Birth Stories No.15: Abigail’s Hospital Water Birth

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I began getting what I thought were rather strong Braxton Hicks around 8.40am on Tuesday, so I just ignored them and carried on pottering around the house and looking after our six-year-old son Nethaniel who was on half term and a bit poorly.

I vaguely observed that they seemed to be coming rather regularly every 15 or so minutes, so I thought, “this could be it.” But I still carried on doing what I was doing in slight denial/oblivion!

They then proceeded to come every 10 minutes around just before 10am, so I decided it was time to call my husband at work to let him know. I didn’t feel he had to rush back but would let him know if things change. I also called my doula. Very shortly after they started to come every 7 or so minutes so I called David my husband back and said perhaps he should come back now actually!

I started faffing about our son worrying that he had everything he needed for when he went to my older sister, and also bizarrely worrying about the general state of the house, toys in a mess etc.!

abigail2Once our son was picked up I could start to relax a bit more and finally accept that I was most definitely in labour! Surges came every 5 minutes now, and I finally started to focus on my breathing during them.

In a slightly mad way I decided I HAD to have a shower before leaving for the hospital, and breathed my way through surges in the middle of washing!

My doula arrived, I was still laughing and chatting with her in between surges, and then we decided it was time for the cab to take me to hospital, as it was all happening very quickly!

I can’t say I found the cab ride so comfy, but I tried my best to work with gravity by kneeling on the seat and facing backwards and holding onto the headrest for support.

We arrived quickly, and although I was supposed to birth in the labour ward, luck was on my side, the labour was choc-a-bloc full that day so in the end I got my initial wish of birthing in the beautiful Birth Centre (Whittington).

They hadn’t wanted me to birth there because I had gestational diabetes so was seen as a higher risk birth.

I was greeted by friendly smiling midwives – it made all the difference I can tell you because 6 years ago when I birthed my first son in a different hospital we were met with unfriendly sour faces – so this was a big relief to me. I knew I was going to be looked after properly with love and care.

Within minutes of being led into the lovely birthing suite my surges were coming every three minutes. They started filling up the pool.

I am so grateful to you for teaching David and myself on the Couple’s course about the ‘natural epidural’ place to apply pressure at the base of my spine because it seriously worked! The pressure was definitely alleviated during each surge because I commanded David to keep his hand there during each one!

I remained standing and held onto his shoulders each time and he encouraged me reminding me of all the inner work I have been doing during this pregnancy, and each surge felt really special and helped us to connect on a very deep level, it felt were we birthing our baby together.

Another thing to thank you for – I remembered to SMILE during each surge! Each time they came, I shut my eyes, breathed and smiled. I also sometimes visualised myself riding each wave on a surfboard, which felt liberating. When you smile, you simply can’t feel fear, plus on a physical level I knew that if I kept my jaw and lips relaxed ‘up above’, they would also be relaxed ‘down below!’

I was starting to make some interesting high singing sounds and knew that I was transitioning.

The pool was ready; I climbed in and immediately had a really strong surge. I remembered you had said water can bring them on stronger sometimes so I wasn’t scared, it was certainly intense though! I just kept my eyes shut and continued commanding David to keep his hands at the base of my back.

Within what felt like a very short space of time I began feeling a need to really bear down (and yes, it does feel like a very big poo is coming ha ha!) and my sounds went from high to low – quite cow like; I breathed through incredibly intense but not painful surges, and ‘pop’ my waters broke! I felt the bubbles, it was fantastic.

Then out popped his head, and after another surge out came his body!

abigail3Apparently our beautiful little boy came out with his hand and arm outstretched like Superman, which Nethaniel loved to hear! The midwives passed him to me under my legs to me and up he swam!

We had immediate eye contact and skin-to-skin bonding in the pool – exactly what I had wanted.

The midwives also respected my wish for his cord to remain attached to his placenta until it stopped pulsating, and after about 20 to 30 minutes once I was out of the pool, I squatted down gave a small push and out came the placenta!

I feel so emotional writing this because it was by far the most beautiful, empowering experience of my life, and I wish each and every one of the wonderful mamas to be who are hearing this, as beautiful and happy a birth.

The contrast to my first birth is incomparable – this was drugs free, quick, empowering and serene.

abigail1Our little boy is so alert, has been guzzling away on the breasts pretty much non-stop since he was born, and his name is Raphael – because he is a true healing little angel, which befits the healing experience this birth was for me. I felt I was re-born too!

I believe that if I could have remembered to breathe during my first birth and smile, things could have been very different. So I really want all the mamas to be to know that.  I truly believe it doesn’t have to be harder because it’s the first. It can be as special and wonderful as this birth was for me.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping this pregnancy and birth be such a lovely empowering experience.

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