V’s birth story – weighing 9lb 4oz at 54.5cm long!
I had initially planned for a home birth however after being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes at 32 weeks I decided after discussion with consultants to go into the midwife led unit at my hospital to deliver. I had been measuring big the entire pregnancy and despite there being some concern from the consultants, I wasn’t too worried – my elder daughter was big and I felt I just birthed big babies!
I’d been having mild contraction like pains and period like back ache for about a week before proper labour started. I had a membrane sweep at 39 weeks exactly, and was told that I was 3cm dilated already and my cervix was very favourable. The sweep caused me to be a bit more uncomfortable that night but didn’t trigger labour straight away. I spent the next few days trying to increase the mild pains I was having – I tried walking, nipple stimulation, spicy food, and we’d had sex on the morning before the sweep too. Then at 39+3 I went for a longish walk through a local forest and then came home and had a lovely long bath with clary sage oil and lots of chocolate. Either my body was finally ready, or it helped move things along, but it was definitely a good way to relax the night before going into labour!
I woke up the next morning (39+4) at 7am with painful contractions. They weren’t intense at this point, or any more regular than every 10 minutes or so. I took my daughter to nursery and then went for coffee with my husband before walking up a big hill to go home. Around lunch time things were getting a little more painful but not increasing in regularity because I was being fairly immobile at home. In the early afternoon my parents arrived and we decided to go for a walk around the shops to get things to increase in intensity. As soon as we left the house my contractions started coming much quicker, and I started having 2 or 3 in every 10 minutes. The people in PC World kept giving me strange looks as I leaned against the displays as contractions passed. They were uncomfortable but not hugely intense so we carried on shopping for another few hours! At 5pm we went to go and pick up my daughter from nursery and I knew that it wouldn’t be long at that point before I needed to go to hospital. We went home, had some dinner, and put my LO to bed, and then I called the hospital (at my husband’s insistence – he was adamant I needed to go to hospital soon, although I didn’t feel any desperate need to at that point).
I arrived at the hospital around 8pm and was admitted to the midwife led unit. The only room available was the pool room and so I was very optimistic for the water birth I had planned. The midwife came and checked me a short while after we arrived and I was 5/6cm dilated. She felt that as soon as my waters broke things would move fairly quickly, so she attempted to separate the membranes a little. She put some music on and I spent the next short while leaning against the bed dancing to the music. After what must have been an hour or so things got more intense and I put my TENS machine on. After finding it useless in my last labour I really felt it helped this time around, and I wore it for a while as the contractions intensified and we waited for the water to fill the birth pool.
Somewhere between 10pm and half past I got into the birth pool and it was lovely. Prior to this I always thought the idea of having mood lighting and music in labour was silly, but actually the midwife put some coloured low lights on and we had relaxing music on the radio and it really helped me focus on my contractions. After a couple of contractions in the pool my waters broke and I knew it wouldn’t be much longer until I needed to push. My mum called DH who was still at home looking after my daughter and told him to hurry his way to the hospital. Apparently she called him at 10.36pm. From that point onwards things moved very quickly. We called the midwife in and I asked for the gas and air as things were getting very intense. She put a hypnobirthing CD on (again something I had eschewed in the past) which actually really helped me concentrate my breathing as I started to freak out a bit with the intensity.
The first contraction I felt the urge to push followed shortly, but I held back because I was in an uncomfortable position. I moved around the pool and found a better place to sit and with the next contraction I pushed her head out and remember freaking out because I could feel her wriggling her head around in the water. My midwife asked if I’d like to feel her head but I was too focussed on the next contraction! One more push and she was out, in total it was 6 minutes from needing to push until she arrived.
I felt much more emotional cuddling her when she was pulled up onto my chest than I did with my first birth, but I think that was probably to do with the fact I was much less tired and less high on the gas and air this time around.
My husband arrived literally minutes later as I was sat in the pool still. He didn’t see her at first and burst into the room asking how I was getting on. I just kind of absentmindedly waved a hand towards her and he was like ‘ooh, baby!’ We delayed cord clamping until I delivered the placenta 15 minutes later, and my DH actually cut the cord despite insisting in the past that he never wanted to do that!
I nursed her shortly afterwards and she latched on just fine. Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better birth experience, it was empowering and surprisingly relaxing. We’ve settled in well to being a family of 4 and my elder daughter is loving being a big sister!