In the Media
The Birth Story Of Max Louis Fenton
February 6, 2012
Filed under: Birth,Family, Independent Midwifery, Jessica's Family Updates, Uncategorized — Jessica Fenton @12:10 pm
Tags: Childbirth, Hypnobirthing, Midwifery, Pregnancy, Water birth
Our second son, Max has arrived!
31 / 1/ 12 (his due date) – 2.10am – 8lb 5 oz.
We enjoyed a home, HypnoBirth with most of the labour in our heated birthing pool. It was an amazing experience, enhanced greatly by our fantastic Independent Midwives who we have grown to trust over the course of my pregnancy.
I started experiencing surges on Sunday at 2am after a lovely day with my family. Leo and I spent the morning painting and making his hand made 3rd birthday invitations. We all went for a long walk in Stanmer Park Forest where I chased him through the woods for about half a mile! The surges started coming every few minutes that night and I breathed through each one until 6am when Leo got into our bed and everything stopped. In the morning I called Emma, our midwife to tell her. She said to get in the bath and either everything will stop altogether, or really get going. It all stopped. I spent the day relaxing having surges from time to time and looking forward to the moment that we would meet our baby.
Leo goes to bed
Tom put Leo to bed and I decided to get in the birthing pool. I was tired through lack of sleep from the surges the night before. Either we were going to have a baby this evening, or I was going to have a good nights sleep.
At about 9.30pm Tom appeared and I told him that the surges were starting to come again. They were still all in my lower back. We listened to relaxing music together and my birth affirmations CD as I floated in the pool and breathed through each wave of tightness. We chatted between each surge and Tom tracked the length and duration of each one on his iPhone so that the midwives could decide when to set o as they had an hour to travel and the labour so far had been very stop / start. There was no pain, I could just feel a lot of pressure and tightness. I was able to smile through the surge and keep my body still and limp. It felt amazing to be so relaxed and I could feel that the baby was also relaxed. I visualised a rose bud opening slowly, with my baby’s head carefully descending through the middle as each petal gently unfolded.
The midwives arrive
At about 11.30pm Emma and Chris from Complete Care Midwifery arrived. All of a sudden I started to feel a little anti-social and avoided eye contact with them as they quietly let themselves in and got comfortable in the room next door. Their energy was fantastic and they fully respected how I felt, leaving Tom and I together and alone as much as possible. They knew that we wanted a ‘hands o ’ approach to our birth. I could hear our dog walking around and getting settled with Emma and Chris in the dining room next door.
Things turn up a notch
My breathing went from relaxed sleep breathing to feeling the need to breath downwards. The surges changed and started to feel different. Emma asked if I could feel the baby coming down, but I couldn’t. The surges were still all in my back, so I knew that the baby was still back to back with me and hadn’t yet moved around. Despite not having opted for internal examinations, I knew that I was fully dilated, yet the baby wasn’t traveling down.
I got out the pool and went into Leo’s playroom. I was getting the urge to push, yet had prepared to gently breathe the baby down. However I knew that something wasn’t quite right. Emma suggested doing a gentle examination to help us see where I was at. I agreed as it seemed logical and I could tell something was unusual. She said that the baby was sitting right there just waiting. I was pushing, despite not really wanting to in favour of breathing the baby down but there was no other way it later turned out. This went on for a couple of hours. I was completely exhausted and slept between surges, hoping that we were nearly there soon.
Birthing the baby
From Emma feeling the head sitting there ready to be born to actually breathing the head out took about 40 minutes. As she felt the head, my waters suddenly released with a splash and I knew that things would speed up from this point. Emma knew from the examination that the head was the wrong way round and that the baby was descending face up instead of down, with his back flat against my back. He was also coming through with the widest part of his head leading, which is why I was having to push, as my body knew it needed to get some power behind it. She didn’t tell me this at the time for fear of demotivating me and instead Tom, Emma and Chris showered me with support and encouragement as I birthed our baby boy slowly and the wrong way around.
Emma helped me breathe the baby out to avoid tearing, telling me when to slow down so that the perineum could stretch naturally. They watched as a pair of eyes appeared and looked from side to side and then the rest of the face and body followed. Max came out into a heap and Emma picked him up and put him straight onto my tummy. As she did this I saw something that indicated that he was a boy!
Catching my breath
I lay there for a moment to catch my breath. I was exhausted and hugely relieved that it was over. The last part of the labour was the hardest thing that I have ever done. I looked at our baby and couldn’t believe he was finally here. He looked quite big and just like his older brother. He was much bigger than we all thought he would be, weighing in at 8lb 5oz!
The 3rd Stage
It was imperative to me to have a natural 3rd stage. For me it’s an important part of letting go of the pregnancy and moving forward into motherhood. It took a while, but finally the placenta naturally came away. I felt really ill until it parted from me. I was so exhausted that I could hardly walk and kept nearly fainting.
Leo meets his new brother
Not long after I had sat on the sofa, Leo woke up. Perfect timing as if it was any earlier it would have been tricky. Tom went to get him and he met his tiny brother for the first time, just hours after his birth. I breastfed Max and cuddled Leo; a boy in each arm.
