Birth Stories from Birthready graduates!
Waters broke 3AM on Sunday 3 February, the morning after I hosted a baby shower, directly after my last day of work. My hospital bag was not packed or ready, so I washed four loads of washing and ignored the significance…
Enough to not report to the midwives until 6PM…
At which point I was told to front up for admission screening, immediately! Hospital policy requires induction at 24 hours after waters breaking, unless you can fast talk them to give you more time. I had until 7AM to get into full labour or I would need to pull in an independent midwife to assess me.
Part of the admission screening was that the continuous monitoring device had to be used. So I asked how to make it less prone to error, and sat on it for half an hour whilst the only midwife on shift was fielding all queries and jobs, answering phones and getting distracted. The scan caught two clear contractions 10 minutes apart, and I realised the light menstrual cramps that I had been dismissing as Braxton Hicks were what I should have been paying attention to.
Our student midwife stayed at the birth centre, as one of her other follow through women was turning up in labour within the hour.
We drove home, and I put on the blindfold to help concentrate. My husband decided he wanted takeout on the way - cue the visual of Sunday night with people standing on the pavement outside a large Turkish restaurant in Sydney Road watching me in the car squirm through contractions on all four paws, looking like I am making love to someone on the front seat.
By the time Mel arrived from Geelong at 11:30PM and could time my contractions, they were 3 minutes apart and 30 seconds long. She immediately started counter pressure on my sacrum, and we sent my exhausted and ill husband to bed, as he had had flu for the previous week and still hadn’t recovered.
The counter pressure dropped the pain of each contraction to about a fifth, so I became very demanding for hands on at every contraction.
Spent the first stage on the birth ball with my knees against a corner, and Mel kneeling on cushions on the floor behind pushing on whichever pair of sacral pressure points felt best for me in that contraction; they varied from contraction to contraction. She started with thumbs and rapidly moved to heel of the hand to get sufficient pressure. The joy of this technique is that it blocks the pain of the contraction by sending a conflicting signal to the brain, and I could truely then direct my cervix to open in the middle of a contraction instead of recoiling from the pain.
The birth centre midwife on duty was getting us to report to her every hour on progress.
At some point I crawled onto the bed and squatted with my arms upwards and forward to the bedhead and torso over the birthball. I had not yet lost coherence or the plot, though I had started to moan ‘O’Jesus This Hurts’.
I was getting exhausted, the contractions were a minute apart and a minute and a half long. My muscles were quaking and I was dropping to the bed in between each contraction for the few seconds of prone rest i could get before the next contraction. I was pushing in these, but it felt too soon and as if I had got the sequence out of synch, that she was not in the pelvis fully. I was getting fearful of my body being out of synch, so wanting hospital advice, and at the same time fearful as to how I could deal with twenty minutes of full level pain in the car trip where there wouldn’t be the space for full counterpressure.
Apparently the midwife had let me progress so far because the birth centre had been put on red alert lockdown, and she could not admit me earlier.
My husband woke up and Mel and he started to load the car with my complete stockpile of everything that could possibly be of use, ever - I had not got the chance to even prioritise and cull the necessary from the perhaps… Four large suitcases worth…
Somehow resting prone between contractions eased them enough to enable me to get to the car.
Arrived at birth centre around two am, fully in stage two, ready to push her out. My student midwife arrived shortly after, as the other mum had birthed.
Wanted a bath, told too late for that…
Stage two on all fours on the bed, midwife coaching me through the pushing. Delivered easily, no stitches, two small skin splits, no drugs…
Delivered third stage before clamping cord. Fed her after placental delivery as my cord was too short to reach before that.
My husband caught her and cut the cord.
Measurements were taken hours later, after we had co-slept and suckled.
Left to go home by 2pm the same day; we were bored, and OMG hospital food is bad…
Happy and healthy 11 days on.
Labour started on monday around 3am. we managed at home until about 9:30 - to start with, the contractions were manageable with a warm barley bag and a couple of showers. I thought the whole thing would die down at sunrise, but at some point around 6, I started throwing up and got the runs, so it looked like this was the real thing! Lufe rang the hospital at about 7 when the contractions were 5 minutes apart and about 50 seconds long - first thing they wanted to know was whether it was our first baby, and I think regardless of what lufe might have said they would have advised us to stay at home a bit longer :) I think we hooked up the TENS machine then, and by 9, the contractions were pretty painful (even with the TENS). the best way I found I could manage was by leaning over the sink trying to screw the taps shut as hard as I could.
