I had always been terrified of birth, since being a child I said I’d rather adopt than have my own as I was too scared to give birth. This was probably due to the fact my mum told me it was a horrendous experience.
This all changed when at 19 I found myself pregnant, me and my partner decided we could do it and I became very excited to be a mum. I did a lot of research into birth and decided a natural birth would be best. The one book that gave me confidence was Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. I decided that rather than a hospital or birth centre I’d have him at home in a pool. My family were not keen on the idea at all, but we knew it was the right choice for us.
On Tuesday the 10th Jan at 6 days overdue I started having weak contractions about a minute apart after doing lots of nipple stimulation for the days previously. They continued and continued and started getting quite strong and from the beginning were about 5 minutes apart, they were especially sore if I tried to lie down and sleep. I tried to sleep anyway but it was impossible. I had a sudden quite painful contraction and jumped out of bed, I went to the loo and saw my bloody show and got very excited!
So I woke up my partner showing him the goo in a bit of tissue and we decided to go on a long walk at 3am to try and speed things up.
They slowly got stronger and stronger though out the night to the early morning so we went on another walk! I was already giving up hope thinking it was never going to progress – I thought my labour would be quick like my mums. I kept on phoning the hospital and they told me to try and relax, get some sleep etc because first babies normally take a long time to start coming as the cervix hasn’t opened before.
I tried to eat and drink loads of water in this in-between stage. I couldn’t sit still through the contractions and certainly could not sit down! Luckily I found the energy to keep active and relax through the contractions, I wasn’t finding them painful yet, some where intense but nothing I couldn’t handle – this made me feel strong.
I phoned the hospital again at about 7pm on Wednesday, I was quite tired now, as I hadn’t slept. I think my voice was starting to wobble on the phone and they sent round the midwife. I’d previously stated that I wanted no vaginal examinations during labour but I was begging for it – I just had to know what was going on down there. I really trusted this midwife; she was so lovely so she did an examination. She was very gentle and she told me I was 4cm. I was over the moon!
My birth was in Leeds and One Born Every Minute was on – it was Leeds General Infirmary so we watched it whilst I kept on breathing through contractions and pacing around the room. The contractions were getting to a stage where I started thinking how nice it would be to jump in the pool, it still had to be filled though. It was time for shifts to swap so two new midwives came.
Eventually I was starting to think that walking and breathing through them wasn’t helping so I asked for the pool to be filled! This took ages as the hose fitting didn’t work so my partner and the midwives had to fill up the bin and buckets with water. Disaster then struck, we ran out of hot water. So the midwives got to work filling pans and boiling them on the hob. I started to worry that I would never get my pool. I started to cry and one of the midwives said I could always use the pool at the hospital. My wonderful partner said no way and he asked our great friends on the floor above if we could borrow some hot water. This bit is all a blur but once I got in to the pool I felt some relief. I still felt like I wanted some gas and air though. The midwives were amazing, I can’t fault them they kept telling me that I was doing brilliantly and I was so relaxed – they said I didn’t even look like I was in labour. I definitely felt like I was though!
I started on the gas and air and listened to my favourite music and chatted. This part was good and the gas and air was really nice and took the edge off. I carried on like this for a few hours until about 6am when suddenly the pain was intense and the contractions were so close together. This was the first time in my labour that I felt that I couldn’t do it any more; I wanted the pain to stop now. I had been doing this for so long and didn’t feel like I was getting very far. The midwives obviously could tell I was going through transition and that I was progressing well because they kept saying ‘you’re doing it! This is what you wanted and you’re nearly there’.
I decided I had to get out of the pool and sit on the toilet. I had a different sensation down below. No pain any more, I put my hand there to see what was going on and the baby had obviously descended as it felt very different there! My partner suddenly went quite pale (I think reality hit him haha) and the midwife told me to try and push. I pushed a little bit and felt that was what I needed to do. I suddenly felt like it was really happening and felt a bit nervous. I decided I wanted to push in our bedroom. So I knelt by the bed on my knees and my partner (now recovering from his little turn!) got onto the bed and held my hands.
I would push down a little and my body would do the rest, this bit was great. I had no pain whatsoever and it took half an hour and his head came out. Every one told me this would burn but it felt warm, not painful at all which I was grateful for as I wasn’t using any gas and air during the pushing. I pushed again and his body slipped out, this bit felt a little sore. They passed me my beautiful Jasper through my legs and I held him for the first time. Embarrassingly I said ‘I don’t know how to hold him!!’ it came very naturally though. He was beautiful, didn’t look like a newborn at all. No vernix, no wrinkly skin. I was quite shocked at this stage. He was 9 pound 7oz! I couldn’t believe he was so big, me and my partner were 7 pounds at birth so I thought he would be the same. Luckily I didn’t really tear, apparently there was a tiny tear to the labia requiring 1 stitch but I said no thank you and it healed fine.
Daddy and baby had skin to skin. The lovely midwives had to leave as the shift changed yet again. One of them said ‘women like you are the reason I do my job’ she gave me a hug then left, she made me feel great. There was a new midwife and a student. This part upset me, the new midwife wasn’t friendly at all. She made me push the placenta out there and then which was a bit traumatic – I felt she was a little forceful and she then checked me over which hurt, I had to use gas and air for this! The student ran me a bath and I got in. After not sleeping and eating properly for 37 hours, I felt quite faint. Luckily the student came and helped me out of the bath. I was feeling exhausted like never before, they showed me how to breastfeed and we all went to sleep.
After this experience I’ve felt a strength I never knew I have, giving birth was a wonderful experience for me.
Jasper has been the most happy and content baby ever, we loved the whole experience so much that we’re doing it all again and our next baby is due 8th June 2013 and we’re having another homebirth. This time round I will make sure the midwives know what I want and will write a birth plan for them all to have a look at.