Birth story – Cassie and baby Ameline — The Positive Birth Company

mention of tear and bleeding during labor

I had a pleasantly surprising 1st trimester with only 5 days of nausea, an ever so cheery 2nd trimester (loved it!) and got through the bulk of third with a couple of aches and the most beautiful blooming baby bump. Then in week 35 a urine test flagged extremely high levels of glucose, a late GTT blood test was booked in, which I failed and was diagnosed with gestational diabetes the next morning. The news shared me – both mentally and physically. For the weeks that followed I cried daily, I blamed myself, I was confused, scared, terrified of going into a high risk category and what this meant for birth and my baby. I closed off from talking to people about my feelings and instead went inward with fear and anxiety.

I had been so positive about birth previously, excited to experience a midwife led water birth at my local birth centre. Yet since this diagnosis my whole mindset changed and I was now terrified of the birth as I felt that the chances of intervention were sky high. Diabetic consultants had told me that I could not go past my due date of week 40 and that a medical induction would have to be booked in and the labor ward was my only option. This was the opposite of what I wanted to hear!

I had started the positive birth company hypnobirthing course a few weeks before my diagnosis and decided to put my all into changing my attitude with the help of this. I went on the website to read positive birth stories from diabetic mothers, I listened to relaxation meditation recordings daily and stuck birth affirmations up around the house – on the toilet door, on light switches, doors, in the fridge, everywhere you can think of !

I opted to manage the diabetes with diet only and no medication with 4/5 home finger prick blood tests a day, a whole lotta trial and error working out what my body could and couldn’t tolerate. I completely changed my normally very healthy diet, cut out my fruits and carbs, and stuck with high fats and high protein. I’d fail readings by eating a piece of rye bread or a couple of blueberries with my breakfast and I’d break down. After a few weeks and with the support of my partner, my family and friends, I finally mastered the diet and had this side of things under control too. Which put me in a much stronger place.

I was booked in for 2 growth scans during this time at the hospital (week 36 and 38) baby was measuring small in the 16 percentile on the first and on the second she had gone up to the 20 percentile, which they were much happier with . I was told that Diabetes can make babies extra large as they absorb too much sugar but can also do the opposite of making them a little smaller too, so they wanted to rule out any issues with the placenta with these scans.

I was fast approaching the end of my pregnancy with the lingering induction booked in and I was on a mission to help the little one along as naturally as I could do myself. I did a combo of reflexology, acupuncture, myofascial release massage. I drank 3 cups of raspberry leaf tea daily. I harvested colostrum twice a day to get my oxytocin flowing. I massaged clary sage and oil on bump, had baths, long 2 hour walks, I stood up lots, sat in UFO position and bounced on a birth ball. I booked in with a virtual doula to chat about my feelings, fears and speak about induction and my rights when it came to birth. I came off the call feeling more confident and in a good place about everything.

I managed to book in 2 sweeps at the hospital (which I used to be very closed off to before all of this) in the hope that this could help encourage things in a less intensive way. The time for the first sweep had arrived (sat 4pm) and to the midwifes surprise I was already 1cm dilated (at week 39+1) and my cervix was in a great position. Perhaps a combo of what I had been doing had helped towards this or maybe she was just ready to come into this world. The sweep was a tad uncomfortable but only for a minute or two, the nurse made me feel really safe and talked through everything, as he could tell I was a little anxious.

Prior to this (following my doulas recommendation) I had written a list of things that sparked oxytocin and my partner was in charge of making sure that I ticked these things off my list. So we headed home from the hospital appointment and went about our day to day, going for a nice meal with my parents a couple of hours later. During the meal I started to feel period like cramps around my lower abdomen and lower back. I felt as though these cramps were coming and going like gentle waves, and wondered if this was the start of labor? A few of my friends had sweeps and said that cramps after were normal and most likely nothing will happen until at least the following day or the second sweep. When I got home we put on a film and I felt like I really needed a poo, but I couldn’t go and the wave like cramps had gotten stronger. I wasn’t actually able to watch the whole film as this is when we realised I was in fact in labor and when I found myself moving to hands and knees and doing some cat cow stretches to try and ease the back pain we decided it was about time to finish packing our hospital bags.

