Evelyn's Birth Story
I realised recently that I have never shared my own birth experience with Evelyn. I talk about my births in the classes and Evelyn’s is the reason I became a HypnoBirth teacher. So here it is….
(This photograph was taken moments after she was born. I hated it when I saw it. I look petrified and vulnerable. I love it now. It’s raw, just like the emotions I felt. It’s real too, I’m tired because birth is a work out. I’m emotional because i’ve just become a mum, so I’m okay with it not being a perfect picture. The moment was perfect.)
I had a very straightforward pregnancy with Evelyn. I found the whole process incredibly enjoyable. At the time I was working in Television and we were on weeks of night shoots. I realised quite quickly that in order to look after myself and this little baby growing inside I’d have to find a balance with work and self care.
My career was full on and intense (I loved it) but it was the first real decision I had to make as a mum, to let go a little. To slow down. I started private pregnancy yoga classes. Nourished my body and remembered to eat and drink (often something I’d forget when stressed or busy!) I did everything a little slower and stayed in bed when I could!
As my pregnancy progressed I started to think about birth and it became pretty apparent I had NO IDEA what to expect, who does? I didn’t know what my body would do, or how I’d know when labour was starting. I had no idea about birthing placenta’s and choosing where to give birth (I didn’t realise I had a choice!)
My instincts were sharp in pregnancy, so what I did know, was that I wanted to feel in control. I knew that I wanted it to be a calm and memorable experience for the right reasons. I just wasn’t sure how to do that. That’s when I came across Hypnobirth. During a 5 week course I learnt about the physiology of birth, how I could support my body through it, why I didn’t need to push in the way I first thought (that was a light bulb moment!) I learnt about the science of birth and how the birth environment was SO important in enabling my body to release the right hormones to birth my baby. It all made sense.
I couldn’t believe women weren’t taught any of this when pregnant! Over the weeks I released all my fears of the unknown. Jason, my husband and I learnt about the different stages of birth and things we had never heard of like birthing the placenta, Vitamin K, poo (!) pain relief options, natural and medical. SO many things I had no idea about, that I now felt totally prepared for. We put a birth preferences sheet together and looked forward to the birth.
Our plan was to stay home for as long as possible before going to hospital.
In the days before I went in to labour we hung out at home. Did nothing except relax, eat, get excited about meeting Evelyn. It was special and calm and a great way to pause before the madness of parenthood (now, I know it also would have helped build my oxytocin levels, needed to kick start labour!)
My surges started on Tuesday 9th August. Around lunch time. It felt like a balloon inflating and then deflating. I knew it was my uterus muscles getting ready to birth baby, so it didn’t frighten me. I breathed through them, had a bath. Napped on the sofa whilst Jason did some work (he’s a teacher) Stayed calm and enjoyed the process. As I noticed them getting closer together Jason started to time them. They were getting stronger and closer together, but I honestly didn’t feel pain with them. I think it’s because I knew what was happening. I’d learnt how to breathe properly so that my body could get enough oxygen to the muscles. (With enough oxygen they don’t get as tired and they can work for longer without cramping (causing pain)) I knew this now, so I worked hard to breathe and focus.
I had the urge to go upstairs to our room. I found it comfortable to get on the floor and lean over the bed. I’ve always thought my mum had a sixth sense and before I knew it she’d popped round (not knowing I was in labour, we’d kept quiet to avoid being checked on constantly!) At this point I was still comfortable but they were building. My mum said ‘You’re close to the floor, the babies closer than you think, Leanne’ (She knew that it’s a primal instinct of the mother to get closer to the floor when she is nearing the birth, I didn’t know this then!) I mumbled about knowing best but agreed to go to hospital. Jason called the midwives so I could stay calm and focused; they said to come in (they also said to leave the bags in the car, because I didn’t sound in labour and I’d probably be going home! Common with Hypnobirthing Mums!)
We travelled to hospital and the surges became closer together and more intense. It was stepping up a gear and it took all my focus to get through that car journey. We arrived at the hospital and I was 8cm dilated. I was THRILLED!
We ran the birth pool and I climbed in. After about an hour the midwife asked when my waters had broke? They hadn’t? I hadn’t even realised. Because little had happened I decide to ask for an examination to see how baby was doing. It became apparent that the water sac Evelyn was still in had created a bubble above her head and it was making it a bit tricky for her to move down. I asked for the midwife to break the waters (Had she arrived the day before, she could have been born En Caul and on her due date, imagine!) anyway, my waters went and it felt AMAZING. She moved quickly after that and I started moving, swaying, squatting and getting in to upright positions so she could move down. At some point I felt like I wanted to sit. So I climbed on the bed and sat up. You just have to go with it. Whatever position feels right, what ever noise comes out of your mouth. It’s pretty primal at this point.
The time came for her to be born, I knew this because it felt like a needed a poo. The midwife reminded me that it was actually babies head – I must admit I lost my focus momentarily, pooing infront of people was not high up on my list of great moments but I knew it had to be done to meet our baby and BOY was I ready to meet her!
Evelyn arrived at 11:25pm and I felt like a total superhero. I remember saying to my husband immediately ‘we HAVE to do this again’
We had skin-to-skin, optimal cord clamping and a golden hour of dreams. With all of the decisions already discussed there was no faffing or panicking about the choices we were making. I knew how I wanted to birth the placenta and how we wanted that hour to unfold. Preparation and practice is KEY to birth, it frustrates me that we aren’t told that more. Hence becoming a Hypnobirth teacher!
Jason was incredible. He kept me calm, focused and he was totally on board with how I wanted to do it. He understood that it was my body and how I birthed our baby was a really important moment for all of us. He gave me the confidence to do it how I needed to and he never judged me. It was a total team effort and he got me through every wave of discomfort by reminding me that I was amazing. He’s pretty amazing himself.
She’s 2 now and we practice focused breathing with her. She falls asleep when I use my ‘hypnobirth voice’ (which is quite funny to watch!) and she takes deep breaths when she’s upset, overwhelmed or having a tantrum. Often she does this without prompting, which is AMAZING to see. She can calm herself down through breathing and that makes me SO proud.
My birth was positive because I felt in control and heard. Would I do it different next time, yes. We all learn and move on. Next time I’d like to be at home. That wasn’t right for me with Evelyn, but would be next time. Birth is about doing what feels right and feeling confident in your choices. Do it your way. Get informed, prepare and soak up the adventure. It’s your experience and it matters.
Evelyn was 8lb6. I labored in water and birthed her on land. I tried gas and air but it made me sick and I realised breathing actually worked better. Other than that no pain relief other than aromatherapy and tiger balm. Thanks to perineal massage and pelvic floor exercises I had no tears other than a little superficial scratch that healed fine with lavender, milk and herbal baths plus a couple of arnica tablets. From first twinge to holding her was about 9 hours but the ‘down stage’ (wanting to push) lasted a couple of hours. It was amazing.
If you have any questions about the techniques, or want to know more about other relaxation techniques for pregnancy & birth you could book a BIRTH HOUR appointment with us, for a short, effective and informative hour of birth coaching. Details can be found here.