Skip to main content

Fletcher

It’s fair to say that I enjoyed being pregnant. For the first time in more than 15 years I hung up my party shoes and started to be a little bit more sensible. I was amazed at how liberating the whole thing was and found great happiness in my newly found (albeit enforced) sobriety! No longer was I to wake up moaning like a Wilderbeast with a hazy recognition of the antics of the night before.

I had never really given childbirth very much thought. I’m a very positive person (I get this from my mother) and I’d decided as soon as I found out that I was pregnant that I was going to be good at giving birth.

I remember so well my mother telling me that she just ‘climbed the mountain’ and breathed her babies out and she now concedes that she was in fact unwittingly hypnobirthing. I should add at this point that 3 years after having me my mother gave birth to my twin sisters naturally without any pain relief in a room full of student doctors who were there ‘to learn’. She is my hero.

 

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that childbirth never really phased me as I had an amazing roll model who made it all sound very doable.

My midwife was lovely. Somewhat unusually he was male (more that 99% of midwives are female) and we had a great rapport. I mentioned to him that I was interested in a home birth but it seemed to be a no-go. Because I am epileptic and this was my first baby I was automatically classified as ‘high risk’ which meant that lots of things were immediately decided for me. I couldn’t possibly have a home birth which I wanted and I would need lots of extra scans and check-ups which I didn’t want.

Anyway, like so many mums to be I read masses of books in the months leading up to the birth of my son. (who by the way we called Bonnie my entire pregnancy as my husband and I were so convinced he was a girl) Amongst the book I read was one on Hypnobirthing which I found very interesting. I’ll be honest though, at this stage I wasn’t really invested in it and I found the word a bit…well…off putting. I decided I’d just do my own thing and hope for the best.

The night before Fletcher was born I had been desperate for a bunk up but despite my numerous advances my husband had banished me to the spare bed as he was in the midst of installing our new kitchen and didn’t want anything to bring the baby on early.

I woke up to a sudden gush of water from my ‘area’. I didn’t for one second think my waters had broken as I’d been leaking quite a lot for the past week or so. I was basically a human snail. However I realised that I also had a dull ache in my tummy. It wouldn’t go away and started to get worse. Then came the poo. I had explosive diarrhoea. I now know that it’s very common to poo before and indeed during labour.

Anyway once the poo had stopped the contractions started. It was 4.30 in the morning. I decided not to wake my husband as I’d been told repeatedly that with first babies things usually take a while. I rang the hospital to let them know I was in labour and they told me much the same. The midwife on the end of the phone told me to call back if things changed.

I remember feeling very strange as I paced up and down my landing. I was breathing and swaying and humming. I remember at one point even humming a little song. Around 6am, Barn appeared to see why all the lights were on. I explainded I was in labour but everything was totally fine. Reassured, he tootled off for a shower. Now, Barn has never been a speedy showerer. He’s not one of those guys who just nips in and out but rather stands there for ages luxuriating under the hot water. Needless to say some 15 minutes later he appeared to find me rolling around on the landing-no longer humming joyfully but panting and cursing between contractions which were now coming every minute. Things had escalated very quickly and it’s fair to say I was no longer feeling quite so serene!

Barn immediately started to breathe with me and I felt instantly better. I remember him saying that we definitely needed to go to the hospital now and feeling very reluctant. I was safe here and didn’t want to leave the comfort of my home. Nevertheless, we bundled ourselves into the car and headed for the hospital.

I clutched our bathroom bin the whole journey periodically vomiting and as we turned into the hospital I felt ready to push. “Not here babe-not here!” he said.

At 7.15am upon arrival at the maternity unit the midwife on reception eyed us dubioiusly as I stood before her moaning like a Rhinoceros. She almost rolled her eyes as she knelt to the floor to check on the situation. I remember the look on her face as she popped up and said “Oh goodness your baby is ready to be born”

Sadly, this meant it was too late to fill the birthing pool which I had really wanted but I remember feeling immensely relieved that I hadn’t been turned away and told to come back when things had progressed!

We were whisked into a room and then things slowed down a bit. I think it was due to the change in surroundings-the hospital was so clinical and my oxytocin was no longer flowing . My midwife was lovely and kept assuring me how brilliantly I was doing. I remember her asking me if I wanted to get up on to the bed but I was happy standing up and swaying about the room. Things were getting very intense and my midwife asked if id like some Gas and Air. I decided that this sounded like an excellent plan and sucked on the pipe as if my life depended on it! All the time Barn just breathed with me and at 8.32am, whilst I was standing with fists clenched like a Roman warrior, bellowing like a rhinoceros, my darling boy was born.

I’ll always remember the total euphoria I felt. Feeling like I could run a marathon. It was quite a different story the following day however when I genuinely felt like I’d been hit by a bus and could only sit on a rubber ring!

All told I had a great birth but I think the overwhelming feeling for me when I think back to it is how little I actually knew. I didn’t really understand all the things that were happening to my body and why they were happening. I also didn’t realise that I had choices and was very much at the mercy of the medical professionals. Fast forward 18 months to the birth of my second son and it would be a very different story!

Raphael

When I found out I was pregnant for a second time I felt much more confident in my choices and this time I was going to make sure I got the birth I wanted.

Once again I was told that I was not able to have a homebirth due to the fact I was epileptic and once again I felt disappointed. However this time I decided to fight it. It was my body, my baby, my birth and my choice! I telephoned my midwife and said that a homebirth was the only option for me and would it be better for me just to have the baby at home without telling anyone until it was too late or try to sort something out beforehand?! Within minutes he’d made the necessary calls and it was all sorted. I remember feeling elated that I was able to have the homebirth I so desperately wanted but also furious at how simple it had been. The moment I challenged those saying no, they looked at me as an individual rather than a statistic and immediately realised that there was no good reason for me not to have my baby at home.

