Alesha’s Real Birth Story | Second Healing Birth During COVID

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?
Raphael was born at the birth centre at Croydon University Hospital on 6th April at 6.15am. It was a really positive experience.

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?
Don’t make too specific plans or get too attached to it going a certain way. Definitely look at it positively, visualise, think about how you’d like it to unfold. But you can’t control it, so be open to the experience whatever happens.
If things don’t go to plan, get help sooner rather than later. If you’re sad about things not going the way you’d hoped, you’re not the only one and there‘s help available for you.
What part of your journey are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the calm and peace I felt during labour. After a difficult first birth experience, I could have let worries and fears get in the way. But I didn’t. I trusted my body and my instincts. And I’m proud of that.
If you could change anything, what would it be?
I had a third degree tear, and if I could change anything I’d definitely choose to not have that! It meant having a spinal block, IV antibiotics and a visit to theatre to have it stitched up. The anaesthetic made me shaky and affected my breathing. I also had to stay on the postnatal ward until late that night (but not overnight which I am thankful for).
The recovery felt slow and hard going. In hindsight, it was just a few weeks. But the coronavirus meant less face to face support in the weeks following the birth, which made space for some anxiety around whether or not I was healing well.
I also questioned whether I should have done something differently to avoid the tear. Should I have moved to a more upright position? Should I have tried harder to do the gentle birthing breath I had practised for months in yoga class?
Maybe. But in the moment I chose to stay in the sitting position I was in because I was comfortable and didn’t want to move. More comfortable than I’d been in the pool. And I pushed because I wanted and needed to push. I don’t think I could have done anything differently. And there’s no guarantee that doing anything differently would have stopped the tear anyway…
What helped you?
Pregnancy yoga helped me with breathing exercises so I had some tools to deal with intense pain and sensations I hadn’t experienced before.
Something Sakina suggested – visualising the sea flowing back and forth – helped me focus my mind on something calm. It also helped me to feel connected to nature and the earth and to trust my body and allow it to do what it needed to do.
My husband was my rock. Strong and supportive and calm. Once we were at the hospital, the midwife, Fiona, was encouraging and helped me through it all as well.
I think something else that helped was that I’d done it before. My two births were very different experiences but in the back of my mind I knew I’d got through it before and I’d get through it again, whatever the birth experience was going to be like.
Thank you Alesha for sharing your birth story of your second baby and your birth wisdom.

If you’d like to share your birth stroy please find our story submission form at the top of the page here.  You can read more on our Instagram page. 

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. 

Scroll to Top