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Home / Birth Stories / Birth Stories
12 Aug 2020

Our fast but incredible birth experience

It was in the final stretch of my pregnancy with our second baby that we finally took the plunge and got in touch with Anna. We had tried a hypnobirthing course in our first pregnancy but didn’t click at all with the instructor, who kept telling us that we needed to have a home birth to have any hope of a positive experience and not to trust any doctors, despite it being a medically complex pregnancy. After a traumatic three day labour and forceps delivery, I felt like hypnobirthing was just one more thing I had failed at, so it was a big step to have the faith to give it another go- and I’m so glad we did.

I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes in my first pregnancy, but it never fully resolved after birth and I knew it would worsen during another pregnancy, so I was resolved to take charge of things from the start. I had a rigid diet and exercise plan in place, and my levels were so well controlled I never went out of range apart from a few stress-induced spikes. I had an understanding consultant who was happy to treat me as essentially low risk as long as complications didn’t arise and my readings stayed low. This meant I had the green light for a water birth if I wanted one (which I did!) so we were ecstatic.

Despite my health being under control, I still couldn’t help but feel anxious about the birth. I had convinced myself that I was incapable of pushing out my own baby, and that history would repeat itself all over again. We had a one day refresher course with Anna over Zoom, focused mostly on tackling anxiety over past trauma, working as a team, being assertive and making the birthing space our own. It was night and day from the first time we tried a course! We both felt like we finished the day feeling much more positive and confident, and I started to look forward to giving birth as the weeks went on.

I wrote my own affirmations rather than using generic ones that just didn’t apply to our situation, and came to see hypnobirthing for what it is: just another addition to your toolkit for managing birth. It’s not something you can get wrong; the same way you can’t get gas and air wrong. The pressure of it being something I could ‘fail’ at again melted away. I was confident I could tackle birth, even if it mechanically followed exactly the same path as my first, because I knew I’d be entering into each decision as an informed choice which was right for me and my baby in the moment.

From about 36 weeks, I started losing tiny bits of my mucus plug every couple of days, though I didn’t take it as much of a sign since he’d been sitting low since the beginning of my third trimester and I assumed it was just the pressure of his head taking its toll.

I woke up at 7.20 on the morning of our 5th wedding anniversary, at 38+5 weeks, to my waters unmistakably breaking in bed. I called Mike through, shoved a towel under my bum and called the pregnancy assessment unit. Since I wasn't having any contractions they told me to make my way there by about 11.30.

My first emotion was excitement, followed by the realisation that I wasn't actually in labour, and induction was possibly on the cards. I pushed those thoughts out of the way, since James (our first) woke up and bounded through the same way he does every day within five minutes of me turning our bed turning into a swimming pool.

Mike called my parents and asked them to make their way up. In the meantime, I stripped the bed down, slung all the sheets in the wash and asked him to grab the camera. I had one last cuddle on the bare mattress with James. I told him it was time for Rowan to come out, but he just wanted to blow raspberries at me and play, which was exactly what we did until my parents arrived.

Mike was running around at breakneck speed throwing a few final things into the hospital bag. I remember feeling an odd sense of calm at this point. The house was still a mess. I hadn't made it to the magical 40 weeks I told myself everything would somehow be perfect by. Clothes were still shot gunned all over the dining room. The laundry baskets were spilling over. Everywhere needed a good going over with the hoover.

At that point, I just resigned myself to the fact we're never going to live in a show home, and that the baby wasn't going to care about the mess. He'd chosen today to arrive, and I wasn't going to let something as transitory as an untidy house ruin that joy.

My parents struggled to get James dressed, and it was about 9AM before they got him out the door. At the same time, I started to have a few mild twinges, and got into the shower to see if they'd stick around or die off.

Ten minutes later, I was on my hands and knees on our bedroom floor with the most intense pain I'd ever felt. There was no build up like there had been with James, it just hit me all at once. My contractions were immediately less than a minute apart. Mike put the TENS machine on me, and it was a mild distraction for a few minutes, but didn't take much of the edge off.

Mike called the hospital back and they wanted to talk to me, but everything was so close together, no sooner had he handed the phone to me than I had to hand it back to breathe through another huge wave.

They told us to head in, so we grabbed the bags and piled into the car. At this point, the TENS machine was maxed out, and I was focused on just counting in for four and out for eight with my breathing, but it was getting tougher not to shout, so I just gave in and let myself howl. I had a bit of a wobble wondering how I was going to cope with hours of this. I never remembered things feeling anywhere as intense with James, but kept telling myself that birth is meant to be powerful and intense.

