MY OWN FIRST PREGNANCY TO KICK OFF THE POSITIVE BIRTH STORIES

When Walt arrived...

I had always been keen on birthing at home but wasn’t going to plan anything for it until after 37 weeks since I knew that many things can change along the way. But I did know straight away that I would do Hypnobirthing as I’d seen time and again how well it works, and felt that I would need help to overcome all the doubts that naturally come with years spent observing all the possible complications and interventions in childbirth. So, Hypnobirthing didn’t need to be sold to me at all! For my husband Warren, it was a bit of a strange concept – he likes things to be quite black & white and like most people, had a preconceived notion that the course would be a rather hippy, woolly experience. Now don’t get me wrong, when we had to practice relaxations in class I don’t think Warren ever got the hang of actually relaxing, but certainly by the end of the first session he was totally converted by the logic of Hypnobirthing.

We set aside time together each night to practice the techniques we felt were right for us. It was amazing just spending that focused time together, which we rarely did in our busy lives, and it was so simple. We also went to sleep each night listening to either a relaxation script or music. I hadn’t felt that the positive birth affirmations were really for me, but at 33 weeks I had a massive crisis of confidence as a potential problem with blood flow from the placenta was picked up during a routine scan. It was a very emotional time, between concern for my unborn baby, the recommendation to now labour in hospital with continuous monitoring of the baby’s heartrate, plus a high possibility of needing induction of labour at any time if the situation worsened.

I was launched into twice weekly visits to hospital for scans and Consultant appointments, and despite very compassionate and expert care, I felt fairly numb about it all. It was very difficult getting my head (& my heart) around going from completely ‘low risk’ to this big change of plan. I wasn’t going to take any chances with the health of my baby, but I felt so out of control of what was going to happen. I remembered about the birth affirmations & started listening to them every day (whilst also panic-buying everything you need for a new baby, since we hadn’t got a thing at that stage!). The birth affirmations were a game-changer for me….in no time at all, I had my confidence back and my head in the right place. I couldn’t control what would happen, but I could control my mind-set and the atmosphere of calm into which I wanted my baby to be born.

We got to 38 weeks with everything staying stable, phew! After much discussion and weighing up, I agreed to induction at this point as there were new indications on scan of increasing risk, and we were booked in for a couple of days’ time. I requested a stretch and sweep, had been having reflexology to encourage natural labour (which is amazing by the way), and basically doing all the tricks I know to get things going on their own! I woke in the early hours of the next morning with mild cramps and went back to sleep. By 10am, things were picking up a bit as we busied ourselves getting things ready at home – despite having nearly 9 months of warning that we were having a baby, we were still putting things away in the nursery and building furniture that day! By 3pm we were making our way into hospital, excited for what was to come & so pleased to have beaten the induction to it!

I used the birth pool, with wireless monitoring of baby’s heartrate and we had our relaxation music and added our own ‘mood lighting’ to the darkened labour room. The monitor itself was turned down so I couldn’t hear it and the midwife kept it out of sight so I couldn’t see it…in fact I wasn’t really aware of being monitored at all. Our midwife, a wonderful colleague of mine to whom I will always be so grateful, was completely supportive and respectful of the environment we were aiming for. I don’t remember us specifically asking her to do anything (in fact I hadn’t even written a birth plan), yet she seemed to instinctively know what I needed. The pool was amazing and I know I used it for many hours although I have no concept of time during my labour…the final part, after my waters released, was incredibly intense but still manageable using only breathing techniques and I was able to remain relaxed and calm even when right at the end my baby’s heart rate was dipping with every push and our midwife stepped in to direct things a little more.

About 11 hours after our initial arrival at hospital but with no need for any pain relief, our beautiful baby boy Walt made his appearance, a pint-sized but healthy 6lb bundle and very content. It was such a tranquil start to our lives together. We had endless skin-to-skin in the hours following birth and I felt so incredibly full of energy and so in awe of what my body had just done! We were all home cwtched up in bed together later that day… I felt, and still feel, that although there were aspects of Walt’s birth that I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen as my ideal, I wouldn’t now change a thing about it. To me it was perfect...

Laura Turner enjoying the golden hour in the first of her positive birth stories
POSITIVE ASSISTED BIRTH

Meghan & Anthony, welcoming baby Llewyn

Everything started as expected, with me and my husband spending the first 13 hours at home, which was wonderful and meant I was 6cm dilated by the time we arrived at the birthing centre. The birthing centre had everything set up for a hypnobirth with soft lightning and a pool etc. and I was excited for what was to come. However, it was shortly after arriving here that our plans started changing as I was quickly transferred to hospital due to high blood pressure. I spent around 10 hours in hospital attached to machines, and after several hours of assisted pushing, our little boy was finally born with the help of forceps and an episiotomy.

I am so glad that we did Laura's hypnobirthing course as it really helped both me and my husband to deal with the unexpected. The breathing techniques and visualisations were particularly helpful for me as it enabled me to focus, even with all the distractions of hospital transfers etc. I also managed the surges without any pain relief and only used gas and air for the last few hours, which I put down to the techniques learnt on the course. My husband repeated the affirmations, played relaxing music and used soft stroking techniques throughout. He even asked questions on my behalf when medical interventions (which included a c-section at one point) were discussed.

