Therefore I want to share this wonderful insight into what can happen during labour and birth. This couple have written their amazing roller coaster 10 day birth journey from both Mum and Dad's point of view.
They both did so well during this time, their preparation really paid off, always questioning and using the techniques they had learnt during our sessions to keep calm, relaxed and in control throughout. This meant that both mum and baby were healthy and happy.. the end result that they had wished for!
I want to thank both of them for writing this wonderful account! It is also fascinating to read both sides of the same birth story. Please keep reading right to the end.. it's worth it!
"Mum - I have always worried that I would never cope with labour because I have always thought I have a low pain threshold and am not good with needles. So given the choice I thought initially I would opt for a cesarean. However, I was recommended Debbie for hypnobirthing and recommended pregnancy yoga too. I also did reflexology during my pregnancy. I have an absolute fascination with human anatomy and really enjoy the relaxation part of any yoga session ('Mum’s snoring bit' as my partner calls it).
My partner wasn’t sure about hypnobirthing at first but is incredibly supportive and is used to being dragged along. After one session with Debbie he was converted and could not stop telling everyone how amazing it was. With Debbie’s guidance I was no longer going to be that worried, scared labouring woman walking through the hospital doors and my plan A was a “normal, boring vaginal birth”. Although I was also prepared in my birth plan for plan B and C, little did I know I would make it to plan X.
I used Debbie’s techniques throughout my pregnancy and labour pathway to keep calm. And found it invaluable in bringing my partner on board and having his support too.
Dad - Mum felt she had reduced movement, I encouraged her to call the midwife and she advised us to come into hospital for monitoring. The monitoring showed baby and mother were both healthy and there were no concerns. They measured Mum’s bump and it measured a bit smaller than her 37 week measurement. I questioned how a baby could get smaller and the midwife conceded that this was probably because Baby’s head was down in Mum’s pelvis meaning they could not measure it accurately. Despite it not being an accurate measurement, they still plotted the measurement on baby’s growth chart!
The midwife went to speak with the doctor and came back to advise us they recommend Mum should be induced as she is a first time mum who is 5 days overdue. We used Debbie’s advice and took 20 minutes to make a private decision. We opted to turn down their offer. As we had refused the induction, the midwife and doctor requested we come back for monitoring the following day. They said they would like to book us in for a scan but were not sure this would be possible at such short notice.
Mum - Throughout my pregnancy I have been growing an Olympic kick-boxer from 25 weeks. She moves. And she moves a lot when given the chance. The movements changed and there wasn’t as many. Is it any surprise – she was running out of room. A quick monitoring would put my mind at rest that she was okay. But at no point was there total absence of movement. Despite being apprehensive, it was good to see where we were going to have our baby and see inside a delivery room. Typically, baby gave big kicks while being monitored. Even kicking the monitoring sensor off. They measured my bump which they said after 40 weeks was less accurate as head had disappeared into pelvis and could no longer be counted. Midwife seemed happy but bump measurement was a bit smaller than all my other measurements – so she would run it past the doctor. With one click of “new mum” on computer the doctor said I was now high risk for the first time in my pregnancy and that their recommendation would be to induce me.
Through all my classes I was warned how regularly they like to get on with inducing women, as well as discussing how inaccurate due dates are. I was adamant to avoid it if I could and let my little girl come into this world in her own time. She seemed happy kicking in there. Dad and I took Debbie’s advice and asked if we could have 20 minutes to talk about it. I looked at Dad as they left and told him I was not ready for her to come yet and she was not ready either. He was amazing. Because of joining me with hypnobirthing he backed me up with the knowledge that more monitoring was still on the table and okay to take. We did not just have to do what the doctor said. However, I did leave the hospital with the disclaimer of “YOU have refused the induction”. I also refused the midwife’s offer of a stretch and sweep.
Urgent ultrasound next day revealed baby was fine. Absolutely “average” and normal in size. No problems. I burst into tears so glad to hear my baby was average. You can see why lots of mum's do have an induction – just on the belief that doctor knows best. Mummy guilt starts before the baby even arrives. I definitely wanted a midwife led delivery now. No doctors involved.
40 weeks +6
Dad - Mum got a phone call from the hospital to invite her for monitoring and a scan. The scan came first which estimated Baby’s size at approximately 4kg and everything was shown to be healthy. They also completed monitoring which indicated that both mother and baby were healthy. Mum was sent home and advised that no further action was required.
40 weeks +10
Dad - We visited the community midwife at 9.40am. I left work late so did not pick Mum up until 9.38am. Mum was not pleased and stressed that we were late. Mum agreed to have a stretch and sweep as Baby was 10 days past the due date. I did a relaxation exercise, talking with Mum about a holiday where we visited Capri. Mum remained calm and the stretch and sweep went well.
