Birth story - Vicky and baby girl

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Here is my positive birth story from the birth of my daughter. Sorry it’s a long one!
I was really fortunate and had a good pregnancy with the only difficulties being the extreme heat meaning I spent the last few weeks working from home rather than commuting. We planned a home birth with the idea that we would stay home for as long as this worked for us, we live very close to our local hospital so despite living in a flat up lots of stairs we had no worries that we could get in quickly if we wanted to.

We hired a tens machine, got passed on a pool and planned to use gas and air at home. I started the online hypnobirthing course at 35 weeks and very much saw this as part of our tool kit for birth. We also hoped to use aromatherapy (I loved lavender to stay calm throughout my 3rd trimester) our birthing ball and some robozo techniques. In preparation throughout pregnancy I also did pregnancy yoga (just youtube videos), swimming, I ate 6 dates a day and drank lots of raspberry leaf tea. From 37 weeks I also began hand expressing colostrum which we kept in our freezer (which is something I would highly recommend as it took all stress away from feeding in the first few days having a back up)

It's also worth noting that my husband trained as a adult nurse (so had to do a small module in maternity) and is now training as a mental health nurse so is used to supporting people during difficult times and keeping calm. He has been absolutely amazing.

I also had an amazing team of midwives who provided the care I didn’t think I would get on the NHS. I had a named midwife who I saw for all appointments bar 1 and really got to know. I also met many of the other midwives in the team so I’d know people on the day I went into labour. The team specialise in home births but really took the time to discuss all my options with me and to discuss the research behind different things. Throughout my pregnancy they also really reinforced that everything was my own decision to make and they would support me in my decisions.

My due date came and went and I stayed active trying to see as many small museums in London as possible. At 41 weeks I was offered a sweep which I was happy to take as I really wanted to avoid induction. I had this on the Saturday morning of the bank holiday weekend and my midwife said she thought I’d have my baby on Monday or Tuesday and we booked in another sweep for Monday morning. My husband and I spent the weekend walking doing oxytocin boosting activities ;-) and on the Sunday lunchtime I ate lots of a super spicy chilli sauce my husband made (lots of spicy chilli’s and garlic roasted together then blended with some oil).

On the Sunday evening we had a relaxing night at a friends house then when I was on my way home I suddenly needed the loo with more desperation than I remember having before, luckily I got to one in time but this was a very strange experience as it was then followed by cramps which I thought might be the start of something whilst being surrounded by lots of drunk people coming home from Carnival in Brixton. I strongly recommend that if you go for the spicy food route you stay close to home!

I persuaded myself these were just stomach cramps and went to sleep only to wake up with light surges around 2am. I spent some time on my ball but they were staying the same so I thought they might be just a bad tummy and went back to bed. At 4am I woke up to my waters trickling, these then started to go out with surges. I started to panic a bit so me and my husband did some up breathing, I had some lavender and camomile tea and he read to me. I let my midwife know what was going on and we agreed that as it was planned for her to come in the morning anyway for now we’d stick to that. At this point my surges got to every 4 minutes but weren’t very strong at all so at 7am we decide to go back to bed for couple of hours.
At 10am my midwife came and explained about hospital policy when waters have started to go and the (pretty dodgy) research basis for this and gives option of induction on the Tuesday morning if nothing’s happened or continuing to monitor my temp and the babies movements at home. We use BRAIN and feel that whilst I’m not in established labour things are happening and know we can monitor well so choose monitoring for the next 24 hours, she completely supports us on this and agree she’ll come back tomorrow morning. Our midwife recommends going back to bed and having a nice easy day with the feeling things might happen over night. We take this advice and spend the day sleeping, walking and having baths with irregular surges that stay not being very strong all day, that by this point we call them squidges In the evening we walk to the local pub, get a take away and relax.

At 2 am on Tuesday morning lightly stronger (but can still talk through) surges begin again, I spend some time on ball, with my husband reading to me, in the bath and napping. At 9am midwife comes as arranged we agree that I’m still not in established labour but she comments she’ll see me later when she's back on call that evening.