Drs and midwives commented on how calm we both were throughout the whole experience and even afterwards as our baby was taken to NICU. I feel empowered by the whole experience, despite the interventions, and would definitely do a hypnobirthing course again if I’m lucky enough to have another baby in the future.

Meghan holding baby in theatre after a positive forceps birth
POSITIVE VAGINAL BIRTH

Lauren & Nick, welcoming baby Etta

Etta was born at 41+5 weeks. I had felt confident to turn down a sweep and induction. I definitely wouldn’t have felt I had a choice with this if it wasn’t for your course. I’m really pleased I let her arrive naturally, she came when she was ready and it felt right.

Labour was a fair bit quicker than we imagined it would be, my waters broke at home around 7pm with very little happening before that to give me warning which was a little bit of a shock!

From then surges became much more intense quite quickly. We got to Southmead at around 9pm where we were able to use the birthing suite. I stayed there for a few hours until midwives became concerned about some blood loss and decided it was safer to transfer me to central delivery. It was also at this time that I was feeling the urge to push so we had a speedy wheelchair trip down the corridor!

The midwives were great at explaining what was going on, they were concerned Etta was struggling and was at a funny angle so explained that they may need to use a ventouse (assisted birth). However I managed to avoid this and pushed her out myself with the help of an episiotomy (small cut)! Etta was born an hour after getting to central delivery! We cannot thank Laura enough for the help, advice and coping strategies she taught us. Although things happened very quickly there are definitely things that helped massively. Firstly the knowledge we had meant I knew exactly what was happening to my body and I wasn’t scared when I felt the change in surges. I even pictured the balloon and the images Laura showed us on the course in my head!

The breathing techniques were absolutely amazing, Nick reminded me to slow my out breath which helped more than I could have imagined. We were able to keep the room dimly lit for the majority of the time and I had my favourite music playing throughout. Etta was even born to the song I walked down the aisle to, completely by chance! Things didn’t go exactly ‘to plan’ however this didn’t worry me, I managed to stay calm which was a surprise to Nick and myself!

I never thought I would be able to give birth using just gas and air but with Laura's help I did, so thank you!!

Baby Etta wrapped in blankets after a positive first birth
POSITIVE PANDEMIC BIRTH - PARTLY LABOURING ALONE

Lauren & Jed, welcoming baby Noa

Our birth story ... Wow what an experience it was! Having Noa during this pandemic certainly played a role in how our story unfolded. And certainly meant I had to use my hypnobirthing techniques more than ever!

I had been having labour pains on and off for weeks in the run up to Noa’s birth as she was back to back, so I went from being convinced she was going to be early to realising I actually was faced with trying to beat an induction that had been booked in when I went for my last midwife appointment at 41 weeks. I wanted to avoid induction as I was really set on having our baby at the midwife led unit in Frome. After a sweep at my appointment on the Wednesday I was up all night with contractions, however come Wednesday morning they had completely gone again!

I spent Thursday being as active as I could, hoping to encourage the contractions back. By 7 o’clock Thursday evening the contractions were back and definitely felt much stronger than previously. I bounced on my birthing ball and started to practice the breathing techniques I had learnt on the course. Things started to feel quite intense quite quickly.

We really wanted to stay at home as long as possible, but once my waters had broken with quite a gush as I moved into bed for a little rest, the intensity increased further and I felt ready to make our way to Frome at 11pm, due to the contractions being 3-5 minutes apart lasting for over a minute each time. Once at Frome I was relieved to know the birthing pool was free, which was exactly what I was hoping for. Having been told I was 3 cm at this point I knew I had a way to go and needed to gain some more control over the contractions.

We were able to set up our room just how we wanted it and had our chosen playlist playing. The breathing and pool really helped at this stage. I spent about 2 hours in the pool using my up breathing. At about 1am I wanted to try some pain relief and so was given diamorphine, which meant I had to get out of the pool. This really helped take the edge off the contractions and meant I found it easier to rest in between contractions. 6am rolled round by which time I was starting to feel pretty exhausted. It was this point that I had a bit of crisis of confidence after being examined again and being told I was still 3 cm. I started to have doubts about my ability to cope and it was this point we decided to transfer to Bath. Jed drove us onto Bath which was where COVID rules prevented Jed from being allowed in with me.

I was put on a ward by myself at this point, still not in established labour & baby still back to back. I really had to dig deep at this point, the ward was a stark contrast to the environment we had been able to create at Frome. I hadn't been able to carry any of the carefully planned supplies in with me and I really struggled being without Jed. Feeling quite distressed, I knew I had to take control of the situation and really try to move this baby. This was all valuable knowledge I had gained during the course! I refused to let myself lie on the bed and continuously paced around my little cubicle bending on to all fours when contractions came and breathing through them, really visualising the wave coming and going. After 2 hours a midwife was checking baby's heart rate. Things got a little scary at this point as baby's heart rate was dropping right down with every contraction. She pulled the emergency buzzer and my cubicle was suddenly a lot busier!

Surrounded by a lot of doctors saying that they needed to get this baby out right now. As a midwife went to put a wire on the baby's head to track the heart rate closer, she discovered I was in fact 10cms and Noa was on her way! (It can be very normal for baby’s heart rate to drop down when the head is being compressed in the birth canal in the final phase of birth)

As all the doctors disappeared and Jed was finally allowed in, he was as shocked as I was to find me already pushing! In this final stage I suddenly felt extremely focused and in control. I knew exactly what I had to do at this point and just started to use my down breathing (a technique from hypnobirthing specifically for the final stage of birth). Half an hour later at 9.28am our beautiful little girl Noa was born, weighing 7lbs 8 and placed straight on my chest for skin to skin. I was so happy to learn I didn't tear at all, which I put down to perineal massage and a slow and controlled delivery of the head, which the midwife had commented on. By 4pm we were on our way home.