We decided to go to the hospital about 9:30, at which stage everything was still pretty calm. but somehow the combination of walking down the stairs in our house and the taxi ride meant that when we walked into admissions at the hospital, I was in transition - moaning rather loudly and bashing my head against the wall with each contraction. The midwife at Admissions tried to get me to sign a few things and check me out with a VE and a CTG… but no chance of that! I don’t really remember it, but apparently I was leaning over the side of the bed in Admissions (naked from the waist down, since my waters had broken as we walked down the corridor) and yelling “I need to do a massive crap!” so the midwife gave up on the VE and CTG, put me in a wheelchair and sent me to the delivery suite. What I do remember is the horrified look on the faces of the other couple waiting patiently to be admitted, and that the midwife had to shoo some visitors out of the lift who tried to get in with us to go up to Level 4.
Once we got to the delivery room around 10:30, things calmed down a bit. contractions were still really painful, but they seemed to be more regular and well-defined, each time finishing with the urge to push. I had to breathe through these for about an hour because I wasn’t fully dilated. Second stage only lasted 20 minutes, and I gave birth to Martin lying on my side, kicking Donna (hospital midwife) in the back of the head, with LuFe supporting my top leg. My most vivid memory is that delivering Martin’s arms and legs after his head was out felt like giving birth to a platter of sausages. Afterwards we had about an hour of skin-to-skin while the doctor stitched up some grazes and a mild #2 tear.
We were all allowed to stay in the birth centre for a couple of nights because the hospital was pretty quiet, which was fantastic. All the midwives that we met were awesome - they gave us so much help and advice, especially about breast-feeding. Home now and learning how to survive without sleep.
I gave birth to a beautiful boy, Alastair Hugh at 9.10pm on Sunday 18 May. And I DID IT!!! I had pre-labour at home from about 7am on Sunday morning and decided that the contractions were getting stronger around 8pm that night. I am SO GLAD you told us about second babies and 5 minute contractions. We got to the hospital at 8:15pm and my membranes broke at about 8.30pm. That sent the midwives into a tizzy, I can tell you. I told the midwife I needed to get off the bed, and thankfully she ripped the monitor off so I could have my next contraction standing up. I made for the bathroom because I remember I used a lovely bit of wall during my labour with Marcus. The midwife started to rub my sacrum and I told her to go away coz Stuart could do it! I didn’t feel right standing, so the midwives suggested at the base of the bed with my arms and head on the Swiss ball. By that stage they were coaching me to push. I couldn’t believe it but was so far into my zone, I didn’t care. The midwife had to yell in my ear over the top of my noise, so it was all very intense. My obstetrician made it in time to catch the baby- 55mins after I walked through the front doors. (He’d been told I was in early labour) No chance for intervention - this baby was ready!!
Victoria - Birthready has been such a wonderful experience. I find I have a newfound respect for my body and what it can do, and the classes helped Stuart and me prepare and make good decisions during both births. I love your approach - you really do give us the confidence to trust our bodies and the birth experience. The midwife who admitted me kept telling me how great I’d done. I wanted to convert her to Birthready classes, but she didn’t seem too interested. ‘Whatever works for you’ she said. I want to tell the world - women can do it!!! And now I can relate to the woman’s ecstatic cry as her baby came out on your Birthing video. It is an amazing sensation. So, I reckon I had as good a labour as you can get. And the recovery time is incredible - much shorter compared to after my Epidural.
My little boy was a great birth partner in the early stages. We did ‘Row row row your boat’ to simulate the rocking exercise on the floor, he ran his cars along my back when I was on all fours (but I had to discourage him from climbing on Mummy) and he did squats when I did squats up at the kitchen counter. He thought it was all great fun and was very settled as things got underway.
I really can’t thank you enough for your role in helping me to prepare for my births.
