Jess, Nathan and Frank's birth story

Jess and Nathan did an intensive refresher session to help them prepare for the birth of their second baby who was born at Blackburn Birth Centre, East Lancashire

It was my due date on the 13th April and I had no expectation that baby would be born then so I’d planned a due date-date day with my husband (Nat). I’d seen Meg (Birth Evolution) share this idea and thought it sounded just lovely! I did some yoga around 11am at home and began to feel some tightenings which to be honest I wasn’t sure if they were just Braxton hicks as I’d been getting them often by now. I’d also been wearing a heat pack down my back for days as my back had been sore but I think that was because I was carrying my toddler about too. When Nat came home from the gym, I said I was feeling some tightenings. I had my 40-week midwife appt around 12pm so went along to that with my heat pack. I still wasn’t 100% that I was having contractions but whilst waiting for my appointment, I messaged my mum, who was a birth partner and also a midwife at BBC, to let her know that I thought something was happening. I told my midwife (the lovely Larissa) that I was sure something was happening and she said I looked a little different to usual. She told me she was working at Blackburn Birth Centre until 8pm so I said I’d see her there (hopefully haha) with baby Frank- although we didn’t actually know baby’s gender, I just had a feeling that he was a boy! How exciting!

I started timing my contractions on the Freya app just before my appointment too. We’d planned to go for a meal so off we went to one of our favourite pubs. I had contractions during our time there but I completely trusted my body and knew from all my hypnobirthing education that remaining calm was key plus I knew I needed some stodge for what lay ahead. I also opted for something spicy as the old wives tale goes…I remember having a surge whilst we paid the bill and just casually breathing through it.

After our meal, we went for a walk and similarly the contractions continued. The contractions were not quite stopping me in my tracks so I just practised my breathing with Nat throughout them. After our walk, we picked our daughter up early from nursery. It was about 3pm now. She was happily playing with her little friends and didn’t spot us for a while so watching her playing happily got my oxytocin flowing some more! We headed home and played, I expressed colostrum, bounced on my ball and had a warm bath with my daughter. All things that because of hypnobirthing I knew would help my labour along. My contractions were developing in intensity and stopping me in my tracks just before and during the bath; this was about 4.30pm.

Not long after a few contractions in the bath with Mabel in too, Mabel headed to my Dad’s after a big goodbye and cuddle. I couldn’t believe that the next time we saw her, we’d have another babe too. She was happy to go get a treat from her ‘pa’ so again my oxytocin was flowing nicely. My mum then joined us and was an amazing support alongside Nat. She was quietly supportive and there for anything we needed. Mum timed some of my contractions as they were about 5 mins apart but seemed a little slower so she suggested if I was happy to, to get out of the bath as sometimes the warm water can slow things. As soon as I got out of the bath, I hadn’t even left the bathroom and I had a contraction. Nat and mum breathed through it with me. It was about 5.15pm now. Nat and mum breathed with me and were amazing supports. It was a beautiful evening and sunshine lit the sky and our room where we’d moved to after getting out of the bath. I remember us chatting casually but then conversation stopped when the contractions came and they both really supported me through them. Nat heated my wheat pack and pressed it against my back as each surge came, as I leant over the end of bed. We tracked some surges and I listened to Meg’s positive affirmations. I’d had affirmations around the house for weeks from Meg and some we’d written. I’d also listened to them daily on walks or whilst falling asleep along with Meg’s guided relaxations. I think my favourite affirmation was ‘my baby will come at the right time for an easy birth’ and this was one of the reasons that I had no expectation that baby would be born on their due date as I knew they would come when they were ready from 37-42 weeks. In fact, I was one of those who when asked when my due date was, would give a spiel about only 5% of babies being born on their due date. As it grew closer to my due date, I joked with Nat about baby being born on their due date but never really considered it would happen. Another favourite affirmation was ‘I trust my body and my baby’ and I really, truly did! I didn’t feel one bit worried as soon as labour started just calmness and excitement!! I’d had a really positive first birth with Mabel so I was excited to experience birth again and meet our newest babe!

Not long after getting out of the bath, mum asked if I was ready to go to the birth centre. We’d already spoken to them so they were ready for us. I said yes so mum rang and we headed there. I had about 3 surges on the way to the birth centre which is only a 5 minute drive although typically on that journey, we were stuck behind a learner driver. Mum drove separately so Nat breathed with me and I got as comfortable as I could. When we arrived, the lovely Larissa (my clinic midwife YAY- I got there woo) met us at the door and I felt instantly safe and welcome. We headed down to Blossom Room where the pool was all ready for us. Nat and mum helped set the scene (I’d taken photos of my daughter, her favourite toy, fairy lights, battery candles, music etc). I opted to keep the blinds open as it was lovely and sunny out and the pool was right by the window and the gardens are private. The sun shone in on the pool perfectly- golden hour was upon us. Larissa asked if I wanted to be examined and I did after a bit of umming and aahing. She said I was 5cm but it was hard for me to lay still for long enough. She rubbed my back through contractions after asking and that felt nice. I then entered the pool, I felt instant relief just as I’d remembered with my first birth. So lovely! Nat popped on our yoga birth play list and also some positive affirmations by Meg when I asked too.

