It's been just over a fortnight since I officially became a mum of 2, welcoming our lovely boy Rudy into the world on Sunday 28th May at 12.30pm. We've been on cloud 9, and so far everyone has adapted (surprisingly) well to being a family of 4. I've found the shift from 1 little to 2 significantly less jarring than the shift I experienced when I became a mother first time around. I had my reservations about how Thea would feel, but she's head over heels for her little brother and has been so amazing with him.
I really wanted to share Rudy's birth story with you. Partly, it's a cathartic experience for me before it all feels like a distant blur. Predominantly, though, I want to share because talking about birth, sharing our birth stories and normalising it as a natural, safe and even positive physiological process is so valuable for women, especially those preparing for birth themselves.
Rudy's Birth Story
I was a few days over my 'estimated due date', and had been feeling very patient and calm about the whole situation right up until the day before I went into labour (not that I knew this at the time, obv). Before going into into labour on Sunday morning, all of Saturday my mood was in the bin. I suddenly felt exhausted and I still felt like I was very far away from meeting our boy. In retrospect, it was all part of my body telling me to rest and prepare for things to come...
At 5.30am the next morning, I felt a pop but didn't immediately think much of it. A couple minutes later I heard Thea come out of her room so I hopped out of bed to tell her no thank you ma'am, 5.30 is too early for a Sunday. I felt a trickle down my legs as I got up and, and fairly confident I wasn't just wetting myself, I told Alex my waters had broken. My first contractions thankfully didn't take too long to follow, with the first one coming around 6am. I called the midwives early, knowing I wanted a home birth and wanting to make sure there were midwives available to come out to me.
At 7.30am a midwife arrived to have a natter and see how I was getting on, whilst Alex, Sally (my brother's very wonderful girlfriend who came to stay and support us all the way from Glasgow) and Thea went out for a dog walk so I could focus. I employed the hypnobirthing techniques I'd practiced through pregnancy from the get go, relying heavily on breathing and creating a calm atmosphere. It felt very manageable, and the midwife left at 8.30am for me to progress independently as I was happy to do so until my contractions built in frequency and intensity. At 9am, Thea and Sally headed out to Puxton Park for the day so I could fully relax and settle in to labour knowing Thea was safe and happy elsewhere (God bless you Sally)
I called the midwives back at 10am, as contractions were coming more frequently. They were more intense, but I still felt very calm and in control, breathing through each one with Alex massaging my lower back. We were incredibly lucky to have the midwives we had - they were both very empowering and supportive throughout, allowing me to take the lead throughout the whole labour and "sitting on their hands" for the most part which was exactly what we wanted/needed. We listened to our birthing playlist, chatted and drank tea, and as surges got stronger and I needed to focus more on breathing through them I played these affirmations (which I highly recommend listening to and using if you're prepping for birth yourself), and moved into the birth pool at 11.50am.
The pool felt amazing, the warmth and the freedom to move around in the water and find the most comfortable position helped me manage those more intense contractions. Alex poured water over my back and I used an acupressure comb, pressing the comb into the palm of my hand as the surges came.
Soon after getting into the water the surges were coming much closer together, and soon I felt the need to start bearing down. By 12.20pm, I felt a shift and knew it was time to push. The surges were really strong and intense during this pushing phase - the farmyard animal noises soon emerged as I felt Rudy's head move down the birth canal. Within just a couple of minutes I felt his head coming out. By the time the midwives and Alex had moved around the pool his head had already been born. One more contraction and his shoulders came out, and Alex was able to catch Rudy as he was born, (still asleep!) into the water.
When he passed Rudy to me and I held him for the first time, I just felt blissfully content. I was so proud (and in slight disbelief) at the incredibly calm labour we'd just experienced. Having been a little anxious about having another baby, how they would fit into our family and how I'd have enough love and headspace for them, I held Rudy in those first moments and it all made perfect sense - he had always been inevitable.
It's so important to say that every birth is different and there is no "best" way to bring your babe into the world. Home birth, hospital birth, induced or not, c-section or vaginal delivery - these things don't necessarily dictate a positive birth experience vs. a negative one. What made my births positive was the feeling of being calm and in control, and I definitely attribute that to hypnobirthing and employing those techniques. I was prepared to face whatever turns my birthing took, and I'm sure that confidence contributed to things going smoothly.
When I work with my prenatal clients, I always like to talk to them about their upcoming births and how they're feeling about it. I want every woman to feel confident and capable, never fearful. Our bodies really are so amazing, birth is normal, natural and even beautiful. I think there are definitely things we can do in pregnancy to best prepare ourselves physically and mentally for labour and postpartum recovery, and I hope that even if I don't experience it myself again, I can continue to support other ladies through their experiences for many years to come.
If you're pregnant and preparing for your own birth right now - you got this, mama.