Rise & Glow Blog | Positive Birth Stories & Hypnobirthing in Action!

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Category: Darent Valley Hospital

  1. The Birth Story of Max: a dramatic entrance to the world!

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    newborn-baby-darent-valley-hospital-hypnobirth-born-in-2022Pregnancy

    Pregnancy was different second time around. It absolutely flew by with a toddler keeping me busy, and I had a lot less time for yoga and self-care than I did in my first pregnancy. However, running around after Xavier kept me fit and strong – aside from the exhaustion of first trimester, I absolutely loved my second pregnancy.

    However, I had been nervous about going into premature labour again. Although Xavier had been a healthy weight, we had needed to stay in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – Walnut Ward at Darent Valley Hospital) for three weeks with him after he was born while his lungs finished developing fully. Xavier is now enormous, super strong, and full of energy and contagious smiles - there is no way you would now know he had been premature and started off life in NICU! Looking back on our time in NICU with Xavier, it was such a special time for the three of us to bond and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. However, I really wanted to do everything to avoid going into labour early second time around, to give our baby the best start in life, and avoid separating our family with another stay in NICU. My dream was to have our family of four together at home from day one.

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    In my third trimester I started listening to a lovely “Stay in baby” hypnosis track every night when I went to sleep. This made me feel a lot calmer and stopped my thoughts about potential preterm labour churning around my mind at night. I even dreamed of the number 37 – I wanted to keep baby in until Easter, which is when I would be 37 weeks and officially full term!

     

    The Start of Labour

    It was Good Friday and a four day weekend of sunshine stretched out in front of us. My husband Cyrille was off work and the three of us had had a wonderful day together, including a long walk in the forest, enjoying the sunshine and the spring flowers.

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    19:30 - While I was giving Xavier a bath that evening, I was reflecting on our lovely day together and happily chatting with Xavier about the other things we had planned for Easter weekend. Suddenly, I felt a “pop” and small trickle. I wasn’t sure if it was my waters releasing or whether baby had just kicked me in the bladder(!) so I put a pad in and continued our usual bedtime routine with Xavier.

    Cyrille and I read a few stories and sung our bedtime songs with Xavier before kissing him goodnight and tucking him into bed. While in his room, I was conscious of starting to feel some aches in my lower back, and I knew in my heart that this was it!

    Downstairs, I told Cyrille we should eat something substantial as we could have a long night ahead of us. He suggested fajitas (my fave!) and I set to work cooking while he tidied up after hurricane Xavier. Cooking fajitas was actually brilliant as it kept me busy and focussed on a task, rather than wondering whether or not I was in labour!

    20:30 – I was sensing some regularity, a rhythm, to the light surge I was feeling so I started timing them. They were every 5-6 minutes, lasting about 30 seconds each. They still felt very distant and faint at this point. We sat down to eat our fajitas while watching Naked Gun! I found it difficult to sit still, as I felt a little distracted and restless, so we paused the movie after we’d finished eating. Instead I went out into the garden. My birth playlist was playing, and the full moon lit up the whole garden with an eerie glow. I could smell that fresh scent of the grass after a hot day, I could hear insects chirping, and the trees were glowing – it felt like all my senses were heightened. As my surges came and went, I swayed along to the music on my birth playlist, while breathing in the fresh evening air under the full moon – it felt wonderful.

    21:15 – I called triage (“Tambootie ward”) at our local hospital, Darent Valley. As I was technically still preterm (by about 24 hours!) they told me to come in to hospital to check if my waters had indeed released. I told them I’d be there in two hours as my Mum lives about 1h30 away so we needed to wait for her to arrive to look after Xavier. Fortunately, my Mum is super organised – she already had her bag packed and was ready to go!

    I spent the next hour and a half keeping busy, cleaning the kitchen, checking everything in my birth bag… The surges were getting more intense and frequent and I could feel things were progressing nicely already. I had a shower which felt great, especially inhaling the lovely scent of my lavender essential oil shower gel. I also tried squeezing a comb in one hand which was a lovely grounding feeling. As the surges got more intense, I felt like I need to have both hands on a flat surface like a table or windowsill in order to ground myself even more. Cyrille saw that I was needing to work harder through the surges now, and gave me amazing support which light-touch massage and whispering positive words to me. For many of the surges, I kept my arms around his neck while he stroked my back. I would kiss him as I felt each surge melt away. It was lovely - I knew that we were going to smash this birth as a team!

