Welcome to this Directory of Positive Birth Stories!

If you felt the experience of birthing your baby was positive, then we want to hear it! Please email it to bristolpositivebirthstories@yahoo.co.uk

You don’t have to have had a home birth free from medication to contribute; we want to collect a diversity of stories. You don’t need to leave out the gory or difficult bits either, just don’t glorify them here please. The intention of this directory is to create a community within which there is a culture of confidence around labor and birth. Visit the “about” page to read a little more about it or simply scroll down to read some stories!

The birth of a second baby boy

A home birth transferred to hospital but still really positive!

This is the birth story of my second son born at the end of February 2013 and weighing ten pounds 8oz. We had hoped for a home birth but he was born in hospital after a transfer by ambulance. However don’t worry it’s still a positive story!

By the time my labour started I was twelve days past my due date. In a last ditch attempt to kickstart things I went for a walk of about two miles mid-afternoon which with my pelvic pain (SPD) was no mean feat. This brought on lots of aches and pains, however it wasn’t clear if this was labour or SPD. I noticed my first discernible contraction at 6.30pm amidst feelings of general achiness.

Unlike Bub (who was back-to-back) this baby was in a more favourable position. However I still felt the contractions mainly in my lower back. But they were different to last time as there was a gap in between contractions where I felt no pain. The SPD achiness remained throughout though.

For a while I was a bit ‘is it? isn’t it starting?’ as the contractions were mild and sporadic. But we packed Bub off to my sister just in case, he left around 8.30pm. By this stage I was sat on my birth ball and knew this was it. Was trying to appear fine in front of Bub was really wanted him out of there before things became more intense.

Once Bub was gone we then called the midwives via the out of hours number. I said that I was coping fine at the moment but wanted to alert them that labour had started. My contractions were around 30 seconds long and coming every 3-5 minutes. I could easily talk through them and was doing fine – it definitely felt more manageable than the early stages of Bub’s birth. My partner started to fill the birth pool. I put on my TENS machine and lit a lavender and clary sage oil burner in the living room. I then went back to my trusty birth ball.

A little later the midwife, Ann, called me. She said she was happy to come out when needed. She was half an hour away and I should call when I felt labour was more established or if my waters broke.

At this stage I was mostly sitting on the birth ball. I was able to be much more mobile than with Bub and could also walk a bit and sometimes leant forward on the ball or over the sofa. I put on a film I’d been saving, Kick Ass, and watched that. Everything felt quite chilled and relaxed, I even had a cup of raspberry tea. My contractions still felt fine, though I now had to focus on them. I started doing my breathing – in for four, out for six. I continued this throughout my contractions from now on.

As the film ended (around 10.30pm?) I turned off the tv and sat in the darkened room mostly on the birth ball. My contractions got more intense and I asked my partner to time them on his iPad so we could inform the midwife. We did this for about an hour. They were mainly 45 seconds long but coming every 2.5-3 minutes. Occasionally they were longer and further apart but this was the general pattern. Changing position tended to lead to a gap and then some longer ones. This was all a bit confusing as I’d expected them to last longer but be further apart, coming closer together as labour progressed. But mine were already pretty close together, albeit only short. This made it quite hard to estimate how far along we were and whether to call the midwife or not.

We called Ann around 11.30pm and updated her on the situation. She said she’d come straight over. I moved position to leaning over sofa and the contractions immediately got more intense. Felt like moved up a gear to ‘challenging’ for first time and I was very glad the midwife was on her way.

Ann arrived around midnight and did various checks on me and the baby. Fortunately he was fine but my blood pressure was high. She said it was too high for a home birth. However Ann said she’d check again shortly and also maybe after a vaginal examination (VE) if I was far on enough I could go in birth pool for 15 minutes as this might help lower the reading to a safer level.

My blood pressure (BP) had been fine throughout pregnancy but rose to borderline at five days overdue. It stayed on or around borderline for the rest of pregnancy and I spent time in the hospital day assessment unit. Here it normalised enough for me to retain the ok for home birth. However in labour my BP spiked up from borderline to high. I’ve no idea of the cause for any of this though I wonder if my fears about labour and in particular being induced played a part.

A bit later (around 1pm?) Ann did a VE and said I was 6cm dilated. I did feel a tad disappointed about this as I had been 3-4cm dilated the previous day.

Ann then got out the gas and air to see if using this reduced my BP but it didn’t. All the BP checks she took were just as high. There was no more talk of using the pool and I have to say I felt no inclination to get in only to have to get out again if we were to transfer. Plus I didn’t want to lose my TENS machine which was proving helpful.

Ann said she’d need to call the delivery suite and get me transferred into hospital. The BP readings were too high. This wasn’t a discussion, it was going to happen. I wasn’t inclined to argue though. It would be a shame not to have Baby at home but I had been disappointed by only being 6cm dilated. If this was going to be a long haul then I consoled myself by deciding to request lots and lots of painkillers ASAP on arrival.

Ann called the delivery suite. However our local hospital was closed due to being too busy so they agreed I would be taken to the other big hospital across the city.

Ann updated my partner who had been upstairs googling high blood pressure in birth. He’d pretty much figured we’d be transferring into hospital and was packing a few things. I had done a hospital bag and baby bag but he had the foresight to grab stuff like our coats, purses and my glasses which weren’t packed. My main concern was whether my partner would be able to travel in the ambulance with me (he was).

The ambulance arrived in what felt like a quick time but was probably about 1.30am. I’d been using the gas and air and sitting on the sofa rocking back and forwards. The contractions felt strong and frequent. I was pretty sanguine about going to hospital, I resolved to seek an epidural as things were now very painful and I felt it might still be some time as I was only 6cm dilated and my waters hadn’t broken.

