This blog keeps getting more and more requests and I keep putting off writing it, not for any particular reason as I’m more than happy to talk about my birth experience but I do want to make people aware before they read on that it was a VERY positive experience for me. In fact I would go as far as saying that I enjoyed it, dare I even say loved it. Weird? Maybe, but it was the greatest experience and feeling I’ve ever had!
I’m not writing this blog post to brag about my good labour, I am more than aware that sometimes labour doesn’t go as we plan. I had prepared myself mentally for this happening, it just so happens that it did go well.
If you know about the struggles we had trying to conceive then you will be aware that I didn’t dare let myself get excited about this pregnancy until after my 20 week scan, even then the fear of something going wrong or something happening to our little rainbow baby never went away, even when in labour. However I started to prepare my body and mind from 21 weeks onwards for labour and delivery.
At 21 weeks I started attending birthing classes with The Daisy Foundation, I truly believe that these classes helped me prepare and achieve a great birth. I’m not being paid or endorsed in any way to promote The Daisy Foundation either via my blog or my Instagram, I just genuinely LOVE Daisy and choose to tell everyone about it when they ask about my labour. I’m also not saying that attending these classes will guarantee you have a nice smooth labour and delivery, I’m simply telling you my story and how I feel they helped me!
So anyway at 21 weeks I went along to my first block of 6 Birthing Classes in a local church hall. If you decide to do some daisy classes take a pillow and blanket for the relaxation session at the end of class. All this info does come out to you via email if you book! The classes are a good mix of eduction, breathing techniques, relaxation and what I’ll call ‘vent time’! If you’ve ever been pregnant you’ll know sometimes you just need to vent, whether it’s about your husband, your job, your dog or you’re in-laws there’s always an ear at your Daisy class. Sometimes when pregnant the littlest things get to you and being round people in the same situation just helps to lighten the load!
I attended birthing classes up until I was 38 weeks, our teacher Mary was just lovely, she was funny, kind and a really good ‘people person’. The educational side of things is really beneficial especially if you have no idea if what birth entails! Of course we all know we have to push a baby out but you will be educated on different drugs available, coping mechanisms, breathing skills, how to stay active and help dilation and also what can your husband/partner do to help you. I often think they must feel a bit left out, they possibly feel like they don’t have a huge role to play however I really think that they do, I only really began to think about Jay’s role when we attended a Daisy couples class. The class was just one morning and it was very beneficial. The men learned the same breathing skills as us so that during labour if we were to ever panic then they could start the same breathing in the hope we would mimic them (this worked for me, more on that later) they were taught massage techniques and a few other tricks to help ease contractions. Overall the class was good to give the men some ideas on how not to feel so useless.
Anyway back to labour, I was 6 days overdue and my parents were due to fly out on holiday on the 7th day (booked before I fell pregnant!) so they came over for dinner the night before they were due to fly. We got curry ( I’d tried all the usual old wives tales prior to this so what harm would it do!) I hate spicy food so had a korma which isn’t even spicy but we all had a laugh about how it could start labour! They left and Jay and I got tidied up and headed for an early night! That day I’d been for a lash top up (those who know me know I love having my lashes done!) and I’d actually curled my hair for the first time in about 2 weeks. Towards the end of pregnancy your winning at life if you get out your PJ’s so curling your hair is quite the accomplishment!