40 weeks +12
Mum – I was initially ready to go in asking for more monitoring. But after a lot of consideration and a reassuring phone call with Debbie we weighed it up and felt we would give induction a go. I was getting uncomfortable and dilipan rods seemed like a good option with no hormones. Maybe baby just needed a bit of persuading or some pointers on where the exit was. I was so worried about the appointment. To try and keep myself and my baby calm I closed my eyes and plugged myself into one of Debbie’s relaxation tracks on the drive into the hospital. Dilated – yeah! My little girl is doing it all on her own already!
Dad - We went into the hospital to have Dilipan rods inserted to begin the induction process. The midwife completed monitoring which indicated that mum and baby were fine. When the doctor examined Mum everybody was surprised to find that she was 2-3 cm dilated. Being 2-3 cm dilated meant they could not insert the Dilipan rods. The doctor advised that he had completed a stretch and sweep instead. Mum commented afterwards that the doctor had sausage fingers. They allowed us to go home and arranged for us to return the following day to begin the induction process.
40 weeks +13
Dad - Mum did not sleep well overnight. She fell asleep at 1 am then woke at 4 am. We both had a leisurely walk around Newmarket at 9 am. On our walk we discussed what we wanted to happen and at 11 am the hospital called to invite us in.
Mum was concerned that she had flagged on the NHS’s Covid-19 track and trace app, despite Mum and I both completing 4 Covid-19 tests which all came back negative, Mum was still advised to self-isolate. The midwives assured Mum that they would be able to accommodate mum, in fact it worked in our favour as Mum was given a private room for the majority of her stay in hospital.
1 pm – We walked to the Labour suite and met our mid wife at the door. The midwife took us to our own private room complete with exercise ball. Midwife was lovely, she offered us tea which we accepted. The midwife advised that they would arrange to break Mum’s waters at 4 pm which we agreed to. At 2 pm the midwife got Mum into position laying on her back to break her waters. The midwife spent time trying to break Mum’s waters and was surprised when she couldn’t find anything.
The doctor came to see us with the midwife at 2.30 pm. They recommended an oxytocin drip in order to progress labour because they could not be sure when Mum’s waters had broken. The midwives and doctors were concerned because once Mum’s waters have broken, it increases the likelihood of infection so they were keen to begin the induction process as soon as possible.
We decided to go for a walk before the induction was started which was lovely, the park next to the hospital has large established trees and we walked around the outskirts of the entire park for over an hour.
2 pm - The midwife inserted a cannula, this was a traumatic process because their first attempt failed and left a large bruise. They then connected an oxygen monitor, two wireless monitors on Mum’s bump and checked Mum’s blood pressure. Once the monitoring was setup the midwife connected Mum’s Oxytocin drip to begin the induction process. We continued watching a film and mum bounced on her exercise ball whilst I worked out how to use the TENS machine. The contractions began soon after so we did not watch much more of the film. Mum tried to stay on her exercise ball as long as possible but this did not last long and she was soon on all fours with her arms over the end of the bed and the surges quickly gaining strength.
The midwife explained how to use the gas and air. Mum was very taken by this so I had to keep reminding her not to continually suck on it. As the contractions grew stronger I was constantly prising the gas and air away from her, it seemed to work a bit too well!
We were surprised how much the TENS machine helped Mum’s labour pains. With feedback from mum, Dad adjusted the settings to a comfortable level. We used the TENS machine throughout the labour, with Dad controlling it and turning it off between contractions. Towards the end of the labour we were using it on the highest setting with the boost button. On several occasions Dad forgot to turn off the TENS machine between contractions (probably due to sleep deprivation) but Mum soon told him of his error in no uncertain terms!
Mum asked for more pain relief, in a panic she said she would take anything and everything they had. The midwife offered her Pethidine which Mum readily accepted. A doctor came in to assess Mum and approved the Pethidine injection quite quickly. Mum was on all fours and they injected the Pethidine into her bottom. This seemed to take affect very quickly. It made Mum sleep between contractions that were now coming very quickly due to the Oxytocin drip. As soon as the contraction ended, Mum would quickly fall asleep.
I quickly adopted a routine of watching the midwives monitor to see when the next contraction would come so I could have the gas and air ready for Mum. At the same time I would turn the TENS machine on. Some of Mum’s contractions exceeded 110 on the monitoring (not quite sure what this means). Once the contraction had subsided below 20 I would prise the gas and air away from mum, stop the TENS machine and get Mum to drink some water before she fell asleep. The gas and air dehydrates you so the midwives advised me that it was important to encourage Mum to drink as much water as possible.
