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Holly's Story

I started having what I can only describe as twinges, similar to what you’d feel right before a period, on Saturday the 18th December in the evening time. I decided to just ignore it and we carried on about our evening and went walking round the supermarket buying Christmas food. Throughout the night period pains woke me up about every 20-30mins. Again I didn’t want to get my hopes up as being a midwife I know labour can stop and start with your first baby.

Sunday morning came and we went for a walk to see if it would bring anything in but it had all fizzled out. I tried to ignore the disappointment and once again get on with my day. By lunchtime the tightenings were back with a bit more force, about every 20 mins. I carried on sitting and kneeling over my birthing ball, watching Christmas films. My husband and I even baked some veggie rolls in between tightenings.

By about 5pm the tightenings were still about 15-20 minutes apart but considerably more uncomfortable meaning I was needing to use my hypnobirthing breath work I’d been practicing. It was dark outside we lit some candles, turned on the Christmas tree lights and made the room cosy. Using a hot water bottle on my back for pain relief.

At 10pm they were 10 minutes apart but becoming difficult to breathe through. They were lasting over a minute and had definitely ramped up in intensity. I encouraged Jamie to go to bed but he wanted to stay up with me in case I needed him, so he was dosing on and off on the sofa.

At 11pm I was starting to struggle. I decided to run a bath with candles and play the Hypnobirthing tracks. I’d done this a lot in pregnancy so it would be easier for me to relax quicker. I kept the room dark and played the affirmations and the fear release track, as I was starting to doubt myself. The bath helped me to relaxed and must’ve helped with my oxytocin levels as the contractions began to be every 5-6 minutes. It was at this point I remember thinking “these are proper ones now” and I gripped the handles on the bath with each one, trying to relax everything between. Before knew it I’d been in there nearly two hours.

Another few hours passed and the contractions didn’t seem to be getting any closer together, I was becoming concerned and frustrated that things weren’t progressing. Even though looking back the intensity was still increasing, I was becoming more vocal and beginning to say to Jamie “I can’t cope” at this point we put the tens on which I was shocked at how much it helped with the first few. I found this bit the hardest as 5 minutes wasn’t long enough to rest between, but it was close enough together to feel like really hard work. I was so sleep deprived at this point that I was going between lying on my left side and kneeling over the sofa, napping between. Jamie tried giving me some toast and cereal but eating was difficult.

I started to lose focus, I couldn’t catch my breath, felt like I didn’t have as much control as before, now also a whole nights sleep behind I felt exhausted. Each contraction I didn’t know what position I wanted to be in, everything hurt so intensely, I found myself wanting to hold onto the bathroom sink and sway. After a couple of really strong contractions made me vomit I had reached my threshold. Still 5 minutes apart I thought I was still in early labour and not progressing, I became defeated thinking of all the women I had seen smash labour and I wasn’t one of them, I felt weak. Without giving it much thought I examined myself and felt very very thin (fully effaced) cervix, a low head and bulging membranes. I didn’t stay there long enough to figure out how many cm I was but I knew this was enough to tell me I had made some progress. I told Jamie it was time to call the birth centre, even if I wasn’t in established labour I felt I needed further pain relief at this point.

The journey was hell, each bump spurred on a contraction, I was in an uncomfortable sitting position. Thankfully it was 5 days before Christmas so there was a lot less traffic for a Monday morning at 8am.

I arrived at Bluebell [Warwick Midwife Led Unit] at 9am and saw my colleagues and was fighting back the tears. I couldn’t move or do much before another contraction came so without timing them I knew they’d sped up. I also couldn’t get through one without shouting/chanting out my exhales. On assessment I was 5cm and I cried with happiness.

Once in the room on gas and air i felt totally relaxed and safe. This lasted all of about 20 minutes before things felt like the ramped up yet again. Contracting every 2 minutes now. I decided it was time to get in the pool.

From this point everything is a bit of a blur. I don’t think from this point I opened my eyes until she was here, Jamie and Seanann my midwife just allowed me to zone out and do my thing with no annoying small talk or telling me what to do (I’m not one to chat when I’m on a lot of pain). They were both very much led by me. I felt a pop and knew my waters had gone. I knew it was about to get even more intense. I thought I would still have hours to go as it was my first baby. In between contractions Jamie held the fan on me, as well as a cool flannel and fed me water and lucozade sport. I felt trapped as there was no way to opt out at this point, it felt like I was some kind of a worm hole floating through space and time. Everything felt like it was moving so quickly my brain couldn’t keep up. It was at this point I said I can’t do it for much longer and I need some more pain relief. Then I felt pressure and I knew i was close. But how could I be? This was my first baby. My midwife brain knew I was in transition, my self doubt brain was telling me I was imagining it and just not coping, until I started to involuntarily push at the height of each contraction.

This was when I decided I wanted this to be over as quickly as possible and adopted the knees in calves out position (this shit WORKS). I could physically feel the baby’s head descending around the U bend of my pelvis. Once I started to feel the stretching in my pelvic floor I felt so relieved. I knew the baby was coming. I had planned to ‘breathe my baby out’ but I’d had enough at this point and just wanted them here asap. Her head was birthed and she was restituting from side to side as if she was stuck. I switched to midwife mode and was worried her shoulders weren’t coming through my pelvis so I lifted each leg and wiggled my hips to create more room. Within 24 minutes of pushing she came out in the water at 11:05, two hours after arriving at Bluebell. I lifted my baby to the surface still not knowing if we had a boy or a girl. I still remember the exact little purple face and just kissing it all over. We unraveled the cord from round her leg and revealed she was a girl, at which point Jamie and I exchanged a look (we both wanted a girl but Jamie really wanted one) and he just broke down in tears. I felt like I’d taken the best drug in the world. I felt wired, euphoric and couldn’t believe I’d done it the exact way I had hoped for.

I feel that the Hypnobirthing techniques as well as my midwifery knowledge helped me stay at home for as long as possible, which avoided intervention and the need for further pain relief. It helped that Indy decided to make a speedy entrance into the world once my waters went. The course also helped Jamie have an active role in my labour rather than just be a bystander and helped him to stay calm as he knew what to expect at each stage. It also meant he could help me to breathe and remind me to relax between contractions. He kept me cool, fed and watered, was there to assist me into different positions and to physically and emotionally lean on throughout the labour, kept the environment dark and relaxing. The course was priceless to him as a birthing partner with limited prior knowledge of birth. My labour wasn’t a scary traumatic medical event for us, it was a raw, emotional, painful but beautiful journey for both of us as a couple.


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