I just want to start off by saying for many, their births don’t go to plan or perhaps how they pictured, I had that experience with my two daughters. Where it’s not what I expected and sometimes that’s hard to come to terms with. Everyone’s birth experience is different, even in the same body and what’s safe for baby and for mum is best. So before I start, it’s important to know that my birth story will be different to yours, it will be different to everyone’s but I wanted to pen my experience to give you an insight into what a birth can be like.
Monday 17th July - 10 days overdue...
I had acupuncture at midday, one of his specialties is overdue mothers so I thought "what have I got to lose" by this point. I was given pressure points to press which I continued to do so after the session and at about 9pm I had what felt like contractions (not Braxton Hicks) and they started to became rhythmic - about 10mins apart. They stopped an hour later, so feeling a little deflated I decided to go to bed…just in case things started again.
Which they did
Tuesday 18th July
At 1:45am I woke with mild contractions and remained in bed practicing my relaxation breathing and trying to rest as much as possible, incase it was a false alarm again. They started to become rhythmic, lasting about 50s-1 minute in length and went from 10 minutes apart to 5 minutes apart over the next hour and a half.
By 3:15am contractions were 3-4mins apart so that’s when I woke my husband and decided we needed to go to hospital. On my other two births, things escalated quite quickly after 3-4mins so I didn't want to waste much more time in case. Robbie packed the hospital bag into the car as I spent some time on my ball relaxing my pelvis and practicing more breathing & pelvic floor relaxation.
By 4am we were checked in at hospital admissions and by 4:15am we had a delivery suite and the lovely midwife Ellen taking care of us. I had just brought my phone, TENS machine, lucazade sport for electrolytes and sugar and ice cold water only. They topped up my water as it got to room temperature as there was something to do with ice cold water that really helps. Throughout this stage and then during stage 1 of labour I alternated between small sips of water and lucazade. Note that if you have an epidural, you can’t eat or drink.
They had a Bluetooth speaker in the room so we put on a relaxing playlist - it’s piano covers of well known songs and although I didn’t really pay attention to it, it just calmed the room nonetheless. It’s a playlist we often put on in the mornings at home during breakfast and oddly it calmed me as it was familiar. Would definitely recommend having a playlist you like, here is the one I used:
By 4:30am I was hooked up up to monitors to check contractions and baby’s heart rate and between contractions I was examined. At this stage I was not quite 1cm dilated, but very nearly.
After the initial examination the monitors where removed as both baby's and my heart rate were normal and Ellen the midwife attached my TENS machine which I left on for the entire of labour and birth, not once removing it as it works on an accumulative basis. It was the biggest life saver for me throughout the contractions, it gave me something to focus on with my breathing.
For the next hour I laboured on the yoga ball using my TENS machine during the contractions. The ball helped to relax my pelvis, again it was a familiar position for me after all the birth prep positions I had been in trimester 3 and was more comfortable than lying or sitting on the bed.
As the contractions got more intense I increased the setting on my TENS machine and continued using deep breaths to relax and help with the pain. I focused on relaxing as much as I could, and not seizing up during the contractions to slow things down and just let my body do what it wanted. I have not tried hypnobirthing, nor read any books, so that wasn't my technique for birth but I focused on a lot of breathing exercises throughout pregnancy (all of which can be found on The Pregnancy Program)
At 5:30am I was checked again as the contractions had intensified. The monitors were reattached to check baby's heart rate and I was examined again and was 2/3cm dilated - now I was officially latent stage labour (stage 1), Ellen offered to break my waters and I declined, things seemed to be moving smoothly so I wanted to see how we got on.
I continued to labour on the ball until I decided to go to the bathroom - this happens by the way, don’t be embarrassed and the midwives are so used to it. Just before 6am my waters broke in the bathroom and it was like something you’d see in the movies it was loud and A LOT of fluid! They were artificially broken with Sienna so I was not prepared for it and genuinely screamed with panic, but all was fine and Ellen explained it was fine because I asked for the reassurance.
I opted to go back to the bed in a half kneeling position over the head rest. They had handles I could grip onto which made me feel more stable and supported. Here I increased the TENS machine intensity too, I found the 'boost' setting on high (mine goes from 1-30, at this point i was between 20-30) was working well during contractions. I kept forgetting to turn it back to mid range (12-15) between contractions on 'burst' mode, so sometimes it was quite sore if I left it on a high setting - just a note if you plan to use one!
I was offered the gas and air as the intensity of the contractions really began to ramp up, which I accepted. Ellen my midwife reminded me to "give into the contractions" - not to hold tension or hold my breath, but to allow them to happen and allow the contraction to do its 'job' - which I was laser focused on. Sometimes the lack of control can be quite overwhelming during labour and birth, so I focused on breathing and relaxing my pelvic floor during contractions by keeping my mouth open (the gas and air pipe can help with this) and not clenching my jaw which would increase tension. Remembering that my body knows what to do, no matter how out of control it may feel in the moment.
I ended up with a cramp in my left leg from the position I was in so I asked to move to a left side lying position and they offered the peanut shaped ball which was very helpful.
At 6:26am Rory was born into the world with two large contractions and no pushing, but instead focused on relaxing the pelvic floor for him to pass through and allowing my uterus to do what it wanted to do. I had to change my breathing pattern on the last 2 contractions to short puffs which the midwives guided me through. Ellen later said that the combination of my strength and breathing essentially meant I breathed him out.
They placed Rory straight onto my chest for skin to skin as they clamped the cord and the birth of the placenta (stage 3) was quick to follow. They examined me again in case I needed stitches and I didn't need any. Here is where I turned off and removed my TENS machine.
I had huge amounts of adrenaline and had uncontrollable shakes, so I had to pass Rory to my husband as I felt too weak. I continued using the gas and air at this stage (and wish I hadn't taken off my TENS machine) as the after birth pains were extremely painful. These were exhausting as the pain was similar to that of a contraction but continuous with no let up. It made me feel nauseous and dizzy so they offered an intravenous paracetamol which I accepted and that took about 10mins to help dull the pains. Turns out the more births you have the more intense the after birth pains can be - I felt that!
Soon I began to feel human and the midwives brought me tea and toast in the delivery suite and we did the first feed. From there we were able to relax in the delivery suite for the next hour and around 8am they began to transfer me to the ward where I would be for the next 12 hours until I could be discharged home.
The next 24 hours
Once in the ward, I had a shower, a very slow one as I was very sore and spent the rest of the day in bed,.The maternity nurse checked my uterine contractions and bleeding throughout the day and checked on me during feeds. At 6:30pm they started the baby checks and at 8pm we were discharged to go home. It was my choice to go home early and not stay in the ward. I struggled to rest in a busy ward after having the girls so opted for early transfer home which we were eligible for.
At 6:30am we brought the girls up to meet their brother. It was the most special moment. We celebrated him being with us for 24 hours and then Robbie took them down to get them ready for the day so I could rest in bed and soak up all of Rory.
Here concludes my birth story and Rory’s first 24 hours! As I said at the beginning, this is just my experience and yours will be different. My birth went smoothly and I am immensely proud of my body, its strength and its stamina to bring Rory safely into the world. No matter how your little one chooses to enter the world, what’s safe is whats right. Your body is incredible, it grew a baby and kept it safe for 9 whole months - no matter what, never forget that!