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Things started about midnight on Saturday 13 October. I had felt a bit of cramping in the day which increased overnight and by 4am it was pretty clear that things were happening - I woke my husband Rob and we stayed in bed, with him pressing on my hips as I circled in and out of child’s pose in bed during surges. By 8am the surges were three every 10 minutes, so as advised we called Kings hospital and got a taxi there. I was doing my hypnobirthing breathing and wasn’t yet (in retrospect) in too much pain. The midwife checked me and I was only 1cm dilated so she sent us home and told us to come back when surges got more intense - quite a vague instruction for someone who doesn’t know what to expect!

At home I listened to my hypnobirthing tracks and had a couple of baths and paracetamol- by 6pm I decided I needed some stronger pain relief so we went back in. By this time I was 3.5-4cm dilated and so we still weren’t allowed into the midwife led birthing suites or the water bath. I was sent to walk the stairs with a codeine tablet and told I would be checked again at 10pm!

On the stairs, still plugged into the The hypnobirthing tracks) I vomited and my waters broke. During surges (which seemed to happen next to the vomit every time!) I found it most comfortable to squat holding onto the banister or get on all fours. Once Rob told them I just couldn’t go on walking (about 8.30pm) they agreed to let me into the room and to check me again. By that time they could barely check me because the surges were coming so frequently - I was 7.5cm so it was straight into the bath, which was amazingly comforting, and I took entonox, which was mainly helpful to control my breathing. From there things moved pretty fast.

Rob counted my breaths during the surges, as had been suggested to us, which was the most helpful tool - because when you are in a surge you have no concept of time at all!

At one point I heard the midwife say “it’s 11.15pm and I think this baby is going to be born today, before midnight” and that gave me the boost I needed to keep going for another 30 minutes of pushing.

Iona Barbara Rothkopf was born in the water at 11.46pm on Sunday 14 October and we held her in the warm water for another 45 minutes whilst I worked on delivering the placenta, which came just under an hour later.

It was tough but just incredible and overwhelming. We are so in love with her and falling more in love every day that passes.

One more thing - I managed to get through without any tearing - and am now a vocal recommender of daily perineal massage from 35 weeks!

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