First-time mum Becky was amazing throughout labour, despite her plans changing and having to move venue. She remained calm and in control throughout, using her hypnobirthing techniques and making decisions that were right for her. Her birth partner husband Aaron was also amazing – helping her with the techniques, massaging her and being assertive when needed. This is such a fantastic birth story, and example of a couple working together with medical staff to have the right birth on the day
The first I was aware I was in labour was 1am on Friday morning. I had been out for dinner with friends the night before and, as weird as it sounds, I went to bed feeling like something might happen that night.
I was feeling so happy and content after a lovely evening out, and I couldn’t help thinking about everything Deborah had said about how good oxytocin was for labour. It was 6 days before my estimated due date, and it was the week I had wanted our baby to arrive.
Everybody kept telling me I was going to be late, but I knew and kept on affirming she was going to arrive a week early! I’m stubborn like that.
I woke up in bed feeling period cramps, and being a first time mum I wasn’t completely sure it was labour. I lay in bed for a little while focussing on the feelings and trying to listen to my body.
After a little while I went to the bathroom and after that I was confident it was starting. I was sooo excited! I decided not to wake my partner, Aaron, as I remembered labour could take a while and he needed his sleep.
I tried so hard to go back to sleep but I was just buzzing too much, so I just lay awake with a massive grin on my face; every time the cramps started up again I was so excited to be getting closer and closer to meeting her.
At about 6am Aaron started to stir so I decided to wake him up and tell him. We had a bit of a chat about what to do next. We decided Aaron should go to work and complete his paternity leave handover, as I was confident he wouldn’t be back in the office for a few weeks.
I was happy enough on my own at this point, and we came up with an agreement that if I text him I was just making general chitchat, but if I called him he needed to answer the phone urgently! That way we could avoid him having a minor heart attack every time I text!
Aaron left for work at about half 7, so from then on I decided to get comfy. I think the surges were every 10-20 minutes apart and didn’t feel too intense so I just pottered around; I had a bath, got into comfy clothes, sat on the sofa doing my hypnobirthing exercises, put my aromatherapy on and cleaned the house (for the 10th time), and started to make a list of the last minute things we needed to get done.
I hadn’t told anybody else I was in labour yet, but by lunchtime I decided to text my family and one of my best friends to share the news. My friend immediately called me in excitement, and after filling her in on what had happened so far she commented on how relaxed and completely chilled I sounded.
By about 4pm the surges were closer together, so Aaron left work early and went via the shops on his way home to pick up a few things we needed. I was under the care of the Homebirthing Team as I wanted a waterbirth at home, so suggested we get a few more plastic sheets and blankets to put over the carpets.
At 6pm I called the Homebirthing Team to let them know I was in labour. I spoke with the lovely midwife who was on duty, Sarah, and told her I didn’t need anything yet but just wanted to let them know so they could start preparing what they needed.
For the rest of the evening I rested on the sofa with my head on Aaron’s lap, using my hypnobirthing exercises to focus through the surges, which were more intense now.
After a few hours we decided to start timing the surges, so with my eyes shut I held Aaron’s hand and squeezed it at the beginning and end of every surge. Every so often I’d ask how far apart they were, and after an hour of them being every 3ish minutes we called Sarah out.
Sarah arrived about 11pm, and after doing an examination informed us we were around 3cms dilated but close to 4cm, so close to active labour but not quite there. Unfortunately our daughter had also turned, and now had her back near to my spine. My pulse was also apparently very high, so Sarah suggested I tried to eat and drink to bring it down, and to lie sideways to try to get baby to turn back again.
She left to get everything she needed, and I went to bed to lie sideways. The surges were definitely a lot more intense now and I was really having to focus, so after an hour and a half we called Sarah back out.
My pulse was still really high, which was worrying Sarah a bit, and I had zero interest in eating or drinking anything which wasn’t helping. I decided to try some gas and air to help with the intensity of the surges – big mistake! I had one puff, which was lovely, had a second puff…and projectile vomited everywhere! Straight in the shower for me, while Aaron and Sarah tidied up the bedroom. I decided not to touch the gas and air again.
