Birth story – Nikki and baby Robyn — The Positive Birth Company

I had a relatively straight forward pregnancy, other than pretty bad nausea and vomiting up until 17 weeks and a couple of growth scans for baby being on the small side. I found out I was GBS positive at 38 weeks after a friend positive so I paid privately for a tested test. We kept the sex of the baby a surprise like we did last time and I was so excited to find out if we were having another boy or a baby girl!

I had done the PBC course for my first birth but my labor felt out of control and, although I see it as positive as it brought our son into the world, I wanted a better experience this time around. My son’s birth ended in an unplanned section after being induced for post dates. The induction took 2 days and I got “stuck” at 9cm where a “lip of cervix” wouldn’t budge. It was so disheartening but by that point I was exhausted and just wanted to meet our baby. I found physical recovery really hard and struggled emotionally.

This time around I really wanted a VBAC – I was so close last time and wanted to avoid section recovery with a 2 year old at home. I downloaded the PBC course and watched the videos from around 20 weeks. I told my husband that our goal during this labor was for me to remain calm. Even if it ended in another section I wanted to feel in control. The midwives were all so supportive in my plans and said I had a really good chance as I was nearly there last time.

My son was born at 42 weeks so I wasn’t expecting this baby to come early. As a VBAC I was offered sweeps from 38 weeks to try and get things moving. I was fine with this, and also excited to see if anything was happening! As expected my sweeps at 38+5 and 39+5 were unsuccessful. I had a VBAC appointment at the hospital at 39+6 and offered another sweep. The day before it had been unsuccessful so I was amazed to hear I was now 1cm and my cervix had moved around – shows how quickly things can change! I ate dates from 37 weeks so maybe they helped?!

Over the next few days I started to lose my plug. I was booked in for induction at 40+10, but the VBAC midwife who had done my sweep said I would probably go straight to waters being broken rather than the balloon induction as things were moving, so that was encouraging!

At 40+5 I had a midwife appointment and another sweep. She said I was 2cm and very favorite so to head home, have a bath and get on my ball. Around 2 hours later in the bath I started feeling a bit crampy but ignored it. I decided I fancied a treat for tea so ordered a take away Nando’s (extra hot!!) for collection at 7.30. At around 4pm I was having to breath through the tightenings and they were coming every 5 mins or so. As I was induced last time I was in disbelief that things were actually happening! I used my bamboo straw to help slow down my breathing, which really gave me focus.

My husband arrived home and I said things might be happening. I asked him to pick up our 2 year old from nursery and to ring Nando’s and see if we could collect the order early I then rang my mum and told her I might be in labor, but more importantly asked if she could whizz up and collect my Nando’s order as I wanted to get some food down me – priorities! I ate as much as I could and moved into the lounge to try and focus – tricky with a 2 year old who is just home from nursery! I was swaying on all fours on the floor and over my ball, and my husband set up a little nest of cushions around me. I also had the Christmas tree lights on and my chilled out playlist. However I did find it hard with my son around as I couldn’t be his usual Mummy and had a big wave of mum guilt on how things were changing without him realising. My husband was great and turned it into a little game where my son would give me a hug when I wasn’t breathing through my straw.

Around 7pm whilst my husband put our son to bed my Freya app told me I was in established labor. I rang my mum who came back round as I was starting to panic a bit on my own and she told me to ring triage who told me to come in. Luckily the COVID rules at our hospital had just changed so my husband could join me in triage with a negative test. I was examined and told I was still 2cm but they wanted to monitor the baby due to the VBAC. They said my contractions looked strong and rang labor ward who said they would admit me – I was delighted!

Unfortunately my contractions started to die off over the next few hours. I think it was because I was strapped to the monitor and kept looking at the readings and stressing that things weren’t progressing. The baby also hated being on the monitor so their heart rate was all over the place because they were so active. I was really doubting myself and kept asking the midwife what would happen if things slowed. Once the baby had calmed down, the midwife suggested we move to maternity ward to get some sleep and then reassess in the morning, which we were happy with. I am really lucky that our hospital is Arrowe Park where everyone gets a private room so my husband could stay. That night was tough as although contractions had dropped to every 15 mins, when they came they were lasting over a minute and really intense. I tried to sleep but every time I woke up at the height of a contraction I went straight to red and really struggled to calm down.

