The Happy Baby Project

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The Steps

My sister bought me the “Emma Press Anthology of Motherhood“, a collection of poems about family, children and mums. And there was one poem that stood out to me as being wonderfully evocative of the night I went into labour.

Obviously the realisation that it was a life-changing moment in our lives, a moment where we went from single and carefree – able to have impromptu beer garden sessions with in-depth conversations, and spend the whole next day on the sofa eating pizza, not knowing how precious a trip to the cinema or uninterrupted lunch were; to parents of a wildly demanding and amusing little boy, only comes with hindsight. At the time, I was screaming in pain and demanding someone come and get me pain-relief NOW. But now I can see that it was the moment my life changed beyond recognition and that makes me really emotional. We left the house as one thing and came back another, overwhelmed with love, wanting to shield him from the world, never to be the same again.

The poem is produced with kind permission of the author, Liz Berry.

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The Steps

And this is where it begins, love –

you and I, alone one last time in the slatey night,

the smell of you like Autumn, soil and bonfire,

that November the fourth feeling inside us.

There can be no truer wedding than this:

your bare hand in mine, my body winded

with pain, as you lead me to the car, to the

soon life. And we are frightened, so frightened –

 

Who will we be when we come back?

Will we remember ourselves?

Will we still touch each other’s faces

in the darkness, the white noise of night

spilling over us, and believe there is nothing

we could not know or love?

 

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My birth story

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Our son, age 19 days

Note from Sasha: When I was pregnant and before I gave birth, I wanted to surround myself with positive birth stories. I listened to hypno-birth CDs, read Ina May’s wonderful birth stories, heard delightful birth tales from mums at my active birth class, and sucked up the positive birth stories and videos from the Tell Me A Good Birth Story blog and Facebook group. I didn’t watch OBEM and I kept myself mentally in a positive place, visualizing the birth I wanted to have… The birth I ended up with however, was not quite what I expected. While the middle bit was lovely in parts, the beginning was difficult and at the end there were complications. I am writing this in the hope of finding closure for some of the scarier parts of it, to get catharsis from re-living it (and hope The Chef can do the same – for he saw things that I didn’t and doesn’t have the same rose-tinted lenses as me), but I don’t want any pregnant ladies getting upset and I would therefore recommend you only read this on the understanding that what happened to me was rare – I consider myself one of the something like 20% of births that has complications due to the position of the baby – and that if you totally understandably, as I did, want to read only positive birth stories, this is probably not a good one to read!

And on that basis, we start at 3.45am on Monday 25 March 2013, in bed….

There was a pop and then a splosh as my waters broke. It could have been nothing else, I knew it immediately. As I ran to the bathroom it popped again, and I was suddenly standing with a puddle of water at my feet on the cold tiles. My waters. And so it begins.

Our first schoolboy error was to get over-excited. It was 3.45am for god sake, and contractions turned out to only start the next evening, but we were excited and nervous and The Chef and I didn’t sleep any more that night. Plus, amniotic fluid kept coming out of me in gushes making sleep impossible. The Chef stayed home from work, we pretended we were going about our business as normal, but we were rabbits caught in headlights, I was timing contractions, anxiously waiting for the onslaught of birth.

This was schoolboy because by the time labour did start, almost 24 hours later, I hadn’t rested or slept and had barely sat down since my waters had broken. It was also a mistake that I excitedly texted people to tell them, not only because then we were on a stopwatch, a countdown, which meant I perhaps did not let things progress as slowly or patiently as they might have done as I could feel a clock ticking towards induction (at 24 – 48 hours after my waters had broken); but also because some started calling or texting to check I was OK given the long delay to labour, even when I was in the middle of pushing, which disturbed the peace we had worked hard to create (I don’t blame them, I just reckon its best to keep it to yourself). I didn’t tell the hospital as I didn’t want to come in – I was positive my waters had broken and there wasn’t any brown, green or blood stains in it so no need.

My memory of Tuesday is a little hazy, the universe very kindly erasing the more painful aspects of the experience in my mind (sadly not in The Chefs, which is why I don’t think I could bear to read his version of events), but contractions got stronger in the evening until they became close to being unbearable. On reflection, I think he was in a difficult position, right in my bottom. There was no warmth, power and pressure to the contractions, just an agonising pain right in my bottom which made me scream and cry out loud. I couldn’t sit or lie down, having a bath didn’t ease it. I can’t recall the pain even now but it made me screw my eyes up and shout and I just couldn’t get comfortable. From the sounds I was making and the pain, we thought I was in labour so at 11pm we drove to Kingston Hospital, me screaming in pain every few minutes. The Tens machine was useless, the lavender oil on handkerchief actually helped, but I was in trouble. My hypno-birthing was out the window, nothing brought comfort, I was panicking.

