My surges started naturally at 40+2 just as I got in to bed at 22:00 on Friday 14 September. I’d had some period style cramping earlier in the day but thought nothing of it as the day before I was told that baby’s head wasn’t yet engaged and as a result, I’d convinced myself it would still be a while before we met our tiny human.
The surges weren’t very powerful but were happening quite regularly and whilst trying to play it down I downloaded a contraction counter on my phone and began to properly monitor. At this point they were every 9 minutes and lasting 40 seconds. We blew up the pool and prepared the room with make shift black out blinds and then I sent my partner to the supermarket for white bread and pate (the food I’ve been craving the most throughout my pregnancy!) and snacks for our birth team which I’d been reluctant to buy in advance knowing I’d have just eaten them all!
Anticipating it would be a long night I tried to get some sleep but found this impossible due to the excitement/nerves. My partner got some rest whilst I went downstairs and watched The Notebook and bounced on my birth ball breathing through the surges which were still bearable in intensity but certainly getting stronger. At 03:20 my partner woke and attached my TENS machine which became my new best friend for the next few hours. Coping well with the surges and utilising the boost button I watched Little Rascals (one of my favourite childhood films) and kept bouncing on my ball.
At 07:30 I called my midwife and confirmed that my surges were now every 6-7 minutes and lasting 60 seconds but that I was happy to just continue on my own for the time being. She explained that I didn’t need to wait for her to use the pool if I wanted to start filling it. So, by 9:00 the pool was filled, and I was in, surrounded by candles and with our Spotify playlist in the background. The relief was amazing and was a lovely change from the TENS. I sat forward on my knees and lent over the side of the pool, breathing through the surges while my partner did soft touch massage. Unfortunately, I became too relaxed in the water (to the point where my partner couldn’t tell when I was having a surge) and the frequency went from every 4 minutes to every 9.
When my midwife arrived at 11:45 she suggested that I got out of the pool to try and build up the surges again. TENS back on and wandering around the room they gradually built back up and by 13:40 I was desperate for the relief of the water again. It was at this time I was classed as being in established labour without any internal examination being carried out. My midwife had assured me that unless I really wanted the VE she could tell from my behaviour and body language that things were progressing, and I felt safe and happy to let my body guide me along without knowing how many centimetres I was.
Over the next few hours, both baby and I were regularly monitored, checking that neither of us were in distress / high blood pressure, racing pulse etc. I’d requested a water proof doppler which meant the checks could be done on baby with minimal disruption whilst I was in the pool. From getting back in to the pool the surges remained frequent and powerful and the pressure in my pelvis became stronger and stronger. I asked for gas and air at 15:00 as I was struggling with the intensity and pressure. Still concentrating on my breathing this really helped through the surges. After five hours of wanting to push and feeling like nothing was progressing, I was quickly losing my way and asking what the options were to speed things along. I was hungry and tired and had been sick due to the intense pressure and chugging on gas and air. Queue disheartened Allie!
We decided at 18:30 that the best option was for me to get out of the pool, changing position and trying to encourage baby out another way. I accepted a VE (the first examination I’d had) which confirmed that I was 9cm with bulging membranes, but that baby was anaclitic, so the head wasn’t quite in the right position to move down the birth canal. Explaining the incredible pressure in my pelvis. Knowing I was 9cm gave me the boost that I desperately needed and although still exhausted and struggling it perked me up. From here I tried sitting on the toilet back to front as my changing positions would hopefully encourage baby to move more freely. Still using the gas and air it was about 5 minutes before my mucous plug appeared and I had a heavy show. Another sign that my body knew what it was doing, and things were progressing.
After another wander around the house my waters broke at 18:45. Back in the pool using gas and air, I breathed through my next contractions before the overwhelming pressure to bear down kicked in at 19:15. The next 16 minutes were a total blur where everything seemed to happen at once. A few strong pushes (and yelps from me – not quite the zen, peaceful final stage I had imagined), the midwife was able to see the head and called for the second midwife. In an attempt to reassure me and show how well I was doing, my midwife suggested I reach down to feel babies head. We were going to meet our baby soon. Before my next contraction the head appeared, followed quickly by a whole load of old meconium (luckily the fact it was old meant that baby hadn’t been in distress). The head was quickly followed by an arm and immediately followed by everything else with no final “push”. I birthed our baby at 19:31. Picking our little bundle off the bottom of the pool was the most overwhelming moment of my life. Immediate skin to skin and announcing we had a daughter I was a total emotional mess. After a few minutes (when I’d managed to stop crying!), it was decided that I should get out of the pool due to the amount of meconium in the water and head to my nest on the sofa to have our golden hour.
We opted for delayed cord clamping (34 minutes later), and I delivered my placenta naturally at 20:21. I highly recommend looking at the placenta even if you don’t plan on doing anything with it, as it genuinely is the most fascinating thing I’ve ever seen. So incredible that it protected our tiny human for the last 9-months. I was examined on the sofa with the relief of gas and air and no stitches were required. While my partner had skin to skin time and baby had the vitamin K injection, I took a shower and had a moment to myself to take in what had just happened.
Our second midwife, who although didn’t make it for my super speedy delivery, worked like a cleaning ninja with my partner to get our house back to normal and made me a brew before they both left at 22:00. I was initially quite disappointed that I’d not been able to remain in the zone and have a fully calm, peaceful labour / birth BUT…. on reflection it was utterly perfect for me. I birthed our baby safely at home using TENS, breathing exercises and gas and air, just as I had wanted. My partner and midwife were an incredible support and continually worked to reassure me when I thought I couldn’t do it.
Thank You’s: My heartfelt thanks to my incredible midwife Donna. I’ll forever be grateful for your support throughout my pregnancy and in particular the labour. Even when you told me I had patience issues, haha! You’ve been incredibly reassuring from the very start and I certainly couldn’t have done it without you. Xx
Our second midwife Sophie who although missed the birth turned into a cleaning ninja as soon as you arrived. You were a star xx
To Kim and Beckie who did Adeline’s newborn checks on day 2 and comforted me through a total emotional meltdown – thank you for not judging xx
To Rachel, my MaMA who continues to support me with my breastfeeding journey – thank you xx
To One to One as a whole, I’m so SO glad that I made the decision to transfer to this service at 22 weeks. It’s without doubt the best decision I made in my pregnancy and I’m eternally grateful for everyone who makes this possible. I’ll be recommending One to One to everyone.