Dearest Nadia and all Yoga mummys – it feels very strange to write this knowing that it will be read out will you all lie on your mats – I remember clearly listening to the birth stories curiously wondering how my birth would unfold.
So, let me begin. I decided halfway through my pregnancy that I wanted to have a home birth. It seemed evident to me that the key to a safe and HAPPY birth was to be in place where your felt relaxed, private and safe with people that you trusted. Therefore to be in my home with my partner and with midwives that I had come to know during my pregnancy was the obvious choice.
At 38 weeks this all seemed like it may not happen as my baby having been in the perfect position for weeks decided to turn around, I was breech. My midwife quickly arranged for me to have a scan at Chelsea and Westminster to confirm her suspicions and then an ECV was performed. I have to say this was horrible! But I was so keen to avoid having a caeserian that I gritted my teeth while the consultatnt skilfully turned my baby around. I was very lucky as the ECV was a success on the first attempt and thankfully my baby stayed head down.
A week later on a Friday night the great “emptying” began and I was unable to eat anything without being sick or having diarhea. I knew that things were beginning and waited patiently for the birth to start – all that praying to the full moon seemed to be paying off. My sister came to visit on Saturday and ended up staying the night promising to exit by a taxi should things progress further – nothing happened. My partners parents sister and three children arrived for Sunday lunch. I waited upstairs in bed resting knowing that my birth was very close. I tried to eat a potato but promptly threw it up – I now hadn’t eaten for 2 days. It occurred to me that because my birth pool was to be set up in the room where the family were eating I was consciously holding back until the house was empty and clean. As soon as everybody left and I shut the door I had my first contraction. Adam quickly cleaned the house and removed all traces of roast beef. I sat on my birthing ball and bounced away watching Madagascar 2. I knew that this was the beginning of possibly a long journey and that I shouldn’t try to rush it I’d also been told that laughing helped!
My contractions were coming thick and fast roughly every five minuets – they didn’t show signs of slowing but I was convinced that this must be false labour and that things would stop altogether. They didn’t and the contractions started to get even closer and although they were never painful they were intense. Adam decided to fill the pool. We called the midwife and told her that things had started but would call again when we wanted her to be there. I got into the birth pool as I was starting to feel that the contractions were beginning to be a little painful, the water was a huge comfort and relief. The midwife arrived at about 10pm – I was in the pool with candles lit and my birth cd now on its hundrenth or so time round… but it was still lovely. I had asked for no internal examinations as I didn’t want to feel rushed or disappointed by how dilated I was – however I got curious and so Caroline performed an exam, she told me that the head was very far down and that this was a good sign as it was pushing on my cervix which should speed things up. At that point she didn’t tell me how dilated I was as I think she felt I would have been disappointed and that it may have a negative effect on me (I found out afterwards that I was 3cm dilated)
I was starting to suffer with really bad back ache and I looked up to caroline to ask if my baby was back to back – she simply replied that it was not in the best position, but that everything was fine and I shouldn’t worry. (My baby was back to back.)
About an hour later I got an uncontrollable and immensely powerful desire to begin pushing. I told caroline and she seemed a little surprised, however she seemed encouraged and called for Katie my other midwife to arrive. Katie examined me and I was 9cm dilated and she said that I needed to stop pushing as I was not yet ready. I have to say this was the most difficult thing I have ever been asked to do and found it almost impossible. Katie suggested that I have some gas and air to help me “blow” through the contractions, but I really didn’t want to have any and instead climbed the stairs sideways to try and get the baby to move into a better position and to just try not to push when the urge came. This was impossible and was the only part of my labour that I found painful and difficult. In the end I followed the advice of the midwife and had some gas and air as my involuntary pushing had caused my cervix to thicken up (I was now 5cm dilated – although I was unaware of this – again I think that the midwives felt that if I knew that I may panic or give up – they gave me an hour on the gas and air to see if I could continue dilating and if not I was to be taken into hospital. On my final inspection I was fully dilated and ready to push. The only problem was that I was totally exhausted and had no desire to push and my contractions had really slowed. The fact that I hadn’t eaten for so long meant that my uterus was struggling to find the energy to finish its work – and after a lot of searching in cupboards and the fridge caroline found a bottle of lucazade – I drank it and the result was amazing, everything sped up but I was still exhausted and struggled to push effectively. This stage went on and on and on… I had now been pushing for about 2 and a half hours – again I was given half an hour and if I couldn’t progress I was going to go into hospital. I was fed up by now and really wanted the baby to come. I even went into the kitchen to get two salad spoons that I tried to explain to the midwives would be very effective forceps – they didn’t seem to think I was being serious – I was!
I suddenly started to feel the baby move downwards and was so encouraged that I tried again to push for harder and for longer – there was progression, but it was slow – the midwives were happy that the baby was ok and that given that I had now only just started to push effectively that I could continue to try and give birth at home as I had wished – another hour and a half went by and finally my daughter appeared at 11.25 am on Monday the 7th of September. Having her passed up to me and seeing her rest on my chest on an intense quest to find my nipple! Was just incredible, nothing can prepare you for the wonderfulness of this moment. It melts me even now just to think about it!
My advice for you all is -
Firstly as Nadia will tell you, it’s so important to use your rest stops to simply rest and switch off. I cannot overstate the importance of this. Do do rest and don’t think about the next contraction. My partner also said the whole way through my birth but especially when I started to get tired and felt that I couldn’t go on, to just take it one contraction at a time. So stay in the moment – when you have the contraction just think about that one and not the next and when you are in your rest point, do do rest – mentally as well as physically!
Secondly, birth is hard work – my mum always said that to me but I didn’t really understand what she meant until after the birth. So be as fit as you can be, you may have a wonderful and quick birth but you may also have a long and slow one so being fit will really help with the stamina.
And finally, be prepared for your uterus to get tired – have some sort of energy food or drink to help you should this happen.
Good luck to all of you.