In lockdown April 2020, I had our first baby boy by emergency caesarean section. Hypnobirthing got me through an intense 42 hour labour with a back to back baby, and my experience lit a fire in my belly to make a birth better for as many people as possible. I became obsessed with birth, starting & finishing my hypnobirthing teacher training & continued to soak up as much information and learn everything I could, both to help my clients and prepare for my own HBAC (home birth after caesarean).
Here’s my story of what happened…
Due date came and went, as I knew it would. Our first baby was born at 41+5, so I expected to carry well past my due date this time round. Luckily I felt good & not fed up, having just finished building work on our house I enjoyed the extra time to focus on baby & myself to really get that oxytocin going.
On the Thursday I treated myself to a pregnancy massage & reflexology session with the lovely Amanda at Tranquility Holistic Therapy, & then went off for lunch with a lovely friend/client at Wythmails in Orlingbury my absolute fave cafe. A perfect day.
On Friday I took my son, Max, to the local playground and did some curb walking on the way to see if that would encourage baby to engage. After we got home I felt the urge to rest, so I spent as much time laying down and resting as possible (with a 3 year old to look after 😂). In the afternoon I enjoyed sitting in the sunshine on my birth ball in our garden & I started to experience some back ache, plus mild period like cramps, & noticed I’d lost my mucus plug at about 3.30pm when I went to the loo. I didn’t make tooo much fuss to my husband (although I did show him my mucus plug 😅 sorry Andrew) but I was quietly very excited knowing this meant everything was slowly gearing up for labour.
I made sure I had a good carbohydrate heavy dinner (just in case) & got Max ready for bed. As part of our routine, I asked him to choose a bedtime story, and he, totally off his own back, chose ‘hello baby’ by Jenni Overend - a book all about older children being at a home birth which we’d enjoyed reading together before, but he’d never normally choose off his own back. I wondered if this was a sign & shed a little happy tear 🥲.
I then had a bath, texted my birthkeeper , Leah @theperinatalspecialist, to give her an update so she had a heads up & then I went to bed.
Sure enough at 1am I woke up to a strong contraction - this was it!!! I had to get out of bed to sway and breathe through it ‘ in for 4 , out for more’ and I visualised a wave crashing in to shore and then going back out again. These contractions happened every 15 mins and each time I’d wake up, breathe, sway, squeeze my comb in my hand, relax & go back to bed to rest inbetween. I was soo excited and loved working my way through them.
At 5am, our son Max trotted into our bedroom & got into bed with us , he crawled in the middle of me & my husband, put his arm over bump, kissed it and fell asleep. It was really lovely. Soon enough though a contraction came, I had to get out of bed to sway through it , and by time it had finished my space had been stolen by Max 😂. So I decided to go and rest in his new ‘big boy’ double bed instead.
When everyone woke up for the day contractions slowed to every 20-25 mins , I had lost more of my mucus plug and set about to carry on with the day as normal as possible & expected with the bright sunshine for my contractions to fizzle out… but they didn’t, and soon enough had started to increase in frequency and intensity. I managed to eat a sandwich for lunch knowing that was probably the last ‘meal’ I’d be having for a while.
At this point with each contraction I needed support so I’d shout for my husband to come running and lean on him, squeeze his hand and sway. Max would also come running ‘il come help you mummy’ and he’d hug me and hold my lower back, I so wish we had a photo of us working through my contractions together like a team! My perfect mini birth partner had remembered that I’d told him I’d need lots of love hugs and cuddles when I was having the baby to help get baby out!
Labour was starting to get intense so we called my mum to come & collect Max at 1.30pm. I was SO emotional saying goodbye to him, I burst into tears knowing I wouldn’t see my first baby again until our second was born 😭.
With Max gone, my husband started to set up the birth pool & our birth environment in the lounge. We started our birth playlist which I loved listening too, it had a range of music including Chief Springs, one of my oldest friends Sam’s band. If you’re looking for perfectly chilled music definitely look them up!
I started to use my TENS machine to help me cope with the increasing intensity in my back it helped me feel more comfortable for sure. It served as a really good distraction from my surges.
