First time mum Liz and her husband Jim used all the techniques they’d learnt to manage an induced labour. I love how Jim reassured Liz to ‘just keep on doing your own thing’
Our daughter Bronwen Rosina Gregory arrived with a roar on 28th October, our wedding anniversary, weighing 7lb on the nose. Best gift ever, especially for the anniversary of fruit!
Coming to our Wise Hippo classes with Deborah and enthusiastically practising at home, I’d sort of expecting to have the kind of calm, relaxed birth we’d seen in the videos. What I got was almost the opposite – a loud, sweaty, visceral experience, but I believe it was the right birth on the day.
I had some health issues during pregnancy, including gestational diabetes, so the medical team decided it would be safest if I was delivered by 40+6, meaning induction at 40+3. We tried absolutely everything to get things going before then, and I think we were nearly there, but when I woke up on 27th October with not a twinge, I resigned myself to the fact that I was heading to the Royal Berkshire Hospital to get things going.
Induction was not a great experience, but it would have been worse without our wise hippo techniques. I’m told that things happened unusually quickly for a first-time mum, although it still seemed to take forever.
I got through the first 10 hours of quite intense first stage labour in a stressful environment with breathing, my relaxing place, and a TENS machine, and I’m proud of that now. I felt a bit disappointed in myself at the time because I’d wanted to do everything naturally, but I can see how well I handled being in a busy environment.
I had greatly underestimated how intense my surges were going to be, and, in a pattern that would continue throughout my birth and the first weeks of parenthood, I started to find that almost the opposite of what I’d expected was true for me. For example, I found surges much more intense and uncomfortable when I was in upright and forward positions, and that leaning slightly back over my tailbone actually relieved some of the pressure in my thighs.
Still, I must have been doing alright because the midwife was sceptical when I explained that things were now so intense that I needed medical assistance and that I thought things were moving on.
She checked me and found to her surprise I was 5 cm dilated, and ready to move down to the delivery suite! At my request (following my birth plan, I had not been offered any unsolicited pain relief) they brought me gas and air, which was incredible. Turns out I really like gas and air.
Clutching the last remnants of my ideal birth story in one hand, and the gas and air mouthpiece in the other, I was taken down to the delivery suite in a wheelchair, asking every person wearing scrubs for the birth pool. I was so longing to get into water. Unfortunately, at the last minute the team decided it wasn’t safe for me to go in the pool and took me to a delivery room. I have mixed feelings about this, but at the end of the day the Wise Hippo training really helped me to mourn the loss of the birth I wanted and focus on the birth I was getting. We were still working my birth plan, who cares if we were now working from page two?
Denied the relief of the pool, I requested the next step on my plan, a shot of morphine. I’m over feeling guilty about this, it’s what I needed on the day and I’m glad I had it. Partly because it helped me to move away from my body a bit and let it get on with things, and partly because it made me forget all about everything that happened between getting into the delivery room and actually giving birth.
Jim was a total rock star and did far more in those hours than I did! He monitored the heartbeat, advocated like a boss, mopped my forehead, made me drink, and reminded me to breathe the gas and air. He spoke reassurances directly into my ear when the midwives asked me to push – “just keep on doing your thing”.
I lay on my side, huffing nitrous and roaring into the mouthpiece like the lead singer of Slipknot. At the end, Jim was both monitoring and holding my top leg up as I gave birth, and saw our daughter enter the world like a bat out of hell – she came out all in one go, moving so fast the midwife nearly missed the catch!
The next thing I knew, she was on my chest, under my top and I was staring into her eyes, completely in love. She gave a few cries, and then settled straight down, calm and alert. Jim has a few moments of video from that time, and I cried so much watching it, it’s so precious to me.
The final deviation from my ideal birth was the third stage. I’d requested a physiological third stage, with a conversation about how to proceed at 30 mins if nothing was happening. An hour passed with no further surges, so the midwife helped me to the bathroom (trailing the cord like a wet hosepipe) to see if a bit of gravity would help, but nothing shifted.
After about an hour and ten minutes I consented to the injection, happy that they’d given me this time to try things naturally. Even after the injection I still needed a bit of a tug to get things moving, but in the end, everything came out cleanly and safely.
So far, Bronwen is a wonderfully calm and relaxed baby, and is the absolute centre of our lives. Even some follow up trips to hospital haven’t bothered her. We couldn’t be happier.
So, I didn’t get the birth I’d imagined, but I did get a safe, medically unremarkable birth with just a tiny tear, a raging sore throat, a perfect healthy baby, and the doughnut I’d been craving. I wasn’t afraid, we followed my plan, and all that adds up to the right birth on the day x