I walked to the ambulance between contractions. I felt a bit like I needed to use the toilet but I didn’t want the pain of trying to do this without entonox and things were all very efficient and bustling once the ambulance arrived so I had no real chance to do this.

In the ambulance I lay on my right side on a stretcher, sucking on entonox for dear life. Fortunately the ambulance was equipped and my midwife ensured the supply was immediately available. I couldn’t reach my TENS to boost it so I had to leave this and instead focused on the gas and air.

I had all kinds of odd thoughts on route in the ambulance. I was worried that when we arrived I’d have a long way to walk and that we’d have to go sit in a waiting room before being allocated a hospital room. I also worried I’d have to fill in loads of paperwork before being ‘allowed’ to labour. All a bit mad but there we go – in hindsight I think this was transition but also highlights the need to be informed about the home to hospital transfer process if only to put aside any worrisome doubts.

Throughout the journey I had a niggling feeling of needing a wee and poo. This wasn’t a pushy feeling but a vague awareness during contractions. I was aware enough not to want to soil myself in ambulance and felt unsure how I’d cope having to use loo very soon after getting to hospital.

The journey was very quick, I’m grateful that it was in the middle of the night. My partner had his hand on my head and was holding a lavender air freshener which was a smell I associate with relaxation. Imagine he looked like a bit of a banana wafting it about but it was very thoughtful of him to bring it.

Once we arrived (around ten past 2am) I was pushed straight into a delivery room on the ambulance stretcher. Still sucking on entonox this was all rather surreal as we rushed through a deserted waiting room.

In the delivery room I had to stand to move from the stretcher to the bed but just at this point my waters broke during a contraction. My clothes were all soaked and I was helped to pull off my trousers.

I lay on my right hand side on the bed and everything was all very intense now. I asked for an epidural and was told it was too late. I felt mortified – could I be pushing for ages or getting interventions with no pain relief? However the next push someone said I was going to have the baby very soon and lifted my top leg. They weren’t wrong. In no more than three or four pushes my baby was out. I was screaming. I was in a lot of pain but also euphoric it might be over soon.

Baby was born at 2.20am. It all happened so fast the ambulance men were still in the room for the birth, plus Ann my midwife who was only there to ensure successful transfer. My second stage was recorded on my notes as being four minutes long. I feel rather fortunate it didn’t all happen in the ambulance (or maybe at home if I had followed my instincts and gone to the loo before transfer!)

Baby gave a cry and was lifted onto my tummy. Because of the high blood pressure Ann had explained earlier that they recommended I have the injection to bring out the placenta. My partner cut Baby’s cord almost immediately and he was taken to one side for examination. I had the injection and my placenta came out quickly and easily. A little later my BP was taken again and was NORMAL! It remained normal for every check after this point.

Soon Baby was handed back to me (in a nappy, which I hadn’t requested and is actually the only bit of the process that I wasn’t happy about.) We had a cuddle and I soon latched him on for a feed. When weighed he was 10 pounds 8oz (this large size was anticipated as his brother was 10 pounds 2oz.)

All in all I consider this to be a positive birth story even if it did involve a hospital transfer. The whole transfer to hospital went very smoothly and wasn’t a negative experience at all. It would have been lovely if Baby had arrived at home but my experience of hospital was completely fine. We were there for about 14 hours and came home at 4pm on the day Baby was born. The only sad thing was that my partner had to leave us when we went to the ward so from 5am to 9am he had to hang around the waiting room downstairs.

Hope this birth story is of interest and shows that even hospital transfer doesn’t necessarily prevent a positive birth experience. I’m still very pleased I tried for a home birth as my early labour was no doubt helped by me being more relaxed (and I imagine my BP was helped a bit too.) But having to transfer was totally fine and I’m grateful to have had the assistance of the midwives, ambulance crew and everything else when required.

Mia born at home

A Vaginal Birth After Caesarean!

I’d been having Braxton hicks since 16 weeks of pregnancy so they were nothing new. Had started getting period pains for about a week on and off. But I started having more regular ones the few evenings before wed night. I had this with my last pregnancy so started to feel maybe something might happen soon. Had a bit of a panic though as I could tell baby had moved round to “Right Occiput Transverse” (ROT) and was not moving from there. So spent the day tues and wed on the ball, on all fours and in the pool.

Wednesday night about 10pm got period type pains again and Braxton hicks started coming every couple of minutes and were short about 30 seconds apposed to my normal ones that would last a good few minutes. So I knew this was different and thought yep this is it. I went up stairs to bed to try to sleep as they weren’t painful just a bit uncomfortable and my last labour started at this sort of time of day and I wanted to be as rested as possible. 2 hours later hubby came to bed and I was still awake. I mentioned I had some tummy pains but played it down as wanted to just keep it calm and relaxed. He went off to sleep while I laid there either on my left side or propped on my front using my hypnobirthing breathing. By 1am they were starting to get painful and I decided to move to my birth room, set up the lights, music and put on the tens. I went to the bathroom and had a bloody show. I woke hubby and we went downstairs and got things set up.

About 2am i called the delivery suite as my community midwife had said she wanted to know sooner rather than later that i was in labour as they liked to get their things set up as they don’t leave home birth packs at home round here. Also being a “Vaginal Birth After Caesarean” (VBAC) she said would prefer to be around even if hands off. I had no problems with this so rang delivery suite. Women on phone useless and said if I could breath through them and they were only lasting 30 seconds then I wasn’t in labour despite the contractions only being 1 and half minutes apart. I said my last labour had close contractions and started just like this and having had a show I was sure I was in labour. She asked about my last labour and started to try to go through the risks of home vbacs, i said i knew already and had been through this. yet she wasn’t concerned enough clearly to send a midwife to check me. She said have a rest, bath and ring back in a few hours if they get worse but would probably stop as unlikely in labour.