    23:00 - I snuck into Xavier’s room to give him goodbye kiss. I took a moment to breathe in the gorgeous smell of his hair, to stroke his soft cheeks, to listen to his breathing. I was fighting back tears at this point, as I realised that his life was going to change forever tonight. As I left his room, I heard Mum arrive downstairs, so gave her a big hug as Cyrille loaded up the car, and off we went!

    The surges in the car were hard – it felt like Cyrille was driving like he was on Mario Kart full-speed round every bend!! He assured me he was driving super slowly and carefully! Having my birth playlist in the car helped a lot. I closed my eyes and inhaled lavender oil from a wet flannel I held to my temples. My surges were less frequent in the car, but longer and definitely less comfortable. I could feel that sitting down was not ideal, my body wanted to be free and mobile, so I was relieved the drive was only 20 minutes or so.

     

    Arriving at Hospital

    23:20 – We parked up at Darent Valley Hospital just as one of my favourite songs from my childhood was playing – Champagne Supernova by Oasis. We listened to the end of the song before making our way to the hospital maternity building. I had two surges in the car park and then three on the walk to Tambootie ward, with about two minutes in between each one. They were intense and powerful but I loved them now that I was free to move my body instinctively, swaying my hips and breathing deeply through each surge. In between surges, Cyrille and I were laughing our heads off at this point as we must have looked like crazy people! With only 30 minutes to midnight, I remember we were joking about whether baby would be born today or tomorrow!

    23:30 – We arrived at Tambootie ward and met Carly, the midwife I had spoken to on the phone. She showed us to a small triage room. We turned the lights off straight away and I walked over the window so I could place my hands on the windowsill and shut everything out. Cyrille and I continued to work together through the surges. Carly came in to observe a couple of surges and said it looked like I was doing great. She asked to listen to baby’s heartbeat on the monitor for a couple of minutes. I had to lie down to put the CTG trace on which was hard work, I could feel lots of pressure in my pelvis so getting on and off the bed was a challenge, however I want to know baby is doing ok so it was worth it. After one surge lying down, Carly said I’m free to get up and move around as baby sounded happy.

    Carly was lovely and said she’d try to get us booked into a room with a birth pool, despite us being a day premature. She was delighted we were doing hypnobirthing and said I was managing the surges beautifully. She left the room to let us to get on with things.

    23:50 - We kept working through our surges, they were very intense now but I was feeling great. I was grateful for my hypnobirthing practice and welcomed each surge with a smile. I was happy they were so intense as it meant things were advancing nicely. Standing up, swaying my hips, Cyrille stroking my back and whispering words of encouragement to me, in our dark and cosy triage room, it was perfect.

     

    The Down Stage of Labour

    Then out of nowhere I had a super intense long surge, and in the middle of that surge I suddenly felt my whole body change direction and push downwards with unstoppable force! I felt a huge rush of adrenaline and for some reason shouted “NO NO NO!”

    However, I quickly recognised this feeling from Xavier’s birth, I knew it was transition and baby was coming, so I just accepted it and let my body start pushing. Carly and a couple of other midwives rushed in. I told them I was pushing and they started to panic a little! They watched my next surge and agreed, “Yep baby is coming right now, he’s going to arrive as soon as you get to the delivery room, we have to move quickly!”

    I could feel there was no stopping him, he was moving down through me so quickly and powerfully, and for a moment it seemed like I was just going to give birth in the triage room! Fortunately, Cyrille and the midwives helped me onto the bed on all fours and wheeled me (still on all fours) in to a delivery room just across the hall. It all felt very hectic around me. If I hadn’t been doing hypnobirthing, this situation would have been pure panic, but instead I was just loving life, laughing along with Cyrille and the midwives at the ridiculousness of the situation…it must have looked like absolute madness to a fly on the wall! We were so excited to meet our baby soon!