At 3.30pm my husband texted Leah to ask her to make her way over to us & also made our first call to the midwives to let them know I was in labour so they could find midwives to send out to us for our home birth. My husband was told there was nobody available to support home births & all they could offer us was the birth pool on labour ward. My husband pushed back and said that’s not what we want, we would not be going on labour ward and can they please try again to find staff. A few phone calls went back & forth across the afternoon and it was finally agreed they’d open the birth centre up for me. My husband thanked them, but we still want our home birth & we’d call back on shift change that night at 8pm & hope they’d found someone.
I was sooo happy when Leah arrived because my contractions had reeeeally ramped up. I was desperate to get in the pool but held off as long as possible.
I was able to cope better with Leah there, Whilst I’d lean on my husband, she was helping support my back, providing me with counter pressure & reminding me to release the tension in my shoulders & breathe.
I then decided I needed some more relief so started to fill the pool up. It was amazing when I got in. I’d dreamt of a water birth and using the pool for 2 pregnancies now so it was an achievement in itself I could say I had used it! (First time round we’d hired a pool, done a test run, but home birth service got cancelled due to lockdown - it was first peak of pandemic when the world went to pot).
In the pool I found it comfiest to lean over the side when a contraction hit, I couldn’t lay on my side as this made the sensations worse. I had my husband providing counter pressure on my back & Leah at my top end , holding my hand and pouring the warm water over my back - heaven! My contractions built up in intensity really quickly , so the first few seconds for me were quite panicked , then I could take back control & breathe the rest of it out - guided by Leah.
When things started to get tough I took some time to read my birth affirmations board & reminded myself why I was doing this. Leah would repeat some of my affirmations to me too which was really helpful.
I also had an ice cold flannel on my forehead which was soo nice - I’d prepared these in pregnancy with some calming essential oils. I kept reminding myself internally to ‘surrender’. I repeated this thought consistently . It helped me stay in the zone & release all inhibitions.
After a while I think felt intense pressure down below & thought I needed to get to the toilet quick as I didn’t really want to go in the pool if I could help it. I shouted that I needed help and managed to make the few steps across to our downstairs loo, where then to my surprise instead of what I thought might happen 😂 there was a huuuuge POP & my waters exploded everywhere & all over my poor husbands legs. If I’m totally honest this was one of the most unpleasant moments of the entire birth, and after we got home I actually couldn’t bring physically myself to go into the downstairs loo for a few days!
Anyway I got back in the pool & things continued to intensify. I then started to question myself, whether I could handle the intensity, that I ‘couldn’t do it anymore’ and that I needed pain relief - hello transition! I really did not want to go into hospital so instead my husband called for homebirth midwives again hoping we’d have more luck after shift change, but to no avail, we then called for an ambulance at 9.18pm as I really wanted to use gas & air, I could feel increasing pressure down below and I knew I’d be pushing soon.
The paramedics turned up and I was sooo glad to use the gas & air, it was just what I needed & I was relieved (in my first labour it did nothing for my comfort levels so I was delighted it was working this time round). I started feeling the urge to push so went with it. The paramedics were very keen for me to transfer in (as I’d previously had an emergency section I was deemed as ‘high risk’) but they did mostly listen & respect when I calmly answered ‘no’ and ‘give me more time’. However it soon became apparent that we were running out of gas & air, so with this information, I reluctantly agreed to transfer into the birth centre.
Getting out of my birth pool and onto a stretcher was horrible to be honest, the pool had been my safe haven, I was covered in my home birth towels & wheeled out of my house at 11.04pm pushing & groaning, really noisy low guttural sounds (I’ve watched it back on our ring doorbell footage…) I also remember I had one almighty contraction as I got onto the street outside, I can never look my neighbours in the eye again haha, and it felt like a lifetime getting to hospital (especially because the ambulance crew chose a really bizarre long route to get me there, and one which included a LOT of speed bumps 😵💫 which was really frustrating as at that time of night it should have only taken 5 mins to get there from our house!)
On arrival to the birth centre I got onto all fours , facing the back of the bed and was asking the midwives ‘please fill the pool up as quickly as you can’, as I was still pushing. Finally it was ready, I got into the pool and I was back in the zone. I loved being back in the water! I knew at this point it wouldn’t be long before I was under pressure what with hospital guidelines on pushing, and was experiencing intense pressure down below, I just went for it with all my might as although I know breathing baby out is best, I instinctively felt for some reason I had too push with everything I had… I remembered to put my knees together and legs out (KICO position) which I’m sure helped. Within an hour of arriving at the birth centre my baby was born into the water. I remember hearing ‘Kristina look down your baby is here!’ And lifted him myself to the surface and to my chest, and started rubbing his back. It was incredible to catch my own baby. I cried, wailed & repeated ‘omg I did it I did it’ , it’s definitely one of the most wild and incredible moments of my life. Il never forget the feeling, physically & emotionally.
