Birth story – Harriet and baby Ava — The Positive Birth Company

After being married for 2 years, working hard to build a career and enjoying going on holiday whenever we wanted we decided it was time to grow our family and give my mum the grandchild she had been longing for! We were really fortunate to have got pregnant straight away and after getting over the initial battle with morning sickness, I really began to enjoy my pregnancy despite being pregnant during a global pandemic.

Then Christmas hit and things began to turn. London was hit with Covid restrictions which meant we couldn’t spend Christmas with our family and had to tell them about our pregnancy news sitting outside in the December cold air. I then found out my mum had been diagnosed with breast cancer immediately and would need surgery, chemo and radiotherapy. Not long after that at a routine midwife appointment I was told I had sugar in my urine sample and would be sent for a glucose tolerance test. After 2 days my test came back positive for gestational diabetes (GD), having failed the fasting threshold by 0.3.

I then began to worry about the impact my GD would have on my little girl, whether or not I would end up on medication and how it would impact my birth plan. Luckily I found Gestational Diabetes UK, which gave me a wealth of knowledge, tips and a community to lean on. I managed to stay diet controlled with my GD, which meant both my GD nurse and consultant were supportive of me having a water birth if I went into natural labor before 40 weeks + 6 days. In order to help support my birth plan I was sent for one last growth scan at 38 weeks to confirm baby was growing in line with the 50th percentile.

At 3am on the 8th June I woke up with a few twinges and the need to pee. This feeling continued every hour until around 6:30am when I decided to let my husband know and call the midwives. I was told that I had probably started the latent stages of labor and to continue with my day as much as I could and contact them if anything changed or I had any concerns. So I did! I told my husband to go to work and keep his phone handy if I needed him I would call. I went to my final growth scan which showed baby’s growth had decreased slightly but was not a concern as still within a normal range. I then went food shopping as I was doing some batch cooking for once baby arrived. I walked for around 1 hour stopping every few minutes for what I thought were twinges from Braxton Hicks but now know were contractions. I used my up breathing which really helped me carry on with my day. I got home, had lunch and carried on with my batch cooking breathing through the contractions every time they appeared.

At 6pm I was on my final dish of batch cooking and felt the need to pee only to find that I couldn’t hold it and there was more liquid than I anticipated. I suddenly realised my waters were breaking and began to feel excited that maybe this was it. I changed my wet clothes then text my husband to let him know, luckily he was 5mins from home and came in a bit nervous worrying if I was ok. After seeing how calm I was he felt reassured and ready to support me. I sent him up for a shower and then we called the midwives who advised us to make our way in to be assessed. They said that as my contractions were still not frequent enough I would be assessed to determine if my waters had broken and if so I would probably be sent back home to progress with labor. They told us that they were very busy so advised us to have dinner and then make our way in slowly…so we did.

We arrived at the hospital at around 9:45pm and were told we would be triaged on the labor ward as the birth center was busy. The midwives told us that they weren’t sure my waters had actually broken based on my maternity pad. This news made me laugh as I had told both parents on our way to the hospital so would have been embarrassed having to tell them I just wet myself really badly. The midwife then asked if she could monitor baby’s heartbeat for 30mins which I agreed to. She then confirmed baby was doing well and my contractions were nice and long but needed to be more frequent. She then asked to examine me to determine how dilated I was, I agreed and she confirmed 3cm. We were then told that they didn’t want to send me home and that I should walk in the corridors for a few hours in the hope that the contractions became more frequent, then I could go to the birthing centre.

Both my husband and I were a bit confused as to why we couldn’t have a room to progress with labor as my contractions were increasing minute by minute but we agreed and made our way to the corridor. At this stage we had left all our hospital bags (including my fairy lights, snacks, birthing clothes) in the boot of the car as we had thought we were going back home after being assessed. Once we made our way to the corridor my contractions suddenly ramped up and I decided to go on all fours as I thought it would help me manage the pain. Within 5 minutes of leaving the labor ward my contractions were back to back. I continued to focus on my breathing but did have an internal wobble thinking maybe I should give birth in the labor ward with access to all the drugs as the pain was intense and I had been told I was only 3cm. My husband then realised that there were no breaks between my contractions and worried I would give birth in the corridor so encouraged me to get up so we could get to the birth centre. I managed to pick myself up and we made our way to the birth centre. After entering the door we were told to sit in a birthing room and wait to be triaged. The midwife said she would be with us shortly, assuming that I was nowhere near pushing, partly due to the labor ward midwife saying I was 3cm and the fact I had entered the room relatively quiet. However within seconds of entering the room I was on all fours again and shouting that I needed to push! The midwife jumped from her desk and told us baby was coming. My husband and the midwife managed to pull me to the chair bed. I asked for pain relief and was given gas and air but was too confused as to how to use it! Then before I could even register what was happening my husband was telling me that the head would be out with the next push. I waited for the next contraction and then pushed. After 3mins of pushing baby Ava arrived. I was soo confused by how fast the labor had progressed I couldn’t believe my little girl was actually here! We had delayed cord clamping, daddy cut the cord and I took the injection to help with placenta delivery. I then enjoyed the hospital tea and toast, the first white bread I had since my gestational diabetes diagnosis. We then settled on the ward and after baby Ava passed her sugar tests in the morning we were allowed to go home and where my mum joined us by midday.

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