    We got to the room and met our lovely new midwife, Karen. She needed me to lie on my side to listen to baby and take my blood pressure which all felt a bit absurd. I felt primal and instinctive and wanted to be free, not tangled up in wires. Fortunately, after two surges on my side, I was able to get back up, take the cables off, and my body started pushing with insane force again. I took up the same position we used for Xavier’s birth - kneeling up with my arms around Cyrille’s shoulders.

    I reminded myself that I didn’t actually need to push, my body was pushing all by itself and it felt amazing! All I had to do was breathe and relax my mind, my face and my body. I focussed on cuddling Cyrille, as he stroked my back, and I felt his strength and confidence radiate through me too. Each surge felt so powerful, but in an awesome, productive way. I could feel baby’s head was coming down and bobbing back up again in between surges, just as it should be.

    Suddenly I felt a slight stinging sensation and reached down. “I can feel his head!!” I excitedly told Cyrille and the midwives! The midwives cheered and told me I was doing amazing at breathing this baby out. On the next surge, slowly but surely, with every breath I took, his head inched out gently and by the end of that surge the whole head was out! Waiting for the next surge to push out the body was so surreal with a baby’s head sticking out of me!! I kept my hand on his head as I waited, saying hello to him and stroking his head all over, trying to figure out where his face is (I learnt later that the sac was still intact at this point which is why I couldn’t feel his face!) I asked Cyrille if he wanted to feel baby’s head and he looked shocked and said “no thank you!” which made me laugh even more!

    Then finally (after what felt like ages) the final surge arrived and easily pushed out his body. The rest of the amniotic sac broke with a massive SPLASH all over Cyrille! Everyone cheered and I looked down at the wriggly little baby between my knees, scooped him up and held him to my belly. He was really calm and let out a couple of tiny coughs as he started to breathe. The midwives said it was fine he wasn’t crying, he’d just had a lovely chilled gentle birth. I looked up at Cyrille and laughed at the shock on his face - he was absolutely soaked in amniotic fluid from the waist down!

    This brand new baby in my arms felt so tiny but so strong at the same time. He was born at 00:12 on Saturday 16th April, just 45 minutes after we’d arrived at hospital. He had a full head of thick dark hair and his beautiful little face reminded me so much of Xavier. I felt so blissfully happy holding his slippery little body against mine, the best feeling in the world!

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    Third Stage

    The midwives suggested a managed third stage due to the retained placenta and postpartum haemorrhage I’d had in my first birth, which I agreed to. I knew the best thing to do was focus on enjoying getting to know this brand new little soul on my tummy, and keep the oxytocin flowing to help the placenta out. Fortunately, 9 minutes later, my placenta was out and the blood loss stopped shortly after – no issues this time!

    There was a neonatal doctor in the room due to us being slightly premature but he was in no rush to check baby as his Apgar scores were perfect. This meant we could do optimal cord clamping, leaving the cord intact until it was completely white, meaning baby had received all his blood from the placenta. We admired how thick and spongy the cord was when Cyrille cut it. Karen also showed us my placenta and explained the different parts of it – amazing!

    After a while, Cyrille went with the baby while he was checked by the neonatal doctor on the table next to me – as suspected all was fine. They also weighed him - he was 8lb 3oz, which is enormous for a baby born before 37 weeks – no wonder he felt so strong! Meanwhile, the midwife examined me and said I had no tears again (yay!)

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    Getting to know Max

    Now that the checks were done, we had more magical skin-to-skin time. Cyrille placed baby back on my tummy and amazingly, this tiny brand new little human began to crawl towards my boobs! It’s a phenomena called the “breast crawl” in newborns after a gentle birth, where they use their stepping reflex and sense of smell to find the nipple themselves and propel themselves towards it. It was incredible to experience our son doing this when he was maybe 30 minutes old. Once baby had made it to my boobs, we gave him a little help and he latched on quickly for his first feed which was wonderful.

