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Claire, Stuart & Millie's Hypnobirth Story

Millie's hypnobirth worthing birth storyBaby no 2 arrives in time for lunch at home in less than 3 hrs!

We had planned to have a home birth with our 1st daughter, Alice (now 2 ½ years), but had gone into hospital after an exhausting 20 hour 1st stage of labour. Alice was born at 38 weeks weighing a petite 5lb 2oz, and had to stay in SCUBU for a week due to a few problems associated with her (unexpectedly) low birth weight. So when we fell pregnant again, Stuart and I felt a hospital birth was the sensible choice. However I was keen to find something to help me cope with the first stage. So Stuart and I signed up for a hypnobirthing course with Naomi Newland.

The four week course taught us the importance of deep relaxation, which lets the body labour much more efficiently and comfortably. It all made so much sense, and the idea of a chilled home birth kept popping into my head. To make sure we had a more accurate idea of the baby's weight I had 2 extra growth scans this time. We were thrilled to learn that the scans showed that our baby was doing well and of average size, so I spoke to Stuart about the idea of trying for a home birth again. He'd been thinking the same thing, and after a chat to our supportive midwife the home birth was booked, and birth pool bought!

One concern I did have regarding a home birth was that I only had 1 birth partner, my husband Stuart. How could Stuart be by my side in the birth pool while doing the practical stuff such as warming up the baby's towels etc? By chance when I was 38 weeks we were introduced to Nicola, a birth Doula. I'd heard of Doulas before, and Nicola explained how she provides practical, physical and emotional support to labouring women and their families. Stuart and I were reassured by her kind and calm nature, and felt that having her presence at the birth would be a welcome support.

As our 1st baby was born at 38 weeks, and we have a family trend of having our babies 'early' I told everybody how I expected this baby to arrive any time after 37 weeks – Ha! I'd jinx myself, and as my EDD (guess date) arrived and I was still pregnant, my thoughts turned to the 'what if' scenario of having to be induced. Although we were trying to concentrate on what we wanted (ie. our home hypno water birth) and not on what we didn't want (ie. an induced hospital birth), I felt myself becoming more stressed as the days went by and still no signs of baby arriving. Luckily I received great support and advice from my midwife Kayleigh, Doula Nicola and Hypnobirthing teacher Naomi. My EDD came and went, and we went into over drive with methods to encourage baby to make an appearance – raspberry leaf tincture, acupressure, acupuncture, long walks, horizontal exercise ; ), curries, pineapple, bouncing on the birth ball, reflexology.... We tried it all. Every evening I'd get period type cramps, and kept thinking that night would be the night, but baby had other ideas and stayed put!

At 41 weeks +2 Kayleigh (our midwife) came to do a home visit. Nicola also came over for support, and Stuart was working from home. We'd decided that to try to avoid chemical/ hospital based induction we'd try a membrane sweep first, so after doing the routine antenatal bits Kayleigh did the sweep. I'd been listening to my hypnobirthing cd earlier that morning and felt very relaxed during the sweep as I practiced my relaxed breathing and let my body go limp. Kayleigh felt very positive that the sweep had gone well, as I was already 2-3cm dilated and she could feel the baby's head. I can honestly say there was no discomfort at all, which I put down to being so relaxed. I was feeling much more optimistic that things were going to happen, and as an extra encouragement to baby an hour after the sweep I had a blissful reflexology session.

Although Kayleigh had been really supportive of us trying to avoid induction, she did explain that procedure meant I had to go and have a chat about our options with a Consultant. I was expecting this as from what I'd heard/ read from other birth stories, and I actually already had a follow up appointment booked that afternoon with the Consultant who I'd been under for the growth scans.

A few hours later, still floating on my cloud after the reflexology, Stuart, Nicola and I went to Worthing hospital for the appointment. We chatted through with Nicola how we were feeling about the appointment, and what we were going to ask for. I was determined not to be induced if there wasn't a medical reason for it, and so was expecting a bit of a battle with the Consultant to get monitoring and scans booked, not an induction! We were called through to the Registrar who I hadn't met before, flanked on both sides by Stuart and Nicola I felt very supported, and joked to the Doctor that I'd bought my bodyguards. The appointment went really well, as the Doctor asked in his very calm manner what we would like him to do, and when I said about not being induced, but being monitored up to 43 weeks, he said 'no problem'! He did explain that it was his job to inform us of all the risks of going past 42 weeks, but he didn't exaggerate or put any pressure on us. With a week of monitoring booked for 5 days time we all left smiling.

That evening I was feeling very positive that tonight was the night. Since leaving the hospital I'd been having the period type aches again, so Stuart made us a green curry for dinner while I bounced on the birth ball.

We went to bed expecting not to get a full nights sleep.....

