Before I get going, I just want to flag that this is my birth story and some people may find things triggering. Although it was an incredibly positive experience, I don’t always use the hypnobirthing terminology.
Growth Scan at 38 weeks
To put things into context, at 38 weeks I had a growth scan for peace of mind because my bump had shrunk. The scan showed that the baby was on 97% centile so I had a meeting with a consultant as they were concerned by this.
They wanted me to be induced on my due date as they were concerned about the head being born but the shoulders being stuck. I had a sweep and he inspected my cervix but said there was no way I was giving birth any time soon!
Initially I was incredibly upset as I felt that knowing I wasn’t able to have the birth I had in my head. But after a few tears, watching positive induction stories and speaking to a few friends, I saw the silver lining in that I would know the latest I would be meeting my baby and that was exciting.
On Thursday, I woke up needing a wee at 2am which was very unlike me as I’d not been up in the night to wee at all throughout my pregnancy (very lucky on that one!). Also, I noticed the back pains were back, but I’ve had these at least twice a week for almost 3 weeks, so I brushed them off as they never led to anything.
Come morning, I woke up and realised I’d lost my mucus plug (might have begun to happen the day before but I just assumed I had a dodgy tummy). Which I announced to Charlie and then said it’ll probably be weeks knowing the way my body has gone so far. Then throughout the day, I noticed the back pain and tightenings were happening every 1.5-2 hours and becoming more frequent.
Come 330pm I decided to start tracking them using the Freya app to see if there was a chance it could actually be labour (as everyone had said so far that “you’ll know” and at this point, I really didn’t).
Come 6pm I video called my friend for a chat. Then suddenly the next surge was a big jump from the last. I thought I’d hung up on her as I breathed through the surge but turns out I’d just minimised her on the screen so she was doing the breathing with me!
For the one after that I said I had to go as I need to get in the zone and it was getting harder to talk with them.
By 7pm I was experiencing one every 10 minutes and they were getting a lot more noticeable (stronger!). So I decided to jump in the shower and wash my hair as it helped me relax and also I didn’t know when the next time I’d have a shower would be.
I joked about carb loading for labour so we had homemade pasta and watched Four Weddings and a Funeral to keep the oxytocin coming.
Should I stay, or should I go (to hospital)
(to distract myself, I started writing notes in my phone so I could remember)
1030pm – Labour with your first is so confusing as you don’t really know when it’s fully going to kick off. With surges coming every 3-4.5 minutes, I called triage. I was still able to talk so surely this wasn’t enough? Do I need to come in? Advice to keep energy up and nap.
1120pm – sleep time
110am– Ouch, wake up to quite an intense surge. Feel quite rested but I think that might be the last lot of sleep I’ll get for a while. They’ve really upped!
205am – Yep, no chance of me sleeping! Instead I’ve just been scrolling through The Positive Birth company Instagram and reading affirmations and birth stories. Probably time to wake Charlie up now. TENS machine goes on!
245am – Surges are now every 2.5mins and it really is a lot more intense that what I thought were surges earlier! Call triage they say to give it an hour and call back. 20 mins later I’m back on the toilet and Charlie’s calling triage as there’s no way I can last much longer.
330am – Get to hospital and spend the waiting time leaning over the sofa in reception using my Freya App for breathing with the TENS machine on my back while I wait to be assessed.
Looking back this was nowhere near what was to come but having not been through it before, you just don’t know if what you’re experiencing is close to full blown labour. At triage they tell me I’m 3cm and baby’s head is down with the waters ready to burst. I then get told to go home for a few hours so my labour can progress more effectively as being in hospital slows things down plus my surges were only lasting 45 seconds, instead of 60. I was so disheartened at this point as I thought it was time, but the midwives know best.
On the drive back, I’m constantly thinking about whether the waters will go in the car…
5am – Get home, and the surges are coming in a lot stronger and longer but no longer 1.5 minutes apart, more like 3 minutes thank god! On all fours with the birthing ball and then next thing I know I’m sick through a contraction onto a maternity pad on the floor. The cat tries to eat it.
