Birth Story

Baby Girl

Delilah is now four weeks old, I cannot quite believe it. She is still a tiny little dot, I feel like I am going to break her, it is so strange getting used to a newborn again.

Some of you will be aware that my pregnancy was not an easy ride, I struggled with Hyperemesis from day one and it lasted right through the pregnancy, tapering off finally at about 36 weeks. I still was not quite right up until the birth, it was a complete shock especially after the very easy going pregnancy that I had with Cass.

My waters broke very early on Saturday morning. Will had only just returned from work at 3am and around 3.30am I woke up convinced I had wet myself. I just put it down to a really low point for my bodily functions (there have been a few) and tried to go back to sleep. It was only then that I thought that rather than my bladder and pelvic floor finally throwing in the towel, it was probably my waters. After a quick google (to make sure) I contacted the midwife who told me to make my way to the hospital.

My wonderful sister jumped in her car and travelled nearly two hours to collect Cass, who was over the moon with his early morning adventure. Will and I travelled the short 15 minute trip to the hospital. It was 6am and at this point I was having a couple of niggles but nothing regular, I just thought I would be sent home after a quick check.

The midwife examined me at 6.30am and said I was around 1cm dilated which is normal for someone who has already had a child, but not to go home. She suggested going to Costa Coffee for a brew. Off we went.

We made it to the front entrance of the hospital and I could not move any further, the contractions came from no where and they were fast and strong. I am not really sure how we made it back up to the ward. Lots of people kept offering to help and I remember thinking all I wanted to do was take all my clothes off and lay on the floor.

By the time we made it back to the ward it was 7.15am. I immediately removed all my clothes and got on the floor, I could feel baby coming and the midwife rushed off to fill the pool. I think I jumped in the pool with about 2cm of water in it, this baby was definitely coming and fast. As I felt her move down and her head crown, she seemed to be taking longer than I would have liked. I told the midwife that I needed to push as well as let my body do the work.

At 8am and one and a half songs into my Florence and the Machine playlist, Delilah Paige was born. She was as quiet as a mouse and I could see that the midwife was concerned, so she cut the umbilical cord earlier than planned, thinking that Delilah may need some help. It was then that she let out few squeaks and a huge cry and we knew she was ok.

I was so overcome with emotion and could not stop crying and saying ‘she looks like Cass.’ I kept asking the nurse to check if she was ok, it all happened so quickly, it didn’t feel real. Will took Delilah and had skin to skin whilst I attempted to make my way out of the pool, the after pains were so strong this time I just felt like I could not hold on to her and I wanted to get out of the pool as fast as I wanted to get in it.

The hours following Delilah’s birth were absolutely perfect, we were in an exhausted, shell shocked, blissful bubble. After a twenty hour labour with Cass I just could not believe that Delilah had arrived in approximately two.

The staff at St Mary’s, Manchester were unbelievable and we were home that evening by 7pm. I was mentally prepared for a long, back to back labour with lots of drama, so what had happened was a wonderful surprise. I am grateful for the birth that I had and put it down to my body just giving me a bit of a break after the past nine months.

Hospital Birth Plan

This is my hospital birth plan, I handed it to the midwife on admission to the hospital. Had I been more prepared and gone into labour on time, I would have emailed it to my community midwife so that they had a copy before hand.

I hope it may be of use to someone else.

Birth Plan

ADDITIONAL NEEDS

I am Autistic and would request that the minimum amount of people are in the room as much as possible during labour. I would politely request that no students are to be in the room during labour for this reason.

I have sensory needs and difficulties and for this reason I ask for people to remain as quiet as possible and communicate through my birth partner please. I also request that artificial lights are dim or off during labour but that natural light is available at all times.

BIRTH PARTNER

My birth partner is my husband Will, he will be with me throughout the whole birth and we have written this birth plan together.

INTERVENTIONS

If their are any concerns regarding the progress of the birth or feel that intervention is needed at any point please can you speak with Will first rather than myself.

Please could you allow us some time alone to discuss any suggested interventions before they take place.

With regards to intervention in a NON EMERGENCY situation please can the following be discussed before anything is agreed to

Benefits – what are the benefits to going ahead with this decision?

Risks – What risks are associated with this decision or procedure?

