Freya's Birth Story

I walked in to our first Hypnobirthing session wanting an elective c-section and every drug available- my theory was “why would you go through all of that ‘pain’ of Labour when you don’t need to?!”...within 15 minutes of Christy’s class starting, I had done a complete u-turn and wanted a natural birth at the birth centre. My husband couldn’t believe it and nor could any of my friends and family! 

I wasn’t sure if the course would be a little ‘out there’ and frivolous but how wrong I was; I loved the science/psychology behind the course and it made so much sense to me, from the ‘flight/fight/freeze’ theory to the muscle’s movements during contractions; I felt I had a deeper understanding of labour, my choices and what I ideally wanted to happen to bring our baby into the world (my birth preferences...not plan!).

So to the birth; first thing I have to say was I actually enjoyed it...no, honestly!! It was the most incredible experience and I would gladly do it again (in a couple of years time!).

My surges started at 3.45am on the Wednesday morning, lasting for about 20/30 seconds every ten minutes or so...and it stayed like this all day; I tried to stay active so just pottered around the house, nesting away with the occasional pause when surges came; chilled on the sofa; had a bath etc.

By 7.30pm the surges were definitely ramping up in intensity but still only 6-10 mins apart. 

At 10.30pm, my surges were between 4-10 mins apart but very intense so I called the birth centre; they told me to come in to be examined but we would likely be sent home after, so that’s what we did. I was only 1cm dilated but the cervix had thinned etc so this labour ‘gig’ was definitely a go! 

We went back home and was told to eat, drink, sleep (yea, right!) and give them a call back when either my waters went or when I was struggling with the surges. I called again at 1.30am and 2.30am, as I was starting to struggle with the surges (the only way I could describe a surge is really, really intense period pain) and was told both times that I could come in to be checked but they might send me home again; well sod that, I thought, there was no way I was going there to be sent home again! 

I continued my labour at home until about 3am, when I said to my husband that I couldn’t do it anymore, we were going to have to go to the hospital so I could have an epidural. He replied with “you’ll be fine, you can do this” and I replied with “ok” and that was that...clearly I didn’t need much persuasion that I could do it! (TRANSITION ALERT! Didn’t realise that at the time, obviously!)

At 3.15am I went to the toilet and suddenly my waters released, in one big hit, immediately followed by by ‘pushing’ contractions...I actually thought I was going to have our baby then and there on the toilet. Trust me when I say you will know the difference between dilating contractions and pushing contractions...your body really does know when it’s time to push. I told my husband that we needed to go to the birth centre immediately- he phoned to let them know we were on our way...I thought the baby was going to arrive in the car before we got to the birth centre. Our journey not helped by the fact there was a road diversion and a police car following us!!! 

We got to the birth centre and was told that my midwife would be along in a minute to examine me; the lady also offered me a yoga ball to sit on, which I found amusing as I could feel the baby’s head moving down so there was no way I wanted to sit on anything!!...I think they may have thought I was a bit of a neurotic first-time mum and was no where near the point of giving birth, so didn’t rush to come and examine me! I assumed a squat position, hanging of the side of the birthing pool, just focusing on my breathing.

After 10 mins or so, my midwife came in and examined me and said surprised “oh, you’re ready to go”...I was thinking to myself, well I could have told you that! I couldn’t believe I had managed to get to 10cm at home with no pain relief...this from a girl that wanted every pain relief drug available before going on the Hypnobirthing course! 

The midwife was unsure if there was going to be time to run the pool, which I was sad about but it was what it was, so just had to deal with it. It turns out that they had been running the pool in the other room so I could get in that one- I pretty much ran from one room to the other in a short gap between my contractions, stripped off and got in the pool...INSTANT RELIEF, I can’t tell you the natural pain relief the pool offers! 

From the contrast of the manic dash to the birth centre to the instant calm of the pool, I completely zoned out and went in to my own little birthing world- the midwife’s were incredible and just let me do my own thing. (In fact, they asked me if I had done hypnobirthing and said they could tell!) I listened to my body and only pushed when it told me to; there were definitely times when I could have just gone for it and pushed more but I kept reminding myself that my body knew what it was doing and that I should listen to it. It’s the strangest thing because you can actually feel the head coming down when you push and then moving back up; I kept thinking back to our classes and remembering that it was ok to move back up because the baby would come down that part easier next time. I also wanted to avoid tearing so made sure I didn’t just keep pushing against my body’s natural will! 

I felt extremely calm and relaxed, just focusing on my breathing and the idea of short breath in, long breath out and pushing down into my bottom (I cannot express how much the ‘hypno-poo’ practicing helped with that!) and 20 minutes or so after entering the pool, at 5.30am, Freya was here, weighing a healthy 8lbs 6oz. 

