ISABELLA'S BIRTH ...with thanks to Laura & John

I woke up on 4th December 2013, my due date, with what I'd describe as a mild period cramp. I wasn't too excited as a) I was a first time mum so the chances of our baby girl arriving on my due date were I thought, slim to none, and b) I'd only been complaining at an NCT lunch the day before that I'd had no signs of anything happening so thought the birth would be a long way off. However, after an hour or so of more aches I realised that I was actually having surges and quickly summoned my husband John back from his office, where he'd only just arrived!

That Wednesday morning was really chilled. My husband lit scented candles (Christmas flavour :)), turned on the fairy lights we'd strung around the living room and I pinned up to the wall some of the positive affirmations from the practice CD that I'd been listening to every day since taking Hollie's course so I could read them as well as listen to them. We watched a bit of telly and I focused on my up and calm breathing, while my husband timed the surges. At around 1pm the surges were coming closer together, so we called my fabulous Lanes midwife. The midwife arrived at around 2.30pm and quietly observed me. I agreed to an examination at around 4pm where I was found to be 1.5-2cm dilated. The midwife was hugely encouraging and with my consent she said she'd pop home but come back when we felt things had ramped up a notch. Meanwhile, John had been busy getting the birthing pool ready but we agreed I wouldn't use it yet as I didn't want to slow the surges down.

The surges continued to build and get closer together and I managed them by reading and listening to the affirmations, using my up breathing and visualising filling a purple balloon in my tummy then letting it go. That bit sounds odd now I write it down but it was the visualisation I had been using to practice, so I found it comforting and very effective! I also used a TENS machine which helped to take my mind off the intensity of the surges, and John sat with me, observing me and encouraging me to relax when he could see me tensing my shoulders, arms or face.

Two hours after Sadie left, I really felt that things were progressing so we called her back. I am glad that we did as not long after she arrived I took to the pool, and shortly after getting in the pool had the urge to push. I would say that this is where my primal instincts took over, as my down breathing was very noisy – more down yelling I'd say! However, I did focus on visualising the baby moving down and remained relaxed and composed between surges, joking with John that the neighbours must have thought a murder was being committed! It was at this point that I felt I could really work with the surges – I wouldn't go so far as to say that I enjoyed it but I definitely felt excited and empowered in equal measure. 40 minutes later, our gorgeous daughter was born and I reached down into the water and brought her to the surface – the most magical experience of my life.

I fully credit hypnobirthing and specifically the course John and I took with Hollie with enabling me to have my ideal home water birth. Hypnobirthing didn't take away the pain, but it did fill me with a total, unwavering conviction that I could manage it and that it would never be too much for me. I also feel that by removing the fear of birth it helped my daughter to be born on her due date, swiftly (13 hrs from start to finish) and calmly (she didn't scream when she was born, she just serenely took a few breaths and that was that!).

I wouldn't hesitate in recommending hypnobirthing to any mum-to-be – thanks Hollie!