It all started on the Sunday night. My body gave me the sign I was ready! I had a show after 3 long weeks of several nights with “pre-labour” contractions every 10 to 7 minutes, and then stopping… (it was a bit frustrating). My induction date was on the following Tuesday, cause my doctor indicate I couldn’t keep waiting (I was nearly 2 weeks overdue).
So after all that, I had the first sign and nothing else happened during the whole night.
Monday morning I started to feel a bit different, I woke up at 7 am with menstrual like pain. I knew this was it!! LABOUR!
I had my breakfast and the pain increased as the morning progressed…around 12 pm I felt my first contraction… It was a bit different from the ones I had with pre labour. And every 10 minutes for the next hour the contractions kept coming every time a bit more intense.
Around 1 pm the contractions were every 7 minutes, then I decided to go for a walk with my husband, we were VERY excited, we walked for an hour or so, and the contractions started to come every 5 minutes so we decided to go back home. We had our lunch around 2pm and then it all started to become more intense. By 3 the contractions were only 4 minutes appart and I wasn’t coping with the pain as easy as I was before so I decided to use the bath. IT WAS WONDERFUL!
Rod did a good job maintaining the bath at a nice warm temperature and the pain was managable again. I was in good spirits, still very excited, coudn’t wait to meet my baby. We played some lovely music, and I went to my “safe place” stayed there for a while, that was actually one of my favourite moments.
After a while in the bath the contractions start coming every 3 minutes, and then every minute. Then we thought ITS TIME TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL!!! Unfortunately, it was peak hour BIG MISTAKE!!! So we went to the car, and the trip was VERY VERY PAINFUL FOR ME… I started transition in the car and was very hard for me to concentrate cause I was thinking WHEN ARE WE GETTING THERE!!! Instead of meditating or enjoying the lovely music Rod was playing in the car.
Finally I reached the hospital around 5.45 pm, and I couldn’t walk at all, Rod asked for a wheel chair, which was very helpful. I needed to rest so I decided to stay in the bed cause by then labour was really intense and I couldn’t bear an upright position.
By 7.20 no technique was working and I started to use the gas. It help me very much between contractions (HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!) and by 8.10 pm my waters broke! The midwife offered to break them before but I try not to have any intervention, it was a good desicion cause my baby did it himself just half an hour later.
Right after my waters break I had this STROOOOOONG feeling: I NEEDED TO PUSH! Even if the midwife wasnt sure if it was time I couldn’t wait it was OVERWELLMING……. I just needed to go for it, and started pushing, firstly in the toilet (cause I thoght I had a horrible diarrea hehe!!) afterwards, when they could feel the little head I went back to my bed and keep pushing, by 8.54 I met Andre, my little boy……. It was the BEST FEELING I’ve ever had in my life!
I loved my labour and REALLY enjoyed it! I think it is the MOST WONDERFUL experience I’ve ever had.
This is my story: I woke up that morning (7 days overdue) feeling very seedy - a bit nauseous and diarrhoea (funnily enough, that occurred for the 4 mornings before that day) and lost my plug at 9am. The ‘tightenings’ that I had been experiencing every day for months became more frequent but not painful. My obstetrician wanted foetal monitoring to ensure enough amniotic fluid, baby ok etc etc so I drove myself to the hospital where all proved perfectly ok. They could see on graph the tightenings but said they might not be contractions - just Braxton hicks. So went to drive myself home when I really felt that these tightenings were becoming a bit more painful but not unmanageable. So rang my husband and said he should come home from work. There I was driving from Clayton to Blackburn on an EMPTY TANK OF PETROL (naught me!) stressing out about that and dealing with contractions.
Anyway, got home where my mum was luckily with Abby (2.5 years old). For the next 3 hours, I did not admit (and I, to this day, don’t know why) that I was in labour. Where was my mind? Anyway, I went into mass organisation of my mum with lunch and dinner tasks for Abby, fed the dog and cats and made Rob eat lunch. Then sent them both off to get food and petrol, all while the contractions were 1 minute apart and painful. Again, where was my mind? Was hard to hide pain from Abby but managed that ok. So at 3.15pm, set off to hospital, which is 45 mins away in school traffic time, 40 zones whole way and cars galore. I tried to get into front seat but there was no way I was sitting there. So got on ground of front seat until 5 houses down street when I realised that wasn’t going to work either. Ended up in back seat, half on floor and half on seat, squished between window and toddler seat. Wasn’t comfortable or safe but I didn’t care. Just encouraged Rob to drive fast.
