Labour Stories: Jade & Reuben

Labour Stories, Mum

My birth story starts at 4am on Tuesday 12th February 2019 when I awoke in the middle of the night and was struggling to get back to sleep because of trapped wind cramps. I was 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant.

I’d become really uncomfortable and the cramps were super niggly preventing me from getting any kind of sleep. I was tossing and turning (well trying, not easy to do any kind of rolling whilst 40+ weeks pregnant!) and eventually decided to get up so I didn’t disturb my husband. I went downstairs and switched the telly on, popped the kettle on and made a peppermint tea and bounced on my ball. I then tried pacing around the room, followed by putting my feet up with a hot water bottle across my stomach. All of this was to no avail, I couldn’t get the trapped wind to move. 

Once up, I got my husband to give me a mini back massage (we’d been practicing aromatherapy massage for labour) and voila within 10 mins I was able to go pass some wind and go to the loo. My husband the little miracle worker, I thought. I was thrilled and awaited the relief… oh man it didn’t come. Instead, as the morning progressed the trapped wind cramps got worse and I started getting regular lose bowel movements. The only saving grace was I thought ‘great, hopefully this is the clear out I’ve heard people talk of before labour starts’.

I had a scheduled midwife appointment booked in the afternoon at the local midwife led birthing unit and my husband had arranged to finish work early so he could take me. Unfortunately, due to severe SPD I’d decided to stop driving and this made it a nightmare getting anywhere – as not only was I not driving but I was on crutches. My husband had been being a champ and helping by giving me lifts where he could so I didn’t need to get buses and taxis. As the day progressed, I was so uncomfy that I couldn’t wait for him to get home and give me some more massage and make me cups of tea. By 14:00 I was now feeling exhausted from the trapped wind cramps and a bit fed up of not being able to shift it. I also was starting to feel a bit gross as I was on the loo at least every 10 mins for a lose bowel movement (sorry, TMI I know). I’d been practicing hypnobirthing via The Positive Birth Company’s digital pack and had really enjoyed doing so. I was therefore using the discomfort I was feeling to channel and practice both my up breathing and my down breathing.

I timed a shower so I’d be finished and dressed in time for my husband picking me up for my appointment. My goodness did that shower feel amazing on my tummy and back, I didn’t want to get out! It was at this point that I got out of the shower and thought… wait a minute. These cramps are becoming really intense and since when does trapped wind peak and then die off. I popped the Positive Birth Company’s brand new app ‘FREYA’ on (amazing by the way!) and ‘she’ straight away told me that I was having surges 3 in 10 and should now be considering calling maternity triage. Nevertheless, I still really doubted these were surges (which makes me laugh now). They weren’t at all what I was expecting! I’d always been told ‘you’ll know when it’s contractions’ therefore I was expecting something so powerful there was no doubt labour was coming, but that wasn’t the case. I told my husband about my discomfort and what the app had suggested when he got home and jokingly said ‘how amazing would it be if the midwife examined me and told me I was 4cm, in established labour and was good to go’.

Off to my midwife appointment we went! The discomfort was now most certainly every 3 minutes and the drive to the appointment was unpleasant as I felt every bump in the road. I told my midwife about the trapped wind and clear out and requested an internal examination in the hope that now at 40+5 my cervix was starting to make all the necessary changes. On the bed I got and she did her usual foetal measurements and checks. ‘Great, head really low down in the pelvis’ she exclaimed. ‘Wahoo’ I thought as he’d been at brim the last 2 appointments. She went ahead with the examination, paused and looked shocked. ‘You clever woman’ she said ‘you’re 5cm! These are contractions not trapped wind and your waters are bulging. It’s happening’.

With those words my mind raced. I was in the very place I wanted to give birth. The birthing room & birthing pool of my dreams were literally down the stairs. In my mind I was imaging the relief I was about to feel as I stepped into that toasty birthing pool with my positive affirmations playing in the background. All of a sudden there was a popping noise followed by a gush. I then felt this warm sensation go up my legs and back. My waters had broken just as she was finishing the examination. Wow! Don’t expect the Hollywood water break I’d been told. It’ll likely just be a trickle. Ha! I was soaking wet with me and the midwife literally swimming in it.

Then I looked at the midwife in amazement and excitement only to be crushed with the words ‘I’m really sorry Jade. Your waters have gone and baby has done a poo’. She checked baby’s heartbeat with a doppler and explained I’d no longer be able to give birth at the very birth centre I was currently stood in (and had my heart set on) and that I needed to ring the hospital triage and head straight there.

