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June 14, 2022
On Thursday 2nd June 2022 I started to have contractions that only intensified throughout the day / evening. I started recording these in the evening but they were very irregular (from a few 5 minutes apart to an hour at 3 minutes apart back to 7 minutes etc!) My partner called our maternity unit and they advised us to get some rest and call them back when they had been every 2-3 minutes for a few hours. My sleep on Thursday night was so broken on Friday morning I was still struggling with pain and irregular contractions, I decided to go and get checked over and discuss pain relief so I could relax.
We was really lucky that on Friday morning the lovely Midwife Led Unit at the hospital was open (as it is currently closed 50% of the time due to staffing issues). We was greeted by a lovely midwife who didn’t want to examine me due to my contractions being so far apart so she gave me some pain relief and sent me home to sleep and progress! For the rest of Friday my contractions intensified and we tried to go to bed early in the hope that sleeping would bring on the regular contractions we needed to be in “active labour”.
At 2am on Saturday morning, 4th June I called out to my partner (who was sleeping on the sofa due to annoying me with his snoring where I was unable to get any sleep..) that something just felt different. I was really tense and just didn’t want to be at home anymore and after timing contractions, they still weren’t coming regularly enough to be the right time to go in! He called the hospital for me and they advised me to go back in and be examined. Unfortunately the midwife led unit was closed for the night so it would mean labouring on the consultant led unit, should I be admitted, but he kindly requested their only pool room and she said yes, she will reserve it for me if I am in active labour.
When we arrived I accepted an examination to find out what was going on, I was 4cm dilated and she decided it was a good idea to admit me. We met our midwife, Ella, and I was instantly calmer. She got the pool running for me and my partner set up the room with my galaxy lamp and the speakers and got some music playing. I was instantly relaxed the minute I got in the pool and Ella popped in every 15 minutes to check on the baby’s heart rate and make sure we had everything we needed. I was coping with the contractions really well in the pool and each time I got out to use the toilet or have a snack, I could really notice a difference.
4 hours after being admitted, around 6am, Ella asked to examine me and check my progress. I was gutted to learn that I had only progressed to 5cm in 4 hours (a cm less than they would have liked). Ella asked if she could break my waters in the hope that it would help move things along. Unfortunately, as soon as she broke my waters, she noticed that there was thick meconium in them which meant the end of my ideal water birth and the start of continuous monitoring right up until our baby was born. At this point, the consultant came to check the baby’s obs and was happy that baby was all ok at the moment.
I was given a wireless monitor so this meant that I could still move around the room, rock on the birth ball etc and the next 4 hours went by with me managing contractions quite poorly so I asked for some codeine and an anti sickness injection! During this time, my midwives swapped shifts and I now had another lovely midwife Lucy and a student Rhiannon.
At 10am, Lucy came to examine me and I was only 6cm dilated, again, not what they would have liked and this meant a consultant was called and they wanted to start me on a hormone drip. At this point, I really started to panic and was very upset at the way my birth was going from being incredibly happy in the pool to now being on a bed hooked up to a drip and a monitor. I asked for some time and me and my partner discussed all of the options. I knew I would struggle to cope with the contractions on the drip and their recommendation of an epidural made me worry about needing an assisted delivery. At this point, I said to my partner I can feel my birth ending up in an emergency c-section so why don’t we just go ahead with a planned one now...
Lucy came back in and I emotionally voiced my concerns to her and she tried to calm me down. She went through the risks and benefits of all of the options with us once again and I decided to try an epidural. If I was thinking of having a c-section anyway, I knew that it could be used for a spinal block. The anaesthetist came to see me and I was happy with all of the risks and we went ahead with the epidural around 12pm.
I was in control of my epidural so I made sure I didn’t overdo it and only topped it up as/when I needed it as I didn’t want to be completely numb, I still wanted to move around and really wanted to be able to birth my baby with all the feelings back. Straight away I managed to get some sleep and so did my partner and we were so grateful for some calm.
At 2pm, I was checked again and had made it to 8cm dilated so didn’t need the hormone drip in the end! I really do think that the epidural helped my body to relax and dilate and was so grateful to my partner and the team of midwives for supporting my decision for this. Lucy said she would examine me in a further 2 hours and at that point I was 9cm with only a small amount of cervix left around baby’s head. She wasn’t sure on the positioning of baby but was happy with my progress. I decided that I would stop using my epidural pump from here and let it wear off as she said as long as I was fully dilated by 6pm, they would allow me to start pushing from 7ish giving the baby time to move down enough.
I stayed sat upright on the bed with my legs in a diamond position as this is what I found most comfortable at the time. I was allowed to have some snacks, now they were sure I was going for a natural delivery and a few pic n mix sweets were all I wanted!
6pm came and I was fully dilated so they were happy for my to start pushing around 7pm when baby had moved down further. At this point, the nerves set in, I would be meeting my baby soon and I was so excited, I couldn’t quite believe it! I was gutted that at 7pm the midwives changed shifts again which meant I would be losing Lucy, however she advised that Ella was back on shift tonight and if I wanted she could see if she was able to assist me. I was so pleased to hear this as I really wanted to see a familiar face at this point.
7pm came and Ella and Lucy both coached me through the first few pushes and kept an eye on baby to make sure that they were moving down efficiently with every contraction, they were so happy with my pushing and Lucy left for the day. My contractions were still irregular at this point so some of the gaps between my pushes were almost 6 minutes apart but others 2-3. The feeling of pushing my baby out was incredible (although I didn’t quite want to look..) and I could feel the head getting further and further towards the exit and then slipping back slightly and they assured me that this was normal and at some point it would pass the point of no return. I was so close.
The room was all ready for me to birth my baby and a paediatric doctor was there on standby just in case baby needed any help due to the meconium in my waters (although all of the obs were normal so far). After almost 1.5hours of pushing, our surprise little girl was born at 8:27pm on Saturday 4th June. She was instantly brought up to my chest and let out the most incredible cry that reduced my partner and I to tears, I couldn’t quite believe what had just happened. I had requested delayed cord clamping however, due to having a rhesus negative blood type, the cord / baby’s blood needed to be tested. I decided that I would rather have the blood taken from the cord than my baby so allowed them to cut the cord after a few minutes.
I was given just over an hour of skin to skin with my baby before they took her away for some checks and to be weighed. During this time I had a few small tears repaired and our baby had her first feed on the breast, I was so incredibly happy.
Due to the meconium in my waters, she needed to be monitored for 12 hours and this meant that after just 2 hours as our family of 3, my partner had to go home and I was taken up to a ward all alone with my new baby girl. I was terrified, I had no idea what to do and wanted my partner more than anything else in the world. The midwives and nurses working the night shift were excellent and as soon as I buzzed for help, they were there to assist me but still all I wanted was my partner.
At 9am he was allowed back onto the ward with me and he was there straight away. It was so lovely to have him there with us and he was able to chase up the nurses and find out when we could be discharged. Finally, at 3pm we was allowed to take our baby girl home and ever since we have been in the most amazing newborn bubble.
Although I didn’t get the unmediated water birth that I wanted, I was so happy with my birth and really would say that it was a positive experience. I would do it all again in a heartbeat for our darling girl Ivy.
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