Part 1: It was Thursday morning & we’d had such a stressful week with our 3 year old, Noah, having a horrid sickness bug for 5 days. Being so close to my due date, and feeling exhausted, I was so relieved to see he was better on this morning, but gutted that my husband now had it! I kept thinking ‘at least it’s now and not when the baby arrives’!
That evening I started to feel a bit off. Not quite right. A bit sick, really tired and therefore really worried I was coming down with the dreaded bug too! I went to bed straight away to try and sleep it off, but at 11pm I woke up to a leaking feeling down below. I laid there for a couple of minutes, knowing deep down what this was, but, feeling sick still, I was trying to suppress the panic that this could be a sign of labour while my husband, & possibly now me, were unwell!
I went to the toilet and saw that this was my mucus plug. Shit. I just couldn’t get my head around possibly going into labour right now while Toby’s head was down the loo & mine might be soon too. And, although a mucus plug can release weeks in advance of labour starting, I just knew. I know my body, I know my labours, and I knew that this weekend, I’d give birth.
I told Toby, then called our Doula. I felt so anxious. Not about the birth, but about possibly not having the strength to get through labour if I was coming down with this bug! Toby was so violently sick and weak - what if I went the same way at the same time as giving birth!?
We talked it through & Zara’s words were perfect. Right now, I wasn’t sick, & I might not get it, so let’s look at what we can do. As always, if you sense labour is close, you rest, rest, rest. We agreed Toby should go back to bed ASAP - I was going to need him to be stronger, & I needed to chill out with a herbal tea, then go back to bed too. So, that is what I did....
Thankfully when I woke up on Friday at 7am I felt completely fine, & by some miracle, Toby did too! Other than the mucus plug, I had no other signs that anything was happening, so as I always tell clients - I carried on with my day, knowing deep down that our baby would be here this weekend
Part 2: It was Friday morning, I got up and showered, and then put a maternity pad in my underwear. I wasn’t sure if I had leaked any waters the night before, so I wanted to keep an eye on what was releasing down below.
I felt really calm inside, especially now we all felt well, and seeing Noah so bouncy, eating food again, & finally back to himself, gave me all the oxytocin I needed!
I started to think about what the next day or two may look like. This is where the delicate balance begins, with knowing labour is looming, but not giving it any attention whatsoever. Not easy to do when you feel your whole life is about to change, but, ignoring labour is SUCH an important detail when wanting a physiological birth; do not, at any point, give labour your attention! As soon as your labour requires you to focus, you will know about it, but until then, ignore it at all costs!
You see, as mammals, we don’t like to be observed when we give birth, so any amount of ‘trying to get it started’ or ‘right, this is it’ type of energy is very likely going to work completely against you, because the power to start labour has nothing to do with what you ‘do’. If your body is ready, and you’re feeling at ease and relaxed, you will, at some point, labour.
After I dropped the kids at school, I went home to chill. Resting was still the priority so I took it easy, pottered about & then went for a nap - something I never do but I’d made a promise to myself to try when it was really needed! When I woke up I felt amazing. You know that feeling after having a really great sleep!? I was rested, the sun was shining through the window and I felt so calm, happy and excited (I mean, just look at the photo!) At some point that afternoon I started to feel some crampy sensations coming and going every so often, they were really gentle, so I just acknowledged them and carried on. I ‘casually’ noticed they were around 10/12 mins apart. My body was warming up, so all I had to do now, was allow it.
The boys came home from school and, being Friday, it was movie night Our last evening as family of 4!
Part 3: I got the birth ball out while we watched a movie. I wasn’t in any discomfort, but I just wanted to offer baby some room to move if it was needed, so I circled my hips, & rocked & swayed through the movie. The cramps continued to come every now & again but they really were gentle, so again, I noticed them & carried on.
