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This positive birth story is with Hannah’s first baby. Baby Ada arrived at 39 weeks and 2 days following a waterbirth on a Maternity Led Birth Unit.

I am so excited to be able to finally write my own birth story, I have been waiting so long and have been so curious to know how my birth would go! I joined this group when I was only 12 weeks pregnant and have loved and appreciated reading all of your stories. I genuinely believe reading them was the best thing I did to prepare for birth, it helped me understand that birth can happen in so many different ways and still have happy mummas and babies at the end of it. So I won’t apologise for how long my birth story is, because I loved reading the long ones! 

On Tuesday 16th March I was officially on my second day of maternity leave, I had chilled out after a busy last week of work and was already getting impatient to meet our little one!  I was worried it would be weeks more of waiting, but luckily it wasn’t! I had a fairly odd first sign of labour – lots of farting on Tuesday evening 😂 which was accompanied with some lower abdominal pain that I just assumed was wind related! By the time we went to bed it was getting a bit painful, but I still thought it was wind. At 11:30AM the pain was enough to wake me up/stop me sleeping and I realised it was coming in very regularly waves every 7 minutes or so. This, plus the bloody show and some diarrhoea, convinced me it was the real deal starting, but I thought it could all still take days! 

I knew I should try and rest, but couldn’t get to sleep so I gave up at 5AM and a day of waiting and trying to distract myself from contractions began! Luckily, my husband Will took the day off work so he could help me with this, and contractions aside (which stayed regular throughout) we had a great day. We stayed very busy with ‘early labour activities’ including making Mary Berry’s hot cross buns, watching the cricket, attempting an ambitious Japanese garden puzzle and two separate trips to the local park for a walk!

At around 4pm we called MLBU to check we were doing the right things- at this point contractions were about 3 in 12/13 minutes and I could still speak through them (although I didn’t want too). The midwife, advised us to stay home till the famous ‘can’t talk through’ and 3 in 10 minute contractions arrived. All day I had been pretty worried about how long and drawn out the labour was going to be and how I would cope with birth if I couldn’t sleep through days of labour! Looking back I find it really hard to distinguish when the contractions ramped up/changed, but by the evening they were becoming quite hard work 😅 I had my TENS machine on (loved the boost button!) and I was really needing the breathing to help me stay calm. At some point my husband convinced me to have some plain pasta for dinner and we went for another (much slower) walk to Tesco to buy some bread as a distraction (random I know). We must have looked pretty odd as by this point, to cope with contractions, I had to literally hold onto my husband and have him help count me through my breathing. I had 4 contractions on the way to Tesco and one inside! We were laughing in between though, as it’s so odd to be coping with such a strong contraction one minute and then feeling fine and strolling along to Tesco the next! 

I told my husband to try and get some sleep and even though I couldn’t sleep, that I would try and ‘rest’ between contractions downstairs. It didn’t really work, I was so tired by this point, but would jolt awake with every contraction. So at around 00:30AM I woke him up to help me with the contractions and we decided to call the MLBU again. The problem was that although my contractions were now definitely very intense and I could not talk through them, they were still 3 in 12 not the magic 3 in 10! So the midwife, Linda, advised us to try and wait it out a bit longer at home to really get in established labour and advised me to have a shower etc. I took the TENS machine off to have a shower and I’m not sure which of these changes did it, but suddenly my contractions were coming a lot more regularly and were even more intense, to the point I really needed to be hanging on to my husband to remotely cope with them. At 1:20am we called the MLBU and said we were coming in! Not really sure how we made it to be honest, my husband managed to get me dressed and get everything loaded into the car while coaching me through every, now very regular, contraction, he was a real hero! I think I went through the transition phase while still at home, as I remember being at the top of the stairs telling him the classic ‘I can’t do this’ and thinking if I get to MLBU and I’m 1cm I need a C-section! I remember mooing a bit to cope with contractions and definitely started to feel pushing/pressure, which I didn’t tell my husband.

I am super proud of myself for coping with the 20 minute car journey to the hospital, I managed to brace myself off the seat a little to deal with the ‘pushing’ feeling and did my up breathing the whole time, even between the contractions, with my eyes firmly shut and we managed to get there.