It was during my second pregnancy that I started to look into hypnobirthing a bit more seriously. Throughout my pregnancy I would listen to relaxations with my husband before I went to sleep. Barn remembers with great amusement how he would frequently fall asleep imagining his “cervix dilating and uterus releasing!”

I’d also practise different breathing techniques and visualisations that would prove very helpful at the main event.

On Monday 30th October I have a dull ache in my stomach but nothing to write home about so I just get on with things. Fletcher is 18 months old at this point and full of beans so there’s no time to sit down. Off we go to playgroup and the pains continue-coming and going-up and down like a wave. I remember thinking to myself-ah, hang on a minute, perhaps its started but it felt so different to the intense labour pains I’d had with fletcher that I decided I probably wasn’t and most likely they were just Braxton hicks. This baby also wasn’t technically ‘due’ for another week so it seemed a fair assumption.

Whilst at playgroup the pains intensified but I was calm. I chatted away to my friends to distract myself and just breathed slowly and calmly. In hypnobirthing we call contractions ‘surges’ which is a much nicer way of describing them. I also think it’s pretty accurate.

I remember driving back from playgroup and timing the surges which were now about 3 minutes apart. I was definitely in labour now so telephoned the hospital to let them know. It was just before midday. I told them that everything was fine and I was hypnobirthing and no one needed to rush over but things had definitely started moving.

My husband got back from work by 12.30 and I telephoned my friend to ask her to pick up Fletcher as the baby was on his way.

All the while I’m just walking around listening to my floaty music, bouncing on my birthing ball and generally just enjoying the whole process. There was a wonderful moment when my friend Grace arrived with her little girl, Margot. She and Fletcher are 2 days apart in age and are the very best of pals and I remember listening to their joyful shrieks as they played together whilst Barn and Grace shared a (probably rude) joke. Everyone around me was happy and it felt wonderful. My oxytocin was well and truly flowing!

The midwives arrived just after 1 and they were lovely. I explained that I just wanted to be left alone with my husband to birth our baby and they let me do exactly that. Barn was with me every step of the way supporting me 100% when things started to get more intense. As labour progressed and I felt the urge to push he was instrumental in keeping me in the zone. He never lost focus on me and his gaze never left mine. With every surge we climbed the mountain together until finally, whilst kneeling over my lounge pouffe holding my husband’s hands I gave birth to our second son-Raphael.

The golden hour that followed was everything I could have hoped for and more. Barn made me a cup of tea in my favourite mug and we snuggled up on the sofa with our new little man. Within the hour Fletcher was back and introduced to his baby brother and our life as a family of 4 had begun.

Something changed in me forever the day I gave birth to Raphael. I felt like I’d finally found my calling in life. I needed to find a way to help other women have positive birth experiences. And so here I am. And if you’re willing, then I’d love to help.

Utterly amazing experience and we are so grateful to Anna for her preparing us! I even found myself being helpful rather than a hindrance. Eternally grateful to Anna!!

Oli Buckland

I had no idea birth could be so interesting! Loved everything about this course. Can’t wait to put my knowledge into practise!

Rach

This course made such a difference to me and my partner. The videos are really interesting and Anna is very easy to watch. I’d definitely recommend.

Sarah Coombes

So glad I invested in this course. I use the “breath for life” every day!

Gemma

Anna is a gifted teacher & I would recommend her personally to any expecting friend.
Thank you Anna

Lucy

I contacted Anna whilst I was pregnant with my second child as I’d had a difficult birth with my son and was hoping for a smoother and more relaxed birth with my daughter. I was also having a pretty anxious pregnancy as I’d had miscarriages before and was looking for help with general relaxation so I could enjoy my pregnancy more. I wasn’t disappointed!

Kitty

Such a worthwhile course. We learnt about the biology of birth, as well as the value in knowing your options in labour and not being afraid to speak up, which I really appreciated.

Charlotte Friars

I would recommend Anna without hesitation.

Katy

I was somewhat sceptical about the benefits of hypno-birthing when my wife mentioned that she was keen. I didn’t do much reading up before the course and was probably a bit lazy in my preparation for the course - a reluctant participant! I must admit my pre-judgement was completely wrong! Anna was welcoming whilst being utterly professional and put my wife and I at ease, we settled in and looked forward to the next class and the next.

Pierre

I’m sure that my smooth and fast labour was helped by staying calm and using Anna’s techniques, which I will forever be grateful for. Thank you again Anna!!

Viv

Anna’s sessions not only provided us with invaluable, practical tools to use through labour it also provided time for us as a couple to relax & focus on the birth.

Sophie

Anna is a gifted teacher & I would recommend her personally to any expecting friend.
Thank you Anna 💞

Lucy

I found the course really useful reminding me of my role and how to be a great birth partner to my wife. I felt the most useful tool was the importance of breathing, I used this many times to support Lucy throughout the labour.
Our baby unexpectedly arrived at home and I had the honour of delivering him into the world. Thank you Anna!

Darren

I was somewhat sceptical about the benefits of hypno-birthing when my wife mentioned that she was keen. I didn’t do much reading up before the course and was probably a bit lazy in my preparation for the course - a reluctant participant! I must admit my pre-judgement was completely wrong! Anna was welcoming whilst being utterly professional and put my wife and I at ease, we settled in and looked forward to the next class and the next.

Pierre