Rosie Stockley of Mamawell wellness and fitness company shares her birth story
Rosie runs MAMAWELL, a fitness and wellness company specialising in pre and postnatal women. She gave birth to her daughter Charlotte, on 8th September 2016. Here she shares her birth story with us.
On Wednesday 7th September I went about my usual day, not thinking for an instant that this would be the day that everything would begin! I wasn’t due for two more weeks, so although my thoughts kept coming back to my baby with regularity, it really wasn’t my main focus. We’d moved from New York to London 3 weeks earlier and I was still busy unpacking the final boxes, climbing up on chairs to fill cupboards and cleaning our new apartment. Strangely, this was the day I also got really organised prepping things for the birth. I made a folder of our Hypnobirthing meditations so my husband, Rick could be reminded of which one to use during labour and researched food and drink that would be beneficial to ingest during labour. I re-checked my hospital bag and on the advice of my midwife, did some yoga to try and move the baby around from the right side of my body to the front. All these things I thought I had 2 weeks more to prepare, but I felt the urge to complete them that day – perhaps I subconsciously knew things were about to happen!
It was a gloriously sunny day so I took the bus to Richmond Park and had a lovely walk to my favourite spot, the Isabella Plantation. It was just beautiful to be outside, although I remember feeling quite heavy in my lower belly and needing the toilet quite a bit. I sat under a tree and chilled for a while, and remembering feeling really calm.
That evening just before 7pm my water broke, literally on the kitchen floor! I called Rick straight away, who was due to be late home, so he was surprised to say the least! I remember feeling a combination of excitement and nerves at this point – I was pacing around the apartment, didn’t want to sit down and I messaged quite a few of my friends who were all dying for information!
We had planned for a calm hypnobirthing experience, and that was very much at the forefront of our minds at this point. The hypnobirthing technique reframes a lot of the terminology used in birthing, so for example you’ll see me referring to ‘surges’ rather than contractions. I found this preparation, plus the work we did on guided meditation and breath, so helpful. It gave me so many tools that I hoped to be able to use for a calm and empowered birthing experience. I knew that whatever happened down the road with the birth I would have the techniques to use to help me.
We went into the birth centre at Chelsea and Westminster hospital to have confirmation that my waters had indeed broken, and that all was ok with my blood pressure. So far so good! They said to come back in 24 hours if nothing had started, but otherwise to contact them further into labour. We took a taxi home and decided the best thing to do was to have a really good night’s sleep if possible as we didn’t know how long our little one was going to take to make her appearance into the world.
I slept for around 6 hours, waking every hour with light surges, really just aches across my stomach and back to be honest. I knew this was the beginning, and tried to stay calm with the thought that everything was going to go really well and I would just take each stage as it came and work through it.
THE BIRTH CENTRE
Around 8am the surges started properly, around every 12 mins and they lasted about 50
seconds. They felt like a wave coming gradually, then arriving with a strong ache and dissipating shortly afterwards. I did my slow breathing as they came, counting in for 4, and out for 8. Rick guided me – breathe in, breathe out, and although I was feeling in control, having him instruct me was very helpful and made me feel confident. After the surge passed, I was amazed how normal I felt – just like nothing had happened! I would walk around and carry on my normal conversation until the next one came, but whilst they were happening it was a very intense experience where that was all I could concentrate on. I used my yoga ball, and tried a variety of positions, moving around really helped me.
Later that morning I got into the bath to wait for 3 surges in 10 mins, for an hour, before heading into the hospital. My husband was instructed to give me paracetamol at this point, which he totally forgot…thanks for that!! The bath felt amazing – warm and supportive. The surges then were quite intense and I was starting to feel a lot of pressure in my lower back and back passage. But with the support of the water, I tried not to resist the surges, but instead to feel a bit like everything could shift and open if it needed. I think the hypnobirthing really kicked in here – In-between surges I was in a complete trance, almost asleep. I didn’t talk and remember feeling really heavy, but it felt really good. My husband was guiding me with his voice, as far as I can remember on a lovely journey down a path to a beautiful relaxing place. I remember him saying I felt really comfortable and happy there, which, as he said it, I knew felt true. I know it sounds crazy, but it was amazing how the meditations worked here!
After about 40 mins in the bath we decided it was time to go to the Birth Centre. I know I was very unhelpful in getting out of the bath and my husband dressed me, even tying my shoes as I just stood there leaning on the table with my eyes shut. The surges were coming very frequently at this point – to me it felt like all the time – in the taxi, the revolving door of the hospital, lift, and lobby of the birth centre. I felt really glad we’d left home when we did, and that we were now in the place where everything was going to happen!
Everyone at the Birth Centre was amazing – so calm. It is just amazing we have this service available to us free on the NHS. We went straight to a big room with soft lighting and a birthing pool. It turned out that I was 8cm dilated by the time I arrived, which I was delighted and surprised about so the midwife told us that in around 2 hours he would be back and I’d be ready for the final stage of my labour. We thought that sounded ok and decided to fill the birthing pool to help me relax. Before I could get in the pool I just kept having very intense surges and that stopped me thinking about anything else. It definitely felt tighter and more pressure at this point and I was aware of a stretching stinging feeling I was worried this was some skin tearing, but I just tried not to think about that and instead focus on relaxing the tissue down there. Rick was amazing at this point, telling me to slow my breath down and not huff and puff. I remember saying to him ‘I can feel something different, I can feel something coming’. We alerted the midwife who came straight in and calmly said ‘ok come out here straight away, we’re not going to have time to fill the birthing pool’ (it was only 5 inches full!) He told me to come over to the wall and kneel on all fours – I felt in a trance state and just did exactly what he told me!
I did one big breath/push and the head was out. Then it felt like only 10 seconds later that I did another big breath and that was the body coming out, so fast and slippery, and then nothing. I turned over and lay back on the soft cushions with my beautiful baby girl on my chest. She gave one large yelp like she was finding her lungs and some real air, and then she opened her beautiful eyes and looked around. We couldn’t believe how alert and calm she was. And I couldn’t believe how quick it had all been – Charlotte was born about 1 hour after arriving at the centre, and the final stage of labour was 15 minutes! She felt warm and I just wanted to keep her and my husband so close to me so we could all be touching. It was so special.
We delayed cord cutting for as long as we could, and then I had some stitches and after that we were able to relax in the birth centre for the next 24 hours or so, and after a few hours Charlotte started feeding well. We were so lucky there was a private room available so we could stay there undisturbed. I would thoroughly recommend a birth centre if you’re looking to go down the route of natural, un-medicated birth. They are nearly all connected to a ward, should any complications arise and the setting is perfect to prepare you for a calm birth. I feel so lucky that I was able to have a natural birth, with no complications, it is an absolutely blessing.
I would equally thoroughly recommend hypnobirthing classes, they enabled me to be present, focussed and relaxed and to have a sense of control about my birth. I was able to put the ‘pain’ to one side and harness the power of my body to do exactly what it was designed for.
For any information on my experience please email Rosie on [email protected]