Mama D – “My partner and I worked through my surges, and our room became our heaven. I laboured without any pain relief (not even gas & air), and I can honestly say that it was the most amazing experience – beautiful, powerful and utterly intuitive.”
On 5 December we finally had our little boy, who was a healthy 4kg (c. 9lb). Although I had a textbook pregnancy, my delivery was a bit more challenging. I still had a wholly positive birth experience, so here’s my story.
At 1 week overdue, I declined stretch & sweep. My midwife was happy for me to wait, but booked me in for a routine induction at 13 days overdue (I was intending to go beyond that). I tried everything – long walks, bouncing ball, yoga and squatting, hot curries – and finally on Monday I started to have light pink show. Great, I thought, it’s started! This continued throughout the day, so I phoned the MLU in the evening, but they advised me to wait for another day. Next day my bleeding got brighter and they suggested I go in to be checked out. I was examined and they decided they wanted me to stay in that evening, for monitoring. There I was clutching my perfectly crafted May-Gaskin inspired birth plan, but I soon realised it was going to be plan B. My heart sank a little when the doctor told me that the MLU wouldn’t take me now, but I remained cool and composed with a strong belief that everything was going to be ok.
Once they determined that both baby and I were fine, they suggested I wait and see if I would go into labour naturally over night. I became more relaxed about the mystery bleeding (they reassured me it wasn’t my placenta). I went for a walk, vigorously climbing any stairs I could find, but not a glimmer of a contraction; instead, my bleeding got worse and they decided to induce me that night (We later on I found out it was our little boy’s head pressing on my cervix, so nothing too serious). Although my intention was to decline the induction (you should have seen their faces when I asked for foley bulb induction!), at this point I realised that I needed to be pragmatic, so I agreed. Around 2 am I was given the prostaglandin pessary, and oh boy! This was the most intense part of my labour. I know it doesn’t always work, but within minutes I started dilating and entered what I can only describe as one continued contraction. The effect was so intense that I thought, I can’t do this. I told them that I was probably having an adverse reaction, but the midwife kept insisting that ‘we’ve now committed to the induction and have to see it through’. I knew I had to be firm because my body was clearly telling me something was not right: the effect of the pessary was just too aggressive and I insisted that it had to come out. Luckily, one of the consultants agreed with me, and they took it out. Phew… Still, after 20 min. with the pessary in I was 4 cm dilated, and they decided that I was in labour and ready for delivery. I was transferred to a room with ‘my midwife’, where I would labour the next 8 hours. She was so amazing, incredibly supportive, encouraging and just perfect – the MLU experience I’d hoped for. It is hard to recall the surges or how it all started, because they came on so quickly with the induction, but I remember the whole birthing process as incredibly empowering and beautiful. I even recall the sweet scent of my waters breaking. My partner and I worked through my surges, and our room became our heaven. I laboured without any pain relief (not even gas & air), and I can honestly say that it was the most amazing experience – beautiful, powerful and utterly intuitive. And I roared! Because what started as soft whimpering gradually crescendo into a lioness roar!
After 8 hours, however, I started getting exhausted. I was dilated to 10 cm, pushing like mad, changing positions and moving around, but this baby was not coming out. Our little boy’s heart rate dropped a little, and my midwife said that his head was stuck and he probably wouldn’t come out. A consultant confirmed this, suggesting that I would not be able to push this baby out as it was, so we went to plan C: she would try and move his head manually, hoping I could have a forceps delivery, and if not, it would be a Cessarean. It’s strange, but at that moment both my partner and I acted spontaneously in harmony, and even though we were both keen for minimal intervention, we realised this baby needed to come out. My partner reassured me that I had done everything I could, that I had been so strong, but that now was the time to get help.
The next phase happened rather quickly. An amazing team of doctors and nurses wheeled me into the theatre and put me at ease with a perfect balance of professionalism, sensitivity and humour (they even provided music!). One of the anaesthetists talked to me about hypnobirthing, and who would’ve thought that THIS became the most important time to focus on breathing and visualisation!? These guys worked wonders: they managed to turn his head and with the help of ‘my midwife’ (who was there next to me the whole time), the amazing doctor and I delivered my beautiful, healthy and chunky baby boy. It may not have been the experience I had planned or prepared for, but it was still perfect, and as Claire would say, a completely positive birth story.
It’s strange to think about it now, but I don’t think I was really worried at any point. I can’t explain it, but I just knew that this baby was fine. I kept thinking of our hypnobirthing motto ‘baby knows best’, and this gave me incredible inner strength and calm to deal with anything that was thrown our way. So here’s my advice:
– Trust your body and be confident that it will tell you when something is wrong.
– Have convictions and don’t be afraid to say no, as I did with the induction.
– Be flexible, go with the flow and embrace your experience as wholly
positive, even if things have to be different to what you’d hoped for.
– Have faith in our doctors, midwives and breastfeeding support. They
provided an incredible level of care, and we’re all truly blessed to have these wonder workers as part of our NHS.
– Don’t stress about graphs and centiles. My baby was plotting large from early on, but in the end this proved beneficial. My milk was slow to come in and our little boy lost fair amount of weight (c. 12%), but he was actually fine thanks to his size and the fact that he was full term. So trust your baby, not centiles.
– Don’t be afraid of episiotomy and tears – they sound much worse than they are. I had both, and it’s incredible how soon you heal and forget that it ever happened.
Claire, thank you for all the hours of pregnancy yoga, positive birth stories and our hypnobirthing tools. We now have a beautiful baby boy who is gentle, content, curious and incredibly happy, and I’m sure my daily yoga and hypnobirthing practices played a big part in this.
Good luck ladies, and enjoy every moment!