We made it to the MLBU at 2am and were greeted by Heather a lovely student midwife. Her and Linda watched one contraction, which I was now fully not coping with and then offered me gas and air. Wow, that stuff works, the first contraction with gas and air was so manageable, the contrast to the last one without it made it seem like an absolute breeze. Linda asked me if I wanted a pool birth, which I hadn’t been sure about before, but said I wanted to try for pain relief and luckily she managed to fill it up in time! I think from the state of me, Linda said she was happy not to examine me and let me go with my body, but after spending so long convincing myself I might only be 1cm dilated, I wanted to know. I was over the moon when she told me I was 10cm!! We had somehow managed it all at home, I was so relieved and so proud of us. 
After this we got straight in the pool, luckily my new best friend ‘gas and air’ could come with me for this, and combined with the water it really was comforting for the pain and pressure/pushing. Those pushing contractions really are amazing, I can’t explain how intense the feeling and pressure is. It felt like no time at all had passed while I was in the pool, pushing on all fours, before I could feel that her head was pretty near to coming out. I had used an aniball to try and prepare for birth, so although a baby’s head is obviously very different, I could tell that something was near to coming out of my vagina and remember feeling some hair!!

This part is all a bit of blur to me, but I my husband reckons I had 3 or 4 contractions with the head crowning. With lots of encouragement from Will, Heather and Linda I managed to push her head out, then had a little 2 second panic because that bit hurt, but managed to calm down enough to push her body out before the end of the contraction (felt like she flew out compared to her head ). And then it was just amazing, all of a sudden our little baby girl who we had been waiting so long to meet, was just there in the water all pink and healthy with big dark eyes and lots of dark hair. Truly amazing. She had her cord round her neck, but Linda sorted this out in seconds and then I was just holding her and she was crying (enough for us to know she was okay, but not enough to be stressful ). I had the injection for the placenta, Will cut her cord then we were out of the pool and sat on the bed cuddling her in no time. Honestly, amazing. I think there was nearly an issue with my placenta, as it took the midwives three attempts to get it out, but they managed it and remained very calm throughout!

During this time Linda said she thought there might be a clitoral tear and would get a doctor to come and look at it. Pre-birth I had been absolutely petrified of tearing, hence the aniball, but honestly I could not feel any pain from this tear, however painful the name sounds! Linda said she thought it had happened because Ada had her hand up by her head when she came out. I was pretty scared to have it repaired, I had to go to a different room and sit in one of those glamorous stirrup chairs, but Will and Ada were allowed to come with me and with gas and air and local anaesthetic injections, I honestly couldn’t feel a thing. Apparently, I only had 3 stitches in total. They have really been fine, I don’t like the idea of them, but I really can’t feel them and they don’t cause any pain when I go to the loo, so I feel pretty lucky really. I also had no perineal tears, not sure if this was luck or aniball or a bit of both.

We were hoping to be able to go home a few hours later, but as the midwives had seen only one successful breastfeeding session, they advised I should go to the postnatal ward for the day to get some sleep and more feeding help. This would mean that Will had to go home and leave me and Ada for a few hours because COVID rules meant partners were only allowed during visiting hours. To be honest I lost the plot at this and was hysterically crying, I was so emotional, overwhelmed and tired and I couldn’t believe that after going through something as intense as birth and needing Will’s help and support so much, that he was going to have to leave us. So I have big respect to you ladies who had to spend longer in hospital in a pandemic, can’t be easy! I didn’t manage to sleep on the ward as I arrived at around 10AM and it was pretty loud, but there were some lovely midwives who did help me with feeding and we were finally discharged at 7pm. As much as I didn’t want to go to the ward and was annoyed it added another 9 hours of no sleep to my lack of sleep in labour, we are now a week in and breastfeeding is going really well (Ada had only lost 40g from her birth when she was weighed at Day 5), so it was probably worth it!

We have been having the best time since we brought Ada home, can’t believe how much we love her already, we are both spending a lot of time just staring at her. It really is amazing what your body can do, I can’t get over that I pushed a small human out of me and then could go for a walk the next day. Amazing. I’m not sure what I thought labour would be like compared to what it was, it really is an intense thing, although maybe mine could have been a little less dramatic if I had got to the MLBU a bit earlier. It’s funny how the things I was worried about in labour really weren’t issues at all, I can’t express how little I cared (at the time and now) about things like the tear and pooing in the pool that I worried about pre-labour. It’s all just so worth it. I’m super proud of myself for surviving till 10cm at home and then for pushing a baby out. I will never forget how brilliant Linda and Heather were and all the other midwives who helped with feeding etc. And I’m so grateful and proud of my husband for being the best birth partner imaginable, he keeps telling me he didn’t do much, but I know I could not have given birth without him!

Want to feel confident, calm and prepared for all types of births? Check out The Bump to Baby Chapter’s Hypnobirthing and Antenatal Online Course. Created by midwife Beth, covering how to stack the odds in your favour to get the birth that you want, and also how to feel calm and prepared for every birth journey! Videos, checklists, audios & a support group mto get you feeling excited, prepared and confident for birth. Knowledge is Power!!