Well, she arrived!! I thought I would write about what actually happened during our birthing and how hypnobirthing worked for us in practice.
At 05.30 in the morning of Imogen's birth, I woke up with what felt like standard period pain, just down my thighs too which was an odd sensation. In my pessimistic view, I assumed this to either be a) the result of the chilli con carne I'd eaten the night before or b) the start of a probable 3 day first time labour.
However, I thought it doesn't matter what is happening, I had to go with it and I commenced my breathing as we'd practiced. I felt strangely calm and quite excited as when I listened to my body, I knew this was it and that she was coming. The cramps turned into tightenings and I got up after about an hour. I pottered about, bouncing on my birthing ball and tried to distract myself with the television and my breathing. I felt really calm and really controlled. That shortly became uncomfortable, so I decided to deal with the ever increasing need to nest. So, I cleaned. And cleaned and cleaned. The tightenings became greater, longer and closer together. But with distraction and breathing, I was able to just pause, concentrate through the surge and carry on cleaning. My husband Chris had no idea anything was happening!!
At 11.05, on my way to the bath and to start the hypnobirthing track, my waters broke. I got to the loo, looked and saw meconium - the baby's first poo. I realised I couldn't feel her move. Now, before Emma, this would have resulted in panic mode and tensing up and then the pain cycle would kick in. I knew from my work that meconium was not a reassuring sign, that Imogen would need to be monitored and my ideas of birthing in the pool on the midwifery led unit were not going to happen. However, I was in such a calm state and I knew that what was going to happen would happen, all I wanted was Imogen safely in my arms and I didn't care how we got there. That is a liberating feeling as all your own fears for yourself evaporate.
I called delivery suite, shouted to Chris to get the car and we left for the hospital. On the way, the surges sped up and became much longer. But I kept my breathing going and I managed fine. We arrived and as soon as I heard her heart beating away, I relaxed again. I had tensed up without realising but not to the extent I would have expected of me before. The midwives were fantastic. I was put on a portable fetal monitor, which I never knew existed. I was unable to stay still, so my midwife kept me moving and allowed me to get myself comfortable.
Now, I cannot lie. I do have to confess that for me, birthing did hurt. The surges came thick and fast in a flurry with only very short breaks and I found it very tough to concentrate on my breathing. It was at this point I started the gas and air. I would highly recommend that you practice short deep inhalation and long exhalation, all through your mouth prior to your delivery. I became so practised at breathing in my nose and for a longer period that I struggled to inhale gas and air enough and at the right time. It was at this point that the tens machine was suggested (I completely forgot I had it!!) so again, if you’re using one, put it on early as by this time, I wouldn't allow Chris to let go of my hand for a second!!
Within 2 and a half hours of arriving on at the hospital, I began pushing. The sheer relief from those intense surges was very welcome and suddenly your body has a real purpose. This is when all the deep breathing practice worked wonders!! Within 35 minutes, Imogen was born safely and passed through my legs so I could pick her up and place her onto my chest. It truly was the most surreal, scary, amazing and life-changing event for both Chris and I. And we wouldn’t change a thing.
Although we didn’t have a textbook hypnobirth (and yes, at the 3cm stage where I assumed I’d be doing this for hours - I did request an epidural!), without the techniques Emma taught us, our birthing would not have gone so well and I would not have trusted my body the way I did when I needed to. Hypnobirthing gave me the skills to remain calm and in control. It gave Chris the reassurance and confidence that he was a key part of the experience. Although we didn’t use many of the techniques during the actual birthing because it was so fast, we did use them during the lead up to the birth and found it to be a great bonding experience as a couple. We couldn’t recommend the course more highly.
I do have a few thoughts and recommendations that given my time again, I would do differently. Preparation is key. If you’re using a TENs machine, get that on early to maximise the effect. Prepare your snacks and drinks so that they are to hand. Everyone deals with birthing differently and I did not realise that holding my husband’s hand was going to be such a distraction for me. Practise, practise, practise your breathing! It truly helps. Explain to your midwives that you are hypnobirthing. When things aren’t going to plan, you will be asked lots of questions, but they do distract your focus. Trust your body. It absolutely knows what its doing. Better than you do. Remember, each surge only last for a minute. Ride that one, rest, deal with the next one when it comes. Don’t think ahead, just deal with the present. And lastly, stay calm. You are not going to fall apart, your body is designed to birth your baby. And it’s amazing when it does.
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