We knew from early on in my pregnancy that this baby was definitely going to be our last. We had both agreed that 4 kids would be great, however after our fourth we both felt that we wanted just one more. So when I fell pregnant we knew that this was definitely the last one so throughout my pregnancy I kept thinking…I have to really enjoy and cherish this as I will never feel / experience it again.
As with all my other pregnancies the last few weeks were a string of on.. off mild contractions. With each of them there were at least 3 occasions when I thought I was going into labour and then everything stopped. This time was no different, but whenever I thought things might be starting, I would simply lie down and do my hypnosis or I would go to bed and wait for things to pick up or fizzle out.
At about a week over the estimated due date I began getting stronger feelings every 10 mins or so throughout the day. As my eldest son (9 yrs) was adamant that he wanted to be at the birth, he stayed at home while we sent the other three off to my parents for the night. By about 9 o’clock it all seemed to stop again. We packed Jo off to bed and then my husband and I sat chatting for a while. I was beginning to get quite despondent and a bit fed up and had a bit of a cry which probably did me the world of good. As I feel there are great expectations of me because of my work, I had been very “cerebral” about the birth and was constantly analysing what was going on in my body rather than following my own advice to others and just letting go and trusting that everything was happening as it should.
As we had filled the pool up, Phil suggested I get in just to have a relax and to try it out (it was new style pool that I had not actually got in to). While in the pool we started chatting about our honeymoon 12 years ago and reminisced about it in great detail. An hour after my last contraction they suddenly started up again and then never stopped.
We had a blissful few hours in our candle lit living room with me in the pool, as we chatted quietly or dozed between contractions. I had not planned on staying in the pool as on a self examination I was hardly even a centimetre dilated. However as the contractions began to become more frequent and increased in intensity I did not really want to be anywhere else. By midnight I knew things were well under way and can honestly say I was enjoying it.
The sensations were strong and powerful and I had to really focus my breathing, but as with my pregnancy I kept telling myself that this was the last time I would experience it so I might as well make the most of it. A couple of times I began to doubt my self (classic self doubt phases around 7 cm dilated) but then I found myself saying “I can do this – my body is doing this – just go with it – you have done this before”. It was a completely instinctive response and really helped me. Unlike my other births I found that I was more mobile during contractions as I found that swaying or rotating my hips during contractions was really helpful.
We had decided to leave calling the midwife until as late as possible as my midwife of the last 10 years who had been with me for all the births could not come that evening and so I was likely to get a midwife I had never met before. This had been a worry for me as I was concerned that she may not fit in with our way of doing things. However, half way through I found myself actively letting go of those worries and just accepting that what would be would be. My husband called the hospital at 1am and the midwife turned up about 1.45am. By that point I did another internal check and was puzzled that I could not feel my cervix which made me think I had not dilated at all – rather than realising that I was close to fully dilated. My conscious brain took over for a bit, thinking that if I was not even dilated, how could I cope with many more hours of these contractions. However very quickly I went back into my birthing mode and simply worked with each individual contraction, visualising my cervix opening, breathing rhythmically and rotating my hips.
Not long after the midwife arrived, I began to feel that familiar pressure as the baby had moved down and was ready to be born, At that point I had another moment of self doubt as I looked at my husband and said “ I don’t like this any more!”. I also stared shaking which my conscious mind told me was a great sign as the baby was about to be born. A few contractions later I began to involuntarily start pushing. Just before I began pushing I found myself thinking yet again – this is the last time you are going to do this – enjoy it, remember the feelings, cherish this incredible power in your body, trust your body and go for it. Within seconds my body took over and simply pushed my son gently down and out as I continued to breathe rhythmically making low groaning sounds. His head and body were born in just one slow continuous push lasting about 3 minutes.
My husband had woken our eldest son just a few minutes earlier and so he came down just in time to see the baby being born. It was wonderful to have my body give birth with no one touching me or the baby. The midwife was fantastic and totally respectful of our wishes – all she did was check my blood pressure and the baby’s heart beat when she arrived and then left me completely alone. As soon as he slid out of my body, I completely came out of “the zone” as my son likes to put it and excitedly said “where’s my baby” as I had not put my hands down to catch him. After fumbling around at the bottom of the dark pool, I scooped him up and gazed down at this wondrous new addition to our family. He was so calm that I actually think he was still asleep. He did not make a sound or even open his eyes. He wriggled a little and then snuggled into my arms – he was perfect!
As I had had a slightly low lying placenta I decided to get out of the pool to birth the placenta which came out quickly and easily as the baby latched on and began feeding. My eldest son (aged 9) clamped and cut the chord. He even put on a pair of gloves and had a feel of the placenta as the midwife explained what was what and how it worked.
It had been such a wonderful birth and I felt so blessed that my last birth was as close to perfect as it could be. It had been hard going the last couple of hours and I had the usual feelings of self doubt – but once again, never did I feel out of control, never did I feel fear, never did I feel that my body was not able to birth my baby. My unquestionable faith in my body, my ability to use hypnosis to truly relax my body and my trust and belief that I was perfectly designed to birth my baby carried me through. I am physically no different to any other woman. I do not believe that my body is better equipped to give birth than other women. I do believe however that my beliefs and my mind set are what make the difference
By letting go of fear, by truly trusting your body at a subconscious level and by learning how to work with your body through relaxation, breathing and visualisation, I know that all women have the possibility to have a positive birth. The crazy thing is that it is not difficult to achieve. Self hypnosis is so simple and easy and yet it can be life changing. My deepest wish is that I can get this message out so that all women have the opportunity to have a positive birth experience.