Alternatives – What alternatives are available in this situation? What alternatives are there that might not be available here but might be available elsewhere?

Intuition – What does your gut tell you?

Next or Nothing – What comes next if we say yes? What if we say no and let things progress naturally?

If I require an assisted birth or an emergency procedure I would like Will to stay with me at all times.

POSITIONS

I would like to remain upright and as active as possible for as long as possible. I would like to be on all fours for the actual birth and not squatting. I would like to lie down as little as possible.

PAIN RELIEF

I would like to try to avoid all pain relief for as long as possible. I would like to try and avoid gas and air too but I may change my mind about this. I would like to use the pool during the final stages of labour and not before.

SPEEDING UP LABOUR

I do not want any interventions to speed up labour, I would like to wait and see what happens naturally.

MONITORING HEART RATE

I would like intermittent monitoring with a hand held device.

THIRD STAGE

I would like a natural third stage without drugs. I would also like delayed cord clamping and to be able to birth the placenta naturally.

SKIN TO SKIN/FEEDING

I would like baby to be placed directly on to my tummy straight after birth.

I will be breast feeding my baby and do not wish for them to have any formula at all.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read our birth plan

Lucy and Will

Time to think

Over the past couple of weeks I have had quite a lot of time to think and I have had to make a few decisions about the future. The past nineteen months have been eye opening and I am slowly learning a lot about myself. At times it has been great, but being honest with yourself is sometimes really tough.

At my last midwife appointment the midwife wanted to know where I wanted to give birth, at first I thought, well obviously at home. We planned a home birth with Cass and it just seemed easier to stay at home.

After a while I started to think that maybe this was not actually the best option for me and my family. When I was pregnant with Cass I literally spent the whole nine months planning his birth. I wanted to be as prepared as possible for whatever happened.

We went to Hypnobirthing classes, opted for a home birth, hired a pool, wrote a birth plan, I thought we were going for a laid back approach. I knew I wanted to avoid unnecessary medical intervention and I did not want any medication so it just seemed easier for everyone if we just stayed at home.

Looking back now it was all quite stressful. Elvis, the dog, had to go in the kennels (I do not think he has fully forgiven us for this), we had to pump up a massive pool in our tiny kitchen and hang sheets from the windows as there are no curtains in there, what was meant to be a calm, tranquil birthing environment was more like a cave.

There were what felt like hundreds of people in our tiny home, I had lost all concept of time and space, the night became day and I did not even realise because the curtains were still closed. I felt like I was at some never ending afterparty in a strange house. It is hard to relax when there are total strangers walking round your house, I kind of felt like I should be making them a cup of tea or offering them a snack. No amount of Hypnobirthing was going to make me feel calm.

The worst thing was that the toilet was so far away, every time I needed the loo I had to try and climb the mountain face that is our stairs, and with a back to back baby this was not pleasant.

Home birth is such a wonderful experience for a lot of women and to be honest it did start off wonderful,but in the end, and in hindsight I can see it just was not for me. What I really learned is that I love natural light, routine and space. I feel like I need the routine of the hospital to keep me on track, I need to be able to just move and walk and the hospital will have a lot more space than our cosy little home. I also would like the pleasure of just coming home to a house that is not full of medical equipment or the stress of having to put away a birth pool.

It is not about me thinking my choices are the best or the right choices for everyone, it is about seeing what works well for me and choosing that. Also, learning to understand why it works for me and trying to avoid falling into trends or being easily led. This time I am not going to try micromanage the birth and everyone involved, I am just going with what feels right at the time and hopefully everything will be slightly calmer. Who knows though, I’ll probably end up having the baby in the car on the way to the hospital.

The Best Laid (birth) Plans

I was determined to not be afraid of giving birth, as a woman I felt that I’d spent my whole life being informed of the horrors of pushing a small human being out of my vagina. That the agonising pain, like nothing on earth, would destroy me and I would never feel anything like it again, jokingly adding that it all would be worth it. Did it have to be this way? Why so much pain and fear?

My only experience of birth was from TV and movies. Often shown as rapid events consisting of lots of drama, pain, pushing, screaming, panic, more pain and blood. Yes, some of these elements are present during child birth but it’s not always like it is on the television or in the movies. 

