Baby Amelie was typically late for a first baby. I had had a pretty easy pregnancy and wasn’t too uncomfortable even in those last few weeks so the lateness didn’t bother me too much other than the difficulty sleeping. As we had done a hypnobirthing course, I used the wakeful night times to listen to hypnobirthing tracks and read positive birth stories so I felt prepared as I could be for the birth.
Things finally got started around 10.30pm on a Monday - the contractions were steady overnight and manageable at home (albeit exhausting!) with the help of the hypnobirthing breathing techniques, visualisations and a TENS machine. Unfortunately I did however have some blood loss which resulted in a couple of trips to and back from the hospital the next morning to be checked out. Whilst everything was fine, being monitored in triage in the labour ward and being told that I had not dilated at all after 18 hours of a contractions was a real low point of the labour!
We eventually returned home for the second time by which point the contractions had slowed to a virtual stop. I was so frustrated, emotional and tired by this point that I cried on the M25 as we drove home wondering if I could "start again" and go for another night. Once at home however, I had a word with myself and pulled myself round. After a relaxing bath watching the Great British Bake Off, I went to bed for the night, at which point of course, the contractions kicked off again...
They kept going all night every 5 minutes or so, much like the night before; only this time, I was so tired that I was sleeping between contractions and finally, around 5am my waters broke. On updating the hospital, they said to come in to be checked but after the two frustrating trips to the hospital the previous day, there was no way was I leaving the house until I thought the contractions were close enough together not to stop again. Much to my frustration, the contractions did seem to stop again although I didn’t realise that I was in transition at the time. At around 1pm things got going again but this time her head felt so low I could barely walk so by 2pm I knew we had to get to the hospital quickly!
After the third rush to hospital I was finally admitted to the birthing centre at an estimated 9cm dilated and within minutes I was in the birthing pool. Immediately, I felt a huge sense of relief and from this point onwards, the birth was relaxed and calm. I found the water, breathing techniques and gas and air were all I needed to manage the contractions so much so that nobody realised I was “pushing” until my husband saw the baby’s head crowning. The next thing I knew baby Amelie was born at 6.35pm, over 44 hours after the first contractions began.
Looking back, I’m not sure how I managed to keep going for 44 hours but the advice that Cheryl gave in my pre-natal yoga class that each contraction is no longer than one minute (and the corresponding arm exercises we did to simulate this!) definitely helped me through.
Amelie is a very calm baby which I attribute to the meditations in the final weeks of pregnancy and calm birth. I definitely recommend a water birth and that mums-to-be do as much birth preparation as possible. Learning about birth, hypnobirthing, surrounding myself with positive birth stories and yoga all helped me get in the right mindset for labour so that I was ultimately able to relax and surrender to my body despite the hiccups along the way.