My contractions were coming quick now and there wasn’t much time in between. Nat and mum helped me focus my breath each time a surge came and I remember facing Nat mostly. Larissa rubbed my lower back. I moved into positions that felt right for my body. Often yoga poses that I had learnt. I had honey, chocolate buttons, water (the straw from Meg came in very handy) and Lucozade in between surges that both Nat and Mum gave to me. I also used a comb (again from Meg’s birth gift bag) for relief when a surge came but had to keep asking Nat how to hold it properly but I squeezed as is recommended for pain relief. Luckily the pub grub eaten earlier had filled me up and provided much needed energy. I didn’t really listen to the music as I was so focused and in my own zone with baby and my birth partners and midwife but I know it will have helped me to remain calm as I had listened to the playlist for weeks at home and especially Only by RYX (one of Mabel’s birth songs). It was the same playlist I had with Mabel. Although I was in a focused zone, my birth partners and midwife were crucial to me as they wholeheartedly supported me but also followed my lead. We were like a little bubble. I remember watching a bird out of the window too and using it as a focus at points. Nat was a massive focal point for me too. Each time a surge came, he held his head on mine and reminded me/led the breathing which I really relied on. As each surge came, I felt reassured as I knew he was ready to help as well as mum who also supported my breathing too! At some point whilst in the water and towards baby being born, I felt a pop which I think was my waters.

About 20 minutes before baby arrived, I asked for some gas and air which helped me to focus my breath even though it was probably too late to provide much pain relief. The down stage was just 4 minutes which was fast and furious! At the point when I said I couldn’t do it anymore, Nat, mum and Larissa reassured me that I could and that baby was so close!  We knew about this part before the down stage of labour (transition) from hypnobirthing which was so helpful and we knew it was normal. Then baby soon arrived-just 4 minutes after!

I’d already asked to be the first to scoop up baby so that’s just what I did when baby was born! Baby’s head came first and then after a second contraction, and whilst I was crouched on my feet, my baby floated into the pool and I pulled them up to my chest. Frank was born at 7.38pm only 2 hours after arriving at the BBC. Such a speedy birth and I wholeheartedly believe hypnobirthing techniques helped even including how Nat was able to support me in the best possible way due to what he’d learnt. His support was incredible. I think all birth partners should be equipped to support their birthing partner by understanding and learning from hypnobirthing techniques. Plus, obviously I was lucky that my own mum, who was a birth partner, was also a midwife and so very knowledgeable and wonderful too! The most amazing feeling. He looked just like his big sister! I remember holding our baby for a minute or two and then asking Nat to check the gender as we still didn’t know and that was his job to find out! It all just happened super-fast! Nat said baby was a boy and I looked at him and instantly knew he was a Frank so I said ‘Frank’! I then asked Nat if we were still going for ‘Alan’ as a middle name (my grandad’s name so mum was thrilled as she didn’t know that plan).

We had plenty of skin to skin in the pool and delayed cord clamping and then Nat cut the cord. I had the injection for the placenta delivery and used UFO again for this out of the pool, infact on the toilet as this felt okay with my first birth. I didn’t need stitches which was brilliant to hear! Frank did the newborn crawl to my boob as I said I’d wanted to try that and he fed instantly.

It was such an incredible birth and so positive. I can’t believe that everything aligned so perfectly. I gave birth to Frank in the same pool and same room as Mabel, on the same day and only 14 minutes apart. I was so lucky that I was able to have Larissa as my midwife too who I’d seen throughout my pregnancy- amazing continuity of care. Another beautiful ‘Thursday’s child’ who has far to go. We could have gone home but we stayed the night so Frank could have his newborn checks 6 hours after birth. And why would you not want to stay at such a wonderful facility?! Our care was second to none and that amazing post birth toast soon arrived (amazing as ever). The toast was literally in the background of the photos after the placenta delivery! We even won the Easter Hamper that mum made as the first birth over Easter too. We were so excited in the morning to get home to Mabel so that she could meet her baby brother and needless to say she was so excited too! The staff were on hand if we needed anything and nothing was too much trouble. We left in the morning after a lovely (home away from home/ hotel) stay with baby Frank. I felt like superwoman again- girl power! So empowering- the human body is unbelievably amazing! Thank you, Frank for birthing so well and positively!! Thank you to my amazing birth partners- Nat and mum and my amazing midwife, Larissa. Thank you to Nyla too who joined at the end and helped with the placenta delivery and photos and for being so friendly- I felt instantly at ease with her too!

We are so lucky to have had such another positive birth at Blackburn Birth centre. I said it last time and I’ll say it again… the skills and knowledge that we learnt during our Hypnobirthing course absolutely played a crucial role in our wonderful births! We completed a hypnobirthing refresher course at home for 2 hours with Meg at Birth Evolution. Thank you, Meg for reminding us of the amazing power of birth and giving us/ reminding us of the amazing skill set needed to birth confidently! Thank you Meg for being a part of our journey! I also did some pregnancy yoga classes with Tessa Clemson yoga- mainly online when it fit best. I used all of the breathing techniques I had learnt during classes. Yet again, this birth has inspired me to shout about hypnobirthing again to anyone that will or won’t listen. The power of the mind is unbelievable! Again, I am also a massive advocate for Blackburn Birth Centre. Forever in my heart. I arrived in my slippers and left in my slippers.

Another amazing birth experience. Thank you, Frank Alan Griffiths!

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