Grace, Jonny and baby Ernest
Grace, Ernest and Jonny
This is the birth story of my first baby Ernest. In the run up to giving birth I didn’t know anyone personally who had a super positive birth story and I was starting to worry it was a myth in itself. I, however, had a really positive birth and so I want to share that with as many people as are interested.
I did feel pretty positive about labour in the weeks before, I think you do get to a stage when you just don’t want to be pregnant anymore and I was just so excited to meet the new human I had been growing. I had taken some fantastic advice to give my baby and by body some time to start things on its own before I had any sweeps etc and that kept me feeling calm and in control. On my due date +6 I went over a bump in the car and had a tiny contraction. This mild contraction started to intermittently repeat itself. The first contractions were so mild that I thought they were Braxton Hicks and they stopped and started for about 20 hours which sounds really long but the contractions were so manageable that it was actually a lovely time. They were not what you would call painful and I listened to a gripping podcast series that I had saved for this very purpose and just bounced on my ball and had sleeps in bed. It felt pretty nice getting started and getting in the zone. I used a TENS machine and lavender oil for relaxation and that helped a lot but I only needed the TENS on a very low setting.
The other thing I had been practicing in the run up to my birth was hypnobirthing which I had originally turned my nose up at – I think the name is very off putting- but now I rave about! It made me feel like I was really doing something tangible to increase my chances of having a positive birth experience and I really think it made a huge difference to how I managed my birth in every way. I felt extremely empowered by it and when I got into hospital I was already 8cm dilated! I had no idea I was that far along and had walked from the car without any issues – just stopping for contractions. I thank TENS machine, hypnobirthing and a candlelit bath for that!
From then it all felt like it moved pretty fast. I was moved straight onto labour ward (no time for planned water birth), given some fluids and a bit of monitoring. I had gas and air and this helped me have a breather from the contractions and then I had a clear urge to move onto my knees and start pushing. I got into hospital at 11pm and Baby Ernest was born at 1am. I felt an absolute overwhelming sense of astonishment which seems strange as I had a pretty good idea what would come out!
The actual pushing stage is high drama for sure but only felt like it lasted minutes and I didn’t feel the need for any stronger pain relief. After Ernest was born we quickly reshuffled so that he was on my chest and he stayed there while the midwives delivered the placenta and gave me a few stitches then we all had a sleep and a shower. Jonny, my Husband and birth partner was incredible. I think he was more nervous than me running up to the birth but he definitely got in the zone with me and made me feel very safe.
I had amazing midwives who talked to me and my partner the whole way through and I felt in safe hands. I did tear but this was so much less of a big deal than I expected. I didn’t know in the moment if I had torn or not - and the healing was problem free. It was not the traumatic event I expected. In fact that applies to the whole of giving birth. The only other piece of great advice I followed was eat dates! They are meant to soften your cervix and certainly something helped me dilate well without much pain, but they also helped in doing number twos which becomes unbelievable important in the last weeks of pregnancy and the first weeks after giving birth. Stock up and munch those dates (6 a day – freeze them for a toffee like texture!). All of this good advice I was given by or directed too by Kate and Heidi. I owe them lifelong gratitude for helping me have a really positive birth experience – it is not something you forget.