     

    The next couple of hours were a blur of happiness, both Cyrille and I enjoying skin-to-skin cuddles with our new baby and soaking up every detail of him. We decided to call him Maximilien – Max for short! The midwives brought me the world-famous NHS tea and toast which was just as delicious as I remembered it, and we broke open some chocolates too as I was starving! We had a quick video call with my mum who was awake waiting for our news (fortunately she hadn’t had to wait long!), and with Cyrille’s mum too. After a couple of hours, the midwife suggested I try getting up to wee and shower, while Cyrille cuddled Max and got him dressed in his first little outfit. I came out of the bathroom feeling fresh, packed up our bags, and we all headed down to the postnatal bay. I remember that sense of feeling like an absolute superhero, proudly holding my brand new baby as they wheeled me into the postnatal room. We were given the same spot by the window that we had after Xavier was born, which brought back happy memories!

    I didn’t sleep a wink that night, I just couldn’t stop looking at Max! After a few more checks, we were discharged later that same day which was a dream come true, meaning Xavier was able to meet his little brother on the day he was born! Being all together at home, reading stories with our two little boys on the sofa that evening was just a feeling of pure happiness, I felt so grateful and happy that all had gone well and we could all be together now. It was even more perfect than I could have imagined. Already we look forward to doing it all over again for baby number three in a couple of years!

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  2. Where it all began: the Birth of Xavier

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    I decided to kickstart my new blog two years after my first son Xavier was born by telling his wonderful birth story. I actually wrote this birth story a couple of days after he was born as I didn't want to miss a single detail! However I wanted to share this with you now, two years on. One of the most important things you can do in pregnancy is read plenty of positive stories to counteract all the negative stories we are often told about giving birth. Therefore I want to add to a growing library of growing positive birth stories to help other pregnant mamas!

    This is the story of a positive, natural birth using Hypnobirthing techniques at the wonderful Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford - enjoy!

    pregnant-couple-first-pregnancy

    Pregnancy

    Once I hit 30 weeks pregnant, I had the strongest urge to nest and prepare for baby. My husband Cyrille and I spent our time preparing the nursery, practising hypnobirthing techniques, writing our birth preferences, and buying baby supplies. At 32 weeks I started drinking a couple of cups of raspberry leaf tea per day and munching on dates, while bouncing on my birth ball at any moment I could.

    It was August and major heatwave hit London when I was 33 weeks. My hands and feet really swelled up and I found the heat difficult to cope with. After a pretty breezy and active pregnancy (I kept running until 28 weeks, plus prenatal yoga and HIIT home workouts), it was the first time that I started to feel uncomfortable during pregnancy.

    At 34 weeks I packed my hospital bag, and remember feeling content that if the baby was to arrive now, we would be ready for him. Of course, we would have liked him to stay in for a few more weeks, but it seems Xavier had other plans!

    That weekend, we had a couple of friends over from France. I was 34 weeks + 4 days. The heatwave finished just as they arrived and it poured down with rain all day, so we spent the Saturday chilling at home, playing board games and catching up. We went out for a curry that evening and stayed up chatting until about 2am. It was just the loveliest most relaxed day and I like to imagine that our little one felt the chilled vibes and just couldn’t wait any longer to come and join us! 

    Start of Labour

    03:30 - I had been lying awake in bed unable to sleep, listening to the foxes barking in the garden. I was just finally dozing off when I suddenly felt my waters break in a huge gush all over the bed! There was so much water that there was no doubt in my mind what this was. I rushed to the bathroom and saw the waters were pink and tinged slightly with blood. On my way back to the bedroom I saw I had got bloody water all over our new carpet and that there was an enormous patch on the bed! I woke Cyrille and told him what had happened and asked him to try and scrub the carpet while I called the hospital! The midwife on the phone asked me to come into hospital for monitoring but no need to hurry, so Cyrille and I grabbed a few bits of food and checked I had everything in my birth bag. Through all the commotion we were making, we woke one of our friends up who came downstairs to see what was happening. It was a surreal moment, the three of us on the stairs completely stunned, wondering what was about to happen next.