I suppose I stuck my head in the sand. I didn’t want to know about the horror and the potential risks. It wasn’t that I was ignorant to it, I obviously knew that things may go wrong and medical intervention may be needed, but what good would worrying or preparing for the worst do? I felt it was more important to look for a positive birth experience and educate myself in the process. At the end of the day I trusted my body and the medical professionals, if something went wrong we’d deal with it head on rather than prepare for the worst possible outcome.

I read a lot about ‘Active Birth’ and the importance of keeping the body moving during pregnancy and labour, the role that oxytocin plays during child birth and the different stages of labour. Some basic science really helped me get my head around what a baby goes through to be born and how I could help make that journey a bit easier.

Again I found a lot of the birth preparation classes heavily focussed on the negatives. Pain relief, induction and what to do when things go wrong were the hot topics. After spending some time searching for alternatives, a friend recommended Hypnobirthing and we attended classes with The Wise Hippo Birthing Programme. 

I think Will wondered what I’d signed him up for, but we genuinely learned a lot about what other choices are out there for people. Hypnobirthing taught me a lot about managing situations, rationalising and making my own calm, informed decisions when it came to birth. We didn’t want to be another statistic with a ‘best fit’ birth plan, we wanted to do this in the way that worked best for us and our baby.

I was fit, healthy and low risk so I suggested a home birth. It just felt right, I like my house and I liked the idea of being close to my fridge and bed. I didn’t need any planned interventions or medication so it seemed silly to take up a bed in hospital when everything I needed was in my home.

Will was less easy to convince, it wasn’t an immediate no but just a wall of silence. For him, it was a lot to take it. I suppose deep down it was something I wanted to do as soon as I became pregnant but understandably he wanted to know that me and Cass were both going to be safe.

We had a pool in our kitchen and a plan in place. Will had stocked up on snacks and drinks and we were ready to go. I waited with excitement for the contractions to begin. They did begin but something didn’t feel quite right, the pain was constant, there were no breaks in between each contraction just horrific pain. After 17 hours of labour, 5 hours in the pool, enough gas and air to sedate a donkey and 2 paracetamol, I was 4cm dilated. My spirit had been broken.

A new midwife arrived and she took one look at me and said that the baby was ‘back to back’ which explained the constant pain. At this point Cass still needed to turn to get into the correct position and this could take 2 hours or 10 hours. I was so tired and felt deranged from the pain. I was being sick and felt like I needed to get out of my house. I told the midwife I wanted to go to the hospital, I wanted all the drugs, I wanted him to be sucked out or I wanted a cesarean. She told me to stop over reacting, everything was fine, he was just taking a bit longer to get here.

In my head though I knew that I needed a change of scenery, my lovely home suddenly felt small and claustrophobic, it smelled strange and there were too many people. The wonderful midwife made a few phone calls and pulled a few strings and it was decided that I could go to the midwifery led birthing unit in Salford. There were no drugs available and I definitely wouldn’t be getting my recent elective cesarean but it was a change of scenery. 

We arrived at the Midwifery Unit at Salford Royal at 2pm and after a few more demands for ‘all the drugs’ and a small amount of ‘I told you a wanted a cesarean’ Cassius Edwin came into the world at 3pm. There was no drama, no fierce pushing and no panic. 

During those final 15 minutes after my waters had broken I listened to my body, I breathed though the final contractions and rested when they dulled. I remembered everything I had learned through the Active Birth and Hypnobirthing classes, about breathing my baby out and putting my body in an optimum position for birth. 

After we were both checked over we were allowed to go home. My husband and the staff at Salford Royal Midwifery Unit were unbelievable. I didn’t get the birth that I had ‘planned’ for but I did get the birth that was right for me and my baby. I had learned enough before hand to understand my body and realise what I needed to do. Luckily I had a fantastic midwife who helped me when I lost sight of what I wanted but during those final 15 minutes I felt calm and in control. 

Not everything goes to plan during child birth and not everyone has a choice. But I don’t think many women are encouraged to look for other opinions and move away from a traditional ‘best fit’ birth plan. I encourage all parents to ask questions about what is available to them. 

Women should be made to feel confident about child birth, not scared.