The hypnobirthing was invaluable, there were so many elements of it that I used, from creating the right environment in Frome, knowledge to help with positioning of baby and using the affirmations throughout, particularly when I was struggling without my birth partner. I went through a stage of feeling quite let down that I had been left on my own in Bath without Jed, but I see the many positives from our birth story and realise how very capable we are! I am continuously finding motherhood to be very empowering!

Lauren holding baby Noa after a positive pandemic birth
POSITIVE INDUCTION BIRTH - SECOND BABY

Bea & Jon, welcoming baby Lili

My first baby was induced and this was the last thing I wanted to go through with my second baby, however due to low amniotic fluid and being 40, I was did opt for a medical induction at 39 weeks. When my consultant had recommended the induction after the baby scan at the beginning of 39 weeks my first reaction was to say no, but after a little cry (as I was set to give birth in the midwife led unit), and discussion with my husband (and then the consultant again) we agreed to it, and felt happy with the decision.

Thanks to completing the hypnobirthing course with Laura my induced labour was a positive and powerful experience. I was admitted to Southmead hospital maternity unit on Wednesday night and eventually induced on Friday night. The medical team was great, and we had a lovely midwife, Emily, who helped us to implement the hypnobirthing by bringing some electric candles, and supported us, encouraging me to listen to my affirmations and continue to use the calm breathing techniques throughout the induction process. his allowed me to remain focused and calm in the clinical hospital environment and thankfully, being connected with a wireless monitor, enabled me to move around.

The induction started around 9pm on Friday night.. Once I started getting contractions I was able to put my hypnobirthing practice into action. I found I was able to relax and embrace each of them, which allowed me to really tune into my body as labour developed and the ‘gentle’ surges became stronger. If I wasn’t practicing hypnobirthing I imagine those’ gentle’ surges would feel a lot more uncomfortable. I went through it by keeping calm, listening to Laura’s affirmations, and using calm breathing techniques, which we learnt at the course.

After around six hours since the induction started I felt my body starting to push the baby out, and Lili Rose was born at 3.49am on 31st of October (Halloween baby, yes! :). She’s been happy and healthy since her first moment.

I know that having to change plans before giving birth can be overwhelming, and you don’t always know what is the best thing to do, but my experience was calm, and positive. I want to say how grateful I am that I completed the hypnobirhing course with Laura, which myself and my husband really enjoyed. We felt prepared and ready, and were able to face induced birth positively. I believe hypnobirthing played a key part in helping me cope with the contractions and delivering a 8.7 lb baby with only some gas and air. Thank you for introducing us to hypnobirthing Laura!

Bea holding baby Lily after a positive hospital birth
POSITIVE FORCEPS BIRTH

Vicki & Chris, welcoming baby Harry

We were 13 days over our due date and ended up opting to go down the induction route. As I had known induction was likely, we re-read everything about that in the workbook beforehand and I found lots of positive birth stories online to read and prepare myself. The induction itself worked very quickly for us. Contractions started 2 hours after the process began, and continued to be frequent & regular throughout even after the pessary was removed. Our hynobirthing breathing and setting up the delivery suite made for a relaxing few hours. My waters were broken a few hours later when the midwife needed to monitor Harry's heartrate better with a clip on the head, and at that point things got very intense and we realised he had turned back to back and so I opted for an epidural. 2 hours after waters were broken, baby’s heart rate dropped low and stayed low and the emergency buzzer was hit and Harry Isaac Michael Hunter entered the world on 3rd June at 7.57pm weighing a healthy 8lb 14oz, following an emergency forceps delivery. We stayed so calm throughout all of this due to the preparation we had done on the course and in the lead up, just using my hypnobirthing breathing and trusting the professionals. My biggest fear before doing the course was making a birth plan and not being able to follow it...but that fear had gone after doing the course…& just as well given our actual birth!! It wasn't quite the MLU water birth I was planning but we look back very fondly on the experience and are completely in love with our new addition.

 

Thanks Laura for all of your guidance in the lead up, it was a pleasure to have you as part of our journey…

Vicki & Chris's baby sleeping peacefully after his positive forceps birth
POSITIVE HOME WATERBIRTH - SECOND BABY

Cheryl & Barry, welcoming baby Brodie

Waters trickled out on a walk to the park at 16:45, I wasn’t sure if it was waters or i had just leaked urine but I was quite saturated when we got home (about a 3 minute walk). Barry wanted me to call the delivery suite then but I wasn’t sure and didn’t want them to say I had to come in. We had some dinner and the surges started from about 6pm. They were all in my bum and lower back and I wasn’t convinced they were actual surges but they were soon coming every 2 minutes and lasting about a minute. I was making a note of the times. I called St Michael's, told them what was happening, that I was booked for home birth and hypnobirthing. I was a bit surprised when the midwife said she would get the community midwife to call me back. I assumed she would just say go away for a bit and see what happens! In the early stages I used the up breathing. It helped me focus and get back to relaxing myself rather than focusing on the surge.

