I’ve been off radar (again) as 6 weeks ago I gave birth to my second little pot of gold. Florence Louise flew in to the world In a rather speedy fashion on 17th May 2019. She’s obviously adorable (I am biased) and Henry is such a proud big brother. How blessed do I feel right now!
After my ‘far-from-desired’ birth experience with my son Henry, whereby I endured a 3 day induction process, resulting in the (dreaded) hormone drip, an epidural, a catheter… (have I missed anything?) and making the whole process very ‘medical’ and completely out of my control. When I was expecting this time round, I REALLY wanted a natural birth. I was desperate to experience what it felt like to spontaneously go in to labour, and to feel/connect with my birth, to give me the option to ‘cope’ without unneeded intervention and to look forward to meeting my little bundle with every contraction that passed by…
As some say, “be careful what you wish for”. A spontaneous labour? No. A natural labour? Yes.
I want to share my birth story, partly as it was with huge thanks to the birth preparation classes I attended which allowed me to stay in control of my decisions and contributed to my birth experience. I believe it really helps to inform each other of how things can pan out. No matter what kind of labour you have, we’re all heroes!
In my self employed marketing life, I had started working with Do It Like A Mother (DILAM). Based in South East Essex and owned by Keri Jarvis, DILAM is often referred to as a ‘movement’- a destination of nurturing support for during pregnancy, parenthood and beyond. From birth preparation/antenatal classes, pregnancy yoga, baby massage, sling and cloth nappy support, parent and baby networking groups, weaning workshops, business coaching and much more. With a studio located in Chalkwell, DILAM has a vast local network in the form of its widely talented team, brand ambassadors, plus online support and active social media support groups.
From my work with DILAM it quickly became apparent how inspirational, beneficial and needed this organisation was in the local area and everything it represents. From reading so many wonderful reviews and stories of their hypnobirthing antenatal groups I jumped at the chance when Keri kindly offered me a space to attend a course.
Until I attended (or perhaps even until I gave birth) I was honestly open minded about hypnobirthing. Some may have once referred to it as ‘hippy nonsense’, being under a deep spell of hypnosis and performing something ‘weird’ and ‘supernatural-like’.
In our course, lead by the wonderfully grounded, kind natured and knowledgeable Steph Kidd, I learned that the reality of hypnobirthing is actually really comprehensive, designed to give you the learnings and tools to help you through labour. I found the whole course made logical sense and I wish I had learned about hypnobirthing for my first time round. Techniques are not only practical and logical but are research evidence based – and in my birth story they proved to really work.
The courses held at Do it Like A Mother are informative, educational and provide the full antenatal preparation – not just hypnobirthing. Yes we learned about light touch massage, utilising all of our five senses for preparation through to delivery as well as breathing techniques (which all may be perceived as the ‘fluffy’ side to hypnobirthing), but it was these tools that got me through my labour, well – we didn’t have time for my husband to put his light-touch massage to work as he arrived with less than 10 minutes until our daughter was born!
I left the course feeling informed about my options. I felt confident and excited about my upcoming labour and the programme had enhanced my level of knowledge and common sense – from the learnings surrounding the physiology of birth, hormones that help (and hinder) labour, the importance of relaxation and more. My husband even learned new methods to help him during and after a stressful day at work! I too have learned new skills for life.
On one hand I didn’t have a positive birth. I was induced (again) in hospital with a pessary at 4pm. Having been told I wasn’t due to be examined for 20 hours or so after the pessary was inserted, I was therefore left to my own devices. I got myself comfortable and settled, I created my own station of magazines, snacks, phone etc, seeing I now believed I was in for the long haul (as per my first experience with Henry).
By around 8/9pm I was starting to experience lower abdomen pains, like strong period cramps. When I asked a midwife, she said it ‘could’ be early labour but more likely it’s the pessary ‘doing it’s thing’ – thinning my cervix ready for dilation.
At 11pm my husband went to stay at my Mum’s who (thankfully) lives very close by. We were under the impression that nothing was going to happen any time soon and the midwives assured us they would call him if needed overnight. The midwives continued to ‘shut up shop’ – turning off lights and closing off the ward for us expectant mums to get some ‘rest’. With the surges in my lower tummy becoming more apparent and frequent, by now I was laying on my side, practising my breathing techniques by way of controlling the waves I was experiencing. I simply had to remind myself that this was only the beginning of my story. I had hours, potentially a day or two ahead of me. I didn’t have anything to compare this kind of labour to, so it was a time to really try and switch off from everything and to put my breathing skills to good use.
2am soon came, those 3 hours all a blur. I hadn’t read any magazines. At times I browsed through photos and videos on my phone of my son and our family holidays – memories that made me happy. At other times I managed to allow myself to fall in to a deep relaxation, almost a sleep, breathing the minutes by until I felt my body starting to take over.
