I started feeling the odd mild contraction during Sunday afternoon, started making note of contractions from 5pm though they were sporadic but at 10pm they were stronger and every five minutes or so. I started using breathing techniques at this stage to get through the contractions while listening to my playlist. We rang Jack’s parents to warn them around this time too and then again at 11pm to say that we thought they needed to come over. We rang MAU at midnight as my contractions were now every 3 minutes and they advised I wait another 45mins to check they stayed that regular and then call again if we were coming in. Jack’s parents arrived at 1am and I was in the zone so stayed home a little longer, leaving for the JR at 1:30am.
We arrived at JR at 2am (having had a number of contractions in the car, then a big one in the car park and in the corridor of MAU that made me wonder if I could make it upstairs!). We were put in a room to wait for a midwife to take us up to the Spires. We put the tens machine on at this stage as I was starting to feel some aching in my lower back. Until that point the contractions had all been felt in the front. It helped a little but I was feeling most in the front so didn’t feel it really benefited me. We got up to the Spires and into a birthing room at 3am and took the tens machine off as I intended to get into the pool, I found a heat pack on my lower back during contractions was more effective. The midwife examined me at this point and I was a stretchy 6-7cm and feeling mighty proud of myself that I’d got to this point just breathing through contractions. The midwife said my waters were bulging and that she didn’t think it would be long once they’d gone.
My contractions had been pretty intense for the past hour (every 1-2 minutes) so when the midwife said about gas and air I said yes please! I knelt and leaned over the bed for a brief while before then deciding to get into the pool. The water was amazing and my pelvic pain I’d been feeling for weeks definitely eased. I loved leaning over the side of the pool and Jack had my trusty fan close by to blow on my face during contractions (worked so well as a focus during labour with Charlotte and I did the same this time around too). I hadn’t been in the pool long at all before I felt my body changing and I started mooing! It was such a relief when I felt the pop of my waters breaking and instantly the tempo went up again with contractions and I was really starting to push with my body. I could feel baby’s head descending and was in a good position leaning over the side of the pool, holding Jack’s hand.
I used the gas and air through each contraction and before I knew it was feeling the ring of fire that everyone talks about and it really is a ring of fire! And yet amazing too as you feel baby’s head moving down. I was in awe when I reached down and could feel baby’s head crowning and it definitely added to my motivation. The midwives were fantastic; I had one midwife and a student in and both were very calm and quiet in the background, only offering encouragement towards the end. I recall the trainee encouraging me to push after I’d stopped pushing after a few big pushes which I didn’t mind at all but felt empowered to hear the midwife telling the trainee that I was definitely just listening to my body and working with baby so the pauses I was having were fine and to leave me be. Baby was happy each time they listened to the heart rate. It took some strong pushes to get baby’s head out as their chin was stuck and I remember shaking my head at one stage here thinking I couldn’t do it.
Jack really reassured me and told me how proud he was and the midwives now couldn’t take baby’s heart rate because of positioning so mentioned that I might have to get out of the pool. Whether this was a tactic to motivate me or that they really needed to be able to check baby again, it was all the motivation I needed as there was no way I was getting out of the pool at this stage! One really big push (Jack said it sounded like I was playing the kazoo with the gas and air!), baby’s head was out! It felt like quite a long time before baby’s body followed and yet it was less than a couple of minutes. Hearing the midwives say “reach down and find your baby”, doing so and feeling this little bundle under the water all curled up, gently picking them up and bringing them out of the water, our little baby boy, was the most surreal and amazing moment ever! We had delayed cord clamping before I passed Edward to Jack and I got out of the pool. I had the injection to hurry the placenta along and it came out easily - I asked to see it this time as I find it fascinating that we grow a whole extra organ when pregnant.
Jack passed Edward back to me once Edward had been weighed (I wanted that part out of the way so Edward and I didn’t need to be disturbed again) and it didn’t take Edward long to latch and begin feeding; just like his sister, he got that bit easily and was a healthy 8lb 6oz - a whole 1lb bigger than his sister was at birth. The midwives examined me and I was even prouder and in awe to hear that I hadn’t torn at all, just the tiniest of grazes! I felt like superwoman in all honesty and so empowered by how I’d listened to my body and had the most amazing labour and birth, using just breathing techniques and gas & air. One thing I didn’t know is that the uterus retracting is far more intense with subsequent babies and I felt like a bit of a wimp asking for pain killers at this stage when I’d just managed to birth a baby just fine! I soon adjusted though and within a couple of days they’d settled down. Edward was born on Charlotte’s birthday at 4:45am, 1hr 45mins after we got to the Spires where I was first examined and 6-7cm. I’ll be honest, I don’t get why people rave about the tea and toast after birth, probably because I don’t drink tea! I was all about the bacon roll when I got home later!
We moved to a side room close by and were discharged a short while later and back home by 11:30am which I was very happy about as it was Charlotte’s birthday and I couldn’t wait to see her. Charlotte has been an amazing big sister so far, incredibly caring and adores her baby brother. Edward has been a super chilled baby so far and loves his milk. I’ve struggled more with recovery this time around as my pelvis and hip pain returned a day after birth but it is very slowly easing so hopefully it will continue to improve. I’m still in disbelief and awe at our birth story and we feel like the happiest and luckiest parents in the world to now have two beautiful children.
Top tips that helped me during labour and birth:
* Handheld fan - it was my best friend through both labours! I just turned it on during a contraction and focused on the feel of the breeze on my face while counting in my head
* Counting and breathing - all of the hypnobirthing courses tell you different ways to count so just go with what is best for you. Ultimately the aim is to concentrate on the counting/breathing to distract from the contraction so it’s no good getting out of breath because you’re trying to hold an unnatural breath! But if you can find your rhythm and really focus on that breathing then contractions pass so quickly and easily.
* Yoga - yoga positions I’d learned during pregnancy yoga were so helpful during those early stages of labour. Do a pregnancy yoga course!
* Remind your birth partner beforehand that they’re also there to be your voice. I had a brilliant experience so it wasn’t really needed this time around, but it helps to have them to be your voice especially if you’re finding it difficult to talk or feeling vulnerable and potentially then influenced by what you’re being ‘told’ to do, when you know your body best.