I was in the shower pretty much from this point with a bit of time sat on the loo and had a bit of a show then. I liked the water on my back and did a bit of squatting and one leg up on the side of the bath. My sister, Amy, was with me whilst Baz set up the pool etc. She was quite chatty so I had to tell her to stop talking at points. She would also ask questions like 'shall I check the pool?'. I wasn’t very polite with my “just do it” response! I was a nicer person between surges!

I had to get out of the shower whilst Baz filled the pool. I tried lying on my bed and listening to the recordings but I didn’t like being out of the water. I went back to the toilet and waited for Barry to say I could get back in the shower.

I got in the pool at 8pm. It was gorgeous. Instant relief. My breathing changed then - I don’t think it was the down breathing I had practiced but it was a hybrid version that worked for me. I had affirmations stuck to the walls around me and I would focus on them during this stage as a reminder and I found this really grounding. The midwife arrived and said just go with it, based on my noises which had changed to more of a moo by this point! The feeling was right in my bum already. The midwife listened to the heartbeat and took my blood pressure, which she was happy with. She said she could see the waters bulging out and had a bit of a feel. I had a feel too. The midwife directed me with slow breathing.

I thought there was no way I was getting her head out but I did after a few pushes and she was born shortly after. Barry caught her! The cord was short so it was tight getting her back through my legs. Brodie was 7lbs 12 Oz and born at 20:41.

When the cord started to go white, Barry cut it. I got out of the pool to birth the placenta, which came out in the hallway on the way to the downstairs loo with a big splat! The midwives were worried about the floor but I just told told my sister to get the camera!! No carpets were harmed!

Back for baby cuddles and she latched on to my boob pretty easily. I laid on my bed for a few stitches and the midwife borrowed Barry’s dog walking head torch to get a good look. I had some gas and air at this point and some local anaesthetic, just chatting to the midwife as she stitched me up. Then back for more baby cuddles and the midwives left after I'd managed a wee. I stayed up watching Brodie until 5 am when eventually I gave in to sleep!

This birth was so different to the birth of my son. I felt so much more in control and could relax between surges. I put this down to the techniques that Laura taught me. From Barry’s point of view, the course empowered him to be able guide the midwife in the birth we wanted. He directed her to our birth plan and was clear and confident to get across what we wanted. We both would highly recommend Little Passengers for anyone wanting to feel in control of their birth, as they provide a great basis of knowledge and techniques to use.

Cheryl in the birth pool with baby minutes after her home waterbirth

Want to feel like this about your birth?

POSITIVE PLANNED CAESAREAN BIRTH

Liz & Jake, welcoming baby Phoebe

In the early days of pregnancy I would wake up in the middle of night, filled with dread about labour and birth. I had received hypnotherapy as a teenager to combat a fear of flying (my job now relies on me flying around the world), so I was keen to find out more about hypnobirthing. A friend had recommended Little Passengers and I signed myself and my husband up to Laura’s course.

The course really helped to educate me about birth but more importantly empowered me to navigate the maternity system – which through the pandemic was challenging as I had to go to all my appointments alone. By the end of the course I was quite set on wanting home birth, and my community midwife was very supportive of this decision.

At my 32 week appointment, a student midwife suspected that baby was breech – but my midwife assured me this was very normal for this stage and we didn’t need to worry until 36 weeks. Meanwhile, a birthing pool had been reserved and midwives’ equipment had been delivered ready for my homebirth. But alas, baby had other ideas, and despite all the spinning babies, chiropractor appointments, swimming, walking, crawling around the house etc she was not for moving! I had a presentation scan at 38 weeks where it was confirmed that she was in a frank breech position, and I was immediately booked in for an ECV (manual turning of the baby) in hospital 2 days later.

I found hypnobirthing so useful throughout pregnancy to give me confidence going into appointments alone, but I can honestly say it was beyond essential in navigating this curveball we were thrown… using BRAINS was so useful in questioning all our options for breech presentation and after a long conversation with doctors and midwives, we decided to decline an ECV.

Not satisfied that our health board midwifery team were confident in supporting a breech vaginal delivery - and knowing that it would look very different from our plans for a homebirth - we instead opted to book an elective caesarean for 1 week later.

We were able to reframe this into a huge positive in that we knew baby would be coming (albeit with some slight anxiety she might come of her own accord earlier!) and we could plan the procedure completely around our preferences. We enjoyed our last weekend as a couple with a trip to the beach (my ‘anchor’ and happy place), a pub lunch and putting the finishing touches in the nursery. I created a caesarean birth plan (funnily enough I couldn’t seem to commit a birth plan to paper when planning my homebirth – maybe on some level I knew what was to come) but spent lots of time really focusing on what was important to me.

The day before my caesarean I attended the hospital for a pre-clerking appointment and took with me a list of questions to ask the anaesthetist and consultant – I was worried they would think I was mad, but they were great in taking the time to fully explain everything and make sure all my concerns were answered. I checked that key elements of my birth plan could be facilitated, such as monitoring to be placed on my back to allow for easier skin to skin, and they made notes of my wishes ready for the following day.

On the day itself, going down to theatre was 100% the scariest thing I have ever done - without breathing through it I would have panicked and run for the hills - but overall it was a hugely positive experience. I was so focused on my breathing during the spinal staff kept stopping to check I was responsive! Luckily my husband knew I was in my ‘zone’ and told them I was hypnobirthing.

