When pregnant women worry about their planned induction dragging on and on, they’re usually worried about the induction process – which can indeed take a long time if a mum’s body and baby aren’t ready for birth. However, most people are unprepared for the fact that the induction process might not even begin if the labour ward is too busy.

Maternity units are very busy in December, as a number of women seem to be induced in the weeks leading up to Christmas – possibly to avoid a rush of births around the Christmas period, when staff levels are lower. It’s not unusual, at this time, for a woman to get to hospital, mentally prepared for labour to start, only to wait around all day and then be sent home as the labour ward is too busy or short staffed.

This is what happened to Emily, not once but twice. She spent two full days at the hospital, waiting for a room on the labour ward, so her waters could be broken, and was sent home at the end of each day. This isn’t a great start to the induction process, a process that relies on the birthing woman being in a good state of mind – to help moves things along quickly.

Fortunately, Emily had recently done a hypnobirthing refresher course with me, and she used that to help her get back in the zone at the start of each new day back at the hospital. When she finally got a room on the labour ward on the third day, she committed to the process beautifully and gave birth to Lottie less than two hours after having her waters released. Here’s Lottie’s inspiring birth story.

Lottie’s Birth Story

I was booked for an induction at Wexham on the 9th December (my due date) as I had high HCG levels at the initial screening tests which meant this pregnancy was considered higher risk. Being induced is not what I wanted…I was hoping for a similar birth to my first, which was a water birth in a birth centre. But thanks to your help and guidance I managed to get myself in a positive mindset about being induced and went into the process feeling relaxed and ready to meet our baby! 

My husband (Adam) and I went to the hospital mid-morning on the 9th, we waited a long time to be seen by anyone. Eventually the doctor saw me and after doing an examination agreed that I only needed my waters breaking as I was already 3-4cm dilated. This was great news and helped me feel more relaxed about the process as I wanted to avoid being given the artificial hormones, if possible. However, this good news was followed by the bad news that they were very busy on the labour ward and that they wouldn’t be able to break my waters that day. I was fortunately given the option to go home, as I hadn’t received any intervention. So we went home to have a good night’s sleep before returning the next day. 

We went back on the 10th only for the same thing to happen again – the labour ward was still too busy and we got sent home in the evening, after hanging around all day. I was feeling very frustrated and disheartened at this point because I had got myself ready for my labour to be started but these delays and the uncertainty were making me feel stressed. I was basically at the bottom of the list of people needing a room on the labour ward, as I wasn’t in active labour. I knew people said the induction process can take a long time but I thought that was more to do with it taking a long time for the induction process to result in active labour, as opposed to there being no rooms available! 

I called the hospital first thing on the morning of the 11th. I was told the labour ward seemed to be getting a bit quieter and they thought it was looking hopeful for me for that day. Following your advice, I told them I didn’t want to come in again until they were quite certain I would get a room on the labour ward, as it was becoming stressful and was also causing disruption to our son, who kept seeing my husband and I coming and going, whilst being left with my mum at our house for the last couple of days and nights. 

Having spoken to the hospital again at lunchtime, I was told there were two women who had just given birth and one who was about to give birth, and no-one on the ward being induced who would take priority over me, so they asked me to go back in around 2pm. When we arrived, we waited a while until they came to monitor the baby, they said they were still sure I would get a room on the labour ward that day. I was starting to get excited again that we were actually going to meet our baby very soon, so I decided to bounce on my ball, listen to music and the hypnobirthing tracks to keep me focussed. 

At 5.30pm I was told that there was finally a room on the labour ward for me. When I arrived in the room I felt a bit of panic as it was very different to the room in the birth centre, where I gave birth to my first child. This room was small and seemed very medical and there was no birth pool (the midwives had tried to get me the one room on the labour ward with the birthing pool but unfortunately they had used it for a lady who was Covid positive so I was unable to use it).

When the midwife came back I said to her I was a bit worried about where I would actually give birth as there was really only a bed in the room and the last thing I wanted was to be on a bed… She suggested a few things and I managed to get myself over this fear and remain positive – I reminded myself that being mobile and active were the most important things. 

