We had decided to use Hypnobirthing for the birth of our daughter after not having the best experience with the birth of our son Joshua. I didn’t realise how many negative feelings we had until we were pregnant again. His birth was very protocol lead including induction, monitoring and invasive procedures. We were always disappointed that we didn’t have the natural start to labour or the home birth we wanted. After completing the course we knew we wanted Steph to be our doula. We felt an instant connection with her and that she understood the powerful emotions that we felt about Joshua’s birth and our want to have the perfect birth for us with Edie. We were so lucky to also have Lauren as our back up as our request meant Steph was double booked!.
So here is our perfect birth……
It was early afternoon on Thursday 5th June and around 2 o’clock and we went to do a shop at Aldi’s, not the most glamorous of locations, but it’s just round the corner which was handy as Jane had been having some surges since 12 o’clock. We picked up our shopping with Jane stopping at the end of each aisle and a few times in between to breathe through her surge. They were coming every 7 minutes or so and I pointed this out, to which Jane was very relaxed and it didn’t seem to faze her in the slightest. We finished our shopping much to the delight of our toddler who was getting a bit impatient and headed home. When we got home we were still unsure if this was definitely labour, but we rang Nana (Jane’s mum) and asked for her to head over and collect our little boy for a sleepover. I think we both felt a bit guilty sending him away, but he was so excited at the prospect of a sleepover at Nana’s that we knew we were doing the right thing.
After Josh had left I got on with tidying up toys and moving out any furniture that didn’t need to be in our lounge. I started inflating the pool and whilst we waited we put the telly on. Jane had a reflexologist Penelope from deepen holistic booked for a home visit as Jane had been having regular appointments to help her relax and prepare for labour. It was brilliant as Jane could completely relax with her MP3s on whilst I finished sorting stuff out. This included chasing a very annoying fly out of the room and trying to stop the cat from attempting to pop the pool by jumping on it and when Penelope left Jane was incredibly relaxed and we watched a bit more telly until we decided to ring our Doulas as the surges had increased in intensity.
As soon as our doulas arrived there was a big boost of energy in the room with lots of joking and laughing. Whilst we chatted we noticed that as soon as Steph started talking her calming voice would cause Jane to have a surge, either that or Jane just wanted an excuse to stop her talking 😉
The surges increased in intensity and after a bit of faffing around on my part trying to find a lighter we lit the candles and Jane got into the birth pool. We had the music playing and the whole atmosphere in the room was very relaxed. Jane found some good positions to get herself into whilst in the pool and I was able to massage her shoulders and her back. Steph showed me that Jane had her “purple line” which indicated that labour was progressing well and she was possibly fully dilated. As labour was progressing well, we decided to call the midwife. When the midwife arrived she read through our birth preferences and made sure that she understood them. It was nice that she was acknowledging our preferences, but she seemed less keen on our plan not to have any internal examinations. When she was comfortable and had done her first checks she left us alone and the surges continued with Jane in the pool.
After a while Jane wanted to get out of the pool as she was shriveling up like a raisin. She tried to get comfortable on the sofa and it worked for a while with the help of our doulas making all sorts of clever pillow and towel arrangements. It was good for a while, but it was pretty clear that the only positions that Jane was comfortable in was some form of standing / squatting. As the surges progressed we found ourselves standing up cuddling and gently swaying to the music. Lauren said it looked like 3 o’clock in the morning in Chicago’s!