The medical team were fantastic at keeping noise to a minimum and gently checking in with me throughout the procedure. The screen was lowered for us to see her as she was born, we had delayed cord clamping and after initial checks Phoebe was placed on my chest for skin to skin for the rest of the procedure. She was able to feed whilst I was in recovery and we had a blissful golden few hours once I was back in my room.

All in all I feel incredibly lucky that I got this birth and know that hypnobirthing played an essential part in making it so special and a positive experience.

Although very different to my original planned homebirth, I don’t feel sad about the change of plans - I actually decided to treat the day before as my ‘latent phase’ and the procedure part as my ‘pushing’ stage which has helped me feel like I’ve not missed out on the birth experience and I had originally anticipated. I think going into an elective caesarean with a positive mindset has also helped aid my recovery – I was very fortunate to be home after 24 hours; walking around and out for lunch just 3 days later!

I just wanted to thank you again from the very bottom of my heart for all your help and support- none of this would have been possible without you Laura!

Liz & Jake's planned caesarean in Bristol

Did you know we also offer Planned Caesarean Workshops?

POSITIVE WATERBIRTH - SECOND BABY

Sarah & Simon, welcoming baby Connie

I’m so proud to be writing about our positive birth experience! When we found out I was pregnant with our second child, we were over the moon but I couldn’t help feeling a little bit of dread about the upcoming delivery. Having experienced a very long labour with lots of intervention, and an epidural, I just didn’t want that experience again.

And Connie was born at 8.12pm, weighing 8lb 2oz in the most amazing water birth just as I had planned.

I had had a sweep at 41 weeks but nothing had happened, I wasn’t bothered though, I knew our baby would come when she was ready. I’d waited all this time so what was another week? Nothing seemed to happen so eventually I was booked to be induced on Easter Sunday. On the Saturday evening I started having some niggles which carried on throughout the night, I sat downstairs as it was more comfortable than lying down. I sat on the sofa and dozed throughout the night whilst my surges got closer together, using the breathing techniques that Laura had taught me...I felt completely relaxed. By the early morning they were about 5 minutes apart. I was then sat waiting for my next surge which didn’t come......everything had stopped. Turns out she wasn’t quite ready after all. 

I felt disappointed as I had been progressing so well, however I was booked to be induced that day anyway, so plan B it was. We arrived at the hospital at 3pm. When the midwife examined me I was amazed to hear that I was already 3cm dilated. As my surges where neither here nor there the midwife said I could have my waters broken down on the birth unit and see how I progressed. 

Once we got settled into our room on the birthing unit the midwife broke my waters at 5pm and immediately my surges returned. They got very strong very quickly. I pottered around the room whilst using my breathing techniques, leaning on my husband for support. I was in the zone and felt relaxed and ready. My husband put some battery candles around the room, played some of our chosen music and rubbed my back whenever he could see my next surge coming.  At about 7pm the midwife ran the pool ready. Once in the pool my surges progressed even more and I asked for some gas and air. By 7.30 I was getting the urge to push, I didn’t need anyone to tell me what to do....my body knew exactly, it was so natural. 

I was so in the zone that the next thing I really remember is reaching down to feel our babies head. One more push and I picked our baby out of the water, she was here and I felt euphoric! I had done it and it was amazing, she was amazing! 

Having all the knowledge and techniques helped us so much throughout this labour. My husband felt empowered to ask questions on my behalf, he made sure our verbal birth plan was carried out as we had discussed. We delayed the cord cutting and he made sure I got to look at the placenta which I didn’t get the opportunity to with our first child. 

The hypnobirthing course with Laura put us both in the right mindset, allowing us to enjoy this wonderful experience and taking away many of the negative preconceptions and concerns we had subconsciously built up over the years. We look back at the birth of our daughter with positive memories – I just cried reading this all back!

Sarah in the birth pool during labour just before her positive hospital waterbirth
POSITIVE DELIVERY SUITE BIRTH - SECOND BABY

Rachel & Sam, welcoming baby Primrose

So we were booked for induction with Primrose at 38+4 due to a sudden increase in her growth and a concern over gestational diabetes. I was very keen not to be induced again after a less than positive induction experience birthing my son, but the consultant reassured me that they would induce me in a slower way this time, as my body reacted very quickly last time.

As it turned out, the day came and they had no induction beds due to a backlog! I was offered a stretch and sweep instead, so I did my research, used my BRAIN (a decision-making tool that Laura taught us during hypnobirthing) and decided to take it. Nothing happened. I was offered another one at a consultant appointment a couple of days later and again accepted, which got things moving instantly. Baby was monitored on the CTG for a while which showed I was contracting, but all very manageable so I went for a walk up a very hilly park to ensure that things continued to progress and they did - I arrived on delivery suite at 9pm having regular contractions and was 4cms dilated.

Earlier in pregnancy I had hoped to birth on the MLU but due to baby’s estimated bigger size, I was on the delivery suite instead so I was determined to create the environment there that I wanted. The midwife and student we had were lovely, and supported us fully in our decisions, helping to keep the environment how we wanted with lights dimmed, quiet voices, etc. At 2am I was checked again and was still only 4cm so I agreed to have my waters released in the hope it would enable things to progress. Unfortunately, it didn’t and at 4am I agreed to the oxytocin drip to help increase contractions & progress things. As expected, the drip really made my surges shift into a higher gear & at 7am I was checked again and was now 7cm but beginning to struggle with the intensity so I asked for an epidural.

