A week after my due date, I was out for a family meal and whilst there, at around 8.30pm, I started having contractions. I’d already had three sweeps, the latest of which had been the afternoon before.
The contractions were at 4 minute intervals so I came home and watched some TV with my husband, sitting on the birthing ball. The contractions increased in intensity and started coming closer together. At 10.30pm I phoned my midwife, Marian, who asked me to keep her informed and call back in half an hour. We called my mum, who lives close by, and she came to collect my 2-year old son as I wanted to concentrate on the labour and not worry about what I’d do if he woke up. While she was here, Marian phoned back to see how we were doing. She told us to get the pool set up and that she was on her way.
Marian arrived at around 11.30pm and set up her things next to where I was labouring – by now I was leaning over a chair, using the TENs machine. She had so much kit! She set up a little resus area and the fact she had everything prepared made me feel very reassured. I felt at ease with Marion straight away – she was warm and kind to both of us. She kept an eye on me and asked me to keep telling her what I was feeling. I wanted gas and air so she phoned for it to be delivered. Meanwhile, my partner Charlie filled up the birthing pool and made sure the room was ready.
The contractions increased in intensity but didn’t get much closer together than about a minute apart. I had a long and very painful contraction and told Marian that I was beginning to struggle with the pain. At that moment the doorbell rang, and the gas and air was delivered – it had taken 15 minutes from phone call to delivery – amazing. Marian said I could now get into the pool, and it was such a relief to be in the warm water – it provided so much support and pain relief.
The intensity increased and I continued to use the gas and air. I didn’t really like it as it made me feel sick and dizzy but it worked to dull the pain a little. By this time Marian had called for Becky, the second midwife, and she had arrived very quickly. Becky used some peppermint oil on a piece of cotton wool, and wafted it under my nose each time after using the gas and air, to help take away the sickness; this was really effective and meant that I could carry on using it for the pain.
I felt the urge to push and the contractions got closer until they were almost continuous. My whole body began to shake and I began to feel quite emotional. I also felt very hot. The urge to push grew until it felt unbearable. The midwives were amazing in coaching me through the urges, encouraging me to change position, and keeping me informed of my progress. Charlie was also amazing – encouraging me, keeping me hydrated and literally holding me up through the contractions.
Eli’s head was at a slightly funny angle and my contractions were short and relentless, which left little breaks to rest and prepare for more pushing. The pushing stage lasted about an hour and a half. The midwives were so supportive and kept on telling me that I could do it. Eli started to crown and Marian suggested I feel his head – this gave me the determination needed to get through the last bit. A few more pushes and he was born into the water.
Eli looked so peaceful. I picked him up, he squealed a little bit and then I just held him in the pool. I was in the pool for a good while – they did the initial checks while we were in there. I was absorbed in Eli and the midwives did what they needed to do without interrupting that precious bonding moment; they were very sensitive in that way. The placenta began to come away naturally so Charlie cut the cord and I got out of the pool. Charlie held Eli while I delivered the placenta. I had to have a few stitches – so I lay on our sofa (which was covered with waterproofing and blankets) while Marian knelt beside me wearing a head torch to do the stitching, and Becky sat on the end of the sofa, on hand to help. They were so careful, I never had any problems or pain from the stitches.
Once Eli was measured, weighed and given his vitamin K, Charlie dressed him while Becky helped me get upstairs for a shower – it was the most wonderful thing to shower in my own shower. Becky and Marian helped pack down the birthing pool and clear up, and after finishing their paperwork, left at around 5.30am. And we sat on the sofa with our lounge back to normal holding our newborn baby!!
Midwives came to see us around midday that day, and a few days after that too. I was given documentation, and several phone numbers to call if I felt I needed anything, and they made it clear that I should call if I had any worries or questions.
During the whole labour the midwives did no internal examinations – they just watched and listened to how I was responding and trusted my body to do its job. This made such a difference to my experience – it wasn’t invasive and I felt like it helped to retain some dignity. I always knew Eli was alright as the midwives monitored his heart regularly.
Nothing takes the pain away from labour but I didn’t at any point feel scared, fearful, out of control, or at risk. I felt empowered and in many ways it was a healing experience from my first son’s labour, which was in a hospital (and quite a traumatic, intrusive experience). I felt like the midwives trusted my body’s ability to give birth which enabled me to the same. They were so kind and respectful, involving Charlie and supporting me.