Iris' Water Birth 

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"My little Iris Eliza was born at midnight on 23rd September. I had such a positive birth experience and hope you don't mind me sharing it here - (even though it's a little long!). I took a brilliant Hypnobirthing course with the lovely Clare Hunt from Rolling Hills Hypnobirthing and believe hypnobirthing techniques helped me remain calm and positive throughout my pregnancy, labour and birth. 

After a false labour (strong Braxton Hicks and low pains for around 5 hours) on the Friday before my due date (19th Sept), I woke up on 22nd Sept at around 
6:30am with more low 'period-type' pains. I wasn't sure if it was just false labour again, but Liam stayed off work and we decided to have a chilled morning just in case. The previous afternoon, I'd had a fantastic reflexology session and it had relaxed me so much. I'd also booked in for acupuncture for that evening at 6:30pm to compliment the reflexology, and was really looking forward to the session. I got up and enjoyed a long bubble bath and listened to my feel-good playlist for a few hours - keeping chilled. We decided to drive up to the woods for a slow walk and a coffee around 11am. As we walked, I could tell that the pains had changed, and were coming with Braxton Hicks tightenings and were getting stronger - more like surges, however I still wasn't getting my hopes up.

We headed home, had lunch and I packed and unpacked my hospital bag a couple of times and pottered about the flat for a few hours, making sure I had everything I needed. The bags were put by the door, ready to go. I was practicing my up breathing during each surge, which were still sporadic - but stronger. I had another shower to

 
The Hypnobirthing Book
by Katharine Graves  
Free 1st chapter
relax and we put on my chilled playlist. By 3pm the surges were really getting powerful and I was having to concentrate through them. We downloaded an app to track the surges. By 4pm they were coming roughly every 5 minutes and differing in length and so we decided to call Stoke Mandeville hospital, just to make them aware of what was going on and tell them in advance that I wanted to use the birthing pool. They said that it was free, and to come in if we wanted, given we had a 30 minute drive to reach the hospital. However, I told them I was hypnobirthing and wanted to stay at home as long as possible. I felt really comfortable at home, and at that point wished I’d considered a home birth! I felt so relaxed in my own environment. I kept focusing on smiling through each surge and reminding myself that my body could do this - and that any feeling of ‘pain’ was absolutely normal. The hospital said to call back when the surges were 3 minutes apart. I called the midwife who would be doing the acupuncture that evening, and told her I thought this could be real labour as the surges were increasing in strength and she said we'd better cancel the appointment…!

At this point, the surges were so intense that I had to lean over a pile of cushions on the bed to take my weight and really concentrate through each surge. I listened to the River Dawn: Piano Meditations music and Liam read me the stroking relaxation, although at this point the surges were so strong I struggled to fully relax. He tried counter pressure on my lower back and that seemed to work well. By 6:00pm the app said my surges were coming every 3 minutes, and lasting from around 30 seconds - 1 minute. It told us to go to the hospital immediately - or dial 999 (which completely panicked Liam!) I still wanted to hang on as long as possible, but agreed to Liam putting the bags in the car - and at 6:45pm we headed off to the hospital.

I sat in the front and put a scarf over my head to block out the light and keep in my calm zone. My earphones were in with the piano meditations playing - the music really calmed me and kept me focused. Liam drove like the wind and we made the journey in only 20 minutes! There was an amazing sunset going down as we drove and I remember peeking out from my scarf and thinking how beautiful it was.

On arrival, the labour ward took (what felt like) a long while to answer the buzzer, and I couldn't get comfy on the hard chairs in the waiting area - and I was getting quite frustrated. Eventually a student midwife came out, and took my birth plan and notes. She came back within a few minutes, and said the birthing pool was free - I was so pleased.


The student midwife did the initial assessments - blood pressure etc, and then asked to do a vaginal examination. I wanted to wait a bit longer - and we waited a further 20 minutes, until Liam had set the room up a bit more, and brought all my bags in from the car - as I felt I would then be more calm. I just kept concentrating and breathing through each surge. I still had my earphones in and found concentrating on the music really helped and blocked out what was going on in the room.

The student midwife did the examination with another midwife present. She looked really surprised and said she thought I was 7cm dilated but wasn't too sure. After a check by the midwife, she confirmed I was actually 6cm! They were both really surprised, as I was coping well during each surge and keeping calm. The breaks between each surge gave me time to recoup, refocus and were a big relief. They had a staff change at this point, and I got a new midwife - Amy - who took over. Amy was amazing from the very beginning. She said she fully supported hypnobirthing and that as I was 6cm dilated we better start filling up the pool. The pool seemed to take forever to fill - but I kept distracted and even chatted to Liam and Amy in between surges. I wont lie, the surges were really strong, but it didn't cross my mind to ask for pain relief, as the upbreathing helped me focus through any discomfort and I fully trusted in my body and baby. I focused on the affirmation; 'breathing in I feel strong, breathing out I let go' - which really helped with my focus and I really tried to relax on that out breath. Liam read out loud my positive affirmations, as I was struggling to read them myself! At this point, the surges were really strong, and I got in the pool for some pain relief.

