‘I felt really confident that I had the tools to get me through’

Luke’s birth story – by Jane

Baby Luke was born on his due date! Pre-labour started on Monday and proper labour started on Tuesday evening. I happily laboured away by myself for a few hours – Christophe had gone to bed early as he had an early start the following morning – and then went to bed for two hours before waking him up to inform him this was the real deal and he wasn’t going into work!

I carried on labouring at home with his support and encouragement and was able to use the techniques you taught us, plus the MP3, to keep a calm head on my shoulders and appreciate the experience as it came to me.

Eventually, at about 10am on Wednesday, the time came to head into the MAU and I carried on using my breathing techniques, visualisations and so on on the way there. Unfortunately, however, despite us timing the contractions at more or less three-in-ten, the rhythm wasn’t holding quite strongly enough for the midwives, so we were sent home. About 12 hours later, we headed up again, but it was the same story and I was told to come back when we had a proper long, strong, close together pattern happening. We hung on at home again as long as possible before returning again on Thursday evening, because I was starting to get quite tired and the pain was ramping up. Fortunately for me, my waters had also started to break just before we left home, so I was admitted to the delivery suite that night (I really couldn’t have stood going home again!).

I laboured with just entonox and hypnobirthing techniques for about 3 hours, with Christophe helping with the “3-2-1 relax” guide in particular, but a steady rhythm of contractions still wasn’t happening (was more of a foxtrot than a steady metronome) and I was getting very tired – I had only managed to get two hours sleep on Tuesday and really nothing since, plus I’d not eaten in quite a long time, so the midwife did an artificial rupture of the membranes early in the early hours of Friday morning to try and pick up the pace a bit. That worked, to the extent that the contractions got longer and stronger but, you guessed it, no steady rhythm. However, this was marked down as the time I officially went into labour, which is kind of amazing in retrospect, as my notes say I was only actually in labour for 15 hours!

The gas and air gradually became less and less effective and eventually, I got to the stage where I wasn’t so much resting or sleeping between contractions as passing out from exhaustion, so I bypassed diamorphine and went for the epidural. We had a bit of a wait for the anaesthetist, so Christophe was managing to keep me kind of on the ball and the midwife managed to keep me sort of with it using chamomile as a sort of aromatherapy smelling salt.

That worked wonders, not just in terms of pain relief, but also it allowed me to get some sleep.

But, after several hours (not sure how many, time had ceased to have any meaning) there was still no steady rhythm to the contractions (in fact, they stopped completely for about 10 mins at one point) and I got stuck at 7cm dilation. With all that taken into account and the fact that Luke’s heart rate was starting to drop between contractions, I had an emergency caesarean and we finally met Luke at 18.42!

I know this straight-up sounds like one of those labour and birth horror stories – it’s certainly not what I had in my birth plan and I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t difficult – but overall I feel incredibly positive about it, not just because I got a healthy baby boy out of it at the end but because I never felt that things were completely out of my control, or particularly scared or panicked.

More than anything, though, I wanted to say thank you as I am so glad that we took your hypnobirthing class; I really don’t think I would have known how to cope without it and it could have been quite a harrowing experience. I felt really confident that I had the tools to get me through and I was even able to crack jokes for quite a long time (not sure how good they were in real life, but the drugs and exhaustion ensured I thought they were pretty funny and everyone else at least humoured me!). Even on the operating table, I was still feeling super calm and confident. I also used some rhythmic breathing to help bond with Luke and keep him calm when we were in the observation unit together.