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Annabel's Birth Story

I attended yoga with Nerissa from 28 weeks in my pregnancy after hearing about the classes from a friend who had recently attended another of Nerissa's classes. I wanted to go to yoga as I was scared about having an epidural and wanted to find ways to cope with the pain without the need for such medical intervention. As this was my first pregnancy, I found it useful to be able to find out about labour and be able to prepare physically and mentally for it. The classes were a brilliant way to relax and focus on my pregnancy and also learn and talk about impending motherhood.

By late pregnancy, I had a huge bump and was finding the exercises, especially rocking and squatting the only really comfortable way to rest. I bought a little stool to do the exercises with and would spend hours squatting, rocking and yoga-ing on it every day.

At 41 weeks, despite all my best efforts to go into labour, I had a membrane sweep by the midwife which seemed to do the trick. I had a heavy 'show' that evening and began to feel excited this was it! In the early hours of Friday morning, I started to get mild contractions which were fairly regular. I phoned the hospital and was advised to have a bath. It was so relaxing my contractions stopped and feeling disappointed I went back to bed. Throughout Friday I had mild contractions that came and went. I continued to do my exercises but sure that I would be induced, as arranged, on Christmas Eve!

I awoke at 3:15am on Saturday morning as I felt my waters break. I jumped out of bed and there was a 'pop'. At the same time I had a painful contraction and realised that I was in labour! I looked down and then panicked. My waters were green and mucky and I knew that my baby had passed meconium which I knew could indicate a problem. I was scared and panicked as I was also having strong, regular contractions that were very close together. It took me a few minutes to collect my thoughts and to focus on my breathing as I had been taught, but once I had focused my breathing, everything seemed a lot clearer. My husband had phoned the hospital and they said we should go in straight away.

We got to the hospital at about 4am. By this time I had been having strong contractions that were immediately following each other. I found this hard to cope with; I had always thought that contractions started off minutes apart and got closer together unlike these which were fairly constant. Again I felt panicky, but found myself hearing Nerissa's words that 'no two labours are the same'. Each time I got scared I remembered something which helped me to focus and regain control.

When I was examined by the midwife I was four centimetres dilated but as my baby had passed meconium I was told that I would have to be monitored all the time. I can remember feeling sad about this as I was concerned about how I would be able to walk around and do any yoga movements with these belts around my waist. At this point I became quite stubborn about how I wanted my labour to go. I refused to lie down and just stood in the position that I found the most comfortable.

For about an hour I stood leaning on the side of the bed rocking back and forth when I began to feel that I could not cope with the pain anymore. I was tired and finding the pain intense. I decided to get up on bed and kneel, leaning over the headrest. This was immediately soothing as I was able to rest better. The pain was intense and I began to feel scared that I would be unable to cope without stronger pain relief. At this time, the midwife said that she would check me again to see how far on I was as if I was dilating well this may encourage me to keep going with just the gas and air. I couldn't believe it when she said that I was nine centimetres!

By about 5:45 I started to push. I found kneeling on the bed was a really good position as I was able to rest and also able to rock back and forth. All the time, I could hear Nerissa's 'sayings' and they helped me focus my thoughts. When I was pushing I used the sounds that I had felt so embarrassed by in class, but they really helped.

I seemed to be pushing for ages but wasn't getting anywhere, eventually, the midwife told me that she could see my baby's head. I was having difficulty pushing out the head and in the end the midwife eased it out, but I could not push any more. My contractions had stopped and I was in agony, my baby's shoulders were stuck. The midwives were encouraging me to push but nothing was happening and my baby was going into distress. At this moment everything became quite surreal as the doors to the delivery room burst open and suddenly lots of people were in there. (this was more scary for my husband who saw it? I was kneeling in the other direction!) Before I knew what was happening I had been turned over onto my back and my baby was pulled out. I remember looking up and seeing this little blue head and thinking please let my baby be alright.

The paediatrician said that my baby was having difficulty breathing and that he may have to go to the baby unit. Again I just found myself just taking deep breaths like I'd been taught - I knew that I had to stay in control. Luckily, Oliver responded well and soon was fine. After what seemed like ages, he was passed to me by the midwife. I remember looking at him and thinking wow!

Oliver was my first baby and weighed 10lb14oz. Although my labour was intense, it was short, only four hours. Oliver is a big baby, despite the fact that I am small and I am certain that by going to Nerissa?s classes and from practising the yoga moves at home, I was able to give birth naturally and stay in control when problems arose. Had I been less prepared my labour would have been difficult - exactly what I feared the most. I really enjoyed being able to learn these techniques and will definitely go back to the classes for my next baby!

Annabel