One of the many joys of labour and birthing your baby is the mystery of when it is all going to officially kick-off. In the weeks and days leading up to the 40 week mark and onwards, every little feeling and sensation leaves us on tenterhooks… is it happening today?
Nico’s due date was the 20th of February, but we know that the baby comes when the baby is ready and that is their perfect time to enter this world.
All this being said, we can’t escape the fact that we are given due dates and the impact this has on us, especially when we become overdue on the system and then the pressure that comes with that in our western culture.
Knowing it could happen at any moment, I wanted to make sure that I was going to bed at a decent time so that my body was rested in case things started in the night, which had happened with my previous two labours.
On the night of the 20th of February, my ‘due date’, I managed to fall asleep around 10pm. My body then woke me up with the very early pre-labor contractions around midnight. We shall call contractions ‘surges’ for the rest of this post, it’s a more empowered word – don’t you think?
I felt like things were starting to happen. My body remembered these feelings from my last labour, but it also remembered that this was the longest phase of pre-labour and, if at all possible, I needed to try and sleep through or stay rested for as long as possible. From previous experience, this was the phase that exhausted me the most; I couldn’t sleep when my body would normally be sleeping, so I tried my best to keep my eyes closed and my body rested to conserve as much of my energy as possible.
As Sunday morning dawned on us the pre-labour surges were about five minutes apart, growing with intensity as time went on. They were at a place where I’d be in the middle of talking and then I’d have to pause whilst I breathed through it. I lost my mucus plug or the bloody show as it’s called early in the morning too, so this was also a strong sign that things were officially beginning and moving in the right direction.
My hubby made a yummy breakfast and made sure I was well fed because, from previous experience, once in the throws of established labour eating is the last thing on your mind.
As the morning continued, the surges had really slowed down; I had an acupuncture appointment booked at 11am, but despite my surges I still went. Larissa, my acupuncturist, is also a doula and she has the most beautiful soul.
We talked about all things birth and it was almost like therapy for me as well. She worked her magic with the needles as much as she could and then I went back home.
At this point, it felt like things had slowed down and more or less stopped. So, I decided to use a few little tools to try and help spur things on; I knew in my heart I didn’t want things kicking off again in the middle of the night, meaning I’d hardly get any sleep for the second night in a row.
I’ve been there before with the sheer exhaustion so if I could help it this time round be any different, I was all for it!
The tools I used to help spur things on:
Expressing, self pleasure/sex because remember the way you conceived is also the best way to get the baby out, or so-to-speak. Pleasure produces oxytocin, which in my opinion should be one of your main goals to create during labour. Massage and using oils like clary sage and lavender to help relax me, meditation, some yoga postures to ensure the baby was in optimal birthing position and dancing. My waters actually broke during this time too, and straight after that at about 2.30pm things began to happen again, but with more intensity.
My Mum had already taken the boys to hers, so I could focus on myself instead of being Mummy, and my sister who was one of my birth-partners came around about 4pm.
My husband was great with looking after me, making sure I had food and drinks whenever I wanted whilst my sister started giving me massages and some hands-on support when I needed it. Because I had done my doula course prior to this, I was able to teach my husband and sister all the hands-on techniques that help support pregnant women whilst in labour – honestly, this was a Godsend and it changed the way I was able to cope all the way through my labour.
My other friend and photographer, Christina came over around 6pm as she was taking pictures for me.
I had my birthing ball out, fairy lights on, candles lit and essential oils burning whilst my sister was doing light touch massage, hands massage, foot massage to keep those oxytocin vibes high.
Around 6pm, a midwife from the birth centre came to check everything was ok with my blood pressure, baby’s heart rate etc; I did opt out of any vaginal examinations, so they couldn’t really tell me for sure how far along I was other than from how I looked and what my body was doing.
I decided to do this because when I was pregnant with Remy, I was told I was 7cm dilated and that I was probably going to be a good while before baby was born. It so happened that Remy was birthed into the world 45 minutes later, and so I just didn’t want any attachments or comments that could leave me feeling deflated.
