Birth Story - Kate and baby Dylan

It’s quite difficult trying to remember the details of labour – particularly when it is so long but I am going to give it my best shot!!

I knew very early on that Dylan was going to be early – not in a worrying type of way but I just felt that he would be here before his due date – I also felt that the dates were slightly off and that he was potentially due later than my EDD had been predicted – but that’s why we have such a big delivery window in the UK. I had always thought Dylan would arrive on the 13th – more from a superstition perspective – every appointment seemed to be on the 13th of the month and this year my husband and I have been together for 13 years. My best friend, Flo, however guessed the 18th July which I thought at the time would be convenient as I would never forget the date – my birthday is 18th Feb, Flo’s 18th September!

16th July

For a couple of days I had been having what I would describe as light period pains and lower back ache so I had an inkling things were starting and I was excited. We had a relaxing Sunday, Wimbledon finals and watching the Silverstone grand prix plus walking the dog. We were having dinner when I felt what I can describe as a trickle. I know by that point I needed to wee quite a lot but this was different and we knew that my waters had broken (what I know now is that my waters had broken quite high up in a tear and the amniotic fluid was ‘trickling’ or ‘leaking’. The feeling at this point was like period cramps, no more or less. The surges got more intense over the Sunday night – my husband called the midwife about 9pm. We were part of the homebirth team so she arrived about an hour later. She advised to have a swab to see whether my waters had broken, I agreed and I also agreed to be checked for cervix dilation – she confirmed that my waters had broken and I was 3cm. She stated that as my waters had broken before established labour had started I would have to go into established labour within 24 hours of waters breaking in order to have a home birth (because of risk of infection). She said that she didn’t need to stay and that we should get rest and relax.

We went to bed. The surges got more intense and so I couldn’t sleep. I ‘cat napped’ and relaxed on the bed. This went on all night with me wanting to sit on the toilet ( a very comfortable position) but also because my waters continued to leak. Mark also did light touch massage with oils and relaxing music and I did my breathing techniques.

17th July

Early in the morning my husband, Mark inflated the birthing pool and filled with water and I got in. My husband had put all our electric tealights on, sprayed the scented spray and put on relaxing spa music.

I got into the pool which was lovely and my surges subsided – this was both a positive and a negative. A positive because with no sleep I was tired (I don’t do very well with no sleep) and it allowed me to doze off in the pool. A negative because we both feel that this slowed things down somewhat. The surges returned, generally one every 4-5 minutes. The great thing about surges is that they ramp up gradually so the intensity isn’t something your body can’t cope with. Our bodies know what to do and are very comfortable doing it. Mark called the midwife again (a different one this time) who came around 8/9am – she checked my dilation which was still at 3cm. She booked an appointment for us at the hospital to go in and be checked due to the risk of infection – initially she booked this for 2pm but we requested this be booked for 4pm. All these timings/deadlines definitely contributed to things not progressing as they should. At 4pm we went to the hospital. Luckily this is minutes away from the house. By this point the surges are significant – sitting in the car was extremely uncomfortable and I had to stop 3 times to breath through the surges from the car park to the maternity unit. When we got in I couldn’t talk because the uncomfortable feeling in my lower back was so intense.  I was checked and the midwife said that the feeling I was experiencing was because the baby’s head was sitting at a slightly off angle in my pelvis which was causing the pressure in my lower back. The midwife offered water injections and said that these were offered to women who feel in the pain scale they are 8-10. I find pain scales arbitrary because its such a personal thing and also I have never been in ‘pain’. The most significant thing I have done is break my big toe (which to me really hurt!).

2 midwifes are needed to administer water injection and 4 are put in your back in quick succession. They were the most painful thing I have EVER experienced – It was like someone was putting burning irons inside my back BUT the relief was instant. Mark, who watched the whole thing said that he had never seen anything like it and that the injection sites were raised like giant hornet stings and you could see where the capillaries had burst (Nice!). I was able to talk and said I was quite hungry. The midwife did a check – I was still 3cm dilated (FFS) and said we could go home for a few hours and for us to call at around 9pm to go into the midwife led unit. We went home and I was able to have a shower and eat a small amount. The water injections work differently for everyone but they lasted about an hour before the intense uncomfortableness came back. It was eased slightly by sitting on the gym ball. I tried the TENS machine but I didn’t really like the sensation of it.

Mark called the triage number and we were told to come into the midwife led unit but not to rush as there was no pool available at that time but a woman had just given birth. By this point I again knew that sitting in the car was going to be uncomfortable! Thank goodness we live a 2 min drive to the hospital! With anxiety and excitement rising we went to the hospital. I was checked again by a midwife and was told again that I was 3cm dilated (Are you kidding me?) but was also told that my BP was slightly raised and the midwife would need to consult with the obstetrician to see whether I could access the midwife led unit. I was told I couldn’t. In that second it was like everything came crashing down. All I had hoped for and everything in my birth plan was redundant BUT I focused on being positive and knowing that our baby would soon be with us!

