Happy Wednesday! This is my first blog post in a while – looking back I was SO tired in the last two weeks of pregnancy and even though there were so many posts I wanted to write in the lead up to the birth, my main priority was spending as much time as possible with Mila. Mila had been sick quite a few times since starting nursery in September as they just pick up every possible bug and then just a couple of weeks before I gave birth she had tonsillitis. She was in so much pain and I just kept thinking how can I go into labour if my poor baby isn’t well and I am not there to look after her. I made an agreement with my husband that if I did go into labour and Mila was still ill then as much as I wanted him there beside me, he should stay with Mila so that one of us was with her at all times. As excited as I was to have another child, I also kept thinking I am not quite ready yet because I wanted to have a few more moments with just Mila. Having Mila changed my life for the better forever and I just wanted to enjoy some “us” time before everything changed again.
I believe that sometimes you have to trust the timing of your life and I will always remember our hypnobirthing teacher (@stilettostostrollers on Instagram if someone wants to get in touch with her – she was great) telling me that basically the moment you sort of breathe out and think ok I am ready for this baby then your baby will decide she is ready too and labour will start. Of course this isn’t always the case and babies can show up early or decide they are a little bit too comfortable in your tummy and you end up having to be induced. In the weeks leading up to the birth I kept asking Anoushka to stay put a little longer because I wanted Mila to be 100% well when I went into labour. But a week before my due date I started to feel so heavy that I finally felt ready and thats when I asked you all about ways to naturally induce my labour (still not sure if anything actually works but I was willing to try so I would sit on my birthing ball drinking raspberry leaf tea and eating pineapple, run up and down stairs, take huge lunges everywhere we walked, had hot lavender baths and everything else you can possibly think of!) but it wasn’t really until the day of my due date that I breathed a proper sigh of relief and sure enough she decided she was ready too. So today I am going to share my second birth story with you and I will try to keep it as short as possible!
I was so happy when I hit 40 weeks. Or actually 37 weeks which technically I think means your baby is full term. I touched upon it in a blog post in the summer but the day before my 20 week scan I had a bleed. And then a few days later on the day I arrived at our summer house in Finland I had another. The first time it happened I got checked out immediately by my obstetrician and she assured me everything was fine. The next day we had our 20 week scan which also showed that everything was fine (my obstetrician thought that it may have been to do with the positioning of my placenta but that was totally out of the way so no-one really knows why the bleeds happened) but you can’t help but worry when it happens to you. I since learned that bleeds can actually be quite common but as I never had that first time around I panicked and thought I might lose my baby. When it happened a second time in Finland I just remember crying and crying and begging Anoushka to stay put. As a mother or mother-to-be you love your baby so much before you even meet them and all I wanted was for her to stay safe. I am pretty easy going and relaxed as a person but it took me quite a few weeks to relax back into the pregnancy. I did eventually do exactly that though. I didn’t have the easiest of pregnancies – I had morning sickness right up until the day before I gave birth – but I just loved being pregnant. Having your baby with you is of course even more amazing but there is something so magical about having your baby in your tummy and feeling their every kick and wondering what they will be like. My husband and I would love 4 or 5 children so I hope we are lucky enough to one day fulfil that dream!
Now for the actual birth story. Let me just start off by saying that I really had the most amazing labour. Labour never really goes to plan and mine was so quick that I didn’t get to go into a birthing pool which I would have loved to do but I did have a labour which I felt like I was in control of and I got to have the drug free labour I had wanted.I honestly didn’t know if hypnobirthing would work for me. In the lead up to the birth I was worried that I just hadn’t done enough preparation. I listened to some relaxation recordings most evenings and each day I would say out loud a few simple affirmations but your body can obviously go into fight or flight mode when you experience pain and I didn’t know how I would react. Its pretty difficult to find the time to do everything when you have a toddler to run around after and by the end I just thought well I have done all I can and there is no point stressing about whether or not it is enough. But when it came to it I think I had done a lot more preparation than I realised and I am still surprised at how calm the labour was given it was such a quick one. I truly think that not having the epidural helped with me having such a quick recovery – I took painkillers the day of my labour and that’s it. I remember after Mila was born walking from my hospital bed to the toilet was such a challenge and it was around 10 steps but this time we walked home from hospital the day after I gave birth. We decided to stay in hospital for one night – we even had the same room that we had when Mila was born which brought back so many amazing memories – because we just wanted a moment to enjoy Anoushka just like how we did with Mila when she was born. I will share more about how it has been adapting from a family of 3 to 4 another time (I was adamant about not having a night nurse this time and its the best decision I ever made!) but today I wanted to share my birth story because I found it such an empowering experience and I wanted to show that birth stories aren’t always scary. I can’t say there was zero pain I don’t think anyone gives birth with no pain but what I can say is that I never felt scared or like the birth was out of my control.