As they were about to insert the epidural, I suddenly felt a strong urge to push which I shouted quite loudly! The midwife checked me again and said that there was no time for the epidural as this baby was coming and after a short while pushing, out Primrose came, 8lb 8oz on gas and air! I felt like a superhero!! She came out and latched instantly for her first feed and I have never felt prouder or more confident in my body! Thank you for teaching me to believe in my body…even with labour taking different directions, I felt really empowered throughout.

Rachel holding baby Primrose skin-to-skin following her positive hospital birth
POSITIVE QUICK FIRST BIRTH

Emma & Nathan, welcoming baby Robyn

This was my first child and I really wanted to be in control of my pregnancy and birth which is why I opted for the hypnobirthing course with Laura…. and was not disappointed.

At 40 I was considered ‘at risk’ and consider myself very fortunate as I had a very smooth pregnancy. Every baby in my family was early and I expected the same for me so didn’t think I’d get to my due date or the induction that I had been told would happen because of my age!

Actually, our baby was very happy inside my tummy and kept us waiting! I spent 4 days in hospital from my due date on the maternity ward in a queue for the delivery suite waiting for my waters to be broken. Emotions were starting to run high as I wasn’t getting much sleep and couldn’t have visitors other than my partner. The hypnobirthing course had made me realise that it was my pregnancy and that I was in charge. We made the decision that I would be better at home and managed to get the hospital to agree for me to head home for one night. I’d had no treatment so they agreed as long as I was back first thing in the morning for my next check up.

I was elated! It has to be one of the best showers that I have ever had, my mum popped round to see me and I bounced on my aerobic ball with great enthusiasm before turning in for the night in my own bed. Shortly before 11.30pm I woke to find that my waters had broken. I woke my partner and called the hospital. They still had no room on the delivery suite so told me to wait by my phone…..

My midwife called me shortly after. She was already at the hospital and would meet me when I arrived. I had told Sue that I really wanted a water birth, she asked if this was still my wish as it could be arranged. I’d had no interventions when in hospital so was good to head straight to the birthing centre woohooo!! I found myself in a room in the birthing centre around an hour after my waters had broken. A first check showed that I was 4cm dilated and they told me they’d check again at 5am. Sue brought me paracetamol and went to fill the birthing pool in a neighbouring room.

Hypnobirthing had taught me how important it was to listen to my body so I tried the chair bed, beanbags and standing up to get more comfortable! If only we’d had someone with a camera when Nath was trying to get me up off the beanbags!!  Sue came to check on me at around 4am and asked if she could examine me as it sounded like I was pushing. I was almost at 10cm…. There was no time to get me into the pool and Robyn was born at 4.35am weighing 7lb 1oz. It was quick!!

I found out such a lot of detail on the course that I would not have known otherwise. During labour Nath was able to remind me about my breathing and ask the midwife more informed questions too. Thank you so much Laura!

Emma holding baby Robyn following a positive hospital birth
POSITIVE VAGINAL BIRTH - 1ST BABY

Cassie & Chris welcoming baby Elodie

My husband and I decided to do the Little Passengers hypnobirthing class to help with the anxiety and concerns we were feeling around birth. After seven miscarriages I was keen to learn some techniques to help me feel more in control when it came to my pregnancy and labour. I found the hypnobirthing techniques so incredibly helpful throughout my labour and I've recommended the course to several people since!

Because of our history we both knew how quickly plans could change, so rather than come up with a 'birth plan' we just wrote out a bullet point list of things we'd like to happen if possible, but that we were happy to go with the flow and change requirements if needed. 

I feel so fortunate that I was able to spend the first part of my labour at home with my husband and my mum. I was very keen to wait as long as possible before going to hospital, and thanks to the techniques we learnt at our hypnobirthing class I was able to do that. From 2am-2pm I was at home, breathing my way through each contraction while using a TENs machine towards the end. We put Schitt's Creek on the TV to boost my oxytocin levels, and made sure to eat some small snacks and meals as I knew I'd need my energy (I'm pretty sure the roast chicken sandwich my mum made me saw me through labour!). I also managed to have a shower which I'm so pleased about.

At 2pm I felt I had to go to hospital as the contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes. The midwife examined me and was surprised to see I'd got to 6cm dilated at home - she said due to my breathing and how well I was handling the contractions she'd guessed I'd only be at about 3cm! As she finished examining me my waters broke (a big pop and a gush of lots of water) and the contractions intensified even more. At this point I asked for gas and air to help me along, which worked really well for me. In the next hour I got to 10cm and felt an instant need to push.

Even though I had great intentions of packing fairy lights, battery packed candles and a diffuser to help create a lovely calm atmosphere, we just didn't find time to get anything out! The room already had soft lighting which was great, and one thing we managed to do was put on some calm music. I think it was a spa music soundtrack on Spotify! It was really helpful, and together with my breathing and the gas and air I really felt like I was in control of what was going on. 

Things slowed down a bit once I got to 10cm as baby was coming out with her hand next to her face. After 4 and a half hours of pushing, trying out lots of different positions and giving up on gas and air completely I was convinced I would need to go to theatre for further help to get her out. I was incredibly tired by this point, but my husband and the midwife kept telling me how well I was doing and that I was strong enough to do it which really helped. Before labour I also asked my husband to remind me of one particular affirmation - 'I can do anything for 60 seconds', and I found that really helpful too. Towards the end I was told I'd have to lay on my back to deliver due to the baby's position but I was adamant I didn't want this. Instead, we compromised and I laid on my side with my husband holding my leg up in the air - such a glamorous look! Élodie was born at 20:29 weighing 6lbs6. She was put on my chest immediately and it was the most incredible feeling. 

