When giving birth is discussed all I can say is that my experience was very positive one. Although it wasn’t exactly how the textbooks say, labour lasted around 12 hours in total, and from the point we were admitted to the MLBU to when my son was born, the thought of pain relief did not even occur to me. Not bad for a 36-year old first timer.
Will and I attended Emma’s course at about 32 weeks, which meant we had about a month to practice all the relaxations after the course finished.
Briefly, labour started just after midnight on a Monday morning with what felt like period-pain. I got up and started some deep breathing exercises and whilst rocking on the exercise ball, and gently walking around, but I woke Will up about 2 hours later – I couldn’t tell the start and end of some of the contractions and the contraction timer app I had downloaded was telling me that surges were between 3-6 minutes apart and lasting for over a minute, which I thought couldn’t be right.
We phoned the delivery suite who told us to come in just to check everything was OK. At this point I was finding the pain unbearable and told Will that I would need an epidural AND all the other drugs. The thing is, now that Will was awake, I felt massively reassured, so by the time we arrived at the N&N I felt much better.
I was put on a monitor, which showed that the surges were double peaked, which explained the timings. The midwife examined me just before we were about to leave and seemed quite surprised that I was not quite in established labour, I was dilated enough to go straight to the midwife-led birthing unit. I was feeling much more relaxed by now, the pain had significantly decreased (even though the monitor said the contractions were the same strength). I could do this.
I think we were admitted to the MLBU at about 3:30. Although we’d packed them, after all the practice, I didn’t need to use the hypnobirthing CDs or texts – I just bobbed around in the birthing pool, concentrating on relaxing my body, especially the muscles in my face (very bad jokes help). I became oblivious to the passage of time, and I also found Will’s presence calming without him really needing to do anything.
I’m not sure what time it was when the pushing phase started, maybe 9am? I started to feel more of a stinging sensation and then the waters broke. Unfortunately there was meconium in the liquid, so I had to get out of the birthing pool. Luckily, both my heart rate and the baby’s heart rate were fine so the midwives were happy for me to stay on the MBLU.
At this stage I went a bit wrong: I tried very hard not to push, because I mistakenly thought my body would do that naturally. It is exhausting trying not to push and I started to become aware of time and pain. After about two and a half hours I finally grasped what the midwife was telling me: I must PUSH! So next contraction I pushed. Hard. I lost track of time again, and it felt like a few moments later that Arthur was born. He was officially born at 11:25am.
I think I texted Emma later that day to thank her. The hypnobirthing course gave us the knowledge and techniques for me to relax and for Will to be able to reassure me. I would say that for me it wasn’t so much pain free, but because of the focus on breathing and relaxation and the compartmentalising of time, the pain was very forgettable and didn’t matter. I feel sure that without the techniques, the experience would have been very different. As an aside, the relaxation techniques have also been very useful for trying to remain calm as clueless first time parents…
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