Birth story - Erica and baby Isaac

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It’s a long one, and very much the opposite to what we had written on our birth plan - but still very positive!

As a bit background, my previous labours were 6 hours (spontaneous) 3 hours (spontaneous) and 45 minutes (induced)

I stumbled across the Positive Birth Company when looking for pregnancy meditation videos on YouTube, having suffered with anxiety, as soon as I read up on hypnobirthing, I knew how big of a game changer it would be to me.

I spoke to my husband about it, and we downloaded the digital pack at around 25 weeks and worked our way through it together, we both found it incredibly informative, but also a breath of fresh air. It was also really nice learning it together, and being able to discuss options that we both wanted, I found it a really unique bonding experience, and it made a huge difference on the big day, knowing he knew what was important to me, and him asking questions, that I was thinking about, but not able to communicate. Despite having children already, the amount of new things I learnt about the whole process is actually mind blowing.

I never felt in control of my previous labours, and found myself thinking “well if I knew that then...” on several occasions.

I developed PGP at 4 months, and knew from my previous pregnancies all of the do’s and dont’s. As my pregnancy progressed, so did my levels of uncomfortableness. Due to a stomach issue I can’t take opiate based medication, so I just had to put up and shut up. I saw a consultant to get authorisation for an early sweep at 39 weeks, after not sleeping due to major pain from PGP for 5 nights.

I had mild cramping, and lost my plug, but nothing more after the sweep. I really wanted to hold out for a spontaneous labour, but I knew in my head I couldn’t take the pain of the PGP anymore and agreed to be induced.

We went into hospital on the Tuesday (7/5) early PM, and they put the pessary in as I was 1cm but posterior...the same as when I had my sweep a few days earlier.

By 7am on the Wednesday, I was getting surges 3 in 10 lasting 45 seconds, I remained mobile, taking a walk to the cafe for breakfast and bouncing on my ball, truth be told I was expecting it to be over after a couple of hours going off my previous labours.

By 2pm, I was 3cm on the outside, and 4cm inside my cervix, yet still posterior, I was a little shocked I’d made so little progress, but remained positive - it was progress after all!

They took me up to the labour ward and I agreed that they should brake my waters to try and move things along as I was hyper aware of how tired I already was from so little sleep due to the PGP.

When they broke my waters the surges ramped up quickly and I went into the birthing pool, breathing through my contractions with ease. I felt super in control, and relaxed. After a couple of hours, I started to struggle with the intensity of the surges in my back, and asked the midwife to check my progress, in my head if I was close to 10cm, I knew I’d be able to carry on, but with my exhaustion if I wasn’t as far as I was hoping I’d be, I would get some gas and air to take the edge off.

I was shocked, but not disappointed to learn I was only 5cm, so I opted for the gas and air, the midwife said my cervix was in the right place and incredibly stretchy so I could go to 10cm in no time at all. Again, a few hours passed and the surges were coming one after another, the intensity in my back was incredible, and the midwife asked if I would mind getting out the pool so she could check the position of the baby, I agreed because, going off my previous labours, I knew I hadn’t experienced this sort of labour pain in my back before.

She checked and said the baby was in a really awkward position, but as soon as I got out of the water the surges were really unbearable with just gas and air, again, I asked the midwife to check the progress because I knew again if we were close I could carry on, but given the slow progress if not I’d need additional pain relief. She agreed this was a good option because she could see how tired I was, and also how often the surges were coming I was struggling to get back to green after each one.

I was still only 7cm, and after a discussion with my midwife and my husband, I decided to take 1/2 the dose of diamorphine, again, just incase all of a sudden baby got the memo and turned into the right position. After a further 2 hours I was still at 7cm, I actually lost my head at this point, pure exhaustion! My husband talked me down, and once I’d calmed down again, I asked for an epidural. In the back of my head I knew I needed to rest to conserve some energy to push the baby out, the diamorphine had relaxed me, but the intensity in my back was still to much to be able to relax and rest in between surges.

