I'm thrilled to share this positive birth story from lovely Natalie, who gave birth recently to her second baby, Joey. Natalie got in touch when she was 37 weeks pregnant - so her story is testament to the positive role hypnobirthing can have on your birth experience - even if you think you've left it a bit "late" - it's really never too late to equip yourself with practical, proven techniques to draw upon the big day, a positive mindset and also lots of up-to-date information about birth.
I loved supporting Natalie in the run up and during her birth experience (we were whatsapping during early labour!) Natalie's previous birth was a very difficult induced labour. She didn't feel supported and the ended up with a lot of intervention and blood loss after the birth.
This time around things were very different - Natalie went into spontaneous labour, she stayed in her zone, kept super relaxed, and even when there were a few unexpected turns, as you will see from her story, at no point did she panic, which would have ensured her body could keep doing its thing. Huge congrats Natalie, so pleased you had the positive birth you were so hoping for - and thank you so much for sharing your story!
Natalie’s Birth Story
Baby Joey: 25.05.19
My waters broke at 9am on the 24th May, which was the morning of my due date. I heard a ping - almost like an elastic band pinging - and I just knew it was my waters releasing, and I was actually so excited! Going into labour spontaneously was such a huge relief for me, as I was induced with my first baby and I was so keen not to be induced this time.
My husband brought a bunch of towels up to the bedroom and the waters kept on coming. When they stopped, we rang the hospital who asked me to come in to be checked. My husband had already dropped our daughter to nursery - knowing she was going to go about her day as normal was also a huge relief as I didn’t need to make any special plans for her and my parents were around to collect her that afternoon - so I could just focus on having this baby, which was great!
We went in for the check at around 10am and everything was fine. I wasn’t having any surges yet so I was sent home to wait for things to begin. My husband and I went to have a nice coffee in the sunshine outside the hospital and I started feeling some twinges, and then we went home.
Nesting really kicked in when we were home which is funny looking back; I got all busy changing the bed (which was very wet from my waters releasing) and I got my husband to build a rocking chair for the baby’s room (which we hadn’t yet got around to doing!) During all of this, at about 11.30am my surges started to become quite intense quite quickly. I used the hypnobirthing breathing techniques during each one, and the Freya app to time the surges - they were strong from the start but totally manageable.
After a while, I also got the TENS machine going. Having both the Freya Surge timer app and the TENS machine meant that when each surge came, I was busy pressing the buttons for both the surge timer and the TENS machine - having both these things really helped me get through each contraction - mainly as I was distracted by them I think so at no point did I feel overwhelmed by the sensations.
My husband and I then went out for an early lunch nearby to the hospital - this in itself shows how calm I was even when in labour! After lunch, I felt I wanted to be back in the hospital. I realise now that I’m someone who feels safe there, so it was the best place for me to be. My contractions were not in a regular pattern, but seemed to be coming fairly often.
When we returned to the hospital (only 3 and a half hours after leaving after our morning check, when nothing had started yet), I was told that now I was about 2 and a half cm dilated. I was really pleased with this, as I knew it meant this was definitely happening! From this point, I chose to stay in a side ward until I was 5cm dilated (which is the point when I would be given a room).
Even though being in this side ward brought back memories of my induced birth first time around, this time everything was different - I felt very focused and relaxed. I kept upright, mainly leaning forwards as this was the position my body seemed to want me to be in, and even the consultant I had been seeing for management of a medical condition came to see me and remarked how relaxed I seemed and she was very pleased to hear I was using hypnobirthing this time!
How I was coping with the labour was such a huge contrast to the lady in the next bay to me. She was getting in such a state that a Doula who was there with another lady came over and told her she needed to calm down and breathe as she wasn’t going to do herself any good. It was quite distracting having this commotion going on, however after a while this lady was given the epidural she was crying out for and moved to the labour ward.
I continued to dilate and cope well with the contractions, however by the time I got to 5cm dilated, there weren't any rooms free, so I needed to wait longer for a room. At this point, my calm mindset was really challenged and I was starting to get annoyed - especially as I overheard that the lady who was in the side ward with me was only 2cm dilated when she was taken to the labour ward and given a room!
