The Birth of Agnes
The week before Agnes arrived, I had been experiencing some lower back aches and pelvic tightening. Eating dates and drinking raspberry leaf tea daily might have had something to do with this! Despite this being our first baby and unsure of exactly what these signs meant, my instincts told me that something might happen before long. On Wednesday 26th September I had some bump photos taken at home which made me feel very close to the baby. I then drove into Manchester to have lunch with my husband at my favourite pizzeria, followed by an afternoon of shopping. By the time I got home I was exhausted but had had the most wonderful day doing things I love. All in all, I’d had a pretty big dose of oxytocin that day!
That same night at 1.30am, my waters broke in my sleep; I woke up thinking I’d wet the bed! I woke my husband up to tell him things had started. Initially we were very keen to go straight to the birth centre, however at this point, I’d only had some aches that were few and far between. My husband Alex suggested we “BRAIN” the decision to go to birth centre. At this point, having listened to my body and considered the timings of my surges that Alex had noted down, we decided it was better to stay put and get some rest until I had progressed further. So we had some food and went back to bed. I managed to rest with my husband, but by 6am my surges were starting to get a little stronger. I ran a bath, lit some candles and listened to a hypnobirthing MP3. I then woke Alex up at 7am to let him know that my surges were strengthening, so he made us some more food, continued to monitor the timings of my surges, and we made our way to the birth centre.
When we arrived, the midwife asked me a few questions, but as I was able to talk through my surges and wasn’t exhibiting any signs of stress or strain, she didn’t believe I was very far along and suggested we go home. Instead, I decided to listen to my body and I could tell that things were progressing at a good pace and that I should stay. The midwife therefore recommended I get in the birthing pool to see whether this would either slow down or accelerate the pace of the birth. I was very happy to do this, so we went into the room I’d hoped to give birth in and Alex set about making it homelier. We had a birth playlist on, lavender scent diffused in the room, and the sun was beaming through the windows. As soon as I was in the pool, I felt really relaxed and Alex gave me clary sage to smell on a damp flannel throughout my surges. He was by my side constantly feeding me water, encouraging me and mopping my brow. After about 2 hours in the pool, I could feel the surges building and Alex noted that I had reached the ‘3-3-10’ point. I asked him to update the midwife, so she came back to check on me and asked if I’d like an examination. I had previously thought I wouldn’t want one, but knew I was making good progress (plus part of me wanted to prove to myself that my instinct to stay at the birth centre was right). It turned out that I was already 4cm dilated, which was a delight to hear!
I then bounced on the birthing ball for a short time, ate some dark chocolate and got back into the pool. From then on, the birth really sped up. I was fully dilated within 30 minutes; this first stage had been very, very quick. The midwife then started getting things ready in the room and I began to really focus on my breathing and visualised relaxing scenes, coached by my wonderful husband Alex. In one of my most powerful surges, he encouraged me to think about a balloon ride we had taken on holiday in Burma, which helped me through it enormously. Towards the end of the transition phase, I asked for some gas and air to help me along. I started to feel the urge to push and steadily changed my breathing and technique to get the baby moving, coached along constantly by Alex and the midwife. Gradually however, I felt the gas and air was actually making me feel spaced-out, drowsy, and was slowing the birth down as a result. So I stopped taking it and instead just focussed on my breathing. I felt very animalistic at this point as I breathed and made noises through each surge. The midwife and my husband were hugely supportive and helped me keep things moving; advising me on when and how to breathe and push. Not long after this point (only 45 minutes after I was fully dilated), Agnes was born in the water at 12:56pm. The midwife guided Agnes between my legs towards me and I scooped her out of the water. I held her close to me on my chest until the cord stopped pulsating, and my husband cut it. I then handed her to Alex for some skin to skin, while I got out of the pool and delivered the placenta naturally in one push over the toilet. Alex handed Agnes back to me for a feed and she latched on properly right away; it was almost like she had done this before! It was a joy to watch her little mouth feeding so intently. I was checked over and was delighted that I had no tearing and required no stitches.
The birth was the most perfect experience that I could have wished for. I had written down my birth in the past tense the week before, and what actually happened was the same almost word for word. I felt hugely empowered by Abby’s support and her hypnobirthing course; the main thing I took away was to trust my instincts and do what I felt was right for my baby and my body. My husband Alex was the best birth partner in the world – he kept me calm, hydrated and even made me laugh throughout – I couldn’t have done it without him. We now have a beautiful baby girl, who is the most amazing creature I have ever seen, and who entered this world in an extremely calm and relaxed way.
Sarah and Alex, Huddersfield