On 17.12.20, we welcomed our first baby; our beautiful baby girl Mabel into the world after the most amazing, positive and natural water birth at Blackburn Birth Centre (BBC).
I am still on cloud 9 and always will be. My waters went at 6.10am and soon after I headed to BBC to be checked as my waters had gone (this is known as pre-labour rupture of membranes)- but the midwife knew I would be back that same day as she could tell I was a little uncomfortable (I think I knew too as I just felt differently). I used recommended strategies to encourage contractions although they may have started anyway (aromatherapy- from BBC, expressing colostrum, walking, guided relaxation, birthing ball, music, lots of things to release oxytocin and relax, for example- my own comforts, watching a Christmas movie, candles, calming and favourite smells in my diffuser, eating good and substantial food ready for the birth work out). I even took some final bump photos- I remember not panicking about labour at all.
I went on a walk when labour was starting and I was beginning to get back ache and had some mild surges on the walk- just like Braxton hicks but a tiny bit more uncomfortable. Someone said you must have been nervous or panicked but I really didn’t! I was so excited but knew I had to remain calm. I’d had positive affirmations around the house for months so I truly trusted my body and baby.
After our walk, I had a hot shower and focused the shower head on my lower back and continued use my birthing ball after my shower (We did try to fit the ball into the shower but it wouldn’t fit haha- something I remember Tessa saying she did). My surges/ contractions started properly and were regular around 4pm so I used up breathing and my partner supported me. As they were becoming more intense by then, I was now in established labour. I used a heat wheat bag on my lower back too which felt lovely. We were tracking my surges on the Freya app from the Positive Birth Company and using the guided breathing to focus my breathing too. My partner was amazing supporting me with breathing as we’d attended hypnobirthing classes together so he knew the breathing techniques and the positive encouragement to give.
My mum is a midwife so I had spoken to her a few times throughout the day and I was waiting for my surges to be every 5 minutes for 50 seconds to be in established labour. I rang my mum (who was one of my birth partners too) about 4pm as my surges were every 3/4 mins and she said she’d head to ours. I remember lying on the settee watching Santa Claus 3 (funnily enough Mrs Claus was having a baby too-dramatically might I add although I was that focused it didn’t bother me!!) and thinking right this is definitely labour.
When she arrived, she was another great support and my surges continued to progress and get closer together. At about 5.30pm, we headed to BBC and things continued to quickly progress. We arrived in about 10 mins (3/4 surges in the car- both my partner and mum were breathing with me on the journey- a steamy car haha). My partner and mum set up the birthing room with fairy lights, battery lit candles and my diffuser. It was so calm and dimly lit. Perfect- just how I wanted it and had planned for it to be following my hypnobirthing education. The rooms at BBC are wonderful; so homely. I arrived in my slippers (and left in them). We were met by our midwife Bridgette who was so lovely and welcoming and she led us to the birth room. I remember crying a little as I felt emotional and overwhelmed (in the best way) and Bridgette gave me a hug. The room was perfect- birthing pool, double bed (not a hospital one), en-suite, patio, lovely mural on the wall. I chose to be examined as I wanted to see how dilated I was. I was about 5cm but it was difficult to examine as my contractions were so close together so it was hard to remain in one position to be examined. I remember not long after that saying to my midwife that baby is coming as I started to feel the down stage of labour. The pool was all set for me so in I got- it was such a lovely relief as the water was so warm.
My birth partners and midwives helped me to stay focused (when I had the little common down stage wobble which we had been warned about in hypnobirthing so my partner knew exactly what to say and do!) and hydrated between surges. They also reminded me of down breathing rather than pushing which made birthing Mabel much more productive as her head soon crowned. I felt my baby’s full head of hair as her head was making its entrance. I breathed through every surge with the support of those around me. There was only a matter of minutes (1 or 2) between surges so in that time I was given water or Lucozade (my mum gave me a piece of choc that I didn’t even have chance to eat between the surges and remember pretty much spitting it out!). I remained calm between- but literally there was just time for a quick drink. My partner was in charge of the music too that we had pre-prepared. I remember requesting a song that I had loved from yoga called ‘Only’ by RY X so my partner put that on at some point (I’m told ‘Here comes the sun’ by the Beetles was playing just when Mabel had been born).
