top of page

Birth Story: Using Hypnobirthing during a Home Birth turned Hospital Birth with Epidural

A mum who completed a Positive Birth Leeds Hypnobirthing course holds her baby and is smiling at the camera, baby's mouth is open. The photo is greyscale.
Ruth and her baby daughter

In this blog, Ruth shares her story of the last weeks of her pregnancy and the birth of her daughter. Ruth planned for a home birth in Leeds, this birth evolved into a hospital birth at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) with an episiotomy. Ruth herself describes her birth as "unremarkable". She says"Given how scary pregnancy and birth seemed to me before I was pregnant I would have given anything for an experience that was indifferent."

Ruth shares how she used the tools she learnt during her Positive Birth Leeds Hypnobirthing course during pregnancy and birth, particularly when her birth evolved away from her 'plan a' - home birth.

"Hypnobirthing preparation helped me feel comfortable with not being in control...and made me feel informed and empowered"

A Positive Birth Leeds hypnobirthing course can help you and your birth partner feel informed, empowered and nurtured preparing for birth. Read more on the website, or contact me for a chat.

Now for Ruth's birth story, take it away Ruth...

"Reflecting on my daughters entry into the world. The word that keeps coming back to me is unremarkable. So why write a blog post about an unremarkable birth? Well, given how scary pregnancy and birth seemed to me before I was pregnant I would have given anything for an experience that was indifferent.

When I say unremarkable I don’t mean the fact that my body grew her, birthed her and then sustained her for the first six months of her life, that I still can’t quite believe! But the actual process of giving birth has lodged in my brain as a kind of neutral event; not difficult, not traumatic. This is coming from someone whose preference was to have an unmedicated home birth and ended up having an epidural, giving birth on the obstetrics unit, with an episiotomy. Hypnobirthing preparation helped me feel comfortable with not being in control, reminded me to enjoy the journey, and made me feel informed and empowered which was what I needed to be.  

I was drawn to hypnobirthing because I’ve been going to yoga classes for years and I think the link between our bodies and our brain is fascinating. I’m also always up for anything that encourages relaxation. My partner reading the relaxations to me and ‘the bump’ each evening is one of my favourite memories of my pregnancy. 

Making informed decisions...

Hypnobirthing helped me feel more confident in making decisions about myself, my unborn baby, and my labour by giving me a framework for working through decisions. I first used this when I was ‘overdue’. I am one of three children and my mum was 1-3 weeks over her guesstimated due date with all of us, so I had told my midwife from early on that I was anticipating I would also have a longer pregnancy. With this in my notes I got to 40+7 (41 weeks) before I was being asked about a stretch and sweep. I decided to book one for 40+10 as if I got to 40+14 (42 weeks) I thought I would probably decide to be induced, and I knew a sweep may have made that process more effective. All this maths and mental juggling was not what I wanted to be spending my time doing at this point, but the confidence I’d gained through the hypnobirthing course and my own research helped me make the decisions. As it was I began to have contractions at 40+8 so I never needed that intervention. 

Labour starting...

I knew things were starting on Saturday morning, and by that night I could feel pressure around my tailbone and in my bum and had some light surges as I went to sleep. The next morning the surges had gone, I tried to stay active and get on with my day but it was hard as I knew labour was imminent. In the afternoon we went to our allotment and I did some digging and that seemed to get things moving, that evening the surges came back every 20 minutes. I spent the evening listening to affirmations, going for walks around the block to stay active, and setting up the room with fairy lights. The surges gradually got closer together during the night and into Monday morning, and at 4am I began to keep track of them. They got closer together and then further apart throughout Monday morning and early afternoon, I managed a short nap on the sofa and then things began to build. By 3pm the surges felt strong and were coming every 10 minutes. I used positions such as squats and child’s pose, as well as a TENS machine and the birth pool to help with the intensity. I was surprised that the birth pool didn’t feel as effective for me as I had imagined it would, but the TENS machine worked miracles. I felt a natural urge to move through the surges, rocking on my knees or swaying. 

My partner called the home birth team about 1.30am on the Tuesday when the surges had got to three in ten minutes, it took them a little while to arrive and when they did things slowed down. I had been told that this could happen as an effect of being ‘observed’ and strangers coming into my space, but it was still disheartening and I was examined and told my cervix was still high and back and I hadn’t begun to dilate, which was also frustrating as I’d first felt surges on Saturday and it was now Tuesday!