By the time we got to the hospital, all the maternity spaces were full, and I could barely walk. Mike had to abandon the car on the roundabout outside the entrance, and I just hung off him and swayed while a porter ran to get a chair. We left all the bags in the car, as requested, and he wheeled me up to maternity. I remember telling him I needed to push in the lift, so he took me straight to the birth centre... where they told us to go to assessment to make sure I was in labour.

Halfway down the hallway back the other way, I started to moo loudly. The midwife that was waiting grabbed the chair from Mike, did a 180 turn that belonged somewhere in a Fast and the Furious movie and sprinted down the hallway back the other way with me again.

I asked about a pool as we went, and she told me they were all in use. I had another wobble at that point, until she followed up with the fact that I'd probably be doing well just to get to a bed. I think that was the first point I actually realised things were going a lot faster than I imagined they possibly could.

I consented to an examination, and I was already past 8cm. I couldn't believe it. I'd spent hours of unproductive labour with James, where I was convinced things were moving, only for things to have barely budged. This time I'd gone from nothing to 8 in the space of an hour.

No wonder things had been so intense! Suddenly everything had a different perspective, and what had felt like something I was struggling to cope with was reframed as a huge achievement that I'd actually managed really well. One of my affirmations was ‘Positivity comes from perception’, and that came straight to the front of my mind. I'd managed to walk from the car to the entrance in the middle of transition!

I had a few minutes of huffing on gas and air, which felt absolutely amazing. Everything had moved so fast, it hadn't had time to lose its effect, so it really made a difference.

By about 10.20, I felt him move down and I knew I didn't want to be on my back, so Mike put the back of the bed up and I draped myself over it. The midwife gave me a quick check and his head was right there, and she told me that if I needed to push, I should just go for it.

One push and I felt burning, another and his head was out. A third and he was born, all over the space of less than two minutes. It was the most intense, incredible feeling I've ever had, but didn't hurt like labour. It was just a totally irresistible reflexive pressure. One of my most repeated affirmations was ‘My body is not broken’, and it looped around in my head as I felt him passing through me. I had to be coached through my pushing with James after a strong epidural, which never went anywhere. I'd convinced myself I could never push out a baby on my own, so I was stunned when Rowan shot out. I reached down and picked him up in an absolute daze.

A precipitous labour is classified as less than 2-3 hours from start to finish. It occurs in about 2% of all births, and I'd just become one of those two in a hundred people!

I lost about 400ml of blood in the space of two minutes, so I was left feeling a bit wobbly and spaced out, but that was probably for the best as it made the third stage and stitching up pass in a bit of a haze.

I had a managed third stage after letting the cord lose its colour first (I'd debated this long and hard with myself being diabetic, but my control was good, so I went for delayed clamping in the end) and Mike got to cut it this time, which he hadn’t with our first.

Despite his quick arrival, I escaped with just a graze and a second degree tear. I continued to feel wobbly and a bit sick afterwards, so the decision was made to keep us all in to monitor my blood sugar, blood pressure and how much I was losing. I had a shower, got dressed and felt a lot more human, then we went down to the ward.
I specifically chose to give birth at the hospital I did because the ward is all private rooms where partners can stay the whole time, as long as they don't leave the room with the current restrictions. That made such a difference, considering the day it was.

There was the most stunning sunset that evening which turned the whole room to gold, then as the night drew in, we put on our birth playlist and Mike lit all the LED candles and fairy lights we'd intended to use in labour. He dotted them all around the room, and we enjoyed the last few hours of the most amazing anniversary we've ever had.

We were walking on air when we were discharged the next day, and the next week and a half passed in a happy newborn daze. However, when Rowan was 12 days old, I had a very sudden bleed and passed a piece of placenta the size of my palm. I passed out on my parents downstairs toilet, and had to be run straight up to the hospital, where I found out you can have a post partum haemorrhage weeks or even months after giving birth.

In order to get a better picture of what was going on, the doctor had to give me an internal examination. With infected stitches that were struggling to hold together and grazes still healing inside, it wasn’t a pleasant experience, but I found the calming strategies and breathing techniques from the hypnobirthing course proved so incredibly useful. Thankfully, we were discharged the next day with antibiotics as I’d passed most of the retained products, the rest passed on their own over the next week and I am now nicely healed up!

I’ve since discovered that many precipitous labours are considered traumatic by those who experience them, which couldn’t be further from my own experience. Even though it was fast and incredibly intense, it was incredible, and I think so much of that is down to learning how to reframe a changing or unexpected situation. I loved my birth, and when I think back to it I feel like I can do anything.'