Fayes birth story.
So…. We didn’t have a birth plan we were just happy to go with the flow and it’s a good job we did! My due date had passed, and I was starting to feel a tad inpatient so I had a bath with a ‘sex bomb’ (bath bomb from Lush!) which was recommended to me by a new mummy friend I had made on the Bump to Baby Chapter antenatal course. I even had to go to my mother in law’s for the bath because the previous week I had got stuck in our bath due to the taps being in the middle!!
I was 5 days overdue so my partner and I went out for a thai curry at lunchtime, again in a bid to get things started. By 4pm that day the contractions had started…. 10 minutes apart and not very consistent however it was all starting to happen. My partner went off to five-a-side football at 5.30pm and when he returned at 7.15pm they certainly felt stronger and were more like 7 minutes apart however still not always consistent.
I had a tiring night, however I managed the pain using my hypnobirthing breathing and visualisations, paracetamol and a tens machine. Sleep was tricky though because well… I was a tad uncomfortable and I was needing to time my contractions. By 4.30am the following day it was time for us to make our way to the birth unit at Gloucester Royal, things seemed more consistent and my pyjamas bottoms suddenly appeared wet! My partner drove us to the hospital saying ‘this is it!’, it reminded me of that early morning trip to the airport when you are feeling a mixture of excited and nervous!!
We arrived at the birth unit and after being assessed I was advised I was 3cm dilated and only part of my waters had broken, therefore diamorphine was recommended to me so that I could rest and catch up on some sleep for the day that was ahead of me. They also started me on some IV antibiotics because I had Group B strep.
Several hours passed, my waters hadn’t broken naturally, I felt super relaxed and drowsy and I hadn’t dilated anymore. I felt at this point a little frustrated and waved goodbye to any hope of a water birth because I needed to be looked after in the delivery suite and have the rest of my waters broken. It was at this point that I was started on the hormone drip to try and increase the intensity and frequency of the contractions (or so I thought this was).
The level of hormone drip changed throughout the day, and by 10pm that evening I was 6cm dilated, this felt so wrong to both my partner and I at the time after such a long day. However, earlier that night we had a wonderful surprise when Beth came on shift and was assigned as our midwife. Seeing a friendly face was just the best we could have hoped for and my partner was pleased because he could straight talk with Beth! I was shattered and was only using gas and air as pain relief, otherwise I was managing with my hypnobirthing techniques. I remember feeling really quite insular and just focussing in on my breathing. A cesarean was offered and discussed at 11pm however we declined this suggestion on the basis that I didn’t want the recovery afterwards. Albeit, I was very tempted and did ask whether they could guarantee our baby would be born in the next hour so that it’s birthday could be the 16th of the month the same as her dad- barmy I know!! My partner laughed at this reasoning, in my head it was justified given the day I had experienced! Instead we were advised the hormone drip would be increased and we would be assessed again in 2 hours.
Those two hours I remember being really tough, however both Beth and my partner were very supportive and I remember them both being really positive. Finally, at about 1.30am I was more or less fully dilated, however (there are lots of ‘howevers‘ in this story!!), our baby’s head was facing 10 o’clock as opposed to 6 o’clock and therefore I needed some help from a doctor to move baby into a more optimum position for birth. I have also learned since that her heart rate was also creating an odd pattern and I wasn’t in any fit state to take instructions on how to push because I was attached to the gas and air for comfort and was exhausted! Therefore, the next part of the story involved signing a consent form and going to theatre. The two options I had were forceps and C section- both of which I had prayed I wouldn’t need so I remember feeling like a failure. Given our feelings about the recovery after a C section, we opted for forceps first.
I recollect being in theatre feeling like I was on Holby City- surrounded by lights, legs in stirrups and lots of clinicians around me including an anaesthetist trying to get a spinal block into my back however I couldn’t sit still due to the contractions. I recall him getting more and more cross and frustrated with the situation and perhaps me due to my lack of cooperation (not on purpose I might add!!). Once the spinal block was in, the process started and the one doctor could not turn her head, nevertheless I was lucky enough that another doctor was available to try. She was successful, however our little baby turned back! At this point, I remember Beth saying ‘you are definitely having a girl because she is being a right diva!’ this made me smile because we didn’t know at this point what we were having. The same doctor managed to turn her again and very much gave the impression that this was my opportunity to push my baby out. Beth was monitoring the baby’s heart rate and feeling my tummy for contractions, when a contraction came I was supported, encouraged and motivated to push as hard as I could three times. I am pretty sure after 3 lots of 3 pushes our baby was born! Forceps were used to help direct her out and I had an episiotomy.
