Positive Induction Birth Story – Charlotte & Jacob

Birth Stories, motherhood

I was recently contacted by Charlotte, after posting my own birth story to celebrate Fox turning one. She told me that she recalled seeing my Instagram post about the birth of Fox last year and feeling a little frustrated at the time, as she too had planned a water birth and was practising hypnobirthing but was 12 days past her due date and desperate to meet her baby. In the end Charlotte chose to accept a little help in getting labour started but still used everything she had learnt and gave birth to her baby boy in the birth pool just as she had hoped. Her experience was a very positive one and she credits hypnobirthing for helping her achieve the calm and empowering birth she wanted. She also said that hearing about my birth inspired her to keep calm when she was in labour. Therefore she has kindly agreed to share her birth story in the hope that it will similarly help and inspire others who might find themselves in a similar position.

So here we have the beautiful birth of Jacob, in Charlotte’s own words…

I discovered hypnobirthing when I was around 5 months pregnant and prior to this I had no idea that birth could be anything other than the noisy, dramatic ordeal that is usually found in TV and films! I became obsessed with reading any positive experiences I could find, even when things hadn’t gone to ‘plan’ women felt empowered and in control and hypnobirthing was a common theme. It was a lightbulb moment for me and from then on I knew I wanted a calm and positive birth experience.

We did a hypnobirthing course in Sheffield in January 2016 and from that point I told everyone who would listen that I was excited about giving birth. Most people thought I was bonkers and were quick to tell me how unbearably painful labour is. This only made me more determined and I practiced my affirmations and visualisations every night in the run up to our due date (18th March 2016). This date came and went and I became increasingly impatient for labour to start.

At 40+4 weeks pregnant my community midwife gave me my first sweep and told me I was already 2cm dilated – whoopee! I thought, and waddled off home expecting contractions to start imminently. But nothing happened. The following week (41+4 weeks) I had a second sweep and was still 2cm and apparently “very stretchy” (lovely!) – I had had a couple of ‘shows’ in the days running up to this but still nothing changed. 

By this point friends and family were calling and messaging me daily and I was growing more and more frustrated. We were going for long walks every day, I was frantically bouncing on my birthing ball at every opportunity, I had a course of induction acupuncture (and continued to practice acupressure at home) – we tried everything, but this baby was not shifting! I knew how important it was to be calm and positive for things to progress naturally but I was finding it increasingly difficult. I had not prepared myself for how negative this would make me feel, I felt my body was completely letting me down.

We were booked in for an induction on Wednesday 30th March when I would be 41+5 weeks. I was incredibly anxious about this as my research (no thanks to google) told me inductions usually meant one thing – intervention – which I desperately didn’t want. We arrived at Chesterfield birth centre early in the morning and after a couple of hours of monitoring and another sweep were told as I was low risk they would send us home. They were busy with emergencies and thought we would be better off at home relaxing, this was of course the best place for us but I was about ready to demand they broke my waters and put me on the drip (thankfully my partner, Mike, talked me out of this option!!)

A good nights rest was the best thing and even though nothing changed overnight I felt much more positive. On the morning of Thursday 31st March I was given another examination (still 2cm and the midwife said she was surprised I wasn’t contracting on my own – me too!!) and we decided our best option was a slow-release hormone propess (a bit like a tampon which is placed close to the cervix and left in for a number of hours to start contractions artificially). This was put in at 11am and over the next number of hours they monitored the baby’s movements and if there were any ‘tightenings’ (their word for contractions). In that time Mike and I played card games and went for walks around the hospital grounds but I still didn’t feel like I was going into labour…

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At 6pm we asked if we could go for another walk and the midwife told me to find some stairs and go up and down them as many times as possible. This clearly resonated with Mike as he found the hospital’s outdoor gym and had me on the stairmaster!! It was either this or the fit of giggles that ensued but on the walk back to the ward I began to notice the elusive tightenings, finally I started to believe I might actually be going into labour!

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These tightenings continued for the next few hours but were in no way painful, they also weren’t very consistent so I still wasn’t holding out much hope that I would have a straightforward labour. I was inhaling clary sage and lavender oils and listening to my favourite hypnobirthing mp3s and was allowed to sit (but not bounce) on the birth ball whilst on the monitor. I tried not to obsess over the tightenings the monitor was showing but I knew things were progressing and at 10pm (just as Mike decided to leave me to make a phone call to his business partner) I was hit with my first proper contraction. It was intense but I was elated! I was finally in labour! 