The ride there was awkward to say the least and painful. About 15 minutes before we got there, I suddenly experienced a transition of contractions to intense need to push. That was a bizarre feeling. Finally got to emergency driveway trying not to push and Rob ran into foyer, found nurse who contacted midwives. They came down with a wheel chair and quickly assessed me just visually and realised I was near birthing my baby. The only thing one asked was, if I felt need to push. So in wheel chair I was, being rushed into emergency ward with the midwife yelling that she had a lady about to give birth. To which the staff said there were no available cubicles. So I insisted that we would make it up to maternity ward, 2 floors up. As it turned out there was still 45 minutes to go.
The delivery suite was very clinical and bright and white but I was not going to let that deter me. So I quickly told midwife that I was not getting on the bed, wanted an active birth etc. She was great and said that’s fine. I most comfortable standing and leaning over bed, with Rob consulting the notes we wrote at your classes. Luckily she was prepared to squat and assess from that vantage point. She did assess dilation, which was full - I breathed a sigh of relief at that news!
So for 45 minutes I pushed. The waters did not break until 10 minutes before I gave birth (they ended up all down and in the midwife’s shirt as she was squatting…) There was some laughter there. My obstetrician, came in and was told my preference so he sat and talked to Rob about the menu and the news. I would have liked to take the weight off my feet by sitting on a birthing stool, so the other midwife looked high and low for one but to no avail. A bit disappointing. Nonetheless, I kept standing and pushing. When time was near, Rob was called over to catch the baby and OB just watched this process.
Might I say Victoria, the feeling of pushing hard to break the waters was terrific. Then the stinging of the head and the feeling it coming through was AMAZING! Then the slippery body coming out - something I never felt with number 1 baby.
I was ecstatic. A shower followed then a cup of tea. And off to my room I walked with ease. What a breeze! We are so relieved that no intervention was required and that my body knew what do. The whole process was exhilarating to say the least. Zara is a dream baby and we consider ourselves very lucky.
My hindwaters went at 5pm on Thurs 19 July. My contractions started gently at 8:30pm and were 5 mins apart. The first midwife - Sheila arrived at 9:30pm. She had never been to a waterbirth or led at a homebirth. I was fairly nervous about her. I put the TENS on probably after 2 hours or so. Sheila sat in her chair, while my partner, pressed down on my back and helped me through each contraction. At 12:30am I was only 1cm dilated, it had been pretty hard work. This was quite demoralising and things slowed down a little. I stomped about the house trying to get things going again. It was a strange feeling trying to actively bring these painful contractions on.
Things continued and appeared to be getting well established, but by 5am Friday morning had dropped off yet again and I was only 2cms dilated. The midwife left and I went to bed.
At 7:15am I was woken by painful contractions and we were off again. The second and brilliant midwife, arrived at 11:30am, my contractions were regular, painful and intensifying - I had reached 4-5cms!!! I could now get into the birthpool at any time! I felt great, things were progressing, I could do it!
By 2pm it was all slowing down again! My midwife suggested that we break my forewaters otherwise I could be in labour all night! I wasn’t sure and would make a decision based on how far I had got at examination. This showed that I was only 6cms, but my waters went anyway - all over the sofa!
Labour took off like a rocket!
I took off the TENS machine reluctantly and got into the pool. Contractions came at 2 mins apart.
My midwife checked Anna’s heartrate and the panic started.
180 beats per minute, Anna was distressed. She checked 5 or 6 times over 10 mins, but still the same. My midwife called her supervisor and the registrar at the maternity hospital and within 20 mins I was in an ambulance, strapped to a stretcher with monster contractions streaking through my body!
I started having visions of the operating theatre - how else was I going to birth my distressed baby out of me if I was only 6cms dilated? In the delivery suite, the team arrived, but the doctor felt that the fast heart rate was linked to the size and frequency of the contractions. Anna was getting no breaks in between, so she couldn’t relax. I was actually going to be able to labour! I couldn’t believe it!