My husband called whilst the midwife and I got me sorted. They asked to speak to the midwife who explained the examination findings and that my waters contained meconium. The hospital said I needed an ambulance but the midwife and I felt that was unnecessary and that I’d make my own way there. Bad move. We started trying to head to the hospital but the end of school traffic had started to meet the dreaded Manchester commuter traffic AND Manchester United were playing at home. The traffic was not moving, not at all. My surges were now every minute apart and increasing in intensity. I spoke to the hospital and they said I needed an ambulance. We agreed I’d head home (the opposite direction to all the traffic) and wait for the ambulance there. I was happy to head home as I’d promised my midwife I’d go straight to the hospital and not first nip home for my hospital bag. But this was not something I was happy with. Not only was my birth not going to be where or quite how I wanted but I’d also not have my hypnobirthing ‘toolkit’ to hand.

We headed home and waited for the ambulance. Surges and pressure were now extremely powerful and I was on the phone to the ambulance call handler updating her on when I was having surges and any progression. My husband was trying to pack all the last bits for the hospital bag as well as guide me through the surges. I leant over my sofa on all fours and breathed through each and every one. When I became vocal my husband prompted and reminded me of my breathing.

The ambulance took 1hr 10mins to come which literally felt like forever. At one point, I’d felt the adrenaline try and creep in as I had a quick internal panic that my baby had pooed and I might be delivering him at home on my own without any medical staff. Wow did this make the surges much less manageable. I reminded myself of the all I’d learnt in the digital pack and refused to let the adrenaline have any interference again. ‘You can do this’ I told myself. ‘The surges cannot be more powerful than me because they are me’.

Jump forward to when I arrive at the hospital after being blue lit there (with even the ambulance getting stuck for a bit in the traffic and road works). I was shown to the ugliest labour room I’d ever seen. No ball, no mats, no pool. Just a hospital bed and static monitor. I requested a room with a birth pool and was told nope baby has pooed so that’s now out of the question. I explained I was uncomfortable and needed to be mobile and at least have mats or a ball to try. The midwife went off to find a monitor and on her return said that they would let me try for a water birth if I’d accept some examinations before hand.

Let’s do it, I thought. They moved me to a much more appealing room and ran the pool. I couldn’t wait to get in! What a tease it was seeing it and being told I had to be checked and have X,Y & Z done first. Right I thought, let’s adopt a UFO (upright, forward & open) position and concentrate on this breathing. The surges were now very powerful with lots of pressure building in my bum. I decided to get on my knees on the bed leaning over the back of the bed which was bolt upright. As soon as I adopted this position I felt something change. ‘I think I’m ready to push’ I announced. I don’t think they believed me. First all the midwives found it hilarious I thought my contractions were trapped wind and I think they thought from my calm demeanour that I wasn’t advancing as I was. They requested an internal (which I was keen to get ASAP as they wouldn’t let me in the pool without) ‘you feel like you’re 9cm’ she said. At this point I was worried things started to take a slightly negative turn, I didn’t feel the midwives were supporting me in the way I’d hoped and dreamed of. They were totally ignoring my birth plan and there was some sort of issue that they were discussing between themselves whilst in my presence but were using medical lingo and weren’t informing me what was going on. It was at this point I was told they needed a second opinion from a consultant (I didn’t know what about, mind you) and I was not allowed to use the pool.

It was from here on out that I could have had a massive wobble and my hypnobirthing dream could have easily been over. However, it was announced that my midwives were being relieved for 30 mins to have a meal break and I would have 2 other midwives covering. My husband passed them my (what now felt redundant) birth plan over to them. Suddenly everything changed. The room was dimmed, they spoke in hushed voices, they told me if I felt I was ready to push then I should and they encouraged me. Wow, this is it I thought. I’m in the zone. I got my husband to put the positive birth affirmations on a loop and I began breathing baby down.

I bartered with the midwife that I’d let her do an examination if she’d promise me her and her student midwife would stay and deliver my baby instead of the original midwives I’d been assigned. She promised me she’d do her best. Off we went. I felt like me, my midwife, student midwife and my husband were a team. They were reminding me of my breathing and where to channel my energy. They kept me calm. They guided me through. I remember the joy from everyone when the top of baby’s head became visible. ‘Do you want to reach and feel it?’ They asked. Wow I thought. Check me out. I felt like a super woman. I’m having a baby and I’m doing this without pain relief! I also reminded myself of how the days events could have had such a negative impact.

I asked my husband to put my favourite Enya album on (Paint the Sky with Stars) and concentrated with all my might on getting my baby down. I could feel the build in pressure as he’d move down and then the gentle bobbing back at the end of the contraction. I didn’t let this dishearten me as I reminded myself, that although I was now absolutely exhausted, with each surge I was closer to meeting my baby and that I wanted him to be born as gently as possible. I also visualised the hand cue that Siobhan Miller used in the PBC’s digital pack when she said that the baby’s head needed to do this bobbing motion to massage and stretch the vagina.