An examination at 10.30pm put me at 3-4cm dilated, up to this point we had been on the ante & postnatal ward and when we had asked the midwives when we should go to the birthing centre downstairs, their response was always “when you feel like you need more pain relief” which I didn’t feel like I needed at all! The pressure had been building in my back but Mike had filled my hot water bottle which I had pushed to my back while I leaned over the bed walking my legs and concentrating on my breathing techniques which was helping me keep control. I had mentioned intermittently to the midwives that I hoped to try the water in a birthing pool but since this was off limits if you are induced and need continual monitoring I wasn’t pinning all my hopes on it. By some miracle though the one room at Chesterfield Birth Centre (Room 5) with a mobile and waterproof monitor was available for me to use – I was overjoyed and so relieved! My contractions were now coming very close together (probably because of the hormone propess which was still in) so we had to move quickly – Mike grabbed all of our possessions (it was at this point I realised we’d brought far too much stuff with us!) and I somehow managed to waddle down the stairs breathing through the contractions. We arrived in room 5 and I honestly felt like we’d just got to a 5* spa hotel!!

The next hour passed in a bit of a blur, the midwife who had shown us to the room had started to fill the pool but very politely left us to it and told us our labour midwife would be with us shortly. I think she showed Mike how to refill the water (with a hand sensor on the wall – very hi-tec!) and said I could get in when I wanted. I had in my mind that I should wait till I was 5cm before getting in the pool so I decided to continue leaning over the bed and breathing with my hypnobirthing MP3s in my earphones. My contractions were coming one after another by this point but I was honestly enjoying every single one. It might have been because of the two weeks I went overdue willing labour to start but I felt stronger with each surge. All the pressure was in my lower back but somehow Mike knew exactly where I needed my back rubbing which helped immensley. He was also trying to help me into my bikini but by this point I think my body was struggling to catch up with how fast things were progressing and my legs were shaking and I was sick. 

Thankfully our lovely labour midwife, Liz, arrived around this time and encouraged me to get into the water. It was now 12.01am on the 1st April which meant our baby would most definitely be born on April Fool’s Day!! The water felt absolutely amazing, such a comfort – like a warm blanket wrapped all around me. Liz told me I would need to keep my bump immersed in the water which was quite a challenge because even though I am an avid yoga fan and practised religiously throughout pregnancy my legs ached so much crouching in the water – I actually found this more uncomfortable than the actual contractions! Nevertheless I needed all my focus to get a deep breath before each surge began to manage the intensity of them. I had learnt about ‘humming’ instead of pushing but I started humming my out breath sooner than I had planned and much noisier than I ever thought I would be but for whatever reason it worked for me (and thankfully all the labour rooms were sound-proofed!!). The lights were dimmed and an MP3 player was found to connect my iPod to put my favourite tracks on repeat and I rested my head against the side of the pool, fully in my birth zone. 

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At around 2.30am I was managing the contractions fine but was keen to know if I was progressing and since it was 4 hours since my last examination Liz suggested I get out of the water for this. Lying on the bed was extremely uncomfortable and I remember thinking how glad I was that I didn’t have to labour like this the whole time. My legs were shaking again but I was extremely pleased to hear I was 6-7cm dilated! I was quietly confident that I was close to meeting my baby but knew it could still be a while yet. 

I still had the mobile monitor on so our baby’s heartbeat was also providing a soundtrack to my labour so as much as an inconvenience it was to have this on it was also of great comfort hearing a strong and sound heartbeat in the room with us. 

I was ridiculously thirsty but thankfully had packed a bendy straw so Mike could hold a cup of water for me to sip from – much easier than the effort of actually lifting a cup to my mouth! I was also aware that I needed to keep going to the toilet as I had remembered reading that a full bladder can stop things progressing. So as much as I didn’t want to leave the water I got out a few times to use the toilet. 

Soon after the 2.30am examination something changed and it was clear that my body was beginning to push without me even being conscious of it happening. It’s hard to describe but I could feel my baby moving further down with each push. Having watched countless episodes of ‘one born every minute’ though I knew this stage could take quite a long time. I continued using my humming and didn’t do any forced pushing, I had written in my birth plan that I didn’t want to be guided in how to push but after a while I stopped feeling the full intensity of the contractions and was getting nervous of things slowing or even stopping so I asked my midwife for some assistance at this point. Since we still weren’t sure if I was fully dilated or if my waters had broken she suggested she break my waters and examine again to check if baby was really ready to be born. I didn’t have to get out of the water for this as there was a corner of the pool where I could step up. Apparently there was very little water when they were broken but Liz confirmed I was fully dilated and this process must have made a difference because things definitely changed again from them. 

I was still crouched in a squat position leaning against the side of the pool and remember asking if the room could be any colder as I was so hot (apparently the air con was as cold as it could go though). I was drifting in and out of my “relaxing place” but heard bits of quiet conversations Mike and Liz were having. And I think Mike was slightly over-relaxed by the calm environment we had created as I remember hearing Liz offering him a coffee a few times so I think he was dropping off – unbeknownst to me!!

