Nathanael’s birth was completely different from my first which was really quick – 4 hours from the first twinge to Callie being born – so I was expecting this to be quick too. However, the first stage was much longer which was actually quite nice as the contractions were milder and I had time to do things between them.
I started getting twinges early Sunday morning but stayed in bed to get as much rest as possible. By 8am I knew they were definitely contractions but they were still really irregular so I had no idea how long it would all take. Still, since last time had been so quick, Russ decided to stay off work, so he took Callie to nursery and I texted my friend who was going to be birth support to let her know I might need her at some point, and my Mum to ask her to collect Callie from nursery so I wouldn’t have to worry about her. I was really excited to be finally meeting my baby and spent some time connecting with him and telling him about the journey we were going to take together. My waters broke as I was lying in bed, but luckily I felt it about to happen and made it to the toilet in time! I then phoned the midwife to let her know my waters had gone but told her I was fine on my own for the moment and she agreed to come round at 2pm to see how I was getting on, unless I needed her before. I took some Rescue Remedy to help with the shock and some Arnica from my homoeopathic remedy kit.
I thought I’d take advantage of things going more slowly, so had a nice, relaxing bath, then put on my tens machine and Russ and I went and watched some TV together. It was lovely to get to spend some unexpected time together and he made me some Raspberry Leaf tea while I walked round the sitting room and leant over my birthing ball. The contractions were still really erratic but getting more painful so I started to concentrate on breathing through them and took some more remedies from my kit. I also lit my oil burner with Frankincense in as it’s supposed to be good for pain relief.
My friend came round at 2.30 and the midwife arrived about 30 minutes later. I had been thinking that it wouldn’t be much longer, but as soon as the midwife got there, the contractions became much further apart. With Callie’s birth, I didn’t get to hospital until I was fully dilated and her head had descended so I never experienced how the environment can affect contractions, and I was really surprised how much just one person could change things even when I was at home – I was really relieved I wasn’t going into hospital! Anyway, the midwife checked the baby’s heart rate which was fine and then said it was going to be ages so she’d let her colleague who was taking over the shift from her in an hour know to contact me. Whilst the contractions were still erratic, I did know how quickly things had progressed last time and that I had managed to talk through even the worst contractions so I wasn’t sure she was right, but I was happy for her to go since she’d slowed everything down anyway… Before she went she said she’d have to book me in for induction if nothing more had happened by the next morning which panicked me a bit and, in hindsight, was an incredibly unhelpful thing for her to say.
Luckily, once she’d gone my friend, who is a midwife though she wasn’t present in that capacity, pointed out that I was feeling panicky and suddenly like I couldn’t do it because I’d been given a time limit and that of course I’d be fine. She also pointed out that I was holding a lot in my pelvis and I realised that I had been concentrating so much on keeping my jaw relaxed that I’d forgotten my pelvis. As soon as I started moving my pelvis more during each contraction and breathing through to my coccyx, things sped up again. My friend is a craniosacral therapist and we decided it would help things progress if she gave me a treatment: this was amazing and one of the most powerful things I’ve ever experienced. My body immediately took over completely and I had a series of huge contractions which were incredibly painful but, within 15 minutes, I was fully dilated and Nathanael was descending. Russ phoned the midwife and was told she’d be 20 minutes to which he replied – we’re going to need her quicker than that!
There was no need to push this time. The contractions pushed Nathanael out and I had no control over the speed at which he was born. I just had to focus on breathing through and going with my body. It was amazingly intense and very painful, but more homoeopathic remedies, smelling Frankincense from a tissue and the knowledge that it was a good pain because I was about to meet my baby, got me through. I had about 6 ‘pushing’ contractions, and then Nathanael was born as the midwife walked through the door, and I caught him in my arms. I was incredibly lucky that my friend was there so I had no worries about the lack of a ‘proper’ midwife: in fact, it worked out best this way as I didn’t have any of the distracting monitoring of the baby’s heart rate between contractions, or anyone wanting to do vaginal examinations to check how dilated I was. Instead, Nathanael was born surrounded by people who were in tune and calm (well, I was relatively!) and who respected what he had just been through. We then had the bustle as the midwife came in, amazed by the speed of it, and started all the paperwork etc. but we did have those first few moments in peace.
My third stage was incredibly quick and I delivered the placenta about 3 minutes after he was born which made it easier to move across to lean against the sofa while we had skin to skin and waited for the cord to stop pulsing. Nathanael cried in shock for a bit, but once he’d told his story, he settled down to a feed. The room was suddenly full of midwives, four in all for some reason, which was a little distracting, but they did leave us alone for ages so we didn’t tie and cut his cord for an hour and a half which was lovely. The midwife then weighed him and Russ gave him a cuddle while I cleaned up a bit. Then they packed up and left and Russ made me tea and toast before I had a bath. Then we all went to bed together. Being at home was a million times better than hospital in every way and I’m so glad I opted for it this time.
The craniosacral therapy during labour was amazing and I wouldn’t want to labour again without it. I’m sure that it, together with the homoeopathy and yoga relaxation techniques, are what enabled me to have such a positive, drug free labour and I feel very lucky to have had access to these things. Nathanael had been in an awkward position which meant my earlier contractions weren’t being particularly effective. I can see now that it was my constant moving about, visualisations, remedies and the cranio which meant everything progressed and we avoided interventions.