Beth told us we had a baby girl and I was ecstatic because my partner already had a boy so I secretly hoped for a girl! Unfortunately, she was born very startled and with a slightly disfigured chest so was whisked off to the corner of the room for checks. My partner recalls how anxious he felt at this time, nevertheless within 15 minutes of being checked over by the doctors, her chest had recovered and all was good in the world. Well for her anyway… I on the other hand was still lay on my back, legs in stirrups feeling quite uncomfortable whilst the doctors manually removed my placenta which got a little stuck, hence my 1.7 litre blood loss. Due to this loss I started to feel more and more unwell- shaky and sick. By now, our baby girl was in my partner’s arms having lots of lovely cuddles and I couldn’t control my shakes whilst in recovery so had to opt for looking at her and stroking her hand for the first hour and a half of her life. Once I felt better I made up for it with some skin to skin contact and a good feed. Holding her for the first time was just the best medicine for feeling better and this is how I have decided to remember her birth.
11th August 2018. My due date and the date my precious boy arrived into the world. I hadn’t slept much because his movements had changed and I was worrying, so at 8am I rang triage who asked me to come in to be monitored. We very nearly didn’t take the hospital bags as I was so sure I would be sent home, and anyway, we had plans to go to Birdland!
We arrived at Gloucester, I was monitored and told everything was fine so we were just waiting to be told we could go home. The doctor came in to chat and said she wanted to examine me, I was 1-2cm dilated and she could feel baby’s head. So she said we might as well get things moving! We were in complete shock. I immediately needed a nervous poo! I rang my Mum straight away to tell her! I’d been quite chilled towards labour throughout pregnancy, I just think it’s the type of person I am, but this was further backed up from my ante natal classes with Beth at the Bump to Baby Chapter, I started looking forward to labour!
I was wheeled through to delivery suite and was given a pessary. I had a good idea of the induction process because of my ante classes and was fully aware it would probably involve a lot of waiting around, something I wasn’t overly filled with joy about. However, that was not the way it was going to go for me. Within seconds I started contracting. Similar to Braxton Hicks which I had had throughout pregnancy, so I didn’t think too much to begin with. But they didn’t let up, and started getting more frequent and more painful. I remember being told about the pain in labour, and that you needed to concentrate on the breaks between contractions. Well when you’re having seven contractions in ten minutes, there isn’t much of a break! My body didn’t react well to the pain, and I was sick, hot, high heart rate and I had diarrhoea – which I wasn’t too bothered about, better to have a clear out now! Baby wasn’t too much of a fan of the pessary either so they decided to take it out after a while and I had my waters broken. I was given something to slow down the contractions and I was put on fluids for my heart rate. I also had gas and air. Gas and air, for me, really didn’t do much at all, if anything it was something to do and focus on during the contraction and it was also the sign for my husband Rich to start rubbing my back! Once my contractions had slowed down to four every ten minutes, things were great. I knew I could do this! Due to the fluids, I started needing the toilet quite regularly, and the diarrhoea continued. I’ll never forget the image of me on the toilet while my husband was holding my fluid bag! Not once did he ever question it, just gave me love and reassurance. At some point, I decided that I couldn’t be bothered to keep going to the toilet to wee, so I just kept weeing the bed! and to think I was worried about pooing on the bed. When you’re in labour, you just don’t care. I remember apologising to my midwife Louise, but it was a half hearted apology because I knew what I was doing ha!
Anyway, contractions were slower – still painful, but manageable so I asked Rich to put on the gymnastics followed by the athletics. Not what I thought I would be doing during labour at all, but it was great. I loved watching the GB team win the men and women’s 4x100m relays! It was coming up to four hours after my waters had been broken, so I was due to be examined. I asked for more pain relief and said I wanted it no matter how many cm I was dialated. I had diamorphine and again, I don’t think it did much for me, just made my head very woozy! Louise examined me and laughed and said I was 9cm. Both Rich and I laughed, 9cm, how!?? Active labour started at 4cm and I had by passed that without even realising! I knew it wouldn’t be long before I needed to start pushing. I was very fortunate that I had a good friend as my midwife, and then Beth joined us for delivery. I’d been kind of hoping for at least one of them during labour, but to end up with both was amazing! I trusted everything they said, and was able to have a joke and laugh with them. Something I didn’t expect to be doing just as I was about to push!