I was now so so close. I could tell by the excitement from the room when my surges hit and I was channeling the baby out. He was so nearly out but my body was struggling to have the energy to get him through. Unbeknownst to me, I’d now been in the pushing phase for 2 hours. My midwives said ‘come on Jade you’re so nearly there. We leave in 15 minutes and we want to see the rest of your beautiful baby’s head’. Wait, I want this too I thought! And my body was telling me I was so close. I allowed them to guide me into a new squatting position and this was great as it allowed my body some extra gravity to bear down. 

It was then that my midwife asked if it would be ok for her senior colleague to enter and take a look. She explained she was a little concerned that baby was getting tired & slightly distressed and that the pressure was a bit too much for him so they really wanted to get him out ASAP. They asked how I’d feel if they did a small cut. My birth plan stated without a shadow of a doubt that this was absolutely not for me. I didn’t want interventions! I thought about BRAIN (a hypnobirthing acronym) and what my options were. Then I saw my wonderful midwife’s face and could tell from her eyes that this was the best thing to do. I trusted her completely.

My student midwife got really close and looked so excited as she got ready to deliver my baby. With the next surge I gave it all I had, they did the cut and just like that his head was out. The room told me how his little eyes were open and were looking around the room. I was so jealous I couldn’t see this! I knew I had one more push and I could see him. That surge seemed to take FOREVER to come. But when it did it felt amazing. I just felt him glide out and it felt so euphoric. Right in that moment I felt like a super woman. 

What an amazing team of people I had around me. My gosh things did not ‘go to plan’ but my birth was AMAZING. If that wasn’t a positive birth I don’t know what is. My lovely midwife explained baby had actually done another poo and that is why they needed the intervention. As well as the fact they’d struggled with my temp the whole way through the pushing stage and I was about to fall into one of their policies about appropriate interventions required for that.

I had beautiful skin to skin with my boy following his birth and he fed almost immediately. He was so happy and content and so was I. I still feel totally on cloud 9. I have the PBC digital pack to thank for feeling empowered to make the right decisions about birth for me and my baby. For having the tools I needed to remain positive. For being so in control of my body that my contractions were mistaken for trapped wind (haha!). For knowing that breathing alone can be a pain killer. 

I remember the midwife saying shortly before she left ‘well it must have gone well cause I’ve not heard you say I’m never doing that again’. Followed by ‘when I labour I want to be exactly like you’. Wow. What a compliment.

Quite a lengthy story but I found it therapeutic to write and wanted to share. Hypnobirthing and a drug free birth were right for me. As I say, things didn’t pan out quite how I’d hoped or imagined they would – but this didn’t take away from the fact I had the most empowering experience and was able to safely deliver my baby into the world.

Labour Stories: Gemma & Harper

Labour Stories, Mum

Written by Gemma Poulsom

For years I’ve wanted a baby, I dreamt of every moment from finding out I was pregnant to the birth, I always wanted a water birth as I suffer from anxiety and depression and water really calms me down.

Anyway… after a long pregnancy of waiting and excitement, the day came at 40+2 where I went for my sweep, sitting down with my lovely midwife, I mentioned that I had a feeling my waters may have already broken, she told me she couldn’t do the sweep in case of infection. I went to the hospital to have an examination and they confirmed my hind waters had broken.

For safety reasons I was admitted to the labour ward the next morning, but in the meantime I had to try everything to get her out. The whole induction thing was completely alien to me. I was very naive and thought they put me on a drip and she would be there, so I didn’t try very hard to get her out as I thought it didn’t matter. I regret that decision immensely!

The morning came of my induction at 8:30am and I am all excited. I walked into labour ward with my bag packed, all my snacks, excited to meet my baby! When I got in I got hooked up to hormone drip, to get told I couldn’t eat anything and to take all my piercings out incase of C-Section. They said it’s very unlikely blah blah blah!

The contractions started and it was excruciating so I had to have the epidural which I felt guilty for having it so early on. I felt like I failed at labour already! I got examined every 4 hours and I didn’t get past 2 cm dilated! I was getting impatient and irritated. The midwife said if things don’t start progressing we may have to do the C-section. I cried and cried. I have dreamt about this moment for years and I can’t do what I wanted to do. The water birth was out the window anyway due to induction, and now I might not even be able to push my daughter into this world.

Hours passed and still no progress, so the midwife came in and said we think we need to do the C-section now- are you ok with that? I broke down again. I didn’t want this. I wanted to do this on my own. I wanted to feel everything after so long! I couldn’t stop crying. After 14 hours in labour I thought I must be more than 2 now! They checked again but still only 2cm! I was broken. I felt like I failed my daughter already, so they went to get the doctor to come and speak to me. But when she came in she said , “I don’t think we need to do a C-section, I think we should give it another 4 hours, a lot can happen!” I immediately said I don’t think I’m going to progress any further. I don’t want to wait 4 hours to be told I’ve got to anyway. She replied that she had hope and that she doesn’t think that will be the case.

