My wonderful online hypnobirthing clients, Katie & Jethro, share their beautiful daughter Etta Iris Warren’s incredible birth story with us. Katie trusted her instincts and navigated her birth experience like a pro with Jethro by her side. As well as giving us some serious post birth snack inspo (smoked salmon bagels anyone!?), their story highlights the importance of trusting your instincts, labouring at home as long as you feel comfortable for & keeping calm when things don’t go to plan.
So grab a cuppa & enjoy…
'WELCOMING ETTA IRIS WARREN (born 22.03.23 at 1110am weighing 7lbs)
I was 40+3 and booked in for a sweep at noon the following day. Whilst I was getting rather impatient and uncomfortable, I was desperate to avoid a sweep, for some reason my instincts really didn’t like the idea of letting someone external inside my body to disturb my cervix having done everything I could to protect my baby from the outside world for 9+months. Plus, I knew my baby would come when she was ready – I had lost part of my mucus plus the week prior, so I knew everything was starting to prepare and I trusted my body to know what to do. There were only so many times I could rearrange my sock drawer and the freezer was bursting with homecooked meals and syringes of expressed colostrum so when my NCT group said they were meeting up for lunch locally I was delighted to go along for oxytocin induing cuddles with their babies (I was last by 3+ weeks)! After this I took our whippet Viv for a walk, stamping my feet and trying to get baby to engage, 16,000 steps later I was home for a raspberry leaf tea and onto my birthing ball – holding onto the kitchen table and bouncing as hard as I could for 30min! My husband had gone to work 2.5hrs away that day so I was hopeful by sods law this may also bring on some action. Still nothing! With a final flurry of energy, I cooked us a spicy paneer curry for dinner and we then sat on the sofa to watch some TV. Around 10pm my tummy went super hard, finally what I think was a Braxton-Hicks contraction and my first of my whole pregnancy! Exciting.
We went to bed as normal, and Jethro went off to sleep. I lay trying to get comfortable on my side with my pregnancy pillow and didn’t manage to drop off, about midnight I felt a cramp and I knew immediately that it was a contraction – someone had told me you will know when it is, and I just did. Just before 1am I had maybe had another 1 or 2 and so I opened the Freya app on my phone to start tracking the surges, breathing in for 4 and out for more (as taught by Kristina during our course) and listened to the hypno tracks on my headphones. At this point they were 15min apart and I stay lying in bed as I knew I should rest as much as possible and that early labour could be a long process.
Every few contractions I would go to the bathroom as my bladder was very squeezed by the baby by the end of my pregnancy and I quite liked the movement. By 3am the surges were 5-7mins apart and getting stronger and when I went to the bathroom I noticed blood in my knickers – I panicked a little and woke Jethro up to tell him labour had started (!) and asked him to call the birth centre to ask if the bleeding was a concern, he did and they said it was just my bloody show, nothing to worry about and to only call back when I was having 3 contractions in 10 minutes for 1 to 2 hours! I knew I could get there and so I sent Jethro back to bed and continued tracking on the Freya app, I started to get cold from the adrenaline (I think) and was shaking, so I grabbed the duvet from the spare bed and wrapped it around me – I didn’t want to be lying in bed anymore I needed to move so I alternated between sitting on the end of the bed, standing leaning on our chest of drawers and sitting on my birthing ball as I welcomed the contractions. I took 2 paracetamol. The hypno tracks were also getting samey so I switched to a meditation playlist and put it on our speaker rather than in my headphones. Jethro didn’t stir! I felt confident and in control, Kristina had prepared me so well on our course and nothing I was experiencing was a surprise. We had been given some positive affirmations and the one that resonated with me was ‘I am opening up to let my baby out’ and I was repeating this to myself during contractions and trying to remember to keep breathing in for 4 and out for more. I thought I would have a bath at this stage of labour but I didn’t and somehow my instincts told me it might slow me down. I also thought we had eaten our dinner quite early and I might need energy so between contractions I ventured downstairs and made myself some peanut butter on toast.
By 5.30am I had my first run of 3 in 10 and the app notified me that I was in established labour, I thought not yet, I have to do this for another 50min at least! So I continued calmly, knowing that this was really positive and exciting. After exactly 50 minutes, I woke Jethro up and gave him a list of jobs I had written out on a piece of paper – sort out the dog ready to be collected, get my colostrum syringes out of freezer and pack into hospital bags in cool bag, make smoked salmon bagels for after birth and so on! He sprang into action and did everything. At 6am we called the birth centre to tell them and they said unfortunately they were having an emergency and could we call back in 10 mins – 3 more contractions I thought, argh, but I knew I could do it but I needed a step change, so I asked Jethro to put on the TENs machine, wow it really helped as a distraction and I was grateful for something as I was starting to find them quite painful. We called back exactly 10 minutes later and they said we could come in. The drive was only 10 minutes thankfully although the speedbumps were not fun! I continued to use the TENs machine, I would ramp it up as the wave built and then turn it off as it faded. We arrived at the birth centre and were put in a triage room with a student midwife. There was no sense of urgency which was quite frustrating as I was now in quite a lot of discomfort. I had been bleeding continuously so whilst they asked for a urine sample I asked if they could check my pad. The student said it was bloody show and nothing to worry about. I was quite out of it and in my zone by now however Jethro said he got the impression they were considering sending us back home as they thought my contractions were regular but not for long enough and I didn’t seem in enough pain as I was able to communicate (!!!!!) so when they asked if we would like a vaginal examination Jethro quickly said YES even though I had planned not to have any.
