After attending our first Antenatal class at the hospital we felt a bit shell-shocked. We felt that it was very focused on medical intervention and the word ‘pain’ was probably the most used word. Thankfully, we investigated Calmbirth and booked in to do the course. Best decision!
Following the course we reread the Calmbirth book and practiced the breathing, visualisation and other techniques such as using the rebozo regularly during the last few weeks of pregnancy. This provided focus and we felt that we began to bond more with our unborn baby.
At a 36-week appointment with a consultant obstetrician we felt pressured to book in an induction for 40+1 due to my age. There had been no other ‘complications’ during pregnancy at all and inducing due to age alone did not sit well with us. We came away from the appointment disappointed that we did not assert our wishes strongly enough. We’d only just cobbled together a birth plan and it made us feel that we would potentially be railroaded into decisions that we didn’t agree with during the birth.
Two things helped us to assert ourselves at the next appointment and get the induction booking cancelled: 1. Your explanation of the B-R-A-I-N-S acronym; 2. A thorough reading of the relevant sections of Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley which was recommended reading from the Calmbirth course.
But, as predicted by many friends, birth did not go according to plan! We were booked in for a fetal monitoring appointment the day before the estimated due date. I had just got over the worst of a cold and this was just at the time when cold-like symptoms were being treated with severe caution due to the outbreak of COVID-19. We had to wear masks and were put in isolation for the appointment. Rather than being stressed by it all, we actually found it quite amusing! My blood pressure was high for the first time during pregnancy so we had to stay and be monitored. Everything was good with the baby, but blood and urine tests revealed mild preeclampsia.
Induction was strongly recommended because of potential risks to mother and baby. We asked for all the information and were given time to discuss our decision. We made the decision to go ahead with induction without feeling pressured to do so. I began to experience some very mild contractions during the evening and practiced transitioning between the calm breath and working breath. I was induced using Cervidil at about 11pm.
The early stages of labour were not as expected because I was on my own in hospital and didn’t have the partner support I thought I would have. The contractions became more challenging, closer together and the breathing wasn’t having the same effect as it had earlier on! I tried moving around the room a bit to relieve discomfort. At about 7am I asked the midwife if Paul would be able to return to the hospital to help. By this stage things were moving along rapidly and I was transferred to the birth suite. It seemed that labour was established and there was no need for any further induction interventions. Paul arrived and set up the room the way that we wanted it and put on our prepared music playlist.
Things progressed very quickly from here and contractions became very close together. I found breathing through the contractions challenging but Paul was able to keep me on track with words of encouragement and by breathing with me. All of a sudden, my body started pushing and transition and second stage were on us! After initially telling me not to push, the midwife realised that I was fully dilated and could go for it. The baby’s head was out and after a couple of big pushes I had our perfect daughter on my chest. Having Paul supporting me with a very calm manner helped me to get through and birth Charlotte at 12:54pm. Baby Charlotte had a lovely, long skin-to-skin session with both Mum and Dad. Birth was not an easy experience, but it was not traumatic at all.
For the rest of the time in hospital I was able to employ the calm breath techniques whenever I became a little overwhelmed. They helped me get through the nights on my own with a crying baby. Paul was not able to stay overnight due to visiting restrictions. It was also lovely having a visit from Dawn in hospital before going home.
While not everything went to plan with the birth, we definitely benefited enormously from the Calmbirth class. It shifted our mindset, provided us with invaluable techniques that we can continue to use and helped us to remain calm and in control of decisions throughout the last few weeks of pregnancy and through the birth of our beautiful daughter Charlotte.