So I waited… 2 hours passed and my daughters heart rate slowed right down; they put me on oxygen called the crash team, rolled me from side to side to get it going again. It started getting better so carried on waiting, but again her heart rate dropped and crash team back in, but this time the doctor gave me an examination- STILL ONLY 2CM!

Then I heard “we need to get you down to theatre now!” That was it I felt sick, my stomach rolled hundreds of times over. Why is this happening to me?! I knew my body would fail me! I went into shock, walking down with my partner to theatre, struggling to breathe, feeling I was about to throw up. When I got into theatre they gave my more anaesthetic, and as they went to cut me, I could feel it! I stopped them and they said oh could you feel that, even after I passed the ice test! I said yes I can, the anesthetist said I can’t give you anymore, you had the maximum so we’re going to have to put you to sleep. I didn’t think I could break anymore. One thing after another, my partner couldn’t be in there, I wouldn’t get to hear my babies first cry, I wouldn’t feel a thing! I was a wreck. The midwives held my hand and cuddled me as I drifted off.

When I awoke I had nothing, no baby, no pain, just felt nothing. They wheeled me down to my room and there she was my gorgeous baby having a cuddle with her dad. I didn’t even get skin to skin. I didn’t see her covered in blood. She was clean and perfect. My partner couldn’t cut the cord and it was just awful. I held my baby girl and never wanted to let her go, my first words was… how is she so beautiful!

I was in hospital for 3 days in excruciating pain and feeling of guilt and regret. Six months on and I still feel the same feelings. I love my beautiful girl but I feel like I failed from the first hurdle! 

You can follow Gemma for more updates on her Instagram here.

Labour Stories: Skye & Eliza & Cecelia

Labour Stories, Mum, twins

So here I was…37 weeks and 2 days pregnant with my identical twin girls. I was due to be induced but I had to wait another 2 days until I would meet my new arrivals. After having my little boy 2 years (to the week) previously, I was hoping it would be 2 girls we would be welcoming in to the world. As our twins shared a placenta my husband and I were informed at the 12 week scan appointment that it was categorised as a high risk pregnancy. I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis, (a pregnancy complication which is essentially severe nausea and sickness and I had pelvic girdle pain in my third trimester.) Throughout my twin pregnancy I felt far more nervous and worried than I did during my first pregnancy, which is usually something I think most mums look forward to in subsequent pregnancies-not being as nervous!

My pretty and overly prepared bags were packed and I’d carefully placed my notebook and birth plan right at the top of my case for easy access. I was certain of everything I wanted and for weeks my fortnightly scans showed both babies were head down so a natural delivery was always on the cards and I was quick to dismiss consultants who explained some twin mums wanted to schedule a cesarean section and I could consider that option. But I was really looking forward to being a bit more aware of my surroundings than I was when I had my little boy. With my first time, after being in labour for 12 hours I tried pethidine which unfortunately slowed my labour. I was really struggling to cope with the contractions intensifying. I had imagined a calm environment with classical music, mood lighting, bouncing on a birthing ball and was hoping for a water birth.  Instead it was bright lights, noises from only equipment and being moved 3 times to different rooms. 

I finally decided to have an epidural after my midwives were concerned that I was exhausted and discovered that the gas and air I’d been puffing away on for hours on end wasn’t working! I ended up being so tired I couldn’t push and was taken to theatre for an assisted delivery. My little boy, was revealed to be a healthy little boy but weighed a massive 9 pounds 13 onz which explained why I needed an assisted delivery and episiotomy. 

Afterwards I hardly remembered it all and I wanted it to be different this time.

All I remembered was feeling really panicked and worried and feeling like I had failed in following my birth plan. As a twin birth is higher risk, a water birth is not permitted at most hospitals in the UK. My consultants advised me to keep my birthing plan simple because an emergency cesarean section would occur in 1 in 5 twin births anyway.

Unfortunately, when I arrived at hospital to have my waters broken, Eliza turned and was lying in a transverse position. I was rushed in for an emergency cesarean section. It all happened so fast and before we knew it our little girls were with us and I was so so shocked -I was convinced we were having more boys! But it hadn’t entered my mind that I could have my babies without a single contraction. After my first experience of labour and giving birth all I could remember was the contractions!

If there’s a next time I would write a short list of ‘preferences’. All that mattered in the end is that our girls arrived safely and in good health regardless of it not going to plan. Eliza weighed 7 pounds 1 onz and Cecelia weighed 6 pounds 4 onz. Life would never be the same again, I soon realised that you could be prepared as much as possible for labour and birth, but nothing would be able to truly prepare you for your new life as a twin mama! Or a twin and toddler mama in my case! 

