My little girl was one of the small percentage of babies to arrive exactly on her due date, 4 November 2014.

I woke up at 1.15am feeling like I needed to go to the loo. As I sat up in bed, there was a sudden gush that I couldn’t control and I had to run to the loo. I quickly realised that this was no accident and that my waters had broken. I called the midwife to be sure and she suggested I go in for an examination.

We arrived at the birthing centre at around 2.00am and the midwife confirmed that my waters had indeed broken. At this point she informed us that I needed to be in labour and contracting within 18 hours in order to birth at the birthing centre. Any longer than that and I would have to go into hospital. We left to come back home, stopping at a 24 hour petrol station on the way as we had realised that we’d stupidly not kept the tank full!

We got back home by about 3.00am and went back to bed. My husband promptly fell back to sleep while I lay there awake with my mind in overdrive but desperately trying to put this 18 hour time limit out of my head! I managed to doze for a short while but at around 4.30am I started to feel some very mild tightening. These were about 15 minutes apart and after 2 or 3 of them, I decided to get out of bed. I had heard about the importance of keeping well fed and watered through labour and so I made a snack and drank a big glass of water. I sat and watched television whilst sitting on my birthing ball for about an hour. During this time the tightening seemed to become more intense but less consistently spaced so I decided to go back to bed. However, shortly after I laid down I experienced my first really powerful surge. I put on my hypnobirthing track and tried to relax but I found that I was most comfortable when upright and moving about.

It was about 6.45am by this point and my husband had woken up and asked whether he ought to get ready for work or not. We weren’t sure how long my labour would go on for and didn’t want him to start his paternity leave earlier than necessary. However, by about 7.30am the surges were quite strong and I asked him not to go into work. From that point my husband started timing my surges with an app on his phone but they were extremely irregular in length, intensity and how far apart they were. We assumed I was experiencing Braxton Hicks rather than true, established labour and prepared ourselves for a long day and potentially night. My husband did a good job of coaching me through each surge and reminding me of my breathing and visualisation techniques, these really helped me through. I also found myself looking for the peak of each surge and reminding myself that it was getting better after each peak and that every surge brought me one step closer to meeting my little baby (I did not know at this stage that I had a little girl). My husband also kept feeding me water and bananas, although I was sick twice throughout the labour.

At about 11.30am, my husband informed me that he was going to call the birthing centre and give them an update on my progress. He read off the time and length of the surges I’d been having and they confirmed our suspicion that I was not yet in established labour. They said I had hours before I needed to go in, and this tallied up with what I had expected as I was aware that my surges should be 3 minutes apart and lasting 1 minute before I went in. However, as my husband was still on the phone to them I got a sudden urge to push. Everything changed and my body completely took over. It didn’t make any sense at all but my instincts told me that my baby was coming – and soon! I told my husband, who relayed the information to the birthing centre. They sounded surprised and told him to bring me in so they could have a look at me but didn’t sound concerned or convey any urgency at all. My husband got the bags together and got himself ready to leave the house (not thinking there was any real reason to rush) and we got in the car to go.

It takes approximately 25 minutes to get from our house to the birthing centre but of course we got hindered by every cyclist, bus and lorry on the way and it felt like a very long journey. By the time we were a few minutes away from the birthing centre, I told my husband I felt like the baby was very nearly there and that I thought I could almost feel the pressure of the head pushing down. I think it was at this point that he started to worry that we wouldn’t make it in time but fortunately we arrived in time. He pulled up and abandoned the car in the ambulance bay outside the doors. I had 2 or 3 further surges between the car park and the delivery suite.

Once I got in the delivery suite, the midwifery support worker asked me to go into the toilet and provide a urine sample. I tried to calmly explain that I was unable to sit on the toilet or my baby was going to come in the loo! At this point my husband was fantastic and took complete control of the situation. He advised the woman that we were having a water birth and told her to start running the taps in the birthing pool and then to go and get a midwife. When the midwife arrived, she asked me to get up on the bed so she could examine me. She took one quick look and said I was crowning and asked me to get straight into the pool – the taps were still running. My baby girl arrived less than 4 minutes later, more of a Jacuzzi birth than a pool birth as the taps were still running. She was passed to me through my legs and I lifted her straight onto my chest. She was a deep shade of blue and a bit squashed looking but absolutely perfect in my eyes. My husband and a midwife helped me out of the pool and onto the bed where a laid with her on my chest and stared at her in awe for a good 10 or 15 minutes before even checking to see if she was a girl or a boy. My husband and I had both been convinced when I was pregnant that I was expecting a boy so we both had a real shock but could not have been more over the moon with our little princess. She is a very chilled out little person and I’m absolutely certain that it’s because she came into this world in such a calm and relaxed way.

Zara & Nick, Wadhurst

Providing HypnoBirthing courses for expectant parents in and around Kent & East Sussex

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