Pushing, for me, was hard. I’m someone who likes to know exactly what’s what. I think if someone could have said ‘you’ll have 20 contractions then baby will be here’, I would have found it easier. It doesn’t quite work like that though. There were parts when I didn’t think I could do it, when I didn’t think I was getting anywhere. But I was, every contraction meant I was getting closer to meeting my little boy, and Rich, Louise and Beth gave me encouragement throughout. I do remember thinking (I may have even said) that they were lying when they said I was close now. Ha! But they were right, I was getting closer. Rich put on my Disney/Greatest Showman playlist while I was pushing and that definitely helped too! At some point a sanitary towel also appeared on my head too as I was getting hot. Like I said before, you don’t care about anything during labour!
Baby’s heart rate wasn’t very happy and so Louise said we needed to get baby here sooner rather than later, the way she said it, I knew she was being serious but at the same time I didn’t feel panicked at all. She told me that if she cut me she thought there was a 90% chance it would work. I didn’t really care by the point and didn’t hesitate in saying to do it. I wasn’t aware of being cut either. However I still couldn’t get baby’s head out, so they called in a doctor who said they would give me one more contraction on my own before they used a ventouse. I made them promise that there were only three contractions left. One on my own, one with the ventouse and then one for the rest of baby’s body. She promised. It seemed to be exactly what I needed, and that final push on my own was the push that did it! The head was out. It was the weirdest but greatest feeling ever. I waited for my final contraction and started pushing, Louise told me to open my eyes as I pushed and I watched my baby enter the world. Crying before he was even fully out. Sebastian Matthew John was born to Tightrope from Greatest Showman and a song from Moana. After that nothing else mattered apart from my little boy in my arms.
I look back on my birth experience, and I can honestly say I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the seven contractions every ten minutes as I think it made me handle the rest of labour easier. I enjoyed the athletics. I enjoyed the music playlist. I even enjoyed the pain. And I enjoyed the company I had throughout, Ellie my first midwife, Louise my friend and second midwife. Beth, who I’m sure did lots of important things but I only remember her taking some amazing photos! (that sanitary towel was on my head for a long time after birth!!) and of course my husband Rich who was amazing throughout. I smiled, I laughed and I got to meet my little boy. A pretty perfect day if you ask me!
Ok ok I get it.. it’s not the most nicest of subjects to talk about and I’m sure you’re all crossing your legs as you read this 😵. But rather than focusing on how horrid this may be or worse still sticking your head in the sand, start thinking about what YOU are going to do about it!!! Because there’s lots of things that have been shown to lessen the tear, and with around 90% of first time mums having a tear that needs sutures, the more you know the more you can do to help reduce them. Knowledge is power after all. One of the biggest fears expectant mamas have about birth is vaginal tears so I thought I’d do a post on a few things that can be done to lessen the tear (number 6. is one that you can do from 34weeks pregnant.)
1. A warm compress. Having a midwife support the area with a warm compress can reduce tears.
2. Position. Pushing on your left side, all fours or semi- recumbent have been shown to have the lesser tears.
3. Communication- Blow and don’t push when the midwife says. This is so baby’s head can be born SLOWLY.
4. Hands on approach. Having a midwife support your perineum again, especially with a warm compress.
5. Did I mention…
6. Perineal massage- Massaging the perineum with your thumbs (or getting your partner to do it) from 34 weeks with some olive oil has been shown to lessen any tears in first time mums by 10%.
These tips are all evidence based guidelines from the RCM or from an a midwife Julie Frolich who made a care bundle which has been shown to reduce tears.
If we’re talking about tears then we need to talk about recovery and healing.
1. Change your pads regularly to reduce infection.
2. Stay hydrated. It’s concentrated urine that may sting your stitches.
3. A high fibre diet will help with that first post natal poo. That’s dates, prunes, bran, fruit and veg.
4. Tea tree in the bath can aid healing. Other than that you can wash as normal but don’t use soap on the area. And pat dry.
5. Arnica tablets can help with bruising in that area regardless of if you have a tear. Have a look in your local health shop for arnica tablets to take during labour and post birth.
Any questions…? Please comment and I’ll do my best to answer them.
