Love reading positive birth stories, you’re in the right place…. This positive birth story is with first time mum Katherine who delivered her little girl at 41 weeks and 2 days. Katherine had a water birth and used paracetemol, gas and air, and a tens machine for pain relief.

Potential Triggers: Fast labour and delivery and snapped umbilical cord

Although my actual labour and delivery were very speedy, like most Mums who see their due date come and go, it all felt very long awaited. My husband and I had tried all of the old wives tales we could find to encourage our little lady along sooner and I also had a sweep at 40+2. It was the hottest week of the year in June and we were getting impatient! 

At 40+4 I started to lose my plug and had my bloody show, which continued over 3 days. Then from 41 weeks, I woke up at 4:30am, three mornings in a row with period cramp type contractions. So for 6 days we were very hopeful that “today will be the day!” But frustratingly, everything was very start-stop.At 41+1, I had started to have small contractions in the morning but they soon stopped and I carried on about my day in a grump. My husband and I were desperate to enjoy ourselves, so we just went for a drive. Once I was relaxed and happy chatting away, my contractions started to return and lasted around 30 seconds and occurred every 15- 20 minutes or so.Once home again, we decided to have some tea (spaghetti bolognaise!) in case we were lucky enough that today really was the day! We wanted to carb up ready for a long night. 

So at 5pm I was happily tucking into tea and around 6pm my contractions started to come more frequently and for longer. I used my breathing and positive thoughts of “every contraction brings me closer to my baby” and I was feeling completely empowered and confident. We popped Harry Potter on the telly (although I found this too sad and we swapped to Moana!) and I kept active by walking and bouncing on a ball. My husband was incredible and stood behind me through every wave and supported me. My contractions were strongest where I would normally feel period pains and although it was intense, the breathing and counting worked wonders for me. 

As the contractions intensified and lasted for longer, my husband decided to call the hospital for advice. They were now lasting for around 50 seconds every 5 minutes or so. The midwives were very kind but said to wait a little longer until they were around 3 contractions per every 10 minutes. The contractions continued to ramp up quickly and within half an hour we were on the phone again and ready to drive to the hospital. It was finally happening!! 

At 8:30pm we were parked up and doing the dreaded waddle up to the delivery suite. I say dreaded because it feels like the longest walk of your life, but I powered through and luckily we didn’t see too many people on the way. It was such a bizarre feeling to be going through contractions but also to be so thrilled to be in hospital. My positive mental attitude of being able to see my daughter soon really made all the difference. My husband rang the bell outside the delivery suite and I remember saying how long we had waited for that moment. Once in the suite we were guided through to a little room with a bean shaped bed, a bean bag and a bathroom. It looked like a consultation room.

At 9:30pm we opted for an examination – at this point my contractions were much stronger and more frequent. We were desperately disappointed to hear that my cervix was long, thick and around 1cm dilated. We were also advised that we would be better off going home until things progressed. I felt thoroughly defeated, because even though it had taken no time at all to get to this stage, my contractions were beginning to feel very intense. The examination had also broken my waters so I knew that we were getting closer. I had a powerful instinct that I should definitely not go home and that things were moving…
Unfortunately at this point, I lost my way a little with my positive thoughts.

My contractions were coming every 1 minute and lasting for around 30 seconds – which meant it was very hard to control my breathing and regain any energy. My husband kept reminding me to count and held me through every wave and the midwife asked me if I would like any pain relief. I was given 2 Paracetamol and some Morphine. I remember thinking “am I going to be disappointed in myself for accepting Morphine instead of a more natural experience?” – but for me it was 100% the correct choice. The morphine slowed my contractions so I could have a breather. My husband and I got a short power nap in before they began to ramp up again.I remember asking if there were any risks in taking Morphine for the baby – EBRAN was thoroughly engraved on my brain! 

The midwife came back to us in an hour and gave me my next morphine dose at 11pm. She again advised us that we would be going home, this was very difficult to hear as I just knew my body was moving quicker and things were happening. There was no way I was going to budge! 

I used a heat pad and tens machine to manage the pain. I’ve no idea if the tens machine worked but the heat pad was incredible. I placed it in the area I was feeling my contractions. 

Despite the second dose of morphine my contractions began to intensify again. This time they were longer and more regular which made my breathing much easier to concentrate on and I felt more in control. I was very surprised to feel the urge to push down very early on. I knew I wasn’t dilated enough, but if I bore down during a contraction I definitely found some relief. I tried hard not to follow this urge as my logical mind told me I wasn’t ready, but then my body would convulse and do it for me. It really was 100% proof that your body knows what it’s doing, you just have to listen to it and hang on for the ride. 
My husband and I were alarmed to see I had a very heavy show from this point of labour onwards. We had drilled into ourselves that any sign of blood in pregnancy was something to be worried about. I wish I had known that this bloody show was normal, and I especially wish he had known it too as it made us both very uneasy. The midwife explained it was all normal but I felt confused that my body was bleeding and pushing early, two things I felt “weren’t normal”. 

