Love reading positive birth stories, you’re in the right place…. This positive birth story is with Claire and her first baby, a surprise baby girl. Claire’s birth was an unplanned cesarean as her baby was in an awkward position, and Claire describes how she felt “incredibly safe in the theatre. Claire still experienced delayed cord clamping, her partner cut the cord, and she got immediate skin-to-skin with her baby.

I had a very lovely low risk pregnancy with everything going very smoothly – apart from having covid at Christmas, where my symptoms were mild. That being said, I felt really well up to the very end. I’m quite tall and the bump was all baby so I never felt huge or desperate baby to come out! 

On Friday 5th I had a totally normal day thinking that baby would be late and hazarding a guess at 14th… Valentine’s Day! I ate half a pineapple for lunch and joked this ought to get things going. Sure enough, by 8.30pm contractions started and were every 3-7 minutes and pretty strong. I began using the Freya app to log them and used my breathing techniques I’d learned during this course. I headed to bed and continued to log my contractions throughout the night which remained at 3-7 minutes and lasting around 50 seconds. I got the odd minute of sleep here and there and just rested in between. 

On Saturday 6th (due date) contractions were still at the same intervals. I put on the tens machine which personally I didn’t find to be very helpful – it just added to the pain! I wanted to keep active so me and my husband, Reuben, went for a walk. I got as far as the end of the next road, had to lean against a wall during contractions and decided I wasn’t that fussed enough to see the river after all so I waddled back home! I tried to keep active but to be honest I’d already entered another world…. a blurry one where you are so focused on dealing with the pain that you loose all concept of time and place. I carried on this was and had another sleepless night without fancying any dinner…

Sunday 7th arrived and by the afternoon I was still breathing through the contractions which were still every 3-7 minutes. We asked my good friend, next door neighbour and midwife, Kat to come in and monitor whether it was time to go over the hospital. When she arrived, I got distracted and the contractions petered out. As soon as she left they ramped back up!! I carried on for another 6 hours or so and then asked her to come back in. She sat with me for a while and said we could go over whenever we wanted to. At about 10pm we decided to head over. It was snowing and very icy! I remember thinking – I don’t want to come home until I can bring a baby back!

We arrived 20 mins later and I was examined and found that I was 2cm. I remember hearing Beth’s voice saying “that’s 2 more cm than none!” So I remained positive. I was told I could stay but Reuben would have to wait in the car until I was in established labour. I decided I would probably progress better at home so back we went.

At 2am on the Monday (8th) morning after Reu had taken over logging the contractions we headed over to hospital again as they were every 2.5 minutes and even stronger. When we arrived, I was told I was 5cm! Woooo! The birthing pool was filled with water and within 20 minutes I was in! I was given paracetamol at this point. We put on our playlist of music and switched on the led tea light candles. I was handed the gas and air which I tried to use for 3 puffs then 4 of normal air to try and even it out. I remained in the pool for… wait for it…. another 15 hours!! Yep. I had a shift change of midwifes during this time. Every 3/4 hours they would get me out to pee and examine me. I progressed to 6cm then 9cm in this time then was found to still be 9cm 4 hours later. I did have the urge to push by this point. My waters still hadn’t gone so they were broken by the midwife. I came off the gas and air after about 12 hours as it was making me feel very out of it and then sick too. I threw up a bit. I couldn’t face eating anything so tried some jelly sweets to keep the energy up but promptly threw them back up!

By 6pm I had to get out the pool as they wanted to put me on the hormone drip to ramp things up even more and get rid of that final 1cm… they called the Dr in to examine me and the birthing pool was emptied of water. I felt a little disheartened as my plan of a water birth drained away down the plug hole… but tried to remain positive. By this point I was totally out of it with exhaustion and the gas and air – which after using for 12 hours was still very much in my system. 
If you imagine a clock face, my baby had been head down and her back was facing quarter to for the past month or so. Instead of going a quarter turn, she decided to go 45 minutes anti clockwise!  Even then, she still didn’t make it so her back was facing outward… And her head was presenting at a funny angle. 

The dr examined me and I was now 10cm! The midwife was super excited and the pool began to be refilled with water. This was a pivotal moment… the dr said that she wouldn’t rule out the hormone drip in order to increase contractions and get baby into the right position. After using my EBRAN, Reuben and I decided to go ahead with the hormone drip. I was totally exhausted after contracting heavily for 4 days by this point and being in active labour for at least 17 hours. I had no energy left in the tank… and I consider myself to be a fit and well young person! I was torn as I knew the heat of the pool ramped up the contractions but I opted for the hormone drip as I assumed it would take effect within 10 minutes or so and then my baby would be in my arms! I was wrong…! 

