It was a new moon, which we hadn’t realised (but now love how fitting that was), and I woke up around 8am with period pains coming at the same time as lower back pains. I thought it felt a little different to any twinges I’d had before but didn’t want to over-think it. Throughout the day, the feelings were getting a little stronger each time but they had no pattern to when, or how often, they were coming so I just carried on as normal (shopping and having cream tea at Redfields Garden Centre!). By lunchtime, I knew the feelings were definitely something because it didn’t matter what I did, whether it was sitting, standing or lying down, they didn’t change. By 5pm, the ‘period pains’ were getting stronger and were coming more regularly and by this point I knew that they were in fact small surges, but I still wasn’t confident enough to tell Martin how sure I was. I carried on with the evening as normal, had some friends over and cooked dinner. Our friends left at 7pm knowing I was having ‘strong period pains’ but I hadn’t said the big ‘L’ word, however as soon as they’d left I told Martin I was pretty sure this was labour! By this point, surges were coming about 4/5 every hour and, although I didn’t quite need to change my breathing to cope with them, I couldn’t think about anything else with each one. By 8pm, I had messaged Wendy and told her what I was feeling and asked if she thought it was too early to put on my TENS machine. The surges were coming 1 or 2 at least every 10 minutes and were getting stronger. Of course Wendy replied with the most supportive and excited message that made me feel amazing and reminded me that ‘actually, I CAN DO THIS’! Her message really took away that last little bit of anxiety which was lingering. I stopped doubting myself and listened to my body and thought “wow, our baby is coming”! By 9pm the TENS machine was on and was working its magic. I was slowly working up the pulses of the TENS machine so that it would distract me as much as possible from each surge. Martin was setting up the pool and I was watching Harry Potter (my absolute favourite!). Between then and around 10pm, Martin had been timing my surges and when I said “I wonder if we should let the midwife know”, he told me that my surges were lasting 50-60 seconds, and coming about 3 every 10 minutes, I was so surprised to find out that they were coming so close together.
Whilst I knew I needed to close my eyes and breath with each surge, I didn’t realise they were coming so regularly. I started to get quite anxious and everything seemed to be irritating me (even Love Island!!!). After debating what to watch next on tv, we decided it was best to turn it off, which is when I put on Wendy’s 5,4,3,2,1 mp3. I felt myself immediately relax. Martin called the hospital and we had the midwife arrive about 11.30pm. Whilst waiting for the midwife to arrive my legs were very shaky which I didn’t expect, but once she (Mandy) arrived I completely realxed knowing someone else was there and she told me that the shaking was completely normal. The first thing Mandy did was calmly introduce herself and read my notes and our birth plan. She then came in to see me, explained what she was going to do, and took my ‘obs’. By this point I was having to really focus on my breathing techniques to help me deal with each surge, but I still knew I could cope with each one. Martin and Mandy were very good at falling silent and letting me focus through each surge (thanks to me clicking the ‘boost’ button on the TENs maching at the start and end of each one). I was quite surprised at how normal I felt in between surges and I was able to chat with Martin and Mandy as though everything was normal whilst staying relaxed. Once Mandy had been with us for a couple of hours (I think?), she suggested a VE to see how dilated I was. Although I thought I would be against the idea, I was actually quite keen to see if I was at all dilated knowing that I only wanted to get in the birth pool near the end of labour. The examination wasn’t the nicest thing I’ve ever been through, but Mandy was able to confirm that my waters hadn’t broken, and that I was 4cm dilated. I was really surprised as I expected it to be a lot less (because I’d been dealing with the surges so well). For the next couple of hours I spent most of the time on my exercise ball and moving around the house, walking up and down the stairs etc, trying to bring the baby down. Martin was with me through every surge as he’d also been listening to the hypnobirthing mp3s, and he was very good at saying the right things to help motivate me through and keep me calm. At around 2.30am, during a surge, I felt a pop (it felt like a baby kick, but very low down). I expected a gush of water but only felt a trickle. Mandy explained that as my waters broke, the babys head would’ve dropped and acted as a plug (exactly what she was hoping for!). Once Mandy had checked my waters were clear she explained that the surges may now become more intense…she wasn’t wrong! After two more surges, which seemed close together, I got in the pool around 2.45am.