We had a miserable half hour at hospital. The midwife in triage didn’t seem particularly sympathetic and insisted on a vaginal exam which I just couldn’t do because of the pain. She offered me an injection for the pain and I said no immediately – again on reflection given what transpired I should perhaps have said yes. A different midwife from the Malden Suite with a softer, calm attitude took over and explained I couldn’t go to the birthing room or get any pain relief until they knew how dilated I was. I nodded and submitted to the painful exam and was told the worse news possible – I was only 2cm dilated. She gave me a sweep and told me I could either go home or walk the stairs at the hospital to get things moving.

At this point The Chef did something heroic. We spent a miserable few minutes walking the cold, grey stairs of the hospital, me moaning in agony on his chest every time a contraction came, and I believe if we had stayed there I would have had an epidural and probably a caeserian section, but he made the decision for us to go home – a brave decision given he must have known he was taking me and my pain on himself only, with no-one to help him, whereas many men would have wanted to stay at the hospital with others to help and shoulder this burden.

We went home and from then until 2am was the most miserable part of the whole birth. I was in agony. With no pain relief, no position could bring any relief. There was just a shooting, agonising pain and pressure in my bum with every contraction, and the only thing I could do was to sit on the toilet and shout it away. My poor neighbours. I spoke to my active birth yoga teacher who thought the baby might be back to back given I was fairly compus mentis but unable to deal with the pain. She suggested some positions that might help but nothing worked.

I was devastated, saying to The Chef I can’t do this, I can’t bear this, I can’t take any more. I want an epidural. I want drugs. Call the hospital and tell them to come here and inject me with something. I can’t get in the car, I can’t get to hospital. Tell them to come and help me.

At around 1.30am he decided enough – back to the hospital – but it took me a full 30 minutes to be able to handle the pain enough to get in the car. Even though at the hospital they said this was just a normal labour where the baby is in the back and bottom, I have read so many birth stories and wonder if this is true – the fact I could not get into the car, I could barely walk, couldn’t get comfortable in any position, felt like the baby was ripping me in two with every contraction did not feel normal. But hey I will need to try it again to test my theory…

Back at the hospital 2am, more screaming and running to the toilet, another examination. I was 6cm dilated and in labour. I’d gone from 2cm to 6cm in 3 hours with nothing more than paracetamol.

Two rays of light – drugs, drugs, drugs for me please. I begged for an epidural. They went off to call someone. I was also able to get a birth room in the Malden Suite with – hurrah – the lovely midwife from before.

Two bits of luck – Firstly, the midwife looking after us had read my birth plan and in it the fact that I wanted a natural, private, active birth. This would make for a wonderful experience with her and lead to her encouraging a great decision that I was to make shortly. Second, they were unable to find someone for an epidural so we’d have to wait for a while, and in the meantime they offered me pethidine which I took and which took 15 minutes to work and…

…..ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…..

I was in the lovely midwife-led birth suite. Gas & air which was wonderful and which I sucked happily for the next 10 hours. Pethidine which made me feel light and relaxed. The relief. Oh the relief!

I turned to The Chef and smiled for the first time in hours.

“Thank fuck for that” I believe were my words.

The next 5 or so hours were spent, in my mind, in relative bliss, at least compared to what came before. I was still unable to sit or lie down, so I literally stomped the floor for hours. We put music on, LED candles, ate starburst and drank juice. I cracked jokes with the midwife. I smiled. I told The Chef how much I loved him. I danced to the music. I sucked the lovely gas & air, my new and bestest friend. I was enjoying it. The contractions came on strong but sucking gas & air right in took it away although my moans hung in the air but that was from another me, the gas & air me was OK now. I barely breathed normal air at all now, apart from when a new midwife who’d come to put in an antiobiotic drip due to my waters breaking so long before told me I should stop as I was swaying. I could barely leave the gas & air nozzle. I wondered if I could carry it around like a drip. I would run to the toilet and run back to it. If there is a number 2 baby I would like gas & air mainlined from the start, installed in my house – is such a thing possible?

