The Lessons I Learnt From My Daughter’s Birth…
Today is Imogen’s Third birthday and this morning, not dissimilar to last year our living room has seen an explosion of Frozen goodies. Long sleeved dressing up outfits with thick velvet capes that she must wear even though it’s already 25 degrees outside! Of course teamed with sunglasses and a flowery baseball cap.
And now as I enjoy a few hours child free before the birthday madness continues I reflect upon three years ago and Imogen’s Home Birth using Hypnobirthing techniques.
Imogen is our second child and was born 17 months after her elder brother’s positive birth at Calderdale Birth Centre using Hypnobirthing techniques. Her birth was wonderful but I learnt so much about myself and birth from it. It was shortly after that I trained to teach Hypnobirthing and spread the love with the world!
We’d planned a wonderful home birth this time and that’s what we got but maybe in a slightly different way to what we were expecting. Here are the lessons that I learnt…
Being ‘watched’ in labour really does make a difference
I had been experiencing surges all day. By tea time they became more regular and by the evening I was having three in ten minutes.
We called the midwife and she arrived with the student midwife Kelly who had followed us throughout pregnancy. They were both lovely and commented on how relaxing we’d made the environment.
My surges noticeably slowed down! On some level this made me feel a bit of a fraud, calling them out when now the surges were so far apart.
In hindsight this was a perfectly normal response. My unconscious mind felt I was being watched. It was not happy with it. I wasn’t aware that I was feeling observed but by unconscious had other ideas. Oxytocin, the hormone that powers surges in labour decreased, resulting in less frequent surges.
As soon as they left the room- things were quite different!
The number of centimetres dilated you are means very little
Interestingly I’d decided to decline routine vaginal examinations for this very reason. However being a curious cat I changed my mind! I was imagining I’d be about 8 centimetres dilated and what a boost that would give me! I bet you can guess what I’m about to say…
I was 2 centimetres dilated! Yes 2 not 8! The size of a penny not a donut!
To say I was annoyed is an understatement. I knew logically it didn’t mean much but logic didn’t cut it!
Again I felt a fraud. “Maybe I’m not even in labour” “Some women are walking around 2cm for weeks” “Right, empty the pool and blow out my Molton Brown candles, I’m saving them for a special occasion!”
Yes I know- I’m a loon! Of course we didn’t deflate the pool or blow the candles out and of course women who are walking around 2 centimetres dilated are not having regular surges like I was. But I was having a meltdown, I was allowed to be irrational.
Imogen was born 4 hours after this examination! Born two minutes after the midwife returned!
I learnt that routine vaginal examinations tell you how many centimetres dilated you are at that moment. That’s it. It is not a prediction of when your baby will be born. You could be 2 centimetres and an hour later 9 centimetres. Equally you could be 2 centimetres and 4 hours later be 3 centimetres. They don’t predict the future.
Hypnobirthing techniques and a prepared birth partner are worth their weight in gold when you are having a melt down
So as you’ve gathered I was having a strop!
The result= less frequent yet more uncomfortable surges. My body had become immersed in tension, I was overthinking and I was disappointed.
As well as having a bank of amazing relaxation tools, I had my incredible birth partner, my lovely husband Adam.
Through Hypnobirthing he understood birth. He could recognise the impact my mindset was having on my body and he stepped in! He said what I needed him to say- he was rational, calm and supportive.
He encouraged me to focus on my breathing, guided my to visualise and he used some light touch massage. All these things we’d practiced for that last couple of months so the impact on my mind and body was powerful. Later he put on some comedy as he ran me a bath.
Without these simple yet powerful techniques I’m sure Imogen’s birth story would have been quite different. The melt down would have continued and tension and adrenalin would have led to a slower, more uncomfortable, less satisfying birth experience for me.
Don’t have a bath when the birth pool is set up
A gorgeous, deep, cushioned pool of water versus a small, hard bath!
We naively focused on the fact I was only 2 centimetres so didn’t use the pool that was ready and waiting! Result- Imogen was nearly born in the bath.
However it’s true when they say that women will seek small and private spaces to birth their baby and perhaps I was following that instinct. So maybe it was meant to be.
Leave the door unlocked in labour when birthing at home
To cut a long story short, after relaxing in the bath breathing through some strong surges my waters went with a gush. What followed were strong sensations powerfully birthing my baby.
The midwives had left after the ‘2 centimetresgate’ so Adam quickly got on the phone to call the midwives back. But honestly we were both pretty calm about the fact that they might not make it.
The midwife did arrive in time, however was knocking at the locked door downstairs.
Dilema! Should Adam go unlock it and potentially miss the birth of his daughter?!
He chose to sprint down unlock the door and get back. Baby Imogen 7 lb 6 oz arrive two minutes later on the bathroom floor. Next time, keep the door unlocked!
Home Birth is incredible
Being in our home surroundings, having lots of distractions and having space and privacy made for such a wonderful experience. And afterwards hopping in bed with our just born human was perfect!
So Imogen’s birth was the home birth I’d wanted- empowering, relaxed (mostly) and gentle. It wasn’t quite what I’d visualised. I wasn’t in the pool, instead I was kneeling on the bathroom floor. But that totally sums up Imogen- She likes to do things her way! And that’s just perfect!
Happy Birthday Imogen!