Birth story - Kelly and baby Callum

Throughout my pregnancy, I'd been convinced I was having a big baby and that he would come early. I had Braxton hicks from about 24 weeks but they ramped up from 37 weeks and I wasn't sure if I’d get a September baby after all. However, September 1st came and went and I woke up disappointed every morning of my maternity leave. On 16th (the day before my edd) I went to bed convinced that I was going to be very overdue so made tons of plans for the week.

Callum had other ideas! I woke up at 3am with mild contractions and had lost some of my plug. I woke up my husband Alex but said not to get too excited. I was, however, and couldn't sleep so we went downstairs to prep the living room (covered the sofas, tidied up, arranged candles, burned clary sage). Then I sent Alex back upstairs as we weren't sure if he'd be going into work the next day.

I watched tv and bounced on my ball until about 6am at which point I was pretty sure I was in labour. I asked around online and the consensus was to keep him off work so I took him a cuppa and he logged on to finish off a few bits and let work know he wouldn't be in. I had a snooze at this point and the contractions slowed down some.

At 11ish, we decided to walk to the shop to get a watch battery as this was what I had planned to do that day. The walk was great as it really strengthened the contractions. We went home to have lunch and began timing. We realised that the contractions slowed down if I was distracted by something else so we turned on the spa music and lit candles. I started using up breathing but the contractions were manageable and even enjoyable as I knew we were definitely going to see our little man's face soon!!

The tightenings ramped up by about 4 so I asked Alex to call the midwife. Up breathing was amazing and kept me really focussed. We ran a bath whilst we waited and the midwife arrived about 40 mins later. Now, both midwives were great and I had an amazing birth. There were a few niggles throughout, however, but they didn't really impact the birth. When the midwife arrived, the calm environment was disrupted and I struggled with the contractions more. I explained that we didn't want VEs and that we were hypnobirthing. She didn't ask to see a birth plan and I felt uncomfortable handing one to her at this point. She asked why I didn't want a VE and I explained that I didn't want to know how many cm I was because it was irrelevant (not a straight line graph) and I didn't want to hear that I was "only" anything. She seemed annoyed by this and I can't remember exactly what was said but I got the impression she felt she wasted her time coming. In the end, I allowed a VE but asked that all information go through Alex, who would decide what to tell me. We'd agreed this beforehand and he knew that I didn't want to know how many cm, even if it been 10.

The midwife did the exam and it was really unpleasant. During the exam, she started to tell me how many cm and my husband had to stop her. She also asked if I wanted her to "do anything" whilst she was in there, which I declined. I went to get in the bath whilst Alex spoke to the midwife.

He came upstairs and told me that the contractions were having an impact and that Callum was on his way. The midwife was going to leave and come back later on. I later found out that I was "only" 2 cm so I'm so glad that I didn't find this out at the time as I'd have been gutted and it may have slowed things down.

At some point in the next few hours, the contractions really ramped up and I had to actively think about up breathing. I noticed a massive difference between the contractions I was prepared for in terms of breathing and those that took me by surprise. Alex was amazing at guiding my breathing and the knowledge that it was only 4 (then 3, 2, 1) breaths made all the difference.

Alex started to blow up the pool and I realised that I needed him by my side. I called my mum and asked her to come. We'd been really unsure throughout the pregnancy about whether to have my mum there. On the day, she was amazing and meant that Alex could focus 100% on me. She was able to sort the pool temperature, call triage, chat to the midwives, make drinks, take photos and even tidied up afterwards!! Everyone said this to us before, but I really would recommend having a 2nd birth partner for a home birth!

I can't remember exactly when I got in the pool, but it was amazing. It slowed the contractions slightly which is exactly what I needed. At some point I started to feel a bit different so my mum called triage. She was in a queue for ages so again I'm so glad she could make that call and Alex was able to remain with me. I started to panic a bit at this point and wanted the midwives there. She took a while to arrive, and again really disrupted the environment. She was annoyed that I was in the pool as I "had to" have some monitoring first. At this point we gave her my birth plan in the hope that she'd be more positive and respectful. She generally was but did make a few snide comments about hypnobirthing such as "can't say pain anymore can we?!". Fortunately, Alex kept me focused on breathing and our baby, so I wasn't actually bothered at the time, only in hindsight. The second midwife arrived a little later and the monitoring was quite intense. I hadn't realised that they would be checking my heart rate and baby's quite so frequently, and think that next time I will request less frequent monitoring as it was disruptive.

At about 11pm, my waters broke with a massive pop! The feeling was so strange and I felt a sudden calmness. I expected a longer "rest and be thankful" period, but did not get it! The contractions started up again and felt very different. It took me a while to adjust to down breathing but again it was amazing once I had control of it.

I started to feel stretching so the midwives asked if they could feel which I declined. I knew that baby was on his way and that my body was in control. After a while though, I started to doubt this. This is where all my previous complaints about the midwives feel silly because they were amazing. I asked the midwives what I should do and started to panic that I couldn't do it anymore. I was told that I was doing a good job and that they recommended that I keep doing exactly what I was doing. What a difference that made!

Soon I felt the head coming down and it was an incredible feeling. It did hurt, a lot, but I knew what my body was doing and I allowed the head to bounce up and down for the next few contractions until I felt ready for the crowning. I kept saying this to the midwives because I felt like I was resisting slightly (my husband has a very big head and I was a bit panicked!!) Suddenly I felt ready and my body just knew what to do. I felt the head crowning and it this point felt it with my hands. What an incredible feeling! I still wouldn't let the midwife near me. I held the head in place until the next contraction and his head and body came out in one "push". I picked up my amazing baby and held him to my chest. I couldn't believe he had finally been born and he looked so perfect.

This was the part that I was not prepared for and is slightly less positive.
My cord was slightly short so I couldn't sit comfortably in the pool and keep Callum under the water for temperature control. The midwife suggested cutting the cord so Alex could hold him whilst I delivered the placenta. I was asked to get out of the pool (something I really had not wanted) so I laid on the sofa and waited. And waited. And hour and a half passed and I still hadn't birthed the placenta. I had become quite panicked so my mum took the baby and Alex came to support me. I was given the injection and somewhat forcefully the placenta was pulled out. I may have kneed the midwife in the face at this point!! That was the worst part of the birth, and as soon as it was over I didn't care. Before my next baby, I would like to get some clarity about why that happened and put a plan in place for future labours as I would definitely like to labour at home again.

Hypnobirthing is amazing and I honestly don't know how people do it without. Both breathing techniques are perfect and having the knowledge about what my body was doing and why made me feel in control. My husband was also given a clear role, which he took to amazingly, and we delivered our amazing son without any pain relief (or even the mention of it!) in our home, our way. I feel so empowered by the experience and I can't wait to do it again!!!

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