I have another sleep but wake up quite quickly and find the surges more painful laying down after this I get in bath and they really ramp up and I vomited a little and used smelling mint oil to calm this. Once I’m out of the bath I got back on the ball and concentrate on my up breathing and put on tens machine.

Mid-afternoon things are feeling more established and I need to concentrate on each surge so we call the on call midwife out. This midwife (who I don’t know so well but is still lovely) arrives about half 3 and examines me (with speculum as they don’t use fingers to assess dilation once waters have gone unless they are sure things are established) From this assessment I’m not dilated at all. Midwife comments that I’m coping well and to let them know if anything changes. But I still feel a bit deflated after feeling I was doing well and making progress before. As soon as this midwife leaves the surges get stronger and I begin to worry that if this isn't established labour I wont be able to cope with it when it is. This is when I have a bit of a wobble as I get scared and stop believing in myself so much. My husband puts on hypnobirthing tracks and reminds me to breathe through the surges. He asks if I want him to blow up the pool and I say no that we could still be days away from that stage. I'm then sick again.

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Just after 5 husband calls the midwives worried how well I’m now coping as the surges are stronger and closer together. My waters then go substantially more (full gush) i feel something move down. My named midwife has now come back onto shift and offers options of either going straight to hospital for a pain relief injection or her coming to assess me, I opt for assessment. My midwife arrives and uses speculum and says she can see lots of our baby's head to which I’m overjoyed that something is happening she then assesses me fully and I’m over 8cm dilated. This explains why the past hour and half were so difficult, I’m ecstatic and realise this means its happening and it’s happening very soon! My midwife tells my husband to put up the pool (and quick) and goes to call for an extra midwife. I go to the bathroom to stay away from the commotion and sway against the wall. I tell my husband I’m scared I’m starting to push when things aren't ready and my midwife comes, reassures me to listen to my body and does down breathing with me and makes sure the hypnobirthing tracks are still playing and sets up pillows to lean on, on the sofa in living room.

After this my midwife tells husband and me that we don’t have time for the pool and I know this is happening now. I didn’t know it at the time but my midwife also told my husband he might need to be her second (making use of the small amount of maternity training he has!). Over the course of half an hour I mostly breathe out baby with only pushing to hold her position towards the end. This didn’t feel anything like I thought it would, it didn’t have the pain of the surges before and felt like most satisfying bit of labour. My Midwife helped to hold my perineum as I delivered her head so I didn’t tear. As her head was out this is when the second midwife arrived, then one surge later I delivered my baby girl’s whole body. My midwife caught her and passed her through to me and we cuddled on my chest in amazement, she then took to the breast really quickly, we then moved onto the sofa. She was 3.74kg.

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I will never forget the look on my husbands face as he looked at me afterwards and my feeling of having done something amazing looking at our daughter and realising that I’d made her, then I’d delivered her so calmly using just a tens machine!.

18 mins later after our daughter was born breathing through one surge I delivered the placenta, which was huge! This means that my recorded labour from established labour to placenta was 1hr 30. My husband then cut the cord and our midwives gave her the vitamin k injection as she fed and she didn’t notice a thing.
I had very little blood loss and a tiny 1st degree tear from her shoulders and body coming very quickly.
As my waters had broken more than 24 hours before (39 hours) I was told hospital policy was for 12 hours of observations to ensure no infections and asked if was happy to go into the ward for this as it would be overnight, we used BRAIN and agreed to this. There was no rush for this, we had skin to skin for over an hour and a half, then she had skin to skin with her daddy as I had a shower. Due to the total non-emergency we would have waited a couple of hours for an ambulance to take us in so we agreed with the midwife to go in a taxi instead. So I put her in a sling and we went in the taxi for the couple of minute drive to the hospital then walked onto the ward with her in the sling feeling like superwoman.

We went home the next day with no concerns, walking the 15 mins from the hospital home.
It took about 10 days to come down from the high of the amazing birth I had. I still feel amazing to think of it but I also think that this gave me the confidence to go into those first few days of being a parent in the best possible way. We are only emerging from the oxytocin bubble now at 21 days, its truly amazing how much love I can feel for both our daughter and my husband.

I’m so grateful everyone who have supported this journey so much, particularly my husband, my amazing midwife team and the digital pack

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