Hello! So almost 3 weeks ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and this is my positive birth story. I’ve tried to address all of your questions so far from my Instagram (IG) stories and IG posts but if you do have any more then please do pop them below..
Every single birth is different and although mine didn’t go quite as I planned we are all A-ok and it hasn’t put me off having another baby!
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Friday 16th & Saturday 17th November at Home in Latent (early) Labour
So, everything kicked off on Friday 16th November at 3am with a bloody show (the mucus plug that protects your baby from germs) followed by ‘niggles’ (which were a little like period pain) during the day. The niggles turned into irregular mild surges (contractions) every 7-10 minutes on the Friday night; they would disappear at times for a few hours which allowed me to sleep. A gentle walk with my friend on the Saturday morning took my mind off the surges, although towards the end I had to pause when one was happening!
By Saturday lunch time my blood loss had continued and the surges were happening every 7 minutes or so. Each surge was like a wave that would build with intensity, peak for a short period of time, and then die down at the other side.
Although I had been previously advised to only attend hospital only when my surges/contractions were lasting 45 seconds and were 5 minutes apart, I called the maternity assessment unit at our local hospital and after discussing my ongoing blood loss they suggested I come in for a look. We popped our hospital bags in the boot just in case and made sure the baby’s car seat was fitted. I should probably tell you now that I do actually have a fairly rare bleeding condition which means that my body doesn’t clot very well and I’m prone to bruising and prolonged bleeding (I’ve been seeing two consultants during my pregnancy about it).
Saturday 17th November at Hospital in Latent (early) Labour
When we arrived at the maternity unit I was fixed up to a monitor (2 straps around my stomach) and I was reassured that my baby’s heart rate was A-ok, and that my blood pressure was also fine. A registrar examined me and she said that although I wasn’t dilated, I had a burst blood vessel on my cervix which was causing the bleeding. Because of the bleeding we were admitted to an antenatal ward and I was given my first lot of hospital maternity pads to use; these by the way are AWFUL; they aren’t sticky like my Boots ones and I swiftly went back to using my own when I got a hold of my hospital bag.
On arrival at our hospital room (we were lucky enough to have a side room) we made it look as homely and as calm possible with battery powered tea lights and fairy lights. My surges continued and I spent two hours in the bath attached to our room listening to hypnobirthing sound tracks on the Saturday night trying to get through them. I was offered paracetamol and codeine, which I took, however in hindsight I wish I hadn’t as they didn’t do anything for me! ?
Sunday 18th November at Hospital in Active Labour
The following morning I showed the ward consultant my maternity pads (good job I kept them!!) and she swiftly sent me down to labour ward; a water birth was unfortunately ruled out at this point due to blood loss. My surges gradually became more uncomfortable thanks to back pain; my baby was back to back (even though I had done everything to try and prevent this!) and without a TENS machine (I wish I had had one!) my sister brought me in a hot water bottle to use; standing was painful so I stay seated on my bed.
I continued to use the hypnobirthing techniques that I had learnt at this point; i.e. I tried to remain relaxed and calm so that the muscles in my uterus weren’t devoid of oxygen (this can happen if you’re tense due to the fight and flight response) and I told myself that each contraction was one step closer to the birth.
Due to the ongoing blood loss, the ‘new birth plan’ was to break my waters to speed up labour which happened at 8pm; I was told at this point that I was 4cm dilated (hello active labour!!) and could now try gas and air (Entonox). I wasn’t allowed an epidural (due to my low platelet levels) but the anaesthetist did give me the option of self-controlled IV pain relief if needed. I was grateful for the option however I wasn’t keen on the idea of being hooked up to yet another stand; I already had the baby monitors on my stomach which meant I couldn’t go far (not that I wanted to go far!); I did though make it to the bathroom unaided.. which I was very grateful for!
In the end I didn’t need IV pain relief as the gas and air seemed to knock me out enough (!) it was AMAZING. Being high on gas and air is a little like when you fall over after a couple of bottles of wine.. you know you’ve done it but a) it doesn’t really hurt and b) you can’t really remember it afterwards. I inhaled my way to full dilation (10cm), eyes closed for 90% of it with Oliver talking me through when a contraction had peaked; he could see the contractions building, peaking and subsiding on the monitor and I found it useful to start inhaling the gas and air on the build up, as opposed to when it was peaking. By this time I was sat on a birth ball with my elbows on the bed; I actually woke up with a grazed elbow the morning after the birth! In all honesty I think I was in denial regarding the intensity that the contractions would reach.. but the gas and air got me through them.
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Monday 19th at Hospital in Active Labour
It took just 2 hours for me to reach full dilation (my waters being broken speeded everything up!) however because of this the muscles in my uterus were tired and it meant that the second stage of labour took longer than anticipated; even with the registrar manually turning our baby from the back to back position. During this stage I tried to visual my baby coming out and I didn’t actually experience any pain during this time; apart from when the head was crowing; some women call this the ring of fire! Knowing what this was helped me to deal with it as I knew that I would be soon meeting my baby.
