Six years ago I became a mother. I remember every single detail of my labour – which I was told I would forget. Luckily I haven’t blocked it out…
The reason I wanted to write this story is simply because, in my opinion there are too many stories out there about giving birth that are terrifying. When I was pregnant, I was shocked with the amount of mothers who would want to tell me how awful their labour was. I was left looking like a rabbit in headlights after certain conversations and I thought it was unfair to do so.
Now that I’m on Instagram (I wasn’t 6 years ago) I see the same thing happening…so I thought I would tell you my positive story for any mothers-to-be out there who are in need of reading something that may bring some reassurance to the most natural thing a woman is built to do.
This is my story
When I found out I was pregnant, I wanted to dive into knowing every aspect of what my body was going through. The more I knew, the more powerful I felt.
Knowledge is power after all.
I bought two books, Ins May’s Guide to Childbirth and Spiritual Midwifery .. I browsed another book and it was basically like Chapter 1 – ‘Congratulations you’re pregnant’ and then Chapter 2, ‘Miscarriage’. I’m aware miscarriage is common and I have been through miscarriage too when trying to baby number two, but I didn’t want to bring that energy into my pregnancy when everything was fine.
Quite early on, I decided I wanted to give birth at home. My husband was on board and that was great – all that I needed on my side. However, when I mentioned our choice to stay at home to give birth to family, friends, NCT groups and even strangers, they all looked at me like I had 3 heads. What on earth was I thinking? This isn’t the cave man era! Then of course cue all the awful (and exaggerated) stories from someone’s friend of a friend’s cousin…
Now, I’m no midwife, I’m no doctor, I’m not a preacher, but I am a woman, and I knew that I could do this at home, in the comfort of my own surraoundings. We hired an independent midwife who had been recommended to us from friends of ours. Her name was Melody and her company was called Birth Rites. She’s American living in the UK, kind, soft, and the most hired midwife in London. I liked her instantly and was great to know she also did hypnobirthing, and supplied a birthing pool, which is a great form of pain relief.
Melody asked me on a prenatal appointment, ‘what kind of labour do you want to have?’. Me being a little cheeky said ‘4 hours tops, no drugs, no stitches’ then ended with a loud ‘pah!’. Melody wrote down something in her notes and said ‘ok’.
The first time Melody put me under her hypnobirthing spell, I thought it was a load of faff. I didn’t feel ‘under’ and I kept thinking about holding in farts whilst listening to her odd hypnotic voice that I found myself trying not to burst out laughing. So in-between holding in farts and laughter I was wondering if it was working. I asked Melody about this and she said ‘If you can hear my voice it’s working’.
She recorded our sessions and I would listen to them as much as I could – truth is, if you’re going to do hypnobirthing, it’s best to start as early as possible and as often as possible. The more I listened, the more I listened… and I started to feel like it was taking effect and I really started to believe that I could do it. In the meantime, I’m still reading these two books that were on the back of Melody’s recommendation.
I thought I was in active labour… my contractions were coming every 3 minutes and they weren’t bad at all. I remember thinking ‘what’s all the fuss about? This is easy!’. I called Melody and the first thing she asked me was ‘what are you wearing?’. I thought this wasn’t the time to talk about fashion but told her what I wearing (leggings and a T). She said I wasn’t in labour, and I was a little bit put out. I asked her to come over and take a look at my cervix as I was sure I was about to push a head out.
She checked me and said I was only 3cm dilated – that it could take up to 24 hours to get into active labour, which I found so frustrating… She told me to take some paracetamol, have a bath and go to bed and to call her again when I am in active labour.
‘How will I know when I’m in active labour’
‘You’ll know.. trust me’.
So I did exactly what she said. I took a bath and my husband fed me fruit whilst I felt like a beached whale and cross at myself for thinking that my labour had started.
I think the bath must have helped me to relax – as soon as I was out of the bath, the contractions came on fast and furious. This was it! This was the moment I had been working towards and I was ready for it!! Bring it on I thought!!!
I was naked on all fours rocking backwards and forwards and breathing in time with my rocking only focusing on one thing in my bedroom which happened to be a old suitcase. I had to stay focused on this to stay calm. I have never been so focused on something in my entire life. My husband tried to rub my back to which I quickly barked at him ‘NO!’. I had become my animal self – I was primal.
Have you ever seen animals give birth? They find a very quiet, dark place and don’t want anyone interfering. And they are always on all fours (obvs). We are also animals and without thinking, I became an animal – I was even making noises like an animal and I didn’t care how I looked or sounded or if my bum was in the air. All decency goes out the window!
