Hannah’s Labour Ward Birth Story
I have been a qualified midwife for four years and so I rather naively thought that falling pregnant and having a baby would be relatively simple. I cannot believe how wrong I was! My husband and I fell pregnant with our beautiful son after three years of trying and experiencing two very traumatic miscarriages. Each month came with a very unwanted period, which meant enduring the cycle of checking for signs of ovulation, having sex, and waiting. Lots and lots of waiting and hoping and wishing. One day when my husband and I came back from a run, he said to me ‘You are pregnant, I just have this feeling’ to which I just laughed off – how could he possibly know? My breasts were no more tender than usual in the run up to a period, I didn’t feel nauseous, I wasn’t exhausted – the normal tell tale signs of early pregnancy. It played on my mind what my husband said for the next couple of days – so I took a pregnancy test. When I saw the very faint positive line, I couldn’t help but think ‘here we go again – let’s not get our hopes up’. When I told Adam he felt the exact same way, but it didn’t stop us from buying all the pregnancy vitamins and a few more pregnancy tests to just triple and quadruple check!
Nausea, exhaustion and food aversions soon crept in and before we knew it our dating scan was fast approaching. With being just over 12 weeks pregnant, this is the furthest we had ever got. It was almost too good to be true – we were so scared yet excited about seeing our baby. I held my husband’s hand so tightly as I laid down on the couch, belly exposed and praying that everything would be ok. The sonographer glided the probe along my belly and confirmed a heart beat – the relief! We saw our little baby and a vigorous flickering of its heartbeat on the screen. We were going to have a baby!
Unfortunately we had to be scanned and have further tests and screening in London due to our baby having an increased nuchal translucency – which is often an indicator for a congenital abnormality as well as or instead of a heart complication. Further tears and sleepless nights followed until we had our 20 week scan, where everything was confirmed as being completely fine.
I experienced several episodes of reduced fetal movements throughout pregnancy and always got it checked out. That alongside some additional growth scans I couldn’t really complain, I had a fairly text book pregnancy, however there were discussions had about the possibility of being induced due to the amount of reduced movements I had in pregnancy and concerns about the baby’s size – in this case being rather big! Fast forward to the evening of the 10th January, and 38 weeks pregnant. Adam and I had been for a long walk during the day, and I had just finished a rather delicious roast dinner. I needed to pee for what seemed like the millionth time that day. After peeing I felt and heard a huge gush of fluid – I immediately stood up to my waters flooding everywhere! Adam was downstairs at the time – throughout my training as a midwife he became familiar with midwifery terminology and was aware of the signs of labour. When I shouted down that my waters had gone he went into full excited panic! Who shall we call? What should I get? Where are the bags? I couldn’t really believe it myself as I had always imagined being pregnant a fair few days beyond my due date – so this was a surprise!
I went to the hospital for a quick check up and confirmation of my waters going, with the recommendation of an induction of labour if labour was not established within the next 24 hours. At home my husband and I had dimmed the lights, had lavender diffusing, soft music playing, snacks, water and a birthing ball in our bedroom to help compliment progression and establishment of labour. My husband was amazing and he did soft touch massage, anchoring techniques and 3 step breathing patterns. We had read into and did some hypnosis thing practice in pregnancy which was delivered to us by my midwife and very good friend. I had the occasional tightening in the first couple of hours after my waters went, but then my surges started. They were fairly irregular but intense at times. I had a TENs machine which to me was amazing and a fantastic distraction. Alongside being mobile and breathing through the surges I felt as though I was in control. A few hours passed, I hadn’t slept and I was beginning to get quite uncomfortable – I knew I wasn’t in established labour as my surges were still irregular and were lasting for various lengths of time. We made the decision to return to the hospital for some pain relief and another check up – I was slightly concerned that my baby hadn’t been moving well since my waters had gone. After a quick monitoring of baby’s heartbeat (which was absolutely fine) and some pain relief, I returned home.
