It was 27th April 2019 and I had yet again been feeling quite unwell all day and I knew I was now 7 days late for my normal period. We weren’t trying to get pregnant at the time so it certainly came as quite some shock. Being pregnant didn’t scare me, nor did the thought of being a mother but I was certainly quite anxious about birth and what to expect as a first-time mother.  As someone who suffers from anxiety anyway, I quickly realised that it was the feeling of having no control that was triggering this and the gut wrenching nerves about giving birth.

I’ve known Claudia for many years and after discussing Hypnobirthing with her, I decided to take her up on the opportunity to undertake one of her courses. This was probably the best decision I made throughout my entire pregnancy. Firstly, it challenged my thoughts about what Hypnobirthing would be, and my partners too – we both had this impression of sage sticks, incense burning and folk singing hippies. We were so wrong!

The course allowed me to understand my rights as a pregnant woman, what I could expect from a natural birth, an induction and also a caesarean. It gave me the knowledge and empowered me to make the right decisions about pain relief options, which is always such a predominant subject of childbirth. It also taught me techniques that genuinely allowed for the best possible birth and helped me to keep a positive mindset for ultimately a very long and fairly complicated birth and after birth. Not all due to medical issues. 

It was 5am on Tuesday 31st December 2019; I was already nearly a week past the ‘guess date’ and starting to feel a little impatient. I had been doing everything to try and help baby along but it felt like she was never going to arrive. I rolled over in bed and felt a small gush of warm water, I leapt out of bed (as well as any 41 week pregnant person can!) and it was definitely my waters, although they hadn’t released with the dramatic fashion I expected! 

My surges started immediately and I was so excited! I didn’t wake my partner Jamie up, I got back into bed and watched TV quietly whilst timing the surges – 7 minutes apart and they were all between 30-40 seconds. I actually had a growth scan that morning and the hospital confirmed that I was in early labour and having quite intense surges, although I thought they were painless. They all said they’d expect to see me back later that day – how wrong they would be!

We went for a really long walk, as we had all that week, my surges continued until 4pm at a regular 7 minutes and then they just disappeared. I must say I was quite disappointed. I really had got myself into such a prepared state of mind and so excited about giving birth. However, as the course had taught me, remaining positive and calm would be the best thing. So I opted for an early night. Knowing I’d be in the induction ward the next morning if things hadn’t moved along. 

I was woken at 1am on New Year’s Day as the surges were back and had become more intense. Again I just sat in bed for a few hours, then I went downstairs, ate some chocolate and watched some TV whilst bouncing on my ball and pacing around the house. By 6am, I’d got quite frustrated and therefore woke Jamie up; I needed moral support and someone else who had been on the course with me. He reminded me about the book that comes with the course, so I re-read the chapter on induction and at 10am we headed in – stopping for a McDonalds breakfast on the way – of course. 

Unfortunately I had a bit of a negative experience on the induction ward but I was determined not to let it affect me and the majority of the midwives were so accommodating of the fact that we were Hypnobirthing. They commented on my demeanour and how happy and positive I was. Honestly, I was feeling no discomfort and happily breathing through all of my surges, which were now a minute long and 10 minutes apart. I was informed I was too far along for the pessary and that I could continue in natural labour, which was great news and meant I could still use the birth centre!

As the day went on, the surges slowed down again and I was overcome with emotion and had a big cry with my Mom. I was exhausted and disappointed. I decided to have some codeine that night to help me get some sleep – I got a bit in between surges. 

At 6am on the 2nd of January I was woken up to be told that I was top of the list to go to the labour ward and have the synthetic drip as it had now been more than 48 hours since my waters had released. By this point, I was overjoyed at the idea of the drip – never thought that would happen!

It got to early afternoon and my Mom joined Jamie and I. I don’t know whether it was having my Mom’s presence but I felt so relaxed. We sat in a quiet room with a birthing ball, where Jamie supported me and we did the deep breathing techniques for about 2.5 hours, to us both it felt like about 20 minutes (my poor Mom!). I felt a change, I knew something was changing, so we made our way slowly back to the ward. I was now having intense surges every 2-3 minutes. I had the unfortunate event of a midwife not believing that things had changed because I was able to speak calmly to her. This was until my second waters released all over her feet! I was checked and told that I was now in active labour. It was around 5pm in the afternoon, 62 hours since my initial surges began, I was exhausted and needed some help to get me through, so I requested gas & air. They normally wouldn’t do this on the induction ward but they had nowhere for me to go. There was no room on the labour ward and no room in the birth centre. I remained calm, my birthing partners however did not and a complaint was made, so they found me a private room as I was now in active labour. 

Eventually a room was free on the labour ward. No water birth. No calm birth centre, so pretty much the entire birth plan went out of the window as I opted for some pethidine to allow me to regather between surges. We carried on with the breathing even when I was so delirious and talking about sausage sandwiches. 

I then had a very long ‘birthing phase’ but I genuinely could have carried on for hours, there was nothing stopping me. I was not missing out on my natural birth after 67 hours of labour. So, when the midwife told me I had one final push before intervention was required, I apparently grew muscles in places never seen before and I got my little lady out in one push.  

Cora was born at 1:40am on Friday 3rd January weighing 8lbs and 1oz. She didn’t cry, she was so calm and we got an immediate latch, which was incredible. We enjoyed skin to skin and made the decision whilst in active labour that I’d need the injection to deliver my placenta after such a long labour. 

Unfortunately, due to the length of my labour, my body was so tired that I didn’t contract properly and had a significant haemorrhage after the placenta delivered. Jamie took over the skin to skin and I was just not phased by any of it, I was so calm that even with a room full of midwives and doctors, prodding me and doing all sorts, I just went to my happy place and used my deep breathing. I didn’t even use gas & air whilst they sorted me out, I was perfectly fine.

Cora is a happy, healthy, calm baby, who barely cried as a newborn and I really believe this comes down to the Hypnobirthing techniques I practiced. I look back on what was quite a difficult birth experience and I still feel positive about my birth.  The reason my labour took so long was apparently due to Cora’s position and her having her hands up over her face, otherwise my labour would have gone much more smoothly. 

I feel so empowered and so proud of my body and without a doubt know that had I not have been so exhausted I could have gone the whole way without pain relief, as when you are in ‘the zone’ with deep relaxation and breathing techniques, you re-address your energy and you know that the surges cannot defeat you because they are you. It’s your body creating these sensations and therefore you can control your reaction to them.

If you have any anxieties about birth, from horror stories provided by friends and the media (I really do laugh at birth scenes on TV programmes now), or like me you wanted to feel as though you had some level of control, then I highly recommend this course and specifically working with Claudia. She was probably just as excited as I was when I went into labour and I honestly could have called her at 3am and she’d have answered and talked me through. 

We are all grateful Claudia, you taught Jamie and I so much – we knew all the answers at our antenatal classes! 

Birth is an incredible experience and definitely does not need to be negative – if I can say that, anyone can!

Claudia has a warm, calming nature & with her carefully planned out sessions created a wonderful environment to learn Hypnobirthing.

Thank you Claudia for sharing your knowledge with us & even though my birth didn’t go as planned the course empowered me to take it all in my stride & I always knew that my body was capable.

Alice xx