From here on it all seems a bit of a blur. I really went into myself and now understand what people mean when they say they go to ‘labour land’. The surges had become much more intense, I felt I really needed Martin with me for each one, I had to really focus on my breathing, and I had become a little non-responsive as between each surge all of my focus was on relaxing. At some point I asked Mandy if I could try some gas and air with the next surge which she got ready for me. I tried it for 3-5 surges but found that breathing through the mouthpiece really threw me off of my breathing techniques. I found that breathing how I’d practiced for so long was much more effective so I stopped using the gas and air and refocussed. At around 3.45am a second midwife arrived (Sarah). I was aware of her arriving and calmly introducing herself, but I’m not sure that I managed much more than “hi”! By this point I was getting at least one intense pushing sensation with each surge, but knew I couldn’t feel the babys head low enough in the birth canal. I was really trying to visualise everything opening up and relaxing, rather than tensing up which would’ve been so easy to do. Over the next half an hour or so the pushing feeling intensified and I really relied on Martin being there with me, talking me through each surge, reassuring me that I could do this, and holding my hands giving me that extra strength which I really needed. I could really feel the baby moving down, and by the time I could feel the babys head really low I was needing to push with almost every breath throughout each surge. This is when the midwives really sprung into action (before now they were very good at letting me and Martin cope together). I wasn’t entirly aware of what the midwives were doing around me as I was so focussed, but this is where Martin started to get really excited. I could feel the change in him. The excitement in Martin, and knowing the midwives had started to prepare things, really gave me the boost I needed after feeling a little exhausted. I knew my baby was almost here! I could feel the baby starting to crown – in preparing for my labour I had used an ‘Epi-NO’ which really prepared me for this feeling and kept me calm. The pushing sensation was at it’s strongest. It completely took over my body, I couldn’t control it so I tried to relax as much as possible to let my body do what it needed to do. Over the next surge or two, I knew the babies head was starting to come out. At the end of one of these surges I felt the baby retract and start to go back inside! I couldn’t believe that after feeling like I’d been pushing and progressing so well that it seemed to be going backwards! I said to the midwives “IT’S GOING BACK IN”! They very quickly reassured me that it was totally normal and with the next surge the babies head would be out, for good, and they were right. One of my most vivid memories is when the midwives told us that our baby has lots of hair (!), their eyes are closed and they have no idea they’re being born. A few contractions later, and lots of intense breathing/pushing, the midwife said “one more surge and your baby will be here”! I couldn’t believe it. I was told to lean back and as I did, I instinctively reached between my legs to catch my baby and bring them up to my chest. I’d done it!! I rested back against the side of the pool holding my new baby against my chest, I really couldn’t believe it was a baby – the entire time I was pregnant I couldn’t comprehend that my bump was actually going to be a small human! The midwives were right, our baby had a full head of hair! I looked up to find Martin thinking, “oh my goodness, I have our baby!!” only to see him holding his phone, not what I expected, but he was recording our babys first breath…wow! After a few minutes of me and Martin looking at our baby, being totally absorbed in the moment, I heard Sarah say “you don’t even know what you have yet”, and this is when I realised that, after thinking it would be the first thing I’d want to know, I still didn’t know whether we had a boy or a girl! Martin looked and announced that we had an amazing baby girl. Little Luna Rae was born at 5.43am on Monday 24th July, and is absolutely perfect. After months of preparation, plenty of reading, practicing breathing, relaxation techniques, and listening to mp3s I’m extremely proud to say that it was all totally worth it and I had, what I felt was, the most perfect labour and birth.
I thought I’d try and write my birth story for you today, I’ve tried a few times but have felt it sounded too exaggerated but there’s no way round it…it was awesome and I hope you can feel my smile as you read it!!!
So I’ve known Wendy for a few years now, we were both midwives at Frimley (although I don’t think our paths crossed on the wards). We were brought together by a diamond of a friend and we just got each other – our views, our beliefs. Wendy has the kindest soul but also a wicked sense of humour and I love her! So when I found out I was pregnant, there was no-one else I wanted to share our journey with.
Being a midwife has had its benefits, but also it’s negatives, during my first pregnancy – I felt like I was finally doing the practical exam after many years of theory. After an initial 17 weeks of terrible hyperemisis, the rest of the pregnancy was an absolute dream and I (excuse my French!) bloody loved it!! I am in total awe of what my body can do and so so proud of it – I showed my bump off proudly and lapped up the compliments!
One benefit of being a midwife is that I’ve seen many births, including some awesome ones, and I had this deep down belief that I could have one of those…I was going to have a dream birth!
My partner, Chris, is not medically trained so I didn’t want him to miss out on anything but I also didn’t want him to just have the NHS or NCT birth prep class – they are amazing at giving the basics but I wanted him to know the birth secret – we could have an enjoyable birth!! So I immediately knew we had to invite Wendy round for a hypnobirthing lesson…and that’s where it all started! Chris really got on board – reading the book, playing the MP3s, using the words surges and discomfort and pressure when we discussed our birth – we knew we could do this!