I suppose my birth story starts about 3 weeks before when I attended The Bump To Baby Chapter Hypnobirthing class. I remember saying to Beth, “I’ve only got 3 weeks left and I haven’t practiced at all yet!” but she was confident I would be ok. So after a lovely day, practicing breathing techniques, visualisations and having some yummy lunch I was sent off with the Hypnobirthing book, YesMum cards and MP3’s of the visualisation tracks to practice.
I would say I would probably manage to practice visualisations once a day and tried to do breathing beforehand and also with my husband before bed. This was so that he knew what rate I was counting at so he could be there to get me back on track when I lost focus. Turns out it was more help to him just to manage his stress levels when seeing me ‘in pain’!
Although I use that word loosely as I specifically said that I didn’t want the word pain used at all whilst in labour.
Contractions started just before I went to bed, however being a 1st timer I wasn’t quite sure if they were contractions or not so I just went to sleep as normal, waking about twice in the night with the same feelings… Again, not quite sure if it was anything other then Braxton Hicks/stomach ache, at 5.30am my husband got up for work, I told him about the tightenings and he quite helpfully told me I should maybe call the triage number….to which I replied, “I think you should just stay home from work instead!” 🙂
We spent the day burning Clary Sage, listening to ‘spa’ music and watching a comedy to keep the oxytocin flowing. I’m not going to lie when I think back it was quite a long day waiting but I didn’t mind. When the contractions started to get stronger and last longer, whilst breathing I started reciting the affirmations in my head, ‘Each surge brings you closer to holding your baby in your arms’, ‘The surges can’t be stronger then you because they are you.’
We finally got on our way to the maternity unit at around 7 in the evening. I was aware that sometimes things can slow down once you change your environment so we got settled into the room, put the ‘spa’ music back on and made a brew in true Yorkshire style. The contractions came thick and fast so I got in the pool at around 9pm. I wish I could say I had a water birth as that was the plan but, it wasn’t to be as after quite a few hours, I was made to get out to go to the toilet. Not what you want to hear when your contractions are barely a minute apart… how was I going to make it down the little steps and onto the toilet without having a contraction! The fear started to kick in at this point because I had to deal with something that wasn’t going to be at all comfortable, but thankfully, I managed to stay focused with the breathing and made it to the dreaded toilet. Needless to say, I couldn’t go for a wee (the midwife had thought my bladder was too full, therefore hindering baby coming out) but the toilet was my new favourite place! So much so that at one point the midwife had to pad it out just incase I gave birth on the toilet!! What a joyous way to enter the world that would’ve been! 🙂
After much coaxing I got off the toilet and tried the birthing stool. I would say to anyone when you go on the tour around the birthing units or wards, try out the apparatus just so you know what it feels like. The birthing stool was another unknown to me that throws you off your flow. I moved to the bed/kidney shaped foam thing, with my husband behind me to hold me as I perched on the edge…I was giving all I’d got by this point but my contractions weren’t lasting long enough so the midwife brought in some Jasmine as it’s supposed to help prolong contractions. I would say about 10minutes later my lovely little girl was born. I felt immense relief, joy, love and exhaustion. Amabell weighed 6lb 12oz and I managed the birth with no pain killers or gas and air, all down to the focus Hypnobirthing had provided me with, the mind is one powerful tool!
Oh and then my little bundle of joy wee’d on us…lovely end to the story! 🙂
You can now do the same course that Shani did to learn about birth and the techniques that helped her get the birth she wanted in The Bump to Baby Chapters new ONLINE course. Find out about it here.
In 1982 my mother gave birth to me with the assistance of hypnobirthing. She told me the birth experience was beautiful and she was in control throughout. 30 years later, I was in labour with my first child and I thought my experience would be similar to my mums. That I would be in control. That I would enjoy the experience of bringing a new life into the world. Well, the birth was awful. I felt I was not in control of my body. I was terrified. I kept my eyes shut throughout. I demanded all drugs going and completely lost all faith in myself. It took me a long time to recover physically and mentally. Hence, the long gap of five years before we decided, it was time to try for another.
Determined to be stronger this time and take control again, I was recommended a taster session in Hypnobirthing. I only did NCT previously and didn’t look into Hypnobirthing properly. The course was incredible. I talked through my first experience with other mums and the wonderful Beth from Bump to Baby Chapter. I came away from the meeting feeling empowered and ready to go.
Between the hypnobirthing course and yoga classes, I learnt how to breath, relax and focus. I also met some absolutely fabulous women. I felt that I was stripping back everything medical thrown at me and remembering, as a woman, my body is built to grow a human. An actual human AND its built to give birth. That I should not be scared of the birth, my body will know what to do and I just need to breath, focus and work with it and my baby to get through labour.