After what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only an hour. I had another examination. I had reached that stage where I was sure that I couldn’t cope, I had grabbed the gas and air and was pulling it down as if my life depended on it. I had to be in transition - and I WAS, 8 cms dilated! I wanted to push my baby out so much and couldn’t understand why my body was telling me to push, though my cervix wasn’t ready.
This was probably the hardest thing, having to resist what my body desparately wanted me to do. I kept my breathing regular and slow, the resistance to the pushing seemed to come better that way. Then I felt her shift - Anna moved across my cervix and started her journey into the world. Only my husband was in the room at this point. I shouted that she was coming, it felt like no one had heard me.
The midwife came back and I heard her say that she could see Anna’s head appearing. After only 9 minutes of pushing, my perfect daughter left my body and took her first breath at 5:40pm Friday afternoon. I birthed whilst leaning over the head of the bed and so couldn’t see her. I kept thinking ‘I’ve given birth, I’ve given birth’ then it occurred to me to ask who it was. My husband said ‘Its Anna’. There she was in his arms, with her eyes open staring into his face, my beautiful baby girl.
My waters went at 5am on Tuesday morning, 6 July. I had just rolled over for the millionth time and was luckily awake and able to grab something to soak up the deluge. This was very different to my experience with Anna, whose waters had just trickled for hours before the big gush. This time the fluid was unrelenting and I puzzled over how to manage it, resolving to just stick bath towels between my legs. I got up, ate some cereal in case it was all about to start and then went back to bed. I tried to sleep, but it wasn’t happening. Then I noticed that the baby wasn’t moving at all. I tried a glass of cold water, I tried to tickle the baby lumps of my belly, I tried lying on my back, but still there were no movements. I had wanted to leave my husband to sleep, in case he needed the additional energy later, but had to I wake him so that he could listen for a heartbeat. He put his ear on my left side where the baby had been for weeks, and kept shifting his position around. My heart started to pound. Then he tried the other side and there it was, clear as a bell! The baby had changed sides, hopefully it was now more anterior as it had been lateral for some time, and this would explain the gruesome pain I had experienced a couple of nights ago.
We lay in bed in anticipation and slowly the contractions started to happen. I had to breathe through them, we started to get excited. Anna came in to say good morning and I had one more painful contraction and then they stopped.
Once up, I called Clare, our midwife and told her that my waters had gone. We already had a scheduled appointment with Andrea our second midwife for 11am, so we agreed that she would check me and the baby out and that I would call Clare when I thought something was happening.
I decided that Anna and I had better get on with making the baby’s birthday cake before it was too late. We made the chocolate fudge sauce for the cake and then it was 11am. Andrea arrived.
Baby was fine, my blood pressure was fine, we started to get excited again. I started yabbering on about what would happen if nothing happened for 48 hours and said that I wasn’t sure what I would want to do at that point, as I really didn’t want a syntocin induction. Andrea was doubtful that it would get to that point, I wasn’t sure, I started to see things going wrong. Andrea left after an hour with words of reassurance and the good old advice to eat well, rest up and stay active!
In the absence of any action, the adrenaline quickly wore off and left me feeling tired and a little ill, as I still hadn’t fully recovered from the virus of a week ago. I went to bed and rested. Lying down again brought the contractions back. It seemed that in the quiet of my own room and the comfort of my bed, my body was quite interested in getting this baby out!
We had lunch around 2pm, the contractions continued. They were mild and irregular, but definitely there. I had to concentrate. After lunch, Anna and I started to make the cake and my husband and Dad began the work of setting up the birth pool in the dining room.
The contractions picked up as I remained upright and active, with Mum taking over the work of baking with Anna whilst I leant over the kitchen side and my husband applied counterpressure to my sacrum. This was exactly as I had envisioned it. For some reason I was sure that I would go into labour during the day, and that I would be able to bake the cake with my daughter during the early stages.
By 2:30pm the contractions were growing more intense, I needed to get down on the floor over the birth ball and relax fully during them. The water began to pour into the pool. Mum became the lead baker of the birthday cake, saving the key bits for Anna and I to complete. I so wanted that cake to be done and in the oven! I put the TENS machine on and I called my doula and the two midwives to say that it was going to be this evening.
