• Rachel Cunliffe

Second time mum, fast second stage, and breathing baby out.

In preparation for her second birth and looking for support in staying calm and in control during a possible quick second stage of labour, Carlyn did a bespoke Barefoot Birthing session. This is Carlyn's special birth story...


Hi All!  

BACKGROUND: First Baby, Delivered 40+0


Our first child was born in September of 2018.  I had planned a natural delivery (no epidural/no gas & air), but ended up having to be induced.  Following the pessary induction, I was lucky enough that my labor progressed naturally from there and was able to still deliver naturally.  Whilst my delivery didn't require intervention, it progressed so quickly (4 to 10cm in 45 minutes) that I had a really difficult time mentally coping with the rapidly increasing intensity of the contractions which led to an out of control feeling.   As a result, when I found out I was pregnant with our second child, I enlisted the help of Rachel with Barefoot Birthing to understand and learn some new techniques to manage a fast but intense delivery.  

BIRTH STORY: Second Baby, Delivered 39+0


10:00pm: On 39+0, I started to have a lower back ache every 8 minutes around my hips which I hadn't had throughout the pregnancy.  Because our first delivery progressed so quickly, I was told to go into the hospital right away to be admitted.  After calling my parents and getting them set up at our house to watch our eldest, we ventured from Greenwich over to St. Thomas Hospital.

10:45pm: We arrived at the hospital and were assessed, and the midwife informed me that labor had started but we were only 1 cm dilated.  She asked if I would like a sweep, which I declined - I was visualizing for everything to progress naturally.  Unfortunately, despite the notes on my file to admit me, they didn't have any available beds, and I was told to come back once the labor progressed further.  

We didn't want to drive all the way back to Greenwich from St. Thomas and wake up my parents, so we ended up getting a hotel room at one of the hotels opposite St. Thomas.  Not where I thought I would be laboring that's for sure!


"I was resting in bed, listening to music and focusing on keeping my breath steady using the 'up breathing' technique"

12:00am-7am: Throughout the night at the hotel, I was having contractions every 5 minutes or so.  I was resting in bed, listening to music and focusing on keeping my breath steady using the "up breathing" technique.  As the morning came around, the contractions started to intensify, but they were still manageable (could speak through them) - so we ordered breakfast and continued to labor and prepare.  A little staycation we called it!  

8am: My Husband was timing the contractions and informed me that they were now coming every 3 minutes.  I had a hot shower and let the water run on my back (helped to ease some of the pressure), got ready, zipped our suitcases and embarked on the short walk to the hospital!

9:30am:  I was assessed again at 4cm and we were admitted into the Birth Center, contractions were coming every 3 minutes.  Our midwife introduced herself and said she was there for support, but planned to allow us to labor as we wanted (midwives are heros!).  Through each contraction, we walked around the hospital room, had music playing, took pictures, and tried to enjoy the time.  I found that movement was helpful; walking, hip swaying, leaning on the bed with hip swaying. 


"I found the repetition of the affirmation 'your body is not in the business of breaking itself' and 'ride the contraction like a wave' really helpful."

10:30am:  The strength of the contractions got to the point where I felt like I needed to lie down. I found it most comfortable on my side with a pillow between my legs. My Husband sat with me and as the contractions came, he helped to remind me about my breathing and all of my learned affirmations.  I found the repetition of the affirmation of "your body is not in the business of breaking itself" and "ride the contraction like a wave" really helpful. 

11:00am:  It was important to me in this delivery to reduce the chance of tearing, so it was in my plan to practice down breathing to deliver our baby.  We made this clear to the midwife as well.  

As I started to feel a lot of downward pressure, the midwife came back in.  I was never told to push, or "it's time to push" we were able to let my body dictate the timing.  We never had the "you're at 10cm moment" as the midwife kept reinforcing that she was "taking my lead."  The downward pressure increased, and we started to work on the down breathing to "breathe the baby out."  The midwife also had hot compresses on the perineum area to prevent tearing (I wish I had asked for this in our first delivery!). 


"the midwife kept reinforcing that she was 'taking my lead' ..."

As the pressure increased as the head was coming down, I started to lose sight of my plan for breathing the baby out and started to push as hard as I could.  My Husband got my attention to remind me that breathing the baby out was what we wanted, that I could do it, and to just slow down my breaths.  Once I was able to slow my breathing and re-focus, I felt more in control.  We went through 3-5 contractions with down breathing before the head emerged.  

The head delivered and our little love started making noise!  It was such a relief to hear the baby, but also so bizarre as the body had not yet been delivered.  I could feel the sound vibration inside my body!  

11:16am: The shoulders and body delivered in the next contraction and our baby girl arrived!  My Husband was able to reveal the gender to me (we never found out throughout the pregnancy), and it was such a special moment.  


"it was such a special moment"

I'm so thankful I took the time to speak with Rachel!  It made the birthing experience all the more special as the focus and control techniques she provided gave us an awareness of the process and allowed us to enjoy the moments leading up to our daughter's birth.   



Cora, born March 2020

(pictured here with the amazing midwife who supported Carlyn and Rob)

Tags: birth centre, St Thomas' Hospital, hypnobirthing, down breathing, MLU, midwife, birthing centre, empowered, positive birth stories, second-time mum, affirmation

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