SO. The Thursday before my due date (I was due on the 26th Nov) I started having really quite intense contractions in the morning. I bounced on my ball for hours (whilst doing a bit of cyber shopping obviously!) and kept having contractions at quite irregular intervals every 3 to 7 minutes. They were pretty intense though and I thought ok this is the start of it. I called my obstetrician and told her what was going on but when she asked if I wanted to go to hospital I told her I would rather be at home with Mila for as long as possible at least until I know that I am in active labour. And then everything stopped. Entirely. Not even one contraction. So that evening we went out for dinner with my brother and my sister-in-law to celebrate my brothers birthday (who is born on November 27th which is when Anoushka ended up being born so they share their birthday which is lovely!) and during the dinner the contractions started up again. It continued like this for several days. Stop starting. I found that whole part so exciting though. Trying to figure out each time if I was in labour or not. But then I always heard that you will know when you are actually in labour and looking back the stop starting was very different to the actual labour.
On the morning of my actual due date Sunday 26th I woke up and I just felt a bit different. Maybe it was the fact that I was exactly 40 weeks that day or maybe I just felt she was on her way but I just didn’t feel like myself. I could also feel this immense pressure every step I took as her head was already so far down. We went for a family breakfast to Granger which was so lovely and spent most of the day out the house. When we eventually got back in the evening I was exhausted and for the first time in a few weeks I actually slept well. But I woke up at around 4:45am to a really strong contraction. I woke my husband up immediately and said I think its really happening this time but I wanted to call the hospital to see what they thought. As I was induced last time I wanted to be absolutely sure that I was actually in active labour – the worst thing that can happen is that you go to hospital but then get sent home again. The midwife told me that I need to have around 4 contractions in 10 minutes and that each contraction should last for approximately a minute. I got off the phone with her and started timing my contractions whilst bouncing on my ball and calmly breathing through them. And I had exactly 4 in 10 minutes that were each just over a minute. But I decided we should wait another ten minutes just to be sure. My husband started packing all our final bits and we both realised during this time that we would have to take Mila with us – not an ideal situation but we wouldn’t have time to wait. We have a nanny/housekeeper who has been with us part time since Mila was eight weeks old and as she lives much closer than any of our parents we decided a while ago that she would be the best person to contact should I go into labour.
During our hynobirthing sessions I learned that often labour is progressing really well at home but then you get in a car or taxi to go to hospital and the change in atmosphere plus the bright lights and noise in hospital can cause your labour to slow down. So I put on headphones and pulled my hood over my head and we all got into the taxi. Obviously we had the taxi driver that was super excited to see that I was in labour and started telling us about his 7 children in the LOUDEST voice but my husband was amazing and kindly asked him if he could be quiet because I was hypnobirthing! Poor chap you could tell he was bursting to share his wife’s birthing stories with us and seemed pretty disappointed that we had no interest in hearing them.
We got to hospital and into my room and at that point my husband called our nanny to ask her to collect Mila. By this point it was 5:30am. Our nanny arrived shortly afterwards and I kissed Mila goodbye. My sister-in-law always told me to give Mila a final proper first child hug and I did just that. It was probably the hardest part of the day. On the one hand I was so excited and knew that I would be welcoming another amazing daughter into our family but I was also saying goodbye forever to the chapter that was just Mila and I.
Once Mila left I got an update that my obstetrician was on her way in and in the meantime a midwife did an internal examination and told me that I was 4cm dilated. Initially when I had spoken to her on the phone at home I told her that I didn’t want to have any internal examinations because this again is known to sometimes slow down labour. But once I got to hospital I thought why not its useful to know. I am a bit of a control freak and for me it was helpful to actually know how far along I was. She did all the usual things: took my temperature and checked my blood pressure. My blood pressure was actually a bit high and she suspected it was because of the contractions but asked if I could do a urine sample. The problem was I hadn’t been able to pass urine for many many hours simply because the head was SO low. I tried but again I just couldn’t and this was the first time I thought I might be really close to meeting my baby girl. By this point my contractions had started to get more and more intense and I asked for the gas and air. When I was in labour with Mila I tried it for a few seconds, hated it and skipped it entirely. I mentioned before on my Instagram I didn’t really have a birth plan this time around but I did have preferences and one of those was to not have an epidural. I don’t think there is any “right” way to give birth nor do you get any medals for not having pain relief – I had an epidural the first time around and I loved it! It’s just that I developed a fever during my labour with Mila and it could have been because of an allergic reaction to the epidural and so I really wanted to have a natural birth this time around. Gas and air for anyone who doesn’t know is a gas made up of half oxygen and half nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas.) It doesn’t actually block out any pain but its a wonderful distraction and this time around I loved it. Each time I had a contraction I inhaled and exhaled the gas, and by using that together with my hypnobirthing techniques I managed to stay completely in the zone and calm. It can actually make you feel like you are drunk and a bit giggly and the only time I looked at my phone during the labour I saw that I had a voice note from a friend who lives in New York so I sent her a voice note back -when I play it back now it makes me laugh every time because I definitely sound like I’ve had a few too many drinks. Hypnobirthing also doesn’t block out the pain – I was very aware that I was in a lot of pain. But it teaches you to deal with the pain – I kept telling myself that I am going to meet my baby soon and I would count down the contractions whilst using my breathing techniques and it really worked. At around 6am my obstetrician arrived – she delivered Mila too and I cannot express how fond of her I am.