I am very glad we did as the student did the examination and looked to her senior midwife and said ‘8cm?’, the midwife said ‘shall I check?!’ as in first-time mum there is no way that is right, and when she checked she quickly exclaimed ‘yes 8cm we had better get you into a room’. We were in a fabulous birthing suite within a couple of minutes, it was so much nicer than I had imagined – relatively homely, no bright lights, spacious, 2 windows, a double bed, sofa, en suite and a big water bath which I made a beeline for and got straight into! It was a relief and it felt a little more private somehow to be in the water. I was passed the gas and air which was a great focus for breathing through the contractions which were intensifying. I was kneeling with my arms hanging over the side of the bath, I knew I wanted to be in an upright forward and open position 😊 – between every contraction I would have a sip of water or Lucozade which Jethro would pass to me and during the contractions I would squeeze his hands.
Every 15 minutes they midwives would use an underwater doppler to measure the baby’s heartrate. About an hour in, I felt a pop and the midwives confirmed it was my waters breaking! A couple of times they got me out of the bath and put a catheter in to empty my bladder on the bed, as I didn’t need to wee but they wanted to be sure my bladder wasn’t blocking the exit! After another 2 hours they said I was ready to push, and they took the gas and air away. I was pushing with all my might and felt every time that she must be emerging, I could feel her going out and then back in, so I thought I must be about to birth her but they kept saying she wasn’t, I started to panic and think I couldn’t do it – I was saying if that isn’t it then I give up and you will have to cut her out (hahaha). I was getting bothered and they were worrying about the baby as her heartrate was up and down and it was really annoying having them trying to take the measurements during contractions I was pushing them off me (opps, sorry!) they suggested I change position to sitting back and I tried but it was just too painful. Then I heard one of the senior midwives say in a serious tone ‘we need to get her out of the bath’ and I knew she was concerned so I stood up immediately and got out onto the double bed. They asked me to put my knees up into my armpits and then they saw why she wasn’t coming out, she had her arm and hand up by her face!!! I knew I had felt her hand tickling my cervix at the end of my pregnancy, ewww so weird haha. They said we are going to give you a local anaesthetic to prepare for episiotomy, I was calm and said this was fine – I wanted this baby out and safely and knew all about this procedure and that it is not uncommon for first time mums. They gave me the injection and then on the next contraction or the following one I pushed her out! So I didn’t have the cut done in the end, however I did have stage 2 tears – not that you can feel them at all. I did feel the ring of fire, again, I wasn’t scared as I knew to expect this.
Etta was placed onto my chest and I was relieved but in shock, she was out within 4 hours of arriving at hospital! Sadly she had low oxygen and wasn’t making much noise so they only allowed us 3 minutes of delayed cord clamping before instructing Jethro to cut the cord and then they took her off to the resus and a doctor from the labour ward upstairs rushed in, it was scary with Etta being on oxygen and everything beeping so when they suggested the synthetic oxytocin injection to clamp down my uterus, stop excessive bleeding and help get my placenta out I said yes and they basically just pulled my placenta out! I don’t think they even waited for a contraction. They were very complimentary about my cord saying it was a beautiful one and started doing a bit of a lesson to the students about it – very surreal. I wanted to see it and have a photo of my placenta so they put it next to me and took some – which was cool. Tree of life! Then I was put in stirrups and sewn up, it took MUCH longer than I had anticipated which I would have liked to have been more prepared for. Thankfully I was given the gas and air back. My body was shaking from the adrenaline and shock of everything and I was weeping and felt a bit low with my baby on the other side of the room still being treated.
Once this was all done I was so happy to get on the bed and be passed my baby for some precious skin to skin and to try feeding. I was lucky that I had lots of colostrum but Etta struggled to latch, so we were so pleased we had syringes from home to feed her with and Jethro did a great job of this. We stayed in the birth centre until 5pm ish at which point due to short staff sadly they had to move us to postnatal ward as we needed to stay for at least 24 hours for Etta’s oxygen to be monitored.
I do not think my birth story could have been much better (except for the arm up situation!) or more positive and for that I am very grateful for Kristina for empowering me with all the tools I used to navigate it. An incredible and wild experience, like nothing else. ‘
Thank you so much Katie & Jethro for sharing Etta’s journey into the world - you are all amazing!
If you enjoyed reading this positive birth story why not have a look at some other client birth stories on my blog…