Alesha birthed her second baby during the COVID-19 pandemic and was looking to experience her birth differently this second time also incorporating Hypnobirthing techniques, this is her birth story…
Where and how was your baby born and was it as you’d hoped?
I had wanted to have a home birth but the team was suspended due to the coronavirus. I had time to accept this change in circumstances and spoke to the consultant midwife to agree I could attend the birth centre as opposed to the labour ward.
The birth was a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) so the recommendation is normally to have continuous fetal monitoring in the labour ward. But the consultant midwife was open to my request to not be considered high risk and talked through the options with me.
In the weeks before I gave birth, I had on / off mild contractions and often thought that labour would start overnight. Instead I’d sleep and wake up the next day still pregnant. My mucus plug went a few days before I went into labour.
On Sunday 5th April I woke up and the contractions felt more regular. Still mild but with more of a pattern so I started timing them and they were 10 to 15 mins apart. I spent the day at home with my husband and daughter. My mum came for a socially distanced visit and we had a chat through the window. I walked around and around the garden. I even managed to have an afternoon nap!
After dinner, I had a video catch up with family who were very excited about baby’s imminent arrival. I had another video call with friends after, and part way through I felt a movement inside and the next contraction was so much stronger. Initially I thought my waters had gone but there wasn’t any leaking so who knows what it was. Either way, it was definitely the start of a more intense journey!
My contractions were now getting more regular and stronger so I put on my tens machine which helped. I sat on my birthing ball at the table at the beginning. In the later stages, I was standing and swaying at the kitchen island.
I laboured at home until around 2am, when I’d had an hour or so of contractions that were 2-3 minutes apart. I felt calm. I used golden thread breathing at the beginning. By the end I was vocalising a lot, using a singing breath I’d learnt in yoga. I had some affirmations and pictures out on the table. My husband was next to me. My two year old daughter must have sensed something was going on. She was wide awake in her bedroom singing and talking until late.
When the time came to go to hospital, we called my aunt who came to look after my daughter. Then I realised I had to get in the car. Sitting still was so hard! Luckily the roads were clear and once we got into the car park I launched myself out of the car.
I walked into triage, which I was happy to see was empty. I was examined and the midwife said I was 5cm dilated. I was pleased labour was progressing well. She went to get my husband. Shortly after I felt nauseous and vomited, but felt much better after getting off the bed and moving around again.
We went into the birth centre, the water was running in the pool, there were affirmations on the wall, a bean bag and no bed. It was a pleasant space and as I leant on the pool and rocked through my contractions I felt ready. And grateful that everything was going well. I had the most blissful pause between contractions, pain free and calm.
My midwife came in and introduced herself. She said she’d read my birth preferences and would support them. I carried on labouring leaning over the pool while it was filled up, using my tens machine to support me. After an hour or so, my waters broke. They were clear. A real relief as when I went into labour last time, my waters had meconium in them.
When I got in the pool, it felt soothing for my body. Although I found it difficult to find a comfortable position. Soon after I had gas and air which helped as it gave me some distance from the intensity of the contractions.
I remember getting to a point where I felt I couldn’t continue without stronger pain relief. I said this to the midwife who suggested an examination. It was hard work getting out of the pool but once I was sat on a mat with my back against a bean bag, I was much more comfortable. The midwife said I was fully dilated, what a relief! Soon after I felt the urge to push and baby was born shortly after that. The pushing stage was quick and felt good as I knew we were nearing the end.
When baby came out, the midwife put him on my chest. I had a huge ‘I did it’ moment. I felt proud and empowered and strong.
I also felt grateful that everything had progressed well. My last labour and birth wasn’t so straightforward and so this was a real healing moment for me.
What’s your top tip(s) for others?
What part of your journey are you most proud of?
If you could change anything, what would it be?
What helped you?
If you’d like to get tools for birth, the Real Birth project online Hypnobirthing course offers tools, information & support including birthing during the pandemic.