"Breathe in for 4 and out for 8"
My partner and I did the 1-2-1 Hypnobirthing course with Jubi in preparation for our baby due 9 March 2023. We found so much of Jubi’s classes hugely helpful, but would find the breathing techniques, visualisation exercises and massage techniques instrumental during the labour and birth of our son Leon.
On the evening of Wednesday 8th March just before bed a clear thick sticky substance – some of my mucous plug came out. I rang to tell my partner Eddie - who was on a ferry back from Liverpool with our new car. Although surprised we didn’t panic, we assumed as we are always late for things there is no way our baby would arrive on their due date…
I went to bed that evening and started getting cramps concentrated in my stomach which I presumed were Braxton Hicks. These were slightly painful and kept me awake all night. My bowels also completely emptied during the night. At 6am Eddie arrived home - I told him I felt fine – still walking around, eating, chatting. At 10am, when the rest of my mucus plug came out and I had a bloody show I rang the hospital. They advised I was in early labour. I felt comfortable to stay at home so lay on the couch to relax in front of the tv. The “Braxton hicks” - which I was still calling them - started getting more intense. I was utilising Jubi’s breathing techniques – breath in for 4 out for 8 – more as the surges grew in intensity and started coming closer together. I decided I needed to get in the shower and eat a sandwich. While sitting on a stool in the shower, water concentrated on my back and stomach, I ate my sandwich by opening and closing the shower doors to reach out and take bites. It was then I realised I was definitely being a bit weird and the surges were getting quite intense – these were not Braxton hicks but were in fact labour contractions!
After a while the contractions got closer together and I felt the need to lay down. Eddie held my hand helping me breath through contractions. Then suddenly I felt like I’d wet myself – I stood up and swoosh my waters broke in a little pool on the floor. We both looked at each other, cried and hugged realising our baby was coming today! My first trip in our new car will forever be remembered as the labour trip – contractions coming every few minutes, eyes closed, holding onto the ceiling handle for dear life, breathing to Eddie’s count and the rest of that sandwich going flying across the car interior as we pulled off!
We arrived at the Rotunda at 4pm, one hour after my waters broke. I was brought into the emergency room straight away to give a urine sample and be examined. A midwife performed a vaginal exam to check how dilated I was. I was nervous but it wasn’t sore, especially as my contractions were quite strong, just a feeling of slight pressure. I was 4cm dilated which was fantastic! I was delighted I had got to that stage at home using all I’d learned with Jubi.
Once checked the midwife offered to either wheelchair or walk me up to the labour ward. As I was in-between a contraction I decided to walk. However, while waiting on the lift a contraction came and I was like a woman on tv – holding onto a radiator for dear life, breathing and moaning through the contraction. In my periphery I could see people slowly stepping away to give me space.
Once in the room Eddie helped me undress and get up on the bed. The bed was in an upright position - I kneeled up on the bed, arms over the top, facing the wall. Eddie went through our birth plan with our midwife and student midwife - they turned the lighting down and put our birth music playlist on. I was not offered any medication in line with my birth plan request, except for gas and air which is permanently in the room. I decided to try it – it was great! I sucked on that gas and air through the whole labour. It helped with the pressure, but also gave me something else to focus on when the surges became intense.
I stayed in that position while the surges came and went. Eddie fed me snacks, counted me through my breathing and both him and the student midwife performed labour massage – putting pressure firmly on my sacrum and either side of my hips when I asked. There were moments when the surges were very intense, in those moments Eddie helped me focus by counting my breathing and I visualised meeting our baby.
Suddenly during one surge my body tried to involuntarily push. The midwife checked – I was 8cm dilated. They told me to allow my body to naturally push along with my surges. I did this but the baby wasn’t moving much in this position so I moved to lie on my side while Eddie held my leg up high to my shoulder. Facing each other helped him count my breathing and the eye contact helped me concentrate and push deep and down rather than scream loud and waste my energy.
