Rob and I had used hypnobirthing during the birth of our first son Harry and had a brilliant birth experience – born in the pool at home with no pain relief (the dream birth!). Since having Harry however it seemed that every other birth story I heard was a negative experience and we were considered the ‘lucky ones’ for having such a positive birth. When I got pregnant with our second child, I was convinced that you couldn’t get ‘lucky’ twice.
During our sessions with Melissa she worked closely with us to determine what we considered to be ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ experiences and how, even if things didn’t go to ‘plan’, it could still be a positive birth. We also practiced various breathing techniques to use in the preparation for and during birth; something which I believe helped me stay in control during Alfie’s birth.
In the early hours of 17th May – Alfie’s guess date! – I felt a little trickle of water and I knew it was my waters breaking. I also began to feel some minor surges so got up and walked around the house, doing a few jobs and listening to a podcast. I didn’t want to wake the rest of the house as I knew that as soon as Harry woke up, my sense of calm would disappear. I was right. After a couple of hours Rob and Harry woke up and my surges slowed down. If anything, for the next few hours, it turned into a regular day.
When we started timing the surges around lunchtime, they were regular but didn’t fit into the ‘need to call the hospital’ timings. Late afternoon, something changed and I wanted the pool blowing up so I got Rob to ring the hospital. They wanted me to come in to be checked but, thanks to Melissa and understanding the labour process, I stood my ground and asked if a midwife could attend me at home instead as I was hoping for another home birth. Thankfully they agreed and an hour later, I had a midwife with me.
For the next couple of hours, Rob and I continued to use the breathing techniques through my surges. My midwife didn’t feel that I was in active labour so she told us to continue and she’d do an examination at 8pm to see where I’d got to (I remember looking at the clock a lot to check if it was 8pm yet!).
At 8pm, I was told that I was only 2cm dilated and that the midwife would have to leave and return when I was in active labour. She said I should run a bath (I’d been asking if I could fill the birth pool up for a little while by this point!) and try and get some sleep. She thought she’d probably see us again the next day. I remember feeling really deflated but tried to remember all that Melissa had taught us and remind myself that this was only one moment in time and things were still moving forward. The midwife had also told me that the baby seemed to be in a slightly awkward position so the birth may take longer and be more painful. At this point, I remember reciting the positive affirmations that Melissa had used during our sessions – I knew I was still capable of this. It was at this point that I truly used the breathing techniques and visualisations – I was determined that I’d be having this baby at home!
At around 9pm I got in the bath, just as the midwife was preparing to leave. I didn’t even sit down. As soon as the water touched me, I got in the squat position and knew I’d be meeting my baby soon. Within minutes Rob was shouting down to the midwife that the baby was coming. It was at this point that I had a slight panic as it was all happening so quick, I wasn’t in the birth pool, there was no second midwife and no pain relief on hand should I need it. Thanks to the breathing techniques we’d been taught however, I was able to regain control and 16 minutes after I got in the bath, Alfie was born.
It turns out you can have more than one positive birth experience because, in actual fact, it isn’t about luck at all. Our preparation with Melissa gave me all the tools I needed for another enjoyable birth.