Sometimes births don’t go the way you expect, but for this mum her labour was surprisingly easy
Louisa Thomas, 34, a yoga teacher, from Leeds is mum to Joseph, 20 months
'Although I was happy to be pregnant, I’ve never liked hospitals and I hate needles, so I wanted to avoid a medicalised labour. I was determined to give birth in a familiar environment at home, even though I accepted it would probably hurt more. To help me cope with my fears about the pain, I did a pregnancy yoga and hypnobirthing course.
The evening before my due date, I noticed a dull ache in my back and then my waters broke. I went to bed and put on my hypnobirthing CD. I found the calming voice reassuring, reminding me my body could cope with anything, and I felt really positive.
‘I expected the pain to kick in, but all I felt was an immense wave of energy’
While dozing, I was aware of a weird ache in my back, but I had no idea I was actually in labour. Half asleep, I wandered down to the lounge at around 2am and ended up on all fours, leaning over the back of the sofa to ease the pressure in my back and stomach. It still wasn’t painful but the sensations forced me to close my eyes and sway my hips. When Steve woke a few hours later, he started timing my contractions and we realised the aches were coming every two minutes – I was in labour! I expected the pain to start, but all I felt was intense pressure.
Steve called my doula, Hannah, who I’d hired to give me emotional support at the birth. Then he called the hospital to ask for a midwife to come, but we were told there weren’t enough staff on duty so I’d have to come into hospital.
This was my worst-case scenario, so against their advice, we decided to stay put. When I put the phone down, I didn’t feel angry, if anything I felt liberated and slightly exhilarated at the thought of doing it on our own.
I was confident I would manage with Steve and Hannah, who arrived moments later.
I went to sit on the loo, which eased the achey feeling, but as soon as I stood up I felt an overwhelming need to get back on. Sitting there, waves of painless pressure ran through my stomach and I felt relaxed. Steve filled up the birthing pool, where I was hoping to deliver, but I couldn’t get myself off the loo to get into it.
‘Gazing at his face, his eyes wide open, I couldn’t believe I’d had a pain-free experience’
Hannah’s reminders to do what felt natural reassured me as the pressure in my stomach changed to an intense urge to push. I expected the pain to kick in, but all I felt was an immense wave of energy gushing through me, from my navel down to my legs.
A couple of times it did feel overwhelming – as though my labour’s energy was too powerful – but I remembered what hypnobirthing taught me about trusting my body. I realised I was enjoying my birth.
By this point, I could feel something coming out. When Hannah suggested I touch it, I felt my baby’s head. It was amazing – and I still wasn’t in pain.
After pushing for nearly two hours, I was still sitting on the loo at 6am when a midwife finally arrived. She asked me to move off the loo so she could check the baby’s heart rate, explaining the baby might slip into the toilet bowl, so I carefully moved myself onto a beanbag that Steve had placed next to the loo.
On all fours, breathing deeply and pushing with all my strength, I felt the baby’s head emerge. This was the only time I felt a flash of discomfort. There was a feeling of stretching that made me wonder if the head was too big to come out, but even so, I didn’t panic. The pressure peaked as I waited for the next contraction. In one huge push the body slid out. I cried with relief and happiness as the midwife announced I had a healthy baby boy.
Gazing at his face, his eyes wide open, I couldn’t believe I’d had a pain-free experience. It was everything I could have wished for – and we didn’t have to go to hospital afterwards.’
Louisa’s tips for a pain-free birth
Read Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin (£12, Vermilion). It made me feel confident about giving birth.
Relax your muscles during each contraction. This stops contractions feeling more painful than they really are – aim to let them wash over you.
Do pregnancy yoga. It prepared me for labour and strengthened my pelvic floor muscles. It also helped me to relax whenever I felt anxious about the pain of childbirth.