My Positive Birth Story - A Natural Water Birth

Today I wanted to share my absolutely incredible birth story, I would do it all over again if I could. Let me start this post with a bit of an introduction to how I felt about the prospect of birth before I discovered the amazing power of hypnobirthing (I’ll explain what hypnobirthing is a little later). I was one of those ladies who always wanted all the drugs and I thought you were an idiot if you said no to an epidural. I went from wanting to have a completely medicalised drugged up hospital birth to dreaming of an all natural, calm water birth, so what happened? Hypnobirthing is what.

Peggy at one week old.

Peggy at one week old.

What is Hypnobirthing and how did it help me?

Around three months into the pregnancy I began to seriously think about the sort of birth I really wanted for my baby. I kept hearing about hypnobirhting and how amazing it was. Over and over again hypnobirhting came up from friends and in the birth stories I was reading about online. Simon and I headed to Foyles when we were living in London and I picked up a copy of “Your Baby, Your Birth” by Hollie de Cruz.

I was looking for a book about empowering births to help me feel more educated and confident, this one seemed to tick all the boxes. “In-demand hypnobirthing coach Hollie de Cruz provides you with the skills and tools to make any birth feel safe, calm, connected and empowering. Hollie de Cruz helps you prepare for a positive (not 'perfect') birth experience and approach motherhood with confidence in yourself and your instincts.” I read half of it on the bus home from town!

I used the calming hynobirthing techniques throughout my pregnancy to help me deal with my very severe pelvis pain and after a few months of practising these empowering exercises my mindset completely switched. I felt in control, positive and ready for anything. I learnt how to trust my body and I began to feel very excited about giving birth. I never thought I’d feel that way and as the pregnancy progressed I realised that I couldn’t wait to go into labour!

The Start of my Labour

On Saturday the 15th of June (the day before I went into labour) Simon and I were walking into town chatting about how relaxed we were about the idea of me going into labour, after weeks of wondering when it would start we realised that feeling had eased off a little. That evening I sat on the bed stroking my tummy, I just had a feeling that we wouldn’t be waiting long. I said to my stomach - “OK Peggy, tonight is the night isn’t it? You’re going to start coming tonight and then on Sunday or Monday you’ll probably be here” Thats EXACTLY what happened! I went into labour on my due date, what?!

We went to bed that night as normal and I just had this feeling that something was going to happen. 4:30 AM on the 16th, which was my due date, I woke up with the urge to go to the loo even though I had used it an hour ago. After I peed I checked to toilet roll (this had become a habit to check for early signs of labour) and It looked as though my mucus plug/bloody show was starting to be released. I started laughing, it was my due date! Only 5% of babies are born on their due date. After weeks of checking loo roll as a little ritual I couldn’t believe it was actually happening.

I stood up to put a pad on and some liquid began dripping on the floor. I wasn't sure what this was but assumed it could be some of my waters coming out. At this point I was also experiencing some mild cramping which reminded me of period pain in my lower back. I decided to try to go back to bed to get some more sleep, it took a few hours but from 6am-9am I got some shut eye. When I woke up I went to the bathroom to check on things. It looked as though there was some fresh blood which worried me a bit. I decided to call the maternity helpline. As I had leaked a little bit of fluid and there was blood they wanted me to come in to be checked.

I woke Simon up and explained everything. We decided to shower and have some breakfast before going in, as I had had a few scares and been in hospital a couple of times during the pregnancy we knew we could be there for hours so wanted full stomachs! We headed in and I got assessed by a few midwives and one doctor.

I was hooked up to a machine to check the baby's heart rate and her movements as well as my contractions, they were already quite strong but totally manageable and not painful at all. The midwives were quite shocked at how well I was dealing with them as they seemed to think I should be in a lot more pain than I was! They were concerned that I was experiencing a bit of fresh bleeding but after an hour and a half of being in the hospital they gave me the all clear and I was free to go home. The great news was that I was already 1cm dilated so I had obviously slept though some of the first stage. Now we just had to wait.

A few moments after she was born.

A few moments after she was born.