After the doctor had been to visit, he agreed they were happy to go ahead and break my waters. I had to have a cannula in my arm and wear a hospital gown in case of cord prolapse when they broke my waters which would mean I would need to go to theatre in an emergency. I wasn’t really keen on either but agreed and tried to not let it annoy me! 

At just after 7pm the midwife came to break my waters and asked me to stay on the bed for half an hour on the monitor, so they could make sure that breaking my waters didn’t cause the baby distress. I had told her I didn’t want to be monitored constantly, nor did I want to be sitting on a bed, but given I wasn’t experiencing any contractions at that stage I did what I was asked, with the agreement that I would come off the monitor and could move around freely afterwards. Once she had broken my waters she did an examination and confirmed I was then 5cm dilated. 

When I was off the monitor I could feel some mild contractions starting but nothing too strong or painful. I was given 4 hours to get myself into established labour before they wanted to put me on the hormone drip to speed things up so I decided I would get bouncing on my ball to try and get things moving! I asked Adam to put on my favourite film (The Holiday!) and I sat watching that whilst bouncing on my ball.

Very soon, my contractions started coming and were getting longer and closer together. Adam was timing them so that he could let the midwife know roughly how frequently they were coming and for how long. I was using my hypnobirthing breathing to get through the contractions and I kept telling myself ‘this is not painful, this is just intense’, which I found really helped me get through them! I also used a TENS machine from the point I could start feeling contractions. 

Just before 9pm I told Adam I felt I needed to push and that the TENS machine wasn’t working anymore and that I wanted to use gas and air. I also didn’t want to be on my ball anymore so moved to kneeling on the floor with my arms / head resting on the side of the bed. He called the midwife into the room, she said she would do an examination to see how dilated I was – I don’t think she thought I would actually be ready to push! She did the examination, said I was 10cm and the baby was on it’s way!

Although I wasn’t keen on the idea of having many vaginal examinations, hearing that I was 10cm and that the baby would be here soon was the best news and gave me a boost for the final stage of labour. I think I was surprised and pleased that I had got that far with just my TENS machine and hypnobirthing breathing!

At 9.05pm I started using the gas and air and began pushing and at 9.08pm our baby girl, Lottie, was here! She weighed 8lbs 7oz – exactly the same as my son! I really couldn’t believe I had done it and it happened so quickly. We had skin to skin straight away and unlike my son, she started feeding almost immediately.

I had initially said I wanted to deliver my placenta without having the injection but after giving it 20 minutes and nothing happening, the midwife suggested I should have the injection which I agreed to. Even after having the injection, my placenta only came out at 9.57pm! I had a second degree tear which required stitches. Once that was done, I ate my tea and toast, had a shower and got ready to leave – they discharged us at 1.45am and we were home with our new baby just after 2am. 

I had been doing various things to try and get my labour started before the induction date (sweeps, reflexology, acupuncture etc) and knowing what I know now, I don’t think my body was ready to go into labour spontaneously because I was worried about two things: 1) Who would look after our son when I went into labour spontaneously, and how long it would take them to get to us and 2) If we would get to the hospital in time. So although I didn’t want an induction, with hindsight I think it was the right thing for me, as I was able to be much more relaxed knowing my son was safe at home with my mum, and that I was already at the hospital, so I didn’t need to worry about the journey there whilst in labour. 

I honestly believe I would not have had such a nice birth if it wasn’t for your help and guidance. Despite having a good first birth with my son, ‘the fear’ of giving birth again had returned and I was struggling to be positive about it. But as soon as we had done our hypnobirthing refresher course with you I felt so much better and ready to give birth again.

You also helped me massively with seeing the positives to being induced and getting myself ready for the induction. Your weekly yoga classes were also a lovely time for me to focus on myself and the baby, something that isn’t easy when you have a toddler to deal with too! Thank you again and I look forward to joining you for postnatal yoga soon.