Liz had a mirror to check how things were progressing but she suggested I change positions and try laying on my back in the water holding my knees to see if this would help baby move down that last bit. I remember seeing her put an apron on and a second midwife arriving which were all signs that we were nearing the end. At this point I remember needing to push with all my might but I still had no clear indication of when the contractions were coming and the midwives told me I was the best judge of when and how long to push! Somehow though they finally said they could see baby’s hair and when I noticed them looking at the clock I pushed so hard, knowing they were getting concerned. The crown of his head was born and while I rested between the final two contractions the midwives and Mike laughed out loud because his head started slowly turning side to side – I was clueless as to what was going on though but glad that they had no cause for concern! Waiting for the last contraction felt like an age but it finally came and with that I felt my baby’s whole body emerge from me and my midwife said “you can catch your baby if you want” – something I originally hadn’t thought I’d be able to do – and I’m so glad I did and was the one to bring him out of the water to be the first person to touch him and see his face. It was the most incredible moment and I just remember saying “oh my god” over and over. 

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It was 5.21am on Friday 1st April 2016. I feel like my whole labour was around 7 hours as I had first felt a proper contraction at 10.30pm the previous evening. I remember feeling like I could have gone on for a few more hours but was obviously overjoyed to get to the end and meet our baby. As intended we waited a few minutes soaking him in before we checked if we had a boy or a girl and were so happy when we saw he was a boy. After probably about 10minutes, which felt like 10 seconds, Liz told us the cord had stopped pulsating and could be cut. Mike didn’t want to do this so the midwife did but instructed me in cutting it a bit shorter which felt very strange but I’m glad I did it! The water was drained from the pool and I passed baby to Mike to keep him warm while I waited to deliver the placenta. I was going to stay in the pool for this (I thought this would mean less mess for the midwives – ha!) but without any water it was really uncomfortable for me and there were no signs of it so the midwife suggested I get out and move to the bed. I asked if she thought I should have the injection at this point to speed things along but since I hadn’t had any other drugs before this she suggested I try and do it naturally. Lo and behold a few moments later I felt some period-pain-like sensations and after a few pushes my placenta was delivered. I was so intrigued to see it and asked the midwife to explain all the different parts of it to me which was fascinating.

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Whilst the midwife checked me for tears (all hail perineum massage as I had one small graze which I hardly noticed post-birth) Mike was able to have some skin to skin time before they weighed him (8lb 2oz – even more miraculous that I didn’t tear!) and put a nappy on him. He was then handed to me for skin to skin and first feed which was just the most amazing feeling. We were brought tea and white bread toast (the best I’ve ever had!) and after this Mike looked at me and said “I’m just so tired Charlotte, do you mind if I have a nap?!” He then slept on a big bean bag in the corner of the room and I was alone with my baby boy who we decided to name Jacob Peter. Our hypnobirthing mp3s were still reverberating around the room and I remember feeling like I was still in a dream as it all felt too good to be true.

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I know luck was on my side with certain factors that led to Jacob’s birth being so straightforward but I also know that without putting in a lot of time and effort to learning the techniques of hypnobirthing I would not have had such a positive experience. I am so thankful for that and I’m sure it helped my first days, weeks and months of motherhood to also be the best of my life. I will forever be an advocate of hypnobirthing and will try and tell any pregnant lady willing to listen to me to give it a try!!

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Many thanks to Charlotte for sharing her beautiful birth story and wishing baby Jacob a very happy first birthday.

Sharing positive birth stories is so important as reading them helps women feel more confident in pregnancy and as they approach their own births. The more relaxed women are, the better when it comes to birth and positive birth stories really help with this. Hypnobirthing also really helps by equipping you with practical skills you can use in labour. If you’d like to do a course with me please visit The Positive Birth Company to find details of courses I have running including dates and availability.

If you have a positive birth story you’d like to share please send it to me at thedoublemama@gmail.com. 

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Positive Birth Story – Katy & Joshua

Birth Stories

I’m totally honoured to be able to share this positive birth story with you all. Katy contacted me after reading my post Thoughts on Birth. She says it inspired her to share her story. She also had this to say:

“The whole time I was pregnant I was extremely excited at the prospect of giving birth. Everyone I met thought I was nuts, and, more annoyingly, wrong to be positive about the idea of labour. A lot of people gave knowing looks and smirks as if to say JUST YOU WAIT UNTIL YOU ACTUALLY DO IT..!”

So here, in her own words, is Joshua Stanley’s birth story (and what a testament it is to having a positive attitude and approach to birth):

My due date was the 4th of November, moved from the 11th of November after a 12 week scan showed the baby to be “too large” for my dates. My dates were pretty crystal clear accurate as we’d used fertility treatment, and not to put to fine a point on it, I knew exactly when we’d conceived. My midwife wasn’t too fussed about that detail though, and the revised date of the 4th was kept to.

