Pre contractions, who came up with them I don't know, but it didn't have to be. So after we had our feet on the ground about the fact that our little man could actually be born any minute, the pre contractions also started. At first, still manageable and only annoying. But a week before the birth, especially at night, also painful. Every morning I had painful hard bellies that came every 5 minutes and lasted for 1 minute. Every morning I went into the shower for relief and every morning it subsided. On Wednesday evening, we went to see Mayke because I had measured my blood pressure at home, which was on the high side (even as a midwife, it's better not to do your own medicine, so I dutifully called my colleagues). Fortunately, everything turned out to be fine but Mayke could see that my body was getting ready for labour. I was already 1 cm dilated so no one could take that away from me. Those preliminary contractions had not been for nothing after all. On Saturday it still hadn't progressed so I asked Myrthe to come and strip. During stripping, the membranes are loosened from the cervix. This gives your body an extra hormone boost that can cause you to have contractions. However, this only happens when your body and your baby are ready. You should think of it as the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back. There are also other ways to take care of this. Two proven effective ways are nipple stimulation and sex. In fact, there is a substance in semen that has the same effect. Unfortunately, the first time stripping did not do much, my body was obviously not ready yet. Still, I felt that not much was needed to make the contractions go through. Myrthe came again the next day to strip. I felt the contractions changing and getting stronger. Again I went into the shower to see if it would weaken from there. This had been the case every time so far so before I started celebrating the fact that it was now actually contractions, I needed to be sure. After a few hours of catching contractions in the shower, the contractions were more painful than they had been so far. It was mostly in my back and I wanted nothing more than a nice hot bath. I had sent Jordy to bed hoping he could get some sleep. Unfortunately, I got him out of there after an hour so he could go and set up the bath. I have heard many women sigh with relief when they entered the hot water of the bath so I hoped it would provide relief for me too. Thankfully, it did! How wonderful that warm water feels between contractions! After 2 hours in the bath, the contractions continued unabated. I asked Jordy to call the emergency number and Myrthe answered the phone. She came our way to come and support. I was especially curious to see if it had really broken through now because if these were still premature contractions.........I wanted to give birth in the bath at home, because that's where I feel most comfortable and at ease. So I am incredibly grateful that in the Netherlands we have the choice to give birth wherever we feel most comfortable. Whether that is the hospital or at home, care is provided everywhere. So Myrthe came to our home to do the first checks, she checked our little man's heart and felt my belly to make sure he was in the right position. Then she assessed how much dilation I had, I turned out to be 3 cm dilated. So the contractions had progressed well and from then on we knew we were going to meet our little man very soon!!! You can read how the rest of the delivery went in the next blog!