It is always so special to hear it from the birth partners and I am thrilled to have received this birth story from Ian and Jacqui. He was absolutely incredible during his wife’s birth. I love how he had Jacqui’s back and worked with the midwives to give her more time and comfort. I love how he thinks to keep the room tidy so not to stress out Jacqui. I love how he catches her eyes and without talking, tells her that she’s got this and that he’s got her.
A truly remarkable story and lovely to have both sides!
Ian’s Birth Story
We had a scan on a Monday, 3 weeks before the due date. We were told that our baby boy was measuring big and he may well be overdue (i.e an even bigger baby). We remained calm, and talked through our options. We knew we didn’t want an induction so decided if the time came we would probably opt for a caesarean birth as we felt that way, the birth was in our control and we could look forward to it and have everything planned accordingly.
But just a couple of nights later I went to bed as normal only to be woken less than an hour later by Jacqui telling me her waters had broken. I thought she was kidding me, having me on! But no. We were on!
30 mins or so later, after Jacqui had had time to process and get herself sorted I was still feeling a bit unsure, I don’t think I believed it was happening! We called Triage and we were asked to come in for an examination as we were registered as a high-risk pregnancy (as of our scan Monday!). I felt a bit nervous thinking we might actually be having the baby tonight as mentally I’d accepted he wasn’t coming for a long time.
Driving to the hospital I felt quite relaxed, despite a half packed hospital bag with bits thrown in a bit ad hoc as we went out of the house! But a few minutes into the drive I had to pull over as Jacqui was having her first contraction. I focused on timing how long it was and getting ready to monitor when the next contraction may come along. We both felt pretty calm and I genuinely still thought that this was a false alarm- maybe Braxton hicks?! Jacqui appeared in total control, she knew what was happening and what to do- I think she knew it was the real deal, even if I didn’t believe it yet!
Jacqui moved into the back seat where she was more comfortable, and we continued on to the hospital in quiet, feeling quite relaxed and driving nice and slow.
When we arrived, I dropped Jacqui off outside the hospital door (a nurse came to meet her) and I then began to wait in the car for about 1.5 hours because partners weren’t allowed in until established labour. Jacqui kept me up-dated over texts until she asked me to come in because she was likely going to be moved to the birthing unit soon. This was it! It was happening!
I didn’t feel nervous now, I just wanted to see Jacqui and know how she had been by herself. I found her in a small room, bent over the bed experiencing a contraction. I got her some water, made sure she had a drink, talked through what had happened with the midwife so far and shared some jokes with her.
But before long we were told we could get into the birthing suit and shortly after, to get into the bath! ‘Let’s do this’ I thought, ‘It’s on!’
We had to gently argue our point to be allowed in the birthing unit rather than going straight to the labour ward due to the ‘high risk’ note on Jacqui’s notes. However, Jacqui completely justified her point and we were allowed.
In the birthing suit, the midwives ran the bath whilst I got snacks, drinks etc all ready (I wanted to keep the room tidy so as not to stress Jacqui with mess! 😊 ) After another examination, Jacqui’s contractions were really intense and Jacqui got in the bath.
First thing I thought was to play some music but on shuffle, the first song to come on was ‘the drugs don’t work’ by The Verve, we laughed and agreed to no music 🙂 but Jacqui had been listening to a song the last week or so and was just muttering the same words to it over and over in between contractions. She was totally in the zone and started to feel the urge to bare down. She was completely relaxed between her contractions saying ‘I am calm and relaxed, so calm and relaxed’ just like in our hypnobirthing course. It totally centred her.
The water was very calming, the room dimly lit and I gently stroked her arm using the soothing strokes we had learnt, to give her the comfort she wanted. Every now and then we would make eye contact, realising without saying anything that we knew what was happening and that we had this.
But the bath was quite deep and after a while Jacqui found it hard to find a comfortable position to push through her contractions. As time went on I could see the midwives discussing moving us. I kept them in sight but ensured Jacqui could remain in her zone without having to worry about the people in the room. However, after a while, we were told that Jacqui’s labour wasn’t progressing as quickly as it possibly should and they wanted Jacqui to get out as the baby’s head was showing signs of swelling.
In the transition from the bath to the couch, Jacqui experienced a great pain in her coccyx (completely separate from the labour pains) which meant she couldn’t lie on her back.
It was suggested that we move to the labour ward to be safe. The staff were great, they explained it gently and reassured us we could still have the natural delivery we were hoping for; it was just for precautions.
Transporting down to the labour ward was the worst part of the experience. Jacqui had to be in a wheelchair and experiencing contractions with her coccyx was killing her. I hadn’t been stressed about the pain before as Jacqui totally managed it but this pain was different. It wasn’t labour pain.
When we got to the room in the labour ward the sun was starting to rise outside. It was a lot brighter and busier here than upstairs, it felt very different but still ‘familiar’ and ‘okay’. The change of room didn’t seem to bother Jacqui; she was very focussed on delivering our baby. Jacqui was placed on her back and I waited in the corner of the room as they needed the space around her to examine her. A doctor arrived, but Jacqui was too uncomfortable to be examined on her back. The doctor wanted to offer an episiotomy and suction cup delivery. This is something we really didn’t want- we’d have a caesarean section over this! But the baby was too far down that a Caesarean section was off the cards now. Our Midwife and I looked at each other and thought that if we could change Jacqui’s position by elevating her lower back with pillows, it could take the pressure off for an examination.
After what felt like a long time of ‘pushing’ the Doctor said we needed to cut and introduce forceps, they even started to sterilise everything to prepare for it. I knew this was not what Jacqui wanted. I made sure Jacqui could focus on me and the Midwife, and couldn’t see what was going on around her. I kept the doctors in sight so I could keep tabs on what was happening, not in an untrusting way- but I wanted to know what was going on. Everyone in the room was amazing and they explained everything sensitively and clearly. We knew our options now. It was too late for a Caesarean section, and the best path for Jacqui and our baby was a small cut and suction cup. We felt like we could accept this having spoken through all our options.