We had only been in hospital a few hours and only 3 hours before my cervix had been 1cm… but I asked for an examination as my instincts told me things were moving quickly.I knew from how the examination felt that we had progressed – it was the most incredible music when the midwife said “I’m just going to go and run the bath – you’re at 7cm!”We were all so surprised things had moved so fast considering I was a first time Mum. We went through to the water pool room whilst she ran the bath and I began to use the gas and air. It was brilliant! It really helped me to concentrate on my breathing and gave me a new focus. The bath took 15-20 minutes to fill, which felt like a life time… but I knew instinctively we were close – she was coming!!! 
Getting into that water was one of the single most incredible sensations of my life. The relief and warmth did wonders to my body and mental state. This was it, the moment I had visualised several times a day for months! 

I was in the pool for a grand total of 15 minutes before my Evelyn arrived. 

I wasn’t even aware of pushing down or breathing as I’d been doing it for a while, I just went with my body. I could feel my baby descending and I had the smallest thought of “how am I going to do this?!”. But then I reached down to feel the top of her head and thought instead “here she comes!”The midwife said “one more push and we should have a baby!” – I remember smiling and thought “I am going to give this everything”…Upon my next contraction I gave a huge push and at 1:17am, her head was born, followed by her body. The feeling of relief and happiness was immense as my baby was caught and brought up to my chest. I looked down at my beautiful baby and couldn’t believe she was here. 

The next 15 seconds or so were a little scary, her umbilical cord was around half the length it should have been and therefore snapped as she reached my chest. My heart sank as I felt as though I had done this to her – the midwife called the resuscitation team and suddenly the room was full of people but I could only see her. The midwife was rubbing her back and I tried to do the same before she was taken by a midwife. My husband and I were just waiting to hear our baby cry…We heard one small cry and then a bigger one! And breathe. 

They clamped her tiny cord and held onto her whilst I got out of the pool. I was laid down on a bean bag and finally my baby was placed into my arms. Not exactly my vision for the moments after birth, but I really didn’t care. They reassured me that she was fine and my husband and I just cried with happiness and kissed each other and her. Pure feelings of joy, relief, adrenaline and contentment. There’s nothing like it in the world. 

I had an injection in my thigh to birth my placenta as they needed to check it over as soon as possible. I was aware that it could make me feel sick but honestly I didn’t even feel the needle, let alone any side effects. I was too busy taking in my baby – her hair, her enormous feet, her little furrowed brow – nothing could have interrupted that moment. 

I had to receive stitches for a 2nd degree tear, probably due to her speedy arrival and they suspected she may have come through like superman with one arm up! My husband had skin to skin contact and I just gazed at the two of them together as I received my care. I was so worried about stitches but I was on such a high that I barely noticed them and I was able to use gas and air for any twinges. Afterwards she was placed on my chest again and finally we were able to have our family time and feed her in peace. 

We remained in hospital for 24 hours due to her cord snapping at birth, but thankfully everything was perfect and so was she. The after care team were incredible and we were able to learn so much about caring for her and feeding. We were desperate to be in our own home but in hindsight, the opportunity to take full advantage of professional advice for 24 hours was such a blessing. 

Although I feel my birth story is incredibly positive and empowering, it certainly took me the best part of a week to come to this realisation. Everything happened very quickly and in the early days after birth, I struggled to remember the wonderful little moments that had occurred and found myself dwelling on the short moments that I had felt overwhelmed in.I was confused about my urge to push so early on and my heavy bleed and felt as though I had done something wrong. I thought that maybe it was because I had pushed down that I had bled and therefore caused a more difficult experience for my husband and I than was necessary… All hormone and sleep deprived driven I’m sure but still difficult to deal with. I also felt guilt that my husband had had to cope with such a difficult experience and see me bleed and struggle. 

After speaking with my midwife about the experience I feel so much better. I really recommend having a debrief after birth as it was so valuable to me. I was told that my urges were normal and my body was doing everything it should. My heavy show was a result of my quick cervical dilation and this just ruptured a few capillaries in the process.It was very reasurring to hear that I appeared to have stayed in control and coped well with my breathing, when on the inside I wasn’t sure this was the case. Turns out I just needed to hear what a good job I had done from my husband and the midwife to make me feel much better. 

And as for the guilt regarding my husband’s experience, after a few days I told myself that yes it was my body that had birthed our baby – but it was OUR labour. It was OUR experience and we were both just present for it and unable to change it. He had as much control over the situation as I did and we got through it together. It was our experience and there should be no blame to be felt.I’m saying this because I believe it must be quite normal to take some processing time after going through birth. Many people asked me what had happened and wanted details. It really helped to simply tell them I was still processing the event and I would tell them all about it when I was ready. 

12 days on and I’m writing my story with my baby in my arms and I genuinely feel like a superwoman. The official timings of my labour were: 1st stage 36 minutes,  2nd stage 6 minutes, 3rd stage 10 minutes. Total duration of birth: 53 minutes! 
It wasn’t everything I had imagined it would be and it wasn’t even the scenarios I had imagined that would go wrong – but my body delivered our wonderful baby into the world and I used all the tools I could to allow it to. I feel exceptionally proud of myself and my husband and I will carry that feeling always. 

Best of luck to all of you waiting for your birthing stories to begin. My best advice would be to trust your instincts, be aware that every birth is different and focus on the tiny person that you’re doing it all for. Oh – and eat as many carbs as you can manage! Good luck!

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