Time for a change of plan....

I decided it was time for a change of tact, I put on my oxytocin playlist, sent my partner to bed to get some sleep, and spent an hour dancing around the kitchen and signing. This wasn’t as enjoyable as it sounds! With each surge I felt like my legs might collapse beneath me, and it took a lot of effort to make myself relax and sway rather than tense up. 

By 6am when my partner got up I had got back in the pool and had a big cry! I said that I felt like I’d been contracting forever, I felt exhausted, and I wasn’t sure that I could carry on at home. The visit from the home birth team hadn’t been encouraging and I was beginning to think that there might be something preventing me from making progress which might be better supported in hospital. I knew all along that once I had any doubts about giving birth at home, it was no longer the right place to be. So I trusted my instincts and we rang the ward and went into hospital at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI), I was 5cm dilated when I arrived. I put this progress down to the dancing in the kitchen and all the oxytocin that produced. 

Arriving at hospital...

I was then taken to the labour ward, I was offered the midwife-led unit because they could see in my birth preferences that I wanted to labour in water. The pool was being filled as they did my observations, unfortunately my heart rate was very high so they had to waste all that water and send me to the labour ward instead so I could have continuous monitoring. This was a bit scary but I asked why they thought that might be and they explained that I hadn’t slept or eaten properly for a few days and was probably dehydrated too. So once in the labour ward I was given a mountain of toast and butter, porridge and my partner was instructed to make me drink water non-stop. A few hours later my heart rate was much better so this had worked, it shows how much fuel your body is burning through in labour as I had been snacking throughout.

I found gas and air really helpful once I was in the hospital, and although I had continuous monitoring the bed was put up so I could be on my knees leaning over the head of the bed and that felt comfortable. The gas and air really helped me focus on my breathing through surges. At lunchtime I was struggling and asked for an epidural, the midwives said that they thought I was doing really well and questioned if I needed it. But I explained that I might have been able to hold it together on the outside, but on the inside I knew my reserves were running low. I was examined first and in doing so the midwife inadvertently broke my waters. I had only progressed to 6cm dilated and they thought the way the waters were sitting was maybe slowing things. This brought on very intense surges and I knew that I definitely wanted the epidural then.

I had the epidural at 1pm, and at 2.30pm I asked to be examined as I could feel pressure . They found I was fully dilated at that point, and recommended I had an hour resting to allow the baby to get into the optimum position for delivery. They also noticed that I was feeling more than I should with the epidural so they topped that up and I had an hour’s sleep which was the best nap of my life. I woke up at 3pm and they explained that I was going to have to forget all I’d learnt in hypnobirthing about breathing the baby out, and instead I needed to push with everything I had. Luckily from the hypnobirthing course I felt I understood this, and I also had in the back of my mind that the likelihood of needing an assisted birth would be higher because I had an epidural. I was told to push until it felt like my head was going to explode! So when it came to pushing this motivated me to give everything I had. It was intense even though I couldn’t feel any pain, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my cheerleaders; two midwives and my partner all cheering me on and telling me I was doing well when I began to doubt myself. Just under an hour of pushing and my baby arrived in the world, she was a chunk at 9lb 4oz so I had an episiotomy to prevent a tear. The midwives explained why they recommended this and got my consent for it, and I felt confident in making the decision based on my situation at the time. 

I think it doesn’t matter what kind of birth you’re planning for, hypnobirthing is invaluable preparation. There are so many difficult decisions that you can encounter during your pregnancy and birth and Charlotte [from Positive Birth Leeds] helped me to have a framework for working through these decisions, the confidence to listen to my instinct about what was right for me and my baby, and resources to educate myself." 

Thank you Ruth for sharing your birth story and feelings. I love working with women, birthing people and parents-to-be to prepare for birth and I'm so glad the Hypnobirthing tools were helpful, particularly with an evolution away from 'plan a'.

Charlotte from Positive Birth Leeds, a white woman with blonde hair,  is sitting down smiling at the camera

I work with expectant women and families helping them get informed and feel confident, relaxed and empowered for birth.

The latest Positive Birth Leeds Hypnobirthing Group course dates are on the website. Alternatively get in touch to ask about private one-to-one course availability.

Charlotte x


bottom of page