At 4am I was in very early labour. It was bearable, I managed to return to sleep knowing I would need as much rest as I could possibly get to prepare for birth.
By 6am, each contraction had me pacing up and down the stairs, trying to avoid waking up my husband before his 6:45am alarm for work.
My husband set off for work and I jumped in the bath. I did it several times that day, I must add! I listened to my hypno-birthing app, which became my best friend throughout my latter stages of pregnancy. It really helped clear my mind of fearful thoughts and train myself to trust my body.
As my waters broke, I remember suddenly reaching a moment where I panicked, I started screaming and suddenly things felt unbearable. I realised I had to focus, trust my body and remind myself that each contraction would bring me closer to my baby. Thankfully, I was back on track; concentrating on my breathing, eyes closed and virtually silent!
I laboured at home, alone, on all fours most of the time. I realised this was best for me; I didn’t want any interruptions to my flow; quite the opposite from all the fuss of essential oils and hot/ cold flannels originally planned.
Around 11am, I texted my husband and my mum to and told them to make their way home. I sat on the toilet seat at this point, half-heartedly pushing my ‘poo’ whilst wondering whether this was baby?
When we arrived at Newham Birth Centre, pressure intensified, I couldn’t walk and slumped myself in a wheelchair. Fortunately, I bypassed the gatekeepers at the assessment centre and, lo and behold, I was 9cm!
As planned, a birth pool was available. It was amazing, the warm water was so gentle, relaxing and calming. The midwife and two students were everything I wanted and more, I felt as though I was in control as they patiently observed. They offered gas and air but somehow I couldn’t figure out how to use the thing and in frustration threw it on the floor.
As another pushing sensation returned, I was reminded to listen to my body. I opened my eyes, looked straight at my husband and laughed as I said ‘this pain is crazy’. I can’t remember how many pushes and ‘pants’ it took before my baby arrived but it certainly wasn’t long at all. Just over an hour of getting to Newham Birth Centre and baby arrived at 1:25pm!
Baby chilled on my chest as we delayed cord clamping. It seemed to have taken quite some time, even the student kept checking! However, the midwife kindly advised “mother and baby were fine, so it is okay to wait” as she covered baby with a towel. Once the placenta was delivered my husband cut the cord and had skin-to-skin with baby.
Wooow, I was in awe! Birth is such an empowering experience. It felt like the only time I’ve ever been forced to face my power and inner strength, without being able to run away from it.
I’m well aware birth isn’t something I could control, but I certainly prepared myself through learning to trust my body, and, at such a vulnerable time, I refused to take on traumatic birth experiences and fears of others.
We left Newham Birth Centre as parents and with such a positive birth experience, I am grateful.
Tisha Ottley is first time mother to her daughter Zarai, trampolining lover and qualified social worker. Her baby was born in July 2017. After a positive first birth experience Tisha would consider homebirth as an option for her next.