Before labour I was really anxious about the crowning part, and terrified I was going to tear. Once it got to this point I actually don't remember feeling any pain or discomfort (although there probably was some!)  and I did get a second degree tear. I had stitches and recovered within a couple of weeks, and although it was certainly uncomfortable during this time I wouldn't say it was painful. It's incredible how your body can mould and flex and work with you to bring a baby into this world. 

It still feels completely surreal that she's here even now, nearly three months later. We feel incredibly lucky to have had such a straightforward pregnancy and birth after everything life has thrown at us in the past few years. We'll never take for granted what a true gift our little girl has been for us.

Thanks again Laura! 

Cassie holding baby after positive first birth
POSITIVE FIRST BIRTH - CHANGE FROM HOME TO HOSPITAL

Nina & Dave, welcoming baby Ilo

We decided not to opt for an induction when it was offered after a scan suggested our baby was going to be larger than expected. From the research we found it didn’t seem that there was enough evidence to say an induction was necessary especially due to the fact that I was already 40+ weeks and likely to go into spontaneous labour soon... we felt that the at home and more active birth was still what we preferred and on balance no more risky, especially as I was happy to transfer if needed. And I did end up in St Michaels so there we go….but also overall feel very positive about the whole experience!

My labour was a positive experience… albeit an absolutely mammoth journey. I started having contractions on Friday evening, with a very slow (but powerful) latent phase. The Freya app said I was fully established within about an hour (I definitely wasn’t!) ... I actually went to the hospital then as I started getting in a negative spin about baby movements and I was worried it would mess with my oxytocin until I had a check. All was fine and I was 2cm dilated. We headed home and although I had contractions throughout the weekend they sometimes paused for a few hours and sometimes were an hour apart…it didn't really ramp up again until Sunday night.. and then more intensely on the Monday.

The hypnobirthing breathing and generally riding the waves, ensuring my body was relaxed when a contraction came on helped immensely. I felt pretty at peace throughout and never felt ‘in pain’ or anxious. I cracked on until Tuesday morning in my little nest, and by that point I really just felt too physically exhausted to stay at home, having not really slept since Thursday night…So we opted to go get an epidural for a bit of kip! I was 4cm on arrival and 12 hours later I was 10cm dilated… it was time to push. They had suspected it would be a tricky one due to his position and indeed it was. Bit of a hairy 30 minutes whereby they worried he was too far down for c-section but too high for forceps, and he was in distress, but I managed to push him a bit further in theatre & with an episiotomy he was out!

It was the most magical experience having him handed to me and on my chest for the first time. The midwives at St Michaels and the community team were incredible and super respectful of me and the choices I was making throughout. This and my general frame of mind from the hypnobirthing definitely made it a wonderful experience overall! Oh, and they were right about the growth scan. He was 9lb 5oz. Quite a chunk and perfect! We named him Ilo. 

The babies in our group have been born with lots of positive stories. Thank you again for the course!

Baby Ilo in stripy babygro following a positive birth involving transfer from Home birth to hospital
POSITIVE WATERBIRTH ON THE MLU -1ST BIRTH

Hannah & Rocky welcoming baby Cody

We did a private hypnobirthing course with Laura from Little Passengers at around 24 weeks pregnant. I had some fears over having a large baby as I was a large baby and had got stuck and neither me nor my partner Rocky knew that much about labour and birth (and had a lot of negative preconceptions!). We were so glad we did the course and put in a lot of work practicing the breathing, relaxing and scripts regularly. It also really helped us work out the birth we hoped for and I think almost most importantly showed us both what a fundamental part Rocky had to play in the birth.  

At the 41 week appointment I was offered a sweep which I declined but did decide I wanted to be checked. At this point I was 1cm dilated and was hopeful I would go into labour naturally, however an induction date was booked at the time for 41+5 as well as a sweep for later in the week. I was really hoping to avoid any interventions but thought the sweep would be worth a shot if it would mean I could avoid induction.

The day for the sweep arrived and I had been reading lots of positive birth stories that had started with a successful sweep to get us in a positive mindset. Unfortunately, the sweep couldn’t be performed as the bottom of my cervix was open but the top was still closed. I was really disappointed but started trying to reframe the induction as a positive thing for us. I even emailed Laura to ask for some help with this.

We spent the weekend doing lots of lovely things and trying to make the most of the last time it would just be the 2 of us and our dog knowing that one way or another our baby would be here by the end of the following week. I also spent an awful lot of time bouncing on my birthing ball and watching Harry Potter.

On the Sunday morning I woke up to an email from Laura and was starting to really accept that induction was going to be our birth story. Less than an hour later I started feeling some slight tightening’s. Sure they were just Braxton Hicks I tried to ignore them, however they carried on all morning, and then all afternoon. They were very manageable at this point but I was starting to think this may actually be something. These got more and more intense and by the evening I asked Rocky to get me some paracetamol and the TENS machine as I was starting to struggle with them. These then carried on into the night. We got all set up in our bedroom with our lights, lavender and scripts. Rocky did amazingly reading me scripts, getting me to change positions regularly and timing the surges. We called the hospital around 1am as the surges were coming more often and more intense but were still irregular. They advised to carry on at home until they were more regular.