Then the baby’s head was visible. I could feel the intense pressure in my pelvis but I could handle it. Getting pain relief did not even cross my mind. I continued using the gas and air and breathing techniques. Everyone kept repeating with each contraction “we can see the head”. Before the midwife told me, I could feel it – my baby’s head was stuck moving in and out, in and out, teasing us. A doctor was called in and they explained that my baby’s head was turned sideways. I decided to accept a muscle relaxant injection they offered. For this I would have to lie on my back, my legs in stirrups and do coached pushing. This was not what I wanted but at this stage I trusted them and could feel that my baby was struggling to come out. Once I had the injection my muscles completely relaxed. I began coached pushing. The doctor was between my legs, a midwife held one leg and Eddie held the other against them so I could push against their bodies – this was intense.
My baby moved slightly but not enough. I had been pushing for about 35 minutes – I was getting tired and my baby was starting to get distressed. The doctor offered me a ventous delivery. Again, something I did not want going in but I trusted them, knew I was getting tired and wanted my baby out. For every intervention they offered Eddie repeated what they said and asked if this is what I wanted. I replied to him and he answered them. This was hugely helpful.
The pressure of the doctor’s hand inside my vagina to attach the suction cup to my baby’s head was very intense - I sucked the life out of the gas, but she was really fast. Once the next surge came they coached me to push hard. Within one push my baby’s head was crowning! I felt a lot of pressure on my perineum but by breathing, panting and keeping eye contact with Eddie I got through it. On the next surge my baby’s head came out. Everyone was delighted, telling me my baby had lots of hair. I hesitantly reached down and touched my baby’s head, not quite believing they were real! Then one more contraction and my baby was out. The doctor whisked them onto my stomach so fast. I started crying, our baby instantly pooped on me, Eddie was hugging us – it was wonderful! They asked Eddie if it was a boy or girl - he checked and announced it was a boy. We were overwhelmed with emotion - crying, hugging, laughing – a blur of happiness for our son born at 7.30pm on his actual due date - 9th March 2023.
We stayed like this for 10 minutes or so, allowing optimal cord clamping, before Eddie cut the cord. My placenta now needed to be birthed. With one little contraction and no pushing my placenta just kind of fell out. It felt like a big squishy balloon falling out and wasn’t painful. While this was speedy and easy, my belly was still contracting and started to push blood out instead. Suddenly, but very calmly, they took Eddie and the baby over to the paediatric doctor a few feet away to do their checks.
I kept bleeding and within moments about 10 people were around me. Each one introduced themselves to me, calmly telling me what was happening. I knew I was bleeding heavily and had moments of worry but their calmness and swiftness, together with the trust we had built up during the labour kept me calm. Eddie decided to stay with our son and talk loudly through what the paediatrician was doing to pull my focus. He knew he would be no help in among all the people who were around me – he was right, his talking kept me calm and my eyes firmly on him.
They got the bleeding under control. I had lost 1 litre of blood and had 2 tears – one inside my vagina and one heading towards my anus – which I was not delighted about. But I have to say the tears did not cause me any pain and healed really well thankfully. We stayed in the labour room for a few hours so I could receive liquids, antibiotics, a sponge wash, have time for the adrenalin to leave my system and stop shaking, and eat the most delicious tea and toast I’ve ever tasted!
We were brought up to the labour ward around midnight. I spent 2.5 days in hospital as they had to ensure I had to infection by giving me a course of antibiotics and ensure our son didn’t have jaundice. During this time the midwives shared invaluable advice, encouragement and support in those first few days of extreme tiredness and helped me start breastfeeding our son.
My labour probably started on Wednesday night but due to the courage and self-belief Jubi helped instil in me I breathed my way through the night. By listening to my body and doing what I needed – relaxing, resting, showering and eating – I got to 4cm before arriving at the hospital. This class helped Eddie and I believe in, love and be kind to ourselves in the last few months of pregnancy, throughout the labour, and post-partum. I would highly recommend this course with Jubi and the Calm Birth School to all expectant parents, no matter what your labour plan is.