The 4th was a Tuesday, and I went for a sweep at the surgery. My midwife (who was really lovely) tried valiantly to stretch the membranes, but I was tight as a clam. She said she wouldn’t be surprised if I went 2 weeks overdue, given how unready for labour I was. I felt pretty disheartened by this, as I didn’t know anybody with a good labour story that started with them being massively overdue, but went home to watch numerous episodes of Teen Mom in order to lift my spirits.

Wednesday arrived and I’d been reading The Guardian’s “Perfect” recipe series. That wednesday the featured recipe was for the perfect grilled cheese sandwich (maybe all the cheese would tempt baby out?), which set me into overdrive. I walked (maybe the walk will encourage baby out?) a three mile round trip to my local shop to collect all the required cheese and sourdough bread, then went home to make the world’s most awesome sandwich. My husband came home and we ate leftover chilli burritos (maybe spicy burritos would smoke baby out?), and caught up on The Walking Dead (maybe the scary zombies would terrify baby out?).

As I toppled my massive pregnant carcass into bed around 11pm, I heard a pop. I instantly knew it was my waters breaking, so I waddled to the bathroom. I shouted for my husband, who genuinely thought I was joking. I was annoyed at his low opinion of my comedy skills. I rang the hospital and they said to keep an eye on the waters for meconium, and to give them a call back if there was any blood.

We were both too excited to sleep, so went downstairs to watch The Lego Movie. About 10 minutes into the film, I started with the TENS machine, as I could definitely feel something going on. By 00:30 the movie was off and my husband ran me a bath, lit candles, and I sent him to bed. I set up the contraction timer on my phone and tried to relax into the labour. At 1am I checked the app and it showed that I was contracted at the rate you’re supposed to go into hospital at (I can’t remember exactly what this is – 3 in 3? 2 in 3? something like that). I shouted for my husband, and we had a debate about whether to go to hospital. I vehemently did not want to drive there and then be sent home. I rang them and they did not sound like they wanted me to come in, given the short amount of time that had elapsed, but it was getting to the point where I was aware that we didn’t know what we were doing at all.

We got in the car for an horrendous 15 minute journey, including a detour because my husband is really terrible at directions. I had all the windows open and was on all fours in the front passenger seat, like a crazy person.

When we arrived in hospital it was 2am, and the midwives took us into the most amazing room I had ever seen. It was like a spa, with an enormous birthing pool, dimmed lights and en suite bathroom.

The midwife got me onto the bed for a check.

I was at 1cm.

She and my husband both looked at me like I was a lunatic.

I got down off the bed and cringed in the bathroom, feeling like I was in full labour, but baffled because I knew people who walked around completing every day tasks at 1cm dilated, and I felt like I needed an epidural.

The midwife told us to go home and I refused. Luckily my husband must have seen a crazy look in my eye, because he advocated for me really well – we were moved to a side room, and I was given a shot of Pethedine at 4am. The midwife said she would be back to check my progress in another 4 hours, at 8am. I don’t recall the Pethedine doing anything to my pain levels, but it really focussed my mind. I lay on my side, in the quiet, dark room, and held onto my husband’s jumper with both fists and my eyes closed. It seemed like no time at all had passed, but in reality it was 5:55am, and I felt the urge to push.

I said to my husband… um… I feel like I need to push and I don’t know what to do. He volunteered to take a look, and I pleaded with him not to, as it’s not the type of thing I think a marriage can survive. Nevertheless, he did go down the business end. “OK..” he said, extremely calmly “…I’m just going to pop outside to the midwives, as I can see the baby’s head.” Then he left (very quickly).

As soon as he left the room I felt the strongest sensation to push, so I just did (rookie mistake). I have never been more terrified or elated in my life when I looked down and saw my baby’s face staring up at me, blinking away. Apparently (I have no recollection of this) I then started screaming loudly that the baby was coming, and at that point my husband and several midwives ran into the room. Almost simultaneously I felt another urge to push, which I did (why!?) and my baby just arrived in an instant. As I was still lying on my side, the midwife grabbed him and flipped him onto my chest, an 8lb, bloody wet bundle.

It was amazing.

The entire pushing stage of labour had lasted 30 seconds, and it was the most insane time lapse of my life.

The after effects were not great – 3rd degree tearing due to the lack of assistance during the pushing stage, but I can accept a few stitches when the experience is so overwhelmingly positive.

I don’t blame the midwives for not being there during the labour – who would expect someone to go from 1cm – fully dilated in 2 hours, with minimum fuss?

Nevertheless, I’ll be having a home birth next time.

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How incredible is that??? First time Mama delivering her own baby! If you’ve enjoyed reading this story please let us know by leaving a comment – that would be awesome. And if you’d like to share your positive birth story please email thedoublemama@gmail.com – it would be an honour to publish it.

Siobhan x