We arrived at BBC at about 5.40pm and at 7.52pm Mabel was born into the world! A 4ish hour labour from when I was established at about 4pm! It was the most surreal and amazing experience ever! I wonder if I’ll always look at the clock every Thursday at 7.52pm? The time Mabel joined us!! It really was the most wonderful, unbelievable feeling. I can still feel that sensation when my baby came out- she came all out in one surge and I’m told I pulled her up from the bottom of the pool. My midwives - Bridgette and Jenny were so so wonderful and gentle throughout it all- they followed my lead and were so supportive of how I wanted to birth (e.g. using UFO- upright forward and open positions). I felt so safe in their hands. They guided my breathing for when Mabel was entering the world so that she entered gently.
We didn’t know the gender of our baby which felt even more exciting and we couldn’t wait to find out and meet our baby! It was such a fast but intense labour and I really think remaining calm helped my body birth my baby so quickly. I can still feel that first time I felt my baby’s skin in the water- there’s nothing else like it! Honestly the human body is insane and the baby’s within - just wow! True magic. She was so perfect.
I can honestly still feel that sensation, Mabel’s head and body all coming out at once. I know Nat was shocked by this. birth partners were a massive part of my labour and I wouldn’t have had the same experience without them!
After the birth we had delayed cord clamping and plenty of skin to skin and cuddles. I had a quick injection and birthed the placenta whilst my partner had some skin to skin (which was a massive relief and didn’t hurt one bit- it felt like a big soft poo)! Then more skin to skin- the golden hour. An hour or two later, I had a few stitches from a second degree tear which I’m told is really good for a first birth. I was given breastfeeding support which was invaluable and then we were left to soak up all the magic as a new family of 3 (but support was on hand when / if we needed it!). We spent 2 nights at BBC and the second night was for breastfeeding support (we were the only ones in so we had support throughout the night when we needed it-amazing support and care). I’ve got to mention the toast too- the best toast ever. Honestly it is a home away from home- 5 star hotel treatment. I arrived in my slippers and left in my slippers.
The BEST and most AMAZING experience ever! I felt like superwoman! Girl power! So empowered. I literally want to do a hypnobirthing teaching course after my experience of a hypnobirth! I cried a little in the shower on the morning we were leaving because we were going home….bittersweet. I couldn’t wait to get Mabel home but honestly knew I’d miss this special, special place! It really did not feel “hospitaly”.
I felt well prepared for birth after attending pregnancy yoga since 13 weeks pregnant and also hypnobirthing classes along with reading about hypnobirthing too. Knowledge really is power. I honestly feel that the breathing techniques I learnt about and adopted enabled me to birth my baby so positively, calmly and controlled- as well as my amazing birth partners and midwives, my clever baby girl- Mabel, plenty of oxytocin, and a dash of luck!! Through pregnancy yoga I was well practiced in focusing my breathing and remaining calm and I did just that in labour. My birth partners both commented on how focused and calm I was. My partner and I both attended hypnobirthing classes so he was so well prepared for labour and supporting my breathing techniques (A Gentle Journey by Meg Brierley). Tessa was always a fantastic birth advocate during pregnancy yoga classes and made me so excited for birth. I even created a birth playlist using some of Tessa’s yoga music which I used towards the end of labour (I had 2 other playlists too- an upbeat and a feel good one). Tessa’s pregnancy yoga flows involved lots of active birth/ UFO positions too which was brilliant because I used these in labour and I even gave birth in a low squatting position in the birthing pool. I had some gas and air in labour but that was it. I honestly feel my breathing was a massive contributor to my positive birth. I remained so focused and calm - 4 hours later and my baby was born. I’ll always remember someone saying- I’m sure it was Tessa, that our bodies and babies know just what to do and they really do. The human body is truly amazing. Tessa was always so passionate about birth and I now understand why- I now feel it too- massively. The most amazing experience. As a first-time mum, I feel incredibly lucky and I’m constantly thinking about my labour (constantly to the point where I think I bug people going on about it.)
Thank you for being a part of our journey, Tessa. 💖💖💖💖
“Tessa Clemson Yoga - your yoga studio in Great Harwood, serving Hyndburn, Blackburn with Darwen, Ribble Valley & Burnley”