But then Jacqui asked if she could try just one more time for a natural delivery. She was getting tired but remained completely calm and in control. We asked the doctor if she could have 3 last good ‘pushes’ and the doctor agreed. They raised the handles on the bed, with a doctor at her feet, a midwife to each of her sides and me, we counted through each contraction as they came.
We were given 3 pushes, and he came out on contraction number 2.
When he came out it was strange, I couldn’t believe it had happened. I even caught a glimpse of him when his head was out and I thought ‘Oh jeez, this is starting to get real!’ The emotions were starting to build.
But I felt we were both in the zone, we had the mindset that we were going to do it and it was going to happen and we did!
We actually had an NCT ‘re-group’ this week where we shared stories, some had 3, or 4-day labours, inductions and generally some difficult birth stories, but I described ours as natural, slow, steady and ‘uneventful’ in comparison.
Jacqui did a great job, she totally knew what she was doing, focussing on her breathing and talking herself through it all. It was really nice to see her with such control, she did amazingly.
I feel it’s impossible to know how the labour would have panned out if it wasn’t for hypnobirthing, but I will say I think all my actions were absolutely subconscious. I knew what to do, when to go with the flow, when to support Jacqui and when to step up and that was the mindset that helped me through it. I didn’t feel the need at any point to think back to my classes or recall something we had learnt in hypnobirthing, but I think because of all the practise it just came instinctively. Through repetition and practise we had learnt everything on a subconscious level so Jacqui was able to focus and know what to do and I followed suit!
The female body is amazing, to grow, birth and feed a baby it’s amazing!
Jacqui’s Birth Story
Birth story On Wednesday morning I woke up, feeling a bit flat. Weather was rubbish and I was worrying about potentially having a big baby after a growth scan earlier on in the week which had put me in the ‘at risk category’. With the situation with the virus I was anxious and upset.
As Wednesday continued I had a few lower back pains and Braxton hicks, I had a long phone date with a friend, had a bath with a new candle some friends gave me for my birthday and headed to bed.
At midnight, I woke up to go to the loo. I stood up and PING, my waters broke. I woke Ian, who told me to go back to sleep. He didn’t believe it was happening. Once he woke up properly, he called the hospital and I was asked to go in. While he was doing that, I was being a muppet trying to use sanitary towels to stem the flow of waters. I ended up shoving a towel between my legs and waddling to the car. I was worrying I hadn’t printed off my birth plan and hadn’t got round to reading an e book on breast feeding!
On the way to hospital I had 3 contractions but they felt like period pains. I had to get Ian to pull over so I could sit in the back of the car, I was finding sitting on my bottom really uncomfortable. The drive felt like forever.
Ian took me to the door of the hospital so I could be assessed. I met a lovely midwife who went through my notes and had to discuss my options with the labour ward as I was technically ‘at risk’, however, I was 37 weeks +2 days and I knew that the baby was 7.4lb, a nice healthy new born weight! The midwife was my champion. She got me signed off for a birth centre birth and I was happy.
While this was going on my contractions were increasing. Finally I was examined and was told I was 6cms! The pool was running and I called Ian to come and join me. Wow! A bath is great!
During lockdown all I wanted to do was go swimming and feel weightless. I spent 2 hours in the pool, Ian tried to put on music but I found it annoying. The first song that came on was ‘the drugs don’t work’. Apparently at points I sang to myself. I focused on my body and kept telling myself that my body and baby knew what to do.
After 2 hours things took a turn, babies head had some swelling and my contractions were beginning to slow down and I just couldn’t get enough push when I did have contractions. I had to get out the bath and be examined. Every time I was on my back my bottom/ lower back was really painful. It was the worst part of the whole of labour. It was then agreed I needed to go to the labour ward because of babies swelling. I was put in a wheelchair, no gas and air on my transfer and sat on my bum. It was awful. I began to wail in discomfort. Once in the labour ward, I was put on my back to be examined. My bum hurt so much. I was in pain. I asked Ian to hold my leg so I could roll over and get off my bottom. At its worst I had a consultant assessing me, another midwife putting a cannula in and another sorting a catheter. I couldn’t concentrate. It was beginning to be to much.
One consultant said to someone to prepare an epidural because I would need forceps. I didn’t want that. So I spoke up and said I didn’t want it, the second consultant said, there was no going back. She would let me try pushing naturally but if it didn’t work after two really good pushes I would need the suction cup. She numbed me and we agreed. I got myself topped up with gas and air. The midwife told me to beat the doctors.
I was on my back, but a cushion had been placed under my bum so I wasn’t so sore. Handles were pulled down on the bed. I gripped and pushed down on them for dear life. Ian helped me count to 10 through my pushes, like I was in a HIT class. He was so reassuring. I pushed as hard as I could and then said I ‘can’t do this anymore’, I looked at Ian and he said the ‘heads here you did it’.
Then the rest was history. My midwife and Ian held my space. By the midwife telling me to beat the doctors I was motivated, I also kept repeating to myself,’ I can do anything for 60 seconds’. When I was feeling overwhelmed, when it felt like a million people were making decisions for me, I put my fingers in my ears and kept telling myself I could do it. But without such a supportive midwife and Ian, I could have given up.
Hypnobirthing really helped changed my mindset on the build up to birth and gave me the tools to cope during labour. I wasn’t scared, I was determined to get my baby safely into the world.
When I went into pregnancy, I was scared of everything. Hypnobirthing has been an important tool to my birth and I have continued using it as I have gone through the first 10 days of having my first newborn.