Ellie on the birth of Emily

A water birth at a Birthing Centre

Well my due date had come and gone as I typically expected, and on the Thursday the midwives were starting to talk about booking me in for an induction the following week, which I’d already decided and discussed with my regular midwife that I did not want. As long as baby and me were fine I wanted to wait and let things happen naturally.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t my usual midwife and she didn’t really listen to what I wanted, but I stuck to my guns and was adamant that as long as we were fine, I was not going to have an induction.

Friday came and went with no signs of movement.  I kept as mobile and active as I could by walking the dog and doing my birth ball exercises that Kayleigh had shown us in class.

Saturday daytime passed without any indications, although I did notice that my mucus plug had started to come away, but as I knew this didn’t necessarily mean anything was going to happen immediately I didn’t get my hopes up too much.  However, come the evening, about 8pm I started to get some tightenings. Nothing too severe, just enough to be uncomfortable so I just carried on as usual. As the evening progressed and turned into night the tightenings were getting more intense and sometimes enough to make me pause and take my breath away.  I continued to use the birth ball movements and mindfulness breathing techniques to keep relaxed and encourage things to move along. These continued for pretty much most of the night and were uncomfortable enough to stop me from sleeping but they never progressed into a pattern and finally petered out about 9am when I got some sleep.

Again, Sunday morning was fairly uneventful with the odd tightening, but by this point I’d accepted that this might continue for a little way so just concentrated on staying mobile and relaxed.  As the day progressed, so did the tightenings. By the afternoon I was doing lengths of the road walking up and down having to pause and lean on neighbours garden fences whilst quietly humming to myself to wait for them to pass – I must have looked rather amusing!  I’d decided by this stage that they were definitely contractions and were falling into a regular pattern. I eventually retreated inside and set up camp in the living room with my birth ball and a variety of music, sometimes lively and sometimes quiet, just whatever took my fancy at the time and it even involved some dancing too!

About 8pm I retreated up to the bath.  I tried several different positions depending on how I felt.  I continually used the mindfulness breathing in between each contraction to keep relaxed and vocalisation during to give me something else to focus my attention on and away from the sensation of the contractions.  When we first tried the vocalization in class I honestly felt a bit silly, but when the time came I really connected with it and enjoyed the feeling of having no inhibitions that it gave me.

My contractions stubbornly remained at about 4 to 5 minute intervals for quite a while (the birth centre at the hospital had said to try and get to every three minutes if possible before coming in); then at about 10:30pm they jumped to being under three minutes and suddenly intensified – I told my husband, Rich, I definitely needed to head to the hospital at that point and to call ahead to let the birth centre know we were on our way.  

My contractions became a bit irregular during the journey, but we’d discussed during class that travel could slow things down again so I wasn’t concerned, and as soon as we arrived at about 11pm they were back on track and getting much stronger.  

I had my one and only internal exam when I arrived at which point the midwife said I was 5cm dilated and did I want any gas and air which I gratefully accepted.  I was lucky enough to be the only person using the birth centre that night so it was just me, Rich and our fabulous midwife Mel. It was a lovely relaxed atmosphere, and very intimate feeling.

I climbed in the birth pool about midnight, and instantly felt the relief of the warm water and being able to move into whichever position I felt comfortable in.  Things progressed at a fair rate, and as Rich reported later I was coming out with all sorts of noises, including an impression of Chewbacca from Star Wars at one point.  I really think the exercises and discussions we’d had during class really helped me feel comfortable and confident in myself and my body to do its job, and I just went with it.  I really took advantage of the breaks in between contractions to rest and gather myself, and even found myself chatting and laughing along with Mel and Rich’s conversations.

It turned out that baby was in a hurry to arrive after keeping us waiting a week, and instead of birthing just the head, everything arrived at once and all of a sudden my baby was lying on the bottom of the birth pool at which point I reached down and pulled baby up to my chest where we rested for a few minutes before looking down to see that we’d had a little baby girl!!  Baby Emily was born at 03:49hrs, weighing 8lbs.

Unfortunately, I’d torn rather badly and was bleeding quite heavily.  My plan A had been to have delayed cord clamping, a physiological delivery of the placenta, skin to skin contact and a quiet ‘golden first hour’, but my midwife Mel was rather concerned about my level of bleeding and was keen to get me out the pool and down to theatre to repair the tear as soon as possible.  This meant having the injection to deliver the placenta, and to cut the cord a little earlier than planned. She explained everything to me clearly and ensured I understood what was going to happen. She still took the time to enable Rich to cut the cord and she also knew that having skin to skin contact as soon as possible was important to me, so they kept Emily on me as long as possible, after which I handed her over to Rich for him to continue skin to skin whilst I was in theatre.  Even though the plan for immediately after Emily’s birth hadn’t quite gone to plan, I felt the team did everything they could to ensure that I was kept informed and still in control of what was happening which meant that it didn’t take away from the positive experience I’d had giving birth to my beautiful baby girl. Oh, and the tea and toast afterwards when I was in recovery was amazing!!!