‘We kissed, and I felt a surge of oxytocin’

Rowan’s birth story – by Caroline 


It was an amazing experience and one that I’d really like to share. Not to gloat, but to spread the idea that childbirth can be a wonderfully fulfilling and empowering experience.  It’s so often we only hear negative stories, yet spreading positive childbirth tales is essential so that others aren’t scared of labour, or expecting the worst.  ‘I did it, so can you,’ is more powerful than you can ever imagine.

After all, it is more likely that you will have a nice simple birth than that things will get complicated, it’s just that people sometimes feel guilty telling a good birth story when others have had a tough time.

I read several books on natural childbirth, two I’d like to mention are Spiritual Midwifery and a Guide to Natural Childbirth by Midwife Ina May Gaskin which as far as I’m concerned are books that could literally change the world, and are a must read for every pregnant woman getting you into a positive mindset in preparation for birth. Also Dr Gowri Motha’s The Gentle Birth Method, which gives you a plan to follow when you’re wanting to prepare for a natural drug free labour. I also trained in hypnobirthing with Guin at Mindful Mamma.

Here’s my experience…..

I woke up around 3.30am feeling a mild cramping sensation in my tummy. Even though I was 2 days away from my due date I put the cramps down to some wind and constipation. I was in denial that I would go into labour early. We’d being doing some major renovations in our home that had finally finished on the Friday. I’d booked for cleaners to de-dust the entire house on the Saturday, and Sunday was meant to be a day for relaxing as a family of 3 before we became 4.

I slept through the cramps, but at around 5.45am could no longer sleep, so went to the loo. It took me a little while to realise that the very mild cramps I was experiencing were exactly 5 minutes apart and each lasting for 30 seconds. My husband Alex woke up as I came back to bed and I told him that I thought something might be happening. We lay in bed cuddling and chatting for an hour or so. We timed the cramps as they got a little closer together. I turned and looked at Alex; ‘I think we better fill the pool’ I said. ‘I’m glad you said that because I was thinking exactly the same.’

We got up, and Alex began filling up the birthing pool, he made some toast and peanut butter as we thought it a good idea to eat whilst I still could. But as we pottered around the house, the contractions seemed to die down. I thought, ‘we could be here all day and night.’

At 8.45am we skyped Alex’s parents, and chatted for twenty minutes or so. My cramps were so mild I barely had to do anything to cope with them. Melissa our daughter had swimming at 10am and I managed to persuade Alex to take her. I also gave him a shopping list, as I was planning a roast chicken for lunch and had friends coming over. He reluctantly agreed, but insisted on calling the midwife just to let them know that something might be happening today.

When they left for swimming, I wandered around the house feeling a bit lost. Then I thought that if I was going to give birth today, I may as well have clean hair. So I jumped in the shower. As I was washing my hair Alex called back to say that the midwife would be with me in ten minutes time (around 10.30am) I thought, okay that’s fine, she’ll probably just check me then leave me to it until things pick up. Then I cleaned the shower!

Ann our midwife arrived just as I was drying my hair. She chatted away to me as I breathed through the contractions that were slowly picking up. She checked my dilation and found that I was already 4cm. ‘These mild contractions are obviously doing something…..Just carry on with whatever you’re doing’, she said.

‘I might bake a cake’ I said (something I’d done in labour with Melissa), we had enjoyed it with a glass of bubbly the day she was born).

Ann said she was going to pop up to the hospital to pick up the delivery box, but that she’d be straight back in twenty minutes or so. I thought that’s fine, but we’ve got a while left to go so no hurry.

When she left I decided to listen to my hypno-birthing CD, and settled into the ‘birthing room’ we’d prepared with dim lights, a birthing ball and a bed to lie on. Things felt manageable as I took myself off to my ‘safe place’ that I had visulised every day in practice for the real thing. After a while I soon realised that I was in no way capable of baking a cake. The cramps were strengthening.  Ann returned and I was having to concentrate more on every contraction which had lengthened to around 40 seconds and were 2-3 minutes apart.