The midwives got Max dressed into an organic night gown and we all went upstairs where they tucked us up into bed. Leo was excited to have his new baby brother in our bed. We gave Emma and Chris a gift each to open at home and they left at 5am. We slept until just 7.30am when Leo woke up. It was so exciting to open my eyes and see Max lying there right next to me.
Tom was such an amazing pillar of support. He was there for me throughout and stayed calm and relaxed during the entire experience. Emma and Chris were impressed at how helpful he was. I feel so blessed to have had so much support and love.
Hypnobirthing: A man taking charge during childbirth?
I was a bit skeptical about hypnobirthing too, but there really is a way for men to take some of the strain on the big day.
Hypnobirthing can ease the trauma of childbirth for everyone.
I had always believed the maternity ward delivery room was a woman’s domain. That the man’s role consisted of calling for the ambulance or rushing his partner to hospital, then waiting nervously in the hospital corridor praying for everything to be OK and over as quickly as possible. Or maybe, if my presence was absolutely demanded, stealing a drag on the laughing gas and saying patronising things such as ‘keep going, darling’.
So I prepared to be of limited use to my wife Candy: I would hold her trembling hand while absorbing her abuse. Until that is, I reluctantly agreed to miss football and spend two whole Saturdays on a hypnobirthing course.
I had no idea the man could play such a leading role in childbirth. But when, erm, push came to shove, there I was, relaxing my wife, focusing her breathing, working through the birth plan with the midwives and making informed decisions with confidence. I amazed myself. In my wife’s words, after the safe arrival of our baby Jude: ‘I was the body, you were the mind.’
Giving birth is the most natural thing a woman can do, yet many female minds are filled with horror stories. Fear leads to tension, which can restrict the body at a time when it needs to let nature take its course. Hypnobirthing offers hypnosis in labour and childbirth to women who want to be in control of a drug-free, comfortable delivery and get their men pulling their weight.
Now more popular than ever in Britain, hypnobirthing is a complete antenatal education for whatever kind of birth you’re planning. We chose a hospital birth pool – alternative, yes, but perfectly normal in the modern age; even old-school midwives are coming round to it.
Signing up to Berkshire Hypno Birthing, we joined three other couples eight weeks before their due date at a Pilates studio in Reading. The comprehensive course was split over two days and our hypnoteacher, Vanessa Turner, made learning each new topic easy, between lessons sending the group into a state of deep relaxation.
‘Hypno Birthing techniques and methods are easy to learn and apply,’ says Turner (inset left). ‘They play a vital role in making the birthing experience calmer, more peaceful and meaningful for mum, dad and baby.
‘The man’s role is crucial. He provides practical, emotional and physical support – much better than sitting in the corner wondering what he can do to help.’
Turner explained ten ways to achieve a gentle birth, the rationale for hypnosis in birth and how to block out birth nightmares. We were told to not even consider them and to leave out negative energy. The mind can only hold one thought at a time and the course places great importance on desire, belief, relaxation and visualisation.
Turner explained how thought precedes reality and how every emotion triggers a physical response. A section was devoted to big babies, a common fear, and the women were made to trust their inner knowledge or instinct, to trust that their body knows exactly what to do.
The group was then shown images illustrating the various stages of birth and a selection of calming hypnobirths on DVD. The men were in charge of relaxation-deepening exercises, helping dump negative energy and thoughts.
‘I teach a wide variety of techniques and encourage men to become fully involved,’ says Turner. ‘It builds their confidence, helps them trust themselves and means they can learn what a woman needs at different stages of labour and birth.’
During the breathing exercises I spoke in a slow, calming voice to enhance a trance-like sensation, the idea being to maintain focus and reduce discomfort. Hypnobirthing bans words such as ‘pain’ and ‘contractions’ as these are considered negative –‘discomfort’ and ‘surges’ are preferred.
‘The benefits to mum are such that a woman can feel safer, can trust and let go during the process of giving birth more instinctively when she knows her partner is taking care of everything on the outside,’ adds Turner.
‘This means birthing can be a calmer and more comfortable experience where both mum and dad feel confident and in control to make whatever choices are necessary for a healthy delivery of their baby.’
The main goal of the course is to arm prospective parents with the tools to stay in control. It doesn’t end in the classroom, either. We were told to practise the techniques for at least five minutes every day and encouraged to have conversations with the unborn baby and play him music.
I saw my job as learning the birth plan by heart before the contractions – sorry, surges – took hold, to avoid unnecessary medical intervention on the big day.
I was pumped up and ready, and not at all nervous. Two days after her due date and it was action stations – but only my wife can tell you how it went...
- Evening Standard: Hypnosis is the new way to give birth painlessly
- Metro: A man taking charge during childbirth?
- Follow Jessica Alba's advise on “Hypno Birthing”
- “I swore I’d never be there, but my baby’s birth was mesmerising”
- Mirror: Duchess of Cambridge and Hypno Birthing
- BBC: NHS study tests effectiveness of 'hypnobirthing'