    04:15 - We arrived at hospital after a 20 minute drive. During the car journey I had felt two very mild period-like cramps lasting maybe 20 seconds, that felt definitely different to Braxton Hicks. Cyrille dropped me off at the entrance and gave me a big hug (he couldn’t come in with me due to Covid restrictions). It was an emotional moment, wondering what would be happening next time we saw each other! 

    Once in triage, I was met by two lovely midwives Melissa and Kellie who checked my pad and confirmed it was indeed my waters that had broken. They set me up on a bed for continuous monitoring for an hour. It was so reassuring to hear baby’s heartbeat which was stabilising after being a little high to start with. I was having mild period-like cramps throughout but the machine didn’t pick them up. They weren’t sure whether the mild cramps were the sign of the start of labour or if this was my body reacting temporarily to the waters breaking and that the cramps would die off. The working theory seemed to be the second one, so I was started on an antibiotics course and had a steroid injection to protect the baby’s lungs from infection. 

    I had blood tests, and a quick presentation scan to double-check baby was head down. At this point I was told I would be staying for at least the next 12 hours for monitoring. 

    05:15 I had an internal examination where they found that my cervix/os was closed; 0cm dilated. I didn’t feel either disappointment or relief - while I was excited to potentially meet our baby soon, I knew it would best for him to stay in my tummy for a few more weeks! I just kept thinking “my baby will come when my baby is ready” and used my breathing techniques to stay calm, not overthinking what may or may not happen. After this I was taken off the monitor, went to loo, and had a couple of slightly more intense surges while in the loo. 

    I went back to the bed in the triage room to put the monitors back on. At this point I needed to start focussing on breathing through the surges, so I lay on my side facing the wall to block out the lights, smelled my essential oils and shut everything else out. I felt myself go into my own little world and felt very peaceful and calm, and sort of lost track of time. 

    05:50 - The midwives had been observing me without me knowing and said I could call Cyrille to come in to keep me company! Yay! I knew he had only gone back to bed at about 5:15am so I waited 10 minutes so that he could get at least 45 mins sleep, as I wasn’t sure I was actually in labour anyway! 

    06:30 - Melissa walked me down to labour ward, onto a shared space where a couple of other ladies were sleeping. I was conscious I didn’t want to wake them, but I felt like I needed to stay active. I put on my hypnobirthing tracks on my headphones and kept on my feet, walking around, smelling my essential oils and focussing on my breathing. The surges started to feel more distinctive now, building and rising to a definite peak, and then melting away - surge is definitely the right word for them! I was getting hot so held a cold wet flannel with lavender essential oil to my face and neck and leaned against an open window to feel the fresh air on my face and watch the early morning sun rising. It was a beautiful view over a playground and fields with the city skyline in the distance, and the morning light was warm and golden. 

    07:00 - Cyrille arrived which was the best thing ever! He immediately knew what to do to start helping me through the surges, doing light touch massage on my back and whispering encouragement in my ear as I stood up leaning on his chest through each surge. At some point I ate an orange and someone brought me a lovely cup of tea. No-one came in to examine me or ask questions, it was just the two of us together. Even though we were on a shared ward, it felt so peaceful and intimate. In between surges I felt calm and in control. I wasn’t really thinking about what may or may not be happening, I was just in the zone, focussing on breathing and riding each surge.

    Things Start Ramping Up

    07:30 - Surges were getting more powerful and I had to work a little harder to get back to a relaxed state between each one. I found staying on my feet and walking around or swaying my hips between and during surges was the best - sitting down or lying on the bed did not appeal at all! The positive affirmation “Every surge brings me closer to my baby” really worked for me and I found myself consciously welcoming each surge in a “bring it on!!” kind of way! They weren’t painful, but powerful and all-consuming, and I found myself somewhat enjoying this new whole-body sensation – it was unlike anything I had ever felt before.

    08:00 - I felt I like I needed the loo so went to the bathroom and this is when everything got crazy! Suddenly I felt my body involuntarily bearing down as if to poo but the sensation was definitely in my birth canal - I could feel baby descending!! I freaked out and had a couple of back-to-back pushy surges in the toilet by myself during which I struggled to keep calm for the first time. I now realise this panic was “transition”, but at the time I thought there’s no way I could already be in transition and starting to push - I had been 0cm dilated only a couple of hours ago and no one was even sure I was in proper labour, including me until then!!