Both cats are following me around the house wondering what on earth I’m doing!
640am – Sod this, I actually can’t do any longer at home. I ask Charlie to call up triage to let them know we’re on our way.
7am – We arrive at Kingston and get to the Malden Suite which is the midwife led unit. I’m properly giving it all the noise in reception and there’s a couple who have come in for a planned c section sitting quietly.
I apologise between contractions as Charlie is rubbing my back.
715am onwards – I get assessed. Have managed to get to 5cm. Time to fill in the birth pool and get ready to go…
I sit down on the bed and suddenly there’s blood all on the sheets. Looks like my bloody show has turned up which means things are beginning to move on.
As baby’s head progresses down, all I can remember is a load of discomfort above my pubic bone.
Not yet in the pool as it’s filling up still and takes about 45 minutes or so. I’m taking in all the gas and air. Although it makes me dizzy, so I have to lie down on my side despite standing feeling more comfortable.
8am – The pool is ready. And oh my god did it feel incredible to get in.
It felt like a warm blanket. I get onto all fours and rock forwards and backwards as this is most comfortable.
Suddenly the surges give my body this urge to push all by itself. The midwife says go with it. Although with these surges, I initially strain through my throat until the midwife says send the push through your bum.
This helps so much and you can feel the difference. It basically felt lift going for the biggest poo of your life with each surge!
Suddenly I hear a “we’ve got baby’s head, she’s got a lot of hair” and they bring Charlie round to see. The midwife (Bonnie) goes out to get another midwife as she said need to be present at birth.
Next is all a little bit of a blur but rather than the usual 2-3 big contraction pushes, my body decides to do an extra one or two right after they announce baby’s head has been born.
Next thing I know I’m being told to pick her up off the bottom of the pool as she’s out!
(Charlie likened this moment to seeing one of those swimming pool bricks that you have to dive to pick up, and didn’t really register it was a baby!)
As I scooped her up and cuddled her in the towel, she was crying.
I couldn’t believe I was finally meeting her.
9:18am Welcome to the world Baby Olive!
Time for the 3rd stage of labour, delivering the placenta. I opted to have the injection for this stage, although this bit took as long as the 2nd stage of labour it turned out as the membrane ended up wanting to stay inside.
While this was going on, Olive was passed to Charlie for some more skin to skin where she weed all over him.
Probably the first of many to come in fatherhood!
After this, I was assessed for any tears (labial and internal 2nd degree).
It was then I suddenly burst into tears for the first time.
I hadn’t had to have the induction and I’d actually managed to get the birth I wanted. I couldn’t have been more grateful at how lucky I was and just in awe of how incredible the human body is.
Until you go through child birth, no matter how much or little prep you do, you really don’t know how your body will react. With the old wives’ tales and the scientific research, it’s hard to tell if doing those is what helped or if it really is luck of the draw, as you have nothing to compare with.
After some stitches and chill time, we got wheeled through the hospital to the post natal ward. This was where we’d come outside of our Covid-free bubble and had the reminder of what was going on in the outside world.
Once we were in the post natal ward, we set up camp in our private room and that was that!
As you can tell, I love a ramble. But, before I sign off, I want to say a HUGE thank you to Kingston Hospital Maternity Unit, from the initial appointments through to teaching me how to harvest colostrum and breastfeed post birth, plus the tea and water rounds in the post natal ward!
Although I wasn’t able to have Charlie with me in my 12 and 20 week scans, throughout the pandemic, they have put the wellbeing of mums-to-be and new mums first, making sure the whole journey could feel as “normal” as possible, including letting Charlie stay with me throughout the whole labour and overnight.
Special mention goes to:
Midwife Jen who was my midwife throughout the pregnancy and was simply brilliant.
Midwife Bonnie and Student Midwife Lucy who were there when push came to shove in the labour process and again, just made me feel so at ease.
So there you have it.
My birth story.