That night I woke about 4am with what I thought was a Braxton hick contraction, I’d had a few throughout my pregnancy and just had in my head it would be a few more days before baby made an appearance so I went to the loo then got back into bed. Then I had another one within a few minutes, then another and another. Jay by this point was up and wanting to time them. I said there was no need, I was convinced this wasn’t the real thing. They weren’t painful hence why I was sure it was braxton hicks! I decided to go downstairs and go on my birthing ball just incase (that and if my waters were to break I didn’t want it happening on our new carpets!) I didn’t go on the birthing ball, I just leaned on the back of the dining chair and rotated my hips (rotate to dilate had been drummed into me by Daisy!) Jay had started to time them as we knew we should phone the hospital if I was having more than 3 contractions within 10 minutes. I was having 4 so I finally let him call! They always ask to speak to you, total inconvenience but they can probably gauge how much pain you’re in over the phone! They explained that due to this being our first baby it’s probably going to be a long road yet, I was expecting this to. I’d prepared my mind for at least 48 hours of this and I was more than ready. I was geared up for the long haul, the midwife asked us to make our way in just to be checked. She told us not to bring any bags for me or baby and not to bother with the car seat as we were more than likely going home to continue labouring until I was further dilated. We had a list by the door of all the things we needed, hospital notes, water bottle in fridge, tens machine, bags, car seat etc etc! We put it all in the car on a just in case basis bar the car seat for baby. We were convinced we would be back home for that before baby came!
It’s now 6.10am and were in the car on the way, I couldn’t sit down so I used that handle thing that’s on the roof of the car to pull myself up, the main motorway to our hospital had been closed on and off for the last few weeks for road works. We had been checking each night if it was open or closed and thankfully it was open! We got parked outside the hospital on the street and made our way to the entrance. As it was during the night/early morning you need to be buzzed in, we made our way up in the lift and into reception. Jay was handing over my notes as I hung onto the wall rotating and breathing through another contraction (about the fifth since leaving the car!). A midwife took us into a triage bay and said she would be back shortly to check on us. I’m not sure how long it was, possibly 10 minutes but a girl in a bay next to me was on the gas and air and I overheard her examination and she was only at 2cm. Oh boy I thought, I hope I’m further on than that but I think that also mentally prepared me to possibly be told I’m only a few cm dilated. The midwife came in and asked me to hop onto the bed, I remember telling her she better be quick as I wanted to be standing and active for all my labour and not sitting/lying or hooked to a monitor! A quick check and she said “your already 6cm dilated, you’re going straight to a delivery suite” . I then said “Oh I wanted a water birth, please tell me there’s a pool available” . It was already being filled when we arrived at the delivery room (phew!)
I was offered gas and air and decided to take it, many people can tell you exactly where they had labour pains (in the bump or lower back, some people even feel it in their thighs), for me though I just remember feeling heavy, like I was a dead weight, I couldn’t hold myself up and with each contraction I hung onto Jays arms, I could see he was shaking trying to hold me up and I kept asking if he was ok!! Within a few minutes the pool was ready, I got into the water and instantly that heavy feeling lifted, it was amazing! I knew the two midwives in the room were reading my birthing plan as within a few minutes the lights were dimmed and the blinds were rolled down. I’m the sort of person who goes into themselves when they need to concentrate, I need little interruptions and I had written all this down for the midwives. I’d basically asked to be left to do my own thing and that they only intervene if medically necessary. I was in the pool at 7.25am, I remember checking the clock as I’d asked the two midwives in the room what their names were but they told me not to try to remember as their shift was ending at 7.30 so I would be getting new midwives. The swap happened and I remember shouting thank you to them as they left the room!
The new midwives came in and told me their names, I only remember one as she was the one that stayed in the room the entire time. Bernie was her name and she was lovely! The second midwife dips in and out the room but will always be present for delivery. I told the midwives I’d felt a pop, finally my waters had broken and they came with the big mirror on the stick to check progress (is that to graphic? well you guys asked for this blog so you’re getting at least some detail!) both midwives had a look and I heard them saying they could see vernix (this is the white waxy coating on the baby’s skin, well they have had to live in water for near 10 months!) the second midwife left the room again. Every so often babies heartbeat would be checked via a doppler, for this to happen I had to pull myself out the water slightly, something I found near impossible as I was heavy as lead! Bernie put a little button on the chair next to Jay and told him to press it when she says. I’d drummed it into Jay about an emergency button behind the bed so she must have sensed his fear and explained that all it would do is bring in the second midwife when baby was ready to deliver . She had another look with her giant mirror and told Jay to press the button. “Already?” I said “Is she coming now” , “Yea this baby is on her way”.