Once the boys were in bed I had a bath and did my ‘pre-birth ritual’ - washed the hair, shaved the legs, all that jazz (who else does this? If I’m going to give birth, I like to feel really clean!) & went to bed. At 2am I woke up to stronger contractions, still every 10 mins, but they had picked up in intensity. I was still feeling this urge to focus on baby’s position, so I went downstairs to do some yoga. I lunged, stirred the pot (if you know, you know!) and closed my eyes to help me really move intuitively. When I moved like this, the contractions got stronger, and more mucus released, but when I sat or laid on the sofa, they eased up again. I text the homebirth team just to flag it (my previous homebirth was quite quick) and then after some food and a drink, went back to bed to try and sleep.
Saturday morning. & the surges must have stopped in order for me to sleep, but picked up again once I woke up. I was thankful to my body for allowing me to sleep. The midwives text to see how I was, and I felt comfortable knowing that I was feeling really good, they were aware, and that’s all we needed. I had also been in regular contact with Zara, our doula, who I knew was there whenever I needed her, and that, at the drop of a hat, she’d be with us. This was particularly reassuring as Toby had gone downhill again being sick (!) so I sent him to bed in the spare room and told him I’d get him when I needed him.
The contractions were really making themselves known when they came, and were located all around my uterus, exactly where I wanted them. Each time one started, I felt the need to lean over something - a chest of drawers, the bannister, the kitchen top, and breathe really strongly throughout. I was still doing normal stuff, but was starting to feel the need to focus a little more...
Part 4: I was with the boys, and when I needed to stop to lean over something, I did. I explained that this was fine, the baby was probably coming soon, and the noises I was making were normal. They’d come and massage my back when a surge came, which was the sweetest thing! I felt that I wasn’t relaxing with the them at home. I had decided in pregnancy that I didn’t want them at our birth; I knew it would distract me, so I called my parents at 11am who came to pick them up I then felt the need to put the TENs machine on, to help my comfort levels. Things were ramping up!
I text my friends to cancel brunch, & when one of them called me to see how I was, I had to hang up when a contraction came: a sign that things were definitely progressing. They were so strong when they entered my body, really deep uterine contractions, that I’d started to really moan through. Every time I exhaled during a contraction, I groaned loadly, and it felt SO good. I opened my mouth to relax my jaw and just let out the pain I felt in a big ‘aaaaaaaahhhhh’ sound. The pain was at a level where I still felt in control, and was happy to be on my own (Toby kept checking on me but I sent him back to bed to rest) but they were POWERFUL, and I really had to focus.
The contractions were still every 10 mins, sometimes slowing to 15-20 mins apart, and had been happening for the best part of 24 hours now. Seeing no change in their frequency was starting to frustrate me. There was nothing necessarily wrong with their frequency, but I was beginning to get in my own head. Why weren’t they closer? Why had they not changed? What was the reason? I found it really hard not to overthink & analyse - one of the worst things to do when in labour - a total hormone blocker! I think due to my work, I started to try and problem solve my own labour, even though there was no problem to fix!
I was convinced now that baby needed to be in a better position for labour to pick up, so again, I started to do some more yoga. I was really battling my headspace now & could feel my morale dipping. This was at 12.30pm, and little did I know, things were about to completely change!...
Part 5: Things really had slowed down & I started to wonder how the rest of the day & night might go if things carried on this way - I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep through these contractions, they were too strong, but sleep is vital, especially if I was going to be labouring for another 12-24 hours.
I started to have a bit of a wobble & so I called Zara (@doulabud )for a chat. I explained that things just weren’t picking up & I felt baby wasn’t in a great position, and that this could be stopping progression. Zara offered to come over and do some biomechanics with me, but we both agreed that before we do that, I should lay down and try to rest, then we’d reassess in a little bit. Zara then suggested something that I think was the game-changer. She said ‘turn your phone off now, and allow your thinking brain to switch off’. Yes. This was so needed. I’d spent hours thinking about what I needed to do, replying to messages, arranging the boys, just ‘thinking’ way too much l. Something I know to be such a blocker, but I was finding it so hard to let go of control. I did exactly that - the phone went away, music went on, lights went off. Why had I not done this sooner?