As a little side note: when I was pregnant with Mila I booked an appointment to see my obstetrician. I had looked on the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital under private consultants, read their bio’s and I was drawn to the woman who ended up being my obstetrician. I met with her and only her because I knew instantly that I wanted to have her deliver my baby. It was always important to me to find someone that I truly trust and I always got a good vibe from her. She did such an amazing job with the birth of Mila making me feel safe and secure and I definitely felt I could properly trust her after Mila was born. I told her then that she has to deliver all our babies!
Back to the labour. At around 6:55am my consultant did another examination because I was starting to feel a lot pressure which was a totally new feeling. I was 6cm dilated. When I arrived in hospital I had told the midwife that I really wanted to get into a birthing pool and she said she would try and organise that for me. My consultant was aware of this and after the examination she suggested I get into the bath tub in my room. They started to organise portable gas canisters for me so that I could continue using gas and air during my contractions whilst in a bath. But only 15 minutes later I felt this INSANE pressure like I needed to push. Because I had the epidural last time this was a totally new feeling for me and in hypnobirthing this moment when you go from having contractions to the feeling of needing to push is called transition. I had a surge of energy and was suddenly very alert and honestly I thought what the hell is happening to me. This is often the moment when women go a bit loopy and say they can’t go on or that they hate their husbands and in that moment I told my husband that I will definitely NOT be having those 4 or 5 children we talked about. It is such an intense feeling – I wouldn’t describe it as pain but just an incredibly strong pressure and its quite overwhelming. My obstetrician had only done an internal examination 15 minutes before and I was 6cm at that point and so she told me that I am not quite ready to push. I don’t think anyone in the room could believe our baby was already on her way. But I knew that she was. My baby was coming out and there was nothing I could do to stop it. So she checked again and I was 9.5cm and in that moment my waters broke, I dilated to 10cm and everyone started to help me push the baby out.
During the contractions all I wanted was to be left alone. I didn’t want to speak to anyone. I didn’t want anyone touching me or breathing with me. I would have been happiest in a dark room by myself (which you can’t really do when you are in hospital although I did make sure that my room was as dimly lit as possible.) But when it came to the pushing I definitely wanted as many people to help me to be able to go on. My husband was amazing. As was my obstetrician and the midwife. Even though the pushing was really quick and took about 20 minutes, there were definitely moments especially in the very beginning when I thought ok I CANNOT do this. But my body was telling me otherwise and without me even doing anything at times I would just get this wave which made me push – this little girl was so keen to get out. As crazy as it sounds there were also moments in between contractions of calmness and I even got to touch Anoushka’s head when it had come out whilst I was waiting for the next contraction. My gorgeous second little girl Anoushka Olympia was born at 7:30am and I have been in absolute baby heaven ever since. She looks a lot like Mila did as a baby but with blonde hair and so far she is the most zen little lady.
I wish someone had filmed the experience for me just because everything happened SO fast and already I feel like I am forgetting things. One minute I was at home asleep and a couple of hours later I was holding Anoushka in my arms. I don’t have any tips on how to have a quick labour – maybe its genetic I am the second child and my mother had a similar labour with me (and a really long first labour with my brother) – but I would definitely recommend hypnobirthing after my experience. Even if it only helps you in the beginning it is worth it!
Hope you enjoyed the read (it ended up being quite long afterall!) and that it gives anyone who is scared of birth an insight into a very positive experience. I think birth rarely goes to plan and of course it can happen that you need an emergency C section (I almost did first time around) or that you have a very long labour but I do believe that you can at least try to have the labour you desire. xx