I woke the next morning at 9am after the best nights sleep I'd had for months, but without so much as I twinge! Stuart had already gone to work, so he obviously felt that things weren't happening. I felt strangely relaxed though, and after a quick bathroom trip I snuck back into bed next to little Alice who had (as usual) got into Mummy and Daddy's bed. Alice woke up and gave me a gorgeous cuddle, and just as I was thinking that maybe we should get up for breakfast I felt a pop and my waters gushed out! The waterproof mattress protector meant that I was sitting in a puddle. I giggled and felt a rush of excitement, but very calm at the same time. Pointing to the puddle, Alice asked 'whats that?' , and I explained that my waters had broken and the baby was coming out. Avoiding the puddle she lifted the end of my nightie up and called 'baby come out girlie bits' hee hee!

I then realised that gentle surges (contractions) had started, and so thought I'd better call Stuart straight away. He'd only been in work about 10 minutes and was in the middle of a meeting. He answered his phone but left it on the table, so for the next 5 mins I sat in my warm puddle listening to his boss speaking. When he eventually picked up the phone he couldn't believe that my waters had gone and that surges had already started, and for a minute he forgot what he needed to be doing, ie. coming home! Stuart said he'd call his sister (Alison) to come and help me get out of bed (I was worried about getting the carpet wet!). While I waited for Alison to arrive I called Nicola, who said she'd be straight over (even though she was in the middle of painting her lounge as I learnt the next day), and my Mum. Alison arrived and helped get us sorted so I could get into the shower, and get an amazingly dry Alice up. The surges were already feeling stronger and seemed to be coming more regularly. As I stood in the shower my weeks of practicing my hypnobirthing breathing and relaxation techniques seemed to fall into place. Outside the bathroom I could hear Nicola, then Stuart arrive, and Alice go into excitement overdrive. Stuart came into the bathroom and checked that I was ok, and staying relaxed (which I was). I asked him to call delivery suite and let them know what was going on. My waters had been clear, but the surges seemed to be coming thick and fast.

I gave Alice a goodbye hug as she was going home with her Auntie Alison. Nicola stayed with me, helping me get comfortable, making me toast and setting up my TENS. Stuart started blowing up the birth pool and getting the labour and baby bags down. Staying chilled I laid on the sofa with my ipod on, listening to my hypnobirth affirmations. I must have lost track of time as before I knew it the pool was being filled and as I opened my eyes after a surge, Jane, the community midwife that had done my initial booking, was sat in front of me smiling. It all felt a little surreal and so calm! She had arrived and Stuart had gone through our birth preferences with her without me realising. Jane reassured me that she was totally supportive of our choices although she hadn't attended a hypnobirth before. Jane did an internal examination, telling Stuart, not myself the result as we had asked for in our birth preferences (although Stuart did let on that we were over half way there when I pressed him!). I was happy to be given the green light to be able to get into the pool. It seemed that things were moving forward so quickly, and I welcomed the warm water as the surges were becoming more intense. I remember looking into the kitchen and seeing the clock reading 11.45. Stuart got into the pool with me, and helped me find a comfortable position. He helped me get back and stay in my relaxed zone, as Nicola stroked my hand and kept a cold flannel on my forehead (even though I kept dropping it into the warm water – sorry Nicola!). We had our ipod birth playlist on in the room, and I was vaguely aware of another midwife arriving (who's name I can't remember – sorry), and Jane chatting to her in the next room. The surges were getting pretty strong and so I asked for some gas and air, which helped me relax into my breathing again.

A while later I felt like I needed to push. In our hypnobirthing classes we were taught to breathe the baby down. I had been doing this but now I felt subconscious need to bear down. I was forward kneeling up against the side of the pool resting my head on the side when a breathed/ pushed the baby's head out. The 2nd Midwife had been checking baby's heartbeat in between surges, and suddenly I was aware that it had slowed down and wasn't coming back up. With a sense of urgency but still quite calm Jane told us that the baby needed to be out with the next push. Auto pilot kicked in, and before my brain had caught up I was on my feet and Millie had been born. She was completely tangled up in the umbilical cord (across her shoulder and hooking the opposite leg up). Stuart quickly cut the cord, and within a minute our fantastic midwifes handed us back our gorgeous baby girl. I had only been up for 3 ½ hours, and our baby had been born in time for lunch!

Nicola and Stuart looked after Millie while Jane helped me with a natural 3rd stage, then Millie settled into her 1st breastfeed which lasted nearly an hour!

By 3pm Stuart and I were settled on the sofa watching daytime tv while Millie snoozed on my chest.

We both feel hugely grateful to Naomi Newland ( our hypnobirthing Practioner), Jane Milner and the other community midwifes, and Nicola Rumsey (our birth support Doula) for helping us achieve the birth that we both had hoped for. Before, during and after the birth I felt totally supported by these wonderful ladies that help women have informed, calm and empowering births – thank-you!

Claire and Stuart Hart


For Hypnobirthing Classes in Worthing West Sussex & Beyond contact Naomi Newland

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