So I used the tens and my hypnobirthing breathing. By 3.30am they were lasting 50 seconds, were painful and every 1.30 minutes still. I had a fair bit of bloody show. It took over 15 minutes to get through to the delivery suit on the emergency number! I left Hubby to do this as I was trying to stay in the zone. Also got him to contact Chloe my doula.  Hubby eventually persuaded the delivery suite I needed a midwife, after a fair bit of discussion. They said they would ring the community midwife and she would call us.

Chloe arrived around 4am I think. Midwives still hadn’t rung so hubby tried again and they said midwife was on her way. I was struggling a little with the pain and feeling some pressure so really felt I needed a midwife and felt a little panicky they weren’t here as the contractions were so close and intense. I got in the pool which helped. Midwife arrived 10 minutes later at 4.30am I requested gas and air not long after this as had been feeling a bit overwhelmed and wanted help. She said she wanted to examine me so I had to get out of the pool. I knew I didn’t have too but I felt I needed some reassurance something was happening and didn’t want to fight over getting the gas and air and also wanted to prove to her I was dilating and in labour. So managed to get out and struggle through an exam. She declared I was in labour (no shit!) and about 4cm and should wait for the gas and air if I could as only limited supplies at home and going to be a while yet.

I felt really deflated by this news. I felt things were really intense. Contractions were as much on as off and lasting a minute but only 1 and half minutes apart so no rest. I started to doubt myself. The midwife said she needed to go get some water birth stuff as useless southmead hadn’t told her it was a water birth. As I was only 4cm she had time to go the the hospital and back (about 40mins round trip). When she left I decided to use tens first and Chloe and Olly were great at reassuring me that it was ok I was only 4 cm and actually it meant nothing. Was great to have Chloe saying it as I knew it was true but felt I had miles to go still. I managed to calm my breathing and get my hypnobirthing under control and use the tens for about another 30 mins and calm right down which I think probably really help get the oxytocin going again. Contractions were really cranking up and I felt lots of low pressure. I wanted to try to stay out of the pool until the midwife returned but couldn’t and got back in about 10 mins before she returned at about 5.45am I think. I really wanted gas had air then and the midwife got that sorted. She remarked I sounded much further along and thinks seemed to be cranking up. I could have told her that! So I started the gas and air and that was great, real relief. Just took the edge off and helped me stop the panicking I had started that I couldn’t do it and cope with the pain. I started feeling very pushy not long after that. Midwife was great and didn’t insist on examining me or mess me about. Didn’t really notice her there. She said just go with it. I started making a lot of noise and making some very silly comments about the fact i should have had a c-section and next time i will, so I guess I’d hit transition. My waters went not long after 6am.

I then felt the real urge to push and suddenly realised what people mean when they say you just know. My god was it a strange feeling and totally different to the pushing sensation I had been feeling for some hours. Totally unique. It was very exciting. Tried to resist the pushing too much and let my body get on with it as wanted to breath baby out gently. That worked for a bit but then I panicked. Last time I got to this stage although couldn’t feel it as had a semi working epidural. But last time everyone kept saying I was doing so well and could see the hair and it wouldn’t be long etc but then admitted actually baby wasn’t moving down at all. I felt déjà vu as I asked if I was close and if you could see the head and every one said I was close and this was it but then the midwife said she couldn’t see anything yet and asked me to just lean back so she could listen to check babies heartbeat as hasn’t appeared yet. This totally panicked me as I thought oh my god its a repeat of last time, babies stuck I’m gonna push and nothing’s going to happen and we will end up transferring. So when she said heart beat was fine I then pushed with the next few contractions and baby moved down super quickly as I felt it and felt the head crown. At which point I tried to back off pushing but was a bit late by then. So did end up with a second degree tear which I knew was the panics fault but never mind. Managed to gently get the rest of the head out and felt down to my babies head and hair. The most amazing feeling in the world. I knew this was it almost here. The gap waiting for the next contraction was fantastic knowing I was almost there and getting that little rest. Then with one quick motion at the next contraction the body was out and I caught her with a little help from the midwife to bring baby to surface as cord was round her neck and body. Midwife unlooped it as I held her. She was born at 6.45am. The second midwife arrived just after she was born. Took them all by shock I had got from 4cm at 4.30am to delivering at 6.45am. My second stage was only 15minutes, total labour from first niggles 8hrs.

It was amazing. She was really calm and didn’t cry for a few seconds. Everything was really calm and we just let her start breathing in her own time as the cord kept pulsing. Then i checked the sex and announced we had another girl. I was in total shock that I had done it. Olly was in tears. We had a cuddle and my mum popped her head in to see her new granddaughter. Then midwife suggested we got out of the pool to deliver the placenta as pool was a little dirty! I got out and laid on the mattress on the floor and had skin to skin and cuddles with Olly. The cord stopped pulsing and olly cut it after 10 minutes.The placenta delivered naturally 5 minutes later. Olly had skin to skin while I got stitches and Mia was weighed. Then I breast fed and my older daughter came to meet her new baby sister who was less than an hour old.

The midwives did their clearing up and notes and mum made us breakfast. So we had tea and croissants. It was fantastic and all we could hope for. The midwife was really good and basically let us get on with it. She took my blood pressure once at the beginning and just did the one exam. She didn’t mention the scar once and I didn’t even give it a passing thought until after the labour. In fact she was barely there for most of the labour as came for half an hour then left and was only back for less than 2hrs before delivery. So was lovely and peaceful and very intimate with just those around I wanted.

Bit stiff and sore now but feeling amazing compared to last time and the difference from not having a section is immense. I probably could have done it without tearing if I hadn’t had the panic moment and pushed but we can’t have everything and I’m sure the stitches will heal fine. Mia is amazing and such a quiet, cuddly and content baby with no bruising and marks. So different to poor Aliona after her birth. I already feel really bonded to her despite getting very little sleep since the birth. Whereas last time I just felt so distant and tired and blamed poor Aliona and couldn’t bond for a long time and just cried.  Mia I just don’t want to put down.

