Whilst the Covid pandemic has been a particularly worrying time for pregnant women, it’s been wonderful to hear my classes have helped keep a sense of calm for my prenatal yoga and hypnobirthing mums, “Thank you so much for everything over the last few months, especially during the lockdown, when it could have been so easy to become anxious and worried about the birth. The yoga and birth stories provided me with so much reassurance and helped me stay relaxed. I hope that my story can do the same for other mums to be.”

Thanks so much to Carly for sharing her inspiring first-time birth story, I have no doubt it will be a great source of reassurance for other mums-to-be.

Oscar’s Birth

Oscar George Riddell arrived 2 weeks ago on Sunday 17th May, 8.08am at Wexham Park Labour ward in the pool – my preferred choice, 4 hours after my waters broke.

In the early hours of Sunday morning I woke up at 3.50am to go to toilet which had become a regular thing. On returning to bed I felt something wasn’t quite right, so made my way back to the bathroom, I only made it as far as the bedroom door when I felt my waters break in a massive gush (just like the films ha-ha).

I woke my husband to let him know, and then called the hospital as we had been informed to do. They asked me to come in to be assessed and to confirm it was my waters. So at 4.30am off we went to Wexham hospital. At this point I had no signs of labour, so we were preparing ourselves for a potentially long 24 hours but I was feeling excited that I was getting closer to meeting my little boy,

On arrival to the hospital I had to go in on my own as expected and I was assessed straight away. The midwife confirmed my waters had broken, checked baby’s heartbeat and did a position scan. Everything was fine and baby was still back to bump and head was fully engaged which was great news. At this point she told me to head home and wait for labour to start but arranged for me to be back in 24 hours if I hadn’t gone into labour naturally, to discuss an induction. I was really hoping it wouldn’t come to that and I would go into labour naturally.

At this point I started to feel some cramping similar to period pains but more intense in my lower bump. I used the first stage of labour breathing technique to breathe through it and then it eased. The midwife told me that this was likely to be the start of labour which I was pleased about, and that as it progressed I should start to feel the surges further up my bump.  

I left the hospital to head home at 5.30am and met my partner in the car park. Whilst he was paying for the parking I had another wave of cramps and again breathed my way through it and we headed home. I was very much in denial at this stage that these were, what I would later realise to be, surges.

On the drive home, I continued to get surges each one more intense than the last but all still in my lower bump. I decided to time them on the Freya app apple.com/gb/app/freya-surge-timer/id1447509164 as I was intrigued to see how far apart they were. I only live a 10 minutes drive from Wexham park hospital, and by the time I got home the app was telling me that I was in established labour. I didn’t believe that this could be the case in such a short period of time and partly because I was waiting for the surges to become higher up. I decided to continue to monitor them and asked my husband to make me a cup of tea – which he never got a chance to make in the end.

The surges seemed to be intensifying and became more frequent. I used a sideboard in our lounge to lean on so that I could adopt a UFO (upright, forward, open) position. I decided at this point to take 2 paracetamol, which came straight back up. The Freya app was still saying I was in established labour and I started to think it might be right. I asked my husband to call the hospital to let them know. The midwife stayed on the phone to listen to the frequency and intensity of the surges. After 10 minutes she agreed it was best if I came back to the hospital to be assessed again.

We arrived back at Wexham at 6.30am, again going in on my own initially until it was confirmed that I was in established labour. I was met by the same midwife who I had seen on my earlier visit, this made me feel at ease as I knew she was already aware of what had happened so far. I agreed to a vaginal examination and she was very understanding that I didn’t want to be on my back, but we agreed it was the quickest way for her to confirm if I was in established labour, so once she was ready to perform the examination and I had come out of a surge, I jumped on the bed for the examination and she confirmed I was 5cm dilated. I was shocked, but glad that it seemed to be progressing quickly. The midwife then went to get my husband and arrange for the pool to be prepared.

At around 7am we were taken to a room on the labour ward as the birthing centre was still closed. The room was not medical in the slightest. I was greeted by 2 midwifes who were going to be with me throughout the labour. They were wearing face masks, but everything felt really normal and I was completely at ease and calm. They had clearly read my birth preferences as they were very much in the background throughout the labour, and let my husband and I focus on labouring the way I had planned.

My husband set up the speaker and started playing my birthing playlist and the room was already dimly lit so our Led tealights weren’t required. I decided to go to the toilet before getting into the pool as I didn’t want to have to get out again and knew how important it was to keep the bladder as empty as possible.

Entering the pool was an instant relief and I settled on my knees leaning on the side of the pool with my husband sat in front of me helping me with my breathing in for 3 out for 6 and massaging my back. The surges continued to get more intense and were more frequent. I was offered gas and air and politely refused. Then to my surprise I started to feel my body wanting to push, I told the midwifes and they encouraged me to listen to my body. At this point I started using the breathing technique for the second stage of labour. I felt so calm and relaxed focusing on my breathing and allowing my body to do its thing.

It wasn’t long until the midwife confirmed that she could see the crown of the head and this gave me a burst of energy to know that I was close to meeting my little boy. After a couple more surges the head was out, and I knew the hardest part was done. Due to having a short umbilical cord they asked me to stand up in the pool as the shoulders and body came out, so that they could avoid the cord becoming detached. Before I knew it, I had my bundle of joy in my arms – it all happened so quickly.

I had a short period of skin to skin before giving Oscar to Anton whilst I got out the pool. I had a second degree tear which I did not feel but had lost quite a lot of blood. The midwives were concerned about the amount of blood loss and the placenta wasn’t showing any signs of coming naturally so I agreed to have the injection. The midwives said that if the injection didn’t work then I would need to go to theatre to have it removed. They tried tirelessly for about an hour to get the placenta out and to avoid a trip to theatre but the placenta was not budging.

The doctor came to discuss the situation with me and I used my ‘BRAIN’ to determine if theatre was the route I wanted to go down. My husband and I decided it was the right thing to do and I went off to theatre. I had to have a spinal block for the procedure which meant that I had to later be transferred to the postnatal ward for recovery, but before then we got to spend a few hours as a family of 3, and Anton left 6 hours after the birth. I was feeling amazing and so proud of what my body had just achieved. I had to stay in overnight due to breastfeeding challenges but was discharged the following day.

I truly believe that the hypnobirthing made this amazingly positive birth possible and was instrumental in keeping me relaxed and calm throughout my pregnancy and the labour. Oscar is such a chilled baby and I believe that his calm and peaceful entrance into the world has contributed to that.

Thank you so much for everything over the last few months especially during the lockdown when it could have been so easy to become anxious and worried about the birth. The yoga and birth stories provided me with so much reassurance and helped me stay relaxed. I hope that my story can do the same for other mums to be.  

I look forward to joining your postnatal yoga classes in the near future.

All the best

Carly, Anton & Oscar