The 'Hippo' Births

The birth of two brothers - The 'Hippo' births 

After years of trying to conceive and one failed IVF attempt, I was amazed when I fell pregnant on our second round of IVF. Amazed and terrified. I was certain that it was all going to go wrong. Although anxious, I had a good pregnancy. However, when they started measuring my bump, I was consistently 6cm bigger than the “norm”. I was sent for many growth scans, tested for everything possible, and the midwives started talking about having an elective caesarean. I was scared, as this was not what I wanted. Then my sister recommended hypnobirthing.

 My husband thought it was something about a water birth (I think he thought I said hydrobirthing?!), and I didn’t correct him when we went for a hypnobirthing taster. He thought it was weird, but agreed to attend the hypnobirthing sessions with me. I originally thought hypnobirthing classes were about the labour only, not the whole pregnancy. I was wrong! The classes taught me about my options and that I had a choice. It got to the point that I was reassuring the midwives each time I measured bigger than the norm. It was the norm for me. I listened to the hypnobirthing scripts every night, practiced breathing and was swimming regularly. As I was fit and healthy and baby was doing well, we decided to have a water birth in our local midwife led unit.

 When my contractions started (sorry- I could never use the word surge), rather than being scared, I was excited to finally meet our son. My contractions were every 2 minutes or so, but only lasting 30 seconds. As I was worried about giving birth in the car (we lived about 30 minutes away and that was without rush hour traffic), the midwives said to come in. We arrived about 9am, by 10am, I was in the birthing pool, dimmed lights, led candles around the bath and had sprayed my aromatherapy oils everywhere. I had my waterproof ipod on and listened to music and the hypnobirthing scripts for the next 6 hours or so. Thinking back- that sounds like a long time, but I was in the zone, not really talking. No one offered pain relief and it didn’t even enter my mind that I wanted it, I was in my own world. My breathing was more like “hippobirthing” than hypnobirthing, not serene and quiet, but instead blowing bubbles in the water with each contraction. Many hours later, the midwife said I had to leave the birth pool, as my waters still hadn’t burst and she needed to examine me. I got onto the bed, and I wanted to push. The midwife then realised that my son was on his way, much to her surprise. My son was born a few minutes later, still in his amniotic bag, weighing 9lbs 5oz. It was the most amazing, beautiful experience and everything myself and my husband could ever hope for.  

 Fifteen months later, I fell pregnant naturally with our second son. This time, I was completely surprised, but not scared. However, I was certain that my first positive birth was just luck and that my second labour was going to be a shocker. I was measuring good for dates this time round, however, funnily enough, my baby was measuring “too big” again on ultrasound. Many growth scans later, I was told that I was too risky for the midwife led unit as my son was “too big”. I was prepared for this, as I obviously give birth to elephant babies! But I was panicking about how I would get childcare organised for my 23 month old and get to hospital, as my first labour was “quick”. After our hypnobirthing refresher, both myself and my somewhat anxious husband had decided to have a home birth. It still makes me laugh that I was too risky for the midwife led unit, but was ok to have a homebirth. Then came the new logistical journey of hiring birthing pools, liners, carpet protection etc. Our lounge looked like a crime scene. However, in the weeks before birth my iron levels were too low and some of the midwives were becoming anxious about me having a home birth. Thanks to my hypnobirthing teacher and a very lovely, calm community midwife (and a lot of iron rich food)- I finally decided that we were going to have a homebirth.

 With my first pregnancy I didn’t need a sweep or any help starting labour as he was only 2 days late and my mindset was “baby will come when baby is ready”. However, with my 2nd pregnancy, I started panicking that I might actually give birth on my son’s 2nd birthday. So 1 week post due date (and 1 week pre 2 year old birthday), I had a sweep at 11am. I was told I might experience twinges and that the midwife thought that my baby would be born within the next 48 hours. So, my husband, toddler and myself went for cake and tea before going to the park and walking home. Whilst at the park (about 12.30), I started experiencing quite intense “twinges” that felt like contractions, but didn’t think anything of it. Walked home, the twinges started becoming more regular (as in 3 within 10 minutes), so I phoned the labour ward to discuss the “twinges” and they confirmed I was in labour! I felt like an idiot! 30 minutes later the midwife was here, my parents had taken my toddler away, I was 5 cm dilated and in a birthing pool in my lounge. This time round, I couldn’t listen to my ipod. The contractions felt more intense and I was less in a calm birthing zone (probably because it all happened so fast). My husband however, was a genius, to distract from the intensity, he started rubbing ice cubes (the bonus of a home birth near your freezer!) across my shoulders which worked amazingly. We were a team….it was only when I heard my husband anxiously shout for the midwife to come in (they were in another room), that I realised that my breathing had changed and the baby was almost here. My son was born exactly 4 ½ hours post sweep and 1 ¾ hours after the midwife arrived, weighing 10lbs 10oz!! 2 hours after that, I was showered, watching X factor, with my newborn asleep next to me. The most surreal, fast, beautiful home birth.

 Thanks to hypnobirthing, I have been blessed with two different, but truly beautiful, unforgettable positive birthing experiences that myself and my husband will remember forever.