Anna started to grow concerned about my labour, she would shout at me to wake up whist I shut my eyes and breathed my way through the contractions. She wanted to climb on my back whilst I leant over. I started to feel crowded out and things started to slow down. At about 4:15pm, I asked my husband to see if Mum and Dad were ready to go to their ‘holiday house’, I needed the peace to labour. They left with Anna at 4:30pm with the promise that we would call whatever time it was that the baby arrived and they would bring Anna over to meet her brother.
Once the house was clear I went back to bed for a rest and this again brought the contractions on. I set up a little labour nest in the lounge with an armchair cushion under my knees and the birth ball to lean over. My husband continued to fill the birth pool which had already emptied the hot water service! Each time a contraction came on I’d shout through the house for him to come and press down on my sacrum – this was wonderful relief and the TENS was working beautifully, though at 5pm it started to buzz me and only work intermittently. Andris worked out that the booster device was faulty. He called the company who I had hired it from and they were able to taxi out a replacement part!
At 5:00pm we ate a light meal of vegetable soup, prepared by my parents just before they left. We put The Simpsons on and ate between the contractions. Each time one came on I would yell, ‘Telly’ and my husband would have to come to me via the TV to switch it off so that I wouldn’t have to listen to Homer saying ‘Doh!’ during the contraction. After eating, the action really began to hot up.
The contractions seemed much more intense than with Anna’s labour. I started to worry that, as I wasn’t really using the self hypnosis stuff this time, I wasn’t managing the pain as effectively as I had last time. I just didn’t seem to want to use the visualisations I’d been practicing during this pregnancy. I began to doubt that I was going to be able to achieve my goal of an analgesia free labour. I posted on the homebirth forum, getting up to lean over the dining room table during contractions and shouting for my husband to join me once I knew they were coming on. They really were different this time. It was harder to feel them beginning. The main sign was that it very quickly became difficult to move.
Every half hour or so, the contractions would change and become more intense. There would be a run of contractions which were quite manageable and then a really big one would come on which went longer and stronger. These would be hard to deal with until my endorphin levels caught up with the intensity and then everything was back within the realm of manageable again. I was able to drink plenty of grape juice between contractions and was regularly going to the toilet to stop my bladder becoming an obstruction to the baby. I felt real proud of this!
By 7:00pm the contractions were getting really strong. my husband was timing them and told me that they were 7 minutes apart. I was a bit disappointed as I felt further on than that, and started to worry that I was not going to be able to handle what was to come later. Half an hour later he commented that they seemed to be closer now, 4-5 minutes apart. That felt much more like it!
I could really feel myself going deep inside now, but the ‘bubble of calm’ visualisation I had practiced for labour, just wasn’t happening and my ‘safe place’ wasn’t doing it for me either. I started to think about the contractions as waves. Big elemental waves, rolling towards the shore and there on the shore was my boy, not my baby boy, but my boy as a toddler, waving and smiling. This image was really working, but it was hard to hold on my own. I told my husband that he was going to have to talk me through each contraction and that I wanted him to tell me about the waves. It took him a while to get it, but after a while he was doing brilliantly. He told me that the waves were taking me where I wanted to go, I’d moan ‘The waves, the waves’, and he’d say, ‘they’re taking you to the baby’. If he forgot about the waves in amongst the tasks of applying counter pressure and filling the birth pool, I’d shout out, ‘the waves’ and the instant he started to describe them I could feel my whole body giving in to the sensations and going with the surging energy of the contraction. My husband said that it was working so well that he kept mistaking my relaxation for the end of the contraction.
I now felt that I needed other support people around me, but worried that their arrival might disturb things. My husband called Clare the midwife and our doula and came back to tell me that they were both on their way. He kept trying to snatch the odd spare moment to put another tank of hot water in the birth pool, before the next contraction came on. I then felt a really strong urge to talk to my Mum, and My husband got her on the phone. I was very spaced out and kind of panting with the effort of the labour, but I felt I had to let her know that things were really happening, that they were very different to Anna’s birth, that I was managing ok and to check how Anna was doing. She was very excited for me and said that everything with Anna had gone well and she was all tucked up in bed.
