A Positive Pandemic Birth Story
Weight: 8lb 9
Mother: Katie Turnham
My expected due date of 3rd May came and went and as my first baby was born at 41+4 (also a planned home birth), I knew I could be in for a little wait before meeting baby number 2! My partner and I attended a 2 day face to face hypnobirthing course during our first pregnancy (which was so interesting and empowering!) and although there isn’t much of a gap between the pregnancies I wanted to refresh everything. I listened to positive affirmations/relaxation mantras most evenings at bedtime. On 11th May (41+1) I went for a growth scan because according to midwifes my measurements at the last two routine appointments baby’s growth had plateaued. The growth scan showed everything was fine and they gave me a guesstimate weight of 7lb 15.
After this I was supposed to have a midwife appointment but either me or the midwife had got the time wrong so my slot was missed! I was happy not to be seen anyway as I’d just been measured showing baby safe and well and I was declining the stretch and sweep that we’d talked about the week before.
We had a phone catch up instead and I was advised that induction would be booked on the Thursday, (I would be 41+4) I politely declined. I was then offered induction on the Friday, which I again declined. When making these decisions I used my BRAIN and given I’d carried my first baby to 41+4 I knew there was every chance I’d also carry this baby for a similar time so I made the decision to wait until 42 weeks and at that point accept induction if I hadn’t gone into spontaneous labour. On 14th May (41+4) I attended my routine midwife appointment and having used BRAIN again, I accepted a stretch and sweep - I was advised that my cervix was soft and 2-3cm dilated! The midwife explained that because I had declined induction they offer additional monitoring for baby and a meeting with a consultant to discuss my decision and talk about risk associated with prolonging pregnancy. I accepted both and they were booked for the following morning. I also thought it would be a good opportunity to have another sweep if I felt like it on the day! On 15th May (41+5) my partner and I dropped our little boy at his Grandparents and we drove to the hospital. I went into day assessment alone for baby to be monitored for half an hour and all was fine. I then met with a registrar on triage and she went through the risks of prolonging my pregnancy.
I asked for the actual statistics in relation to the risks she spoke about and felt confident with my informed decision to wait to be induced. This was booked for Sunday when I’d be 42 weeks. I asked a midwife for a stretch and sweep and I was advised I was a good 3cm dilated! As soon as I stood up I felt a light surge straight away! We left the hospital and on the journey back we made the decision to leave our son with Grandparents overnight as I felt that surges were light but they were becoming more consistent. We popped in for a quick kiss and cuddle with our little one and headed home. When we got back my partner set up our living room with waterproof sheeting, duvets, tarpaulins, fairy lights, candles and played my hypnobirthing tracks. He also brought down my birth bag so he had everything to hand, and a pile of towels. The birth pool had been inflated for weeks so this was one less job! The room was so relaxing and cosy and I felt very excited and comfortable knowing our son was settled and labour had started! At 5pm surges were consistent and much stronger, but really manageable and I started to time them on the Freya app, as well as use the tens machine, I’d found this really beneficial during my first labour so started it early on as I had before. I bounced on my ball, ate some cereal and we watched films. By 8pm surges had become closer together so my partner called triage as we had been advised to call sooner than 3 surges in 10 minutes as my first labour progressed quickly, and with covid-19 there was no guarantee the midwives would have the staff to attend a home birth (this is the same as what we were told with my first baby so I didn’t feel worried as I know there is always the chance they don’t have the staff to support a HB, with or without Covid-19!).
The midwives said that they had the staff, but to call back again when surges were every 4-5 minutes apart. My partner filled the birth pool, put the cover on it and then called back at 10pm - we were advised a midwife (someone my partner went to school with and who I had really clicked with at an antenatal appointment) and a student were on their way.
One of my closest friends then arrived to support us and I continued to labour through the surges which were now coming thick and fast. By 11pm when the midwives arrived my surges were really close together and I had to focus on my breathing and remaining calm so I could ride the next one without becoming panicky. The Freya app with the upbreathing stop/start button was an actual god send!! My amazing birth partners fed me water, breathed with me to keep my breaths long and slow when I could no longer focus on the app, and placed cold flannels on my neck and face - this was bliss! They really were the ultimate dream team, one staying with me at all times and the other getting water, re drenching a flannel with cold water etc. I stripped off, the midwives did their obs and I accepted an examination.
I was 7cm dilated and told my waters were bulging! Surges were so intense, one on top of another and I was dripping with sweat! I then started to use the gas and air, took my tens machine off and got in the pool at 11:27pm. The warm water felt great and within minutes my waters exploded into the pool (this was a bit stingy!) and baby started to decend down the birth canal!
I didn’t actively “push” baby whatsoever, my body completely took over and did it’s thing! The midwife said that with the next surge baby would be born and to lift him/her out of the water. I used downbreathing and tried to relax as much as I could.
All of a sudden baby was born into the pool and I moved backwards and scooped him out of the water, revealing his gender - it was such a special moment! Our midwife leant over me and gave him a good rub with a towel and he let out a little cry. He was born at 11:48pm, less than 20 minutes after getting into the pool!
My partner cuddled and kissed me and I had lovely skin to skin with baby Felix. My partner then cut the chord once all the blood had drained from it and I was helped out of the pool onto the sofa for more cuddles!
I agreed to the syntocinon injection due to some blood loss and quickly birthed the placenta after receiving it. The midwife then cleaned me up with some cotton wool and water to check for any grazes or tears, I was delighted when she said there was absolutely none! I was pretty wiped out for a couple of hours and just relaxed on the sofa, by 1:30/2am I was back to myself, the midwives left and I enjoyed a bacon sandwich with my bestie and partner - it was a very surreal moment and I laughed that I couldn’t believe I’d just had a baby in the corner of the lounge! Overall another incredible birth experience for me and my partner, made even more special by knowing my midwife and having my friend by my side. Baby Felix is doing great, as am I, by day 3 I didn’t even feel like I’d had a baby (apart from the ginormous breasts I’d grown overnight!) I cannot recommend hypnobirthing enough everything I have learnt over the last 3 years really was with me every step of the way and was particularly helpful for me during my last week of pregnancy when I wanted to recap induction to help me make an informed decision with regards to “going against advice” (that, and I read the NICE guidelines and the conversation I had with the registrar) I am so glad that I listened to my body, trusted my instincts and had the confidence to make my own decisions - my body, my birth!
Thank you Katie, for sharing this incredible Birth Story with me and my followers. I found it so moving.
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