Our midwife was supposed to finish her shift at 8pm but decided to stay on for 2 more hours she believed that Mum could birth our baby within that time as her cervix was approximately 5cm dilated. At 10pm a new midwife came on shift, they were concerned that Mum had not passed urine. Dad helped Mum off of the bed, put her hands on his shoulders and shuffled her to the toilet. This was a very delicate operation because Mum was in pain and very drowsy from Pethidine, she also had lots of pipes and wires connected to her. Mum attempted to have a wee but was not able to. The midwives decided to insert a temporary catheter to drain Mum’s bladder, this was not comfortable as mum needed to lie on her back to do this.
The midwives were having problems keeping the wireless bump monitors in place. They were constantly adjusting them. They eventually offered Mum an internal monitor that stuck to baby’s head. Mum instantly agreed to this as it was quite irritating to have the midwives continually adjusting the external monitors. The midwives were quite surprised how quickly Mum agreed to this and even asked if she was sure she wanted it. Again, Mum needed to lie on her back for this to be inserted but it was quite a straightforward procedure which made Mum more comfortable.
40 Weeks +14
During the early hours of Saturday morning the midwives reduced the Pethidine because Mums contractions were coming too frequently. They were able to completely turn off the Oxytocin for 5 hours allowing Mum to labour naturally. During this time the midwives advised Mum to eat something (Mum was not able to eat whilst the Oxytocin drip was running). I tried to feed Mum Haribo but she only managed to eat 3 sweets.
After 5 hours without Oxytocin the contractions began to subside so the midwives took the decision to re-commence the Oxytocin drip, adjusting the dose until Mum was having 4-5 contractions every 10 minutes.
On several occasions throughout the night, I tried to go to the toilet but Mum made me wait until the midwife had returned before allowing me to leave. Other than using the toilet, I did not leave the room until baby was born.
By this point Mum was exhausted and just wanted her labour to end, she asked the midwives for anything that would help speed up the process or ease her pain. Out of desperation, Mum requested an emergency cesarean but the consultants refused. Despite the labour lasting for so long, both Mum and Baby’s vital signs remained healthy and consistent so we were advised that no doctor would be willing to perform an emergency cesarean on a healthy mum and baby as the risks would be greater than continuing with the natural birth.
Mum requested another Pethidine injection although the midwives advised against it as we all believed that she was still affected by the original injection. Furthermore, they can only administer a maximum of two injections during a labour and the midwives felt that Mum would birth baby very soon. If the Pethidine was administered shortly before the baby was born then both mum and baby could be very drowsy after birth. I agreed with the midwife that she would not want this.
Mum requested an epidural to help with the pain. When the anaesthetist came to assess Mum, she was sleeping through a contraction which indicated that the original Pethidine injection was still having an effect. Apparently, it is quite unusual for Pethidine to last longer than 4-6 hours although this may be due to Mum not often taking medication.
Mum kept feeling the urge to push as she felt a lot of pressure in her pelvis but the midwives had to keep telling her not to because her cervix was not fully dilated.
Our original midwife from the previous afternoon came back on shift and was surprised we were still in the labour suite. She took over from the night shift midwife and soon carried out an internal examination to assess Mum’s progress. They found that Mum’s cervix was now 7-8cm dilated and estimated that it would take a further 2 hours to be fully dilated. This news helped give us the energy to continue.
Mum continued labouring with the help of Oxytocin (Mum was now completely exhausted). Dad continued assisting by watching the midwife’s computer to see when the contraction began to rise so I could hand the gas and air to Mum and activate the TENS machine. Once the contraction began to subside I had to forcibly pull the gas and air away from Mum and encourage her to take a sip of water.
The midwife carried out another internal examination and we were all disappointed to find out that at 9cm, Mum’s cervix was not yet fully dilated. The midwife asked a consultant to complete a second internal examination which confirmed the midwifes findings. The consultant agreed to allow Mum to continue labouring for another hour.
By this point mum and dad were both exhausted (neither of us had slept in the last 30 hours).
The consultant and midwife came back to complete another internal examination. They were concerned to find that Mum’s cervix had only dilated to 9.5cm. They decided that it might be possible to manipulate the cervix to allow baby to pass through. They asked mum to push whilst the doctor tried to manipulate mums cervix to allow baby’s head to pass. Mum pushed really hard three times and baby’s head would pass over the top of the cervix but the midwives noticed that when mum pushed baby’s heart rate would quickly drop. We now believe that this was because the baby’s umbilical cord may have been across the top of her head.
The doctors and midwives decided that Mum needed to go to theatre. We were advised that it may be possible to use forceps or a suction cup to deliver baby but if this was not possible they would need to perform a cesarean.
Thing moved very quickly from this point, before we knew it there were doctors, midwives and anaesthetists crowding around Mum. Someone handed me a pair of hospital scrubs to wear. They advised that they were preparing theatre to complete an epidural and cesarean. They also explained that the suction cup and forceps were no longer an option.