When we got into the delivery suite room we put the battery tealights to have better lights, Mark put our relaxation playlist on and we used the relaxation spray (Mio Liquid Yoga spray)

We hadn’t got settled into the room in the delivery suite before we were being advised that the hormone (oxytocin) drip was our best option because of slow dilation. Having done hypnobirthing I knew very well this was the start of induced labour and once your in, your in! The likelihood of other intervention (forceps, ventouse and potentially Cesarean is high with induction) Mark spoke to the midwives about whether once started this could then be slowed but no firm answers were given. The midwife stated that I would need to have a cannula in my hand. This was my worst fear and what I had explicitly said to Mark would be the worst of the worst outcome. I refused. The midwife looked shocked. The head midwife came to speak to us – at the time I didn’t realise but Mark went out to speak to her and basically said I needed time to settle and for my body to calm before any decisions were made. He also refused for another student to come into the room.

Over the next couple of hours a number of different doctors came in to discuss the infamous hormone drip – first the consultant and then the registrar, both stating that the hormone drip was the best option. I eventually came to an agreement at 2am with the doctors that if I was not in established labour by 6am I would again discuss the options (In her head I think she thought I had agreed to have the hormone drip at that time. I hadn’t!).

Between these times my body was in complete exhaustion, I was having contractions every 3 minutes and managing to sleep in between (this was the second night awake) getting up on the bed to nap and down again when the surge came. At 6.15 I woke with the two midwives in the room. The room was filled with nervous tension and anxiety as my cervix was checked again! I was 7cm dilated!! WHAT (can you repeat that? I said to the midwife!!) Everyone was super happy and this meant that no intervention was necessary. My body knew exactly what it was doing and my baby would be coming when it was ready! EXCITING! As Mark went to get water outside the room the midwives were high fiving! What I understood after was that it is very rare for midwives in the delivery suite to see a natural birth. We also discovered after that we had been labelled as having an ‘out of protocol’ birth as it did not comply with hospital regulations. Between 6.30am and Dylan’s arrival its all a bit hazy (there was a handover of midwives at 7am which I felt sad about!) – the sensations of labour became more intense and I stood upright as that was what my body needed to do. I also spent about 3 hours moving from the bed to the toilet thinking I needed a poo, while the midwife chased me round with a bedpan concerned that Dylan may be born on the toilet or on the floor. The pushing sensations are incredible as you really have no control over them. During this time I was also my most vocal – Up until around 9am I had been completely quiet, using my breathing techniques and feeling in the zone but something changed, an animal instinct and the vocalisation needed to be released. At one point another doctor came into the room doing what seemed to be a bogof for epidurals – he asked questions about why I hadn’t had any pain relief or an epidural and stated it was best that I had an epidural in case a Cesarean was needed. I very clearly stated that I wouldn’t be having an epidural and queried why a Cesarean was even being suggested when both mine and the babies BP was perfectly normal! I was catheterised, something I massively feared but it was advised by the midwife who I trusted as if there is excess water in the bladder it can block the baby coming out. The procedure was absolutely fine as they give you a small amount of local! I was checked at around 10am and was told I was 9cm dilated. At around 11.20 the midwife suggested I might be more comfortable on my knees on the bed leaning over the front (especially as I had now been standing for over 5 hours)! It was more comfortable. I remember the midwife saying, I am not bossy but when the head comes I will be so that we can ease baby out. At 11.48 on 18/7/17 with a final push Dylan bounced into the world onto the bed and the midwife wasn’t quite ready! I remember the anxiety of not hearing a noise and then Mark telling me he was a boy and Dylan being placed in my arms. I was aware that there was quite a lot of blood and asked the midwife if it was normal. I had requested a physiological third stage but agreed to have the injection after the cord had stopped pulsing to make the placenta come more quickly. The injection also clots the blood. We had 2 hours of skin to skin and Dylan went on the breast.

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After the two hours I was checked for tearing. I felt no pain at all but was told I had a graze on my urethra and a second degree tear, so would need stitches. Local was applied to the area (I felt nothing). I used a bit of gas and air but I could only feel the sensation of pulling the stitches tight, no pain. I then had a pessary of ibuprofen inserted. When I had a shower, it was the most amazing shower ever! After around 40 hours Dylan was here. Birth for me was the most incredible and empowering experience. We may not have been in the location we wanted but we got the birth we wanted. Mark and I were a team and I could not have done it without him. And would I give birth again? Not straight away but if I am blessed to get pregnant again, I 100% cannot wait for the birth!

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