The midwife did say that I looked like I was still in early labor, and that I’d probably go through the night and to just keep on doing what I was doing as I looked as though I was handling everything really well.
This did get me down though and I ended up having a little cry, I just felt a little deflated as I felt like I was further on than what she had suggested (precisely the comment I didn’t need). I was feeling exhausted already; I had a moment where I feared exhaustion would get the better of me, but then I got my mind back on track…
I said to myself, ‘It’s going to happen today!’. I was just exhausted because I’d been awake since half 12 the night before and I just didn’t know if I could go through another night of no sleep, especially given the intensity of the surges and what I was feeling.
After the midwife left about 6.45pm, we started putting water in the birth pool and at the same time my sister persuaded me to have a lie down to try to recoup and gather a bit of energy. She sat down with a pillow on her lap and I laid across with my head on her whilst she gently played with my hair. OMG the ultimate level of oxytocin release, isn’t getting your hair played with the best feeling ever? It really helped relax me.
During this time, my surges slowed down to every five minutes which meant I was able to fall asleep or deeply rest in-between.
This was what I realised after the ‘Rest and Be Thankful’ phase, the transition phase shortly before you start pushing.
After about half an hour, I had to get up because the surges were now on another level, a lot longer and a lot more powerful, about one minute and fifteen seconds long.
I stepped into the birth pool straight after this and it was the most lovely and comforting feeling. Just what I needed. The time now was about 9.30pm.
The home birth pools are inflatable on the base of the pool, which makes it so much more comfortable than the usual birth pools you get at the birth centre; you can just flop over the sides and feel this gorgeous hug back from the pool, at least that’s what it felt like.
My breathing began to change at this point, and primal animal sounds were rising up and out of me as I dropped further inwards and felt the sensations of Nico pushing down. I knew my uterus had changed from drawing up to now pushing down, which is all amazing and positive.
Everything was moving in the right direction and things were really progressing. I could feel it in my body. I was travelling to LA LA land, that in-between space of not being 100% conscious as your body takes over.
Both my sister and my husband would take it in turns to help support me. I had the honey on standby. Water with a straw to hand. My husband had made me a really yummy nutritious smoothie with bananas, lots of honey too, which all really helped with my energy levels because I didn’t feel like eating.
The midwife from the homebirth team came just after 11:00 PM, dashed in to assist because I was really pushing at this point.
At about 11.30, I had some gas and air to give me a bit of relief in-between pushes because they were INTENSE and MIGHTY and POWERFUL and all ENCOMPASSING!
I had a moment where I questioned if I was capable of birthing my baby.
I think we all get to a place in labor where we are kind of searching outside of ourselves, for somebody to help you do it. Thoughts of ‘I don’t think I can do this. This baby feels too big to birth. This is the most pain that I’ve ever been in, f********k’ – I’m being real with you, because we all feel this but soon after the birth we magically forget because of our lovely hormones.
I kept having to bring myself back to the affirmations, like, my baby is the perfect size for my body, I can do this, I am doing it, we are doing it together!
I shouted out at one point…’God! Help me! Help me do this! Help me get through this and help me birth my baby.’ I also kept talking to Nico saying things like ‘come on darling, we can do this. We can do this together.’
I had to tap into this knowing deep within myself and draw from my inner strength to rise up within me.
It was SO hard. And it’s the most powerful thing that I have ever done.
I was trying different positions, but exhaustion and tiredness began to creep in as well.
I was on all fours whilst flopping over the side of the birthing pool which was great especially when I needed to rest in-between surges. At this point though they’re coming thick and fast, there’s not much rest in between.
I needed to just lie back for a moment. So I switched around so I could rest my head back. It felt like I was being held and it helped having the warmth of the water on my low back.
I was switching up my positions a lot at this point, I even stood up for a bit just following my intuition and where my body was guiding me. At the moment of actually giving birth I’ve never had this experience, but I really, REALLY felt Nico’s head coming down and through me.
I don’t remember this sensation with Remy and I didn’t even feel it with Hugo because I had the epidural. But WOW, this time, in that moment, I remember feeling, oh my gosh, I can feel him. I can feel him coming out, then the midwife encouraged me to put my hand down to see if I could feel his head.
