A Positive Birth Story

I’ve been amazed at how many people have said ‘oh it’s so nice to hear that it doesn’t have to be horrible’, or something similar, after hearing my birth story. Some people seem to think I’m mad for enjoying my labour and birth! So here it is, my positive birth story.

I’m going to be really honest, the four weeks or so before Aidan was born were tough, I’d been in and out of early labour since around 37 weeks, I didn’t find it at all painful and I was able to get sleep, but it did make those last few weeks drag on a little. My last midwifes appointment was at 40 +3, I accepted a membrane sweep and my midwife was very surprised to find I was already 3cm dilated. She was pretty sure she wouldn’t see me again. At 40 +5 we went up to the hospital to get checked out, I’d felt as if things had begun picking up. The midwife checked me and said I was 3-4cms but baby’s head was at a bit of a funny angle which might be preventing things from moving on quickly. After a bit of gymnastics including what was pretty much a handstand off the side of the bed and a second membrane sweep I was sent home to bounce on my birth ball.

At around 1am on the 18th June (41 +1) I woke up with my first real contraction. Everything before this had really only caused my tummy to tighten and given me a bit of a crampy feeling. This was much more like an intense period cramp, not painful, just very achey. I had 3 of these before I woke up my husband at 1.30am. I’d wanted to let him sleep for as long as I could and even though they hadn’t really gotten any more intense I felt I needed him and asked him to rub my back. I think we lay in bed for about another 5 or 10 minutes before I felt I wasn’t comfortable lying down. I wanted to try getting in the bath. Between half 1 and 2 my contractions had started to really intensify and I was needing to stop and crouch down to help ease the discomfort. I was only in the bath long enough to have one contraction as I found it too restrictive. Andrew helped me apply my TENS machine and started gathering any last minute bits we might need at the hospital. Personally I found the TENS machine distracted me and I’d lose my flow, I used it for about an hour but didn’t really get on with it.

At 2.54am Andrew called the hospital. My contractions were about 4 minutes apart lasting 45 seconds to a minute, the midwife wanted to speak to me, I had a contraction just as the phone was handed over. She advised me that I was welcome to come up and get checked but that I might be sent home. I had another contraction (3 minutes after the last) and she asked if I’d like them to start running water into the pool… I said yes. We didn’t rush into the car but we were on our way by about 3.10. I remember telling Andrew I didn’t want to wear my seatbelt and being very grumpy about it when he told me I had to. I definitely found it much more comfortable being on all fours so the car journey was tough as sitting was quite uncomfortable, I’m not sure there’s much that could have been done about that, I was still wearing the TENS machine at this point. I wish I knew if I’d have found it more comfortable without. We were at the hospital by roughly 3.30 and walking to the birthing unit seemed to take forever. I’d been a few times before but this time it seemed to be further away. I had to stop a few times to have a contraction. During my pregnancy I’d been worried about contracting in the halls of the hospital, what if someone saw me or heard me?! I was so in the zone I didn’t care.

Into the unit we went and I was so glad to get into a dimly lit room and the birthing pool looked so inviting. The midwife needed to check me before we could make ourselves comfortable, just in case I wasn’t progressing enough. We handed over my notes and after a quick examination she said there was no way I was going home as I was 7cm dilated! I couldn’t have been happier, I think I told her that if she’d said I had to go home I might have killed her. I was ready to have this baby. I spent the rest of my labour in the pool, Andrew holding my hand and stroking my back. I had gas and air which helped me focus on my breathing. Between contractions I was able to chat with Andrew and the midwife, but we all knew contraction time was encouragement or silence only.

We had been to a hypnobirthing class and I really cannot recommend it highly enough. It helped me understand what was happening within my body and it allowed me to feel respect for my body that I’d never felt before. At no point was I in pain, it was intense but never painful. If you have the opportunity to do hypnobirthing do it! I’ll leave some useful links below.

