Birth story - Chess and baby Lucas
Every woman’s birth story is unique and before I had our little boy I tried to keep positive about the birth, hoping that it would be as straightforward as possible. There are so many horror stories and everyone wants to tell you about their traumatic birth, which is completely understandable but isn’t particularly helpful for anxious first time mums! Obviously there’s always a chance that things will go wrong but I want to share my positive, natural birth story to show that there are always things within our control, even if things don’t go exactly as planned.
I went into early labour just after midnight a week and two days before my due date. As a first-time mum I wasn’t sure if my contractions had actually started but I woke my partner up and said to him that I thought they had. They were quite far apart and not too intense and as we’d done a hypnobirthing course in preparation I use upward breathing to try and manage each surge, which worked really well. I did have to walk around the kitchen and living room a little bit but for the most part I was able to carry on sleeping.
We got up as normal at around 8am and went into the living room. The surges were getting closer together and more intense but I tried to keep moving and had some breakfast and drank Lucozade and coconut water to keep me hydrated. My partner set up the calm environment that we wanted so we had the curtains closed, our fairy lights and tea lights on, as well as the lavender diffuser.
Over the course of the day my contractions gradually got more and more intense and we began timing them. In between I continued to walk around as much as I could and rest on the sofa while watching Sunday Brunch, all the while continuing with my upward breathing whenever the contractions came. Around mid morning I decided to put the TENs machine on as my contractions were getting stronger and it helped a lot. I also tried to sit on my pregnancy ball as I’d loved it during pregnancy but it wasn’t comfortable so I scrapped that and continued to walk around and lean on either the kitchen counter or the dining room table whenever a contraction came.
We carried on timing my contractions into the afternoon. As they got more intense and close together we decided to call the pregnancy helpline who advised me to stay at home and do what I was doing. So we did.
Late afternoon we thought the contractions were at the three contractions every 10 minutes for over two hours so again we called the pregnancy helpline who said to come into the birth centre to be examined. It is definitely not comfortable being in a car when you have a contraction! Luckily the hospital is only a 10 minute drive away and as it was a Sunday so there was no traffic.
When we got the birth centre I was examined straight away and told that they weren’t even sure if I was in labour or not, which was very surprising to me. I think the midwife may have given me a sweep as it was quite painful but frustratingly she didn’t discuss this with me or ask me as I would have said no. The midwife gave me codeine and paracetamol and said to go home and continue to rest. This shook my confidence as I really felt that I was in labour (which in hindsight I obviously was!) but was being told by a professional that I potentially wasn’t. Anyway we went home and as soon as I got home I went to the toilet and saw my mucus plug. I continued to have the TENs machine, sleep on the sofa, eat and relax as much as I could.
We went to bed as normal that night, using the upwards breathing and TENs machine to manage the surges. I was woken just after midnight again with really strong contractions. I tried to sleep as much as I could but this was easier said than done! At around 5:30am I felt a massive gush while I was lying down in bed and realised that my waters had broken so my partner called the pregnancy helpline. They told us to go to maternity triage to be assessed as I wasn’t sure if I’d felt the baby move so we went back to the hospital.
I was assessed in the maternity triage room, which was really uncomfortable as I was lying on a bed (not upright, forward or open) with machines strapped to me and no pillows to support me with very intense and close together contractions. When I was examined the midwife told me I was at 5cm, which was surprising but good news. I was then told that the birth centre was apparently full and that I would have to give birth on the labour ward which was initially really disappointing but luckily the room with the pool was free so I was able to go across the corridor (with two very strong contractions on the way!) and into a lovely room.
As soon as we got into the room I felt like I needed to go to the toilet really intensely. As soon as I got on the toilet I had a strong urge to start pushing so the midwife told me I had to get off as I couldn’t give birth on the loo! At this point I asked if I could have any paracetamol but she told me it wouldn’t do much but the gas and air would be ready for me (I tried it once but it didn’t do anything so I left it). When I came out of the bathroom my partner had set up the room as we wanted: blinds down, battery-powered candles, and the spa music playlist.
We were waiting for the pool to fill up but I really needed to start pushing so the midwives tried to get me into different positions to see if I was comfortable including over a beanbag and on a small squatting stool, however I just wanted to go back onto the toilet! Luckily by this time the pool was full and I was able to get in (although I had to give up my TENs machine, which I wasn’t too happy about). However as soon as I got in the water I felt some relief and I hung over the side of the pool in a squatting position.
It took just under an hour of pushing. I tried my best to do downward breathing but it wasn’t working for me so I had to listen to the midwives who told me to hold my breath and push down as much as I could. This stage is a bit of a blur but I do remember feeling quite calm with my eyes closed the whole time, listening to the spa music and trying my best to breathe properly between surges. My partner was there giving me sips of water and helping me keep calm. The midwives were very respectful, only speaking to me when necessary to give me gentle instructions or encouragement.
Our beautiful surprise baby boy was born in the water at 9:11am. He was really calm when he came out and didn’t cry. As soon as he was put on my chest he looked up at me and my partner and seemed really content. I revealed the sex of the baby and my partner cut the cord. He only cried when the midwife took him so I could get out of the pool but he stopped crying again when he was given to my partner for more skin to skin. It was so sweet because it felt like he knew us already.
I had wanted a psychological delivery of the placenta but unfortunately after about half an hour the midwives said I would need to have a managed delivery. I was disappointed but at this point I just wanted the placenta out so I could concentrate on my baby. Luckily it came out quickly and I was then able to try breastfeeding.
I had a second-degree tear so needed to be stitched but I hadn’t noticed that I’d had the tear at all and the stitching was pain-free. Luckily I had no problems after either with the stitches dissolving after 10 days. I’d highly recommend Spritz for Bits by The Expert Midwife to help with tear recovery.
As the birth had gone well we were able to be discharged later that day. Because of this they let us stay in the room for the rest of the day relaxing and resting, which was lovely as I had a bed and my partner had a bed and a chair so we could get to know our little human in peace and comfort. We were discharged at around 5pm and were able to spend our first night as a three at home in our own surroundings.
There are a few minor things along the way that could’ve made the experience better (e.g. not able to be in the birth centre) but overall I feel really lucky to have had a positive, natural birth experience with no pain relief. We were able to have the birth we wanted even though it wasn’t in the place we originally wanted. The hypnobirthing techniques we learnt were amazing; particularly helping us set the right environment and the upward breathing. I also believe that knowing some of the science behind how our bodies are made to do this helped me relax, especially in the second stage. Women are incredible!
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