At 9pm, I was still talking to Mum when Clare arrived. I must have looked odd talking on the phone in established labour! Clare checked my blood pressure and it was high 140/80. She said that if the lower figure got any higher she would begin to worry, but that this seemed to be one of the ways my body responded to stress, so at the moment it was not of any concern. I gleefully told Clare of my success in going to the toilet so regularly – I was really on another planet by this point! Clare’s assessments revealed that the baby was indeed Lateral with his back on my right side, his head sideways in my pelvis, as suspected and that there was still 1 or 2 cms of head left above the pelvic brim, so he hadn’t really moved down much. I found this disappointing as I had been hoping for a sign of progress. Clare said that before the baby could descend further he was going to have to make a 90 degree turn to bring his back in line with my belly.
The contractions were continuing longer and more intense, getting closer and closer together. My doula arrived and whilst my husband continued with pool preparations she supported me. I started saying that I was finding it very challenging. In the back of my mind I just wanted to say that I was afraid that I was going to need the Entonox really soon, but I didn’t want to vocalise it. I just kept saying that it was very hard and I didn’t know how much more I could do. Clare told me that I was progressing really well.
With the increasing intensity came a need to change positions. Leaning forward over the birth ball was no longer relaxing. I now felt that I had to be upright during contractions. I had seen this whilst supporting other women in labour and felt encouraged as it can mean that the baby has moved lower down and that labour is progressing. My husband sat on the sofa and I worked with the contractions whilst kneeling on the floor and holding onto him. I buried my head in his chest and reminded him about the waves. It was pretty comical, though didn’t feel much like laughing myself! It was now taking everything I had to get through the contractions. My doula and midwife were applying heatpacks to my back and counterpressure to my sacrum and I was just squeezing my husband for all I was worth until he said the magic words ‘Go with the waves’ and then my body would release and I would flow into the incredible power surging through me.
At about 9:30pm it was starting to get hard to get comfortable, wherever I was. I tried not to hope that I was approaching transition, but everything seemed to be indicating this. I was so worried about disappointing myself the way I had with Anna’s labour. I decided to try to make it to the toilet, to empty my bladder and make sure that the baby had all the room he needed to make his rotation down through my pelvis. Clare helped me up and through the house, past the pool which was almost full and through to the toilet. I was totally in the zone, everything around me was very surreal. I had almost made it when a huge contraction rushed through me and I had only Clare to cling to. This was followed very quickly by another during which I hung from my midwife and my husband (poor things!). The walk to the toilet had obviously turned things up another notch.
Sitting on the toilet felt very good. I was able to really relax my pelvic floor during contractions. They continued to be intense and long. I kept asking Clare to check the baby’s heartbeat, as when things had felt this intense with Anna, her heartbeat had gone through the roof and we had had to transfer to hospital. Baby was fine, in fact he was actually quite chilled out and he had moved round to an anterior position!!
My husband was happier with our current location as it was so close to the pool and he could complete the final preparations between contractions and then rush to my side when the contractions surged through. As I held him tight I remember saying ‘This is so healing’. The feeling of being so completely supported and understood by my husband. I loved my husband so much!
I pretty much yabbered my way through the labour, until suddenly after one contraction I caught my breath a little and there was a small change in what my body was wanting to do. I had tried to push. I looked up at my husband and my midwife and grinned. I now knew for sure that all that Clare had been saying was true. I was very far progressed. I was definitely near transition, there would not be too much more work to do. I sat there on the toilet saying, ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’ and smiling like the Cheshire Cat.
With the next contraction came an intense nausea, which left me gagging as the contraction passed away – classic transition behaviour! I grinned again! With the following contraction came a mild urge to push. I was getting excited. This was transition and I was OK. I didn’t feel like I was going to die, I didn’t feel out of control. I had my husband to hold, I was OK. In fact during these new contractions he gripped my head under his arm and it felt really good!
The contractions started to slow down and with each new one the pushing sensation grew. I asked Clare for a VE to check how dilated I was, as I had had an early urge to push with Anna at 8cms and didn’t want to damage my cervix and stuff everything up! She checked and said I was 7-8cms. This was a little disappointing but Clare assured me that these last centimeters dilatation could be achieved with just a few more contractions. I clung to My husband through the last contractions of transition, trying to breathe my way through the pushing urge which came as each contraction peaked and passed away. It was very hard to resist what my body was so urgently trying to do.
