Birth story - Emma and baby
I am a yoga and meditation teacher, so the concept of oxytocin wasn’t new to me; but I was looking for a way to feel empowered in my pregnancy (I didn’t particularly enjoy being pregnant; the changes to my hormones, body and general well-being had been hard to manage) and that’s when a teacher friend of mine recommended the online course.
My hubby and I took our time making it through the videos together; I felt it really important for him to also feel connected to and informed about the birth process as I knew he would hate to feel powerless when I was in labour (and I knew it would irritate me if he was flapping or being useless!) and I listened to the affirmations and relaxation scripts in bed almost every night from about 30weeks.
Important to note that we were also buying a new home at this time; I jokingly said “I bet we complete on my due date” - it turned out to be just two days shy at 39+5! 🙄
So needless to say my due date came and went with no expectations of labour, but because I was well informed about my choices (and there was no indication of any problems with baby) I told the midwife that I didn’t even want an examination before 42weeks; let alone a sweep or a discussion about induction. She completely respected my wishes; she knew from quite an early stage that I (as much as was possible) wanted a hands-off pregnancy and birth experience. I was lucky that I saw the same midwife each appointment for the last half of my pregnancy and I think this relationship really helped me feel supported too. I think if we weren’t moving house at such a crucial time I would have probably opted for a home birth.
I got to 40+8 and was starting to feel like I would be pregnant forever! I booked a reflexology appointment for the afternoon of 40+11, discussed the option of a sweep at my 40+12 midwife appointment, and was also given an appointment with the consultant midwife in the expectation of going over the 42weeks mark, but my favourite mantras were “my baby will come when my baby is ready” and “my body knows how to birth my baby” I repeated them over and over to myself. And it turns out I didn’t make it to any of these appointments...
On the Monday night (40+8) I had a few period-type pains throughout the night; strong enough to wake me up but completely manageable. They died down again during the day, and then the same thing happened the next night. I knew this could go on for days so I just kept going; short walks, napping, batch-cooking meals for the freezer and making flapjacks...
On the Wednesday morning the pains didn’t diminish once I got up but I just kept going as normal; even walking to Tesco and doing a small shop just before lunch and putting a meal in the slow cooker for dinner. I had a very small amount of dark show throughout the day, but again calmly told myself it was just the beginning and to keep keeping on! By about 5pm they were starting to come a little more frequently and it occurred to me I should time them to see what was happening. They were coming every 5mins but were super manageable, I messaged my hubby just before 6pm to say I thought things were starting to happen but not to rush home early from work.
I set up the lounge with low lights and blankets, towels and cushions on the floor, along with my birthing ball. I put catch-up episodes of The Great British Bake-Off on the tv (😂) and rode each surge out on my hands and knees or leaning over the edge of the sofa or the ball.
Hubby got home at 7-ish and by then the surges were coming regularly at the same pace but were definitely beginning to ramp up in intensity... I made sure he ate the meal I had prepared earlier in the day (I had no appetite) and asked him to help me put the tens machine on, in the next two hours the surges increased in both intensity and frequency and I put on my headphones and started listening to the affirmations on repeat. Hubby called the birth centre when I had 3 surges in 10mins at such an intensity that I couldn’t focus on anything else. They said we could come in, but that we might expect to be sent home again.
This was around 9pm and while he was calling a cab I wobbled, wondering if I could keep going. In hindsight this was the transition stage, but at the time it seemed far too early and I certainly hadn’t had a “rest and be thankful” phase! I started to feel urges to bear down. I went into my own little world at this point; I don’t remember any specifics about the cab ride or even the faces of the midwives who greeted us.
I continued to have strong surges in the car, across the car park and into the examination room, where I eventually managed to give a urine sample, I refused an examination but I was feeling the urge to push and as if by magic my waters broke and I had my full bloody show. They took me into the birthing room and I was allowed to get straight into the pool. I rode out a few surges seated while they checked the babies heartbeat but it really wasn’t working for me as I’d been on my knees or stood UFO throughout the whole labour so I shifted position back onto my hands and knees and it became more manageable again.
My hubby was fantastic at this stage, the midwives got him a stool to sit next to the pool and he held my hands with his head next to mine, breathed with me and him being there reminded me to relax my shoulders and jaw between surges. I felt primal and empowered at this stage and just kept repeating to myself “we’ve got this”.
Baby was born at 11.39; just over two and a half hours after arriving at the birth centre. At no point did I even think to ask for pain relief, I just trusted that my body could do it. I realised afterwards as well that there was a whole other level on the tens machine that I hadn’t even used! The midwives were telling me to breathe baby out as she crowned but she came so quickly it was hard for me to slow it down and I did sustain a tear but I honestly didn’t feel it at the time, and I certainly didn’t expect that it would be almost 3rd degree and require surgery to stitch.
Baby was delivered and passed up between my legs and I lifted her from the water and tried to bring her to my chest but the cord felt too short. I shifted back on to my bum and brought her up to me and the pool started to fill with blood. The midwives spotted it as a little out of the ordinary and checked the cord, which had snapped! Luckily they spotted it quickly enough that she didn’t lose any blood; but because of this she unfortunately didn’t get delayed cord clamping which I had hoped for. Nonetheless, hubby got to cut what was left of the cord, her blood levels were absolutely fine and it was such an amazing experience, I just kept repeating “that was insane!” over and over! Absolutely elated at what we had achieved together. We had more skin to skin after I was helped out of the pool (my legs were like jelly!), and we attempted our first feed. I had a natural third stage and then they asked my permission to examine me for tears.
We unfortunately didn’t get a full golden hour because they wanted to get me stitched up as quickly as possible, but hubby had skin to skin while I went to be stitched.
The midwives were incredible throughout in honouring my hands-off wishes and I didn’t feel like I had to fight my corner at all, the NHS has its faults (don’t get me started on the government) but honestly I’m so thankful to the midwifery staff for this experience and I will shout the benefits of hypnobirthing and the PBC digital pack to anyone and everyone who will listen!
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