The “Waiting at Home” Bit

Both Simon and I were happy  and calm, completely unfazed by the contractions. Once we were home I  had a bit of lunch and tried to have a sleep for a little while. We just pottered about the day and I kept track of my contractions which started getting more and more intense. I was feeling pretty confident and happy at this point so just continued about my day is normal. I kept standing up and moving around to help things along, all the while watching Netflix to keep me entertained. I wasn’t in any sort of pain, the feeling was more of a slow wave of tension which would fade away completely.

And around 7:30pm Simon, my mum and I had dinner together that she had cooked, it was one of my favourites, a pork and apple stew! It was a really enjoyable dinner, which was lucky as it was the last “normal” one I would be having for a while (I now usually have to eat one handed whilst breastfeeding Peggy!).

I was tracking my contractions and they were coming every 4-5 mins which seemed like they were really getting somewhere! I ran a bath after dinner but laying down in the water seemed to pause my contractions a bit, I wanted to keep this labour going so I sat up in the water and red my book for an hour before getting out of the tub. As soon as I was out of the bath I realised just how strong they had become in that hour, they were now becoming a little bit painful but still totally manageable. I think we must have watched tv for a little while after my bath but I can't really remember! 

Me and Peggy, so tired but happy!

Me and Peggy, so tired but happy!

The Intense Bit

A little wile after my bath the contractions were quite strong and I noticed that I wanted to go totally into myself and stop talking whilst they were happening.  They became quite difficult to manage and I felt as though it was becoming a challenge to deal with them. I told Simon that I wanted to go to our birth centre as I felt like it must be time. This was at 10pm and once we arrived I was told I was only 2cm dilated, all that time to only go up my 1cm. I felt really down as I was sure I'd be at least 6. We were sent home to wait it out.

I was in a pretty bad mood - I refer to this as the “dark time” I think all ladies in labour go through. Once we got home I wanted to be distracted from the now painful contractions. Simon and I were watching Chernobyl and I really wanted to watch the last episode before the baby arrived, not the most relaxing show on tv but I'm glad we finished it! At least it was distracting me from feeling a bit dejected after our hospital trip.

During this tv watching time the contractions felt very strong and were starting to get intense and very uncomfortable. I suggested we try to go to bed but they were so strong that I couldn't just lay there, this was at about Midnight so it wasn’t Peggy’s due date any more. I basically gritted my teeth during these contractions, I was really struggling with keeping my mind off them. I’ve never been very good at visualisation, a important technique in Hypobirthing. Try as I might to take my mind away to a lovely relaxing forest or lake the contractions were just to damn intense!

After an hour in bed I told Simon that I wanted to go back to the birth centre. I went to the toilet to find that there was some of fresh blood which scared me. I also suddenly began shacking uncontrollably and asked Simon to call the birthing centre to ask if we should come in. He explained what had happened and then I had to speak on the phone to the midwife which I really didn’t want to do! I was shaking so much I could barely hold the phone.

After hearing that I had some bleeding they asked me to come in to get looked at. I was so happy to finally be going to the birth centre, surely this time we’d be staying there to have our baby girl. I had about three contractions on the way in which were so strong I had to completely shut down. I couldn’t move at all, I had to close my eyes really tight and just get through each one.

Peggy’s first few moments at home.

Peggy’s first few moments at home.

Arriving at the Birth Centre

I felt so much better as soon as we walked through the doors. Suddenly we were in the place I had wanted to be for the past five hours, we made it. My mindset completely changed, I felt as though I was in the best and most safe place where people could look after me. I got assessed by a lovely chatty and upbeat midwife who told me I was 5cm dilated. Yes! I did it! She wasn’t concerned with my bleeding, I think I just happened to have quite an intense bloody show that just lasted a long time.

My waters also hadn’t broken at this point, but again as I was in established labour there was no concern about that. Whilst we were still in the assessment room I suddenly felt the urge to be sick. I knew it was common for your body to purge everything out of your system before giving birth so I actually saw it as a really good sign.

In a matter on moments we were being taken to our birthing suite and I just felt so damn good! Once we were in there, dimmed all the lights and popped on some calming classical music I thought “yes, this is it and I can’t wait.” I was amazed at how us arriving at the birthing centre made me feel so calm and positive. I was in the room where my baby was going to be born and I felt so ready.