As I’m now preparing for their first birthday and my little boy’s third birthday at the end of the month, I’m reflecting on how much joy they’ve bought me but also how much they’ve given me the opportunity to grow as a person. I’m more confident in my own abilities and far more independent than I’ve ever been before. Nothing scares me after dealing with terrible two tantrums, potty training and two newborn babies all at the same time! I’m blessed, so blessed, but nothing could have truly prepared me for this year… so make a birth plan but be confident in your own abilities as not everything will be as expected during labour, birth and life once you’re home. You will do it. We all do it and we all grow, just as much as our little ones do!

Labour Stories: Amy & Theo

Labour Stories, Mum

Written by Amy Grant

PLEASE don’t read this if you are squeamish or can’t handle the use of the word ‘vagina’!

When the day came for induction we drove up to the hospital super excited to finally meet Theo. We went through the generic questions and monitoring before the pessary was inserted to start the labour!!

Here are a few things that no one tells you pre induction:

  • Take enough food to potentially last 2 long long days of nothing happening and eating out of pure boredom.
  • How many different people you will have examine your vagina in those days and that all of the dignity you had left after pregnancy SWIFTLY leaves as soon as induction begins
  • The amount of time you will spend walking & walking & walking to “try and get this damn baby out“
  • All of the messages you will receive asking if there is “any sign of the baby yet” or “hurry up and go into labour”

The annoying thing about the pessary is that you can get start getting contractions and think finally “WOOHOO I’m going into labour” just for some devil dressed in blue to tell you you’re not even in labour yet. I got some diamorphine and went off to sleep feeling disappointed and fed up. The next morning the pessary was replaced with a new one in the hope it would work this time. We passed the time by watching Netflix, walking around and sleeping. Then the time came!!

I was sent up to the labour ward at 10.30pm at 4cm, only to be told when I got up there that his head was still in front of my cervix and I was just 1.5cm. So the midwife decided to pop my waters – with something that I can only imagine was a crochet needle(???!?!!)

Well, that’s when the shit hit the fan…

The contractions came thick & fast and within an hour I was 9cm and pushing. I pushed and pushed with everything I had but he just wouldn’t come out. The midwife called for the doctor who said he was stuck. They told me they would have to use forceps to bring him out. However, his heart rate was dropping very low and they didn’t have time to give me any anaesthetic so had to cut me with me only on gas and air.

It’s hard to remember all of the details as it was all such a blur. A very strong memory was watching all of the midwives and doctors flood in in anticipation of Theo being in poor health when he made his arrival.

After some rough tugs from the doctor with the forceps and a lot of pain, our baby boy was finally brought into the world and placed onto my chest for the very first time. Nothing will ever compare to that feeling – all of you mums will relate!

He did not need any extra help, he was perfectly healthy (thank God) . He just wanted a dramatic entrance!

The feeling of holding Theo did not last for long as I began to have a Post Partum Haemorrhage and lost alot of blood. Kieran got some special bonding time with him though which I’m extremely happy about as their bond is stronger than ever now.

Everything finally settled down, I was stitched up and we could begin to enjoy our life as 3.

Theo John Grant
Born at 5:02am on 13/05/2018
Weighing 6lb14oz

Labour Stories: April & Belle

Labour Stories, Mum

Written by April Hill

I always did wonder what it would feel like going into labour. When I asked people they would say “you’ll know”. What did that mean? Would my waters break like in the films? Or would I be one of those people who thinks they’re in labour when they’re really not and go into hospital unnecessarily?

After reading more online it is actually different for everyone. Some waters do break but it’s actually not that common. Mine didn’t. I had a bit of a show and when I saw the midwife earlier that day (a check up seeing as I was 4 days overdue) she said I was about 2cm and she wouldn’t be surprised if my daughter made an appearance within a few days.

Funny enough, around 9pm that evening I had continuous contractions. It’s like they say you just know that this is it, especially when they are happening quite regularly. I was uncomfortable and we started timing. I couldn’t sleep, we kept an eye on the clock. It got to 3am and contractions were getting down to 5 minutes apart, which is when they say to contact to the hospital. We called them and made the half hour trip there.

I was surrounded by poor mums in what looked like serious pain and must have been close. I wasn’t there yet and when the midwife checked me over she revealed I was actually only 3cm and they don’t admit mums until they are 4cm. I was so disappointed. I just wanted some pain relief but I was sent home. We were told to come back when my contractions were about 2 minutes apart.

Back home we went and then I was in agony for another 10 hours, but they said 2 minutes apart. We weren’t there. It got to the point where I couldn’t move, I was crying saying to my husband I can’t take the pain anymore. From there my contractions escalated to suddenly being a minute or two apart. He said that was enough and called the hospital saying we were coming in because I needed pain relief. My back was in agony. I never felt so much pain and could relate to the women I’d seen earlier.

