Birth story - Kelly and baby Dylan

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I had a really positive birth in a midwife led unit with my first son (this is after years of assuming I’d end up with a caesarian like my mum as we are both small, or that I’d just get hooked up to an epidural at the first opportunity). I’d felt calm and in control and the main things I came away with from that birth was that I would use UFO positions, gas and air and time in the pool to deal with any surges. One out of three isn't bad…

Weirdly, because I’d had such a positive and empowering first birth I was worried this time my expectations were too high, whereas last time I’d gone in with an open mind.

With this pregnancy I wanted initially to opt for a MLU again, but we have moved since my first was born and it was a long way to travel to our nearest available unit..

When I chose a home birth it was really a “why not?” decision - stats showed as a low risk second time mother with a straightforward home birth the outcomes in any setting would be the same for baby and give me a better chance of avoiding instrumental delivery (one of my fears around birth). I also liked the fact my partner would be able to stay with us after the baby arrived, unlike the labour and post natal ward. Locally I heard really good things about the home birth midwifery team which convinced me I would be in safe hands.

I decided to go for it around the 28 week mark and wanted to look into hypnobirthing as a way to prepare myself for labour. However I couldn't afford any face to face classes but saw the digital pack recommended online.

I didn't make it through all the videos but regularly listened to the MP3s when going to sleep or when having a bath at night (lit by battery powered tealights as I assumed this is how I’d spend some time in labour!). I also really liked the science behind all the recommendations.

I assumed because my first had arrived at 38+5, this one would either be earlier or around the same and the positive birth pack really helped me challenge this part of my thinking and not let it get me down when that date came and went! The positive post dates and induction stories on here also helped to make me feel positive about what might happen if I went to 42 weeks and not to approach every day with a feeling of dread - so thanks everyone!

I also had lots more Braxton Hicks and on and off cramping in the weeks running up to the birth and it was useful to remind myself of the fact I had no control over this process - due dates have no real meaning and my baby would decide when he was ready to come along.

I really liked the affirmations about my surges being a part of me and making the right choices for me and my baby - this helped me feel I would be in control and confident of my choices in labour. I adapted these and other phrases from reading I’d done into cards to stick up on the wall during labour. (good painting activity to do with my four year old but in the end I didn't do this!).

On Monday 1st October (39+5) I had lots of on/off cramps during the day but assumed this was more of the same niggles. However, when I went to bed that night I had surges at least once an hour that were powerful enough to wake me up. I managed to get back to sleep in between them and reminded myself this could be a start of a long process so important to rest.

Around 4am the surges started coming around 4 times an hour and then at 5am I noticed I’d begun to lose my plug with a bit of blood in it. When my husband woke up I told him it was looking promising that labour was starting and he decided to work from home (we had a bit of drama in the first pregnancy where my labour had suddenly sped up after two days of latent labour and I’d sent him off to work!). The up breathing techniques from the pack helped with any pain from the surges.

After my husband took our eldest to nursery, I spent the morning bouncing on my ball, watching Parks and Recreation and napping. Occasionally I would have a very strong surge but it felt like there wasn't necessary a pattern to them yet and I assumed it might be another full day before things properly kicked off. After lunch we walked to a local café for tea and cake and then back home where I decided to get in the bath for a bit to see if that helped. Although it did, I didn't want to spend any longer than half an hour there (as opposed to my first labour!) and got back out onto dry land.

I started using my TENS and then noticed that around 5pm the surges were now coming between 7, 4 and 2 minutes and were much harder to deal with. My husband casually said he might need to be on a work call at 6pm - I said I didn't think that was a great idea! We decided we would get in touch with the midwives and our friends looking after our son.

Luckily the on-call midwife was the midwife I had seen for most of my appointments since opting for home birth and I felt instantly calmer once she walked in at 7.10pm as I trusted her judgement and experience!

She asked if she could examine me (it took a couple of surges before we had a break long enough for her to do it) and I used my breathing to deal with being uncomfortable. Once finished she asked, “What number would you like to be at?”

I reminded myself it didn't really matter what the number was because I knew this was happening anyway and said I didn't mind! She told me I was 8cm dilated and if we wanted the pool we needed to set it up now.

I then got off the sofa and put my birth playlist on and swayed/walked around the room, stopping at surges to lean on either my husband or the midwife. A couple more surges later I found myself making low down noises, a bit like humming into a big bowl which for some reason was a really useful image to think of throughout the surge and thought “erm, maybe I’ve reached the mooing stage…” My midwife asked if I felt “pushy” and I said I thought so. She called my husband in and said the pool wasn't going to happen and I found a good position kneeling over my ball on the floor, asked them to switch the room light off and turned my labour playlist up! Luckily the student midwife arrived then which meant there was someone else on call but I think they also called for a second midwife at that point.

I found the pushing stage and the fact I had reached it so quickly a bit overwhelming and frightening. In my first labour I had felt under time pressure from the midwives and I think some of that came back to me. A couple of times I shouted “I can't do this!” My partner and the midwives did a really great job of saying you can and you are. My midwife did a great job of saying to go with what my body was doing, and to be honest I couldn't really do anything else - it was a bit like throwing up but at the other end of my body. At one point I asked if it was too late for gas and air and they sorted it but I couldn't actually work out when to use it. I told myself to trust in my body and to use my breathing to stay in control but found shouting through the surges helped to deal with their power. I also kept thinking “return to green” between surges and that helped to keep me calm and rest in between pushing.

I hadn't really felt crowning with my first (think the gas and air took the edge off) but did this time round and although it was tough, I liked the fact I knew this was near the end and I could tell his head was coming out. (The second midwife arrived at this point and turned out to be someone else I had met at my last appointment - I felt v lucky that I could have people I’d met before and trusted here with me). I was scared of tearing like I had with my first but I also knew that if I did a) it wouldn't be the end of the world and b) I wouldn't feel it at the time (as Siobhan says in the pack - I totally didn't with either birth).

With a couple more surges at 8.09pm Dylan Keir was born - not in a half inflated birth pool surrounded by affirmations and fairy lights - but in our darkened living room on a groundsheet in the middle of the carpet, one hour after our midwife had arrived.

I had a physiological third stage and delayed cord clamping which was a lot more restful than my first birth, although I was very tired at this point and was tempted to ask for the injection just so things could be finished! In terms of injury, I have a small first degree tear and a couple of grazes, so no stitches, which feels lucky given the speed he arrived at.

The tools in the birth pack and the positive stories here definitely helped me to remain positive in pregnancy, and calm when the birth turned out to be more intense than I had expected, so thanks everyone and Siobhan!

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