9 months and 3 days later, I woke up, got my daughter ready for school and felt a ‘twinge’. The period cramp kind of twinge. The ‘oh yes its finally happening…oh sh*t its finally happening’ kind of twinge. I was meeting a friend for coffee that morning, but as I got to her house, the cramps stopped.
I cracked on with my day as usual, but let the husband know that things might be on the move soon…at some point.
I demanded a curry for tea. But I couldn’t eat it. Not like me at all to refuse food. 9pm came and the cramps returned. We called ahead to my parents who live an hour away, to get over quickly to help look after my daughter. They arrived just after 10pm. I sat bouncing on my ball, visualising, breathing, eating (to keep the energy levels up). Had a few cat naps and by 3am, I was ready to head into hospital.
We arrived at the birthing centre in Gloucester and I explained to the midwife, I wanted a hypnobirth. At this point, everything was manageable. VERY uncomfortable, but manageable. I walked about the room, had a bath and ate some more. But not much was happening with the contractions. They were remaining at the same constant, manageable level of pain. At shift change over we had another midwife. She asked if it was OK to examine me. I agreed. Unfortunately, I hadn’t progressed any further. She gave me another stretch and sweep and said I had two options…. Go home or go out for a few hours. I felt a complete failure and just wanted to go home. So we packed everything up. Walked out of the birth centre door and WHACK a MASSIVE surge. I stopped, cried, breathed and walked further….WHACK….another surge. This happened all the way to the car park. My husband asked what I wanted to do, but I said I had been told to go home, so we were going home.
The journey back to Cheltenham was interesting. I cursed every road bump and pot hole.
As we pulled onto the drive, I thought the baby was about to pop out. I made it to our downstairs toilet, goodness knows how, but I made it. I had a quick wee and then said, HOSPITAL. Well, I screamed HOSPITAL at my husband. I didn’t want to go back to Glos and to be honest, I felt like we wouldn’t make it.
We headed straight to Cheltenham where we were greeted by a midwife at the front entrance. Lisa was incredible. She was the calming, soothing, chilled out midwife I needed. My husband set up the music, so I could listen to the tracks from my yoga classes. I plonked my massive (I was massive) tired body in the birthing pool and I cried. The water was so relaxing and relieved my body straight away. I don’t think I have ever felt such a sensation of relief. I felt, safe.
The contractions remained intense, however, things progressed slowly. I was in the water, on my side out of the water, leaning against the wall, leaning against the husband, on the loo…everything. It was now the afternoon and I was exhausted. My breathing techniques were being helped by gas and air, but I had reached my limit. I asked for my mum…which I never do. I needed some time to recoup ready for the final leg. So they gave me diamorphine. It took the spikey edge off every surge. I was able to have a snooze in between the waves and my hubby even managed to eat a chicken sandwich. Which, I wasn’t aware of.
When the final moment came, I was led on my side, legs, arms, bum entwined with midwife and hubby. I felt like I needed a massive poop. I didn’t experience this sensation in the birth of my daughter, as I had an epidural and by this point had my legs in stirrups in the operating theatre. She was stuck and needed a little helping hand to get out. But, this time round I could feel everything. My body knew exactly what it was doing and I remember thinking, ‘my body can do this. I was built to do this’. Lots of banshee screaming erupted (I had been vocalising my surges most of the birth, but this was on another level of loudness) I could feel the head coming. It didn’t sting. It didn’t hurt. It felt like a HUGE relief, finally I was at the end of this. I was finally going to meet my baby. One last push and out my gorgeous baby came. All 9lb 9 of him! No wonder he had taken so long to get down the birth canal.
My midwife, lisa was such a special lady. She helped calm me down and remind me I can do it in moments when I lost my positive thoughts. She understood hypnobirthing techniques and even had the music we were listening to on her phone. It felt like we were meant to give birth in Cheltenham in the midwifey unit. This was the birth I wanted first time round.
The birth was amazing. Long, painful but amazing. I had given birth to an absolutely beautiful baby boy. I did it naturally (apart from the diamorphine pain relief, which I think helped to save my husbands blood circulation to his hands. They were squeezed a lot during labour) The hypnobirthing along with meeting incredible women, reminded me of what I had achieved with my daughter and what I CAN achieve. Our bodies are incredible, we have got this.
Photo credits Chui King Li Photography