Our midwife by this stage was starting to push for doing an internal examination which we were refusing, but it was clear that she wasn’t as confident as we were that Jane’s labour was progressing. Although the midwife was nice there was a noticeable difference in the atmosphere with her in the room. The doulas did a really good job of helping us to stay relaxed and calm and they made it feel like no one else mattered except for what we wanted in our birth preferences. They gave us the confidence to continue to refuse examinations as we knew that our baby would arrive when she was ready, and that measuring Jane wouldn’t make it any quicker. Jane just needed to let her body do what it needed to do. As it started to get through the night and into the morning the midwife suggested that it might be worth trying to have a rest as Jane’s surges had become more intermittent and labour had slowed down. We went upstairs and managed to have a little bit of a rest, although lying down was not a good position for Jane as she just couldn’t get comfortable. After our rest we came back downstairs around 5am. When Jane moved the surges were coming on strong, but then slowing when she sat or lay down. The midwife suggested again that it might be worth doing an internal exam which we refused. She thought that Jane was still in the early stages of labour and that as the surges were less consistent it might be worth Jane trying to rest more. She also said it might be worth her going and us calling the labour ward when things started to progress further. Although we all felt that Jane was progressing well I think by that time we were quite keen for her to leave and to be able to fully relax again. As soon as the midwife left we went back upstairs for another rest. We managed to get a little bit of sleep. Jane started to get upset and was worrying that we were doing the wrong thing; this was probably her transition phase. I tried to reassure her, but also shouted downstairs for our doulas to come up. We all had a big hug and Steph and Lauren did a brilliant job of reassuring us and making Jane feel really confident in herself and the power of her body. We went downstairs and Jane’s surges started to kick in again. The doulas told me to go and get some rest because I’d be needed soon. Without being asked twice I went upstairs to lie down and try and sleep. I felt quite overwhelmed when I was up there and was feeling very protective of Jane, but I knew that she was with two brilliant people who would do everything that she needed.
About half an hour later I woke up to Jane shouting in quite a deep tribal sounding voice “move down”. I knew it was time to get downstairs and I came into the living room to see Jane in a sort of squat / tribal dance move. It was clear that things were really moving now and Steph suggested that we might want to think about calling the midwife back again, which we agreed. After the first call Jane continued in her squatting position and I was now supporting her weight when her surges came. Jane was still breathing through her surges and she seemed very confident and in control. After about another twenty minutes of this we rang the midwife again, but while Steph was on the phone in the kitchen Jane calmly announced she could feel the head was out. Steph told the labour ward and they told her to call an ambulance and they immediately hung up. Steph came back in the living room and handed the phone to me to call. So for the first time in my life I rang 999, they took my details and put me through to the ambulance service. They were absolutely brilliant on the phone and I put them on speaker as they talked us through what we needed to do. Jane was squatting with Lauren’s support, and I could see Edie’s head and she was really calm and just taking it all in. I supported her head, and as Jane’s final surges pushed her out I held her. We used Lauren’s scarf (only thing to hand!) to rub her down a bit and after a moment that seemed to feel very long she coughed and took her first breaths. The women on the phone said “congratulations, your baby was born at 8.06am”. I handed Edie to Jane and she had her first cuddle.
The women on the ambulance line then asked if someone could go to the door as the paramedics had arrived, so Steph went to the door to open up and they asked who she was to which she said she was the doula which they’d never heard of, but she kept the explanation for after they had checked on Jane and Edie.
I think the paramedics were pretty surprised to see Jane sat there very happy with her baby and no one panicking or scared. They were going to cut the cord, but Lauren stepped in and made sure that they knew that our birth preference was to leave the cord until it had stopped pulsating and After about 5 minutes it seemed to have completely stopped so they put the clamps on and I was able to cut the cord.
The new mid wife arrived at about 8.45 and once she had got a handover from the paramedics and they had been thoroughly educated by Lauren about the role of doulas and placenta consumption including the placenta smoothie, they left, although I don’t think that was related. Both Jane and I had lots of skin to skin time and Jane was able to give Edie her first feed really soon after being delivered. Jane delivered the placenta naturally with the midwife there. The midwife completed her checks on both Edie and Jane and was happy with everything. When the midwife told Jane that she had had a tear she was worried that she would have to go to hospital, but the midwife reassured her that as it was only just a grade two that she would be able to do it at home. Although Jane had had no pain relief during any part of her labour, other than trying to use the tens machine for a while she decided that she might as well have some gas and air during the procedure. I was cuddling Edie at the time, and I think a combination of Jane’s euphoria at the birth of our daughter, plus the gas lead her to think he singing talents were quite a lot better than they actually were. We were treated to a rendition of R Kelly’s I believe I can fly. Steph’s hand got squeezed so tightly during the procedure that I think she then understood a man’s pain during labour. After this was done the kettle went on and I cooked up some celebratory bacon sandwiches all round. Steph and Lauren tidied everything up including sorting out the pool and by 11 o’clock everyone had gone and we were left to enjoy our beautiful baby. Neither of us could stop smiling, it had been such an amazing and enjoyable experience.