Birth story - Victoria and baby Theodore

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Our baby was due on 23rd April and after repeating to ourselves that this was the ‘due from’ date rather that the due date itself, I was not expecting things to get started ahead of the 40 week mark. After a low risk but what I felt was a hard pregnancy (I had been very sick for almost the entire first and second trimesters), I was lucky enough to go on mat-leave well ahead of our babies arrival. I think this contributed to me being extra relaxed and able to spend time rewatching the course videos and practising the breathing techniques.

The weekend I went into labour (I’m not sure whether it was a coincidence or not!) but I did have a very spicy Indian takeaway, ate pineapple and bathed using clary sage oil. I had also been eating dates every day... I’d like to think that these things contributed to getting things going!

The contractions started on Sunday evening at 5pm, feeling like semi- strong tightenings in my lower tummy that sort of wrapped around my sides and lower back. I was also going back and forth to the bathroom with an upset tummy which I attributed to the curry. At first I thought the tightenings must be Braxton Hicks, not something I’d had at all during the pregnancy, but as they carried on for the next 2/3 hours at around 5 minutes apart my husband and I started to get a bit excited that this might be it! I bounced on my ball and laid in the bath until 3am, unable to sleep through the surges, using the Freya app for timing, the mp3s and Tens machine. I was quite surprised how intense the surges were from so early on, as I had heard many women were able to sleep through them or focus on doing something else like watching a film - this wasn’t the case for me but they were manageable using the up-breathing - a real lifesaver.

When the surges were 3 in 10 minutes we made the 25 minute journey to the birth centre, which was attached to the hospital. Upon arrival the midwives were unfortunately busy with two other women in labour and so I had to wait over an hour to be examined in a brightly lit examination room... not great for the oxytocin levels. This slowed down the contractions and when examined I was ‘only’ 2cm dilated but with a very stretchy cervix. We were told we couldn’t be admitted until I was at least 4cm and to go home and try to rest.

We went home and spent Monday morning using the mp3s and trying to relax. When I felt I couldn’t wait any longer we went back to the MLU and thankfully we were 4/5cm dilated and in active labour. The midwives immediately ran the pool and I ‘hopped’ in.

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I was in the pool for most of Monday night, using the gas and air, up-breathing and paracetamol..I found that the surges were stronger when I stood up or was out of the pool, so we did some moving in between the pool and dry land to ensure the surges didn’t slow too much. After being examined every 3 hours or so we seemed to have stalled at 7cm and so the midwife broke my waters and inserted a catheter to drain my bladder (there was 300ml in there!), as she suspected this was slowing the babies descent. We finally reached 9.5cm and the midwife gave me a sweep to try and move the final bit of cervix. This was probably the most uncomfortable part but I stayed positive and breathed through it. We then started pushing, which took over an hour, however in the pool my surges had slowed so much that I was helped onto the bed for the final stage.

I had coached pushing accompanying my surges and was given an episiotomy to make some space for the babies head to avoid tearing. I had been very worried about possible tearing prior to giving birth, so it was great that this was avoided. During those moments, all you care about is getting your baby out safely and I didn’t feel anything when the episiotomy was done.

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Baby Theodore was placed on my chest for skin to skin immediately with delayed cord clamping. I had the injection to deliver the placenta which after a gentle pull of the cord came out easily and fully intact. I was then taken to be stitched up and used the gas and air for this, however I felt like superwoman and knew that I could manage any discomfort.

A massive thank you to Siobhan and the team for teaching us all the techniques to help with what is undeniably a hugely intense and life changing experience into something safe, manageable and not something to be scared of!

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