Getting in the pool (finally - it seemed to take ages to get ready!) felt amazing… It was an immediate pain relief and I felt my whole body relax loads in the warm water.


As the surges increased in intensity, I found I relied more and more on Liam. Leaning forward in the pool was helpful, and I held onto his arms for support as he leant forward over the side. Knowing he was there, hearing his voice and holding on to his arms kept me calm and he reassured me through each surge - reminding me to focus on the breathing when the intensity got too strong and I began to panic. He was definitely my calm anchor throughout.
At around 10:00pm I could really feel baby's head bearing down low and the pressure increased in my bottom. I had already started on my down breathing. I wanted to get lower in the pool to make it more comfortable and I was using Liam's arms to grip onto during each surge as he used counter pressure on my lower back. I realised between surges that I was making low, loud animal like noises - and after one of the stronger surges had finished, I began to laugh and announced how funny it was that I was 'mooing' - which made us all laugh.

I kept feeling the need to push and kept on working to breathe baby down during each surge. But after a while I was getting frustrated; the pressure was really strong, and breathing baby down wasn't getting her much further out. Amy suggested I needed to actively push baby out rather than just breathe her down. I hadn't realised how much I would need to really push to move baby and began to panic, thinking I couldn't do it. I remember feeling momentarily frightened and began to think it wasn't possible. I remember wondering what other options I had! But Liam was there and I pulled on every mental strength I had and remembered my body was designed to do this and that the moment I thought I couldn't do it, meant I was nearly there. I realised I was holding back because I was afraid. Of the pain, of tearing, or of it finally actually happening! I realised I needed to let go of the fear and just trust. I listened to Amy as she told me how best to push and when the next contraction came, I gave it everything I had. Amy said she could see baby’s head at this point. 

I felt both Liam and Amy were with me mentally. I had been pushing for almost 1.5 hours, and Amy said I was approaching the time limit where if I didn’t push baby out soon, we would have to look at other options so she didn’t get distressed. However, Amy kept monitoring baby’s heartbeat every 5 minutes, and it remained strong and calm. Throughout, I knew baby was OK in my heart, and trusted baby knew what to do - baby knows best!

At 11:45pm Amy began to get quite bossy and said that if I didn't push her out soon, baby might get distressed. The time between each of my surges at this point seemed to slow and it felt like I was getting a longer break between each of the surges now they were so powerful. I gave it everything, and at a few minutes to midnight, her head was born. It was amazing - I kept saying 'wow' - as the feeling had been so strong. It all happened in what felt like slow motion. My body paused to rest before the next surge - when Amy said baby would be born. I breathed slowly and didn't push - just breathed it through. The next surge came and baby's body came out easily. I was leaning forward in the pool, still holding onto Liam's arms. Amy gently guided baby underneath me, and I lifted her out of the water gently and held her close to me, in absolute shock. I remember thinking how tiny her nails were on her hand. She didn't cry immediately, but opened her big eyes wide and just looked at me and Liam, staring at us like she knew who we were. After a few seconds - but it felt like a lifetime - she began to cry. Iris Eliza was born at - exactly - 00:00am on 23rd September.

I held
her in the pool until the cord stopped pulsing, and then Liam cut it. We lifted her out of the pool and into Liam's arms for skin to skin contact and to keep warm as I delivered the placenta. I had wanted the placenta to be delivered naturally, but after an hour, it still hadn't come and I was beginning to feel quite cold and tired, so agreed to have the injection, which did make me a bit sick. I had a 2nd degree tear too, but surprisingly it didn't hurt being stitched up at all.

My favourite affirmation of hypnobirthing had always been; 'I see my baby's birth as natural, healthy, swift and easy.' I am absolutely over the moon that I had the birth I had wanted. Natural and healthy - I couldn't believe that I had completely forgotten to ask for pain relief throughout. The only point I wavered in being calm was in transition, but knew at this point that in fact, I was almost there. The water birth was calm and beautiful, and even when baby came out she came out gently and was serene. With no drugs, I felt so present and aware - working with my instincts and listening to my body. It was relatively quick as baby arrived after only 5 hours after we arrived at the hospital - and whilst it wasn't exactly 'easy' - it was thankfully an uncomplicated birth. Weird though it sounds, I enjoyed it. I loved working together with Liam to birth our baby and I felt loved and supported throughout the whole labour. It felt like a team effort, as without his encouragement and love, I don't think I would have been nearly as strong as I was.

I really believe it was thanks to hypnobirthing, and for all the help and guidance of Clare from Rolling Hills Hypnobirthing - plus all our preparation beforehand in doing the relaxations together with Liam each night - that I had the most incredible birthing experience. I feel so proud of myself and my body - and am still amazed by what happened. It was everything I could have hoped for - and better!"