First baby, April workshop 2014
My labour story started 12 days late, on 19 May 2014.
My ‘due date’ came and went. Finally, a day before my planned induction, my labour started. This was after I had done everything possible to get things moving – reflexology, massage, relaxation class, yoga, acupuncture – I’d tried all the old, new and frankly ridiculous wives tales in the book.
I was so happy to be woken up at midnight with regular, but quite far apart, contractions. After an hour of counting the time I decided I’d be more comfortable on my pregnancy ball, so left the my partner in bed and headed upstairs. On the way, I grabbed my iPod onto which I’d already pre-loaded the Maggie Howell Labour Companion CD.
In preparation for labour, I had attended NCT classes with my partner and a natal hypnotherapy class run by Ruth. I had also read the Natal Hypnotherapy book and listened to the preparation CD many times. Most of the time, I would fall asleep listening to it. I was reassured by Ruth that subconsciously the messages were getting through. Knowing this helped me to feel confident and stay calm during labour.
I found the familiar voice of Maggie on the labour companion CD to be a huge help. I can’t say that I listened to every word but the constant positive encouragement was a big help. Using the Early labour track, I laboured at home for 15 hours and listened to that same track on repeat over and over. I calculated that I listened to it about 40 times! It really was a help to have a consistent voice that stayed calm and coached me through the peaks of the contractions. Based on Ruth’s recommendations, I repeated some positive affirmations in my head such as ‘I know my body can do this’ and ‘I trust my body to birth my baby’. I also kept active by pacing the room and bending over during the contractions.
During the day, I called the midwife helpline three times. Each time, they said ‘You sound ok, you don’t need to come in yet’. I felt ready and yet they kept putting me off. At 3.30pm, I turned to my partner and said ‘ We have to go now’. I knew that if we didn’t leave then, that I wouldn’t be able to even make the journey downstairs to the car.
We reached the hospital at 4.30ish and was asked to wait in the hospital waiting room. That hour (yes, hour!) waiting was the hardest. The room was full of other people who didn’t appear to be in labour so I had to publically ‘deal’ with my contractions while we waited. I continued to listen to the labour track on my iPod to keep focused. After an hour, the receptionist realized I was in active labour and ushered me through to the delivery suite to be examined. I was 5cm dilated and the midwife confirmed the baby was ‘very low’. She informed us that once my waters broke, it wouldn’t be long.
At this point, I stopped listening to the CD and my partner took over as my coach. He encouraged me by telling me what a good job I was doing. Those positive statements really helped me at this stage. I used gas and air for the next few contractions but it caused me to be sick, the force of which in turn broke my waters. After I was hurriedly given the IV drip of antibiotics (I am Strep B positive), I was helped into a warm birthing pool.
Eleanor was born about an hour later, with around 20 minutes of pushing at the end. She was 6lb 7oz despite being almost 2 weeks late. She was (and is) gorgeous and I will never forget that first cuddle we had in the pool.
The three most important things I learnt from this experience? 1. Don’t put too much pressure on your due dates – they are a complete guess. 2. Involve your birthing partner in your birth preparation so they know what kind of birth you are aiming for. 3. Have confidence that you can do this, and will.