Birth story - Kate and baby Beatrix

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As a second time mama I spent a lot of my pregnancy wondering whether the birth of my second little one would be anything like my first experience. My little boy William arrived in 2015 at 39+1 after my waters broke in an almighty rush, and I couldn't help but wonder when and how labour would start this time around.

Just before 3am on 6th June (40+3) I got up to go for a wee, and after I got back into bed it slowly started to dawn on me that I was having gentle surges, similar in feeling to period cramps. I knew that these gentle sensations didn't necessarily mean that baby would be making an appearance any time soon, but when I went for another wee shortly after, I had lost my mucus plug and I felt then that today would be the day.

We had chosen to have our baby at our local MLU in Newton Abbot, in the same building that 3 months before we attended one of Siobhan's weekend courses. I loved the fact there was already this positive association with the place and having visited the unit knew that it was the perfect, peaceful environment to welcome our little one. As the MLU is not staffed 24/7, my midwife had advised that I call the Delivery Suite at the hospital when my surges were approx. 7 minutes apart, to allow time for a midwife to travel to the unit to meet us.

At 5:30am my surges were still a little erratic but were coming every 4-8 minutes, so I woke my husband Jamie and we started preparing for the special day ahead. I tried to stay in my zone by listening to the positive affirmations MP3 and breathing through the surges, and spent most of the time kneeling over the end of the bed to stay comfortable. We spoke to the Delivery Suite team who said they would send a midwife to assess me at home.

The midwife came really promptly and quietly read through my notes and preferences whilst observing me breathe through my surges. In comparison to my previous birth experience there is no doubt that this time I was more comfortable, relaxed and in control at this point. The midwife asked if I was happy to have an examination, which I was. I was even happier to find out that I was already 5cm dilated, which meant that not only could we travel to the MLU whenever we wanted but that I could also get straight in the pool when we got there!

Between this time and arriving at the MLU I did lose my focus a little, as my Dad who was spending the day with William was late arriving and I found it much harder to stay relaxed whilst we waited for him. Fortunately I was able to get into the birth pool as soon as we reached Newton Abbot and this was the antidote to my rising stress levels – the water felt like heaven and my Mum arrived to the sight of me swishing around in the water with a big grin on my face.

Jamie, my Mum and me were accompanied by 2 fantastic midwives who honoured our birth preferences every step of the way. Jamie positioned our candles, sprayed the room with Liquid Yoga and stayed firmly by my side as the surges became more intense. When I felt myself faltering I started to use gas and air, breathing it in but taking the mouthpiece out to exhale for a count of 8 to maintain my up breathing. Between surges I rested my forehead on a cold flannel on the side of the pool which was so soothing.

Over the next 2-3 hours I lost track of time and at points completely withdrew into myself as my body saved energy for the task ahead. The surges were close together and so, so powerful – at one point I uttered the words “I can't do this” and instantly knew that our time was close and that I was doing it already! I noticed that the midwives had prepared the station used for checking the baby, and that they were using a mirror in the water to watch for the baby. I found these little signs so encouraging just as I was starting to feel that these intense surges might go on forever.

The next set of surges saw the head emerge, and I thought of all the positive birth stories I had read describing how this felt. The “pushing” stage was somewhat new to me as I had an epidural and an assisted delivery during my previous birth, and was very motivated to experience this stage more naturally this time. I got my wish, and wow! Whilst I tried my best to control my breathing, my body took over and I roared through the final surges.

Beatrix Florence Megan Smith joined us at 11:46am, weighing more than I expected at 9lb 11oz! The midwives guided her through my legs and I caught her and brought her up on to my chest, a dream fulfilled. We spent about 20 minutes in the pool together, allowing her to receive all her blood from the cord before I was encouraged to get out to deliver the placenta.

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Disappointingly the placenta did not want to budge. The midwives did their utmost to facilitate my wish for a physiological third stage, but I had started to lose some blood so agreed to the injection – I really just wanted to bathe in the glory of my little girl's arrival by this point! My placenta was very stubborn and would still not vacate, and as I continued to lose some blood during this time the midwives advised (very apologetically) that I transfer to Torbay Hospital. I had always understood that this would be necessary if further medical care was required and agreed that this was the right thing to do.

Whilst this was happening, Beatrix had been returned to me to breastfeed as well as having skin to skin time with her Daddy, so I still feel that she had all the benefits of a “golden hour”. We were taken to Torbay where Beatrix and I stayed overnight – not part of my original plan but in the circumstances it was necessary, and I was looked after by a brilliant team.

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I was told that the placenta was firmly tucked away right at the top of my uterus, and it was removed in theatre once all the other options had been exhausted.

Beatrix had entered the world with her hand held up by her face which caused me to tear a little, for which I had a few stitches whilst I was in theatre.

11 days later I haven't stopped replaying the beautiful arrival of my daughter. The Positive Birth Company course was absolutely crucial in developing my hope for a calm, natural birth into a belief and then a reality.

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