We’d planned a home birth – I always pictured myself in our living room, candles, music, Chris and I dancing our baby into the world – I got a lot of shocked faces when we announced this but I just kindly asked people to support us and scurried off to listen to my positive affirmations! Unfortunately, right at the end I was measuring small for dates and a scan showed we had low amniotic fluid levels and they were concerned about the blood flow and suddenly we were confronted with talks of induction and all the risks of going full term. We used our BRAIN and came to a decision together with our lovely consultant…
However, my body had other plans and the night before our induction date I felt my first surge at 21.09 (on the way back from my last yoga session!) I drove home, ran a warm bath and lit a candle – the surges were coming regularly but I felt they were only short. Chris came home about 22.30 (he’d been watching the football with friends!) and immediately turned into my birth partner hero – he turned all the lights out, lit so many candles, got my TENS machine out, put my playlist on and cut me up some fruit – declaring he was my Oxytocin Guardian 😍 we spent just over an hour dancing together in the living room (ok I’m welling up just writing this – I want to go back to that time just to experience that again as it went too quickly!!) Chris had been keeping an eye on my surges and without me realising they had been lasting a good 50seconds and coming every 2minutes so we phoned Frimley and made our way in just after midnight!
Arriving on labour ward wasn’t half as scary as I thought it would be – I kept my breathing going and Chris firmly at my side…we were monitored and then moved to a room that Chris and the midwife turned into my dream – low lighting, bed up high so I could mobilise and lean on it, I didn’t even notice the continuous monitoring as I sway my hips and carried on breathing through – how amazing is gas and air by the way?!
I had no idea of time as I kept my eyes firmly closed and just wondered at the sensations I was feeling! I started to get pressure and the midwife gave this air of confidence that I could do it – everything was perfect and I confidently beared down, following my bodies lead and welcomed our gorgeous baby girl into my arms at 03.22 (we thought she a was a boy for the first 5mins – but that’s a whole other story and the moral is not to take the word of me high on gas and air and pure birth ecstasy!!) Anily Kimberley Evans was born wide eyed and inquisitive and spent the next 2 hours on my chest with her mummy and daddy in absolute awe of her! We did it!!
On paper our labour was 2hours and 58mins and if I’m honest now, it went too quick! I had the best time of my life, I’ve never loved Chris more and like a party that’s over before you know it – I want to relive it all over again!
Anily is just a dream – she’s so peaceful and perfect and completes our world in every way possible! I feel like I’ve been in a bubble of contentment ever since! I am certain that she’s as chilled as she is because she was born into a calm environment and we had that golden hour (well we were greedy and went for 2!) after birth!
So sorry it’s long but I could have gone on forever! Thank you, thank you, thank you Wendy for giving us this gift of knowledge and I will shout it from the rooftops “BIRTH IS AWESOME!!!”
As well as highly recommending –
1. Practice, practice, practice your hypnobirthing MP3s and breathing
2. Stay active – get walking and swimming
3. Eat your dates and drink your raspberry leaf tea
4. Do your perineal massage
5. Tell yourself on a daily basis that your body is amazing and you will have a positive birth
6. Have Wendy as your birth angel guardian
Have an amazing weekend everyone!
Lots of love
Kelly, Chris and Anily xxx
I was 41+2 and emotions running high as at 40+2, at my midwife appointment, they already wanted to book in an induction! But I said I wanted to wait and also declined her offer of a sweep at 41 weeks. It was a long week and had a few wobbles along the way but Wendy was amazing and provided support and reassurance. I attended one of her Relaxation classes at 40+3 which helped to get my positivity back on track and just being in Wendy’s company makes you more positive and confident.
I woke up that morning feeling disheartened that another night had passed and nothing had happened as I was sure it would start during the night. I went downstairs and felt a bit wet down below. It was only a little bit of water so tried not to get too excited but then within 10 mins I was getting my ‘show’ which I thought at the time was mixed with the amniotic fluid as it was watery. I decided to call the hospital to talk to them, as due to the colour wanted to check it wasn’t meconium. They said we should come in so they could check for sure it was my waters. During this time I was getting mild period type cramps so was excited that this could really be the start of things! I woke my husband up and we packed all the bags in the car just in case we couldn’t return and off we went. In the car I noticed that the cramps were getting slightly stronger and every 5 mins.
Once at the hospital they said they wanted to check for sure if my waters had gone and I agreed. It turns out they hadn’t and it was just my mucus plus coming away which was quite watery. They said we should go home and wait for things to progress. So we went home via a trip Halfords and Costa where I sat having a hot chocolate as my surges started to increase in intensity so decided I would be a bit more comfortable at home!
