Both of my children’s births will remain etched in my mind as a significantly life changing wonderful event. But their birth stories are two different tales. I am grateful that both my girls arrived safely and I was in one piece afterwards. But this story is a huge reason I began this blog. This topic should have far more coverage than it does at the moment. I believe this is a woman’s right to know about it and should be taught to all girls/women of child bearing age and not just those who seek an alternative route from conventional natal care.
I have to say a big thank you to my sister, Charlotte. If it wasn’t for her I probably wouldn’t have known a great deal about the topic I’m discussing. In October 2015, Charlotte calmly without medical pain relief, gave birth to her first baby at home. She was able to breathe down her baby into world without the need for conventional pushing that women have become so accustomed too. Her pain was managed with controlled breath and relaxation techniques. She didn’t have interference from medical assistants. She listened to her bodies cues and allowed her body to do the work for her. All she had to do was breathe.
When I fell pregnant with my second daughter, Francesca, in early 2016, I wanted in on this unconventional method of birthing. I’ve always been pro natural for most things in life but in particular, giving birth. I had my first baby Lola, in 2011. She was born naturally with some medical assistance. I call her birth the marathon birth.
It was the hardest marathon I would ever endure. I wished I could just get to the finish line without the sheer unbelievable amount of energy that went into getting there. I pushed with every last drop of energy I could muster. I caved in to the constant offer of pain relief and had diamorphine. The gas and air made me feel as though I was on the waltzers. When she was born I felt an overwhelming sense of relief it was all over. She was perfect in every way but I was utterly exhausted. I felt as though I had the worlds worst hangover. I missed out on the rush of euphoria you heard about so often as I was just so tired! I needed much needed rest with my baby but shortly after giving birth it was visiting hours!
In October 2016 I was mentally, physically and emotionally ready for an altogether different birth. We not only lived in an entirely different country from the previous birth, I’d also practised hypnobirthing and yoga daily for six months. I read an amazing book by Marie Mongan; Hynobirthing: The Mongan Method. I joined an online community called The Calm Birth School where I could sign up to online tutorials and connect with other hypno practising mums. This worked well for me with us living away and Andrew, my husband, away at work. It meant he could log on and watch the tutorials as well.
On the 9th of October, four days past her estimated due date she made her entrance. One major difference this time round was that I stayed at home for as long as I possibly could. My sister had arrived in Dubai that week to look after Lola (my five year old) for when the impending birth happened. Francesca decided to arrive the night just before Charlotte was leaving for the UK. I’d been offered a sweep on my due date but I declined as I absolutely knew she would arrive when she was ready.
My surges (contractions) began around 7am they grew stronger throughout the day. With each one I breathed in for a count of 7 and out for a count of 7. I was completely managing the pain. I was very relaxed. I remember my sister feeding me up throughout the day and we watched a really long winded drama on Netflix.
Andrew was working an hour away out of town on a huge project it was an important day for him to be in work. It was a life saver having my sister there who also totally understood how to stay relaxed as she’d been through it a year earlier.
My surges ramped up as it approached 6pm and Andrew finally came home, with every surge I was breathing deeply I could feel a dipping sensation in my pelvis, her head was starting to descend, although I wasn’t fully aware at the time. I was still ok though and managing the pain. I went for a soak in the bath with clary sage oil.
We ordered a pizza and I was eating in between surges. Andrew looked at me and asked “are you sure you’re in labour?’ I replied ‘Yes, Andrew, I’m in labour!’( I think back to this and remember how much noise and groaning I was making with my first baby). I absolutely knew it was time to head to the hospital at that point as the surges were very close together (you can’t home birth in Dubai).
I put on my headphones and listened to my relaxing mp3s through the journey. With every surge I was breathing long in and out breathes I have to admit I wasn’t counting by this point. I’d gone into my own world. I remember feeling in control. We reached Al Zhara hospital and luckily I got the hypnobirthing suite which was equipped with a huge big birthing tub and twinkly lights in the ceiling.
I was very relaxed and managing well. I got in the water and the mid wife left the room. I suddenly felt as if I needed the loo so I got out and sat down, I had a huge surge and suddenly her head was crowning. I gave her a little nudge and out her head popped. The midwife had returned and with the next surge her body was born. So yep, she was born on the loo and not in the lovely big birthing tub!! But then. BAM the huge rush of oxytocin, the biggest natural high I’ll ever experience took over. I did it all without any drug relief, just long deep amazing breaths. If I could have birthed at home I would have. But it didn’t matter.
I absolutely knew I could have applied these methods to Lolas birth back in 2011 if I was aware that they existed then. It too, could have been a drug free birth like Francesca’s was. If I knew how to breathe to manage pain I’d of stayed longer at home or even better opted for a home birth as we were in the UK then.
The other amazing thing about it; is that you can use the skills you learn through practise in everyday situations, including the Dads/birthing partners who spent all those hours practising breathing techniques to stay calm and relaxed with you. It was a profound and life changing experience for me and my family.
I truly hope someday soon, hypnobirthing is the conventional way to birth for all women.