Capri’s birth began with a morning induction 10 days past her due date. I received a dose of induction gel vaginally and sat on a hospital bed wired up to machinery telling me I was experiencing regular labour sensations as my stomach tightened. I listened to the hospital staff who told me to walk the stairs so gravity could help get things going. After twelve hours of walking and sitting with intermittent tightening sensations I was sure I was going to have our baby by that night.

Then my lead maternity carer delivered the news that I was in fact only 1cm dilated… and that was deflating. She asked if I could sleep through what I was currently experiencing and in the morning they would administer more gel to really get things going. So my husband put on our favourite hypnobirthing rainbow relaxation audio recording and we easily drifted off to sleep.

An hour later I woke up with what I affectionately call ‘actual’ labour sensations and started vomiting from the intensity. The hospital midwife inspected me and told me that I had dilated to 2cm in that hour. I asked for an epidural – but I was too early. The midwife offered pethidine pain relief, which I had decided pre-birth that I didn’t want to take due to its drowsy side effects, so I downed a sleeping pill and codeine instead (without having any idea what those side effects were). On went the recordings again to re-establish calm and I drifted in and out of sleep, stirring approximately every 15 minutes with strong sensations. This went on for a few hours. Then as I sat on the toilet trying to poo I realised I was actually feeling the urge to push. My husband called the hospital midwife who confirmed that I was 9cm dilated, she broke my waters and I was ready to deliver.

Once again I asked for an epidural, I was too late, so I used the gas to ease the intensity of my sensations as they happened. For an hour and a half I worked with my body to bear my baby down the birth canal, calmly resting in between. Time distortion kicked in, and when I felt like giving up seemingly only moments later Capri was in my arms. I was fully alert and breastfeeding, I had a small labia tear, swelling and some heavy bleeding to recover from.

For me having a rigid birth plan and expectations for how birth would pan out was unhelpful. In hindsight I realise that it was only when I actively relaxed my labour was able to progress quickly and smoothly.