 

The Birth of Ridley James

First baby hospital birth with an epidural and Salt n Pepper’s “Push it”!

 I had always wanted a hospital birth for the first baby because I didn’t know what to expect and as a nervous first time mother wanted every available assistance on hand “just in case”.  I also knew from friends’ experiences that babies have their own agenda and things don’t always go as planned.  I really wanted a water birth but if that wasn’t possible and the labour was long I wanted gas and air and as a last resort an epidural.  We chose St Michael’s because I had been born there and my best friend Holly who was a trainee midwife at the time was working there.

 Four days before I was due, I woke on the Tuesday night/early hours of Wednesday with mild period like pains.  I had experienced something similar earlier in the week and had been told it was just the baby moving down.  I went to the loo and then back to sleep.  I woke again about 4am with the same mild pains but just turned over and went back to sleep.  At 6am I woke again – strangely the pains were still there, they hadn’t disappeared like the last time.  I noticed there was a wave like quality to them, they came and went and it dawned on me “this might be it!”.  I tried not to get too excited but gently prodded my husband James awake and told him what I was feeling.  I then ran a bath and started using my contraction timer app on my iPhone.  They were every 5-6 minutes apart lasting between 45-60 seconds but it was still a very mild pain.  I sat in the bath reading and told James to carry on and go to work as it didn’t feel like anything major was happening, there was no show or waters breaking.  The pain got a little stronger and as he was about to walk out the door at 9am I asked him to stay home as they were still every 5 minutes.

 I got out of the bath and put on the tens machine we had rented from the doctors surgery.  It didn’t seem to be working well and when James pushed a wire back in place he gave me the biggest shock ever – ouch that did hurt!  After sticking the wire with Sellotape to the machine so it worked properly I played around with the boost button etc and it seemed to work more as a distraction than anything else.

 In one of the birth stories read at our NCT classes, a woman bounced on a birthing ball while playing Mario Kart, we liked the sound of that so did that for most of the morning and I got pretty good, just pausing to hit my boost button on the tens machine every time a contraction hit.  I telephoned Holly who was going to be my second birthing partner and told her I thought things were happening.  It was a lovely summer day so I kept as active as possible  walking around the garden and making lunch.

 Holly came around and felt my tummy as I was contracting and seemed impressed they were that frequent and regular, but she told me not to be disheartened, I probably wasn’t in labour – I was too happy.  We watched Housewives of Orange County and sure enough sitting down doing nothing my contractions became less frequent, the longest gap being 20 minutes.  Holly had to go to work and said goodbye, it was around 3pm.

 I sat down again taking the tens machine off and switching off my app feeling bitterly disappointed.  Then I thought “ No – this IS going to happen”, with a new found determination I started pacing around the garden listening to Kylie Minogue stopping for a little bounce every time a contraction hit.  I went from lapping the garden 3 times between each contraction to having 1 every time I passed the flower boxes.

 They started getting quite painful and I put the tens machine back on.  James reminded me if I was going to have a baby I shouldn’t wear myself out so I came in and started watching Catch Me if You Can. I phoned my Mum while alternating bouncing on the birthing ball and sitting on an upright armchair.  I had to pull the phone away 3 times during our 15 minute conversation.  I then had a big glass of white wine with my tea!  I realised I wasn’t able to follow the story much because the contractions were really hurting so I switched up the tens machine.  I had only had a tiny spot of blood and no show or waters so I was waiting for the contractions to happen more frequently before we went into hospital, I really didn’t want to go in and be sent home again.  The pain was getting really bad and I kneeled by the side of the bed gripping a pillow saying “never again!”.

 I phoned up St Michaels and told them what was happening, they said to come in when I was having 3 contractions in 10 minutes.  I paced up and down the hallway upstairs timing them and as soon as I hit 3 in 10 minutes I said to James – lets go!

 The car journey was painful but short and uneventful.  We arrived at about 10.30 and were shown into a delivery room quickly by Amy who would be my first midwife.  The excitement was back again as there I was, in hospital about to have my baby!  Amy said kindly that she didn’t think I was in labour – I was too happy.  My face fell and I asked her to examine me – she said of course and they would never send someone home without checking first.  I was 4 cms – “YES! active labour”  I wasn’t going to be sent home.  I asked for the birthing pool and she went to start filling it up.  James bought my suitcase in.  Throughout my whole pregnancy my blood pressure had been perfect, however on the big day it was very high.  I couldn’t have my water birth as she wanted to put a trace on me.  I was a bit disappointed but as James had reminded me, the baby hadn’t read our birth plan and obviously had its own ideas!

 James phoned Holly who said she would get a bit of sleep and be in later.  I tried gas and air and found I absolutely hated it, it made my heart race – feel dizzy, sweaty and sick.  Every contraction felt like I was hyperventilating.  I had taken off the tens machine before lying down because it didn’t feel like it was working anymore.  The contractions felt a lot more painful and so I tried getting up and having a little walk as that had helped at home but I just ended up doubling over the bed too nervous to let go.  I remember seeing James’ worried face but I can’t remember him saying anything to me (apparently he talked almost non stop) I was lost in my own world dreading each contraction.  Every time one came along I tensed up and then after it had peaked I would remember to relax my muscles and instantly the pain would ease up.  But each time I did the same thing – tensing at the worst bit unable to think followed by remembering to relax at the end.