So we got home and set up the lounge with candles, music and clary sage and lavender burning. From this point the surges started to increase further in intensity and get closer together. They also made me sick which surprised me after having no sickness during pregnancy. I kept moving through each surge on all fours on my yoga mat and breathed through each one. After being at home for 3 hours they were already 2-3 mins apart and lasted 1 minute. As I really wanted to use the pool I asked Tom to call and see if they thought I was ready to come in. So he called the Mulberry and they asked the usual questions to establish where they thought I was. They wanted to speak to me which I think is normally but I was mid surge and think she must have heard me making a noise and when Tom said we were Hypnobirthing she said that not to worry as she didn’t want to disturb me and to come in and they will start running the pool.
When we got to the hospital my waters went as I was walking down the corridor. This time I knew it was that as it was quite a lot and had to waddle the rest of the way to the Mulberry!
We were taken to a room and met the lovely midwifes. They let us settle in and they reviewed my birth plan. They were really supportive and said there is nothing in there that they didn’t think was possible and were also very intrigued by the Hypnobirthing. The midwife came back and said that although I said I didn’t want examinations that she thought it was a good idea at this stage as to not get in the pool too early and slow things down. But it was my choice. I spoke to Tom and I agreed to have one at this stage. It was the right decision as turns out that I was 2-3cm and whilst I knew it was only a snapshot and things change quickly we decided to just keep going in the room and not get in the pool just yet which looking back was the right thing for me. It was only within another 2 hours that my surges came with a lot more intensity and whilst I was managing to breathe through them all on fours on the bed I got to the point I was shouting out to get in the pool. I was still being sick too which made things a lot more uncomfortable. The midwives could tell by looking at me I think and said they will get the pool ready and that there was no need for another examination. It took what seemed like forever to get it ready and I remember I kept shouting out, “is it ready yet!”
When I got in the pool it was so amazing to feel the relief of the water and made me a lot more relaxed. I also stopped being sick. After a small while in the pool I managed to zone out. I didn’t open my eyes or say anything for about an hour or so and they thought I was falling asleep as my arms kept slipping off the side into the water! I think I was in there for about 1-2 hours when I started to get the pressure in my backside and getting ready to bear down. I breathed down through each surge and it took a couple of hours as I didn’t want to force push and let my body guide me. I was kneeling when the head finally came out and I looked down and waited for the next surge when I guided my little girl into this world up and out of the water. I then sat up in the pool for a few mins with her on my chest to take it all in. I watched as she found my nipple all by herself and had a little feed. I got out to deliver the placenta naturally whilst leaving the cord pulsating. She was covered in vernix but she wasn’t washed or wiped and it soaked in really quickly and now she has super soft skin!
We went back to the other room and I laid on the bed with her on my chest whilst they checked me over. I had no tears which I think was due to the water, no forced pushing and the perineal massage. I had lost blood on the slightly high side and there was some meconium that came out with her head so they wanted me to stay overnight on the ward just so they could keep up the observations for 12 hours. But they said to take our time and we stayed in the room for another few hours, during which both Tom and I had lots of skin to skin and was feeding on and off.
We then went to the ward and spent the night just laid there, her just in a nappy, on my bare chest, skin to skin all night, which was amazing and I’m sure that together with the relaxed birth contributed to the fact she is feeding really well and a very calm and content baby.
So it was 12 hours from start to finish and 5 hours recorded established labour which I think surprised the midwifes but all the date eating must have paid off!
We want to thank Wendy for all her support. Her Hypnobirthing course set us up with a positive and relaxed mindset, empowering and arming us with the knowledge and tools and techniques we needed to enable us to have a positive birth experience. Whilst I did get my Birth ‘Plan A’ amazing experience I felt we were empowered and armed with the knowledge we needed to have made any decisions and navigate our way (to Manchester!) 😉
Lots of Love Allie, Tom and Bess x
On 5th May 2017 at 5.05am, my gorgeous little girl, Phoebe Rose, was born at home in a birth pool. My partner and I attended Hypnobirthing classes with Wendy as our son was born nearly 2years ago via elective c section because he was breech which was something we really didn’t want to go through again and I was very nervous about birth. We hadn’t even considered a home birth before attending the class when I was already 34weeks pregnant. Because I was a VBAC and I have a high BMI the midwives/anaesthetists/consultants insisted on the ‘dangers’ of a home birth and really piled on the pressure coming up with more and more risks. But with Wendy’s support we dug our heals in and had the exact birth we wanted! I had my music, candles, oils and a very successful 17hr labour!
If I had known about hypnobirthing and Wendy when I was pregnant with my son maybe I could have had a different birth with him! Couldn’t have done it without you!