Halfway through this, the midwife came to tell me that they were free to give me an epidural. But now, I didn’t need it, I felt fine, happy. I was having the birth I wanted, this was all going swimmingly. Brilliantly, she’d read my birth plan and I think was encouraging me to stick to it now I was able to cope. I said no to the epidural and I am amazingly proud of myself for doing so as I managed fine without it and again I suspect if I’d had it, I may have ended up with a C-section given what was to happen…

And then – it got even better. As the pethidine wore off, I was able to move to the birth pool room and there followed around 3 or so hours (time is hazy) of comparative bliss. Comparitive because I was on gas & air and it seemed heavenly. I was naked, with The Chef outside the pool holding my hand, and the new guttural low moans I was making felt right, natural, good even. At 8am there had been a midwife shift change and we had a new woman with us. Yes, she was absolutely lovely and again did everything according to my birth plan, but she was a stranger and on some level I know I was trying to impress her, trying to do things quickly, aware of how long I’d been taking, feeling impatient to get some results…

At some point, The Chef whispered in my ear I was doing brilliantly, it was going great, I was fully dilated.

Again, with hindsight, I was happy then, with no urge to push. I might have rested, relaxed, waited until I felt the instinct to bear down. It may have helped. But given what transpired maybe it wouldn’t have. And I was tired, and I had been awake and birthing for almost 30 hours and I felt this is the time, and maybe I thought I should do this now, come on, hurry up.

So I started to push. But I didn’t really know what I was doing, I knew push into your bottom from One Born, but it isn’t natural in front of people or when its a baby which you know isn’t actually meant to come out of your bottom. I pushed.

And I pushed and pushed and pushed. I pushed for 2 hours in the end.

I pushed in the pool, several different positions. The midwife suggested breathing and ways to push. I pushed on hands and knees. I pushed on a birthing stool. I pushed on a bed and I pushed with my feet in stirrups. I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere and I started to get tired and dejected. I can’t do this. I never really felt the urge to push. I don’t know what I’m doing. I think I said these things. They gave me a deadline – 5 more minutes – I pushed sadly. No baby.

At around 11am the cavalry came to assist. I was happy to see them. But our karma, our candles still flickering, our birth music playing, was interrupted. They were sensible, serious, bearing a suction cup and green scrubs. They didn’t smile so much. I cracked a joke I think which they didn’t get. I want to lighten the mood, I said. They were there to get this baby out. Don’t squirm so much. Push into your bottom. No NOW.

I squirmed when she gave me a vaginal exam and felt for baby’s position – I found it unbearable throughout the birth. You can stay here on local anaesthetic or go to theatre and get a spinal she said, unsmiling. Stay here I said, but then when I cried at the pain of her hand I heard her say “lets just take her to theatre” and I thought I saw the midwife looking upset and trying to defend me but being overruled. But I stayed. Local anaesthetic only. Not much to dull the pain of what was to come.

Then they catheterised me an a litre of water came out. So baby couldn’t have got past a full bladder no matter how hard I’d pushed. And then they cut me, then or after I can’t remember. And then they sucked with the cap, several pairs of arms and hands holding me down and shouting and I had to push and I wasn’t doing it properly and The Chef saw all sorts of things that I will never know. And I was excited because they were talking about what to do after the head came out…

…and then the head came out.

But there wasn’t excitement, there wasn’t the body. There wasn’t the panting slowly that they’d told me. There was only panic, and emergency buttons, and people running in and shouting at me. And we didn’t know what was going on but it was urgent to GET HIM OUT NOW. And YOU HAVE TO STOP MOVING AND PUSH AND I CAN’T I CAN’T I CAN’T DO IT AND YOU HAVE TO JUST PUSH.

And more hands on me and arms pushing me down, and people rushing in and pushing my knees into my chest and pushing on my stomach and me saying STOP ITS SORE I CAN’T DO IT. And me kicking the women next to me. And me looking at The Chef with terror, and him in terror, and wondering will I live through this and what is happening and just rip it from me and make it stop….

And at 11.47am he was born.

He was purple, I was told. And he wasn’t breathing and he was whisked off to the side for them to help him breathe and make him live. And I could barely move my head to look at him and I didn’t feel anything except pain and trauma and shock. The brutality of it all. The Chef was also in shock – he thought he’d lost us both – and asked feebly if it was a girl or boy. It was a boy. I could barely summon enough emotion to care then.

The woman at my feet kept going then. She yanked my placenta out and stitched me up. I asked her to wait, that it was sore, but she answered, unsmiling, that she had to do this now.

