Kat's Birth Story
31st May 2019
Firstly, I could not have had a better experience in my maternity care. I have had problems with anxiety for a great deal of my life and I know that I need to take measures to manage that, and pregnancy/Birth was no exception.
I was put in touch early on with a specialist MHMW who helped me find some ways to overcome my fear of hospitals, she gave me a tour of the Midwife Led Unit and we went through all the measures I could take to ensure likelihood that I could deliver there as it would be a better environment for me, I had a history of DVT which was the only risk factor, and so was encouraged to use a prophylactic dose of blood thinners throughout pregnancy which would remove the risk from their perspective.
I armed myself with information (Hypnobirthing books, NCT classes, NHS classes and lots of research into not just antenatal care, but also my hospital’s policies and procedures) and it made me feel so much more confident.
I had my birth preferences, but also utmost trust in my other half as birth partner to speak on my behalf, be my advocate, and he too had a thorough understanding of what we would do in any given scenario. A ‘plan’ for all eventualities. I had been ‘cleared’ for a home birth which I thought would have been my first preference, but using my BRAIN I knew that if we were to be transferred for any reason then I would be separated from my other half during transfer (I really felt that I needed him there for the whole of my labour) and so we opted together to use the Midwife Led Unit which would give us the best environment to work as a team.
On Wednesday I was a woman on a mission; I was full of energy; dog walk done, garden swept & tidied, bathroom cleaned, washing on and hung out on the line, and then a walk into town with my other half’s mum for coffee and cake - all before lunch time! While walking home I felt my back was tightening and I put it down to having exerted myself in the morning, but I hoped it was the beginning. I was 40+5, and while there was no pressure of Induction from my Community Midwife, I did have an appointment lined up on 40+7 (Friday) where I could opt for a sweep if I wanted one.
For the remainder of the afternoon/evening I just felt ‘off’. To be honest, I was in a foul mood and I needed to have a word with myself. So I took myself for a nice bath and listened to positive affirmations. I felt settled and reassured, and calm once again to realise that baby will come when baby is ready. So I took myself to bed feeling much better and I fully expected to wake up ‘as usual’ the next morning.
However, in the early hours of the morning I felt what must have been contractions. I was able to breathe through comfortably and they were very irregular so I hugged on to my partner and ‘hoped’ that I would continue to progress, and that I would have some news to tell him when he woke up.
They did, and they started ramping up throughout the day. We spent the day watching comedy programmes together and me bouncing on my ball, and I encouraged him to snooze on the sofa as much as he could, so that we would both be well rested for the journey to come. My other half’s mum made us dinner and I was feeling increasingly nauseated so I went for a bath to try and centre myself. I’d experienced sickness throughout my pregnancy and had been quite down about it until the last couple of months, so I wanted to get my head back on track and not let it become a negative influence on my labour. By 9pm I’d been having 3 in 10 for nearly an hour so I gave the Midwife Led Unit a call to let them know I’d be on my way soon.
Unfortunately, the Midwife Led Unit was closed as they were really busy on the main hospital Delivery Suite and so the staff were being utilised there. I was in two minds whether to stick it out longer at home or if I should go in as my mum had quite a quick first labour. My partner thought it was best we went into triage, at least to see how we were looking (he has always had a fear that it would happen quickly and at home!), and so we decided it was time to make the journey in.
We presented at triage at 10pm and were examined almost straight away. I was anticipating the more medical environment of the Delivery Suite, and I knew I would be examined on arrival, but it took a lot of work with my partner to keep me in the ‘green’, calm and centred. As soon as I was upright again the little bit of dinner I’d had made a second appearance, luckily I made it to the sink just in time. Following examination, and much to my annoyance at the time we were put on the transitional care ward as I was only 3 ‘and a bit’ cm but fully effaced and very stretchy, I do wonder now if it is because they were so busy and I was on the ‘verge’ of 4cm as my contractions hadn’t stalled and I found it increasingly uncomfortable.
The next Midwife looking after me saw that I wasn’t settling on the bed in the ward and asked if I would like to have a bath as that had worked for me at home.
She ran me a bath in a private bathroom and my partner and I hid out there as I progressed, I knew I wouldn’t be examined for another 4hrs unless there was a significant change so we worked together to make the most of the quiet time together. My plug went during this time - and I actually asked my partner to scoop it out and save it in some tissue, you know, to ‘prove’ that I was in labour - I still had a background fear that they wouldn’t believe me!