By the morning we were still in the same situation. I was getting frustrated and tired. Then the surges seemed to get even less regular. I was really disappointed and we were starting to think this was false labour (looking back this may have been my body giving me a bit of a break). The surges carried on all morning but had reduced to every 15 minutes. I told Rocky to get some sleep as I knew I would need him to have some energy if this was going to carry on. I tried to get some sleep and had a bath but the surges although very irregular were getting much more intense. By the afternoon I was really struggling, but we were staying positive and even singing silly songs to try to move the baby down. By 8pm I was feeling exhausted and disappointed. The surges were not getting any more regular, some were 5 minutes apart some 7mins, some longer. We made the decision to call the hospital and see if we could go in to be assessed and hopefully come home with some sort of pain relief to carry on at home.

The car ride to the hospital was really tough, the surges were now coming every 4 minutes and were really intense. Poor Rocky was trying to drive and talk me through the surges, helping me focus on my breathing. I spent the whole 30 minute drive with my eyes closed with Rocky updating me as to where we were and how long was left of the journey. I was dreading the journey home but hoping some pain relief would help.

We pulled up at St Michaels right outside, poor Rocky just wanted to get me inside but I wouldn’t go till he had parked the car as he was parked in the ambulance parking and I didn’t want to get in the way or be fined! Even in the waiting area of the delivery suite I kept my eyes closed and Rocky was helping me focus on my breathing.

We got into the assessment room with the midwife, I was still sure at this point that I was going to be one centimetre and hoping they could offer some pain relief and that we would go home. At this point I accepted some gas and air. The really lovely midwife checked on baby and then (after another surge) checked to see how far along I was. She started laughing and asked if we wanted to know how far along we were. Writing this 6 weeks later I can still remember the look on her face. I was 6cm and in her words my waters were ‘bulging’. The next words were ‘you aren’t going anywhere, do you still want to give birth on the MLU?’. The joy, relief and disbelief were immense. We were back on track to have the birth we were hoping for. I was very much doing it! We were also very happy to hear the lovely midwife who had done our checks was coming with us. She was very much on board with hypnobirthing and felt really on our wave length putting both me and Rocky completely as ease. She was completely fabulous throughout.

We headed up to the MLU, which had to be opened up for us, but this somehow added to the calm feeling. The room was lovely and the lights were all kept dim. Rocky had to go and get all our bags as we hadn’t brought anything in with us thinking we would be heading home. In this time Elle, our midwife helped me through a couple more surges lying on the bean bag whilst also filling the birth pool. She also explained baby was back to back which is why I could feel all my surges in my back. Rocky got back and I went to the toilet before getting in the pool. I lost my mucous plug on the toilet.

Getting into the pool felt like absolute heaven. I relaxed in the pool while Rocky dashed around setting everything up, we had a light machine, meditation music with water sounds, lavender oil diffusers and dinosaur fairy lights. I was completely unaware of this! I felt really relaxed, and was using the gas and air for my surges. Rocky was brilliant, talking me through each surge, focusing on my breathing and coming up with different ways to focus me, whilst also pointing a fan at my face and giving me regular sips of my drink. The midwife listened in on the baby every so often but other than that left us to it (other than reminding me to breath actual air every so often rather than just the gas and air).

My waters released not long after being in the pool which felt very intense, Rocky said this was one of the only times I made a noise. Not too long after the midwife came to talk me through what would happen as and just after baby was born. I remember asking if it would be much longer and the midwife replying ‘really not long now’.

After my waters released I could feel everything more intensely and a lot of pressure. I could feel the baby moving down and felt my body push. It was a very odd sensation. But I also had times between surges when I felt I could just rest till the next one. After a couple more surges the midwife checked with the mirror and told me I could feel the baby's head if I wanted to, it was the strangest feeling. I could also feel baby turning, very odd!

Elle then helped me control my breathing to get his head out as slowly as possible. It was hard to not bear down but as I ended up with only 2 minor grazes I was very glad I listened to her. I was also glad I had done some perineal massage in the weeks before birth as it definitely helped knowing in advance what the stretching/burning would feel like. A few breaths later me and Elle together pulled baby up between my legs and into my arms. It really was magical. As Rocky had stayed near my head we both got to see our baby at the same time which felt really special. Having arrived at the hospital at 9.30pm, our baby was born at 11.22, not 2 hours from when we arrived!

Cody was so calm, he came out of the water looked around and then just looked at me. It felt perfect. I kept looking at Rocky and saying ‘I did it, I did it’. We had delayed cord clamping, and then Rocky cut the cord. I couldn’t believe I had done it, and our baby was here. It was the most calm and gentle arrival into the world that we could have wished for.

Hannah holding baby Cody in the birth pool just after a waterbirth on an MLU

Want to feel like this about your birth?

Expectant couple watching positive birth videos together

What could be better for your nerves than reading inspiring birth stories?

How about watching them?! Most of us go through life without ever seeing a birth happen of course, so what better way to give ourselves an 'I can DO this' pep talk than to watch other women in all their strength, grace & sheer tenacity bring new life into the world? A great place to start is with the beautiful collection of birth videos filmed by Monet Nicole Birth Videographer

Grab a few tissues & just soak up all that birth & baby lushness...