Catriona's Story

My labour started ten days after my estimated due date. The night before, I felt a dull ache, similar to period pain and I told my partner not to get over excited, but I thought something might be happening. That night I cleaned the whole house and left extra food out for the cat. Looking back, I obviously knew what was coming! I woke up at 4.30am with the same dull ache, which came and went every ten minutes or so. I got back to sleep and woke again at 6.30am with the same feelings, only stronger. I got up and had a shower and by 7am when I came back into our bedroom, my partner, Owen, took one look at me and said; 'It's happening isn't it?' It was the start of my contractions, which grew much stronger very quickly. By 7.30am I felt that I was definitely in labour. I rang St. Mary's birthing centre and they advised me to rest, to have some food and try and wait for the contractions to become more regular and spaced out. However, by 9am Owen had to call again, as my contractions were painful and coming every 1-2 minutes. I hadn't managed to leave our bedroom or eat my breakfast and I felt that it seemed to be intense very early on. We drove to St. Mary's and I breathed through each contraction, listening to Classic FM!

When we arrived, the midwife inspected me and explained that my cervix had hardly dilated and that I must go home and wait for the contractions to space out to every fifteen minutes or so before coming back. I was devastated as I was in a lot of pain, the contractions were coming every minute or so and I was unsure how long I could stand it. However, we drove all the way back home and I tried to accept that I might be in labour for quite some time. I imagined that during labour I would be upright and active, walking and moving into different positions as I had practised. However, I could barely stand up and just about managed to sit on my birthing ball, leaning over a pile of cushions on the sofa with my eyes closed. The contractions kept on coming every minute or so and I dealt with them by breathing deeply and slowly. I listened to relaxing music, which helped me to zone out from the pain a little. Owen sat by my side and tried to time the contractions. Some contractions blended into each other with little time for recovery. It felt very intense and not how I imaged it would be. I stayed like this for four hours before Owen called St. Mary's again. They said I could come back in, but they still seemed unsure that I was in established labour. Thankfully, when I arrived back at 4pm, I was 7cm dilated and they started running the birthing pool. I was offered gas and air, which I gladly accepted at this point! By 5pm I got into the pool. It was a relief to be able to float around and I finally felt that things were moving on. The gas and air was helpful, but I felt that it hindered my ability to take deep slow breaths, so I stopped using it after a while. My contractions were getting much stronger and more powerful and still coming quickly. I continued to work with my breath as the contractions built, I also made loud low sounds, which felt quite natural and instinctive to me at the time. I felt comfortable enough to let myself go completely by this point! By 8.30pm the midwife inspected me again and announced that I was completely dilated! However, I felt no urge to push at all. The midwife encouraged me to feel the baby's head, which was about one inch away from the opening of my vagina. My water's still hadn't broken and I could feel that the baby was still inside the amniotic sac. This spurred me on a little and I was advised to start bearing down and pushing. Again, this was not how I imagined the second stage of labour to be! I thought I would be trying to slow down the baby as it came out, but it was the complete opposite ? almost as if the baby was stuck! I was very tired by this point and I proclaimed to Owen; 'I can't do it! The baby will have to stay in there!' I moved into a squatting position with one leg straightened, almost like a sitting lunge, whilst holding onto the side of the birthing pool. The midwives encouraged me to stand up for a little while, though I felt unable to get out of the pool to walk around. I went back to squatting and the forced pushing went on for over an hour, which felt very exhausting. I worked with each contraction, holding my breath and keeping my mouth closed to push. Finally, the baby's head started to emerge. It was a very gradual process as the head kept disappearing back again, but with each contraction and lots of pushing, the head appeared. With just one more contraction and push, the shoulders came and the midwife tugged the baby out! At 10pm exactly, baby boy Omi was born! Weighing 9lbs 1oz - with that weight, it was obvious why he took so long! Born in the year of the water dragon, into the Aquarius star sign, in a water pool, inside his own waters - Omi is a true water baby. As you can imagine, he loves his bath!

Practicing yoga during my pregnancy was invaluable for me. I was determined to have a natural labour and I knew that my breath would be one of the main things I could use to keep me calm and focused.