I’ve been promising you Otis’ birth story for 3 years and now I have two of them to tell and quite different! I apologise in advance for the length of the email. With both babies I planned a home birth with One-to-One midwives.
Otis was due on 1 July 2015. On Sunday 21 June, 10 days early, I’d felt a little funny all day. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but that afternoon I started to get some small cramps. That evening I had a show and I spent the night breathing through reasonably gentle contractions, managing to get pockets of sleep. My contractions continued through the Monday, it was a beautiful day so I spent much of it sitting in the garden in the sun on my birth ball and taking a couple of walks, stopping to breath through the contractions which were every 10 minutes or so. I even had lunch at Prezzo with my husband as I was craving pasta – my body obviously wanted the energy! I remember speaking to my midwife that day but she didn’t come to see me until the evening as I felt completely in control using your breathing techniques, some hypnobirthing meditations and some of the massage techniques from your birthing partners class to keep me calm and collected.
When my midwife did come that evening. I had got in the birthing pool to help with the pain; however that slowed my contractions as I wasn’t yet in active labour. We discussed that, for some reason, I was having a long latent labour. My midwife didn’t think I was going to give birth that night which was disappointing to hear but I regrouped myself to continue. She explained that she’d already had a long day so we agreed she would go home to bed and be available again from 6am (obviously her second would be available in the meantime!). I continued through the night as I had been, breathing and meditating. My contractions ebbed and flowed a bit in intensity and frequency allowing me to get pockets of sleep again.
Then 6am came, my mind obviously relaxed at the fact that my midwife was available and my contractions immediately started getting more intense and frequent. Around lunchtime my waters broke and I finally entered active labour. I got in the pool, my midwife came but remained in a different room for a couple of hours, allowing me to fully focus on breathing and keeping myself in a calm, almost meditative zone. As contractions got more intense and frequent i was breathing in the essential oil clary sage on a tissue to help manage them. I also found humming or vocalising my out breath helped. As I started to get the urge to bear down and push, I switched to what they call down breathing in hypnobirthing, where you take a short deep intake of breath then really elongate the out breath whilst thinking about breathing it down through the body. I almost visualised an elevator of breath going down through my body. I was in this zone for about an hour.
I had a little panic right before Otis was born which we’d learnt about in hypnobirthing as a really common thing linked to the last surge of adrenaline. I didn’t recognise it at the time but thankfully my husband did. I said to him ‘I can’t do this any more’. Dave reassured me, told me I was doing brilliantly and would meet Otis very soon. Otis was born very shortly after, after only 5 hours active labour. He had a very short umbilical cord (shortest the midwife had ever seen!!) so I couldn’t lift him to my chest whilst the cord was attached. My midwife thought that nay have been the reason for such a long slow start to the labour as Otis may have been trying to get himself in a safe position to come out with the cord being so short.
I had a second degree tear which was stitched at home by my midwife with my first taste of gas and air as that was the most uncomfortable bit!! Otis was born at 6.30pm and at 9pm we sat down for dinner cooked by my husband, with my two midwives and Otis wrapped up in my dressing gown. It was so nice to then sleep in my own bed that night.
I wouldn’t have had such a wonderful birth with Otis without the knowledge, breathing and meditation techniques that hypnobirthing classes gave me and your breathing techniques and weekly practice which beautifully complement a hypnobirthing approach. Throughout I found the golden thread breath really useful and simply counting my inhale and exhale ensuring my exhale was longer. I also couldn’t have done it without the support of my husband who was amazing at giving me reassurance whenever i needed it, keeping me well fed and watered when it was the last thing on my mind but needed for energy, and using some of the relaxing techniques you gave us in your birthing partner class. All in all, Otis’ birth was the most amazing and empowering experience of my life.
I had hoped for and positively visualised a similar birth for our second baby, maybe even a little quicker as my body had done it all before! So when I started to get contractions whilst driving round Knowsley Safari Park 2 days before due date, I was slightly nervous!! They were 9 minutes apart and I was diligently breathing through them whilst explaining to Otis, now 3 years old, that we would have to go straight home rather than see the part of the Park that is on foot. As we arrived home about lunchtime my waters broke and my contractions increased in frequency and intensity. My husband started to fill up the pool and I spent the next couple of hours sat on the birthing ball breathing through my contractions and using the Calm app meditations. Again my husband made sure I was well fed and watered.
My midwife was happy that I was calm and in control. She told me to let her know when contractions were less than 5 minutes apart and she would come. They remained at about 6 minutes apart for quite a while. It seemed to take forever for them to increase in frequency! Eventually, late afternoon they did, my midwife arrived and I got in the pool. After a couple of hours I started to get the urge to breath down and push but I felt something wasn’t right, I couldn’t describe it very well to the midwives but I knew it was different to last time with Otis, like nothing was happening, like I was pushing against a brick wall! I was also having really intense pain in my back during contractions and I was repeatedly vomiting. I requested gas and air. I then decided to get out of the pool and try movement and different positions to see if anything changed. My midwife examined me and said I was 6cm dilated so I gave myself a little talking to and started really concentrating on breathing through the contractions again, trying to ignore the urge to push.
It was at this point that the midwives discussed with us that they thought baby was back to back, that’s probably why the labour had been relatively slow so far (considering it was my second and I’d birthed my first completely naturally), why I was getting such pain in my back, and why I was getting an urge to push before being fully dilated as baby’s head touches the cervix earlier than it would in the usual position.
I continued to labour, really focusing on my breathing. It was well into the evening by now and I was starting to tire out as I’d been in active labour for many hours and I couldn’t keep any food or drink down. My midwives started some exercises with me to see if we could help baby to turn. Next time my midwife examined me I was fully dilated and she said I could begin pushing if I felt the urge. I started to push but baby was still back to back so in a difficult position and I was so exhausted, I just didn’t have the energy to get baby out. We discussed transferring into hospital, it wasn’t a clinical emergency as baby wasn’t distressed and there was nothing physically wrong with me but it would allow me to get fluids for energy. My contractions started to tail off and I fell asleep. My midwives left me in a left lying position for a couple of hours to help me regain energy and hopefully help baby to turn. They called an ambulance whilst I was asleep. My contractions started back up naturally with a really strong urge to push so they held the ambulance to see if baby really was going to arrive! They didn’t want it to be born in the ambulance. After about 15 minutes it became clear it wasn’t coming just yet so I transferred into hospital at 2.30am. The big difference in hospital was getting a saline fluid drip which gave my body something to run on after approximately 10 hours in active labour. Eventually at 5.30am, after a lot of coaching from the midwives at Arrowe Park and baby rocking back and forth for what seemed like forever, he was born star-gazing and all tangled up in his cord.
So I had two long labours. The first was a long latent labour with a fabulously gentle, calm and exhilarating birth. The second was a long active labour with a much less gentle and calm birth that has left me exhausted and with a lot more recovery to do but still a positive experience with a natural delivery using only gas and air. Both One-to-One midwives and the midwives at Arrowe Park were brilliant. Both babies I could not have birthed and certainly I could not have managed without pain relief if I hadn’t had such good breathing techniques and meditation practice to draw on.
Thank you very much Ann.
PS I didn’t make enough time for myself this pregnancy, so whether it would have made a difference to Phoenix’s position or not, I’ll be on that birthing ball every evening if I have a third!