My due date was the 16th of August, and in the early hours of the 12th of August, I began to have pains that I realised were contractions. They weren’t intense, so I told my wife to go to work as usual and I spent the day on the exercise ball drinking raspberry leaf tea and staying positive. Sadly that evening the contractions died down but I couldn’t sleep as they continued through the night, drifting between 3 minutes apart to 8 minutes apart. I kept repeating positive affirmations in my head to stay upbeat, and using up breathing which I’d learnt through my hypnobirthing which was an absolute godsend!
This continued, frustratingly, until the early hours of the 16th of August- my due date!- when they started to amp up at around 4 am and were regularly 3 or 4 minutes apart. We rang the hospital and they said to give it an hour or so and to have a bath to relax. Using that and then the TENS machine helped me to stay calm, and eventually, the contractions were between 2 and 3 minutes apart and lasting a minute each time, so we rang the hospital and went in at 07:30.
My wife had to wait in the car due to COVID, so I kept them up breathing going as I waited to be assessed. When they did see me, the midwife said I was only 2cm dilated, and she offered me a sweep. I hadn’t wanted a sweep before labour starts, but I used my BRAIN and decided that as the internal examination wasn’t as painful as I had expected at all, I would accept one. She wasn’t able to complete it as my waters were so close to breaking, so she told me to go home and try and sleep, and come back when the intensity changed or they got too much to bear. She also said that baby was back to back, which I had feared as that is typical with long early labour and the back pain I had been having, so I made a mental note to try some spinning babies techniques to move baby around.
Within an hour of being back home, I was so uncomfortable that I was making noises I had never heard myself make, and couldn’t sit down because the pressure in my pelvis was too much to bear. My wife rang the hospital again and they said to come back in, but I felt sure that they would say I still wasn’t dilated enough. When we got to the hospital at around 11:30 my wife waited outside again as I went to be assessed, and by now the surges were every two minutes. When the midwife did an internal exam, my waters instantly broke, and she said that the good news was I was now 8cm dilated, but that my waters were filled with meconium and so I wouldn’t be having a water birth and I had to go straight to the labour ward as my baby needed continuous monitoring.
My wife was brought in, and she said she was surprised how calm I was when surrounded by my broken waters filled with meconium! We went straight to a delivery room and I was disappointed to see a bed and machines, but by now the contractions were so intense I was struggling to handle it, and once handed the gas and air I was content to be on my back as long as that was what was safest for my baby. Thankfully, my wife handed my birth plan over and the midwives saw that I wanted to be upright, so they helped me move so I was on my knees leaning over the back of the bed- once I was in this position I was much more comfortable, and soon started feeling like I needed to push. However, the midwives told me that with every surge, they were losing my babies heartbeat on the monitor, and gave me the choice of going back onto my back or having a clip put on my babies head. I used my BRAIN again and decided to stay upright as I didn’t want to push on my back- I barely felt them attach the clip and after this, they said I was 10cm and could start pushing when I felt ready.
It only felt like a few minutes of pushing, completely uncoached which made me feel in control and powerful, and our daughter Birdie made her appearance at 14:43, less than three hours after we came to the labour ward! I had a second-degree tear and so had to have stitches, so my wife got to have skin to skin during this, and afterwards, Birdie latched instantly and has never had any issues with feeding since!
It was the most positive experience I could have hoped for, and it was completely down to the confidence I gained from hypnobirthing- it might not have been the birth I planned for, but I felt in control the whole time and It was an incredibly positive experience!