Louisa & Matteo

Louisa gave birth to Matteo in a birth pool at home. Find out how hypnobirthing helped her to have an empowered birth.

My pregnancy was pretty smooth, but for weeks after I found out I was pregnant I was pretty scared about how this baby was going to come out! I did a lot of research and signed up for hypnobirthing to help with my fears and to make the birth as pain free as possible.

After the course I felt calmer and more informed but most importantly I was no longer expecting it to be the most painful thing I would ever do! I remember on the drive back telling my husband that if the birth was the next day I’d be ready.

My husband’s birthday fell on the day I turned 39 weeks and we had a gorgeous day going for lunch and a walk then chilling out by the fire at home – oxytocin city! At 5.30 the next morning I woke up to my waters breaking! I checked the waters, then went back to bed and dozed for a bit and breathed through contractions as they came and went. I used each contraction to remember favourite places in as much detail as I could while practicing up breathing.

At 8.30 I got up and timed my contractions – they were already 2 to 3 minutes apart and a minute long, so I made myself some breakfast and called my midwife. I was still pretty comfortable, calm and able to talk through the contractions so she said she would drop in on me later and to remember that it would probably take a long time. With that in mind, my husband started prepping the pool and birth area, then went to the shop to grab last minute supplies and to wash the car. I was chilling out at home watching a film while pacing and stopping to breathe through contractions leaning on a desk. After a while I began groaning through the contractions so I texted my midwife to ask her to pop by after her next appointment. I was still calm and felt in control and like I had ages to go. My husband got back and started filling the pool and helped me put the tens machine on. When the midwife arrived I was starting to struggle more with the contractions. My husband was compressing my hips to help me through and I was starting to bear down.

At this point I realised I was in transition and I asked the midwife if she could set up the gas and air by the pool. She then confessed that because I had seemed so calm she thought she would just be checking in on me then continuing with her appointments, so the gas and air wasn’t there but was on its way with the second midwife! To be fair I think we were all pretty surprised by how far along I was!

There was a short period of about 5-10 contractions where I hadn’t switched to down breathing and was resisting the pushing sensation. This made me retch and was pretty uncomfortable. My midwife suggested I get in the pool but it took some persuasion as I didn’t want to take the tens machine off without the gas and air ready. When I put my trust in her and did it, the water and the freedom was bliss! I could let my body relax and start going along with the urge to push. Gas and air arrived quickly and I got into the pattern of down breathing with my partner there every second giving me kisses and reassuring me throughout. Pushing was hard work but felt productive and gas and air is brilliant – apparently I was telling some cracking jokes! Before and during the final ‘ring of fire’ I could really feel the baby getting further and further out with each contraction, then drawing back ready for the next one – it was an amazing and fascinating feeling, even if it did have a sting to it! I was able to distance myself from the sensations so that I could very much control my pushing and the amount of stretch I let my body do so as not to rush and tear.

My baby was born at 1.15pm and screamed his lungs out as soon as I lifted him out of the water.

I was slightly surprised by how strong the afterpains were and needed some manual traction help to encourage the placenta out, still in the pool and holding my baby. The inspection of the damage afterwards was very sore, I hammered the gas and air for that, but it didn’t take long. I had a minor internal tear and no external damage.

My midwife was brilliant. She completely understood and respected my wishes, stepping back and giving me space to get on with it. As I had asked, I had no vaginal examinations and barely any contact from her, just the odd encouraging word and some key bits of physical help, e.g. out of the pool and the cord traction.

I had one of those rare births that went completely to plan. A huge part of that is luck, but I also give a hell of a lot of credit to hypnobirthing, research and mental preparation. This helped me make informed decisions about the best birth plan for me and allowed me to approach it in the best possible mindset.

I used a whole range of hypnobirthing techniques throughout the birth: the up and down breathing techniques were essential for me and were the anchor for the whole thing – I have no clue how I could have done it without that. I also adapted the visualisations to suit me and finally, even though I was pretty cynical of the affirmations to start with I did end up using one that did end up being true on the day: ‘I am prepared, I am calm’.

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