sam is born

Tansy's positive induction   

Hi Zoe,

I've really enjoyed remembering this for you. Please do share. I think our speed is unusual but if there's anything to pass on it's that if you get whisked down a medicalised route there is no need for it to get nasty if you stay calm. I know so many women who have been induced and after an agonising 3 days the babe arrives, often by emergency C section. Whereas we were very lucky. I'm sure Sam was ready to come out too, but the calm hypno approach must have sped him along, no doubt.


This is our story...

Having come to your classes somewhat later than the others in our sessions, I was a little worried I wouldn't have time to get the hang of hypnobirthing. How wrong we were!

We practised a little together at night, but it always felt a bit forced and difficult to manage to be honest. So I mainly I went for walks and listened to the upward breathing techniques which my husband Andrew recorded for me and the positive statements for birth. I used the Colour and Calmness reading by Katherine Graves as a sure fire way to get me off to sleep if I was having a little pregnancy insomnia.


Andrew surprised me one morning having put up pictures all over the house - one a collage of 20 bits of A4 making up a beautiful scene of hot air balloons accompanied by the phrase "My job is to relax and let the birth happen". It was on the stairs so I saw it many times a day. I say was. 7 weeks later that one is still up as it has such happy connotations.

balloon collage for upward breathing

things take an unexpected turn


In week 38 I started getting very itchy skin which I optimistically hoped was a sign labour might be approaching. Mentioning it to friends no one seemed to think anything of it. However on 38+6 I was so itchy, all over, that I couldn't sleep. I did the thing I'd been resisting all week - the 4am Google self-diagnosis. I decided I had obstetric cholestasis - a liver disorder found in around one in 140 pregnancies in the UK, where the normal flow of bile out of the liver is reduced and instead it flies round the body, making you itch. But more importantly raising the occurrences of a still-birth.


I called the Labour Ward, something I hadn't done throughout the 9 months, and they said that the MAU would open at 8am so best get seen promptly there rather than hang around waiting for a doctor who might not see me for a few hours.


I kept calm, doing some breathing and left at 7am to walk the 45m there, rather than get a bus - I needed to start doing something about it even it was just walking to an appointment. 


They were brilliant and calm and didn't seem that bothered. I had a midwife appointment the following afternoon so they said wait until then to get the results. So I did. It was at the Sunflower centre as it was a bank holiday weekend, and I was promptly told to walk straight up the road to hospital - the doctor needed to asses me. 


And there I was told my levels were sky high and they'd be getting the baby out that day. 


if circumstances change, choices change


39+1 this wasn't quite how I'd planned it - I'd been sure I'd be late and have to fight off an induction at the other end. But certainly not early and for a reason I couldn't argue with.


But again, I employed my calm, stillness from your sessions and didn't let myself get alarmed by the new twist in our tale. 


Luckily there were no beds available so I was allowed to pop home for 2 hours to get my bag, have a shower and bring enough stuff for the weekend - they didn't expect the inductions to work very quickly. 


I returned at 8pm armed with a whole suitcase of stuff. I even brought some art supplies as I was on day one of my maternity leave (having worked until 11pm the night before) and had some baby cards to make people in my NCT class. I'd been told it could take 3 days and I'd be bored so I came prepared.


at hospital for induction


We were put in a sliver of a bay shaved off someone else's. It was so small they could only fit a chair in for Andrew at the foot of the bed facing away from me and my head was right next to the adjacent woman's monitor.


At 11pm they put in the pessary and the consultant said they wouldn't check me for 24 hours "as the first one never works". With all this in mind, I sent Andrew home so at least one of us had a good night's sleep. 


creating the best environment

Calm calm, the lights went out, there was only one midwife on the ward and looking back, it was actually quite a similar environment to what you'd request if you were in hospital - private, quiet, and dark.


But the pessary was not comfortable. We conceived through IVF so I was expecting something soft like the wax tampons you use for that but this felt more like a foreign object was up there - something that shouldn't be.


But as I lay and breathed through the discomfort, the woman next to me started going into labour. My pain felt nothing like hers sounded so I carried on breathing, thinking of hot air balloons and listening to her baby's heart beat next to my head.


Just as she was 4cm and the midwife relented to let her into her own room... pop! my waters broke. I had no idea what that would feel like but it was just like an elastic band snapping and a warm flow of liquid. "Err hello? Etien? I think my waters just broke" - "ok hang on" as she wheeled the other woman out - "yes yes no rush" - so British and apologetic.


At this point it was 4.40am so I called Andrew to tell him best to come back. It could still be 24 hours before they intervene but the waters had gone, so something was happening, come join the party.


'hypno haze'


And soon after my contractions started. In a bit of a hypno haze I found a yoga ball and was rolling around on that, breathing, visualising and mooing like a cow. 30m later still no midwife had come back so one of the other birthing partners in the room asked if I was ok and if I'd like someone to come and see me. "Yes please, I did tell them but they seem to have forgotten". 


Promptly a nurse turned up to be horrified my waters were continuing to flow all over the floor. She tried to get me on a bed which I refused until the midwife arrived and said she had to inspect me to see where things were. All I wanted was for the pessary to come out so I relented - that felt the most uncomfortable element in all of this. 

gas and air

And then the gas and air arrived. Miracle. Everything went light and easy. I half heard them say, she's hypersensitized, she's 8cm, she better call her partner. It was 5.20am and I called Andrew again. He was in the car and not far away.


By this point a mixture of my breathing and the gas and air made everything a little dreamy, I was definitely in my zone. Andrew arrived at 5.45 just as I was in my own room.


feeling comfortable, with support from partner


I can honestly say I didn't feel any pain. Or at least nothing that I couldn't comfortably cope with.


Andrew was amazing. He suggested I get into a position leaning over the back of the bed - very conducive and not something I would have probably thought of. He had me laughing between surges and chugging on the gas and air I was almost knocked out when each new one arrived.


He helped me slow down at the pushing phase - something I found fascinating, it's such an uncontrollable reflex - like gagging, but that wave going down instead of up.


sam is born!


And at 6.40am our little son Sam Wren Dickens arrived.

So all in all 2 hours of labour is my birth story. And Andrew had 50m to cope with.

Each minute was magical despite the highly medicalised start and environment.

sweet sam

Thank you Zoe. Without the calm you instilled in us, I am absolutely sure it would have gone a very different way. 

The midwife summed it up by showing us the contractions report aftwards. She's never had a piece of paper so short!


contractions sheet