Today’s birth story comes from a fellow midwife who contacted me after discovering my blog. She is also a blogger and in the ridiculously small world we live in, we realised we know a few of the same midwives as she also trained and works in Bristol! Katheryn chose to practise Hypnobirthing for her home birth. Here she shares her experience, what it’s really like to give birth as a midwife.
Blog: The Vintage Midwife
“I chose a home birth for my first baby, which I appreciate is not everybody’s cup of tea. But I knew that I would feel safer and more in control in my own home and I was inspired by my mum having my sisters at home. Her birth story is here I had written my dissertation about home birth and had attended lots of home births as a midwife so I felt pretty well informed about the risks and what it involved.
I had prepared myself for the fact that I may need to be transferred in to the hospital if something didn’t go according to plan or most likely I needed more pain relief (I’m a right wimp). I had packed my hospital bag full of lovely treats in case this happened, so it wouldn’t be quite so disappointing!
I had had a lot of worries about how I would cope with the pain in labour and what would happen; having too much knowledge of potential complications. Doing a HypnoBirthing course had made me feel a lot more relaxed and confident but I still had doubts if I could manage to have the home birth I wanted.
Labour started naturally at 4 days past my due date.
Looking back I was probably in early labour for longer than I realised. In the afternoon we’d walked to the shops and I had to keep stopping to hold onto my man’s arm. My tummy was going tight but it wasn’t painful or regular.
By the evening my tummy was going tight more regularly, about every 15 minutes; it still didn’t hurt. I put on my Hypno CD and when I ‘came to’ after it finished then the tightenings were one after the other, about every minute. This was about 7.30 pm, when I consider my labour really started.
I had a bath with lavender oil and was sick. I got out the bath and was kneeling by the bed and was sick again. My man was timing the surges (HypnoBirthing speak for contractions) by now and keen to call the midwives. I asked him why? “They’re every minute, lasting a minute” I didn’t believe him as they simply didn’t seem that regular to me and they still didn’t hurt.
About 9 pm, after I’d been to the loo there was loads of blood mixed in with mucus (a bloody show- really good sign that labour is moving on).This really shocked me and made me come out of my relaxed state. I got my ‘thinking’ midwife head on then- tightenings every minute, vomiting, bloody show- in theory I’m in full on labour, but I can’t be! It’s been far too quick plus it doesn’t hurt at all. What is going on?!
From this point on I came out of my relaxed state; I was in my ‘thinking’ head and didn’t know how to go back deeper. Like a switch being flicked, suddenly things became painful. This showed me just how effective using the HypnoBirthing techniques are. If I could change anything it would be that we had practised the deepening techniques so that I could have got back into my relaxed state.
I got my man to call the midwife at 10pm, we were told she would be an hour as she lived a long way away and had to stop at the hospital to pick up equipment.
At this point one hour felt like ages so I just decided not to look at the clock or think about the time. By now I’d found it really helpful to make noise when I was having a surge. I got in the birthing pool, which my man had set up. It felt fantastic in the warm water, helped me so much. Rescue Remedy helped too and visualising my cervix opening whilst I was having a surge.
At the peak of the surge, for a few seconds it got really intense but then it would ease off again. In between the surges it didn’t hurt at all and I enjoyed the break, reminding myself that I could do it. I tried to check myself (do an internal) to find out what was going on but I couldn’t really feel anything; It is extremely difficult to do to yourself when you’ve got a massive bump, I don’t recommend it! I thought I was maybe 1 cm dilated and I started to think ” I can’t do this for hours, I might need to go in for an epidural.”
About 11 pm I opened my eyes and like a vision a lovely, lovely midwife had arrived. I was so pleased it was her; she was so calm and kind, very experienced and had had four babies herself. I know I was very lucky to know the midwives that were looking after me.
