EMMA & LOUIS
I was thoroughly enjoying my maternity leave prior to Louis birth. Lots of rest and daily walks and yoga. I was happily banking some rest in anticipation of the sleepless nights ahead with a new born. I would nap most days when my daughter was at nursery. We had opted for a home birth and had also hired a birth doula, as there wasn’t much continuity of care in the trust I was under. We had also done hynobirthing this time around. My daughter’s birth had been very long but resulted in a vaginal delivery at a midwife led unit. I had high hopes this would be quicker. Lots of friends had had very quick second deliveries and I was hoping this would be at least a bit faster than last time.
I had had a false alarm 10 days previously where I very much thought labour was starting. I had very regular very mild contractions for a few hours, but they then faded when I went to bed and there was no sign of much for a good week. I heard from my doula 4 days past my EDD to check in and see how I was doing. We chatted about how strange that time is waiting for your baby to arrive, especially after the due date. My daughter had been 9 days post dates so I was expecting similar, but you never really do know. I also said there seemed to be no sign of anything, I felt like I had every other evening. I went to bed and woke about 1am when I rolled over and felt a crampy pain. I thought I had pulled a muscle rolling. Then a few minutes later another crampy pain. And another a few minutes later. And they kept coming. Not hugely intense but very regular. I couldn’t sleep so I went for a walk and did some yoga stretches in the living room. They kept coming and were slowly building in intensity. I woke my husband and said he should probably let the birth centre know that I was in early labour. We also called our doula to let her know things had started, but were still relatively mild.
The first midwife arrived by 3am and quickly called the second to arrive. As my surges were very regular and I was starting to hum and moo with them. I had stated in my birth plan that I wished to be left alone and to have no VE unless I asked for them or they were medically indicated. The midwife sat very quietly just watching me hum through my surges whilst doing lots of yoga cat/cows on my mat and then would leave to have tea in the kitchen. The intensity and regularity kept building. The second midwife arrived but stayed in our kitchen. Our daughter kept waking up so my husband had to keep leaving the room to comfort her back to sleep. We had so hoped she would sleep through the whole thing but alas that wasn’t to be. My surges then started to slow down a little with my daughters waking and when my doula arrived about 5am she suggested I try and get some sleep if I could. This was great advice as I was tired and did manage to doze between surges whilst she prepped the birth pool.
When may daughter woke at 7 she thought it was wonderful having a house full of midwives and chatted away to them in the kitchen between giving me hugs during my surges. I knew I didn’t want her at the birth, as I wanted to be able to let go and not worry about her worrying about me, but she coped so well with seeing some of the labour.
At 8am my husband raced her up to nursery and sadly the midwives changed shifts. I felt quite deflated at that point as I was really hoping this birth would have been quicker and that those lovely midwives would have delivered our baby. It was unsettling to have to adapt to a new team, and reminded me of all the shift changes with my daughter’s long birth. Having our doula there was wonderful and she was so encouraging and supportive seeing my obvious disappointment.
The new team of midwives arrived and they were also lovely. Again they were very hands off as requested, and I felt so respected.
It was around now that I asked my husband to squeeze my hips during a surge. We had learnt about this during our hypnobirthing class and I wanted to see if it would help. It was a revelation! It took away so much of the intensity. We laboured like this for a while and then I decided to get into the pool for a while as I needed a change. The pool felt heavenly. I had a few strong surges and then they slowed right down. As lovely as it was to have a break from the intense contractions, I really wanted my baby to be born more and you really have to lean into the intensity.
I got out of the pool and asked to be examined. I was starting to feel frustrated there was no baby and wanted to know how far along I was. I was examined and I was 8cm. This was positive but I was also disappointed. I was sure I must be fully dilated by now and really felt sad that I wasn’t. I remember saying to everyone this was never going to happen. It was impossible. Everyone should go home as no baby was going to be born. Ha!
My doula was again so warm and encouraging. She could see how tired I was getting and suggested I either have another sleep or get marching up the stairs (we had 3 stairs in our flat!). I was determined to get this baby out so I crab walked up and down these three stairs for about 30minutes. It definitely helped my contractions build up again. I went to the loo and had a few almighty surges. So I began alternating stairs, with the loo and hands and knees yoga moves. This carried on with very strong but irregular surges for 2 hours. I asked for another VE after this time and I was now 10cm. Hurrah.
My surges were quite irregular now but very strong and my waters hadn’t yet broken. I needed to hang off something and bend my knees during them whilst having my hips squeezed. It was defiantly very active and very physical. This really helped the intensity of the surges massively. I definitely started to feel some bearing down and was excited my baby might be going to be born en caul (in the waters). We carried on like this for another 45 minutes moving from the loo to the bedroom all the while followed by the midwives with mirrors and baby catching kit. I again started to feel a bit despondent that things kept slowing down.
After an hour the main midwife suggested she could break my waters if I would like. I had said in my birth plan I didn’t want this, but by now I was getting tired and really wanted to have my babe in my arms. I consented to my waters being broken and within 5 minutes my body and baby took over. I was half squatting half kneeling leaning over the edge of the birth pool (but not actually in it). My surges were now super strong and without me actually ‘pushing’ my body would bare down and literally expelled my baby – it was the foetal ejection reflex I had heard about but hadn’t experienced at all with my daughters birth. It was wild. I roared out. My amazing, slippery baby boy was immediately passed to me by the midwife. It was magical.
I held him and fed him whilst we waited for my placenta to be delivered. I kept having contractions and was encouraged to push to get the placenta out. I was tired and not interested in doing anything but snuggle my boy. I said I might have a managed third stage as ‘I was done’ (not in my plan). My doula said it would make my contractions more intense if I did have the injection and I then decided to stick with a physiological third stage, as I originally wanted. After about 20 minutes of me very very half heartedly pushing, my body suddenly again took hold and I had the ‘expelling’ contractions again and roared out his placenta.
My boy was finally in my arms and his birth was finished. It was heavenly. Unfortunately I had a small but slightly complicated tear. I had said on my birth plan that I only wished to be stitched by an obstetrician or senior midwife (due to previous stitches after my daughter not being done well) so we needed to get transferred to hospital for this.
It was a shame not to be snuggled up in our own bed like I had envisioned, but after being stitched very quickly, we got sent to the birth Centre to spend the night due to my hemoglobin levels being pretty low. I was gutted to not be home, but we had a lovely night all curled up together, with no home to tidy up and nothing to be done except be together. My daughter stayed at a friends and we could have a night just getting to know the new guy.
So whilst it was not the fast second birth I had hoped to have (it was 6 hours active labor according to my notes, but early labour had been a similar time frame and pretty intense too), I still felt like a rock star having birthed my boy with only hyponobirthing breathing, yoga moves and some amazing hip squeezes by my husband.