I pushed for 2-2.5 hours in total, mainly on my back (as this was the position that I pushed the best in and it allowed me to rest between contractions) to get baby LR out; I used the stirrups to press against in the end and each contraction felt like my stomach was being wound up like a toy car before being released (i.e. before pushing)! In the end baby Henry arrived at 1:33am on Monday the 19th.
I doubted myself so many times that I could get him out (especially when I felt his whole body wriggle forward and then backwards!!) but I actually think it was a rush of adrenaline in the end that helped me to pop him out; the doctors around me were talking about a C-section along with using forceps on the baby and an episiotomy (cut); all of which I didn’t want! In the end I suffered a second degree tear requiring 2 sutures (I said ‘ow’ throughout each stitch!!) but I did it. As I held my baby boy Oliver, my husband, cut the cord after a minute or so (to ensure baby LR got more blood!) and the placenta also came out with the help of the midwives.
After the Birth in Hospital
After 50 minutes of skin to skin holding my baby boy it was clear that I wasn’t stopping bleeding and after losing almost 2 litres the emergency team were called in to stabilise me; which they did and I was allowed home two nights later on the Wednesday. I’ll admit it was difficult in hospital after the birth; I had a couple of venflons in my hands and a catheter which I had removed the day after giving birth; needless to say my first shower after giving birth was nice but it wasn’t ‘out of this world’ (you can’t get venflons wet!).
The midwives were amazing throughout my stay; they showed me how to breastfeed (and express a little colostrum when baby LR was too tired to feed!) and how to bath him; Henry is 3 weeks old tomorrow and we’ve bathed him twice at home now which I will write a post all about soon.
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Our First Monday At Home
Things were going great at home (apart from a few emotional rollercoasters which I’ll discuss in another post) until the following Monday lunch time when my blood loss turned from dark red to bright red blood with clots and it was trickling out of me; some blood loss post birth is normal, but this felt excessive (normal blood loss is known as lochia and it’s like a heavy period). I swiftly phoned the maternity assessment unit who called a paramedic and he arrived within minutes. The paramedic phoned for an ambulance and I was blue lighted to hospital where the bleeding was finally brought under control 12 hours later.
I didn’t know this at the time but if you’ve had one postpartum haemorrhage (bleed after pregnancy) then bleeding again is common. The cause of a secondary bleed ranges from an infection (I was given IV and then oral antibiotics for 5 days to rule this out), some of the placenta remaining inside your uterus (I was given a scan on arrival at A&E to rule this out but sometimes you need to be taken to theatre for further investigation) to clotting disorders (i.e. me!).
The good news is that after a few days on the labour ward I was allowed home; pending a further few more hospital appointments to help get the bleeding under control but I am now A-ok and the postpartum bleeding which can go on for several weeks as almost completely stopped!
My Birth Plan
I’ve popped a copy of my visual birth plan below (inspired by The Positive Birth Book); the labouring midwife asked to see it when I was in active labour (by this point I had completely forgotten I had even written one!) and although I didn’t get everything that I had hoped for, the care that I received was second to none, and for that I am truly grateful.
MY LABOUR REALISATIONS
I wrote these shortly after giving birth.
Never underestimate the power of your birth partner; I couldn’t have given birth as easily without Oliver and my wonderful midwife. I asked for their guidance and it felt like I had personal coaches with me the whole time!
Don’t underestimate the power of hypnobirthing, which I will be writing more about soon, (and NCT education regarding the different stages of labour which The Positive Birth Book also talk about in detail), but understand that hypnobirthing is not pain relief; what it does do though is empower you to make informed decisions, make labour easier to manage and make you feel in control. Especially in the latent (early) phase of labour.
I was against most pain relief (due to their side effects) prior to going into labour but had agreed after my waters were broken to use IV pain relief if needed. In the end though gas and air worked amazingly and it got me through the most intense contractions from 4 to 10cm (I didn’t let go of it!!). Just knowing I had the option of more pain relief felt like a security blanket and that was much appreciated.
Your uterus is normally tiny and it enlarges over 9 months to grow a baby so don’t expect it to spring back. I still looked 6 months pregnant the day after giving birth and I still look 3 months pregnant now 3 weeks later. Breastfeeding helps your uterus to contract back down.
The NHS is amazing; from the midwives who help you to birth, change and feed your baby to the doctors who help to manage blood loss and the health care assistants who help with everything and anything (I loved my tea and toast the morning after!).
Don’t expect to be back to normal after birth. In the days after the birth I felt like I had run a marathon and I ached all over. And thanks to low iron levels I was getting tired just going to the bathroom.
The power of heat is amazing. I used a warm bath and a hot water bottle before I was 4cm dilated; my baby was back to back even though I did EVERYTHING to prevent this!
Don’t worry if your birth plan/preference changes. I ended up in a bed on my back as that’s how I was pushing the best and how the midwives could tell me what to do!
Birth is an amazing process that I am honoured to have experienced; baby LR was worth all of it.
Can you relate to my birth story at all?
Featured Images by Fields Photography London.
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