I wanted to get in the pool, which Aaron had started to assemble downstairs, but because I wasn’t quite at active labour we were concerned it would slow everything down. It was early Saturday morning at this point and I was getting tired having been awake for over 24 hours, so I asked for another examination so we could decide what to do next.
Sarah was happy I could get in the pool if I wanted to, but after going to the toilet I had a gush of blood and passed a pretty big clot (well, it looked big to me). After a call with Rushey and Delivery, it was recommended that I went to hospital. We asked if I could go to Rushey, but because of the bleeding it was recommended I went straight to the delivery suite, so I could be more closely monitored.
Whilst I’m disappointed I didn’t get to go in the pool, and I didn’t get my lovely calm homebirth, I am completely comfortable that at that point it was best for us that we moved.
It wasn’t a dramatic or tense decision, and I don’t remember feeling scared, it just felt like that was the next best thing for us. I was also really feeling the intensity of the surges now, and was so conscious that we were still only borderline in active labour, so I wanted a bit more support to keep me going.
We drove ourselves to the Royal Berkshire Hospital, where they had a room setup for us ready. My care was handed over to a midwife in the ward, Amy, who stayed with us all day until she finished her shift that evening. I had decided at this point that I wanted the diamorphine injection, so after getting us all settled in I was given the jab (I never thought I’d ask for an injection as I’m terrified of needles, good thing I’d had some phobia hypnosis early on in my pregnancy to help me get over it!).
I loved the diamorphine; it didn’t dull the surges but just made me a bit sleepy so I could have a bit of a break. I remember at one point saying to Aaron “sorry, I haven’t spoken in ages”…and then continuing not to speak for another hour! The downside to the diamorphine is that it wore off after less than 2 hours, much to my disappointment, so I decided I would give the gas and air another go (and managed not to vomit this time, wahoo!).
Our labour was pretty long so, in short, I spent all of Saturday in my delivery room with Aaron and Amy, breathing through the gas and air tube. I was still being closely monitored because of the bleeding, I had to have a few cannulas in case fluids were needed, and my pulse was so high that at times they couldn’t find the baby’s pulse – though she was absolutely chilled and fine. I remember using the counting up and counting down exercise a lot, with my music on in the background, and used the gas and air apparatus as something to help control my breathing whilst I did it.
I’d also forgotten, until Aaron reminded me, that he was massaging the bottom of my back through every single surge because it felt really good…by the end of our labour he’d lost several layers of skin on his hands! He was also in charge of updating all my friends and family, bless him, who at this point wanted to understand what was taking so long.
By early evening on the Saturday, I was close enough to start pushing. I tried and tried for a couple of hours, getting into all sorts of positions, but sadly to no avail. After 2 hours the doctors got involved, and I was advised that whilst each surge and push was bringing her down, she was getting stuck in my pelvis. I have to admit I was tired and upset by this point, so after some strong words between Aaron and the doctors it was agreed we would go to theatre to try an assisted delivery, or a c-section if it was needed.
A little while later, with the help of forceps, our beautiful daughter Luna was born at 9:32pm on Saturday 17th March. She was put immediately on my chest for some skin to skin whilst they finished up in theatre, and we were totally obsessed with her from the start.
Whilst my assisted delivery in theatre was very different from the natural waterbirth I had hoped for at home, I cannot fault the care we received. The idea of labouring in hospital wired up to machines was my worst nightmare, but having been there it was so much better than I imagined.
I received 1-2-1 care the whole time, my wishes were listened to (occasionally with a bit of assertiveness from Aaron) and I continued to use the hypnobirthing techniques, which the hospital was totally supportive of.
Aaron even remembered to ask for my hypnobirthing music to be played in theatre! I also had a lot of concerns raised to me prior to my labour about birthing at home, and whilst I didn’t manage the whole journey at home I would absolutely try for it again; even when things turned and I needed to move it wasn’t scary or dangerous in any way, and we still felt in control and able to make decisions. The Homebirthing Team were fully supportive of our birthing plan, and Sarah even managed to come out a few days later to meet Luna.