel the occasional niggle. I immediately focused on using everything I had learned to stay nice and chilled. One of the lightbulb moments for me when doing my hypnobirthing class as a pregnant mama, was learning what the muscles of the uterus look like, how they work, and what can inhibit them from working as they should. I knew how to help them work at their most effective. The surges continued to ebb and flow for a few hours as I went about my day. I had a shower shortly after lunch and listened to my birth affirmations. I focussed on keeping my breathing calm, visualised, stayed relaxed, and used my breath again…until I suddenly realised that our baby was on her way out and we hadn’t called the midwives.

For a variety of reasons, it got a bit scary at the very the end, but I knew what to do and actively used what I had learned. Instinct kicked in too, and as I grabbed onto the hand basin and leaned forward my husband placed a towel on the floor. Out she came and I scooped her into my arms.

I thought for a long time that my first birth wasn’t really a “hypnobirth” because I didn’t use the breathing, visualisations, and relaxation techniques on the day. In fact, it was more a case of how I used what I had learned that differed for each birth. One was much more about preparation in the lead up to birth, and the other was more about using the techniques on the day to stay calm and relaxed and let my body get on with birthing. The most important thing I learned was that I didn’t need to be afraid of birth. 

*Michelle Pearson of East London Hypnobirthing.
(1) Fetus ejection reflex & the art of midwifery, Michel Odent.