I alternated between sleeping, snacking, ball-bouncing, swaying, leaning, laughing and crying. My Mum came over for emotional support (we had formed a support bubble as per COVID rules outlined by the government) and her support was invaluable. By the time afternoon came, my surges had reduced considerably to one every thirty to forty minutes. I knew that induction was more and more likely, and before we knew it we had arrived back to hospital. I was so anxious about my husband not being allowed with me and was hoping that I would be progressing into labour. My surges returned more regularly but differing in strength. The thought of not being mobile and laying down in bed just went against everything that my body wanted me to do! My husband and I agreed that I would be as mobile as possible – even if I insisted that I wanted to lay down to rest!
I was examined and found to be 3-4cm dilated – which really surprised me! I was transferred to labour ward where my colleague and friend looked after me. We discussed the best course of action and decided to see how my surges developed over the next four hours. We made the birthing room into our own oxytocin filled nest – aromatherapy oils, tea lights, dimmed lighting, music playlist, snacks and lots of bouncing on the birthing ball! I still had the TENs machine on and now using gas and air when I needed. My midwife encouraged me after each surge to have a small handful of skittles for energy – she was firm but knew what was good for me! She was just the tonic I needed!
Four hours passed where I was examined again and found to be 4cm dilated. I was becoming even more exhausted and knew my surges were still irregular and varying in strength. After a chat with my midwife and the doctor on labour ward, a mobile epidural and hormone drip was agreed on. I know that the hormone drip can make surges more intense than if they were naturally orchestrated, and as I was already exhausted, I wanted to experience a more comfortable labour without being bed bound with a heavy epidural.
After the epidural was sited and the hormone drip started, I managed to sleep and walk around in much more comfort. Our birthing room remained a cosy little nest, with very little disturbance. The sun began to rise and it was time for a staff change over. My named midwife took over, at which time I began feeling some pressure which became more intense. The feeling was so peculiar and out of my control. I was convinced I needed to just go to the toilet, but from experience as a midwife that is normally a good sign of transition from first to second stage of labour. Although I was adamant I needed the toilet, my midwife recommended I was examined to determine whether I was fully
dilated and ready to push. With my consent, she examined me and found me to be 7cm dilated, only 3 hours prior I was 4cm. Following my examination, an overwhelming urge to bear down engulfed my whole body. I made noises I never thought could ever be produced by a human being. I became animalistic and insistent that I couldn’t carry on any more – but I was 7cm! There was no way I could be ready to birth my baby. The intensity increased and I continued to be overtook by my body. I clung to my husband as I was swaying on the bed. I felt entirely overwhelmed but empowered at the same time. I felt I couldn’t carry on, but my midwife and my husband were amazingly encouraging and were my pillar of strength. The next surge came and to my disbelief my midwife said she could see the top of my babies head! I didn’t believe her at all, and for some crazy reason I thought she wasn’t telling me the truth so I could stop worrying! I watched as she started preparing the room for the birth of our baby – turning on the resuscitaire, requesting a second midwife, opening a delivery pack. This was really happening!
My husband told me about my favourite place – a beach in Cornwall – to help me relax and come down between each surge. As each surge came my body continued to bear down, to the point where I could begin feeling everything stretching below. The intensity was extreme, and more than I ever imagined it could be. My midwife and husband continued guiding me and believing me just when I was pleading to give up. More bearing down followed, then my midwife informed me to stop and to just breathe and blow – meaning my baby’s head was almost born. The adrenaline filled my body and I became giddy with anticipation of meeting our baby. One last push and my baby was born onto my tummy. I could see their dark, open eyes gazing up at me as they wriggled on my tummy. I can’t find the words to describe how I felt in that moment – my beautiful baby boy, my son, laid on me, squirming and beginning to cry, embracing him in my shaking arms, my eyes fixed on him and saying over and over “Oh my god Adam, look, look at him!” In that moment I felt like my world was complete, and the past three years of pining and despair dissipated. An all consuming love filled the room, and my midwife was incredible. Through her tear filled eyes she took very candid photos of the three of us which I will treasure forever. She never ever lost faith in me and was everything I needed and more to help me birth my baby safely whilst empowering me at the same time. I of course couldn’t have done it without my amazing husband, Adam, whose devotion, love and strength I would be completely lost without.
I think the most important thing for us was that we were open minded about our birth. I know from my experience from being a midwife birth isn’t always how we anticipate it to be. I honestly don’t think I would change a single thing, and I am so proud of myself – bringing Rory Christopher Williams into the world.
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