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My first birth was very long, I was two weeks post-date, I was under pressure to have an induction and so when labour finally started I was so desperate to get it going, I did everything I tell my doula clients not to do. I did too much! I was bouncing on the ball, crab walking up and down the stairs sideways and walking around the house, all this in very early labour when I should have been eating, resting and allowing my body to get ready! See even us birth geeks get it wrong! D’ho! By the time I was in established labour I was exhausted! Then followed a long labour, slow dilation, with a final transfer to hospital because of concerns about foetal heart rate and finally our first daughter was born at hospital, with the help of ventouse, and she was just brilliant!

Fast forward to my second birth two years later, and I was determined not to make the same mistake. Knowing that I have a tendency to get a bit over-excited, I decided to do a hypnobirthing workshop with my partner. This was brilliant, and I knew this would help me to stay as calm as possible in labour. I also gave my husband a crash course in labour massage (I work as a remedial massage specialising in pre/postnatal and labour massage) This was the best thing we did, and I had LOTS of massage in the early stages to keep me calm, keep my adrenalin low and my oxytocin high.

My labour started EXACTLY the same way my first labour did (how funny is that) I woke at 2am, craving tea and toast (this is literally the same time/same craving as my first birth). So I snuck downstairs made a cuppa and ate about 6 slices of toast. But this time, rather than get on the ball, I went back to bed, put on my birth affirmations and relaxation tracks and went back to sleep. I woke a few times in the night with some strong surges, but mostly I slept really well.

At 6am I was quite uncomfortable and decided that I wanted to be up and moving – I really like to walk during surges, so I paced around quite a bit, and all was good, until my daughter woke up, and my surges disappeared!! Completely! I had quite wanted our daughter to be present at the birth, because I’d attended some wonderful homebirths where the siblings had been around and it was beautiful – but try as I might, I just couldn’t get in that labouring space with my little girl around, so we arranged for her to have a play over at my friends house with her little girl, and packed her off with an overnight bag, just in case.. As soon as they left, around 9am the surges started up again!

I then laboured throughout the day, and evening. I clearly don’t have fast labours (but then neither of my kids are ever in a hurry, so I think they were just too chilled in there!) We had the hypno affirmations playing, watched tv, walked around, did lots of massage, snacked and got in and out of the pool - although it was another long one, it was actually quite enjoyable. The surges were no where near as intense as the first time, and I found I could let the surges come and go quite easily – and I LOVED being in the birth pool.

By 7pm, I seemed to be stuck a bit and the dilating slowed and I was starting to feel the surges intensely in my back – so I did some yoga to open my pelvis a little and then we decided we’d have a little dance – we had a fab African drum CD, and me and my midwife had a little boogie to it, and before we knew it, I was feeling pushy, jumped back in the pool and after a pop of my waters, Isabel Annie Esther Hands shot out into the birth pool, eyes wide open, and totally chilled.

I had some wonderful skin to skin in the pool while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing and birth the placenta, then moved to the sofa for a cuddle and some more tea and toast, then Izzy and I had a lovely herbal bath together and were tucked up in bed – complete bliss. I then made my husband go and collect our eldest at the crack of dawn because I missed her and she came home super excited to meet her new sister!

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