Using the Breathing Techniques for the arrival of Schuyler Étienne Seabourne Karl

At 37 odd weeks I was well and truly ready for baby to make an appearance. I was in more pain than I was when we attended your classes - my SPD was horrific and I spent a lot of each day in bed. I finished work a week earlier than planned because I couldn't handle the walking required. Baby was so low that walking was a challenge and I was getting "fanny daggers" all the time and him being low added to my pelvis pain. At this point I discussed with my midwife and was trying almost everything to encourage him to come (raspberry leaf tea, bouncing/hip circles on my Swiss ball, inserting EPO, eating dates and acupuncture (mainly for preparing body for labour and pelvis pain)).

On Friday 17.03.17 at 1230am my waters broke in bed - thankfully I managed not to get them through the bed! Note here that my midwife went on a long weekend at midnight! And therefore we would have our back up (who we thankfully knew well and got along with really well).  I decided that I would try and sleep before labour got too established - our midwife had said don't call her over night unless something was wrong (she had provided a list) or until contractions were 60-90 seconds long and 3-4 minutes apart. My contractions starting ramping up pretty much straight away and by 3am we called the midwife as my contractions were consistently in this range. Midwife said to call her back if something changed or once they had moved to the top of my uterus (they started low like period pain). During this time, i was using the breathing techniques we learnt at (Opti-mum) antenatal classes, focusing on acknowledging the pain and then letting it go.

At 6am we called the midwife again as my contractions were now barely 30 seconds apart and were lasting 60-90 seconds and were much more intense. I was finding that the breathing techniques etc weren't working for me her so I turned to mantras. (I am strong. I can do this. My body is designed for this. This is one step closer to Schuyler).
I was thinking that if I still needed to wait until the contractions moved to the top of my uterus and then for them to work down mindfulness might not cut it and I was gonna need some pain relief. Our midwife came to meet us at home to see what was happening at this stage. She checked on baby and I and after about 45 mins at home I managed to get to a position where A vaginal examination was possible and she discovered I was already 7.5cm dilated!!

Off to the hospital we went (with my gestational diabetes it was necessary). Unfortunately the two pools at Christchurch Women's were in use so I couldn't have my water birth but our midwife mentioned being able to go into the shower so as soon as I was out of the wheelchair in the room I was stripping and making my to the shower where I used the hot water to help control my pain. I think I was in the shower for a total of about 2 minutes before I was on my knees in the shower saying I needed to push!
Once I was getting closer midwife decided I needed to move to the bed for easier access, easier monitoring and because the bathroom was a bit cold for baby to be born in. I got on my knees on the bed and put the head of the bed right up and leaned over that as I pushed and gave birth to our beautiful baby boy at 8.53am.

The mindfulness techniques and the mantras we learnt at your classes enabled me to to not only manage my labour but I honestly believe made the difference between needing pain relief and having my labour entirely natural .
I also think it gave us the opportunity to complete the majority of labour at home almost without realising it and meant that the hospital room isn't the part of the labour/birthing experience we remember the most.

My husband Anthony was amazing throughout - getting sleep in the early stage (even though I couldn't!) and just being there for me during the stronger contractions. He consistently reheated my wheat bag and hottie bottle which were my form of pain relief alongside my mindfulness and mantras. He sat on the floor outside our ensuite shower while I used the hot water to calm myself and my pain. He recognised when to touch and soothe and when to just be there next to me. He helped me adjust the heat packs throughout and right at the end as I was pushing he whispered to me "You can do this. This is the last step until we meet Schuyler". What is most amazing about this is that I had never mentioned to him before or during that I was even using mantras let alone what I was saying to myself.

We were very lucky as our backup midwife - Sheena - is aware of your Opti-mum classes and was aware that we had done them and seemed to instinctively know that we didn't need someone fluffing around us and she mainly let us labour by ourselves and in our own way. She was very quiet and calm and not intruding in our labour both at home and once we got to the hospital.  She was directive when needed, particularly when she realised I was 7cm dilated and we needed to go to the hospital. I can't even define what changed in her at that moment but that change gave me the ability to work through the contractions enough to get dressed, into the car and get the hospital. Without that I'm not sure how it would've gone!

As I have said previously we are very thankful to you both (Lorna and Keishana), as we honestly believe that your classes made my labour and enjoyable, memorable and positive experience. We feel blessed that we managed to labour for so long in our own environment (with a fluffy white cat trying to protect me!) and that we were able to have our planned/dreamed natural birth (both pain killer wise and induction wise).

All up my labour was just over 8 hours with Sheena saying that my active labour was about 4 hours.

Meet our perfect little boy - Schuyler Étienne Seabourne Karl. Born 17.03.17 at 8.53am. 8lbs.

Thank you once again. Know we are very very grateful and we will be recommending your classes even more than we had been before.

Centaine, Anthony and Schuyler Karl.