The second midwife arrived and they asked Jay if he wanted to have a look. We had discussed this prior to labour and he decided that he probably wouldn’t like to but he then said “yea”. So there they all are with a giant mirror watching a baby come out me! He came back round with tears in his eyes and said “she’s got hair”. Don’t know why but we both thought she would be bald, maybe its Jay’s lack of hair! I said “that’s your little girl” and he started to bubble. Don’t cry I said I still need to push her out. I told Bernie I needed to push, go with what your body tells you. So I start to push. I’m still using my Daisy breathing and hear Mary’s voice in my head telling me to relax in-between contractions, so I relax my whole body and then WHACK! I bang my forehead off the side off the pool, I think I relaxed a bit too much! I didn’t even have time to process that before another urge to push came. Bernie then told me to lean back, normally when this happens they need you to change position to get the baby out but then she said “When you lean back just reach down and catch her” . Eh what now? Come again? She’s coming like now? She sure was, I leaned back and then next minute I’m holding our little miracle baby.
Its 8.13am, she had arrived after being in the pool less than an hour and only 4 hours of labour. We had some cuddles and skin to skin in the pool and then it was time to get out, to get her warmed up and for me to get dry. Baby is still attached via the cord so it was a bit of a juggle for me to get up the steps and out the pool onto the bed while Bernie held baby! We had lots of skin to skin and then Jay cut the cord. We had also asked for delayed umbilical clamping as this has so many health benefits for baby, we asked for it not to be done until it had stopped pulsing. This can provide baby with an extra 30% blood volume, higher levels of red blood cells and improved iron levels – why wouldn’t you do it?! Jay also had skin to skin with baby while I was cleaned up and we discussed names for her!
During labour I kept telling Jay not to call my mum and dad as I didn’t want to ruin their holiday plans as I had fully prepared myself for a long labour. Turns out he had called when I was in the pool after Bernie told him to, I didn’t even notice. He had to ask them to go to our house to collect Alfie and the car seat! He then text them a picture, my dad told me later that when he opened it he said to my mum “eh she’s had the baby already!” It was pretty quick I guess! I did tell them not to change their holiday it but who wouldn’t want to meet their first grandchild the day they were born!
So there we have my labour and delivery story, I must say the stitches after the birth were 1000x worse than labour itself, you can tear worse with a water birth as your body can’t feel how much it needs to adjust during the pushing stage because the heat from the water stops the ‘ring of fire’ as I like to describe it!
Taking care of yourself after delivering a baby is so important whether its via caesarean section or vaginal delivery. I’d bought ‘spritz for bitz’ by a company called ‘My expert midwife’ and found this a great relief for the weeks following birth, a wee spray would soothe the sting in the early days and then take the itch out the healing stitches as the weeks go on! Another great thing to buy is a reusable ice pack, I would sit on it for 20 mins or so before bed while feeding Erica, it really helped the swelling and was such a welcome relief. I got one from “Boots’ and it was gel crystals inside so would mould to your body shape. Buy lots of cheap muslins to wrap it in and just bin them afterwards, godsend!
The hours following birth were just amazing, we stayed in the delivery room until around 4pm just having cuddles and deciding on her name, we waited till mid morning before telling anyone else she had arrived as we wanted to have a name first. We decided to name her Erica Joyce, Erica after my dad and papa (Eric) and Joyce after my nanny who lived in London. Jay named her and it just suits her perfectly, my mum and dad were overjoyed with the name and couldn’t believe it! There were a few names on our list but none of them quite suited her the same as Erica Joyce!
If anyone would like to ask any questions about our water birth then please send a DM or leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help!
On a final note a HUGE thank you to all the midwives working tirelessly around the clock to deliver these beautiful babies, to all the auxiliary nurses, surgeons, cleaners, cooks, reception workers and anyone else working for the NHS who helped care for us in these short 24 hours, your all amazing and deserve a medal!