This week’s story comes from Hannah, the Peaceful Mama. Hannah has three beautiful children, and three fantastic birth stories! Today, I’m sharing the story of her first birth with you.
My first birth was close to ten years ago! Typically, as a first time mum, I prepared by reading ALLLLL the books in the library 😉 To try to condense my thoughts, I will whiz through these stories and bring out the highlights. What revolutionised my first birthing experience and set me on the path I am on today, was some key things I discovered prior to this birth. I implemented them and consolidated my beliefs around birthing and the village, as well as the right education on labour, birthing and breastfeeding/postnatal care.
The three books that I loved were:
These three of the hundreds of resources available to us these days, transformed me and my experience
My first labour was five hours; we had had STRONG Braxton Hicks for weeks, and I was 40 weeks and 6 days when I would walk for hours and hours, even at night. Of course, being the first, we had the ability to just leave the house at midnight, me restless, for something. Husband, clueless and willing to do what it took – if it was ice-cream cravings fine, that’s what a good man does right? But no, mine was endless hours of walking, and being a personal trainer, he was fine with that … Maybe not the midnight ones, but nevertheless.
By time we got to this stage, I was understandably, over it. We asked our midwife to do a cervix sweep, a less invasive (oxymoronic) way to try to kickstart labour than, say, Pitocin. I was already dilating, and so we walked all the way back and celebrated our wedding anniversary with pasta at Zizzi’s (Chiswisk, London). Delicious, even though there was no room!
The next day more walking, and back to hospital. I was 3cm dilated with out me even knowing it was happening. Walking and keeping fit is a really important aspect of having the strength to labour. Back home, a bath for my sore hips, and then I really started to feel things were happening. Such a strange instinctive pull, physically, mentally, emotionally. This first time is such an interesting time, you aren’t just birthing a baby, you are birthing yourself as a mum!
We called a friend, and he came and picked us up. We headed to hospital and halfway there hit bumper-to-bumper traffic! The rugby was on in Twickenham and we weren’t moving. I smile as I recall this, as our friend, I think, was more stressed than me. I had my music on in earphones, and each contraction was getting stronger and stronger … He kept saying you can scream if you want. His wife had just given birth ten weeks before, and it had been pretty full on, so the memories were a bit raw, I think. He and hubby were sort of mentally pacing, and I was in the back seat with my heat pack on, listening to a bit of India Arie, bit of Norah Jones, a few fave old hymns and Brooke Fraser, calm as a cucumber.
I now tell all my clients: “Calm, focused, low”. These are my helpful hints in a nutshell. Calm quiet thoughts and noises, low noises and anything that helps baby get low (ie, use gravity) and focus. Go INWARDS and listen to your body.
Once we got there we found out that, miraculously, some people had just moved on or weren’t far enough in labour to be admitted; we were so lucky to get a birthing suite with a pool, which I desperately wanted. I won’t go into the stats here, but you are likely to feel less pain, feel more supported, buoyed by the water, and stay calmer in a water birth. Its very, very safe for you and baby.
To cut it short, we laboured for five hours – the midwives thought it would be the next day, but I said no, before midnight. I had a student midwife in and I just asked her to video the final moments. The only disappointing thing about the whole birth was that, at the moment of entrance to the world, she was watching me with video camera pointed the other way hahaha. I was so peeved by that.
He came out, a bonzer 9lb8oz (4.33 kg) and 53cm, 40 weeks +8 over due at 10:33pm.
I felt so absolutely in shock, I guess, as it had gone so well. But also empowered and also a word I can’t articulate. Sort of scared? I wasn’t fearful but overwhelmed that this tiny (not so tiny) little human was ours and OMG, I was responsible for raising him!
Overall, It was a peaceful birth, and I learned a lot from it. I had a small tear and I wouldn’t let them stitch it. I cuddled my boy, in awe of his tiny fast breaths. I was a bit in shock and was shaking. No one warned me of that. I just wanted to get home, and I wanted my mum. It was all new. I often think if that was after a positive birth experience, I wonder how hard it is to process all this when its a more traumatic birth experience. One of my “why’s”, I guess, is trying to help mums in this process. I also firmly believe we should share, talk about, normalise good birthing experiences. We shouldn’t always talk about the horror stories, most of them stem from being ill-informed, ill-prepared or unsupported. Many could be prevented. Its important we share good birth stories and education, too. We shouldn’t feel guilty for any of our births, good or bad; we are all doing our best.
Over the last decade I have made a LOT of mistakes and the advice my mum gave to me when he was just 3 weeks old, was: “You cannot always rescue your kids, you are not their saviour”. Many times, on many levels, that advice has helped me raise my children. I teach and train them, and am responsible for nurturing them, but not for rescuing them. Some lessons are best learned for yourself, and resilient, responsible children learn from their own life journey.
Stay tuned for the birth of my second. By this time, I had trained as a doula. I had hired a doula and booked a home birth with two midwives! I was so prepared …. But I ended up freebirthing!!!! Have you heard of this? Let me assure you it wasn’t intentional! I also lotus birthed. So I would love to share these more woowoo concepts with you from my perspective.
Thanks, Mini Mummi Blogger, for having me in your space.
“The Peaceful Mama”
Keep following the series to read about Hannah’s second and third births! Next week, we’ll hear from Helen, from Natural Beauty with Baby. If you have a positive birth story you’d like to share, please email email@example.com for more info.
Hannah is a nurse, doula and holistic life coach for stressed-out-mamas-who-can’t-quite-seem-to-get-that-work-life-balance-thing-down-pat! She is a mum of three energetic, fun loving, outdoorsy home schooled kids: 9¾, 7 and 2. She loves reading and learning, dancing to 90’s R&B with her kids, running workshops, meeting new friends, and helping families find a peaceful balance … Oh, and the beach!
Her website is being re-branded and logo-ified, which is daunting/exciting! But you can follow some of her musings on Instagram (@lovethosepics) and Facebook (The Peaceful Mama). If you want to see her newer direction, Acquired Elements, her new website will be launched in November and will include competitions, freebies, and bespoke retreats.
Blog: Coming Soon!
Mini Mummi Blogger is a first time mummy to a beautiful baby boy. Currently on maternity leave, she is looking to put her writing/publishing experience to good use through her blog, helping other mummies navigate through the wealth of often conflicting (and, sometimes, even discouraging) information out there about pregnancy and motherhood. She believes that every mummy knows what’s best for her own baby – even first time mums!