OH MY GOODNESS, his head, I could feel it, I could feel the hair on his head. I spoke to him, saying things like ‘I love you so much, come on my darling, we can do this, we’ve got this.’
He was a big baby and the midwife could see this and, after about 5 minutes had passed without me being able to push him out, she encouraged me to stand up to see if that might help.
So I stood up, bent forwards and then he literally came out, the midwife Julie had to catch him and then she passed him straight away under my legs to my hands. I brought him to my heart straight away as I sat down in the pool to take him in, in all his glory.
He was perfect; my gorgeous boy Nico. We did it!!!!!
You can see the emotion in my face in the picture. No one can describe this feeling in words but it was the best feeling of elation, love, gratitude, just everything all at once in the most powerful and beautiful of ways.
My husband wrapped his arms around us both and in that moment we grew into a family of five.
It’s so magical how it all works isn’t it. When we trust the natural physiology of our bodies, the power we have from within and allow ourselves to surrender to it all. It’s mind-blowing.
I totally understand that there are situations where this isn’t possible, and I think it’s so important to follow your intuition and to make the best decision for you and your baby whatever that is.
The only thing that didn’t go to plan and couldn’t be helped was that I had a really short umbilical cord.
So when I pulled him to my chest, the umbilical cord had started to fray and sever. The midwife saw what was happening and clamped it straight away because when that happens, the baby can actually lose blood instead of receiving blood from the placenta. So that was the only slightly negative thing, because I know how beneficial it is to have delayed cord clamping but it just wasn’t available to us on this occasion.
I was just so happy that we got to experience the birth that I envisioned and wanted and felt really empowered on the journey. Not everything goes to plan with these things, do they? We weren’t to know that we had a really short umbilical cord and that wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t anyone’s fault. It was just the way it was.
Nico was 9lb 4oz (the smallest of all three of my boys).
During my pregnancy journey with Nico I had to do a lot of fear release work, healing fear, healing past trauma and re-educated myself on the whole birthing process, learning what happens to a woman’s body on the different stages in pregnancy and in birth.
I did my doula course and prenatal yoga teacher training first to educate myself but what came from it was so much more. Not only did I birth Nico into the world but I birthed my new pregnancy membership ‘Empower Your Pregnancy’,
Empower Your Pregnancy is a membership programme created to support you on your pregnancy and birth journey. To build and strengthen your connection with your Self (body, mind and soul) and the growing life within.
In the membership you’ll find all the breathing exercises and techniques that I used throughout my pregnancy and labour.
Meditations to help relax and release any anxiety from the body.
Visualisation and affirmation meditations to help prime your mind and body for the birth you desire.
Birthing positions to practice which also help encourage the baby to drop into the optimal birthing position.
An array of different yoga flows and dance movement classes to really release unwanted energy, build up a sweat, have fun and let go whilst you move.
There is also an EFT Tapping session which will really help you to release old trauma and fear surrounding pregnancy and birth. It’s a really powerful session that will help you shift stuck emotions of fear in the body so you can return back to your natural state of love, trust and knowing that your body is fully capable of doing what it needs to do, it even worked for me!
There are so many other videos too by other experts in the field, coaching videos by myself and videos to help you have an empowered pregnancy, birth and fourth trimester too.
I will talk another time about the fourth trimester as it’s such an important and sacred time for the new Mother and baby.
If you have any questions about the membership please feel free to message me below or drop me a DM on Instagram.
Here is the link to the membership where you can see there are different options starting from £9.99.
One final reminder to you who may be reading this and currently pregnant, your body is growing in the most perfect way to create a home for your baby and then to birth your baby. When birthing time comes around, remember to trust your body, dig deeper within yourself.
When you get to that place where you feel like you can’t do it anymore, dig deeper, dig deeper until you find that place within where she says you can do it. You’ve got this.
A special thank you to my lovely friend and photographer Christina from Fish 2 Photography for capturing this special moment, I will be forever grateful. If you’re reading this and interested in having a photographer yourself Christina lives in the North West, England and you can find her packages here.