Pushing with everything I had later made sense , as my little one was born with his hand by his chin… I’m really proud of myself for managing to deliver him naturally and on minimal pain relief (birth pool & gas & air). It did mean I had to later havethird degree tear repaired under spinal anaesthetic in theatre.
After enjoying some moments in the pool with baby, we got out as I needed to deliver the placenta out of the pool as I was having it encapsulated. As soon as we stepped out the pool baby decided to do a huge poo and it went all over me and him, lovely stuff 😅.
I got onto the bed and we enjoyed skin to skin, I put baby to my breast & did optimal cord clamping - waiting for the cord to totally stop pulsating and turn white to allow all the goodness to transfer over to baby. We also delayed all newborn checks - all of these things were so important to me and fully respected by the midwives on shift.
I gave myself some time to try and deliver the placenta naturally but all my contractions had stopped, & the midwives had told me that I’d also lost a significant amount of blood (just over a litre) so I made an informed decision to have the injection for active management. I was ready to be done & was no longer in my birthing zone.
After I delivered the placenta I was very sick (common side effect from injection) & then was confirmed I’d need to have my tears repaired in theatre. I was transferred to labour ward to wait for my surgery & believe it or not, it took 9 hours, yep 9 hours before it could happen…. There was unprecedented chain of events apparently happening in both operating theatres. It was a really long time post birth to be told I couldn’t have food or drink, after a few hours I got the doctors to agree that I could have water. In hindsight I wish I’d had my hypnobirthing brain on and just had something to eat because I know the guideline on no food/drink is based on incredibly old outdated research, but hindsight is a wonderful thing right!
Anyway the repairs itself when they finally happened, were super chill, I was glad to have had a spinal anaesthetic and felt nothing, I had a lovely operating team who put music on & I just did my hypnobirthing breathing throughout. I was on my own whilst my husband was with baby.
Back on labour ward whilst waiting to be transferred to recovery ward ,I never was offered any of the classic NHS tea & toast, I think I gave birth on one of the busiest days so we were largely forgotten about! But luckily one of our best friends offered to drop us off some food to the hospital so we enjoyed a well earned McDonald’s - thank you Lewis! Having had my first during lockdown with the strictest rules in place, meant my experience this time round on the postnatall Robert Watson ward was entirely different. I was able to have visitors which was so wonderful.
My second birth was one of the most profound moments of my life. Il never forget the feeling, physically & emotionally. Id been mentally preparing for my VBAC for years & physically too throughout pregnancy, I really did do ‘all of the things’ to optimise my chances of success at a physiological birth. This meant A LOT of research, going against a lot of standard guidance & policy, confidently advocating for myself and my baby; investment into holistic care, support, treatments, etc, but most of all, I put all my trust in my body and my baby that I could do it. I had zero fear about birthing my baby, and this is absolutely down to hypnobirthing.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank some key players in my positive birth experience…
First up, my incredible midwife, Jodie Mutch. I was lucky enough to have Jodie look after me for both my pregnancies. She is a true diamond and was incredibly supportive of all my choices. I can’t tell you the difference it makes to have a midwife who you trust, I felt so safe and supported under her care and enjoyed every appointment. Thank you Jodie you are such a special person.
My birth support Leah @theperinatalspecialist. I truly believe I wouldn’t have achieved my VBAC without you, you kept me calm & reminded me to believe in myself. You are amazing, thank you.
My husband, Andrew. Thank you for supporting me, & trusting that I knew what to do - especially as a lot of that was against the status quo… I love you
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my birth story. Whilst I am currently on maternity leave (as of June 2023), if you’d like me as your birth coach, I will be opening up my diary for some 1:1 sessions later in the year, and please keep your eyes peeled for information on my website when my group hypnobirthing courses recommence. You can always email me to put your name on the waiting list so you’re the first to know!
In the meantime you can read….
Lessons I learned from my first birth -
more awesome birth stories from my clients here…
Follow my postpartum journey over on Instagram (& find loads of fab birth tips!) here @thebirthbase