Danielle, Darren and Zachary's birth story

Danielle and Darren did a group hypnobirthing course to prepare for the birth of their first baby Zachary, who was born at Burnley Birth Suite

We welcomed into the world our baby boy, Zachary George on January 21st at 2.07pm.

We had a firm vision in our minds about our birth of our baby – we had intended to have a natural, relaxed water birth at Blackburn birth centre with minimal intervention. We envisioned this in our minds daily, discussed our ‘dream’ birth and packed our bags ready for our vision.

However, our baby had other plans and decided he was ready at 36 weeks and 5 days, and thanks to our hypnobirthing techniques and knowledge, were able to navigate ourselves through our journey feeling positive, empowered and informed, despite the ‘deviation’ from the preferred birth plan.

My waters broke spontaneously at home on 21st at 1.30am. I wasn’t sure at first that I hadn’t just wet myself, but after a second time of a large ‘gush’ I knew that our baby had decided it was time. Despite my earlier views, I consented to an examination at Burnley triage to confirm my waters had indeed broken, and they told me that my cervix was completely closed. I was advised, in line with guidance that I would most likely be offered an induction the following week, when I reached 37 weeks pregnant and the Doctors would discuss this with me in the morning. I was asked to stay on the antenatal ward, which as it was close to 6am, we did. I could already feel that I would be birthing our baby that weekend as I started with very mild period pain like cramps. This is the moment we both knew ‘this was it’ and we started to apply our birth plan to the environment we found ourselves in. We accepted that Blackburn birth centre was no longer an option and we went with what was being presented to us at the time.

Rather than laying in bed, we got up for a gentle walk around the ward and the hospital. We wanted to remain active and moving and keep gravity on our side. We had left all our bags in the car so raided the vending machine and had some chocolates to get us through the journey ahead.

On our way back to the ward, the period pain like cramping was starting to become a little more intense, to the point where we had to stop while it passed. At this point, I knew I was experiencing surges and my body was in the up stages of labour, opening and softening.

When we got back on to the ward, I was advised that they would need to monitor the baby and hooked me up to the monitor. This was difficult, as it restricted how mobile I could be, baby kept moving and the monitors kept losing signal. This led to a very long monitoring period, but I was able to remain standing, to move my hips and Darren requested a birth ball for me use, as I was starting to become uncomfortable. Being on the antenatal ward wasn’t in our original plan, but we did our best with the equipment we had access too.

The surges had become more intense and a midwife on the ward told us there was a bath in one of the bathrooms that I might find useful. Darren ran me a nice warm bath and when it was ready, we grabbed our stuff and took ourselves off into the bathroom where we stayed for a good few hours.  This is where we really got into the ‘zone’ and we used our breathing and relaxation techniques learnt on Megs course. I had listened to positive affirmations on a daily basis and throughout my surges, I was repeating these affirmations in my head. When they were really intense, I kept telling myself, ‘my surges can’t be stronger than me, because they are me.’

Again, it wasn’t what we had envisioned but taking over the bathroom, with access to the  bath created a safe and calm space we needed, away from the busy anti natal ward. Darren and I did Megs course together, and he was the best support throughout our birth. He breathed with me, reminded me to count, counted with me and kept me hydrated with Ribena after every surge. Our time in the bathroom was empowering. We did it as a team, with minimal intervention or interruption from any midwives or hospital staff and we understood exactly what my body was doing.  Darren knew when to ask for support in moving to the birth suite, as he recognised the times between each surge, the physiological changes in me, my surges and changes in my breathing.

When the time came to move to the central birth suite, I was told that I would need an examination before I went up to birth our baby. I could feel in myself that I was well on the way to birthing our baby, and there was hardly any time between my surges, but I consented as I knew I needed to get off the ward at that point and back into a private space. Getting out the bath was a challenge! The examination revealed I was 8cm and the next thing I remember I was breathing on gas and air on the way to the birth suite to birth our baby.

I didn’t get the opportunity to use a birthing pool, which I am sad about as the bath I had earlier was really soothing and relaxing. Darren did advocate for me and request this, but we were denied due to baby being pre term. Nevertheless, we didn’t dwell on this and moved forward with birthing our baby – as I knew he was close and we needed to remain positive.

Hypnobirthing taught us the importance of relaxation and oxytocin. The midwife who was now supporting our birth insisted on monitoring our baby’s heart rate. I could feel he was so close at this point and well on his way into the world, so we didn’t have a lot of time. They tried again to monitor our baby’s heart rate with the monitors, but they kept losing signal. At this point I was getting really frustrated with all the ‘messing’ around my bump when all I wanted to do was birth our baby. The difficulty in establishing his heartrate was causing a stressful situation for us all and they asked if they could monitor him through a clip on his head. Until we were placed in this situation, this is something pre birth we were strongly against. However at the time, they spoke to Darren and I, and using our BRAIN we were able to decide what was best for us and baby in that situation and consented to the clip on baby’s head. To be honest, it was more Darren who did this, as I was ‘out of it’ but I was confident he would make the right decision, thanks to being fully informed about birth and this procedure.  As soon as this was done, we were back into the ‘zone’ with the support of our midwife to birth our baby.

We were able to delay cord clamping and waited until our baby’s cord was white before Darren was able to cut it. I opted to have active management of my placenta. I was tired and I just wanted it out, to have my stitches and get that valuable skin to skin with our baby without any thought of delivering my placenta.

Zachary was born at 2.07pm on Burnley birth suite, just over 12 hours from my water breaking to taking his first breath – a fast and efficient labour.  Although it wasn’t the birth we had planned, it was a positive and empowering experience. We birthed our baby naturally, with minimal medical intervention. I firmly believe that the power of our mindset and informed knowledge that contributed to our successful birth experience.

Thank you Meg for providing us with the tools to successfully birth our baby. We are able to look back on that day with positivity and reflect how amazing our bodies are!”


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