I first felt some twinges on Christmas day – lower backache and mild period pains, but these had faded by the next day. This repeated on New Year’s Day, but this time strong enough to keep me awake. By the morning I was having definite contractions every 20 minutes. I went for a walk to speed things up, then a drive along a bumpy route. This worked – contractions every 12 minutes and every 5 minutes by the time we got home and getting stronger. I put on the TeNS machine; I’m not sure if it helped, but I liked having the dials to adjust to take my attention off the pain! After about 6 hours I felt unable to cope with the pain and phoned the hospital and had to go on all 4s while B. packed the bags. On arrival I totally lost control and would have willingly had an epidural, but regained some control when, upon examination the midwife told me I was 8 centimeters dilated! This gave me the encouragement to go on without pain relief, but the midwife wanted me monitored for some time because the baby’s heart rate was fast.

This was the first time in my labour I had been on my back and not surprisingly the contractions slowed right down. After an hour I had not dilated any further and the midwife suggested we have a syntocinon drip to speed things up. My partner asked her to take me off the monitor so that I could be upright. She agreed on the condition that I let her break my waters to make sure they were not discoloured with meconium [as a sign the baby was not in distress]. The waters were clear, but breaking the waters made my contractions so strong I could no longer cope with the pain so I asked for gas and air.

My partner persuaded me to kneel up (I would have quite happily stayed lying down). This made all the difference to the pain and an hour later the baby was born! The second stage lasted all of 10 minutes. I had decided beforehand to deliver the placenta naturally without syntometrine, and third stage did last another hour. On the whole I feel really positive about the birth but I think it would have been a very different experience if my partner had not been well-informed through attending the YogaBirth Birth Preparation classes. I think I would not have been able to assert myself, and he got me off the drip and up on to my knees, changing the direction the labour was moving in completely.