WINCEY’S POSITIVE BIRTH STORY
A surprise early arrival!
👶🏻 Known baby boy
📆 Estimated due date 21/08/21
📆 Born 22/07/21
⚖️ 5lbs 6oz
🏨 Planned birth – Midwifery Led Unit
🏨 Actual birth – Consultant Led Unit
💊 Pain relief – Up breathing, TENs machine, gas & air
⏰ Time from first surge – 9 hours
⚠️ Use of word contraction (not negative to me), premature, NICU, cannot track heartbeat, ventouse, episiotomy
Reading so many birth stories during my pregnancy was the biggest help and I would love to pay it forward! Although baby was premature, this was an extremely positive birth for me!
I felt lucky overall as I didn’t really experience much sickness at all at any stage, just exhaustion in first tri, feeling pretty close to pre-pregnancy in second tri, but then developed PGP from end of second tri. Third tri progressively got harder as weeks went by with aches in pelvis, hips, back and unable to sleep in any position… but overall I feel that my pregnancy was relatively smooth.
I don’t know why but deep down I had a slight feeling that baby could come early as I felt that he was always “early” in terms of when I was experiencing certain milestones… I.e. feeling kicks from around 17-18 weeks despite anterior placenta and it being first pregnancy; he was already head down from about 26 weeks; I felt the “drop” from 33 weeks or so… but I was still so shocked with how quickly everything just panned out!
At around 2am on Thursday 22nd (birth day) I was woken up from my sleep with what I thought was stomach ache. I’ve had IBS all my life so dealing with upset stomachs was nothing new to me and this felt exactly the same as IBS to me at this point in terms the of stomach pains coming in waves. So I went to the toilet as I usually would for relief and just tried going back to sleep. This persisted for the next 30 mins or so and I was wondering whether I had upset my stomach so badly by eating ramen noodles late in the night 😆! I also found that whenever I tried to lie down the cramps felt more intense. I wasn’t convinced yet that these were surges and I was going to the toilet and trying to get back to sleep for the next hour or so 😅!
At around 4am when I just couldn’t go back to sleep anymore I decided to go downstairs so that I didn’t disturb my partner and just started using my Freya App “in case” these were surges! By 6.30am-ish the app was telling me I was in established labour, and I decided to call the Midwifery Led Unit for advice – I knew my original birth plan would be out the window given I was 35+5, and possibly why I kept being in denial about the surges!
After telling the midwife on the phone that I wasn’t sure if the cramps were contractions or not (since it’s my first birth) but I’ve been timing them anyway, she just advised that I only come into triage if I felt like I couldn’t take the pain anymore. She suggested paracetamol if I needed it, but tbh I felt like everything was quite manageable and I’ve always been the sort of person that doesn’t even take paracetamol in general! I told her I would like to labour at home for as long as possible and I decided to put my TENs machine on just to see if it would help when the surges got a bit more intense. And I absolutely loved it! Looking back now I couldn’t have laboured at home for so long without the combo of Freya app counting the up breathing + TENs machine boost button! It made everything quite manageable despite only getting about 2 mins break between surges.
By 8.30am I decided it was time to go to triage to get checked out as the app had been consistently telling me I was in established labour for the last 2 hours! Inevitably the surges became further apart on the way to hospital due to the effect of adrenaline kicking in! On arrival they made me do a urine sample 🙈 (just imagine trying to do that whilst still having TENs machine on and having surges whilst trying to pee into a tube!) and the nurse made me wait in a waiting room where I was a bit embarrassed to be playing my mediation and up breathing in front of other pregnant women who were there for other check ups! When the nurse finally came to me I told him the app said I’m in established labour – at which point he laughed and tutted at these “apps”, suggesting that I couldn’t possibly be because “how could an app tell you that”🙄 – all the while he could see me having contractions in the hallway and having to pause our convo every minute or so!
Eventually a midwife became available and I accepted a VE where they confirmed I was 4cm dilated and they could see baby’s hair! I wasn’t shocked given I knew Freya was very accurate and I had been at home for a long time, but was also a bit anxious as the midwife uttered “looks like you’re going to have your baby today!”
At this point I called my husband (who hadn’t parked up yet in case I was going to be sent home) and told him we were staying! I was introduced to my midwife Phoebe who was an amazing person and super supportive from the get go. I showed her my birth plan, asked if the only pool in the consultant let unit was free (it was not) and went into the room. She assured me that all the dim lighting, music and calm environment etc can still be replicated as I wished. She told me that if at any point she needed to call for more assistance, she would ask the nurses and doctors to wait behind the curtain until necessary to not overcrowd my space – which was so lovely of her!