The Birth

The midwife filled the birthing pool up for me and I couldn’t wait to get in. I couldn’t believe that I was actually experiencing the birth plan I had wanted, I assumed something would go wrong and I’d end up having a medicalised birth or c-section. As soon as I was in the water I felt so calm and totally ready for whatever came next, the pool was amazing it was really deep and had lots of different areas to sit or rest your head. Like a jacuzzi without the jets!

A few contractions in (which now seemed to be every 3 mins or so) something suddenly felt different. There was enormous pressure down there and the contractions felt ver very intense, I’ll be honest - it HURT! I assumed that was Peggy making her way down and the pressure during the contractions was her head pressing on my cervix.

Surely that was too soon? I’d only been in the pool for a little while and as I got in at 5cm there was no way Peggy was getting ready to come out! Each contraction got stronger and stronger and I found myself needing to moan during each one. Thank goodness I was in the water, I’m convinced that really helped with the pain. I also had a bit of gas and air but after a while I found it quite annoying to use. Simon was so gentle and lovely, he kept stroking my forehead and kept really quiet and calm.

Now I was convinced the baby was crowning. The pressure was intense and suddenly I felt unsure about whether I could do it. Surely it would be too painful, how could I possibly push out my daughters head? The midwife was using a mirror under the water to check things during each contraction, she told me how well I was doing which really helped. I knew it wouldn’t be long now, there was something in the air that told me, she’s going to come really soon.

My next contraction was really painful, I felt as though my body wasn’t going to stretch that far (that makes it sound awful but it was also really powerful) I was thinking “right this is really it. That’s her head making me feel this way”. And suddenly her head was pushed out in the next contraction. I phrase it that way as it was my body not me that was doing the pushing. As weird as that sounds, it’s true. I just went with it. Initially as it was painful I tried to fight the feeling but the midwife kept telling me to breath and go with it.

I tried my hardest to trust my body and let it birth my baby. I still remember the feeling, enormous pressure to the point of disbelief but as soon as I allowed it to happen her head was born. The midwife told me that in one more push she would be out. That contraction couldn’t come soon enough! It felt like the longest minute ever. Finally that last contraction came and I felt a slippery whoosh of her body leaving mine.

I remember the midwife saying “she’s here, she’s here. look at your baby!”. I looked down into the water and I just saw a glimpse of her, every-time I moved I was accidentally guiding her away from me in the water, I just wanted to see her. I really wanted to be the one to take hold of her in the water and bring her up to me but I was so out of it I couldn’t figure out how to get her! The midwife took her out of the water and placed her in my arms. I was awkwardly floating in the water legs all askew, not wanting to get in a more comfortable position in case I disturbed my daughter!

We arrived at the birthing centre at around 1:30am and in two hours I went from being 5cm dilated to holding Peggy in my arms!

The midwife explained that Peggy was born in her sack, so my waters never broke. Peggy hadn’t realised she had even been born, possibly due to the fact she was in her sack when she came out, so we had to give her a few good rubs to get her to wake up and have a good cry. I remember asking over and over “is she ok, is she ok”. I looked at Simon in disbelief she was here! I felt as though I was in space, I was so floaty and had no idea what to do. I just kept looking between her and Simon. We waited for her chord to stop pulsating and Simon did the honours and cut it.

It took a few mins for me to come back to my senses, I got slowly out the pool and realised that the sack was still attached to me and hanging between my legs, so weird! The midwives popped me on a lovely comfy bed and I had some skin on skin with Peggy. We just laid there in bliss. The midwives took photos of the three of us. Simon and I look so tired but totally happy. Our Peggy was here with us.

My birth felt so magical and empowering, yes it bloody well hurt but that really doesn’t matter. After each contraction I really didn’t care about the pain, I just wanted my daughter. It sounds strange but I actually enjoyed the birth, I can’t think of a better experience for my body to go through. It was just “wow”.

That’s it! The story of our daughter’s birth. She was born at 3:40am on the 17th of June, weighing 7 pounds and 7 ounces, on a full strawberry moon and in her sack. Welcome to the world Margaret Minerva Hacking-Straughan, we love you so very much.

I would like to talk about my experience of our first night (or rather day!) of our daughters life and my experience of the afterbirth including what happened to my body and how I feel now. Until then I hope you enjoyed my story!


Hi I'm Nancy!

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