Birth story - Emily and baby Pippa

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With my first daughter almost 4 years ago, I was induced due to 3 episodes of reduced movements. Despite a very straight forward and quick induction, it was not a positive experience for me due to multiple factors.

It wasn’t until falling pregnant this time that I realised how much my first birth had traumatised me - so after a teary chat with my midwife, I went along to a birth reflections appointment where I pretty much cried non stop! It was such a relief to hear what actually happened and why.

I started the PBC online course at about 30 weeks, my husband and I watching a few videos each night. The up breathing was particularly helpful, especially being an anxiety sufferer, as it meant I practiced daily. We also found BRAIN helpful and again, I use it in day to day life too!

I had decided on a homebirth quite early on because I cannot stand being in a hospital and my previous experience cemented this. From my first homebirth appointment at 35 weeks, I immediately felt like all the midwives were on the same wavelength as me. I could talk to them easily and openly and cannot praise them enough. It felt like they had all the time in the world for me as opposed to being ushered in and shoved out at my GP midwife.

My pregnancy this time around was incredibly difficult and emotionally and physically exhausting with severe SPD and suspected prenatal depression. I actually wrote a blogpost all about it (emilyroseantonia.blogspot.com in case anyone is interested as I’m trying to keep this as short as possible!)

Anyway, I was convinced I wouldn’t make it to term, with baby being so low from very early on and having plenty of Braxton Hicks and false labour, but the further I got the more I accepted the reality of having a Christmas Day or NYE baby!

I had requested a sweep at 39+6 due to my pelvic pain and to be honest, just being absolutely done with pregnancy. After that I had mild period like cramping throughout mine and my daughters walk around a National Trust site. I woke up on my due date still uncomfortable but thinking nothing of it as I’d been uncomfortable for weeks on end so took her to the cinema and ran some errands before coming home at about 2:30. We played a little and watched another film as I was starting to get some slightly more painful twinges and was struggling to talk through them anymore so figured The Muppets would be a welcome distraction.

I called my husband at work at 3:30 and asked him to come back as I was having surges every 5 minutes then 3 minutes then 5 minutes (a weird pattern which went on for an hour!). I also called the homebirth midwives and warned them of this - I think my instinct took over as I had avoided calling them until then when having false labour but part of me just knew this time. My husband arrived home at 4 and our daughter was happily taken to my MIL’s for a sleepover at around 5:15 - I immediately felt much calmer after she had left because I was anxious I was scaring her. I turned Netflix on and tried to watch Friends to chill out but quickly found it very irritating so put Jack Johnson on our speakers instead which made the world of difference. I used to listen to him to help me sleep as a teenager so it relaxed me immensely.

My husband set to work moving our dining table out of the dining room while I stood in the kitchen watching with the lights off and music on. I called him over whenever I was having a surge to lightly rub my lower back then he carried on inflating the birth pool.

My midwives arrived at 5:45pm and very quickly, my surges were coming every 2 minutes. They asked me if I wanted to be examined and I’m very proud of my husband for using BRAIN and saying we’d wait for half an hour and see. Part of me was curious and wanted to feel encouraged but the idea of an internal exam was hell, especially as it would mean lying down again which was not comfy at all. I was managing with just breathing until then, then decided to try the TENS machine. I’d never used one before but did not like it at all so growled at my husband to take it off. I was still laughing and talking in between but had a bit of a moment where I got really hot and just wanted my clothes off and a flannel on my head. I also felt quite faint so sat down for a while and asked for gas and air. I was happy using this in my first birth and knew it didn’t make me dizzy or sick but thought it might help to regulate my breathing again and stop it getting panicky. It was helpful to use to breathe in for 4 then just bite whilst breathing out for 6. After a surge or two I heard them say that the pool was ready, this was a massive relief as I was convinced it wouldn’t be ready in time.

I climbed in and it felt so relaxing to be in the water. I was still laughing and talking in between but by now, the surges were causing me to make some groaning noises once they hit their peak. I found it helpful at that point to be off the gas and air and just use the growl to get me through it. I had loads of pressure in my bum but realised I was almost holding it in (I commented I felt like I was suppressing a fart!) - so once I allowed myself to relax those muscles, I could feel her head moving further and further down. Suddenly I felt my waters go like someone had let off a cannon in the water and things ramped up a notch. I had my one and only “wobble” as she was crowning where I said “I don’t like this bit” and really took in the gas and air making me feel a little dizzy but before I knew it she was out and I said “is that it!” I was convinced that her head would take more to be born and I don’t remember feeling any stinging - I can only put that down to being in the water and also the amount of vernix she had must have made it slippery! It felt like it was only really 2 “pushes” and she was out at 7:21pm. I felt absolutely euphoric.

Weirdly, I didn’t feel my body do the downwards pushes like I did with my 1st daughter - I’d described them as like heaving from your vagina! - but more like once I relaxed all my muscles, my body just did it by itself.

We sat in the pool for a while, marvelling at how much vernix she had for a full term baby, and waiting for the cord to stop pulsing. I had originally requested the injection to birth the placenta as I was worried about blood loss but my midwife was so calm and encouraged me that my body had done everything else so would manage the placenta fine. I had a few mild cramps and it was gently encouraged out which wasn’t painful at all.

Despite her chunky size (and I was regularly sent for growth scans because I was always measuring 2-3 weeks smaller) I didn’t tear, and just had two small external grazes.

We had 2 hours of sitting on my sofa, drinking hot tea and jam on toast and skin to skin. It was honestly bliss.

My midwives left at about 9pm and we were left in our own house with just the Christmas tree lights on and my “starving” husband ordered a takeaway!

I feel so extremely lucky to have had the birth I had dreamed of but never thought possible. Up breathing got me through the entire thing and so did positive affirmations. Even if my affirmation was “I will no longer be pregnant soon” 🙈

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