 At 2 am I was examined again and was 6 cms.  I was hoping to be further than that – it could be another 8-10 hours before I was ready to push.  I tentatively asked for an epidural expecting to be told ‘your doing so well, you should carry on‘ but quick as a flash Amy was gone to find the anesthetist.  She was very lucky and managed to catch him before he was going into surgery otherwise I would have had to wait an hour and a half.  Holly arrived just as I was meeting Dr Dave.   I didn’t really notice the injections, they were nothing compared to a contraction.  I sat on the edge of the bed trying to stay as still as possible wondering how I was going to do it when a contraction hit.  I let them know when they were coming and it seemed in no time at all I was lying back down and being told it should take 20-30 minutes to take effect.  The contractions got less and less painful and then I was back in the room!  What a relief!  James was noticeably more relaxed and I was able to hold a conversation.  Dr Dave came back into check on me and I commented on what soft hands he had and how I could kiss him for taking all the pain away.  Holly and James were in hysterics after he left!  “Only you could flirt with someone, while in labour in front of your husband” Holly said.

 I could still feel my legs and noticed I needed the loo, I asked to wheel the drip into the toilet but was told I couldn’t and was given a bed pan, everyone left while I dubiously crouched over the cardboard thing on the bed – so awkward!  After 5 minutes I still couldn’t “go” so Amy came in and switched on the tap and left again.  That did it.

When they came back in she fitted a catheter.  James said afterwards that Dr Dave had passed in the hallway while they were all out there and said I could have gone to the toilet – but where would be the fun in that!

 We then spent the next few hours listening to my iPod,  Holly and James chatted and I managed to sleep a bit.  At 4.30am I was examined again, I was still around 6 cms.  Amy suggested she break my waters.  I talked it over with James and Holly.  I was worried that if we started intervening it would lead to more and eventually a cesarean.  I also knew that the longer labour went on the more likely things would get difficult.  I asked Holly and she said if it were her, she would do it.  That was enough for me so out came the crocheting needle.

 I went back to sleep and at 6am when I was checked I was fully dilated.  I was told to roll on my side to put the baby in the best position.  I asked Holly whether she wanted to deliver.  She had originally said no but having gone out to get some breakfast and coffee for her and James she felt full of energy again and wanted to do it.  Amy sadly had to leave us as her shift had finished.  She had been by my side the whole time and was absolutely fantastic.

 Michelle came in and after talking with Holly said she was happy for her to deliver.  She cleared the room like an old fashion matron and we felt like naughty teenagers that had been slobbing around.  She apologised in advance for her direct manner but said it was the best way to get the baby out – I said I didn’t mind at all just tell me what to do.

 Then it was time to push.  We put on the playlist I had made especially starting with Salt n Pepper “Push it” of course.  I was on my side first of all but it really didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere.  I then sat up and with James holding one leg and me the other I started to push.  My face went bright red and I held my breath.  Michelle said “that was rubbish, do it again – not into your face, into your bottom”.   The next one was better and then I really started to get the hang of it.  With each push I could feel the baby wriggle down getting ready for the next one. Babba was leading the way!  AC/DC, Pendulum and the Prodigy spurred me on.  I could feel everything (the stinging) but the pain was not bothering me (not sure if that was the residual epidural or adrenaline or that the contractions were so bad this wasn’t painful in comparison) .  I could feel right before I tore but had been told that the baby’s heart rate was dropping with every contraction and if it went on for much longer I could end up with an emergency Caesarean.  This didn’t worry me – I knew with complete confidence I was pushing this baby out and when a doctor came in to check progress, Michelle told him this.

 After an episiotomy (my worst fear! – but wasn’t painful, more of a relief).  Holly said she could see the hair and told me to feel it’s head!  I couldn’t believe my little one had hair – both James and I had been bald babies.  With another few pushes the head was out and with another one the baby was out!  At 10.01am on Thursday the 23rd June 2011 my Son was born to “Breaking the Law” by Judas Priest.  Holly announced loudly “It’s a boy”- just like I’d asked her to.  In my birth plan I had asked for the baby to be cleaned off before given to me (they looked so icky on One Born Every Minute).  However Michelle plonked him straight on my chest and I wouldn’t have had it any other way, a second away from him was too long.  He cried, James cried and I cried.  It was the best moment of my life, the rush of unconditional love and happiness was overwhelming and James and I both carried on sobbing long after our newborn Son had stopped.

 Holding him in my arms looking at his blinking blue eyes, I said to James “I still really want to call him Ridley”.  We had discussed names and had a favourite for a boy and a girl but it wasn’t set in stone, we wanted to meet the little one first.

 The little blue hat I had bought was put on Ridley and the pink one put away.  James put him in a tiny baby grow but he still looked like he was swimming in it!  7lb6oz – my friend Helen had won the sweepstake I thought!

 I tried breast feeding him and he latched easily but the pain was very unexpected.  “It feels like an electric shock”  I said to Holly, “like the most painful lovebite”.  After 10 minutes it still didn’t feel any better.  I couldn’t believe how enormous my left breast was compared with his head, it looked like I was going to suffocate him!  I had made a promise to myself before Ridley was born that I would enjoy everything as much as possible and put his and my happiness above everything else.  I didn’t want to dread feeding him, its supposed to be special.  I asked for a bottle and without question they respected my choice and got me one straight away.  If I have a baby in the future I would like to try breastfeeding again but I feel I made the right choice at the time.

 I had to stay in for a few days because of my tears, the wards were very busy and the midwives completely overworked, but the delivery was a brilliant experience. Although I remember the “never again” moments, I look forward to doing it again – and maybe this time a home water birth? Unless the baby has other ideas of course!  In which case “Dr Dave!”

The arrival of Johnny

A first and big baby born at home!

Johnny was born ten days overdue on 26 January at 10.21pm at home weighing 10 pounds 2 oz. This is the story of his birth.

