Steph, a first time mama, shares her water birth of baby Oliver
I had always said to our baby if you could just wait until I’ve been to mums 60th birthday party that would be great. Sure enough after getting into bed at 11.30pm tired after celebrating a lovely birthday party the next morning when I was 39+4 at 6.45am my waters broke! It was from that moment I knew that everything we had learnt in the Positive Birth [Jersey] course really kicked in. My husband was so calm and knew exactly what to do to be an amazing birth partner. Calling maternity we were told to come in for a check up so we calmly started to get ready. I started feeling a bit anxious but it was mixed with excitement that soon we would be meeting our little one.
We put some of my lavender and peppermint oil on a pillow case to smell and I listened to my positive birth track “Rainbow Relaxation” on the MP3 player whilst we got ourselves organised. When we arrived at the hospital, although I was having surges, they were still far apart but I could tell they were more intense than the braxton hicks I had previously. We were greeted by a lovely midwife who we both felt gave us choices throughout. I was given the option of having bloods as my blood pressure was a bit high and I had also had an episode of blurred vision during the week previously. Whilst this was being done, I concentrated on trying to relax by chatting about our baby arriving and I listened to my Hypnobirthing tracks and kept smelling my oils. I found this really relaxed me as I had been using these as part of an evening unwinding routine throughout later pregnancy. After we were given the ok, I was told I could go home and offered to come back at 6pm for another check up. From doing the course with May and Jan we both knew the benefits of being in an environment where I was comfortable and happy in order to get the oxytocin going so I felt pleased to be going home in the glorious sunshine.
We had a lovely few hours at home where my husband made me some scrambled egg on toast to eat watching Netflix, followed by a lovely warm bath listening to Ed Sheeran with candles on -something I had often done to practice the breathing techniques learnt on the course. I decided to have a lie down listening to my Hypnobirthing tracks with the bedroom window open where the sunshine streamed in with a nice breeze, and I remember feeling really happy and excited this day was here. I took some paracetamol as recommended. I hadn’t been lying down long before I realised my surges seemed to be coming stronger and closer together. My husband timed them at around every 3! Calling maternity we were told to come back in and the midwife on the phone even asked if we had done Hypnobirthing as appeared so calm! We knew to mention earlier that morning our wish to have a water birth having learnt the benefits of it in the course, so luckily they had started arranging this for us.
As I walked (waddled!) to maternity, I kept concentrating on my breathing. I was given the choice if I wanted to check how dilated I was and knew from what we had learnt that I should try not to get into the water too soon or it could slow the process . At the time I was 4cm. The change into my bikini top was entertaining as I realised I hadn’t worn it since I was pregnant! It was at that point I remember feeling really hot and that although I wanted a water birth, I felt that I couldn’t possibly move into the room next door. Looking back I feel this was likely the transition phase we had learnt about. I asked to have the gas and air set up but it was at this point the midwives were unable to find a fetal heartbeat - likely due to the head being so far down.
Our midwife asked for assistance to get everything set up and we were so lucky that Jan (one of the Hypnobirthing ladies herself!) was on duty and it was at this point that she came in and helped get me to the pool room before it was too late! James kept wetting my forehead with a cold flannel and encouraging me to continue thinking about my breathing and that I could do this. As soon as I was in the pool I felt so much better and didn’t even think to ask for the gas and air. Jan spoke through everything and I concentrated on my downward breathing to push our baby down. I remember being surprised when I was told they could see their head and before I knew it our baby had been born peacefully into the water. At my request he was lifted up for me straight into my chest. We were pleased the course had taught us there can be lack of crying due to the relaxing transfer of one similar environment to another otherwise I think we would have panicked about the lack of cry. I could not believe it was 4.21pm the same day and our baby was here! My body really did know what it was doing. We hadn’t found of the sex, so it was only after a few minutes that I asked ... “Oh, what are you?! " We waited until his cord had stopped pulsing, due to the benefits we had learnt and my husband cut the cord which was a really special moment for me. After a while I was helped out of the pool and lay down with my gorgeous baby boy on my chest for skin-to-skin and commenced breastfeeding whilst we awaited my placenta to pass. I felt I had been given the knowledge about this process and was happy to wait for it to happen naturally without an injection.
We waited until a bit later before he had all his measurements taken so the first hours of his life he was snuggled up to either myself or my husband.
It was only after I realised I hadn’t worn a hospital gown the whole time - something I thought wouldn’t be possible, but I had learnt that I didn’t have to, which I think really helped me with the image that I wasn’t unwell - I was there to give birth to my baby just as my body was designed. We felt everything we learnt gave us the confidence to make decisions along the way and know that all the different things that were happening were all perfectly normal. We cannot thank May and Jan enough for giving us such an amazing set of skills which helped us have such a positive experience.
Often during the sleepless nights of a newborn I say I would go through birth again in exchange!