Birth story: The birth of Claudia

How did your labour start?
I started getting very mild contractions throughout the weekend, 3 days before my due date. On the Saturday night I couldn’t sleep as I was getting up to go to the bathroom what felt like every 30 minutes. On Sunday evening about 10pm just as my husband Ben and I were about to go to bed, my contractions started to become more frequent. I was so excited it was finally happening so I stayed up instead, and within the hour dragged Ben out of bed. We brought all of our ‘tools’ into the bedroom – heat pack, yoga mat, gym ball, rebozo, the lot, and it all kicked off from there!

How did you bring your baby into the world?
After staying up all of Sunday night labouring with a heat pack on my lower back and Ben squeezing into my hips/glutes with every contraction (just as we’d been taught at She Births), we arrived at the hospital at 9am on Monday. I hadn’t slept for 2 nights and was sure that our baby must be close. When my midwife told me I was only 2cm dilated, I was devastated but adamant that I wasn’t going back home.

I desperately wanted to get into a bath but all of the birthing suites were taken so the midwife found me a room in the antenatal ward with a shower. My contractions seemed to slow down in frequency and strength and I started to doubt that I was even in labour. I was so confused! The midwives suggested I go home to rest but I couldn’t imagine staying up a third sleepless night so I told them that I was going to have the baby today and that I just needed to get into a bath.

At about 1pm they let me use a bath that isn’t normally used for birthing and I stayed in there for almost an hour but felt that my contractions had slowed down even further so Ben suggested that perhaps we do just go home. The midwife came and checked me, and I was 6cm dilated!! I couldn’t believe it, and neither could she! I was so happy! She sent us into the birthing suite which had a nice big bath and I got straight in.

One hour passed in a blur and all of a sudden I felt an urge to push and felt something come out. Ben was just about to press the emergency button as the midwife came in. I assumed it was the head and thought wow that wasn’t so bad but it was just my sack of waters perfectly intact! The midwife broke my waters and then it all got intense very quickly. Our baby girl Claudia arrived in the bath soon after! I pushed for 40 minutes, in the bath on all fours, with Ben outside the bath pressing into by hips – that was my only pain relief and it was incredibly effective!

Who supported you throughout labour and the birth?
My husband was with me the entire time (except for when he went to get some lunch from the hospital cafe). The midwife was only with me briefly when I arrived at the hospital and a few hours later to check my progress. She got us set up in the birthing suite then returned just as I was ready to push! She was amazing when it came to pushing but for everything else I was completely reliant on Ben – I hate to think what would have happened if we hadn’t done She Births!!

What was the most challenging part of the birth?
Just before I got in the bath I was questioning myself about whether I was really in labour as the midwives were saying I could go home. I was so tired I started to think that maybe I should have some morphine so that I could rest before labour really started. I began to doubt that I was strong enough to get through it. Luckily my midwife gently reminded me that in my Birth Plan I had said I didn’t want any drugs. And the pushing was definitely a challenge! That was intense!

What most helped you through the birth experience?
In the lead up to the birth I did everything by the She Births book – from eating dates, to perennial massage through to the visualisations. On the day, it was my husband that got me through labour and the hip press he had learnt at She Births!! I feel very lucky it all happened the way it did.

Describe your birth experience in 3 words:
Crazy. Surreal. Incredible.