I laid on my left side with my right leg up on a cushion. I had dialled up the TENS as the contractions were still STRONG, and just tried to zone out from it all. Toby came and checked in with me, and I said I’d call him when I needed him.
I laid in the dark, eye mask on, and just groaned through the contractions to my birth playlist. I was grabbing the bed sheets with each one, exhaling so strongly. In between contractions I relaxed my whole self as much as I could. Two hours passed with no change, and I fancied carrying this on downstairs with Toby. As I went to get up off the bed, I had a mighty contraction that made me feel quite out of control. I walked downstairs & I had another, and then another. I asked Toby to start timing them; something had changed.
He wrote down 3.02pm, 3.04pm, 3.06pm... they were coming every two minutes. I couldn’t believe the change! I told Toby to get the pool up ASAP, then called Zara & the Midwives! Suddenly I felt baby was coming!
Part 6: I wanted the pool up as it takes a while to fill, & these contractions were so close and intense now, I needed the comfort of the water ASAP. While Toby sorted it, I called Zara who made her way to us, & then called the homebirth team. As the midwife answered the phone I had a contraction, so long & loud that she said ‘I don’t think we’re in the early stages any more!’ I said that things had totally ramped up but I wasn’t sure if it was time for them to come just yet.
I didn’t want the presence of midwives to throw me now. We agreed that I’d call again as soon as I felt I needed them with me. It was only another 10 minutes until I called back. I said ‘do you have gas and air in the car?’ She said yes. I then had another contraction & said ‘bring me the gas and air!!!’. She said ‘I’m on my way!’ 10 minutes later, she was in the house handing me the canister, & two minutes after this, Zara arrived.
I remember involuntarily shouting ‘I can’t do this!!’ Hearing myself say this told me I was reaching transition, but I couldn’t believe I was already that close to birth. I was in denial. I said ‘are we all sure I’m in active labour?’ (I didnt even need them to answer, I absolutely was!)
The energy had shifted in the house, & labour was moving quickly. I was kneeling on the floor, bent over the sofa, waiting for the pool to fill. I was using the gas and air, which hit the spot SO beautifully. Pure heaven. My birth playlist kept cutting out, prompting me to shout ‘sort the f***ing music!’ & once it was finally on, I could really zone out. I found it hard to breathe through these contractions, I felt as though labour had progressed so quickly that I couldn’t catch up. In my mind I felt I was almost on the edge of feeling out of control, but according to everyone else when I asked them later, I seemed completely the opposite. What I did feel though, was safe. So safe. So connected to what was happening in my body, and so happy to be in my home space. I had started to feel pressure between my legs with the surges, and so I was relieved when the pool was finally ready, and I sunk on in for the final part of our labour..
Once the pool was ready I sunk into that water. The weightlessness, the warmth, the relief... it’s just wonderful! I can’t really tell how long I was in the pool because I went deep into labour-land here. I was high as a kite, eyes closed, oxytocin everywhere, mind focussed, just trying to get through these powerful surges one at a time. Toby had a cold flannel on my head, holding my hand, Zara (@doulabud ) was next to me too, holding the gas and air for me, reminding me to breathe the tension away. Everyone was totally on my side and it felt incredible. The midwives trusted me, I could feel it. They didn’t ask anything of me, they just followed my lead.
When I felt pressure, I went with it. I kept thinking ‘just open, Lucy, open’. I knew I was at the ‘pushing stage’ and was going to wait for my body to do it itself. I imagined my birth canal opening, and told myself to just allow it. I could feel the head coming and I didn’t resist it, but before I could even reach down to touch her head, flew into the water. I couldn’t believe how quickly she arrived, and was shocked she was already in my arms.
I hadn’t known she was a girl, but my gut told me she was my whole pregnancy. Seeing for myself was the most amazing surprise. My girl was here! xxx
I’ve wondered whether or not to share this video, being so personal & all. But I passionately believe that seeing births like this can help so much in overcoming the fear of birth that is drilled into us for most of our lives. Birth can be many things, but most importantly, it can be life changing, amazing & empowering!...