The anaesthetists were doing a shift change over and took a whopping 2 hours to get to the labour room, so the midwife suggested the other 1/2 dose of diamorphine to try and take the edge off so I could relax, this dose obviously hit the spot and I apparently had the whole room in hysterics, sending my husband to go find the anaesthetist, telling him to bribe him to get them to come quicker “just slip him a £20!” I also became extremely apologetic for not being able to do it without an epidural. My midwife had to leave at this point as she’d been on shift for 12 hours.

When the epidural went in, my husband said my whole body physically relaxed, and I fell asleep instantly. He fielded questions about my surges and the babies heart rate, and then woke me up when the midwife said they would like the dr to come in to talk to us.

The Dr explained that my surges had pretty much stopped, likely due to me getting dehydrated and they’d like to put up a fluid drip for me as soon as possible to try and kick start them, and wanted us to consider the pitocin drip. I felt at this point my hypnobirthing experience really kicked in, as both me and my husband must of asked about 20 questions, once I felt all my questions had been answered, we asked for a moment to discuss our options, and the dr and midwife actually left the room happily and gave us some time.

We agreed it was the best option, as I was still only 8cm, I was already pain free due to the epidural, they were pushing fluids into me so I already had the canular in, and the baby was on constant monitoring, we were assured if he did go into distress, they would know instantly, even if they weren’t in the room as the front desk which was manned constantly had a link to his heart rate - I found this so reassuring.

The drip went in, and my husband settled down for another night on a hospital chair, I didn’t feel any surges until the drip had hit its full potential, so I had managed another hour of sleep or so. Once the drip was at full capacity I could feel the surges in a small part of my stomach, but in the end this worked greatly in my favour as it helped me push.

The dr came in to check just before 5am, and said if I wasn’t 10cm, then they would have to take me for a c section - no questions asked as the babies heart kept dipping too much. Thankfully I was 10cm (hurrah at last!) and the baby was super low, she checked his position again, and then scanned me, just to check, and even in between those two surges, he had moved from one side to back to back, still constantly moving in between surges, which is why I didn’t progress as I really should have.

I again, lost my head and told them I wouldn’t be able to push him out as I was to tired, and the midwife and dr were incredible. So encouraging, telling me they knew I could do it, being super positive, the dr said please just give me one push and I’ll be able to tell from that if you can do it. So with the next surge, I gave it all I had - the dr looked up and smiled and said “well, your baby had loads of hair!” She woke my husband, and 5 further pushes and our baby boy was born.

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No tears, and most importantly no need for an episiotomy! I felt on cloud 9! I think in the back of my mind I’d channelled all I’d learnt, and used all the knowledge to make sure I didn’t have the dreaded episiotomy!

Unfortunately our boy still wanted to cause a bit drama, and we didn’t get delayed cord clamping either, he was super floppy and they just couldn’t bring him around on my chest, so my husband got the cord and scissors chucked at him and a stern - CUT HERE NOW, the room flooded with drs, and after a good 5 minutes they slowly filtered out and a sense of calm returned to the room, after a further 10 minutes, we got our glorious skin to skin time, he fed twice in the first 2 hours, like nothing had ever happened.

My husband was incredibly supportive, playing music that held special memories, helping me move into positions the midwife suggested to try and turn the baby, passing me drinks without me even having to ask. I think had he not been there just pottering around making sure I had what I needed before I knew I needed it I wouldn’t have stayed so calm.

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To some, this may seem like a nightmare labour, to me going into it it would have, but because of all our knowledge, and confidence to question, other than the couple of little head wobbles I had due to exhaustion, the whole labour remained calm and positive. Even though I didn’t get the birth I wanted, I’m still incredibly positive about the whole experience, and will recommend hypnobirthing, and the positive birth company to anyone who will listen. Having 3 daughters already, I’m so pleased I can pass on the skills we learnt, and encourage them to invest in hypnobirthing when they have children of their own.

Our boy is the most placid, relaxed, content little baby, given his entry into the world it shocks me how relaxed he is. We’re still struggling with breastfeeding, but making progress everyday - he’s been diagnosed with tongue tie, due to be snipped in the next few days, but we’ve had 3 full feeds on the breast using a nipple shield so he has more to grab onto, so we can now do away with the hand expressing and syringes - again, another huge hurrah!

So grateful for all we learnt, and really wanted to say that even if you don’t get the labour and birth you want, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing as long as you make the right choices for you 💙💗

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