When I was examined, at 2:30am I was 6cm! The Midwife Unit was still closed but the ward Midwife looking after me literally stood by the door of the only water-birth room on the Delivery Suite until it had been cleaned to make sure I got it. She’d read my preferences and was bending over backwards to help me have the best birth possible for me.
So I laboured in the pool on the Delivery Suite until just after shift change in the morning at 8am, reaching 8cm by 7:30am but my Midwife at the time advised that although good, one side was softening better than the other. We had a lovely time, listening to the radio, chatting about anything and everything. I was trying to eat to keep up my energy, but unfortunately I was sick again when I was next examined and the only thing I could stomach after that was some Scottish Tablet but it was just perfect in the end, especially with a cup of tea.
The two Midwives that were talking over at shift change had been commandeered from the Midwife Led Unit and they knew it was reopening soon so they asked if I wanted to move (as per my original birth preferences) ‘yes please!’ and I was first on to the Unit that day! I had my first preference after all, and with two very lovely Midwives (one junior & one senior). I felt that I was surrounded by a team, all working together for our baby.
My labour continued well in a pool room on the Midwife Led Unit. I could see trees out of the window and it all felt very relaxed. Every time I got out of the pool throughout my labour (to periodically wee, to move units and for examinations) the intensity really increased and I told myself I would ask for gas & air once I was back in the pool. But then, once in the pool I didn’t need/want it.
By 11:30am I was examined again (but I wasn't sick this time!), my waters still hadn’t gone, and the Midwife advised that I was very close to 9cm (and then pushing!) but there was a tiny bit of cervix that seemed to be obstructing baby’s head coming down properly. With the knowledge that I had, I knew they would suggest artificially breaking my waters to help labour along; and then they asked me.
‘Yes, please!’ But, as per my birth preferences the Midwives wanted me to take the time to consent to the intervention. I explained that I understood the procedure and what the benefits were, and that I was fully on board with it. Can’t say fairer than that!
The junior Midwife attempted to break the membrane but wasn’t able to. Being on my back was the most uncomfortable experience for me and I think she was being too gentle with me. The senior Midwife stepped in, and very quickly, but with quite a proficient force, she ruptured the membranes. My other half helped me up and I felt an almost instant relief in my back. He helped me back into the pool and I thought, ‘ah, this will be a nice break!’.
Nope! Suddenly, and very urgently, I was very ready to bare down! This part of labour is not what I expected at all. The pushing was very intense, I was coming out with some very primal noises as I breathed through, and my concept of time went completely out of the window.
They tell you about the ‘rest and be thankful’ section between surges at this stage - make the most of it! With every downward contraction I thought, ‘this must be it’, it wasn’t haha!
It didn’t last as long as I thought it did, but I suddenly came over with a sense of panic that I wasn’t getting baby out quick enough and that I was hurting baby with my pushes. I was moving to ‘red’ and beginning to panic but my partner began with the affirmations we’d discussed. Much to everyone’s surprise, from a wide kneeling position, I moved to a full squat position and I finally felt the head descend. But here is where I did panic. In my mind, when I delivered the head, I thought I’d somehow sucked him all the way back up and I thought I would have to do all the work again. Knowing I couldn’t maintain the deep squat much longer, I tried to stand up, about to declare, ‘I can’t do this!’. But my partner held on to me and reassured me, and the Midwives very firmly (but kindly) told me to stay where I was, keep my bum in the water and I would meet my baby soon. I had the utmost faith in them, and I quickly came back to green.
It felt like forever waiting for that last contraction, the only distraction being everyone saying how much hair baby had. I couldn’t feel down for baby’s head as I was holding on to my partner’s hands to maintain my squat with all the energy I had. Knowing I needed a shot of oxytocin to help me along, I shouted at my partner, ‘kiss me!’ and he obliged. And then it came, with that last push, it was all a blur, suddenly I had a baby in my arms, he was a little baby boy!
Dylan was born at 13:16 but I was convinced it was about two hours later than that because of the intensity of the last stage.
It was such an amazing experience, I was so well looked after, supported, and all of my wishes were respected. I had a birth better than I even imagined. I was always open to using gas and air as pain relief and am amazed that I laboured without any relief at all - I did use gas & air for a couple of stitches afterward though!