I wanted to be checked but it was so difficult to lie on the bed and the gap between the surges was so short and much worse lying down. She said I was 6-7 cm dilated (midwife talk for 8cm), so well over halfway. I thought she was joking as I was convinced I hadn’t been long enough in labour and for most of the time it hadn’t hurt at all. As soon as I heard that I thought “I can do this. I’m going to do this” and kept telling myself that.
She called the second midwife. I got back in the pool. I asked for the gas and air (not for the pain so much as to stop the noise I was making which had got really loud at this point and was starting to annoy me, and probably our poor neighbours). Gas and air in the pool was heaven.
Shortly after this I felt I needed to push. Rather my body started pushing, a bit like retching, I just couldn’t stop it. I heard myself making pushing noises. The first couple of pushes I thought “this is great”, but then it got hard. I felt really excited because I knew I would meet my baby soon.
I was pushing as hard as I could, but it felt like trying to shift a bowling ball or a melon; something hard and round that just wouldn’t fit through my bones. I started saying “I can’t do it”. I should have known this was normal for this stage of labour. They were telling me “you can!”
Apparently at this stage I was speaking in a different accent after each surge- Bristolian “Alright my love?”, Indian “Oh my goodness” and cockney “faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaacking ‘ell”. Must have been rather amusing for those with me. Guess it was the gas and air. After a while I stopped using it.
My contractions started to ease off. I was asking them to break my waters, which hadn’t gone yet. They sensibly said no need yet- try and get out the pool and go and sit on the toilet. My bathroom is down a flight of stairs and I think they were hoping this would jiggle baby down.
I had to talk to myself out loud “Come on Katheryn, you can do it!”- like I’d talk to a woman I was looking after. I was helping myself through it like I’d helped hundreds of other women before. The midwives and my man were a massive support.
I sat on my toilet, gave a couple of pushes, it felt much easier to push on the loo, especially my loo. I felt the head coming. I had my hand there, my waters went and the head just came out. In total I had pushed for 40 mins. They had put a towel under the toilet seat so babe wouldn’t fall down the loo. They said- stand up. I lost it, “I can’t!”. The second midwife got stern, “you have to!”- it was just what I needed. I stood up and leant forward. It felt very surreal with the baby’s head out and the body still inside. My man saw our baby’s face at this point, the first person to see it. I gave another push and then woosh! I had my baby in my arms.
Me and my man were crying and laughing. We looked and it was a boy. Everybody had been convinced we were having a girl. He cried straight away. He smelt amazing and looked so clean. He looked just like my Dad, who died several years ago, and who I was very close to. We gave him his name (George) as a middle name.
He was born at 1.45 am. The labour had been less than 7 hours and the midwives there less than 3 hours. Not bad for a first labour. Cheers HypnoBirthing!
I wanted to birth the placenta naturally, without the injection, so they didn’t cut the cord yet. About 5 minutes later I gave a push and it all came out. Felt a relief for it to come away.
My man held our boy for the first time and he opened his eyes and saw his Dad and held onto his beard. The midwives checked to see if I needed any sutures; few grazes but no stitches. All that perineal massage had paid off.
The midwives weighed him (8 lbs 6 oz, a good size!), checked him and gave him Vitamin K injection. I tried to breast feed him but he wasn’t interested yet so I had a bath and the midwives left.
I lay in the bath, looking at my soft, empty belly, thinking “I did it!” I was so pleased and thrilled, it felt like a huge achievement and I was so relieved our baby was safe and ok. I had a new respect for my body and what it could do.
Afterwards we cuddled in our bed together, drinking tea and eating cake and looking at our son. It was the best experience of our lives. If we had been in the hospital my husband would have been sent home at this point, another bonus for having a home birth.
I know that I could not have had such a brilliant birth without HypnoBirthing and my experience inspired me to train as a HypnoBirthing Practitioner. If it worked so well for me when I had so many fears and preconceived ideas about birth (and am a real wimp!) then I know that it can work for other women too.”