Birth story - Emma and babies Mia and Dalila

We found out we were expecting twins at an early scan following a miscarriage. I spent the next few months worrying sick about them and what kind of birth I would be able to have. I was desperate to experience, or at least have the opportunity to try for, a natural birth but knew that with twins this could be unlikely and didn’t want to endanger my babies for the sake of my own birth experience.

I discovered the positive birth company and invested in the digital pack. We had scans at 20 weeks and then every 4 weeks from then followed by a consultants appointment. We were advised that a vaginal delivery would be possible as long as twin 1 remained head down. I had wanted to be able to experience the lovely calm, natural water births I read so many stories about but knew that with twins we were not allowed to use a pool and would have to have continuous monitoring. So I set out to make the experience as positive as I possibly could and ask lots of questions to make sure that I felt in control.

I knew that I wanted to avoid pain killers such as pethidine and diamorphine as I saw how sleepy it made my sister in her labour, I also wanted to avoid an epidural in case it slowed things down and made a c section more likely and I wanted to be as mobile as possible to be able to adopt an UFO position. However, the consultants had strongly advised an epidural in case twin 2 ended up in distress and an emergency c section was required, or they had to do some manual turning to get her out. In my birth preferences I stated that I wanted to avoid opiates and not have an epidural unless necessary.

Our last scan was booked for 36+5 weeks, and I was dubious that we would make it that far. At our 32 week scan it showed that twin 1 was still head down and twin 2 was breech.

At 35 weeks + 5, my waters broke at 1:00 in the morning when I got up to go for a wee. I felt excited but a little scared that the twins weren’t fully cooked yet, I was hoping to get to at least 36 weeks. Period pains started immediately but were mild and perfectly manageable. We called the hospital who said to make our way in in the next couple of hours so I had a cup of tea and a flapjack and did the washing up. We got in the car at 3:30 and made the 5 minute drive to the hospital, I listened to the hypnobirthing MP3s and stayed calm, surges were building and coming every 3 minutes and lasting 40 seconds. I had a couple of surges as we waddled into the hospital but just took it slow and practised the up breathing techniques. We arrived at the reception and I said, 'we’re here to have some babies!'

We were taken straight into a delivery suite and a lovely midwife read through my birth preferences and dimmed the lights. A consultant came in and examined me at 05:00 and told me I was 2-3 cms dilated already, twin 1 still head down and twin 2 breech. I was given a steroid injection for the babies and told I needed to have another one 12 hours later although he didn’t think I would still be in labour then as things were already on their way. I was strapped up to two monitors round my belly, one for each twin. I had to lie still on my back for 20 minutes so they could get a good reading which was very uncomfortable, but then I was allowed back up to move around a bit. I tried kneeling on the bed with my arms over the top but my legs would get quite tired so I bounced on the ball next to the bed.

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At 09:00 the surges were getting quite intense and I really had to focus to get through each one. I had to ask my husband and the midwife not to have a conversation whilst I was experiencing them as it was distracting me. I then asked to try the gas and air which was amazing, it helped me focus my breathing and made me feel drunk but still in control. After a while I started getting tired so I put on some dance music and stood up and danced and swayed and bounced my way through surges using the gas and air.

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I really enjoyed the next few hours, although the monitor kept slipping for twin 1 so I was restricted with movement to a certain degree, I made the most of the situation and was completely in my own zone with my music plugged in to my headphones. I used a flannel with clary sage oil and lavender to smell and my husband kept it wet to cool me down.

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At 14:00, 12 hours after surges started, I was examined again and told I was 4-5 cms dilated. I was exhausted and couldn’t see how I could possibly continue for another 12 hours and then push out two babies so my husband and I used our BRAINs and decided to have an epidural put in so I could get some rest. This was the best decision for me, it was fitted at 15:00 and getting it fitted was quite hard as I couldnt listen to my music as they needed to talk to me, but I used the breathing techniques to get through it. I was also given syntocinon to make the contractions ramp up which the midwife gradually turned up over the course of a few hours.