Since baby would be premature, I had to have continuous monitoring of his heart rate so I specifically requested wireless monitoring – as I wanted to stay as mobile as possible. But it also meant I had to give up my TENs which I was really upset about as it had helped mask the sensations in my lower back so well! And despite Phoebe’s efforts in holding the monitoring device in place over my stomach, chasing me round the room as I moved and paced up and down😅 – they were just not getting an accurate reading of baby’s heart rate.
I felt the contractions get more intense and my husband became the replacement TENs at this point as I instructed him to place pressure in my lower back each time the surge came! I also then remembered I could have gas and air so I requested this. I have no idea how long I had been in the room already but it felt like things were moving along so quickly. Phoebe was also struggling to get a cannula into my hand (to administer antibiotics – as it was recommended with premature births) as my surges were coming every 10 or 20 seconds or so and I was moving about far too much for her to put it in! Bless her, looking back now I must have been very annoying to manage given how much I kept moving 😅, but she was so calm the whole time and kept softly speaking in a hush tone “you’re doing very very well” 😆.
Then all of a sudden, I felt the urge to push whilst bouncing on a birth ball and felt like I was also peeing at the same time! At this point Phoebe said to me that she knows I don’t want to be on my back, but they were getting increasingly concerned that they couldn’t track baby’s heart rate, and wanted to try and put the clip on his head instead. Every time she suggested something I immediately asked what are the risks and never forgot about my BRAIN tool lol, but i knew the best thing was to be able to know if baby was doing okay during all the surges and they were coming in thick and fast. So I accepted and had to lie on my back and they had to break my waters. They tried to get the clip on several times, but just couldn’t get it on. I kept getting back up to lean over the head of the bed so I was more on all fours and doing my down breathing as best I could, but it was SO hard! As the surges were like 5 seconds apart, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. And for the first time in the whole labour experience I actually felt the “pain” of the surges. Which I feel is pretty good, considering this was now the final stage and I hadn’t taken any medication for pain relief at all!
At this point, there were several people in the room and I was recommended they needed to get the baby out quickly as they couldn’t get any accurate reading of his heart rate through any of the methods and it was suggested they use ventouse. I knew the benefits and risks of the intervention already and I was comfortable going with it as we were both concerned about baby and he was priority. Also at this stage my down breathing of birthing baby out slowly wasn’t going to cut it. I also accepted their coached pushing as I was now just focused on getting him out as quick as possible. So I went onto my back again (which feels horrendous on your lower back btw when the surges already feel like a huge bowling ball crushing into your pelvic region!) and had to put my feet onto stirrups. But within a few minutes and just 2 pushes our baby boy just slipped out and we heard his first cry immediately. He was born at 11.50am, so just over 2 hours since entering the labour room!
I remember feeling absolute relief that he cried straight away which meant he was breathing okay unaided, as they had told me one of the concerns with premature babies is that they may need assistance with this when they’re born. They place him on my chest straight away and I remember him feeling a lot heavier than I imagined lol. Though obviously he wasn’t massive at all, and probably because I was so weak!
I opted for the injection for placenta delivery as they said I had lost just a little more blood than average. When it came to the episiotomy being stitched up I asked the doctor whether I needed gas and air for it – but she said she had already given me local anaesthetic which I definitely didn’t feel when she did that! The stitches felt like they took forever to do but there wasn’t any pain. And I also had ibuprofen inserted – though I did hesitate initially, at which point the midwife promptly reminded me I had managed to avoid all drugs til this point and an ibuprofen is really okay and that it will really help with the pain relief when anaesthetic eases down there!
After this everything was just a bit of a blur but I remember not having my tea and toast when it was still warm, so that really wasn’t what everyone here was saying as the best thing ever 😆. I also vaguely remember still hearing the music on the Freya App playing in the background and telling me “your baby will come when it’s ready” and asking to turn it off lol.
Looking back I feel so lucky to have had a really supportive team at the consultant led unit and Phoebe was the best midwife I could’ve asked for. Postnatal care was amazing and as my baby developed jaundice we ended up spending a week in NICU – which I found completely overwhelming at first. But the team were incredible. Without that time in the hospital and hands on support, I don’t think breast feeding would’ve been as positive of an experience (I ended up nursing successfully for 10 months!) And we wouldn’t have settled into a good feeding routine as quickly as we did.
If you’ve made it this far – thanks so much for reading my birth story! If it wasn’t for the positive birth company course and everyone’s stories, I wouldn’t have gotten through pregnancy and birth with such a positive mindset. And despite having interventions and unexpected scenarios I felt completely in control and prepared and would do everything again in a heartbeat ❤️! I hope my story will help others as many have helped me 💕