It took us nearly two hours to get back to the hospital, mainly because I couldn’t get a few steps without contracting, and then were in peak time traffic.

Finally we made it. I saw the midwife and said I need some pain relief. I’d requested the injections or gas and air. I didn’t want an epidural. She assured me that once she checked me over then I could get some relief. The next thing I know she’s telling me I’m fully dilated, can’t have the injections because I’m already done, and we need to go straight into the delivery room. What a rush. I lie on the bed and am already pushing.

The midwife gave me some gas and air but I took one puff, went so dizzy, that I shoved it to the side and said I didn’t want it. I went without pain relief but honestly I felt so relieved when I was pushing. I instantly felt better. I was lucky in that I had a lovely midwife who told me everything she was doing and what she would recommend and to get my consent first. She told me she needed to break my waters because my daughter was stuck, that she needed to put a drip in for me to keep my hydrated, and a monitor to keep an eye on both mine and baby’s heartbeat.

During all of it my daughters heartbeat stayed the same. She didn’t seem bothered. I joked that I was glad someone wasn’t right at that moment!

Two hours later, big pushes and support, my daughter arrived, crying her eyes out. She was healthy and the moment was finally here.

My husband & I cuddled her as I got stitched up. And once that was done we were left to ourselves for a couple hours before moving up to the ward. It was so quiet that we had a room to ourselves for a while before another family came in. Then we were checked out lunchtime the next day.

I read, and have heard other stories, and I feel extremely lucky that my birth was very straightforward. Yes I was in pain, and it felt long. But there were no complications and at the end of the day my daughter was delivered safely.

Nothing can prepare you for what you’ll experience and the exhaustion that follows after. We didn’t sleep for nearly 3 days because it was up from the Monday morning to starting 24 hours of labour that night, to our daughter arriving the Tuesday night, spending that entire night just looking at her, waiting to come home, coming home and grandparents coming over, to finally a little bit of sleep the Wednesday night. What a blur. But I will never forget the moment she arrived. This was the little person we had been waiting for.

Emily’s Story: PTSD

birth, Labour Stories, Mental Health, Mum

No matter how many times women told me never to plan my birth, I still had visions of how I hoped it would pan out.

Being one of the first in my friendship group to have a baby, I lacked experience or knowledge with what labour was going to be like but it didn’t scare me in the slightest. I was doing everything the blogs told me not to do. Watching one born every minute, buying girls clothes even though she had her legs crossed in her 20 week scan and reading labour stories which sounded like fairy tales.

I almost felt excited when I had a first twinge of brackston hicks despite being uncomfortable, I knew I was coming close to the third trimester and very soon I’d get to hold my little one.

However, at 32 weeks, when I thought I was just going to hospital because I was being paranoid, motherly instinct proved right and I was in fact going into pre term labour. I barely had a moment to blink before I was rushed into theatre with medical professionals running around me throwing their medical jargon at each other whilst I’m just lying there, still unaware of what fate had for me and my daughter. The only way I can describe the experience is I thought the world was ending. I hadn’t even begun my maternity leave let alone had a moment to pack a hospital bag or sort out the nursery. None of that seemed to matter after I heard her first cry behind the white sheet that separated us. All I could think is that she was alive and breathing! Thank goodness!

My little girl was born on the 4th November weighing 5Ibs. My bond with her was instant but an overwhelming sense of mourning clouded over me.
Why me? What had I done to my body that caused this? Questions I might never know but looking back these feelings of self blame were just the beginning of what was to come.

Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and this cloud wasn’t going away. I didn’t feel depressed, I didn’t feel a lack of bond with my daughter but I still felt loss… fear…. and vivid dreams of those awful hospital machines beeping around my daughter. I lost all sense of trust with medical professionals who I thought were going to tell me my baby was dying or she needed to be taken into hospital again. My anxiety over the health of my daughter became so drilled into my life that I couldn’t leave her with anyone alone.. not even my partner. I was living in isolation and refused to let anyone in.

It wasn’t until my health visitor suggested 6 weeks of counselling that I had ever heard the diagnosis of PTSD in post-natal women. What? I thought that was only diagnosed for people in the military?”

It took a while for me to come to terms with such a term and initially I felt really angry I’d been thrown yet another title. “Another medical professional trying to pass me off with a “condition” and try and load me with more medication,” I thought.

However, it wasn’t the case at all. The more I off loaded in these sessions, the more I realised how lucky I was to have met my counsellor who finally gave me an answer and I accepted what it is. I had PTSD and was suffering from my traumatic birth experience.

I will never know how it feels to hold my daughter moments after she was born, never know how it feels to have her latch for the first time, never experience bringing her back to the ward, never have her lie in her bed next to me, never change her nappy for the first time or get her dressed into her first outfit. Yet, even though I missed these precious moments, one thing I will definitely know forever is how lucky I am to have a healthy and happy daughter who has one strong mummy.

