I gave birth to Leo Rohan Thwaites last Thursday (May 29), at 1.40pm at the birth centre. He weighed 3.86kg so not exactly a small boy. My labour was three hours from start to finish which may seem like a desirable proposition but it was VERY intense and felt like longer.

Basically what happened was that I had a membrane sweep on Mon, 26th and I was already 4cm dilated. My due date was Wed and they recommended me to have my waters broken on Thursday if I didn't go into labour before then. I agreed I was ready so we dropped Nicole off to pre-school Thu morning and headed to the birth centre.

After the waters were broken I was told to go for a short walk, checking in every half hour but I got as far as the corridor and had my first contraction....then the next two minutes later. Not wanting to scare anyone in the birth centre waiting room, I headed back to the room and never left again! I got into the bath soon after that which was wonderful - highly recommend it. I worked through all the contractions in the water in a couple of different positions. Maurice made sure I drank loads (especially when you are in the bath), and the midwife helped me breath (I found it easier to focus on her than Maurice for some reason). I also used visualisation when the contraction was at its highest point...for me it was photos of my daughter, Nicole smiling. Anything positive and happy you can picture definitely helps, I think.

I then thought it was game on and tried to push but nothing was happening. The midwife suggested I get out of the bath at that point and despite the fact I thought I wanted a water birth, something told me it was best to get out also. I was wrapped up and laid on my side on the floor mattress and actually fell asleep for five minutes or so!

When I came to, I tried to push in that position but no luck. So I moved on to a birthing stool on the mattress and Maurice sat behind me and I leaned back into him. That was the BEST position. I then started to really go for it and with the physical support of Maurice behind me I started to make real progress.

The baby's heartbeat started to drop (not that I knew that at the time) so quietly the midwife told Maurice that we needed to try a little harder now. So he cheered me on and literally pushed when I pushed which helped me greatly - I didn't feel like I was doing it on my own at all. I also used visualisation at this point - closed my eyes and had flashes of that video we saw in the class of the head coming out of that woman (remember the first lady, not the one in the bath) ... that and Nicole saying "Come on Mummy, just one more push". It's amazing how much that helped because soon after out popped Leo. I still had my eyes closed and I could hear Maurice shouting "It's a boy! It's a boy!", and the midwife told me to open my eyes and there he was, plopped into my lap. I was in a bit of shock but it was the best feeling knowing he was out. It turned out the cord was around Leo's neck twice (which would explain the heartbeat dropping) but that was sorted out quick smart and never an issue.

I did tear so had stitches sorted about two hours later. It was at that point I did take the gas and air they offered - highly recommend it as it takes your mind off what they're doing down there! But, I don't have any pain from the stitches so they must be healing well.

I stayed in the birth centre until 7pm, then they had to move me up to the ward as someone needed the room. I shared a room for one night then was discharged the next afternoon. I had the choice to stay in but preferred to go home. I do think however that if it was my first child, I would have stayed in longer.

We took Pete Gailey's advice and didn't call anyone until several hours later and just tried to enjoy the moment. I had taken in CDs, so all the time I spent in the bath I had my favourite tunes playing in the background which helped keep me calm. I wanted no music when I was pushing though. It's funny how sure you become of what you want and don't want when you are in that zone. Maurice felt a little helpless when I was in the bath as I didn't want his help but then when the time to push came, he was my hero. So the partners need to follow your signs and be cool with that.

I managed not to swear though I did shout like a mad woman - whatever works! It was a full on, primal but truly magical experience, especially since I know I won't be doing it again. Maurice and I went into it with real enthusiasm and I think that helped a lot.