After 5 minutes he was brought to me. My son. He had blood on his head and a bruise from the suction cap. It took me minutes, hours perhaps, of holding him, to love him. At one point, soon after this, my heart would burst with love for him – overwhelming, heart-stopping, love for him. But for now I was exhausted.

The Chef and I looked at each other. He sucked on the gas & air, still in shock. I said something like next time we adopt, or next time I get a C-section, or never again. But at around the time I burst with love for my son I said next time it will be better. Next time I’ll have pethidine immediately. Next time the position won’t be so bad. Next time…

An explanation

We needed some closure about the tugging and the shouting and the emergency. We didn’t know what had happened. That night, in the ward on my own with my son, exhausted, I sobbed to the midwife that it had been traumatizing, that I blamed myself, that I felt so sorry my son had gone through that, that I didn’t know why.

And they explained it to me and The Chef and it made it easier to digest, to understand and to reconcile ourselves with, although closure is just out of our reach for now:

Once my baby’s head came out, it started “turtle-necking” or going back in, and at this point (they couldn’t have worked this out any earlier), they realized that his shoulder was stuck in my pelvis. It’s called shoulder dystocia and it’s rare. They had to get him out as quickly as possible. They did what they called the McRoberts manoevre which involves pushing the woman’s knees to her chest and pushing on her stomach to get him out. This is the easiest, quickest and simplest way to deal with it and it worked. His body was out only 2 minutes after his head. After 5 minutes his scores were completely normal. He suffered no harm at all from this or the procedure.

Also something like 25% of first time babies are assisted on their way out, like mine was, but this is vastly reduced in second babies. Whether or not I ever understand and “get” pushing and the urge to push is another matter.

He is a happy, chilled, beautiful baby boy. He feeds and sleeps well. He rarely cries. The Chef and I love him to bits.


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My Hospital Bag

35 weeks on Saturday, all baby stuff bought or borrowed, and I’m now planning what to take to the hospital with me (while simultaneously harshing The Chef’s mellow with random home improvement requests).

I’ve seen hospital bag lists on numerous brilliant blogs (see Mums Make Lists or The Mummy Adventure) and also on various preggie Apps and retail sites (see Mothercare’s) but I have to say…

….I find the whole thing slightly ludicrous.

It feels half way between packing for a romantic minibreak – do you think the blue or the grey nightie would suit me best while I’m on all fours mooing like a cow? –  and packing for Armageddon; as if we will be stranded in a crevice a la 127 Days, having to rely on lavender oil and arnica to get us out alive.

Only women could come up with pre-labour grooming routines and hospital outfit ideas, as if our babies push happily through our opening cervix only to cry in disgust at an un-waxed bush.  However, I too have booked in for a pre-labour haircut, manicure and eyelash tint. Mock me all you like ladies, but I’m not the only one.

Friends of mine have got pre-labour spray tans, eyelash extensions, and bikini waxes (ouch). They’ve planned their labouring and day-after outfits to the last detail. Mummy forums* and blogs discuss the perfect baby going-home outfits and the most glamorous nursing tops.

Why on earth do we put pressure on ourselves like this? I guess it’s all part of this perfect family fantasy which we bought into as little girls. You know – the photo of you propped up in bed holding cute baby in novelty hat, husband’s proud and loving arm around you while you look, all glowing and wise, to the camera? Or the photo of you holding baby for his first trip home, him in perfect cutesy matching outfit, you both looking on in awe?

My own mother wasn’t impervious to this pressure either. She bought some fancy lace babygrow thing from Paris to clothe my 1 day-old self on the way home from hospital. This is captured in a gorgeous photo – me, angelic in said white lace gorgeousness, held by my proud father.

Oh, apart from the giant poo stain that soaks through the lace, covering the entirety of my lower region.

Let’s face it ladies. We will just have pushed a baby out of our bodies with great pain and effort. We will be pale, with bloodshot eyes, greasy hair, floppy boobs and bellies. We may not have had time to get our immaculately-packed hospital bags out of the car in the first place. We will be so excited about our new babies that we are unlikely to give a toss whether our toenails are painted or our outfit matches.