Another midwife change (we had 4 shift changes in total!!) and my good friend and next door neighbour Kat arrived to take over. I was so out of it with exhaustion that I can’t really remember acknowledging her but I know she hugged my husband and he cried with relief of seeing a familiar face. Throughout the whole labour I remember it being really important to me that I stayed calm, quiet and polite. I remember adding on ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to the end of my sentences and also never wanting to say ‘I can’t do this’. But to be honest, I was so tired I was just waiting for them to offer me help as I didn’t want to ask. After a few hours on the hormone drip, pushing, bouncing on the ball, being upright etc etc my contractions plateud. They were still coming but there was no power behind them. Whether that was an adverse reaction to the hormone drip or just my exhaustion I don’t know but I was being told to push but had no urge and there was no power. 

My body was shivering with adrenaline… I was boiling hot then freezing cold. My mouth was exceptionally dry from all the breathing! Reuben was brilliant throughout at giving me water, fanning me and reminding me to breath as you forgot each time as the pain is all consuming! The breathing really helped so much and when I do it next time (yes I would do it all again in a heartbeat!) – I would pass on the gas and air and just breath. I was offered morphine but I declined as I had covid at 33 weeks and was a little wary about the development of babies lungs so didn’t want anything that might make him/her drowsy. 

Another few hours of pushing with no urge passed and I was offered suction cups as baby was still not in the right position and the head was still presenting at a jaunty angle. This would need to be done in theatre as it may lead to c-section. I knew this was the right decision and so within 10 minutes I was wheeled out. The epidural was incredible and the warm tingle of relief swept over my body! After days of pain and feeling totally out of it, my body relaxed!! Within minutes my head was clear and I felt in the room again!! The dr applied the cup to babies head and I was told when to push but after two attempts she just wouldn’t budge! I heard him tell Kat it would be a c section and I wasn’t daunted at all.

I felt incredibly safe in the theatre with about 9 staff members all around me! We put our playlist of music on and the atmosphere was calm and exciting. Within about 5 minutes, the curtain was pulled down and our baby was held up! It’s a girl!! My husband informed me after Kat prompted him! It had slipped our minds – all we cared for was that it was a crying baby!! She was taken over to be cleaned up… Kat did delayed cord clamping and Reuben cut it. They put on the brightest pink hat(!) on her and placed her on my bare chest. The most magical and overwhelming feeling ever!!! I was stitched up and wheeled through to recovery where myself, baby Olive, Reuben and Kat spent about 4 hours calling family, chatting, breastfeeding, having skin to skin and eating tea and toast. Magical golden time. 

The story certainly doesn’t end there and in fact it’s what happens over the next week or so that’s just as important to the actual labour! Huge hormone rushes and sobbing with emotion. I wasn’t sad but it was just a way of processing. I felt exceptionally tired and remembered I was low on iron so began taking that again and feel heaps better. I urge others to check their levels too!

This course has helped me in a way I can’t even put into words. It’s true, you can be as prepared as you possibly can be and do absolutely everything by the book, but your baby is 50% of the story and you can’t control that. All you can do is make positive decisions when situations arise. For me, absolutely going into theatre was the right thing to do and the relief I felt was incredible and empowering. From contractions starting to delivery was 98 hours! And of that active labour was at least 20 hours. Regards the c-section, I honestly have been in more pain with a paper cut… so please don’t feel too anxious about the prospect as for me it was very positive although I know everyone is different. 

It’s truly been the most overwhelming, rewarding and life changing experiences of my life. Anything everyone tells you it is, it’s like that and so much more! Your eyes are opened to this whole other world that you thought you understood… I feel like I see things differently now and am a lot more patient! I have so much love for this little one  💕

“When a child is born, the world is altered in an instant.A new voice is heard, a new love comes into being.Years later we all pause and say, yes, that’s when it all began on that day, in that room, when I saw that face.” Quote taken from Call The Midwife.

Here is my little baby… Olive Joyful 🕊 born 8th February at 10.43pm 8lb 3oz 40+2

Click the link for more information about The Bump to Baby Chapter’s Hypnobirthing and Antenatal Online Course. Know what you can do to stack the odds in your favour for the birth that you want. Videos, checklists, audios & a support group all created by a midwife to get you feeling excited, prepared and confident for birth.