I knew that if I was going to get in the pool it would have to be now. Any later and the baby would have a dry birth, but I wasn’t sure that the water was going to provide me with the same level of relief as the TENS machine. It certainly hadn’t in my labour with Anna. I dithered my way through the next few contractions and then it was crystal clear. I wanted the water. We made a slow transit through the laundry to the dining room where the pool was set up. My husband took off the TENS machine and I stepped into the perfect water.
I hadn’t felt anything like it before. Such comfort! My doula said that she observed tension just fall from my face I as sank into the warmth of the pool. This was so right, and immediately the contractions felt different, I could feel that my body was now truly trying to shift the baby. The nausea had passed and there was no denying my body’s purpose.
I hung over the edge of the pool for the first contraction of my labour’s second stage and then tried out some other positions before returning to leaning over the edge of the pool with my husband’s arms around me. The contractions were enormous in the pressure they exerted and it was so different from my other birth experience as I did not have a head full of gas and air. I found the sensations extremely challenging to deal with but I just held on to the fact that I had only had to push Anna for 9 minutes and that this probably wasn’t going to last that long. Then I felt the first movement of the baby out of my uterus. He crossed my cervix and began to make his way through the birth canal. As the contractions passed off he moved backwards a little way. This had not happened with Anna at all – I have to say that I was a little cross at this development! Perhaps I wasn’t going to have a 9 minute second stage after all. The baby edged downwards slowly, slowly with each contraction until finally there was no movement backwards and I started to get a sharp stinging sensation as he stretched my tissues.
Clare said that if I put my hand down I would be able to feel his head. I had an image in my mind of a close to crowned baby, but there was hardly any head there at all! Arrgh! Slowly his head started to crown, my body stretched around him, and out of my mouth came a very loud and clear middle ‘C’ (least that’s what I think it was, it could have been a little bit higher in pitch, thinking about it now!). I remember thinking to myself, ‘I’m singing him out!’ The midwife’s instructions were fantastic, I panted and breathed his head out and then came the release. I put my hand down again and felt my baby’s head – whoa! I asked if I could turn around so that I could watch the birth but my team didn’t think it was a great idea. I must admit I didn’t like the idea of my baby’s head sticking out there under the water whilst we waited for the contractions which would birth his shoulders and body. I was assured that he was OK, that his colour was good and to just wait.
Then at 10:40pm, came the next contraction and out came his shoulders and his body, and it was done! Clare said, ‘Look down, here comes your baby through your legs, catch him!’
I couldn’t see him, but then suddenly there he was and I lifted him clear of the water which momentarily I had not trusted and held him to me. My husband and I looked and saw that it was indeed our Leo, as the scan had predicted. We grinned at each other and I then placed him back in the warm water and we watched him float his way through his first moments in the world. My doula switched off the lights and the room was filled with awe.
I asked about oxytocics as I just wanted to be finished and not have to wait for the placenta. Clare said that the syntometrine could make the afterpains worse and suggested that we just wait and see if the placenta would come away quickly. I had a few pains whilst in the pool and once Leo’s cord had stopped pulsating (about 15 minutes after the birth), I was helped out of the pool and wrapped in warm towels. Amazingly, the placenta came away with the next contraction.
My husband cut Leo’s cord and Clare walked me to my bed as I cuddled my new son. Clare checked me and found that I had only sustained a bruise and remarked that I had barely any blood loss. My husband, Leo and I cuddled up together and started the first feed, whilst the midwives completed the paperwork and cleared up for us. I called my mum at about 11pm to let her know the news and she said that Anna had woken up about 20 minutes ago, and had been snuggling with them in their bed ever since! I told her that she had a little brother and that she would come and meet him in the morning and she asked if she could have breakfast now!
Before the midwives left at about 2am, we all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Leo. Once they were gone, my husband and I lay there with our new baby and there was an incredible peace. Leo’s birth had been so normal, so much part of the continuum of everyday life, as it had been in our own home. It was instantly integrated as an experience. Leo’s birth filled me with an immense sense of satisfaction and stillness.