So, with this in mind, and with the emphasis on comfort and familiarity, here is what I’m planning to take with me:

Mummy bag:

  • Medical notes
  • Stuff to get to hospital & labour in: nightie from Primark (£3.50), Uggs, dressing gown – if I’m in the birth pool I guess I’d want to be naked
  • Stuff to make me comfy during labour: Cushions from home (I bought 2 for £7 from Primark),  Pillow from home, Throw (£7 from Primark)
  • Stuff to make the room nice (wishful thinking): Iphone and mini speakers, iphone charger, LED candles
  • Snacks for labour: fruit juice cartons, bottle water, healthy snacks, bag of Starburst, chocolate
  • Pain relief and comfort stuff: Tens machine (borrowed), Avene water spray, lip balm, flannel, handkerchief and Lavender oil, frankincense (yes, yes I know, but it works honestly), ear plugs, eye mask
  • Stuff to wear afterwards and the next day: cheap black knickers, comfy socks, nursing bras, nightie, slippers, cardigan, leggings, loose dark vests & shirts from Primark –  all very cheap
  • Post-birth  essentials: Arnica for bruising, nipple cream and pads, maternity pads
  • Flip Flops for shower
  • Dark towel
  • Magazines for hanging around
  • Hair bands & toiletries
  • Anti-bacterial hand gel
  • Plastic bags for laundry
  • Camera and charger
  • Boxers, toothbrush, socks & contact lenses for The Chef

Baby bag:

  • 4 x sleepsuits
  • Going-home outfit – yes I know but still succumbed as they can be so cute. Bought this one:

Product Image

  • 4x muslins
  • Hat
  • Cardigan
  • Blanket
  • Coat
  • Nappies (at least 24), H20 extra sensitive water wipes (thanks for the tip Look Mummy No Hands), cotton wool, nappy cream
  • Car seat

*baby forums should be avoided if at all possible. I’ve found them to be full of slightly hysterical women of the type who buy nappies in bulk at 10 weeks pregnant, or who moan about gaining 2 pounds in the first trimester


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A preggie girl’s guide to being “a bit hormonal”

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As I approach 27 weeks and the third trimester with a certain joy at knowing me and my baby will meet each other before I know it, a raft of new symptoms appear.

My body is swelling all over. The bump feels enormous, and with its new curves and weight comes surprising, uncontrollable physical symptoms. The sore back, the swollen ankles that threaten to make knee high boots a thing of the past, the new-found clumsiness, bringing an impromptu “oof” when doing up shoes or having to pick something up off the carpet. The heat and hot flushes that make me thank my lucky stars this isn’t the height of summer. There’s bleeding gums and spots, hiccups and heartburn and constipation. There’s the fact that, like many of the women in my pregnancy yoga class, I have been known to let out an unexpected burp after eating. I don’t feel beautiful or voluptuous now, I feel creaky and ancient, like an old dusty bookcase.

And then there’s the emotional stuff. I’ve been told – oh don’t worry, you’re probably “a bit hormonal” – which suggests a bad case of PMT or teenage heartbreak. But I’ve been reading up on what these hormones are doing, what they will do in future, and am frankly amazed we pregnant ladies manage to get our shoes on the right feet in the morning, let alone do a full day’s work*:

  • There’s progesterone that basically stops the baby falling out. And if you imagine it sending waves of stupor to do so, you can also envisage it being responsible for that sluggish feeling, that slow heaviness, and with it constipation, heartburn (and also spots, aching bones and bleeding gums).
  • And we have oestrogen which stimulates blood flow, giant boobs, and is responsible for that attractive “glow” (bright red sweaty puffy look).
  • There’s relaxin that makes your hips expand, your pelvis grow, and I am personally blaming for my giant bottom.
  • As well as oxytocin to trigger contractions and prolactin to make milk and unwanted hair, and which is also bizarrely linked to sexual satisfaction – seriously, look it up.
  • And finally there’s adrenalin to help you push and endorphins that will be secreted during labour – your own natural pain-relieving happy pills – that some say, perhaps optimistically, can make the process enjoyable…

So, hang on a second.

If I’ve got this right then, left to go about its work unhindered, and without help from man or science, my body can hold in a baby for 9 months then push it out by summoning up super-human strength, while pumping me full of pain-relieving chemicals, and others which put me in such an animal-like trance that I will barely know my own name, and might even make the whole thing pleasurable?

A little idealistic perhaps. But while I still don’t understand why I find myself flying uncontrollably from clingy affection, to red-mist rage, to pathetic sobs, and back to boundless joy within a manner of minutes, I expect its something to do with these powerful chemicals inside me. And though I can’t use them as an excuse for bad behaviour generally, it does allow me to give myself a bit of a break, to respect what my body is doing and allow myself a bit of rest and relaxation.