I wanted to have my baby at home and intended to use a birth pool. I had begun to worry that I might need to be induced, in hospital, as the days passed. I had a stretch and sweep at my midwives appointment when he was two days overdue where they said I was around 1cm dilated. I had on/off aches in my pelvis for about a week prior to the birth, mostly triggered by going to the loo. However I had no noticeable contractions or braxton hicks that I was aware of.

I had a bloody show the day before labour began, nine days after my due date. I had an appointment at the hospital for checks the next day (Tuesday) so hoped that things would start before then so I wouldn’t have to go in.

My contractions began at around 5am on Tuesday 26th whilst I was in bed. It felt pretty painful from the start and I got up and put on my TENS machine which remained on for the duration. I also took paracetamol at the maximum recommended dose throughout. I went back to bed but couldn’t sleep. Contractions were pretty irregular and around 8 – 13 minutes apart.

Johnny had been back to back at some of my antenatal appointments so I had spent lots of time on a birthing ball and leaning forward to try to encourage him to turn. Unfortunately this wasn’t successful as I found out when my labour pains began and were all totally focused in my lower back.

I woke my partner at 8am and went downstairs into the lounge. I knelt on the floor and leant over the sofa. At 9am I phoned the midwives to let them know labour had started.

Over the course of the morning the contractions remained irregular and around 7 -10 minutes apart. All the pain was in my lower back and I was in pain between contractions. I felt unable to move around or be active as I had intended and just led over the sofa. I felt very demoralised as I felt scared that we were only in the early stages and that the pain would only worsen. The TENS and breathing were helpful but I felt apprehensive about what was to come. I called the midwives a couple more times and it was clear they were not going to come out until much later in the labour. At this stage I felt helpless and worried I wouldn’t be able to cope. I began to consider going into hospital and having more pain relief. However I knew that they would also tell me I wasn’t sufficiently far gone enough to go into hospital either. This was perhaps my lowest point in the labour – I felt helpless and in pain and scared.

I called the midwives at midday and said I was struggling to cope. My contractions were around 8 minutes apart. The midwife recommended I go to bed, lie on my side, and try to sleep. At the time I felt let down by this advice but actually it was just what I needed. I went to bed and was actually able to doze between contractions. I stopped timing contractions and was able to relax and calm down. At 3.15pm I went to the toilet and my waters broke. I went back to bed but could no longer sleep, though I continued to rest and time my contractions only approximately. By 4pm my contractions were around 5 minutes apart and we phoned the midwives again. They were reluctant to come out but I had two contractions on the phone, 4 minutes apart. They said they’d contact the duty out of hours midwife and ask her to call me.

Tracy phoned and said she’d be over in an hour or so. She advised me to think about getting out of bed and sitting on my birth ball. I felt reluctant to move at all but got onto the ball by the bed. At this point I was very grateful to be having a home birth as the thought of getting out of bed was bad, let alone leaving the house and travelling elsewhere.

Once on the ball things sped up and when Tracy arrived at around 6pm I was much more ‘in the zone’ with regular contractions. I was focused on my breathing which I feel was very helpful. Tracy immediately put me at my ease, being positive, encouraging and reassuring.

Kelly the second midwife arrived not long after. Tracy read my birth plan. I told her I’d changed my mind and wanted to know how far gone I was and wanted pain relief. She clearly wanted to respect my original wishes as best she could so they held off on a vaginal examination for a while.

They examined me at around 7pm and to all our surprise I was 7cm dilated. I was delighted. They told my partner to begin to prepare the birth pool and offered me gas and air.

I found the gas and air helped take the edge off the contractions. I continued with the TENS and breathing. I still only felt the pain in my lower back and had pain between contractions too. At some point I put on the music from my Natal Hypnotherapy cd which I’d been listening to during pregnancy. This was on for an hour or so and I think it helped add to me feeling ‘in the zone’.

Things continued in a similar vein for a couple of hours and then I felt an urge to push down, very much like needing to do a poo. I told the midwives and they advised me to follow my urges. I was still sitting on the ball though and pushing in this position felt odd. After a couple of contractions I felt like moving to kneeling on the floor over the bed. Doing this led to a big step change in the labour and the pushing urge got much stronger. I began to push with the next contraction. The midwives went to get my partner, who was still filling the birth pool, and advised him that it wouldn’t be needed and to come to the bedroom.

The pushing stage lasted around 90 minutes. Initially I was kneeling on the floor, leaning over the bed. However this was tiring and after some time the midwives suggested I lie on the bed on my left side. This probably slowed things down a bit but was more comfortable. This position also meant my partner could lay near me on the bed holding my hand. I still had the TENS machine going, now on ‘boost’ continuously, and was using gas and air and breathing.

The baby’s head started to be visible and I was offered the chance to feel it, which I declined. My partner did take a look at the top of the babies head emerging.

At a certain point the midwives decided that the baby needed to be born more quickly. I’m not sure why as they didn’t say anything and were careful to be positive and encouraging to me. They were monitoring the babies heartbeat frequently during this stage and perhaps this began to concern them. Tracey said that she would make a cut, to help the baby come more quickly, which they did. At this point I just wanted the labour to be over and the baby to arrive so I had no problem with this. I don’t remember feeling her cut me, but my partner says I screamed out. The midwives moved me from my side to my back and helped push my legs right back – almost a classic stirrups position.

After the episiotomy the baby was delivered in a few pushes – one for the head and one for the body. I had requested immediate skin to skin and to allow the cord to stop pulsating before being cut. However because they were concerned about the baby they cut the cord immediately and took him across the room to check him over (and I presume resuccitate him if needed.) Fortunately he gave a cry and began to breathe almost immediately. His colour changes from a grayish tone to pink and he was handed straight to me for skin to skin. His Apgar scores were all high. He was born at 10.21pm, on the bed, at home.

