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A Rollercoaster of Birth: Trusting My Instincts and Embracing the Unexpected

Nic's birth story

Newborn baby boy dressed in light blue knitted set with bobble hat, asleep in a crib

An Informed Birth Plan

It was early 2023 and I was pregnant with my first baby. At the time there was a problem with many hospital ventilation systems and they had started putting restrictions on the use of gas & air in labour. I was going to be birthing during the gas & air shortage and felt really nervous about this. Throughout my pregnancy I did a lot of research and was really keen on a physiological birth. I wanted to avoid medicalisation, and it was really important for me to feel in control of the process. Consequently I had two birth plans which me and my midwife Abbi discussed in detail - the first one was to have a midwife-led birth in the water and the other was a planned caesarean section which was my preference to interventions such as induction of labour. Abbi fully supported my decisions, hearing my rationale for each plan. We got to the third trimester without complication, but unfortunately things started to change as my baby wasn’t moving as much and what's more, the hospital had closed the midwife-led birth centre (MLU).

Third Trimester Curveball

In the last few weeks of my pregnancy I was attending the hospital every other day for monitoring due to ongoing concerns about reduced fetal movements. I’d spoken to a lead consultant at the hospital who suggested it would be a good idea for him to “come out early”. He offered me an induction and I declined based on evidence I’d read and information me, my husband and Abbi had discussed in the months leading up to my birth. I decided for my own peace of mind it was probably best to have a planned c-section based on the changes to his movements, the closure of the MLU and gas & air challenge. I was then booked in for an elective section on the 30th March, almost a week prior to my due date. I remember having a wobble the Friday before, 24th March. My midwife Abbi called me and helped with reassuring me once again! I had planned to go in on the Saturday, 25th March and request admission and to wait for an earlier opportunity for my caesarean birth.

Twists of Fate

I went out walking that Friday night to clear my head and then went to bed. At around 2:00-2:30am on the 25th March I awoke for a wee and as I got back into bed my waters broke! I was very aware of what was happening as I’d been doing hypnobirthing, hoping to use it during my MLU water birth. I decided to stay at home, bounce on my ball and keep an eye on my contractions as not much was happening yet. My mucus plug came away and I needed the toilet a lot during the first stage of my labour.

Around 5:30am we headed to the hospital as I had called and told them I was booked in for a caesarean section and they said I needed to go in if I wanted to have the caesarean now otherwise it might be too late. On arrival I was put on a monitoring machine in triage for about 45 minutes and waited for a doctor to come and speak to me. The doctor examined me around 7:30/8:00am and I was 2cm dilated. I decided to try a vaginal delivery with the intention of having an epidural when things ramped up and they assured me that I could have this. I also asked them to call the continuity team - my midwife was under this team and if someone was available, they’d be with me at the birth.

Embracing Natural Birth - Trusting My Instincts

I was then moved into a bay on the antenatal ward, since I was only 2cm dilated and not in established labour yet. I shared the room with two ladies who had been induced - one snoring next to me and the other Face-timing her partner! Things really ramped up quite quickly from there, the pain becoming more intense. I laid on the bed and knew things were progressing fast. My husband asked the midwife at the hospital to come and see me as I was in a lot of pain and I knew I needed to push! She came over and said it’s unlikely that I am fully dilated as first time mums tend to take longer. I had also been told on arrival to leave all my stuff in the car as it would be a minimum of 24 hours before anything would happen. I was quite vocal at this point and said that I knew my own body and that this baby was coming. When I started bearing down to push she ran to get some gloves and did a vaginal examination! To her horror and surprise, I was fully dilated.

A Dance Between Determination and Intervention

The midwives popped me in a wheelchair and rushed me to a labour room. The room was the smallest one in the hospital but I didn’t care at that point. I wasn’t able to have my epidural pain relief anymore as it was too late. Embracing the moment and trusting in my body, I went with my instincts and started pushing which was actually the less painful part of the birth process for me! In between contractions I was chatting away to the team and kept apologising! My baby boy decided that he was going to cause some worry with his heart rate so I had to have a pin on his head put on and wasn’t able to labour upright which I had wanted to try as part of my hypnobirthing plan. The continuity team midwife arrived just in time (they’d not called her when I had asked earlier) and she supported me from this point. My baby made it all the way down the birth canal and as it got to the final point,  I could feel his head with my hand.

Unfortunately he seemed to be stuck, and his heart rate kept dropping, so the consultant had to get involved. They suggested forceps and I stood firm with my midwife and said that’s not happening - this was one intervention I was not prepared to have. The doctor then suggested I have an episiotomy and ventouse, but told me that I needed to push as hard as possible as this was all on me now to get him out! I’ve never pushed so hard in my life.

Empowered Triumph

At 1:25pm my baby boy was placed on my chest screaming his little lungs out. I was sick post birth but was so proud of myself. I believed in my body and the ability to trust what it needed to do. I can honestly say that the dilation stage was harder for me than the push stage, although the push stage took longer! I’m super proud of myself and my body for getting me through what was physically, the hardest thing I’ve ever done with pretty much no pain relief. I’ll never stop saying it, women are superior and are amazing! I look forward to doing it again and am hoping the experience will be slightly less chaotic and hopefully in the water next time!

A mother having just given birth, smiling with her newborn baby on her chest, and her husband standing behind her, smiling and looking proud


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