For me right now, this involves massages, chocolate, sofa time, comfy PJs, cuddles, yoga and reflexology. And a very understanding Chef.

* please note this is based on no medical or scientific knowledge whatsoever


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An amazing birth story

Since I posted my blog post on pregnancy yoga, active birthing and hypno-birthing, I’ve been inundated with emails and texts from mums saying I should definitely give it a go, and telling me some incredible birth stories of their own. I heard from friends who said they’d actually enjoyed the birth, had felt like a strong powerful woman throughout – they’d felt primeval almost, howling like a wolf. Of course other friends seemed to have an awful time of it, and I have no idea which camp I will fall under, but the common theme seemed to be that lots of people said the hypno-birth CDs by Maggie Howell were brilliant, and most said that if you really want to try a pain-relief free active birth, you need to truly believe in it, start early, get your partner involved, and make it your all-encompassing aim. A half-arsed attempt doesn’t seem to work.

One of the most incredible birth stories was from a friend who I’ll call Anna, who had an easy, quick birth at home with her second child. It was such an amazing story that I had to share it:

I have just had baby no 2 and did the whole hypo-birthing thing and it absolutely and completely works!  I didn’t go to classes (although I think they would be great) – I just listened to the CD you have (lots in the last few weeks) and read the book that goes with it – Effective Birth Preparation – as well as the Marie Mongan Hypnobirthing book.  I practiced the breathing a bit before and it really does work.  I had baby no 2 after having an easy 4 hour labour in my bedroom at home – listening to the birthing music CD. I was so relaxed I didn’t want to go to hospital until I had to (although by the time I realised I needed to it was too late and I ended up having him on our bedroom floor pretty much delivered by my husband!).

It was the most incredible experience especially compared to last time – I would do it again tomorrow (although some gas and air would have been good – it helps with the relaxation). So I just wanted to say go with it, get into it – it is amazing!  And although only 3 weeks old, my baby boy seems to be happy, chilled and content so far! I am a complete natural birthing convert! Your partner does need to be in on it as well – this time I made mine read certain bits of the book and he believed it more and was really supportive.  I even had him practicing birth breathing (you breath baby out not push) when he was having a poo! He just kept prompting me this time to relax which did really help.

My first baby was a little different…

I know it works as I got a bit half-heartedly into it last time with my first labour – I was told about it initially when I had reflexology close to my due date and then listened to the CD a couple of times a day in the last couple of weeks. I went into labour on the Monday lunchtime after having a sweep, 10 days overdue.  I forgot all about Hypnobirthing and laboured all day and night – and all the next day!  My contractions would get to a couple minutes apart then I would not have one for 15 minutes… By Tuesday evening I was exhausted – I had spoken to the hospital who told me I was not ready to come in and who said it was too early for any pain relief. I had a mini breakdown – was so tired and couldn’t face another night of no sleep and not progressing.

I then decided to get a grip and try the hypno-birthing.  So I turned down the lights, lay on the sofa with my tens machine, put the music on, and imagined I was an animal in a field! A couple of hours later I told my husband I was ready to go to hospital, he didn’t really believe me as I was so much calmer than I had been, nor did the midwife that I had previously spoken to on the phone (who basically said I told you not to come in yet and tried to send me home again!)- but when she examined me I was 8 cm (much to her surprise!). I believe this was only due to the fact I completely relaxed and chilled out about it for a couple of hours – and let my body do what it is designed for!  I had the pool then which was great and the midwives kept saying they couldn’t believe I was fully dilated and chatting and calm and not really in that much discomfort.

BUT they told me the baby seemed to be in distress so they took me out of the pool down to delivery suite, wired me up to loads of machines to monitor him, tried to make me push when I wasn’t ready and didn’t feel like I wanted to – and as soon as I was taken out of the calm environment the pain was unbelievable, I couldn’t relax, had no pain relief and was too late to have any. It all went downhill from there and ended up needing forceps!

So I went into my second birth ready to completely embrace the relaxation and hypno-birthing and believe in it and it worked! My husband took it more seriously this time as well – he saw how well I did in the middle last time, compared to the beginning and the end – so tell your partner if this works it will be much less stressful for him!

I am not normally a no drugs / no pain relief kind of girl but think for child birth its the way forward (although I loved the gas and air and would have it every day if I could)!