As the cord had been cut Tracy suggested I have the injection to speed up delivery of the placenta. I readily agreed to this as I just wanted to focus on my son and didn’t want to have to push anymore. She gave me the injection and the placenta was delivered about 15 minutes after the birth. She then checked me to see if I needed stitches, which fortunately I didn’t as it was only a first degree tear/cut. We were then left to spend some time with our baby.

The midwives helped me give Johnny a brief feed then carried out their routine checks, including weighing him and finding to all our surprise that he was 10 pound 2oz. They ran me a bath and showed my partner how to dress Johnny. They them helped me give him a feed again. We then tucked him into bed and they left and all three of us were together in the house for our first night as a family.

Amusing aside – our cat was present throughout most of the birth and was sat under the bed. At some point she left and later once the baby had been born one of the midwives came in from the bathroom and told us that the cat had left a dead mouse on the bathroom mat. She rarely leaves them there so we feel it was a gift to us and her attempt to help me get ‘better’ from whatever was making me sound so distressed. Johnny’s first gift!!

The Birth of Rohan

A happy hospital birth after some smooching and syntocin!

Rohan was due on Sunday 10th April 2011. I had no signs that anything was imminent and felt like I would probably go overdue. We spent the afternoon at the pub having a roast and sitting in the pub garden in the sunshine. I suddenly felt very emotional and I had a strong urge to go home. I told my husband we had to go home and I cried on the way without knowing why. When we got there I got into my slouchies and was getting ready to have a lie down when my waters broke in a spectacular fashion!

We phoned the hospital who told us to come in to be checked. We went in and they checked me over before sending me home. They told me that I would be booked in for induction on the Tuesday if I was not in established labour by then, due to the increased risk of infection. I started to feel some mild contractions so I assumed that things would get moving soon.

Over the course of Sunday night and Monday I tried to rest as much as possible but was hardly able to sleep with the anticipation. I experienced mild contractions and some stronger ones but things did not settle into a regular pattern.

On Tuesday morning we arrived at hospital and were admitted to a room on the ward to be induced. The midwife explained the induction procedure and said that they would not be able to start things until later as they were very busy on delivery suite. By this time I was experiencing stronger contractions and was hopeful that things would get going on their own.

We arrived at hospital at 10am and we were left to our own devices through the day until roughly 7pm. During that day we spent a lot of time walking up and down St Michaels Hill trying to bring on my contractions. We even did a bit of charity shopping and I had a contraction in the St Peter’s Hospice! We found that we could intensify my contractions by having a kiss and a cuddle so every time the midwives came in to check on us, they found us smooching on the bed!

By the evening my contractions were about 5 minutes apart and some were getting quite intense. I was coping well by focussing on a long out breath and by moving around into different positions. At 7pm, they started to monitor the baby and found that his heart rate was starting to dip with each contraction. They said that they needed to speed things up as the baby was starting to get tired. I was told I would be taken down to delivery suite and given Syntocin. I spent a little moment saying goodbye to my idea of a water birth and adjusting my attitude about it.

We arrived in delivery suite and I was told that I would not be able to eat after being put on the drip in case I needed further intervention. I was quite stressed about this as I lose energy quickly when hungry and was worried I wouldn’t have the energy to go on. Our midwife was great and very reassuring and let me munch on a banana whilst she hooked me up to the monitors and drip. At this point my midwife asked if anyone had done an internal exam and I said no. She said she would check me but to prepare myself that I may not be dilated at all. She checked me and I was 4cm.

I had to have continual monitoring after they started the drip so had 2 straps around my belly plus the drip in my hand. I sat up on the bed but very quickly found I was  not able to cope with my contractions this way. The speed with which the Syntocin intensified my contractions scared me and I found that I was starting to tense and shake with the intensity of each contraction and I was finding it difficult to concentrate on my breathing techniques. The contractions became very close together and our midwife helped me to get off the bed and sit on my ball. I asked for gas and air and found I was able to cope with the contractions much better with it.

A little while later I felt that I needed to be able to change positions more and our midwife suggested that we put a clip onto Rohan’s head to monitor his heart rate so that I could move a bit easier. As she did it, I joked that she would find that I was fully dilated and she found that I was already 8cm.

I felt that I needed to go to the toilet lots and it was a bit of a military operation unhooking me from all the monitors so I could go. The contractions were so close together and intense that I was scared to leave the gas and air each time! I had a moment where I felt tearful and overwhelmed and I recognised that I had hit transition. I wanted to birth on my hands and knees so our midwife moved the bed and fetched a mat for the floor.

I felt that I needed to go for a poo and was scared that I would do it while pushing so wanted to go to the toilet but found I couldn’t go. I think I initially fought my urge to push because it felt exactly the same as needing a poo to me! I was initially quite scared of the pushing stage and felt that the pain was too intense and I was going to break something by pushing! I felt that that stage lasted a while but in reality it was only about 20 minutes. I felt that I said ‘I don’t know if I can do this’ a few times but my husband says I only said it once. I was on my knees, leaning on my husband who was sitting in front of me. He was totally amazing; calm and reassuring and giving me the strength to go on. The urge finally overwhelmed me and I just felt I had to go with it and get this done! I began pushing with all my might and the midwife said that whatever I had done that time – keep doing it! The stinging of his crowning was intense but once the head was out, the rest of him was out with the next contraction. She passed him up between my legs so I could look at him and they helped me to lie down leaning on my husband so I could have him on my chest.

I had a physiological third stage and delivered the placenta very quickly with only one push. The cord was cut after the placenta was out. I was found to only have a minor first degree tear that didn’t need stitching.

I was helped onto the bed and we had lots of skin to skin to encourage him to feed. After a while I had some amazing tea and toast and a very shaky shower! We were given lots of time to lie skin to skin and get to know each other. Our midwife was amazing and left us for close to 3 hours before saying we had to go up to the ward. Rohan was weighed and found to be a very tiny 5lb 8oz.