I am now in my second year of nurse training and hope that my story can influence others to seek help with PTSD and to avoid making assumptions that these feelings signify post natal depression. PTSD can happen to any woman who has experienced trauma during their birth.

A year on and I still have triggers that make things a little difficult. However, I don’t dwell on the what ifs, instead I focus on the what is. I haven’t let ptsd shatter the prospect of having further children but for now I just watch in awe of my daughter who is our little shining star and I am forever blessed to have given birth to such a fighter. We love you darling!

Labour Stories: Zoe & Skyla

Labour Stories, Mum, Uncategorized

I had a very normal pregnancy. I actually loved being pregnant! Crazy how much I miss my bump and it was nearly two years ago now. I was due on the 16th of July. I had my midwife appointment on the 17th and decided to have a sweep. I wasn’t sure at first as I heard lots of mixed views, but it was actually a very quick process and I didn’t find it too uncomfortable and then I was sent on my way!

The day after, the 18th of July, was when my princess Skyla decided to join us. The day started as a normal day. I remember my mum ringing me at midday as she wanted to know if I was having any twinges. I wasn’t having any at this point- not a thing! A little back ache, but I’d been having that for weeks at this point.

My brother and his girlfriend came for tea and I remember when it got to about 7 I was just super tired and asked them to leave. It got to half 7 and (sorry but TMI) I had to keep going the toilet. I thought it was just constipation. It just clicked that this was it, and the pains were getting more intense and there wasn’t any rest in between. I still thought it was mainly constipation at this point!

Skyla now… all grown up.

I rang my husband at 8 and told him he needed to come home as this was it. He rang the ward for me and we pretty much set off straight away as at this point I was feeling a strong urge to push! We picked my mum up on the way. We got the hospital at around 9, I think. I was examined and I was at 6 and a half cm. I told them that I wanted a water birth, and to my luck they had one available. As soon as I got into the pool, I was ready to start pushing. I only had gas and air and I felt that biting down on it helped. The water was just so relaxing for me and it really helped me to get in the zone and just push!

At 11.03 pm my beautiful girl came into the world in her waters! I remember just being so proud of myself and it really was just love at first sight.

Labour Stories: Kayleigh and Harry

Labour Stories, Mum, Uncategorized

Written By Kayleigh Williams

Labour is something every pregnant woman goes through, and whether it’s a c-section or natural, we all have different memories of it each time. I refused to listen to anyone’s labour stories purely because deep down I didn’t want to face the fact I was going to be ruined by this bundle of cuteness. I had my heart set on a calming water birth followed by returning home with Harry within the hour. I was determined that’s what was going to happen and although I had people telling me:

“You’d be surprised”

“It doesn’t always work out like that”

I really wish I’d listened to everyone because oh boy, labour is HARSH, on a whole different level of pain. 

Harry was due on the 20th August 2018, but made an appearance on the 24th of August 2018. I envied everyone I knew who had a baby within those 4 days because I prayed it was me everyday, as I waddled through town with this, huge space hopper attached to me, everyone looking at me in the 33 degree heat asking me how I’m coping and how they’re not jealous of me. Oh, I hated peoples opinions towards the end, it was not something I wanted to sit down with a cup of tea and actually enjoy listening to. I knew I was in pain, I knew my bump was above average and no I wasn’t coping. Those 4 days felt like 4 weeks. 

I was having my sweep done on the 23rd of August and my midwife asked me if I was in any pain or so, and I said no- why? She told me I was already 6cm and listen to this, I didn’t feel a thing. I felt completely normal, uncomfortable yes, but no pain down there. She told me to get down to the hospital because if my waters go, I’m going to be having this baby on my bed and I wasn’t ready for that kind of birth. I had to head down to the hospital so off me and Owen went, excited we were going to meet our baby. Much to our disappointment we spent 5 hours in hospital waiting and waiting. No pain, no signs of labour at all so we were sent home. By this point I was frustrated because my whole day had been wasted all for nothing. 

It was around 1am when what I thought was my waters, went. I got out of bed and let everyone know it’s time for me to go. I started having tiny pains and each time they got worse. Owen drove me to the hospital and that was probably the worst drive I had ever been on. I was in SO much pain, almost unbearable at times but I knew it was going to be okay. The hospital got everything ready for me. My waters hadn’t actually broken, the midwife had to brake them for me and oh my goodness, it went everywhere. Harry had pooped inside of me so it was a case of getting me into the room and getting this baby out of me. The pain was so bad at this point and I had to reach for the gas and air as I was panicking and needed to calm myself down. Owen was by my side supporting me, letting me know everything was going to be okay. I started to become a little drowsy from all of the gas and air so I began to lose concentration of what was going on around me. The midwife told us we were losing Harry, he’s getting stressed and he needs to come out now. In came I reckon about 15 doctors and nurses, who helped take me down to theatre as this was then classed as an emergency so theatre was needed. Owen was left in a room all by himself for around 20 minutes bless him. I don’t remember this at all but I’m guessing he felt scared and worried for us all. 