In an unexpected instance, my body was no longer my own. I needed the loo and struggled to get there and back. I needed by husband but he wasn’t there. I needed to press my red button but I didn’t know where it was. I was alone, I needed help, I began to panic and the adrenaline kicked in.
It felt like hours until I managed to get a midwife to attend to me (but it was now only 10 minutes later – approx 2:10am) – who reminded me that I wasn’t due to be examined until midday the following day. I assured her that I believed I was in need to deliver my baby (perhaps not put so politely!) and thus on examination she agreed it was time to get me through to a delivery room.
Thankfully I had already called my husband, who arrived as I was being taken (aka rushed) through on a wheelchair. Our daughter arrived at 2:26am – I was in the delivery room for less than ten minutes. As soon as I found out that our baby could see light at the end of the tunnel (literally!) I calmed down, focused and did what my body needed to do.
Even during my very quick delivery, with no time for any pain relief or chance to think of anything else, I managed to find the inner power to switch off from any unnecessary noise/voice or distraction. Even if I wanted options there wasn’t time. I had no choice now but to do this myself and to use what I had in my ‘tool kit’ to deliver this baby. All I allowed myself to hear was the (amazing) student midwife’s voice who delivered my daughter, and all I allowed myself to focus on was my own breathing and thoughts. “My surges are not stronger than me.” I wasn’t scared. I was calm. I was about to meet my daughter.
The only time I lost my way with my breathing and my mindset were during those 10 minutes at 2am. Factors such as being alone, no call button to press, no midwife nearby and no one at my side all contributed to my fear. BUT…these 10 minutes from my entire labour story is a small blip and the entire build up to this stage I coped purely by practising the tools and breathing techniques I had learned at my DILAM antenatal course.
I did it. I got the natural birth I wanted. I AM surprised I did it. I often doubt myself and my capabilities in life, and I want to tell anyone expecting a baby reading this that if I can do it, then so can you.
I’d be lying if I didn’t feel a little bit in shock at how quickly everything happened at the end. But what I do know is how thankful I am to have managed my experience by utilising the techniques and information I had learned and practiced. Thank you Do It Like A Mother for making it possible and for making what could have been quite an intense and stressful labour turn in to the most positive experience and the strongest I’ve ever been – mentally and physically. I’ve learned new tools for life which I feel I can implement to any situation.
Don’t get me wrong, both of my labours have been amazing in their own ways. Every birth story has it’s positives and negatives – and every baby born is another miracle regardless how they’re delivered. Every mother who births their baby, no matter how or where, or if there was any pain relief, is a total goddess. This story of mine is purely to show that when push comes to shove, you can do it, and I believe I only did it with huge thanks to my hypnobirthing tool kit.
I asked Steph Kidd, my course leader, to provide some insight in to why couples should consider hypnobirthing, what makes courses at Do It Like A Mother different and what makes the DILAM community so inspiring and worth being a part of….
“Too often couples don’t realise how much there is to know, and have considered, before labour begins. When you’ve prepped as a team, it’s far easier to navigate your experience together even (maybe even especially!) if things deviate from your original Plan A. It empowers both birthing women and their partner to make decisions about their care and advocate for themselves if needed. Importantly the hypnobirthing tools will allow you to experience as comfortable a labour as possible – not creating your own pain (yep – that’s a thing!), and supporting your body to create the necessary hormones to allow labour to unfold optimally. At Do It Like A Mother we will never promise a pain free birth – but we do promise the tools are a huge help and for many women it’s all they need.”
“Our course is different because we are completely non-prescriptive. We give you everything we can, then leave you to find what works best for you. There are no false promises of results, there is no room to feel shame if you need to move beyond the techniques (euphemism alert – I mean using the drugs!), there is no need to feel guilty for deciding to accept intervention if it’s right for you. We support you to make your own informed choices and our support is unwavering – available before and after your birth, even during should you reach out (or go the extra step and hire Chloë as your doula for the fullest support possible!).”
“The DILAM community has grown in a way I couldn’t imagine since our studio doors opened just over a year ago. We have new and regular faces at various classes and drop ins from our ever popular Cake Club (I shouldn’t need to say more really, but on top of the cake you’ll find support for all your parenting needs: slings, cloth nappies, breast and bottle feeding and more!) to family yoga, postnatal Pilates, weaning workshops, and one off workshops with fabulous businesses aligned with our values. Even if you only pop in once in a blue moon, you’ll still be welcomed with open arms – most likely by one of our awesome brand ambassadors, they have supported both us, and the families who come to us, more than they probably realise!”