At some point, around 530, the midwife told me that at some point I’d start feeling the urge to push and that we should let her know when that happened. At about 545 I told Andrew that I wanted to push and he called her back. She gathered a few bit that she needed and after an external examination with the help of a mirror that looked like a fish slice, she told me I was definitely fully dilated. Sonia (the midwife) was fantastic, she was really hands off which is what we wanted and she encouraged me through every contraction and gave me the space to let my body do what it needed to do. There was a point I realised I was trying to hold back on the pushes. At some point during the pushing my water broke, which was a very odd sensation, like a sudden gush of very high pressure water. There was some definite discomfort during the crowning, a burning sensation and I think that was causing me not to push as much as I could have done. His head come out at about 6.35 and after another push he was born into the water at 6.40am. I was the first person to touch him and was able to lift him out of the water myself.

We stayed in the water for a little while before getting out to deliver the placenta and cut the cord. I was concerned about the amount of blood I was losing but the midwife was very reassuring and in the end it was only about 300ml (which sound like a lot but is fairly normal I believe). Sonia cleared up and left us to bond as a new family of three!

I ended up having a 3rd degree tear, which I think was a bit of a surprise. It’s possibly down to how quickly he arrived. Leaving my baby and hubby to go down to theatre was hard but the hypnobirthing and all the oxytocin helped keep me positive and upbeat, I knew I’d be back with them soon.

I’m going to do a few more posts about the rest of my experience, I’m very keen to keep the birth separate from the rest of our 5 day stay in hospital. Everything seems worse when you’re tired and full of hormones. Everything and everyone was fine and healthy which is, in the end, the most important thing. But those extra days were hard and I don’t want them to interfere with my birth experience.

My birth was everything I could have wanted and the 6 hours it took to get our son here were so empowering and amazing.

Aidan Mundy. 18th June 2018, 0640. 9lbs (4.101kg).

The Positive Birth Company

Spinning Babies

What is hypnobirthing?

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It’s wonderful to be alive

I’d like to confess to something that only a select group of friends and family, including my husband and parents, know.  Oh, and the listeners of a university radio station in whom I confided when the weight of my action became too much to handle alone.  A few years ago, on a bike ride with a friend, I killed a frog.  There was really nothing I could do to prevent it, at least that’s what I’ve had to start telling myself in order to sleep at night.  It was on the path and I was going very fast. I didn’t see it until it was too late.  Then I had to continue seeing it as my wheel spun in front of me. If it hadn’t been me it might have been funny.

This evening found me on another bike ride.  A bike ride that was all round much bumpier, slower and took more effort than it would have if I’d had the foresight to pump up my tires before I left.  I considered asking one of the passing cyclists if I could borrow a pump, but sadly I am totally incapable of interacting with strangers in that way, so I ploughed on.  I realise I could also have turned round and gone back home but where’s the fun in that?

I had a very romantic idea of cycling along to the nearest town, pulling up at a pub with an area out the front for me to sit in the evening sun and having a refreshing glass of coke. I’d prop up my bike, pop inside, helmet unclipped but still on my head, comment to the bartender about the pleasant evening, raise a glass to other outdoorsy people around me and head back outside to sit with my bike, not because I was worried it would be stolen, oh no! But because I wanted to take a perfectly filtered picture to add to my blog post about how wonderful it is to be alive.  My dreams were dashed as the only pubs I saw proudly advertised their wide screen TVs and surround sound for all your footballing needs and, thoughtfully, as little pavement as possible outside.  I imagine this is to give their patrons as little a way to stumble to a taxi as possible, after their team loses the match.

It’s amazing what a difference in surroundings you can find on a 5 mile bike ride.  What was most noticeable was the difference in smells; stagnant water, cut grass, petrol from a burnt out car, cut grass, horse poo, some kind of delicious food from an unseen location, stagnant water.  Fascinating and also very confusing to my senses.  I returned home with a craving for a plate of steaming hot grass and chips…

Something I’ve realised from living in Norwich is that, even though some drivers are totally mad and completely incapable of driving,  people are at least fairly accustomed to the sight of someone on a bike.  Tonight’s route had me cycle on the road for a very short amount of time, not enough to get up any real speed, and I was on a fairly narrow and winding road so drivers behind me were forced to drive slowly rather than speed past me.  I indicated to come off the road and the driver behind me actually came to an almost complete stop to allow me to make what was essentially a U turn back onto the cycle path. She was also kind enough not to laugh at me when, after taking my hand from the handlebar to thank her, I almost rode directly into a post.