Birth story - Fay and baby Henrietta

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I’ve suffered mental health problems on and off for years and one of the first things I did when finding out I was pregnant was to be completely honest with my community midwife about my fears and worries about pregnancy and motherhood to try and create a support network and pre-empt and protect against potential problems. Thank goodness I did that because I really struggled throughout my pregnancy with severe anxiety and the lack of control - the not knowing what’s going on inside I struggled with for a long time..

Compounded by a high risk Down’s syndrome result and a low PappA result after our 12 week screening and added to further with some concerns around the kidneys at or anomaly scan which resulted in a referral to the foetal medicine unit.

Thankfully none of these problems amounted to anything but they did cause my anxiety to peak and I realised I needed to do something about it if I wanted to take control of my birth and be more in control of my anxieties.... step in hypnobirthing.

I was recommended the online course which I promptly downloaded around 26weeks but it wasn’t until I’d been on a local introduction to hypnobirthing course that I fully understood the value of the course and set off with vigorous commitment to completing it which I did by 31 weeks pregnant. I felt so determined and committed to practice, prepare and commit to the techniques and I knew I’d have to work extra hard as being such an anxious person the battle against adrenaline and remaining calm was not going to be an easy one for me.

One thing that struck me from the course was the importance of a calm environment and I felt so determined to labour at home for as long as possible (though not quite confident enough to plan a home birth) and my hubby was thankfully totally onboard and we enjoyed listening to the relaxation tracks each night- In fact they helped massively to improve my sleep which has always been an issue!

Unfortunately the bomb shell was dropped that we would need an induction due to the low pappA result and this did make me completely wobble as I realised I was going to be unable to labour at home if this happened- however I reinvested myself into finding positive induction stories and rethinking my birth preferences. With this is mind I also re-watched all the relevant videos and made a thorough plan for the induction process.

Fast forward to 40+2 weeks and my induction date and despite having been fully committed to encouraging baby to come naturally my cervix was not ‘favourable’ I had hoped to opt for the balloon method of induction but had to settle for the propess. However I felt fully prepared for a long hospital stay and determined to make it a positive and oxytocin friendly environment. Hubby and I set off on a walk around and around the hospital followed by getting cosy in the room and watching a film in bed and more walking around - we listened to music and I bounced on the birth ball.

By the evening I’d had a few tightenings on and off and walking had definitely progressed these and I felt positive that things were progressing but decided to send my husband home for some rest as wasn’t expecting anything to happen that evening and I settled into watching comedies on my iPad and listening to my birth affirmations munching my way through my snack bag. During this time the tightenings were becoming more frequent and eventually I started to time them and realised that not only were they increasing in frequency but also intensity and that the timer showed I’d reached the 4in10minute stage. I decided to ring the buzzer as I hadn’t seen a midwife since checking in and wanted to check that I wasn’t imagining things! Someone popped their head in and I said I thought things might be starting to happen- she disappeared to find who was in charge of me and my notes etc and I felt a sudden pop, on inspection I realised I’d lost my mucus plug. I decided to get on the ball and encourage things along and soon there was a definite gush of water. I could feel the adrenaline starting to rise at this point and the surges were ramping up so I called my husband and said he should come back... we live about 35minutes from the hospital.

My legs had started to shake with adrenaline and my fear was that things were happening quickly and I was all by myself in the room with no one to help me prepare my positive environment. Eventually a midwife appeared by which point I was completely out of the green zone and heading quickly towards red. She asked what I needed and I explained I needed my husband to get there and I wanted to practice hypnobirthing, I was using up breathing through the surges but unable to calm between them- I was really starting to lose control and she went off to find my birth plan. The unit was incredibly busy. My hubby arrived and I asked him to set up the room which he did but I was really struggling to control the adrenaline - the midwife came back and I consented to being examined and I was 1cm. This really knocked me as I felt the intensity of things should have progressed me further.

I explained I was struggling to control the adrenaline and stay in control and I asked what pain relief options I might go for at this stage, I was already using the tens machine which was great for during each surge but it was between the surges when my adrenaline was spiking and I wanted something to help me stay calm. I opted for Meptid and this really did the trick and calmed me down and let me focus on my up breathing during surges and staying relaxed between. We had a lovely couple of hours really in the zone with our battery candles, room spray and music/mp3s using up breathing through the surges. At 4am I felt a sudden change in my surges and the intensity increased- I started to feel the calm green zone slip away from me and was struggling to focus on my up breathing.. I felt my body was trying to tell me something and thought perhaps I was experiencing transition and asked to be examined - I was only 3cm this totally knocked me again and I asked for more pain relief and was given diamorphine and the midwife also encouraged me to use the gas and air and eventually I managed to incorporate my up breathing into this.

I was really feeling the surges and was trying to find a comfortable position that was UFO to ride them in but all of a sudden I felt very ‘pushy’ and just knew something was happening. The midwife was doubtful but said she would check me and I had progressed to 7cm in 30minutes which explained the panic and transition stage I’d felt just before - not long after my body started pushing naturally.

Surprisingly I found being on my back and bearing down into the bed the best position for me at this point and with the midwife confirming I’d reached 10cm I allowed my body to bear down - I was definitely mooing at this stage rather than down breathing but it worked for us and 15minutes later out popped our beautiful girl.

The active stage of labour is recorded as 1hour 27minutes! We were able to have delayed clamping and enjoy skin to skin but I opted for the managed third stage as I was exhausted by the intensity of the process! Our golden hour was lovely and those oxytocin levels post labour should be bottled!

I think what surprised me about the whole process was how open I was to pain relief on the day - it was definitely a case of the right birth on the day for me and although I wish I’d listened and trusted my body more when I felt the transition stage, and hadn’t got caught up in examinations, and trusted my instincts more.

I feel the birth was a really positive experience because I was able to stay in control even if I had to have a little help to do so and ultimately I had the right birth on the day for me and I dealt with the whole thing much better then I ever thought I could thanks to the skills the positive birth company taught me. Unfortunately the after care and support I received in hospital was very poor and it has been a tough few days but that’s made me even more determined that next time I’ll be aiming for a home birth 💪💪

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