As Rohan was found to have low muscle tone and therefore had difficulties feeding and regulating his temperature, we had quite a long stay in hospital after the birth but that didn’t take away from what an amazing and beautiful experience it was to bring him into the world and how empowered I felt having done it.

The Birth of Karla

A second baby born at home

I was woken up in the night by my small son stirring. I felt some mild period like pains and there was some liquid trickling down my leg. Ah ha! This was it! I resettled my son, and donning some rather attractive paper pants and pad, I went back to bed. I couldn’t sleep. I was too excited and was planning through the following day. The contractions were very mild and by 4.30am I had got a bit bored, so I woke up my husband. He wasn’t pleased but did the honorable thing and came and lay with me until dawn.

At 8am I called the midwife number to let them know that something had started because I was planning to have the baby at home. I also called my Mum, who was taking care of my son and my sister who would be taking care of me. The midwife came out to check me over. It was unclear whether my waters had broken. I defiantly had a mucus ‘show’ but I hadn’t lost much more liquid since the initial trickle and a couple of drips. She was keen that I go to Southmead to get them to have a look with a speculum.

In the Day Assessment Unit I was put on a monitor for half an hour and then my waters were checked. They were still in tact! The liquid I had lost was just a lot of mucus. This was good news because had my water gone I would have been on a time limit. If I hadn’t been in established labour within 48 hours they would have been looking to induce. Not good news for a planned home birth.

We returned home in good spirits, armed with good tips from the lovely midwife at Southmead. My baby was lying slightly to the right and back-to-back. I wasn’t surprised. During my first labour my son had been in the same position and it had taken ages, partly because he didn’t have much space to turn. The midwife suggested I relax as much as possible on my left side and to have a warm bath. If my abdominal muscles were relaxed, my baby would have more space to turn. She also suggested I stand with my right foot on a stool or step.

The contractions remained fairly weak until about 5pm when I called my sister. We agreed that she would come soon. I also called the midwives again and I was in luck! Judy, who had delivered my son was willing to come out. It was her day off but she had done my antenatal care and had promised she would be there if she could.

Soon the contractions were starting to get quite painful. My sister arrived and Ben lit the fire. Ben also put his hands on my lower back and Clare had some great visualisations to help me to relax and keep my out breath long. We tried the Tens Machine, which I had found quite useful before but I couldn’t get on with it so it was discarded. I was also sick and was starting to feel quite rotten. We tried to time the contractions and although they were still fairly short they were coming quite close together so we decided to get Judy to come.

I was so happy to have somebody attending the birth that I knew and liked and trusted. I’d had my son (see The Birth of Frank) standing up on my landing. The birth had been brilliant but the recovery time was awful due to a third degree tare. This time I was really keen not to tare like that again and had planned with Judy to deliver lying on my left side on my bed. I wanted to have a slow and controlled second stage.

The contractions were becoming quite horrid and I was getting really attached to my sister’s voice talking me through each one. At about 6pm we all moved upstairs to our small bedroom. When a contraction came I would move to all fours or rest my arms on the bed head then in between contractions, rest back onto my heels. Ben was holding one hand and my sister the other. I started getting the fear that I couldn’t “do it.” I was surprised at this as I had been looking forward to laboring again and had been totally relaxed about it. I think the strength of the contractions took me by surprise though. I was scared that it was going to go on for a long time and I didn’t feel resilient enough. Clare kept reassuring me. She was brilliant and seemed to know exactly what I needed to hear. She said stuff like “you can do one more contraction” and “remember each contraction is bringing you closer to your baby”. She also helped me to relax and keep breathing.

It was funny how I was also aware of the midwives behind me having a good old natter. They were chatting away quietly like this was the most normal thing in the world and although this could have been distracting I did find it quite reassuring. I asked Judy and the second midwife how I could get things to speed up. Judy suggested I walk to the bathroom and I said ”I’m scared!” Judy asked whether this was because of what happened last time, i.e. I’d had my baby on the landing! But really I was just scared of the pain and the intensity and for the first time wondered why I was here with no pain relief! Clare said, “I love you,” which somehow really helped and I relaxed.

I became aware that a part of my pelvic floor was still ‘holding’. There was tension down there, trying to protect me against the pain. I concentrated on trying to let it go. I could feel the pressure of the baby’s head on the cervix and then as I focused on relaxing, I actually felt myself opening. It was amazing. And then I felt I wanted to push and thought Thank God! Let’s get this over!

I lay down on my left side and Ben had the glamorous job of holding my leg up. The contractions were still painful. I pushed until the baby was crowning then tried to breath and not push. It was really hard and I wouldn’t have done so well if Clare had not been there, talking me through, encouraging me to concentrate all my energies on my breath. The baby’s head was half in half out for quite a few contractions which was really weird and it stung like hell as my tissues stretched. She came out really slowly then finally she was there and Ben said, “It’s a girl!” Whoopee! She was lifted into my arms and cried and tried to latch on straight away. I wanted a big hot sugary cup of tea to reward myself for my efforts!

It was all then clearing up and bustling about with pieces of toast and blankets. The midwives did an impressive clear up job and I was really glad I’d put some clean sheets on my bed underneath the plastic. After close inspection I did have a second-degree tare but it was decided not to stitch it – hurray!  Another wonderful advantage to having two such experienced and confidant midwives at my side. Judy stayed to help me have a bath and when we were all happy went home, leaving us to cuddle up in bed with our new little baby girl. I felt so lucky. Not just to have had such a calm and homely delivery with those I loved around me. But also to have had Judy there again was such a gift. It made me realise the enormous value of an old-fashioned community midwife. The disappearance of midwives who are known and trusted, and who see many members of the same family bought into the world are a big loss.