    I shouted for Cyrille to get a midwife. The ward midwife Hydie came quickly and once I’d calmed down enough to be coaxed out of the loo she asked if they could do an internal examination. I actually caught up with Hydie a few days later and she said this all took place right in the middle of the midwives shift handover which caused absolute chaos!! I had another surge during the examination so I was breathing through it in my own little zone and didn’t really notice the examination happening until I heard the words “yeah that’s fully....!”

    I asked “did you just say what I think you just said?!” The doctor doing the examination grinned at me and said “Yes lovely you are fully dilated! We’re taking you to delivery suite as you are having this baby right now!!”

    The panic was gone and I just felt so excited at this point. As I was wheeled out, the other ladies in the ward called “Good luck!” and I shouted back “So sorry about the noise!!” 

    Down Stage of Labour

    08:25 - We arrived in the delivery room - I remember feeling a surge arriving as we got into the room so I called out for Cyrille who was hurrying behind with our bags, and then as soon as he was next to me I gripped his hand and immediately felt awesome! This was the exciting part where we’d get to meet our baby!! I had to be strapped up to a CTG monitor for the first couple of surges on my back so they could check baby’s heart rate, and I was keen to get off my back as soon as possible to get myself into an optimal upright birthing position.

    Once they were happy baby wasn’t in distress, I moved onto all fours which made me feel so much more powerful, especially with gravity on my side! Gripping Cyrille’s hand and making the most insane animal roaring noises (I couldn’t believe I was making those noises but it’s true you just lose all inhibition and really don’t care!!), I started actively pushing and could feel baby descending little by little. I was offered Gas and Air but I said no thanks as I was feeling good! 

    I asked our lovely midwife Rupali to hold a warm flannel to my perineum to help soften the skin and prepare for crowning as it was obvious at this stage that I definitely wasn’t going to be having a water birth! I couldn’t believe how “normal” I felt between surges - Rupali explained that our bodies are incredibly well designed to give us the rest and recuperation we need before the next surge. It was crazy, I felt like a normal person in between surges and then as soon as the next surge came on, the roaring animal came back!! It felt awesome, I loved every minute of it. The baby was descending well and Rupali switched to a foetal scalp electrode to continue checking his heart decelerations once he got too low down for the CTG monitor to pick up. 

    At this point, Rupali said that we needed to get the baby out in the next couple of surges as he was now taking longer to recover from each surge and given he was premature and potentially getting tired, I would need to actively push extra hard. She encouraged me to hold my breath as I pushed with each surge, and then breathe out at the end to keep the push going as long as possible. It wasn’t painful but it was incredibly intense and definitely exhausting - I tried to treat it as a HIIT workout (which it sort of is I guess!!), giving 3-4 massive pushes during each surge and then a giving a final extra-long one by myself as the surge faded away. I was exhausted at the end of each surge, and breathed deeply to recover as quickly as possible in between surges, finding myself impatient for the next surge to arrive!

    I felt like I needed to be more upright and pulling down on something, so knelt up on the edge of the bed and wrapped my arms around Cyrille’s shoulders. After one push like this, I felt in between my legs and could feel the baby’s head! This was incredibly motivating and I’m so glad I got over my squeamishness and did this! At this point Rupali said the baby needed to be born on the next surge or she’d have to prep me for an episiotomy. Pushing even harder on the next surge, I felt him crowning further and reached down again - it felt like his head was almost out, but then suddenly popped back in. I remembered my hypnobirthing training, when they explained how babies bob down and up again to massage the soft tissues of the perineum and prevent tearing. But honestly at this point I couldn’t care less about tearing, I just needed to get him out and I knew that I could do it – I had never been more certain about anything in my life! As he hadn’t come out on that surge, Rupali asked me to move onto my back to get prepped for an episiotomy. I tried to move but it was impossible whichever way I tried as the baby’s head was so low. At this point I just 100% knew I was going to get him out on the next push and told Rupali I was going to push one last time. 

