Ok, so you may not particularly want to have an unplanned home birth, but …..
I met Kate and Pete when they were pregnant with their second child. Their first birth experience had been traumatic and this meant that both of them were anxious, but also realised that there were things that they could do to prepare for this one without spending the entire pregnancy feeling fearful. They weren’t just going to wing-it and hope for something better. They wanted to get more informed and learn skills that they knew would have an impact on labour and birth. Kate said afterwards that it had been Pete’s understanding of the Emotional Map of Labour that meant he was able to hazard a confident guess at how far along Kate was, even when she thought she was waaaay off actually birthing her baby!
Here’s their story:
I decided to take the course as I had such a terrible experience with my firstborn and was hugely apprehensive about giving birth again. I ended up haemorrhaging and losing consciousness after an emergency forceps delivery, and had to spend 3 days on the HDU (high dependency unit). It was such an awful experience which definitely contributed to suffering from postnatal depression. Luckily my son was fine, so small mercies.
I was overdue again with my second son, but trying not to get stressed about it, staying nice and calm and chilled out to encourage him to come along! I had gone out with my friend and her son with my toddler that morning. I was feeling tightenings every so often but put it down to Braxton Hicks as they weren’t particularly uncomfortable. At home I noticed I had the show, but still thought labour could be days away. I remember texting my husband but telling him not to worry as I was sure baby wasn’t coming anytime soon! The tightenings did continue but they still weren’t painful and were really sporadic, so I just carried on with life as normal.
That evening the tightenings became stronger, though I still wasn’t convinced as they were so far apart. I told my husband I was going to go to bed, but realised I must be in labour as I couldn’t get to sleep as the tightenings had definitely become pretty uncomfortable. My husband texted his parents who live 2.5 hours away as they were due to babysit our son when I went into hospital.
Things progressed extremely rapidly after that. The contractions began to quicken and last longer. We called the hospital but they told me to stay at home. I’m sure they said this as I was so calm on the phone, and I don’t think I realised how far along I was either! I had based myself in our living room lying on my side, with a blanket, lavender pillow, eyemask and my hypnobirthing music and was just concentrating on each wave and counting through it.
It was only when I screamed that I couldn’t do this and needed an epidural that my husband realised I was going into the second stage. I guess I was just thinking of my experience with my first son, which had taken around 16 hours to get to the second stage. This has taken less than two hours. I was just thinking ‘oh no, the hypnobirthing is not working anymore, and I can’t cope with this’ and thinking I still had hours to go, when in fact I was just in the transition stage and having the normal negative feelings.
My husband called the hospital back who said to call 999 and get paramedics out asap, which he did. He also had to call my friend (from the morning!) at midnight to ask her to come over as his parents were not going to make it to our house in time.
I remember feeling relief during the pushing stage. The feelings were incredibly intense and yes I did make animalistic noises, but I felt completely in control, not panicked at all, and just so completely focused in the moment. The paramedics arrived about 5 minutes before my son arrived. They asked me if I could get to the ambulance, and I even said yes I would try, then had another contraction, and the paramedic said ‘oh no I can see the head. Stay there!’ I didn’t push my son out. I breathed him out. I vividly remember doing this and feeling so privileged that I didn’t feel so out of it that I couldn’t remember (like I did with my first son) or blocked it out as it was too traumatic.
So my son was born at home, with no pain relief (other than five minutes of gas and air when the paramedics arrived – oh yes I took that!) in 2.5 hours. I had to go to the hospital anyway to get myself and baby checked over and have some stitches but otherwise everything was fine.
There were a few things that I took away from hypnobirthing that I found extremely helpful. First was how to quickly get yourself into a relaxed state – the self hypnosis. Second, were the practical breathing techniques. Third, was how to encourage yourself to feel positive and empowered in your body’s ability to do what it needs to do and to cope with whatever happens, and lastly, it helped me feel really prepared as I was encouraged to go through all the scenarios that I may be worried about and think about what I would do if it happened. I would definitely do a refresher course if I have another baby. It was one of the most empowering experiences of my life.”