Alex returned with Melissa from swimming at 11.30, I was sitting in our ‘birthing room’ on the birthing ball listening to my CD. He made some lunch for us and I managed half a bowl of soup and a slice of bread. I wandered around the kitchen in a hypnotic state leaning on various pieces of furniture during a contraction; the piano, a bar stool, a kitchen chair, my husband etc.

By 12.15 I started to say I didn’t think I could do it any longer. Alex reminded me that I was doing it, and that when it starts feeling impossible, that’s because I’m probably very close to having the baby.

By 12.30 I was on all fours in the birthing room, growling a low growl which vibrated into my chest during each contraction. ‘I need to get in the pool now’, I said. ‘It’s not ready yet’ Alex said, and he and the midwife began boiling kettles of water to get it to the right temperature. I asked Ann to check me and she said that she wouldn’t like to do it for another 4 hours. 4 hours I thought! I’m not going to last that long!!

The pool was wonderfully soothing, I flopped into the warm water and hung on with my head resting on the side. Alex knelt beside me saying encouraging words. I kept saying I didn’t think I could go on and Alex said that it was the first time I’d said this in 9 months of pregnancy, and that I could do it, I was doing it, and plus I’d done it before. We kissed, and I felt a surge of oxytocin which sped up the contractions.

A second midwife arrived. I told Ann I wanted to push. She said go on then. I was surprised that she’d let me push without knowing if I was fully dilated, but she said to trust my body. I could do nothing else but push. I pushed with all my might, and felt my waters break into the pool. It was a wonderful feeling of release. I reached up and could feel the hard surface of my baby’s head.

Then I heard the midwives talk among themselves. I’m just going to call the delivery suite, your baby has pooh-ed itself in the womb. Meconium can be sign that your baby is in distress. I had had this with our daughter Melissa and as my waters had broken earlier in labour we had ended up in hospital even though nothing had been wrong.

A surge of fear overcame me and the next contraction was weak and uneventful, it reminded me of how the power of the mind can progress or stall labour. Alex reassured me – it’s just a formality, they are following protocol.

Then Ann said the magic words – I don’t think you’re going to have time to make it to hospital. She had faith in me. I gathered all my courage and declared out loud that this baby was going to be born right now. As I said the words I had a very strong contraction that pushed the baby’s head into crowing position. All I could say was ‘burn’ as I was stretched to the maximum. Nobody could work out what I was saying, and as I was in the pool, nobody could see at what stage I was at.

The midwives asked me to lean back (I had been crouching in the pool). I remember  thinking ‘you’ve got to be joking, I can’t move out of this position’. Alex helped me move and they exclaimed that they could see the head. ‘I know’ I thought.

With the next contraction the baby’s head was out, and with one final push so was the body. I reached down and guided my baby up and out of the water and onto my chest.  It was 13.13pm exactly. He opened his eyes and looked at me, coughed and spluttered a little, then with a small cry began breathing and turned pink all on his own – 10 Apgar score! The midwife checked and saw that he was a little boy. He was perfect in every way and we immediately fell in love.

We climbed out of the pool and cuddled up on the bed all draped in towels and a dressing gown. All the time, Melissa our daughter had been sitting at the kitchen table next door watching Hotel Transylvania with headphones on.

Shortly after I delivered the placenta naturally, and they checked to make sure I had no tears – what a relief. We settled down for cuddles on the bed and a breast feed. That’s when the last photo was taken. Later we weighed him and he was exactly 8lbs.

I celebrated with a cup of tea and a Snickers bar! Melissa met her little brother, once her movie had finished, we’d decided a name and put clothes on baby Rowan.

Four hours later I was making gravy for a roast chicken that Alex had cooked. We had a glass of wine and were in bed by 9pm. A perfect day!