In theatre I was given an epidural as the pain was getting so unbearable I was crying, I physically could not move anywhere. Harry’s heartbeat was slowing down, so I had to be cut twice down below, and Harry was given forceps and ventouse as he was almost stuck inside of me. By this point I didn’t feel a thing, i couldn’t even feel my toes let alone the pain. Pushing whilst not feeling a thing was so difficult. Harry then came at 4:43am on the 24th August. My whole world changed from that moment and it was the best moments of my life. I’d just been through the most traumatic time of my life but all that mattered was Harry in my arms and Owen right next to me. 

I was not expecting what I had in store for my labour. It was truly the worst experience my body has ever been put through. I regret not educating myself a bit more with it. The only positive thing from it was Harry. My little bundle of joy. 

Labour Stories: Meg and Delilah Rose

Labour Stories, Mum, Uncategorized

Written by Meg Brooks

It was the day before my due date- 23th Feb. I spent this day jogging around my house and eating a super spicy curry for my tea. Little did I know these theories would actually work!! (or was it just a coincidence?)

At around 8pm, me and my partner got into bed all comfy, stuck a film on and tried to settle down for the night. I had been getting slight pains in my tummy for hours before this but I didn’t think anything of it as it was very very mild. However, when I was lying in bed they seemed to get worse and worse, so I began to time them. They started off being 20 minutes apart, to 10 minutes apart!

I rang my mum panicking asking for her opinion. She told me to stay calm and ring the midwives soon if they get worse. I was in deep pain now. I knew it was contractions! Suddenly, I felt a weird feeling down below, like if I moved my legs then I would wee myself. So I sat up hoping to go to the loo, and then it happened. My waters broke all over my bed! It felt like I just weed myself. I rushed to the toilet, got myself sorted, and I tried to remain pretty calm until I looked up and saw my partner running round like a mad man… he was worse than me! 

Anyway, we met my mum along her road and picked her up (she was that excited she forgot to bring the car seat which was at her house), and we got to the hospital. Every bump on the road was awful with contractions. Getting into the hospital was a bit of a blur really. I was that shook and in that much pain. The midwife examined me and told me I was 4cm already.

I remember being in my labour room with my mum and boyfriend, and I was bouncing on the medicine ball while my midwife was filling up the bath for a water birth! I hoped the pool would ease some pain, as I was starting to think I couldn’t do it anymore. I tried some gas and air, but I didn’t like it as it made me feel a bit sick. The word epidural popped into my head, but when I told my midwife she said I was already far too gone and she could tell it was going to be quite a quick labour so I couldn’t have one! Gutted.

Every contraction got worse, being 3 minutes apart each time. Apparently at one point I had my mum in a headlock- poor woman. The pool took hours to fill up. I couldn’t bare this being on no pain relief anymore! Isn’t it crazy when you’re scared and in pain, you suddenly turn into a little child again? I remember just wanting my mum, shouting ‘Mum! Mum!’ My poor partner probably felt I didn’t need him there. I was only 20 at the time, so I was only a little baby myself.

After a little while my birthing pool was ready. I was so relieved! I sat in it… and within a few seconds I felt a bit better. The pressure of the water really helps! I recommend it to any of you pregnant mummys.

Next I had an awful contraction, and suddenly felt like I was going to poo. I shouted ‘OH NO IM GOING TO POO IM GOING TO POO!’. Funny looking back, but at the time I was so scared I was going to take a dump in the pool. The midwife checked the babies heart after my contraction, and her face dropped. She said ‘you need to get out of the pool now. You need to stay calm but be really quick’. The babies heart rate had dropped suddenly. I was so scared. I turned really brave and toughened up and got out of the pool, walked over to the bed, almost slipped on the wet floor, and laid down. Gutted I was only in the pool for 2 minutes!

On my next contraction the midwife said I needed to push. It was the worst pain ever. The contractions were so bad now, at their peak. I was screaming “I can’t do it!!! I really can’t do it” but everyone was so supportive telling me I can do it and I’m nearly there.

After 20 minutes of pushing, out popped her head. The midwife told me she had loads of black hair, which made me smile and feel excited… my baby girl was almost out! I did one more big push and out popped her slippery little body. I was so relieved and shocked and amazed. She was put on my chest, slightly crying, but starting to settle. She was so beautiful, thick black hair, little intense eyes, a teeny button nose and long nails. From that moment on my life changed. I was a young mum with a new meaning in life, a new responsibility. She came and changed my world for the better and we all love her dearly. I would go through all that pain all over again for her!