Hi Ann – apologies for the delay; George is 11 weeks old today…!!
So you may remember that I was planning a home birth; I had the pool all ready and the room set up with candles, tea lights, incense and a little Buddha to remind me of my yoga techniques 😊 My story starts 4 days before my due date when I started feeling mild contractions on the Monday afternoon. I was super excited and told Tom when he got home from work that things had started. I watched a film sitting on my birth ball, bouncing and moving my hips in a figure of 8 in a last ditch attempt to make sure the baby was in the right position! As the evening progressed I had a bath and tried to eat something and over night I spent a lot of time in the pool. [Strangely I found some of those early contractions to be the most intense; I found myself vomiting and getting quite distressed. This only happened in the early phase!!] A midwife came out first thing Tuesday morning and said I was just about in established labour i.e. 3-4cm. Although I was already tiring after a hard night I felt positive and tried to focus on, and conserve my energy for, what was still to come.
As Tuesday progressed I was concerned that my labour seemed to be stalling. My contractions were not intensifying nor becoming more regular. I spent another tiring day moving between the pool, the ball, walking and other positions e.g. slumped forwards over a big beanbag. The one constant for me was that my contractions were considerably more manageable with me focusing on my breath – particularly the long exhale.
Although I had some advice over the phone I didn’t see a midwife again until Wednesday morning. When she did come out it was immediately evident that something wasn’t quite right – I had been unable to pass urine for nearly 24 hours and I needed a catheter to empty my bladder which the midwife administered but said that if this happened a second time she would be recommending a hospital transfer. Things noticeably accelerated once my bladder was emptied; my waters broke and my contractions got stronger and more frequent. Unfortunately I was still unable to pass urine and needed a second catheter so after that was administered we began to prepare for a hospital transfer. I was by now fully dilated and my contractions were at their strongest and most frequent; some of them were overwhelming but Tom would remind me to breathe and this provided focus and instant relief. [I found humming or hissing through the exhales helped a lot.] When the paramedics arrived I walked out to get in the ambulance and they couldn’t believe how calm and collected I was, being fully dilated and having got through what was at that point 48 hours of contractions without any pain relief. I put this fully down to breathing and yoga practice.
When we arrived at Arrowe Park a doctor confirmed I was fully dilated and, as my bladder was at this point empty, after 2 hours of pushing George was born, safe and well weighing 6lb 14oz two days ahead of schedule. I sustained a couple of second degree tears (possibly through being coached to push him out, on my back, when I didn’t have a contraction?) but my first taster of gas and air got me through the stitching up!
Although it was longer than I had hoped it would be, I would say I had a good birth experience – during my 2 days at home I felt calm and in control which I believe was down to yoga. I found the 2 hours in hospital quite stressful (and borderline traumatic) but Tom reminding me to keep my exhales going through the pushes was really helpful. It is amazing how much pain relief simple breathing techniques can provide – I have told all my pregnant friends this but not sure they believe me!!
If I’m lucky enough to have a second baby I will be back in your class and planning for another calm and peaceful home birth using the techniques you advocate. Hopefully this time we won’t have to transfer to hospital but as others say the most important thing about labour is that you have to be prepared for anything!