In the morning I was examined and told I was 3cm and offered to either have my waters broken or I could go home and rest to see if things happen naturally. I chose to head home as I was exhausted and needed rest. I got home and had a nice long bath. I managed some food (my husband tucked into leftover Nando’s ) and I also took some co-codamol to help me sleep. I started to wobble by the afternoon that I couldn’t cope with this for another 4 days when my induction was booked. I rang triage where my amazing VBAC midwife was working and she booked me in for induction first thing the next morning. She said they’d almost certainly just break my waters and I’d be off! I was so relieved and she really cheered me up with her optimism and encouragement.

We kept my son at my mums that night but they popped round for a visit as I was really missing him – I really needed those cuddles . We then had an early night and I dosed up on co-codamol. I had a broken but really good nights sleep and by morning I felt amazing and excited to meet our baby!

We arrived at labor ward and I was told I was 4cm so they could break my waters – my contractions were clearly doing something even if they were spaced out! My midwife said we should get the room all set up with our tea lights and room spray and I should get changed into something more comfortable. I totally forgot about asking for a water birth and was quite happy where I was. They also set up my cannula so I could have my first dose of antibiotics for the GBS. We had a student midwife with us who was really lovely and enjoying the Christmas songs we had playing on the radio.

I needed continuous monitoring due to my VBAC so they got the monitor set up. As usual the baby kicked off a storm so it took us a while to get a steady trace. Once they were happy with the baby’s heartbeat they broke my waters and my contractions ramped up immediately. Not much water came out but once I got on my ball my waters started gushing – figure of eight hips really worked! It actually felt amazing and I loved the feeling of getting rid of water with each contraction. I started on the gas and air as soon as they broke my waters and this really helped me get into a rhythm. I was happily chatting away to the student midwife and husband in between contractions, but noticed I was getting less of a break between them quite quickly.

After about 2 hours I felt like my body was starting to push. Considering that last time I was in established labor for 24 hours+ I was really surprised. I’d read about the pushy feeling in other peoples stories but I couldn’t believe how my body just took over! The midwife asked me to move off my ball so they could have a little check as they noticed things had changed. They said there was still a lip of cervix, but I was almost fully dilated. But they also said not to push yet as I wasn’t quite there, which was really hard to do. I trusted them and tried to just breath through each contraction, although in the back of my mind I was starting to worry that the dreaded “lip of cervix” that led to my previous section had returned!!

I moved off my ball to try and get things going and the midwife had me up leaning over the bed – UFO! I asked for pethidine as I was contracting around 4 in 10 with very little rest in between and it really took the edge off. An hour later I was asked to flip round so they could examine me and ended up on my back – exactly the opposite to what I had planned but it felt right and I put all my faith into the expertise of my lovely midwives. I was told I was 10cm and to get pushing!!! I loved the pushing stage – it was intense but I knew the baby was nearly here. The student midwife told me to try and not waste energy making noise and to push with my chin down. I kept my eyes closed which really helped me internalise my energy and they put the leg rests up so I could push back against them. I was asked if I wanted to feel the baby’s head as it was crowning and it was the most surreal experience of my life – I’m still not sure if I loved it or found it completely gross

Things were going well but the midwife said she wanted to do a very small cut to help get the baby out which I was fine with. As soon as she snipped (which I didn’t even feel) I had a contraction and pushed our little girls head and body out all at once! I had only been pushing for an hour. The student midwife caught our baby and we were officially recorded as her 16th birth! Our husband checked to see if we had a boy or a girl and was so shocked he had to look to the midwives for reassurance, who laughed and said yes he was right we did have a baby girl Robin had been our girls name when we had our son and when I found out I was due in December I wondered if our baby girl was just waiting for her name to match the season!

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