I can honestly say, with my hand on heart, that pushing her out did not hurt...a little uncomfortable, granted but it was not painful and I had virtually no tearing at all. 

There is no way my labour would have gone the way it did if I hadn’t been on this course; I would have fought for an elective c-section and if I didn’t have that, I would have been so apprehensive about birth...please do the course and recommend it to others!

The 5 most valuable things I took away from the course were

  1. “Each surge brings my baby closer to me” from the daily affirmations mp3

  2. Your body is made to do this and it knows what it is doing

  3. Accept whatever turn your birth may take; as long as you and your baby are healthy and happy, that is all that matters

  4. Creating a safe space for labour and birth (freeze/fight/flight)

  5. Hypno-poos... short breath in, long breath out!

Christy, I will be eternally grateful to you for the incredible birth experience I had. Thank you xxx

Why THIS doula didn’t hire a one

A Wonderful GUEST post by Charlie at The Good Birth Practice…

If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.

John H. Kennell, American Professor of Pediatrics

It’s been a good couple of weeks for doulas. Last week; the whole did-she-

didnt-she around Meghan Markle’s birth of Baby Thing. This week Amy

Schumer acknowledging that women are the shit, and recommending that

women get a doula (if they can... recommendations on how to find *your*

doula at the bottom, even if you think you can’t afford one). Doulas seem to

be the next trend for women seeking to make the whole birth experience a

bit more, well, bearable.

So why didn’t I hire a doula? After all, I’m a tub-thumping advocate for

positive birth. I’ve known about doulas since I was first pregnant in 2010. I

know some absolutely incredible, inspiring, preconception-challenging

doulas who’ve changed my world (Steph Grainger, Lauren Derrett,

Louise Daniels, I’m talking about YOU, Ladies). I know exactly what doulas

do, and why they’re important - and yet I STILL didn’t have one at any of

my 3 births.

The answer? Well, there are two; Susie and Tina.

Womens strongest feelings, positive and negative,

focus on the way they were treated by their caregivers

Annie Kennedy & Penny Simkin,

Doulas support women. Our purpose is to quietly gently lean in. To

bolster women. To nurture them, focus on them. Practically, we inspire

confidence by sign-posting to resources, groups, information. We hear

concerns, reassuring where we recognise common experiences, and gently

prompting, referring to the appropriate support. We listen to women,

giving the space, time that is no longer afforded pregnancy, so that

thoughts, feelings, expectations, assumptions can be processed. We

NEVER make clinical assumptions, recommendations or opinions. Perhaps

most importantly of all, we provide continuity of care. That continuity is

important because we learn about the whole woman, and the context she

comes from. It means we can see her fully, and facilitate the environment

she needs to have her baby in. It’s not just hippy dippy doulas that believe

this. Last weekend, to coincide with International Day of the Midwife, NHS

England announced the doubling of funding to maternity services to £40

million, with a focus on the provision of a named midwife for pregnant

women to see throughout their pregnancy.

Safety for childbearing women and their partners and

families...means emotional, psychological, and social

safety. This holistic sense of safety is what (women)

receive through continuity models of care.

NHS England

All these reasons above are why I trained to be a doula AND why I didn’t

need to hire one for my own births. Because from the moment I attended

my first ‘booking in’ appointment in 2010 I have been lucky enough to be

cared for by the same two women. These women - Susie, Tina - kept

skilled eyes on me, my babies for nearly 120 weeks over 5 years. They

listened in, they dipped sticks in wee, they palpated, and they measured.

More than that though, more than the numbers & the graphs, they listened

to me. They visited me at home. They gave me options. They didn’t

ridicule, patronise or deride me - quite the opposite. They gave me the

information, the protocols and explained why things were as they were -

and then they listened to what I wanted and why, and they helped me get

it. They were practical and rational, and empathetic. They trusted me, and

so I trusted them. They lit candles around my bath. They held my hand and

eye contact. They smiled at each other and my husband as I disappeared

further into myself, my labour. They whispered love into my ear. They

became part of my family, and I became part of theirs.

So you see, I didn’t have any need for a doula at all. My midwives doula’ed

me beyond anything I could ever have imagined I might want or need.

And not just me. I live in a community of women who have deep love for

Susie and Tina. Women who well up on the street corners when they realise I

know them, and who recall quiet words, small moments and powerful

memories months and years old. Because birth marks us in ways beyond

measure.

So I know how lucky I am not to have needed a doula - and I will always

pay that forward in any way I can.

You can find a doula at the Doula UK website. If your budget is limited, talk

to mentored doulas who may be pleased to support you as they work

towards their recognised status. They may also be able to refer to you to

the Doula UK access fund.