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.