    This final push was so so hard but it was fine as I knew I was going to do it this time and finally meet our baby!! Still with my arms around Cyrille’s shoulders, him supporting my back as I knelt up on the bed, our son came out peacefully and calmly, all in one go at 9:13am on Sunday 16th August 2020. I’ll never forget that moment of looking down and seeing our son for the first time all slippery on the bed between my knees. Cyrille said I made the weirdest happy-sounding cry as I reached down and picked him up and held him to my stomach. It was just the best moment of my life!!!! He let out a couple of little cries and we could clearly see he was a lovely pink colour and was really alert so fortunately they didn’t need to take him away for any checks. We had skin-to-skin cuddles on my stomach (the cord was a little short) and he stopped crying and snuggled up to me, while I just looked between him and Cyrille in amazement. We had done it!!!! 

     

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    Third stage

    Cyrille cut the cord after a few minutes and they took our little one for checks on a table next to me with Cyrille standing over them. After a couple of minutes, they were happy he was in good health so passed him to his Papa for skin-to-skin cuddles. Meanwhile, the midwife saw I was losing quite a lot of blood and hit the emergency button, although I didn’t realise this until later. A team of amazing people arrived and got to work on getting my placenta out quickly and stopping the bleeding. This part was more uncomfortable than actual labour but I didn’t even care, I was just on cloud nine watching our son snuggled up on Cyrille’s bare chest on the armchair next to the bed, Cyrille gently singing him French lullabies – it was so beautiful to watch, I felt euphoric!

    A doctor told me I had no tears (yay!) only a small labial graze - which they gave one stitch to prevent that adding to the blood loss. They offered me pain relief a couple of times while they were doing the palpitations, catheter insertion, stitching, and everything else and said they were surprised when I said no thank you! In the end, they had to do a manual removal of the placenta which is normally done under local anaesthetic or epidural, but I didn’t need anything, not even gas and air. Honestly I had all the pain relief I needed just looking at my little family, breathing deeply, and wriggling my toes (a trick I used to use during smear tests to help relax and distract myself). Oxytocin and endorphins are absolutely magic!

    Eventually, they got the placenta out and the blood loss under control - it turned out to be a major haemorrhage of 2 litres blood loss! I felt absolutely fine though- Rupali said it was another incredible superpower of pregnant women that allows us to lose so much blood and still feel ok - she said if a man had lost 2 litres of blood, he’d be on the floor passed out! 

    Cyrille brought our son over and put him on my chest for his first feed. He latched on pretty quickly, once I had gotten over the worry of accidentally suffocating him with my boob! Shortly after, they brought me the famous NHS tea and toast which was as delicious as everyone says it is! 

    We decided to call our new arrival Xavier. He weighed a chunky 6lb 1oz, which is a normal full-term birth weight, even though he was 6 weeks premature! We stayed together just the three of us for a few hours in the delivery room, basking in the most intense happiness and love, enjoying Xavier as our own little secret for a little while before calling our stunned parents to tell them the wonderful news of his early arrival! 

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    Recovery

    Fortunately, I had a very easy recovery. The hardest part was going for a wee after the catheter they had put in after Xavier was born to help the placenta come out! I was walking about less than two hours after the haemorrhage (albeit attached to an IV drip for a few hours to give me back some fluids), drinking orange squash and eating jacket potato followed by jelly and ice cream – absolutely the best-tasting meal of my life!

    Hypnobirthing completely changed my perspective on labour, something that had always terrified me before. It allowed me to relax and enjoy my pregnancy and actually be excited for labour rather than dread it. While we never made it anywhere near a birth pool, and there was clearly no time for soft lighting and music in the birth room, the relaxation techniques and positive thinking worked amazingly.

    At no point during labour did I feel anything that I would call pain. I felt calm, focussed and able to birth without fear, despite the premature labour being less than ideal. Being completely lucid, feeling empowered and in control during Xavier’s birth was the most special gift and I’ll treasure the memories of his birth and our first moments together for the rest of my life.

    An hour after the birth I said I would do it all again tomorrow and I really meant it! Ladies you have got this, our bodies and our minds are incredible!!

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