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

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Category: Hospital birth

  1. The Birth of Brodie: a beautiful positive birth story as told by her mum Rebecca

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    happy-hypnobirthing-clients-new-parents-and-newborn-babyI was 37 weeks and 2 days pregnant when labour started on the Saturday morning. I was expecting to have another few weeks before birth, but I’d felt symptoms building over the week prior that gave me an inkling our little girl might make a surprise arrival. Whilst I hadn’t nested in the traditional sense, I had the most intense urge to bake a Victoria sponge cake the night before I went into labour - perhaps it was my body telling me I’d be needing the extra sugar and energy? Regardless it came in handy as a tasty snack over the next couple of days!

    My waters burst at 5:30am on the Saturday morning- I was in bed asleep and I felt a pop and small gush, so immediately jumped out of bed and grabbed a towel. I’d expected to go into a bit of a panic when labour started, but thanks to all of our preparation, I felt really calm and excited that it was actually happening, even if it was earlier than anticipated! We set about calling maternity assessment and they advised we try and get a couple more hours sleep and then come in just after 9am to confirm that it was my waters that had gone. We went back to bed for an hour but at 6:30am my contractions started and I couldn’t sleep through them (mainly due to the excitement!). I decided to let my partner Jordan get a couple more hours (I knew I’d be needing him to be awake later!) and so I went into the living room to bounce on my ball and then had a hot shower. By 7:30am the contractions started coming every 15 minutes, and so I used my breathing exercises to get through each one. They really were like a wave and it helped me to know if I could breathe through the first 20-30 seconds, the intensity would then decrease.

    We went to the hospital at 9:30am where they confirmed it was my waters that had gone and explained that I would need to be booked in for an induction in case my labour didn’t progress naturally. They initially suggested we book in for an induction 24 hours later but we used our BRAIN and discussed options with them, resulted in us agreeing to commence the induction 48 hours later if labour hadn’t progressed. However, during this discussion I had a pretty intense contraction and the midwives response was, “I think we’ll be seeing you before Monday!”.

    We were sent home to labour and so we set about having the best day we could. We first had some of the Victoria sponge and tea, and switched Saturday Kitchen on whilst I bounced on my ball. I love watching cooking shows and so this was a perfect way for me to relax. My partner was there to support me through each contraction, which were now coming every 10 minutes apart. After an hour of being on the ball, the fatigue had started to kick in and so I decided to have a nap on the sofa. Jordan decided this was a good time to build the cot in case we were able to come straight home (we had really been counting on having a few more weeks to get ready!).

    We had a small lunch of pasta and salad - I was told to eat little and often by the midwives so tried to eat enough to give me energy without feeling too full. After lunch the contractions really started to ramp up and so we put our labour playlist on and danced and bounced around the living room. By this point I was using Jordan to help support me through the contractions and count my breaths with me. After some dancing and bouncing, Jordan gave me a foot massage and then ran me a bath. This was exactly what I needed at the time and really helped relax me just as the contractions were really ramping up.
    By 5pm contractions had stepped up another gear, although they were still 5 minutes apart - so not yet at the 3 every 10 minutes stage that they tell you to wait for before calling the hospital. But I was then sick and the intensity ramped up so I told Jordan to call - they said to come in as being sick was a sign things were progressing well.

    We put our labour playlist on in the car and when we arrived at the hospital I found that contractions really ramped up. I was assessed and found to be 5cm dilated which was further ahead than I’d expected so that got us really excited for meeting our little girl. I think I really progressed as we were waiting to be taken up to labour ward as I had a noticeable transition moment where I started to freak out a bit and feel the urge to push. Jordan helped keep me calm with my breathing exercises and by providing positive affirmations and gently massaging my back.

    We were taken to the labour room with a birthing pool and so I got straight in. I’d packed a bikini top for some semblance of dignity but I was so keen to focus on birthing that I completely forgot about it! Jordan placed some LED candles around the pool, got out my handheld fan with essential oils and put on our labour playlist. The midwife read our birth plan and once I’d got settled into the pool left us to do our own thing. I used gas and air to take the edge off the intensity of the contractions which really helped and Jordan held me from outside the pool. The warm water instantly helped sooth the feeling of the contractions and I laboured for an hour or so naturally until I could feel her head. The midwives used the sonocaid monitor to periodically check baby’s heartbeat and that helped give me reassurance that she was doing okay.

    After 1.5hrs, it became obvious that no matter how much I was breathing down and pushing, baby’s head wasn’t coming any further. So I came out of the pool to try some different positions. Another hour passed and baby’s head was still stuck so I agreed for the midwife to make a small incision to help get baby out. Prior to labour an episiotomy would have been the last thing I wanted, however in the moment we used our BRAIN to evaluate our options and decided that a small cut to me was worth the benefit of getting her out safely before she got into distress and whilst I still had a last bit of energy left. This part was actually much better than expected thanks to some local anaesthetic and Jordan holding my hand and breathing with me. The midwives helped coach me to push and after some big pushes, our daughter finally arrived just before midnight. It was such a surreal moment having her placed on my chest but it really was magical. We had immediate skin-to-skin, delayed cord clamping to the point where the cord had stopped pulsating before Jordan cut the cord, and we delayed getting her cleaned and weighed for the first couple of hours so we could just keep her on my chest.

    I had an active management for the delivery of the placenta and honestly barely felt birthing it as I was so distracted by our daughter snuggling into my chest. We had a good natter with the midwife as she was stitching me up (again, this was much less unpleasant than I would have anticipated) and then we were brought some sweet tea and left to have more cuddles before being moved up to the ward.

    Overall I can honestly say that labour was an incredible experience and even though it didn’t end exactly how we envisioned, every single moment was a really positive experience and I am so grateful for that. The hypnobirthing techniques that we used help keep me calm and focused throughout the day, and the knowledge gained through the course meant I felt confident and excited at every stage. Most importantly it enabled Jordan to be the best birthing partner I could ask for- he knew exactly what I wanted at each point and I couldn’t have done it without him.

     

     

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  2. 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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