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Home / Birth Stories / Birth Stories
09 Apr 2020

Our positive birth story with twists and turns

Like many mums I spent a lot of time in pregnancy researching labour and imagining what that special day would be like. Having had an uncomplicated pregnancy, I naturally envisioned an uncomplicated labour in a birthing centre, potentially in a birthing pool with dim lights, calming music and soft stroke massage from my husband (we'd even practised in our lounge!). In our birth plan we had decided that I would use breathing techniques and gas and air to cope with the surges as well as positive affirmations and visualisations. We'd learnt about these techniques and a number of others by reading hypnobirthing books and by having a personalised hypnobirthing class with Rock Your Birth.

Whilst this isn't the birthing experience I actually had, our time spent planning for such a birth was certainly not wasted and helped us transform a far from perfect labour into an overall positive one! Firstly enter COVID-19 and the closure of the birth centre for CV patients - we were going to be giving birth on a hospital ward. This is something we had no control over and so quickly came to accept (control what you can, let go of what you can't). Ultimately we were thankful that we were still able to receive the care we needed and we could still have the birth we wanted, albeit in a different style of room! Fast forward a few weeks and our baby was 12 days overdue and induction was recommended. This was something we really didn't want. Firstly I would need to be induced alone on the ward (no partners or visitors allowed due to CV) and we knew that inductions could lead to longer, more painful labours from our research. However we used the BRAIN tool and concluded that our main priority was for our baby to be delivered safely and decided go ahead with the induction, after delaying it by one day to take more time over the decision and see if labour might start naturally (I had contractions that went away).

After having a 24h pessary inserted and being monitored on CTG, it was found that baby's HR was dropping with some contractions. I was told this was a medical emergency and it was recommended that I had my waters broken artificially and be put straight on the oxytocin drip so that the baby was delivered as quickly as possible. This procedure would need to be performed by a consultant as my cervix was still 'unfavourable'. Whilst this was a bit of a shock, I knew that the decision was mine to make so I was able to use BRAIN to decide this was the best option for the safe delivery of our baby. My husband met me on the delivery ward and before we knew it my surges were starting and we were well on the way to meeting our baby. The next few hours were perhaps my favourite (except the moment she was born) - we listened to calm music, looked through photo albums, chatted about memories of holidays and created some really positive vibes. This was despite being constantly monitored on CTG and with a midwife in the room the whole time. The lights were dimmed and for a while I coped well with only gas and air. After several hours the surges increased in intensity quickly, so we used BRAIN once more and decided to get an epidural. The epidural only worked on one side initially, but they were able to fix this and I felt much more comfortable and in control again.

Despite making it to 7cm quickly, my temperature rose, the baby's heart rate was continuing to fall with some contractions and I hadn’t dilated any further for a few hours. In the meantime a clip had been attached to baby's head to monitor her heart rate more accurately and 4 blood samples had been taken from her head to make sure her oxygen levels were OK. The consultant suggested an emergency C-section as the priority was to get baby safely here as quickly as possible and there were now a fair number of complications. We felt strangely calm about this and agreed it was the best option. My husband was able to be with me during the operation. I had a spinal block prior to the surgery which combined with the epidural left me numb to the collar bone. Admittedly at this point I did feel panicked and stressed and looking back I realise it's OK and natural to 'lose it' at times - we're only human. I managed to breathe through the anxiety and distracted myself by talking to my husband and at 11:43am, around 12 hours after my waters were broken, our beautiful daughter was born. Daddy got the first cuddles as I was too numb for skin to skin, which we both feel was really special for him.

Despite so many twists and turns in our birthing journey, I genuinely do look back on the experience positively as it led to the best gift we've ever received. I am so proud and amazed at how resilient we were.