Birth story - Megan and baby Theo

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I'd been feeling Braxton Hicks and period-like cramps for a good few weeks that had been stepping up in intensity but not creating any real discomfort. At 40+2 I had a sweep where the midwife confirmed things looked ready to get going. My partner and I had been going on lots of walks to engage baby and I practically lived on my birthing ball. On Saturday 22nd I felt some real discomfort whilst eating at a family dinner, but didn't want to draw attention to it and it soon went away.

About 11:30pm I woke feeling a real need to go to the bathroom for a poo (sorry if TMI!) and it wasn't the best experience! I thought the meal I had eaten the night before hadn't agreed with me at all but in hindsight it was my body "clearing things out" ready for what was to come.

I got back in bed and soon after midnight I started feeling strong tightening sensations in my lower back that spread round my front to my lower abdomen. After a few I started to time them and they were coming irregularly every 15 or so minutes. I decided to retreat downstairs so as to not disturb my partner; I didn't want either of us to get too excited anyway!

I bounced on the ball and swayed and timed whilst watching upbeat TV and called the birth centre at 2:22am. They confirmed that it sounded like things were getting started and to call them back when things were 4/5 minutes apart and lasting 1 minute. I went back upstairs at around 4:30am to wake my partner, and we spent a lovely few hours drifting in and out of sleep (him) and talking about the adventure ahead.

I stayed out of sight of my stepson that morning until he was picked up as the surges were very intense at this point and I didn't want him to see me in discomfort. Once he was picked up, we decided to head into the birth centre as the contractions were very irregular (ranging from 1 min apart to 7) but very very strong. My partner dashed about doing some last minute nesting and then we were off. Thankfully, no traffic on a Sunday!

Up breathing helped massively in this stage, especially on the car journey and when each surge hit. At the birth centre my midwife, Rachael, examined me at around 10:30am and said I was 2cm but that my cervix was "very stretchy". She suggested we go for a walk to get things going. We roamed the hospital corridors and eventually found ourselves in a Subway. After labouring at a table for a while and eating hash browns, we headed back in at 12:30pm.

Although I wasn't in active labour according to Rachael, she suggested we stay anyway and "go for a swim" i.e. get in the pool which was amazing. I stayed in there for a while with my partner being very encouraging and keeping me talking. After a while I got out as I found the pool restricting in terms of positions - hands and knees was comfortable on dry land but not in water. So I ignored all the nice equipment around me and knelt on the floor with my head and elbows on the low bed. Once the noises started to come, I was offered gas and air which made me feel drunk and dizzy at first but I got the hang of it to take the edge off. I was examined again at 3:10pm ish and told I was 5/6cm.

At this point I was getting a very strong urge to bear down and push (or poo as Siobhan says!) but Rachael encouraged me not too as she was worried about me causing the last remaining bit of cervix to bruise and swell. I tried to fight it but in the end cried out that I couldn't hold off any longer. From this point I started to wobble, clinging to my partner's hand and telling him I couldn't do it anymore. This carried on all throughout baby's head appearing because I don't think I could handle what my body was doing and how it was taking over.

Just after 4pm (I think) another midwife arrived and they encouraged me to get in the pool. I continued to wobble here (having left my gas and air on the floor) but the midwives were incredibly encouraging and told me to reach my hand between my legs and I could feel something round and hard starting to appear with what felt like a squishy layer surrounding. Baby's head with waters still intact! I had a super strong surge on my hands and knees and as I pushed myself upright I felt my waters break, finally. I will admit at this point I had completely forgotten about the ‘down breathing’ because I was a little overwhelmed at what my body was doing - I was just following its lead and hadn’t expected things to progress this quickly!

Midwives encouraged me into a supported position with my back against one side of the pool and my feet braced against the other side. My partner sat behind me (out of the pool) and held both my hands over my shoulders. I couldn't bear the sensation anymore so started to push and bear down whenever I felt a surge. I wanted to give up when baby's head was half out but thought that there was no way they were going back up now so pushed with all my might and out popped the head. Virtually straight after I pushed out his body and scooped him up to my chest.

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We had left the sex to be a surprise but I was so in shock and awe that I didn't even look. My partner told me we had a baby boy which was in our birth plan all along and I had a good mini cry whispering "hello, hello" over and over again. The midwife took some pictures for us which I still can't stop looking at!

We stayed in the pool for almost an hour having skin on skin. He didn't breastfeed straight away as he was full of mucous and kept coughing. He was passed to my partner (Nick) for skin on skin time while I delivered the placenta (no injection) and I laid on the bed to be examined whilst puffing on my gas and air. This felt like the worst part to be honest! I needed a couple of stitches but the midwife said it was more "cosmetic" and for my comfort over the next few days - stitches would help the tears heal faster. We did phone calls and FaceTimes with family members before being stitched up.

By the time all that was sorted it was past 8pm and because Theo hadn't fed we were encouraged to stay the night in a family room. Rachael stayed past her shift to move us into our room and even gave me a hug; she was incredible throughout.

We were woken every 3 hours to try and get Theo breastfeeding which he eventually did and has taken to it very well. We were discharged from the birth centre the following Monday around 4pm and managed to get home in time for introductions to Theo’s grandma and grandpa and for him to meet his new big brother.

Without the digital pack I don’t think I’d have been as calm and collected as I was. Knowing why I was feeling what I did and why my body was doing these things really helped to breathe through it rather than panicking about the sensations. I also relied very heavily on Nick who took being a birth partner in his stride; I don’t think I could have done it without him! I’m also incredibly grateful to all the midwives who looked after us at Preston birth centre.

I can honestly look back on the experience and be happy, not traumatised, and I’m so happy I got to feel everything I did. Despite the stitches! Thank you Siobhan and The Positive Birth Company :) xx

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