Things ramped up very quickly and I had my TENS machine on my back to help manage any discomfort when the surges were here. I jumped on my Freya app and started to track the surges which were around 5/6 mins apart. We decided to try and get some shut eye – which was way more challenging than I expected! I didn’t sleep that night at all as labor continued to progress, instead I used my breathing and listened to my positive birth recordings and birth affirmations.

My bowls finally started to empty at around 5am, after feeling like I needed a poo for a while. I had a few more toilet trips and then noticed then I had also lost my mucus plug which was stretchy and mucusy but much more bloody than I had expected. The hospital said this was normal and to keep powering through at home. At this point I was 3.5 mins between and I couldn’t lay back down in bed anymore so I decided to make myself a snack of banana and peanut butter to keep my energy and sugar levels in a good place, then to my surprise as I opened the kitchen cupboard I felt and heard a pop and looked down to see that I was standing in a big puddle of water! Suddenly things went fast and my surges were now 1.5 mins apart, that’s when I called the hospital and said we’re heading in! The water wasn’t completely clear as I’d expected it had specks of blood, which the hospital reassured me was fine.

Now this was the point where I felt like I lost control slightly, the sudden shift of my labor ramping up scared me. I found a quiet corner of the living room floor on all fours, had a few tears as my partner got everything ready for the car. My breathe felt shallow and fast, so it took real concentration to bring it back in line with my hypnobirthing breath on the Freya app. I managed to get back to the point of control – in labor land as I called it, and the fear started to gradually melt away.

For the car journey I used the TENS machine on boost mode the whole way (I couldn’t feel it too much at this point which is crazy as the boost felt so strong the start of my labor!) and listened to continuous hypnobirthing recordings to chill me out. Which worked. I loved feeling in control and these tools allowed me to. By the time I got to the hospital surges were 1 min apart and very strong in my lower back area. I was asked to wee in a tube, which I found impossible to do. I could only get out a dribble and that was mainly blood. And was told I’d be examined by a midwife right away, I had a slight moment here of feeling like I had lost control and laying on my back was not enjoyable at all. I was 4cm, I was expecting them to say at least 7cm, but I knew to not let that thought get to me. I was bleeding and was told that this could be a sign that things were progressing quickly, I felt in my body that this was the case as things ramped up.

I was in a room on the labor ward on a bed and I really wasn’t getting on well with the bed, it was never how I had imagined my birth and I found it unnatural. I could not get into a position that I liked, with the back labor feeling strong. My amazing midwife suggested that I try going on my knees with my hands over the top of the bed breathing with gas and air for a bit, it was ok for a while but I just didn’t get on with it. It was this point when I could no longer feel the TENS machine at all, it almost annoyed me, so I asked my partner to take it off for me. We eventually made a floor set up in the room instead with some blankets and sheets then I started to used movement, my voice and breathe as a form of pain management. Throughout my labor I always felt like I needed to poo, so I asked to sit on the toilet. This felt much better than my previous set ups, so I hung out here for a while.

As my labor came on spontaneously I would be allowed in the birth center however due to Covid and staff shortages it was closed. My partner expressed my desire to have a birthing pool as he knew they had the one pool on the labor ward and to my luck the mama who was in this very room had just decided to opt for an epidural, so we did a little switch around , they cleaned the room and I was in there within a few hours.

I hadn’t gone for a wee since I had been at home, so the midwife explained that she could quickly put a catheter in and empty my bladder. I agreed to this but it was so uncomfortable laying on my back, luckily she drained 100ml of urine out quickly in between surges and I got in the bath right after. My partner had asked the staff to dim the lights, close the blinds and he set up crystals and our fake light up candles around the pool area. He connected his speakers and had our birth playlist playing full of yoga songs that I loved.

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