I spent the next few hours resting, I was able to top up the epidural if I needed to, but only did so at the end. I still had feeling in my legs and could feel it when they injected the second steroid shot. I could feel pressure down below from the surges but no longer the period type pain that I had to breathe through before. At 22:00 I was examined again to be told I was 9.5cms dilated which was the best news ever! I was still very tired and was ravenously hungry after nearly 24 hours with no food, although I did have a cannular fitted with fluids in. They gave me an hour to dilate fully. I had two midwives in with me at this point who had read through my birth preferences and acknowledged all my wishes. I heard them saying to each other that the consultant wanted to intervene but they made him wait outside and I heard them say ‘she can do this’, which really helped me to believe in myself.

At 23:30 I could feel intense pressure in my bum and started pushing when I had the surges. I tried down breathing but it wasn’t effective with the epidural so the midwives helped me with coached pushing. I pushed for an hour and could definitely feel twin 1s head descending. It felt like i was doing the biggest poo of my life. They then started to encourage me to really push harder and for longer so I put my legs on the paddles by the bed and pulled on some handles. It was like the hardest most intense workout and I said to them I think my head is going explode, they told me they hadn’t seen that happen in labour before and I would be fine. My husband was amazing at encouraging me and they told me they could see her head and she had hair! This really spurred me on and I gave it everything I had to push her out, her head was born and then with a couple more pushes her body followed. I have never been so exhausted in my life! They placed her on my chest and I looked down to see her big dark eyes looking up at me, it was the best feeling in the whole world. My husband cut her cord and she was taken away to a hot cot to be checked over by the paediatricians. By now there were 6 people in the room, two midwives, a consultant, two paediatricians and neonatal lady. I only realised this when I looked over to watch her being checked over. My little Mia was brought back to me in a towel for me to look at whilst the consultant put what felt like his whole arm up inside me. Twin 2 was still breech but was descending down, however my contractions had stopped, even with the drip still on so the decision was made to break her waters. Having the consultant rummage around was still very uncomfortable despite the epidural that I had turned up.

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They gave me an hour in total to allow the contractions to start up again and thankfully they did as I was dreading having to go for a c section. I then had to face the task of pushing a breech baby out which was very intimidating after the effort of pushing out one already and still being able to feel a lot of the sensation involved. I started pushing with all my might, and 20 minutes later twin 2, little Dalila arrived (1 hour and 20 minutes after her sister). She came out bum first and I had to push super hard to get her head out and was aware that this was potentially quite dangerous but dug deep for that final push to quickly deliver my baby. We were unable to cut the cord or have skin to skin time with Dalila as she had to rushed off to be checked over but was handed back to me shortly after.

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There were moments when I said I couldn’t push any more as I literally had nothing left to give, but I would rest and then start pushing again. It may not have been the zen birth I had hoped for but in a way, the effort involved in pushing made it even more rewarding when the babies were born.

I feel so lucky to have been able to birth my babies vaginally, although there was a lot of intervention in terms of monitoring, the syntocinon drip and the epidural, I made decisions that felt right for me and my babies. I felt empowered and in control the whole time and managed to avoid the use of instruments and only suffered a graze. One of the midwives who took over on the morning shift said we received a round of applause from the team at the morning handover and several of them have called me wonder woman, which has made me feel even more positive about my birth experience. Thanks to the positive birth company I went into labour feeling excited and confident and prepared, and when I look back on the birth that I had, I feel proud and strong and grateful.

Our little dinky bundles of joy needed no NICU time or special care and we went straight to the post natal ward as a family of 4. They were in a hot cot for 48 hours and had their blood sugars monitored, and we had to stay in the hospital for 7 days as they lost too much weight. We were given our own room and the treatment we received was outstanding. The NHS is truly remarkable and the team at the hospital have been amazing. I am so grateful to my husband who has been my rock the whole time, he advocated for me and took all the information in throughout the birth as I spent most of it plugged into my music and in the zone. He has also been the most incredible support looking after me and the babies, he has been on my side and by my side every step of the way throughout the birth and recovery.

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