There was no sign of a room becoming available and I found this the hardest and only negative part of my birth. I couldn’t have got through this part without the breathing techniques and the surge timer app which both kept me in my zone as much as possible. By this point I was also using gas and air alongside Freya and my trusty TENS machine.
I finally got a room at 3am, and I was still 5cm dilated - looking back on it, I think the stress of not having a room or knowing when one was going to become available caused things to stall. When I was in my room, I had an epidural which really enabled me to relax again. I managed to keep upright either on the ball, walking around a bit or sitting on the bed initially but then the baby didn’t seem to like the movement, so they advised me to stay in the bed.
I had a great connection with my midwife who was with me throughout the night (from 3am-8am). Her shift ended at 8am and she told me I was almost 10cm dilated and would so soon ready to push. At this point, I was introduced to my new midwife, who also had a student midwife with her. The first midwife had promised to get me the best midwife on the next shift and she didn’t disappoint!
When I was next examined, I was now less dilated which was a bit confusing at the time. Probably due to the shifts changing when I was 9cm, my cervix closed back up a few cm whilst I got to know and feel totally safe with my new team of caregivers. Also during this time, the baby had turned and he was now in the back to back position.
An obstetrician came in to examine me and I was advised to wait for the baby to hopefully turn back to the optimal position for birth before I started pushing. They also came in to scan me slightly later and advised me that the baby was likely to be 8.5lbs (They were spot on with his weight - he was 8.5lbs exactly - but it wasn't particularly helpful info to be told this during labour!)
Despite this turn of events - going from being almost ready to push - to needing to wait - I felt really supported and well looked after (which was in stark contrast to my previous birth, where I felt like I didn't see midwife or know what was going on most of the time). My midwives were so positive, telling me I was going to do this, that I wouldn’t tear or need forceps this time - they were really so empowering and encouraging which really helped keep me in a positive mindset!
Thankfully the baby did turn on his own, and I could then start pushing. I was in an upright seated position on the bed, with my midwife supporting my perineum as I was pushing. My husband was bringing my cold towels in between surges and helping me to keep me knees up. All the support of everyone in the room just made me feel like I could do it, and after almost an hour of pushing, I gave birth to our little boy without any medical intervention or episiotomy - which I was so happy about! It was SUCH a different experience to my first induced birth. I should add that as a second time mum, the hospital protocol meant I was only given 1 hour to push. My time was up at 4.30pm - and my little boy was born at 4.29pm!
I didn't tear and had really minimal blood loss (whereas in my previous birth there was a lot of intervention and it ended with a large blood loss due to retained placenta and episiotomy). Not having either of these things this time made it such a different experience both for the actual birth and my recovery. It really was a game-changer!
I felt great after the birth, however when our baby was born he was quite floppy and wheezy which was a scare. They thought it could have been because of the length of the labour or the fact that my waters were broken for a long time so there could be an infection. The paediatricians came into the room very quickly to inspect him. His APGAR score wasn’t good and they told me they would have to take him to the Special Care Baby Unit. However, he suddenly improved enough for them to let me have a cuddle before he went - and then he immediately latched on and began feeding!
This indicated that he was fine and well (since an exhausted, unwell baby would not have the strength to feed). They then let him stay with me and we remained in a room together so he could have antibiotics as a precaution.
My experience of giving birth the second time (in the same hospital) was so much more positive and a huge part of that comes down to the fact my whole approach was much more positive too thanks to doing the hypnobirthing course.
Hypnobirthing was absolutely essential because it gave me a toolkit of techniques and knowledge to draw upon, which I found especially helpful during the more difficult moments in my labour. It also made my husband feel much more knowledgeable and empowered which is something he didn’t feel after NCT. It’s 100% worth spending your money on - the techniques will hugely help you and I now tell everyone who’ll listen about it! Thank you Elise, I really don’t think I could have done it without your course and support!