Birth story - Verity and baby Piper

I discovered the digital pack around 32 weeks of my pregnancy - both my husband & I learned so much from it and I believe it had a huge impact on my birth experience.

At my 41 week scan (at 41+3), I knew my midwife was going to start the induction process/discussion, as is normal in our area - I had held her off booking it at my 40 week appointment, as recommended on the course, and had also declined a sweep.

However, I was now at the stage where it had to be booked, and I had to go in to decline. It was booked for Friday at 41+6.

After a small wobble about what I would do if I got that far, I went back to what I learned from the digital pack & felt more confident in declining, particularly knowing I was actually a few days behind my scan.

I decided to have an examination at my 41 week appointment to see if I was favourable & how things were progressing. However while my cervix was forward & relatively soft, it was closed.

In an attempt to avoid the need for going in for the induction discussion, I managed to squeeze in for another chance at a sweep at 41+5. I couldn’t get in with my midwife so it was one I hadn’t met.

She was supportive in me declining induction, particularly as my cervix was still the same, so she once again couldn’t perform a sweep. In fact, she downgraded my Bishop’s Score from a 6 to a 4, which was a little disheartening.

Aware I needed to keep my spirits high, my husband & I went home and watched some stand-up comedy and I spent a lot of time on my birthing ball. I felt a few tightenings towards the end of the night but wasn’t sure if they were just strong Braxton Hicks. But by the end of the night they were falling into a 15 minute pattern and before I went to bed at 1am, I had a bit of my bloody show.

I woke up the next morning at 6.30am with things a bit more intense. There was no longer a pattern to them but I now knew they were definitely surges. I called triage and told them I would not be attending the induction discussion as things were starting up on their own - I was very aware that going in to be poked & prodded could very well stall things.

At the same time, I was fully expecting things could tail off, so didn’t get my hopes up. We went for a dog walk, chilled at home and by early evening they were getting pretty strong.

It was at the point I started to think this was the real deal. But didn’t want to get my hopes up as knew first time labours can be lengthy. I got the rest of my show about 5-6pm, but things really ramped up a few hours after that. I used up breathing techniques from the digital pack to get through them & a TENs machine too - by 11pm, they were coming every 5-7 mins so I had a bath, and when I got out, my waters went as I was walking to the bedroom.

The lady I spoke to on the pregnancy advice line wasn’t sure she agreed that it was my waters or whether it could just be retained water from the bath (!). She wanted me to stay at home until surges were consistently 3 in 10, as they were still a bit irregular. I eventually got there at about 2.45am, and we headed in to the MLU at 3.30am on Saturday morning - 42 weeks exactly (by scan).

When we arrived, the surges were very strong and breathing through was becoming more difficult. I was examined on arrival and thrilled to hear I was 6cm & my waters had indeed gone. I was taken to a room and got straight in the pool, which was nothing short of HEAVENLY.

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I laboured on, largely with just water and breathing. I tried gas & air a few times but didn’t really feel it helped much - I found it a bit of a distraction at the height of my surges, so didn’t bother with it for the most part.

About 2 hours after getting in the water, I felt things change and my body began to push during some surges, so I felt reassured I was getting closer to meeting baby.

Four hours after I arrived, at about 8am, I accepted an examination & I was fully dilated - it was time to breathe baby down!

That’s when my surges started going backwards. They really slowed down in both frequency & intensity and baby kept coming down a little but slipping back up.

I was down breathing in the pool for a good two hours when the midwife suggested I might want to try dry land to push things along. Although the water was amazing, I agreed a change of tactic was required. However, despite a couple of strong surges, not much changed, even after an in-out catheter to empty my bladder in an attempt to give her more room. All of a sudden, things felt like they were slipping away from me.

The midwife called in another on duty midwife. They assessed a few more contractions and started talking alternatives - they wanted to get contractions back on track and were suggesting a transfer to labour ward to go on the drip if things didn’t improve soon. At this point some of my contractions had slipped to less than 2 in 10 & were only lasting for maybe 30 seconds at a time.

Instead of letting this get to me, I used it as fuel. I moved positions (sometimes forcefully as they wanted me in positions I didn’t agree with), spoke positively out loud to baby, and got my contractions going again. They weren’t ideal, but they improved. I told them we were staying in that room until baby was here - her heartbeat was strong and I was determined to get her out there... I didn’t want the uncertainty of going up to labour ward & all the intervention that could happen.

Finally at 11.51am, and surprisingly for me, while laying on my back on a beanbag - I noticed my contractions hung around longer in this position at that time - baby arrived, after almost four hours of pushing, weighing 7lbs exactly.

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Her head had been at a slightly funny angle, which was making her descent hard but also stalling my surges too. Considering I had to switch to some more forceful pushing than the down breathing techniques I’d been using for most of the labour, I was thrilled when I was told I didn’t require a single stitch!

Unfortunately, scuppering my plans of being home for tea time, my placenta wouldn’t shift, even after two injections. It meant that I required surgery, with a spinal tap and manual removal. But that didn’t take anything away from the birthing experience I had, which included delayed cord clamping and a Golden Hour of skin to skin afterwards. The relief I felt to have her here, and on my terms, was unbelievable.

My midwife commended me on my determination too - she said: “you never once said you couldn’t do it”, and that’s because I KNEW I could.

I would thoroughly recommend the Digital Pack to ANYONE, as I found the techniques & knowledge it gave me completely invaluable in sticking to my guns & getting the birth I wanted.

For someone who, prior to being pregnant, was so sure she would opt for an elective epidural from the get go as I was petrified of labour, I am so glad I educated myself about what labour requires, about how our bodies cope with it & how to keep calm when things start to change.

Thanks so much to Siobhan Miller & The Positive Birth Company! ❤️

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