Mum was soon being pushed to theatre with Dad following behind in a daze. I was instructed to sit in a blue plastic chair in the corner whilst the epidural was being administered and preparations completed. The room was full, there must have been at least 10 people around mum. Before beginning the medical staff went round the room introducing themselves. The Pethidine was still affecting Mum, causing her to be drowsy and limp, it took 5 people surrounding Mum to keep her upright so that the epidural could be safely administered.
Once mum was laying flat, I was allowed to sit next to her and a sheet was raised between us and the operating team. The medical team were very good and Mum remained remarkably calm throughout the operation. The anaesthetist kept talking to Mum. At one point they advised that she might start shaking due to a drug they had just administered. It was still quite distressing for both of us when Mum did begin shaking.
I heard that baby was out, then I heard them trying to encourage her to cry. At the time this was quite concerning but we later discovered that it was probably caused by drowsiness from the Pethidine. Sure enough, after some coaxing, baby did begin crying which was a relief.
Surprisingly, I was then invited to come around the curtain to meet baby and cut the cord. Our baby girl was beautiful and healthy, born at 2.08pm weighing 3.8kg. Once baby had been checked and weighed, I took her to meet mum. She was really pleased to meet baby, she was able to kiss and stroke baby whilst they stitched her back up.
The operation was soon completed, and Mum was lifted into a bed and wheeled to a private transition room holding baby. Whilst we were in theatre all of our belongings had been transferred into this room. We spent an hour in the transition room where Mum fed baby and we both had some skin to skin contact.
Before long we were moved to a private room on the Shelly ward (F11). I unpacked Mum’s belongings so everything was within reach of the bed (she could not stand up). I realised how tired I was when filling up mum’s water bottle I fell forwards and bumped my head against the water machine (I also notice my vision beginning to go a bit cloudy). Mum was very sleepy at this point but still called my parents to ask them to collect me from the hospital as she felt I was not fit to drive (I think this was a wise decision). Mum also arranged for her Placenta to be collected from outside the hospital.
Mum - I still wanted my plan A – a ‘normal, boring vaginal birth’ on the midwife led birthing suite with a birthing pool if possible. Unfortunately, this was off the cards now we did not know how long my waters had been broken for and the risk of infection. After hearing what the doctor and midwife said Dad and I had a private 20 minutes. It looked like I would have to have the hormone drip and because of this I would have to stay on the labour suite. But that was fine, we had discussed this scenario with Debbie and I could ask for it to be started low. I was in the safest place possible on the labour suite. Let’s get the ball moving.
It then all became a little bit of a blur and a jumble. I remember the cannula being put in. I hate cannulas! Thankfully this one lasted for a week so I did not have to do another one during my stay. Lights were dimmed.
I remember Dad trying to give me a relaxation track to do but I threw the headphones across the room scared I would no longer be able to hear him. I remember screaming that I did not want to be on my back whenever they needed to do an examination. I remember regularly asking them if I could just go for a poo and being told no – don’t push. I would not let Dad out of the room and he never left my side. I tried to focus on getting to the relaxing bits in between the surges. Nearing the end I just could not understand why they would not give me more pain relief (see Dads comments!). And then the feeling of panic of it going on for too long and being told no you cannot have a cesarean because both you and baby are healthy with brilliant relaxed vitals (I put this down to all the relaxation exercises I had done with hypnobirthing, yoga and reflexology). I don’t think I realised how dim the lights had been until they whisked me down the corridor to theatre.
Mum - I spent 6 days in hospital post my cesarean to monitor for infection. More hypnobirthing practice as I learnt to breastfeed. In the end everything that happened was for the best. Even the 6 days after the birth in hospital where I lapped up the opportunity for the midwives, neonatal team and healthcare assistants to teach me everything there was to know about breastfeeding. Baby and I came home a little bit more of a fully functioning team. Time to bond without the pressures of the outside world and enforced rest that helped with my cesarean healing.
In conclusion, my labour was never what I planned for. But I got to the end with both me and baby safe. The relaxation exercises I learnt with Debbie helped at numerous times throughout my pregnancy and labour. Keeping calm on drives to appointments, tuning in to my baby and in the aftermath after. I am sure that the reason Baby had to be pulled into this world was because she was way too relaxed in my tummy doing hypnobirthing practice! I hope this will reflect in her personality in the years to come. Having Dad learn hypnobirthing with me meant that he was able to offer invaluable support throughout the process. And made sure all my remaining wishes and wants were abided to throughout the labour.
Thank you Debbie for helping us on our journey. Both Dad and I would highly recommend hypnobirthing with Debbie and will be back if we ever do this again.
Dad - Upon reflection, Mum did not get the labour she wanted but I still believe that we were as prepared as we possibly could be. I’m incredibly proud of how calm Mum was throughout a long and tiring labour. I believe that our hypnobirthing classes and NCT classes helped prepare us and keep us calm throughout a labour that could have been extremely distressing. Mum and baby are now both happy and healthy - so the end result is everything we wished for.