Jesse (my husband) called Melody. ‘What’s she wearing?’ she asked again. Jesse told her I was naked on all fours and I couldn’t talk. ‘She’s cooked!’ said Melody and she was over in a flash. Truth is, she had just been sitting in the car outside waiting for the call.
When Melody arrived, she knelt down beside me, ever so calm and comforting. She didn’t touch me, but went straight into her hypno talk. She told me to ride the wave – that it was going up and down (as contractions do) and I was holding onto every word she said. It was helping. My breathing started to get longer and deeper which really helped and I was still rocking. Never underestimate the power of deep breaths! I had a routine going and it was working. Then I had to move from the bedroom and walk to the living room where Jesse was filling up the birthing pool. This was the part that threw me – I didn’t want to move from my comfort zone and even though the walk was only about 10 steps, it felt like a marathon.
Melody stayed by my side and helped me up and moved me into the pool. It was around this time I experienced ‘transition’. This is when you’re between 8-10cm dilated and almost ready to push BUT it’s the toughest part and you feel like you CANNOT do it. I remember asking Melody to check how dilated I was – that if I was only 4cm to punch me in the face to knock me out or take me to hospital. When she said I was 8/9cm I was so relieved. I knew that I was almost there.
Stepping into the hot water of the birthing pool was instant pain relief. I almost got my sense of humour back for a second – but then the strong waves of contractions were here again and admittedly I did ask Melody for the gas and air. She told me she had left it in the car and that I didn’t need it! That I could do it. Her positive affirmations kept me going. Jesse was also incredible at keeping me calm and spraying my face with water in between every contraction as requested by my earlier barks.
At this point my waters still hadn’t broken – and just like magic, Melody said to me ‘any minute now you’ll feel a gush of water’ and then it happened. As I was already in the water I didn’t see how much water left my body (I was hoping for a Hollywood film waters breaking moment in a restaurant or something.. does this actually happen?)
By this time, I was hanging over the birthing pool, Jesse and I in a strong firm grip every time I was having a contraction. Melody told me not to grip so hard as this could tense up the cervix, but at this point and without my request for gas and air I needed to grip onto something, especially in transition.
The next part took me by surprise and the only way I can describe it is when you’re about to vomit. Our bodies are smarter than our brains. When something doesn’t agree with us, we throw up. We don’t know what is happening in side us that make us bring up vomit, our bodies just do it for us naturally. This is what it was like when I had the urge to push. I couldn’t stop it – it was a sensation stronger than I was and it was coming! I told Melody ‘I want to push’. I was soon to meet my baby! Girl or boy??
The pushing part I found nicer than the actual contractions part – It was almost satisfying, like pushing out an enormous poo – and with it I was very vocal and used this as a release too. My neighbours could hear me, but my neighbour happened to be my best mate and it was nice to know she was also there with me in the side wings rooting for me.
I was crowing and I felt his head with my hand – it’s a very odd feeling but it was also comforting for me to know this was almost all over. A large push and contraction and the head was out. Then you wait for the next contraction with a head hanging out your fanny – and the baby moves too – he turned but I thought Melody was touching me so I snapped ‘Don’t touch me!’. She cleared her throat ‘ahem’ as I looked up and she was standing in front of me clearly not anywhere near my baby’s head or my vagina.
‘One last push and you’ll meet your baby’
At this point my husband started to well up. I remember I thought ‘stay focused’ as I was still in such a state of labour and needed to get to the end of it and to be as strong as I could be.
I could feel the last contraction rising and with one last mighty push out shot our son Basil all around the side of the birthing pool and landed into the hands of Melody on the other side of the pool.
She saw we had a boy, as did my husband but we all had a pact not to mention the sex of the baby until we had all seen ourselves first. I was the last to see and I’m so pleased it was me that saw his gender before I was told. After all that hard work it’s nice to get such a wonderful surprise.
The pain or ‘sensation’ stopped immediately and a rush of euphoria swept over me like my heart had an orgasm or something. I did it. It was over! We had a son! And I managed to prove everyone wrong – I could give birth at home… then I realised something which made the hair on the back of my neck spring to life.
My labour was under 4 hours, no drugs and no stitches. Just like I had asked for all those months ago in that prenatal appointment.
Basil is now 6 years old and I have no idea where the time has gone.
Happy Birthday darling Basil, we love you so much and please stop growing up so quickly! Mummy xxx